Traditionalist leader meets at Vatican to discuss reconciliation

Francis X. Rocca

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The leader of a breakaway group of traditionalist Catholics met with Vatican officials Tuesday for the latest in a long series of reconciliation talks.

Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the Society of St. Pius X, met for two hours with Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican said in a statement.

"Various problems of a doctrinal and canonical nature were examined, and it was decided to proceed gradually and over a reasonable period of time in order to overcome difficulties and with a view to the envisioned full reconciliation," the Vatican statement said.

The SSPX effectively broke with Rome in 1988, when its founder, the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, ordained four bishops without the permission of St. John Paul II in a protest against modernizing changes that followed the Second Vatican Council of 1962-65.

In 2012, after years of on-again-off-again talks, the Vatican announced that the traditionalists had been formally offered terms of reconciliation, but the SSPX did not accept, citing unresolved "doctrinal difficulties," including the form of the Mass introduced by Pope Paul VI.

Also present at the meeting Tuesday were Archbishops Luis Ladaria Ferrer and J. Augustine Di Noia, secretary and adjunct secretary, respectively, of the doctrinal congregation; Archbishop Guido Pozzo, secretary of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei"; and two SSPX officials: Fr. Niklaus Pfluger and Fr. Alain-Marc Nely.

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