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 CNS Story:

SSPX-BURKE Jun-15-2012 (530 words) xxxi

Cardinal Burke optimistic on reconciliation with SSPX

Cardinal Burke (CNS file/Paul Haring)

By Francis X. Rocca
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A senior Vatican official voiced optimism about reconciliation talks with the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X, while acknowledging the longer-term challenge of bringing the breakaway group under papal leadership.

"I believe that the reconciliation will take place, and then we have to devote ourselves to consolidating it and helping it to go forward," Cardinal Raymond L. Burke told Catholic News Service June 15, two days after Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the SSPX, met with Vatican officials.

At that meeting, according to statements by both sides, the Vatican presented Bishop Fellay with an evaluation of the society's positions on a series of doctrinal questions and a draft document proposing that the SSPX become a personal prelature, effectively an international diocese under the direct authority of the pope.

But an SSPX statement also said that unresolved "doctrinal difficulties" with the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and the Catholic Church's subsequent liturgical reform could lead to a "new phase of discussions" over how to end nearly 25 years of separation.

Cardinal Burke, prefect of the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature and a former archbishop of St. Louis, said his talks with SSPX clergy and lay members have indicated that the "great majority" desire full communion with Rome and Pope Benedict XVI.

"The pope is their pope, in the sense that they see him as the pastor of the universal church," Cardinal Burke said. "They see their situation as anomalous, (in) that they believe in him as the successor of St. Peter and yet they're not under his care."

The cardinal also emphasized Pope Benedict's determination to reach an agreement.

"It is clear that in his heart he wants very much the reconciliation," Cardinal Burke said.

In 2007, Pope Benedict satisfied a central demand of the SSPX when he lifted restrictions on celebration of the traditional Latin Mass. Two years later, he lifted the excommunications that Bishop Fellay and the three other SSPX bishops had incurred when they were ordained without papal permission; later the same year, he established a Vatican committee to hold doctrinal talks with society representatives.

Cardinal Burke said reconciliation with the traditionalist society would be "really a gift for the whole church."

"They have the Catholic faith and the love of the sacred liturgy," he said.

After nearly a quarter-century since the Society of St. Pius X bishops were excommunicated in 1988, the process of reintegration will not be an easy one, Cardinal Burke said.

"There'll be some rough spots along the way," he said. "When you've been away for all these years from close unity with the Roman Catholic Church, there will be adjustments.

"There will have to be a change in the way of thinking and acting, by which the obedience to the Holy Father becomes much more concrete, because they will be directly under his governance, which they have not been for these past decades," he said.

But the "challenge of obedience is in the whole church," Cardinal Burke said. "There are others who have other ideas and approaches, who also the Holy Father calls to obedience. And so I think that we can all learn from this."


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