VATICAN, Mar. 22, 01 (CWNews.com) -- The Vatican press office has
confirmed widespread reports of new talks between the Holy See and the
Society of St. Pius X, the schismatic traditionalist group, but refused to
comment on the substance of any negotiations.
"I can confirm that there have been formal contacts between the Holy See
and the Society of St. Pius X," said papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls.
"These contacts, which were desired by the Holy Father, are still continuing.
For the moment, I have no other information."
The contacts between the Holy See and the traditionalist group have been
well known for several months. However, the issue gained new prominence
last week when the Spanish daily La Razon reported that the negotiations
were close to producing an agreement that could bring the Society of St. Pius
X back into full communion with the Holy See. La Razon also said that the
Pope might create a new "personal prelature" to serve the traditionalist
movement. (Since the canonical creation of the "personal prelature," only one
group-- Opus Dei-- has been given that recognition.) However, neither
Navarro-Valls nor other Vatican officials made any comment on the Spanish
Last August, about 5,000 traditionalist pilgrims came to Rome on a Jubilee
pilgrimage, led by Bishop Bernard Fellay, the superior of the Society of St.
Pius X. Since that date, there have been discussions involving Bishop Fellay
and Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, the prefect of the Congregation for the
Clergy. Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos is also the head of the Ecclesia Dei
commission, charged with the implementation of the Pope's efforts to
provide adequate pastoral care for loyal Catholics devoted to the traditional
The Society of St. Pius X, founded by the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre,
opposes some teachings of Vatican II, most notably the Declaration on
Religious Freedom, and insists on the celebration of the traditional
Tridentine-rite Mass. In 1988, when he consecrated new bishops (including
Bishop Fellay) for this traditionalist movement in defiance of direct orders
from Rome, Archbishop Lefebvre was excommunicated, and the tensions
between Rome and the Society of St. Pius X became an open split.
Meanwhile, Pope John Paul II met on Thursday
with a delegation of American Presbyterian leaders, and told them that he
had been delighted by the participation of other Christian groups in the
celebration of the Jubilee year.
The joint celebrations, the Pontiff said, "confirm the common work for
Christian unity." He acknowledged the painful history of divisions within the
body of Christianity, and said that all believers should work together to
bring an end to that scandal.