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Vatican gives conservative group an ultimatum

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Reconciliation between the pope and a schismatic group is impossible unless the group accepts the last half-century of modernizing reforms in the Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican said on Wednesday (Sept. 14).

The Vatican's statement followed a meeting between Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), and Vatican officials led by Cardinal William Levada, a former archbishop of San Francisco who now heads the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

At the meeting, Fellay received a document specifying the "doctrinal principles and criteria for the interpretation of Catholic doctrine" that the SSPX must accept as a condition of reconciliation. The Vatican did not publish the document, but indicated that its contents related to "Vatican Council II and the later Magisterium," the latter a reference to the pope's teaching authority.

Founded by the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, the SSPX is the largest and most vocal group of ultra-traditionalist Catholics who reject the modernizing reforms ushered in by the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), including the council's teachings on religious freedom and subsequent changes to the Mass.

As concessions to the group, Pope Benedict XVI lifted restrictions on the so-called Traditional Latin Mass in 2007, and readmitted four excommunicated SSPX bi