VATICAN CITY (EWTN News) — The leadership of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X has confirmed that they will meet with Vatican officials next month to discuss their future relationship with the Catholic Church.
“The superior general (Bishop Bernard Fellay) and his two assistants, Father Niklaus Pfluger and Father Alain-Marc Nely have, on 14 September 2011, been asked to a special interview in Rome,” announced the superior of the Society in Germany, Father Franz Schmidberger, on their website Aug. 25.
The three men will meet with Cardinal William Levada, the prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, and the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. Created in 1988, Ecclesia Dei is the Vatican body that has special responsibility for relations with the society.
Father Schmidberger said next month’s meeting would “discuss the results of nearly two years of doctrinal dialogues between the Holy See and the SSPX” and that the talks thus far had occurred in a “very good climate.”
The society has had a troubled relationship with the Vatican since its founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebrve, consecrated four bishops against the orders of Pope John Paul II in 1988. Archbishop Lefebrve founded the Society of St. Pius X in 1970 as a response to what he called errors he said had crept into the Catholic Church following the Second Vatican Council.
In 2009, Pope Benedict remitted the excommunications of the society’s bishops and set talks in motion aimed at achieving “full communion.” To achieve this, he said, members of the society would have to show “true recognition of the magisterium and the authority of the Pope and of the Second Vatican Council.”
There is some speculation that next month’s meeting could be the culmination of that process. This past June, Bishop Fellay told members of the society that after September’s talks the Vatican would give all documents “to the higher authorities.”
If an agreement can be reached, two possibilities for a way forward include establishing the society as a “personal prelature,” granting it a status similar to that of Opus Dei, or as an “ordinariate” akin to the one recently created for Anglican converts.