Home   |  About Us   |  Contacts   |  Products    
 News Items:
 News Briefs
 Word To Life
 More News:
 Special Sections:
 2006 in review
 Inside the Curia
 Vatican II at 40
 John Paul II
 Other Items:
 Client Area
 Did You Know...

 The whole CNS
 public Web site
 headlines, briefs
 stories, etc,
 represents less
 than one percent
 of the daily news

 Get all the news!

 If you would like
 more information
 about the
 Catholic News
 Service daily
 news report,
 please contact
 CNS at one of
 the following:
 (202) 541-3250


 This material
 may not
 be published,
 rewritten or
 (c) 2006
 Catholic News
 Conference of
 Catholic Bishops.

 CNS Story:

TRIDENTINE-LEFEBVRITES Jul-9-2007 (910 words) xxxi

Traditionalists: Differences still remain after Tridentine document

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The traditionalist Society of St. Pius X thanked Pope Benedict XVI for allowing greater use of the Tridentine Mass but said serious doctrinal differences remain before it can reconcile with the Vatican.

In a statement July 7, excommunicated Bishop Bernard Fellay, head of the Swiss-based society, said the papal decision had created a "favorable climate" to consider the doctrinal issues more calmly.

"The Society of St. Pius X rejoices to see the church thus regain her liturgical tradition and give the possibility of a free access to the treasure of the traditional Mass for the glory of God, the good of the church and the salvation of souls, to the priests and faithful who had so far been deprived of it," the statement said.

The society expressed "its deep gratitude to the sovereign pontiff for this great spiritual benefit."

The statement went on to say that the Vatican should withdraw excommunication decrees against the society's leadership to allow further progress in their dialogue.

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.

Pope John Paul II's apostolic letter "Ecclesia Dei" ("Church of God") the same year said Archbishop Lefebvre and the ordained bishops had excommunicated themselves by their acts.

In a meeting in 2005 with Pope Benedict, Bishop Fellay asked for the restoration of the Tridentine rite as a sign of good will.

The papal decree allows the Tridentine Mass to be celebrated by any priest privately and in parishes where it is requested by groups of the faithful. In an explanatory letter accompanying his document, the pope noted the importance of the Tridentine Mass to the breakaway Lefebvrite order but said the reasons for their break with the Vatican "were at a deeper level."

Bishop Fellay's statement said the papal letter "does not hide ... the difficulties that still remain."

"The Society of St. Pius X wishes that the favorable climate established by the new dispositions of the Holy See will make it possible -- after the decree of excommunication which still affects its bishops has been withdrawn -- to consider more serenely the disputed doctrinal issues," he said.

The Lefebvrite society, which has about 600,000 members and more than 400 priests worldwide, rejects the new Mass adopted in 1970 as well as various Vatican II teachings, including those on ecumenism, interreligious dialogue, religious liberty and collegiality.

Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, the Vatican official who has led the dialogue effort with the Lefebvrites, said the concession on the Tridentine Mass offered a potential breakthrough opportunity.

"With this 'motu proprio' (a phrase that signifies a pope is acting on his own initiative) the door has been opened for a return to full communion by the Society of St. Pius X. If this return does not happen after this act, I truly wouldn't understand it," Cardinal Castrillon said in an interview with the Italian newspaper Il Giornale.

In a separate interview with the Italian magazine 30 Giorni, Cardinal Castrillon said the pope's decision should help correct a long-standing misinterpretation of Vatican II.

The liturgical reforms that followed Vatican II were accompanied by "distress on various levels," the cardinal said.

"What made things worse was that those who felt this distress blamed these changes on the council, when in reality the council itself had not asked for nor foreseen the particulars of these changes," he said.

"The Mass celebrated by the council fathers was the (Tridentine) Mass of St. Pius V. The council did not ask for the creation of a new rite, but for greater use of the vernacular language and greater participation of the faithful," he said.

One thing the council did ask was that church leaders listen to the legitimate desires of the faithful, Cardinal Castrillon said. In that sense, he said, those who object to the pope's decree "ought to see the thousands of letters that have arrived in Rome" asking for the freedom to attend the Tridentine Mass.

He said it was important that those who want the Tridentine Mass not be considered "second-class" Catholics. They simply want the right "to attend a Mass that has nourished the Christian people for centuries," he said.

Cardinal Castrillon said that in consultation sessions with Roman curial heads and the world's cardinals over the last year and a half, there was "truly minimal resistance" to the pope's proposal. Opposition from some bishops' conferences was based on the erroneous impression that the pope would turn back the clock or reduce bishops' authority, he said.

The cardinal said he foresaw no particular problems implementing the decree, as long as "good sense" prevails.

Fears that a small minority of the faithful will be able to impose the Tridentine Mass on a parish are unfounded, he said.

"No pastor will be forced to celebrate the Mass of St. Pius V. But if a group of faithful, having a priest available to do it, asks to celebrate this Mass, the pastor or the rector of the church cannot oppose it," he said.

"Obviously, if there are problems it will fall to the bishop to make sure everything proceeds under the sign of respect and, I would say, good sense, in harmony with the universal pastor," he said.


Copyright (c) 2007 Catholic News Service/USCCB. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed.
CNS · 3211 Fourth St NE · Washington DC 20017 · 202.541.3250