.- The Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X says he will inform the Vatican “in the next few days” that they cannot give the doctrinal reassurances required of them to advance reconciliation with the Catholic Church.
“It is true that this Doctrinal Preamble cannot receive our endorsement,” said Bishop Bernard Fellay on the society’s website, Nov. 28.
However, Bishop Fellay said his understanding is that the document is “not a definite text” and that it “can be clarified and modified.” In particular, he would like to discuss what the Vatican means when it says that there is “leeway” for a “legitimate discussion” on the documents and legacy of the Second Vatican Council.
“What is the extent of this leeway? The proposal that I will make in the next few days to the Roman authorities and their response in turn will enable us to evaluate our remaining options,” he said.
The breakaway Society of St. Pius X was presented with the “doctrinal preamble” or statement of principles by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in September.
The document outlined doctrinal points that the Vatican needs clarified before the 23-year rift between the two sides can be healed. The society has been discussing its response for the past two months.
Bishop Fellay said that to give a “flat refusal,” to the Vatican offer would be the “simplest thing, perhaps, but not the most courteous,” and since the note that accompanies it “foresees the possibility of making clarifications,” it seems “necessary to ask for them instead of refusing them a priori.” He added that this “in no way prejudges the response that we will give.”
If the society agrees with the doctrinal preamble, they may be able to enter into the Church as a personal prelature—a jurisdiction without geographical boundaries designed to carry out particular pastoral initiatives.
But Bishop Fellay said that setting aside theological differences “in order to obtain a canonical status” would “expose” the society “to the danger of seeing the same differences crop up inevitably, which would make the canonical status not just precarious but quite simply unliveable.”
The Society of St. Pius X was founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1970 as a response to what he described as errors that had crept into the Catholic Church following the 1962-1965 Second Vatican Council.
The society has had a strained relationship with the Vatican since Archbishop Lefebvre consecrated four bishops against the orders of Pope John Paul II in 1988.