Cold feet in match between Rome and Lefebvrists

Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior of the Society of St. Pius X, is pictured near a photo of Pope Benedict XVI at the society's headquarters in Menzingen, Switzerland, May 11.

Cold feet, of course, are fairly common before any wedding. It’s thus probably no surprise that as Rome and the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X, popularly known as the “Lefebvrists,” prepare to walk down the aisle, important voices on both sides of the match are having some second thoughts.

Leaked correspondence shows that three of the four bishops of the society are strongly opposed to a deal, while the top French traditionalist has denounced the “plague” of the Second Vatican Council. The society’s superior has openly admitted a split may be in the works.

Meanwhile in Rome, even some of the pope’s best friends are voicing concern that a deal should not signal a retreat from Vatican II.

Sources say that an offer for reunion could be made by the end of May, along the lines of a “personal prelature”, a non-territorial diocese status currently held by Opus Dei. In mid-April, the superior of the Society of St. Pius X, Swiss Bishop Bernard Fellay, approved a “doctrinal preamble” laid out by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Though long opposed to Vatican II’s teachings on liturgy, religious freedom and ecumenism and inter-faith dialogue, the society did not split from Rome until 1988, when the late French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre ordained four bishops in defiance of Pope John Paul II.

While a deal to heal that breach seems imminent, there’s trepidation within the society. [more]