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St. Pius X Society refuses to toe the bottom line

VATICAN (SE): Another overture from the Holy See to the recalcitrant Society of St. Pius X has met a brick wall, with the superior general, Bishop Bernard Fellay, refusing to toe the Vatican’s bottom line on March 16.

Bishop Fellay had already rejected a Doctrinal Preamble presented to him by William Cardinal Levada on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI.

The pope had described his preamble as the bottom line minimum for the breakaway society in pursuing reconciliation with the apostolic tradition of the Church.

The Vatican Information Service reported that although the full content of the document, as well as discussions at the meeting have not been made public, the preamble defined certain doctrinal principles and criteria necessary for the interpretation of Catholic doctrine.

It described them as “necessary to ensure faithfulness to the Church magisterium and the sentire cum Ecclesia (thinking with the Church).”

Bishop Fellay was presented with the document on September 14 last year to give him time to study it. He was also told at the time that this document did not allow him any room to move.

However, in January, he told the Vatican that the pope’s position was not acceptable and that he wished to make some amendments to the preamble.

He was told at the meeting on March 16 that this was not on and that his reasons for rejecting the contents of the preamble simply did not wash.

In a letter delivered to the superior general of the breakaway society, officials from the holy See stated, “The position he expressed is not sufficient to overcome doctrinal problems, which lie at the foundation of the rift between the Holy See and the society of St. Pius X.”

However, Bishop Fellay may get another bite at the cherry, as the Holy See seems reluctant to bring an end to the standoff.

Vatican information officer, Father Federico Lombardi, told reporters that an agreement is still possible. “The question is not considered closed yet,” he said.

The Vatican Information Service reported on March 16, “At the end of today’s meeting, moved by concern to avoid an ecclesial rupture of painful and incalculable consequences, the superior general of the Society of St. Pius X was invited to clarify his position in order to be able to heal the existing rift, as is the desire of Pope Benedict XVI.”

The March 16 press release says that the Vatican is seeking yet another response from Bishop Fellay.

However, suggests that Pope Benedict did not find the response from the breakaway society an adequate basis for further negotiations.

The bottom line, it is well known, is that the Society of St. Pius X must accept and recognise absolutely the Second Vatican Council, as well as the teachings of Pope John XXXIII, Pope John Paul I, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict.

The pugnacious and often erratic Bishop Fellay is on record as saying, “If their aim is still to force us to accept the Second Vatican Council, the discussions have been clear enough in showing that we have no intention of doing any such thing… If there is one thing we agree on, that is that we do not agree on anything.”

The group has been separated from Rome since 1988, when its founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, ordained new bishops without a Vatican mandate. All the bishops were excommunicated, until Pope Benedict controversially lifted them in 2009.

America magazine echoed a common question asking what is prompting this close and patient attention in the Roman Curia for what it describes as a “grumpy micro-minority of schismatic Catholics.”

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