The Vatican held its first round of formal talks this morning with the breakaway Society of St. Pius X.

A communiqué is expected either later today or tomorrow.

The Vatican’s goal in these discussions is to bring about a reunion with the traditionalist order, which broke away from the Church on the grounds that it could not accept the teachings of the Second Vatican Council. The SSPX blames the conciliar reforms for many of the Church’s difficulties.

The Vatican is optimistic about the outcome of the talks. It’s argued that officials wouldn’t have taken this initiative if they didn’t see a real possibility of bringing the SSPX back into communion.

But how long these meetings will go on is anyone’s guess. Some have predicted they will by protracted, perhaps continuing along the lines of Israel’s interminable discussions with the Holy See. Others, however, insist they won’t go on indefinitely and that some kind of conclusion will be reached within a fairly short time frame. That seems the most likely scenario.

What many are looking for is a certain amount of humility on the part of the SSPX leadership, and a willingness to listen respectfully to the Church’s position. That hasn’t tended to be the case in the past, and the rhetoric coming from the SSPX in recent months hasn’t encouraged the Vatican that their positions and attitudes have changed. The society has often been inconsistent in its aims and conditions, but the hope is that matters may be different this time around.

Some have suggested that by having these formal talks, the Holy Father is conveying doubts over the conciliar reforms. But this view is rejected by those who know the Holy Father.

No matter how much he cherishes the Church’s traditions, he equally values the Second Vatican Council and will not back down on its reforms.