Vatican gives conservative group an ultimatum

September 14, 2011

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 bishops in 2009. Jewish groups were outraged after
one of the readmitted bishops, Richard Williamson, told Swedish
television that no more than 300,000 Jews "perished in Nazi
concentration camps ... not one of them by gassing in a gas chamber."

Wednesday's meeting was the culmination of a series of SSPX-Vatican
talks, held between October 2009 and April 2011 in Rome. Last month, the
SSPX leader told an interviewer that the talks had only underscored
doctrinal differences.

"If their aim is still to force us to accept the Second Vatican
Council," Fellay said, "the discussions have been clear enough in
showing that we have no intention of doing any such thing."