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VATICAN-FELLAY Aug-25-2006 (550 words) xxxi

Lefebvrite bishop says no progress on reconciliation with Vatican

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

ROME (CNS) -- A year after his meeting with Pope Benedict XVI, the head of the Society of St. Pius X, Bishop Bernard Fellay, said there had been no substantial progress on reconciliation with the Vatican.

Bishop Fellay said that after the terms of a possible agreement were discussed by cardinals and Roman Curia officials in meetings last spring "there's been no development" on the issue.

"I think probably the pope would like things to go quicker, and he's probably facing a lot of opposition from the cardinals, from within," Bishop Fellay said Aug. 24.

"Right now, there's not much happening in either direction," he said.

Bishop Fellay spoke by phone to Catholic News Service from the society's headquarters in Econe, Switzerland. In late August 2005, he and another official of his order met privately with the pope for 35 minutes, an encounter that prompted speculation about possible reconciliation.

The society, which rejects many of the changes introduced by the Second Vatican Council, broke with the Vatican in 1988 when its late founder, French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, ordained four bishops against papal instructions. Bishop Fellay was one of those ordained.

In the interview, Bishop Fellay said the group had sought as a "sign of good will" the restoration of the Tridentine rite, the liturgy that was replaced after Vatican II. He said the Vatican should simply declare that the Tridentine rite can be used freely because it was never really abrogated.

"This would bring lots of graces, so it would be a help. We certainly say it would be a step, but it is not the whole thing," he said.

Granting wider permission to use the Tridentine Mass has been suggested by some Vatican officials, in particular Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, who has pushed for reconciliation with the Lefebvrites. But at the Vatican meetings earlier this year, some church leaders voiced opposition to the idea.

Some cardinals also reportedly questioned a proposal to make the Lefebvrite society a personal prelature, which would give it a special form of jurisdiction over members worldwide.

Bishop Fellay made clear that the society's differences with the Vatican were broad. In the society's view, he said, the church has experienced a "great, great decline" over the last 40 years -- in liturgy, discipline, faith formation and education.

"We have pointed out to the authorities that a big part of the problem may come from the novelties introduced with the council," he said.

The question is not so much what the church should do about the Lefebvrite society, he said, but how the church should solve these more basic internal problems.

"We are absolutely persuaded that when church authorities take these problems in hand, then we will no longer be a problem," he said.

Bishop Fellay said he was convinced after meeting with Pope Benedict that this pope was "capable of listening to what we said" and that the society's requests were "not at the level of the impossible."

The bishop said he was certain there would be new contacts with the Vatican and more discussion in the future, but he predicted that reconciliation would take a long time, perhaps years.

In July, Bishop Fellay was elected to another 12-year term as superior general of the society.

END


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