VATICAN CITY — The effort to reach an agreement between the Church and the Society of St. Pius X will be passed on to the next pope, Father Federico Lombardi said.
“An important point is that, these days, people have spoken about a deadline for Pius X priests and a conclusion to the situation. The Pope is confiding the decision to the next pope, and no conclusion will be made on this date,” said Father Lombardi, the director of the Vatican Press Office.
Archbishop Gerhard Muller, the head of the Vatican doctrine office, originally set Feb. 22 as a deadline for the Society of St. Pius X to reach a decision about accepting a doctrinal preamble that was sent to the society.
“The purpose of dialogue is to overcome difficulties in the interpretation of the Second Vatican Council,” Archbishop Muller told Catholic News Agency July 20, “but we cannot negotiate on revealed faith; that is impossible. An ecumenical council, according to the Catholic faith, is always the supreme teaching authority of the Church.”
The document contains a set of doctrinal statements that the breakaway group would have had to accept to establish a framework for full reconciliation.
All indications seemed to be pointing toward the St. Pius X Society rejecting the agreement. The society has had a strained relationship with the Vatican since its founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, consecrated four bishops against the orders of Pope John Paul II in 1988.
Archbishop Lefebvre founded the society in 1970 as a response to what he described as errors that had crept into the Catholic Church following the Second Vatican Council.
In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI remitted the excommunications of the society’s bishops and set talks in motion aimed at restoring “full communion.”
In May 2012, the Vatican began discussions with Bishop Bernard Fellay, the superior general of the society, and said that it would establish separate talks with the other three bishops.