Monday, June 18, 2012
Towards the end of endless exchanges between Benedict XVI and the traditionalists?
For the Vatican, at least, the phase of negotiations between Rome and those responsible for the Society of St. Pius X for the reintegration of traditionalists in the Catholic Church is completed. The Vatican spokesman confirmed onThursday, June 14,that the Lefebvrists had received on Wednesday, the Pope's response to recent comments made by the SSPX on the "doctrinal preamble", which sets the terms of such return after 24 years schism.
The details of this response, by which it will be possible to judge the magnitude of the concessions madeby both parties will not be known until the SSPX Superior General, Bishop Fellay in turn responds ... It should do so "within a reasonable time", said Thursday, the Vatican spokesman, for whom "he ball is in the camp" of the Lefebvrists.The answer might occur after the General Chapter of the Society, scheduled July 11 to 13.
“We hoped that through this additional moment of reflection, we can achieve full communion between the SSPX and the Apostolic See, "says unambiguously the Vatican statement.
But Lefebvrist side, the process does not seem to be at an end: "the desire for further clarification could lead to a new phase of discussions, " they say in a statement Thursday, asserting that "they wanted continue the dialogue that will lead to a solution for the good of the Church and souls".
The doctrinal preamble was submitted in September to the successor of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. Observations and new formulations have been made over the months to make the text acceptable to both parties, in conflict about their acceptance of Vatican II especially on matters relating to ecumenism and religious freedom.
"The Church, the only way of salvation"
Clearly, if they accept the Papal offer, traditionalists would continue to criticize those points, without drawing the ire of Rome and remember that "the Church is more than the Council and a different understanding of the Council is not decisive for the future of the Church", as was reaffirmed on June 8 by Msgr Fellay. The latter persists also is suggesting that "it is the attitude of the official Church has changed, it is not us ". "We are not non-Catholics just because we criticise the meetings [interfaith] of Assisi , " a traditionalist member of the faithful based in Paris, convinced that dialogue with other religions leads "to indifferentism, even though the Catholic Church is the only way to salvation."
The Vatican also confirmed June 14 that the Lefebvrists will obtain a personal prelature, based on the statutes governing Opus Dei, giving them broad autonomy from the bishopfor the management of their forces and their places of worship. They will need the agreement of the local bishop in cases where they want to open new locations, yet the coverage of the country, particularly in France where they are most present, is already largely assured.
A schism within the schism?
Pope Benedict XVI has made the resolution of this conflict a priority of his pontificate, at the risk of upsetting the part of the Church, who are less inclined to accept the schismatics, and the despisers of the council and of the "heretics " who implemented it. Bishop Fellay, meanwhile showing himself more and more to be in favour of an agreement, caused dispute within the SSPX. The three other bishops ordained by Archbishop Lefebvre continue to be reticent about this agreement. One of them, the French Bishop Tissier de Mallerais told the weekly Rivarol early June: " if we were reinstated, we would cease to be the thorn in the side of the conciliar Church ".
A schism within the schism is possible even if the future of the bishops and the faithful who rejectedthe agreement seems problematic."They would join the few troops of the sedevacantists that exist, but would lose the houses, chapels, schools that belong to the fraternity, "said one expert on the traditionalist world. Aware of the divisions within the SSPX, the Vatican has already said it would consider "individually "the situation and the fate of each of the bishops, including that of the Holocaust denier Bishop Richard Williamson.