The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has announced it will hold separate talks with the superior general of the breakaway traditionalist Society of St. Pius X and each of its three other bishops to try and acheive reconciliation.
“The text of the response of Bishop Bernard Fellay, received on 17 April, 2012, was examined, and some observations, which will be considered in further discussions between the Holy See and the Society of St. Pius X, were formulated,” said a communiqué issued May 16.
The statement was published after a quarterly meeting of the Ordinary Session of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The 16-person committee, known as Feria Quarta, met this morning to discuss the modifications made by the Superior of the Society of St. Pius X, Bishop Bernard Fellay, to a “doctrinal preamble” prepared last year by the Vatican. The document establishes a framework for agreement on some key issues of Church doctrine, including acceptance of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.
In contrast to Bishop Fellay, the society’s three other bishops seem hostile to the idea of reconciliation with Rome.
Today’s Vatican communiqué said the situations of the three other bishops “will have to be dealt with separately and singularly.”
Earlier this month, Bishops Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Alfonso de Galarreta and Richard Williamson sent a letter to Bishop Fellay warning that an agreement with the Vatican would see the society “cease to oppose the universal apostasy of our time.”
They also argued that the Second Vatican Council “did not just include particular errors, but represented a total perversion of the mind, a new philosophy founded on subjectivism.”
Pope Benedict XVI was dismissed by the three Pius X Society bishops as a “subjectivist.”
Prior to today’s statement, many observers thought it was possible that the committee would announce an agreement with the society that could be presented to Pope Benedict XVI for his judgment.
Feria Quarta consists of some of the Vatican’s senior curial figures, such as Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and several bishops from key dioceses, including Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna and Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard of Bordeaux. It is chaired by the prefect of the congregation, the American Cardinal William Levada.
The Society of St. Pius X was founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebrve in 1970 as a response to what he described as errors that had crept into the Catholic Church following the Second Vatican Council. Its relations with the Vatican became strained in 1988, when Archbishop Lefebrve consecrated four bishops against the orders of Pope John Paul II.