It sounds like the set-up to a bad barroom joke: What do Communist China, the State of Israel, and the traditionalist Catholic Society of St. Pius X (popularly known as the “Lefebvrites”) have in common?
In reality, there’s a serious answer. All three are bodies with which the Vatican is involved in seemingly eternal, and notoriously unresolved, dialogues. In each case, there’s a familiar rhythm – every six months or so, some new step forward is heralded, only to be followed by another step back as surely as night follows day.
tThe latest case in point comes with news this week that the leader of the breakaway St. Pius X group, the no-longer-excommunicated Swiss Bishop Bernard Fellay, will travel to Rome next month to meet American Cardinal William Levada, head of the Vatican’s doctrinal office. The purpose of the meeting is to review a recent round of talks between the traditionalists and a Vatican delegation.
tI’ve learned from hard experience that prediction is a hazardous business, but here’s one I feel safe in making: Anyone expecting this meeting to end the dispute between Rome and Écône (the Swiss headquarters of the traditionalists) is going to be disappointed.