Pope’s bid to win over Catholic rebels seems at dead end
Pope Benedict’s bid to draw rebel Catholic traditionalists back to the Roman fold, a major effort that has divided Catholics and sometimes embarrassed him, seems to have hit a dead end with little apparent hope of a solution.
Two leaders of the Society of St Pius X (SSPX), which broke away over reforms of the 1962-1965 Second Vatican Council, have recently rejected his conditions for their rehabilitation after a series of contacts following his 2005 election as pope.
SSPX head Bishop Bernard Fellay, who Church officials expect will send a formal reply to Rome soon, has not yet indicated the group’s final position but it is not expected to be positive.
A formal or de facto SSPX rejection would be a setback for Benedict, whose decision to lift excommunications on its four bishops in 2009 backfired when it emerged one was a notorious Holocaust denier and the Vatican did not even know it.
“The SSPX has set conditions that are simply unacceptable to the pope,” Nicolas Seneze, a French expert on the Society, told Reuters. “Their discussions are now back at square one.”
The Swiss-based SSPX broke away from Rome in 1988 in protest against the 1960s reforms that replaced Latin with local languages at Mass, forged reconciliation with Jews and admitted other religions may also offer a path to salvation.
Benedict, who at the time was the Vatican’s top doctrinal official, failed to convince SSPX founder Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre not to ordain four bishops. Appointing them meant the SSPX could continue its work outside of Vatican control. [More]