Lefebvrites reject reconciliation deadline

VATICAN CITY -- The leader of a breakaway group of conservative Catholics rejected a Vatican proposal for reconciliation, saying that last year’s revival of traditional liturgy by the pope does not go far enough to undo decades of modernization in the church.

“They speak of reconciliation, but it is an integration in the new, and we don’t want that,” said Bishop Bernard Fellay, in a sermon available on the Web site of “Voice of Catholic Radio on Long Island.”

Fellay gave the sermon last Friday (June 20) at a seminary in Winona, Minn., that’s run by the Society of Saint Pius X.

Founded in 1970 by the late French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, the group has consistently protested the changes wrought by the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, including the replacement of the so-called Old Latin Mass with a newer liturgy typically celebrated in local languages.

Lefebvre died in 1991, three years after he was excommunicated by the Vatican. Last July, Pope Benedict XVI lifted restrictions on the Latin Mass, expressing hope that the move would lead to reconciliation with Lefebvre’s followers.

Earlier this week, an Italian newspaper reported that the Vatican had given Fellay an ultimatum, offering to repeal the excommunication of group leaders if they affirmed respect for the pope’s authority. The offer came with a deadline of the end of June.

Fellay characterized the Vatican’s position as an unacceptable demand for silence.

“They just say shut up,” he said. “We are not going to shut down our mouth or to shut up. ... We have fought now for 40 years to keep this faith alive, to keep this tradition not only for ourselves but for the church, and we are just going to continue, happens what happens.”

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