Talks aimed at reconciling the Vatican and the Society of St. Pius X are progressing, according to Bishop Bernard Fellay, head of the Society.
The 48-year-old priest told journalists Friday he was sure Pope Benedict XVI wanted to end the 17-year split between the Church and the dissenting group. But Fellay, the successor to the Society’s founder Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, says reconciliation must progress slowly in order to avoid problems in the future, reported Reuters.
The Society has maintained the old Latin Mass and rejects much of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. The Swiss-based group, which has 463 priests and six seminaries around the world, is the only religious group to break with the Catholic Church since the Council. In 1988, Rome excommunicated Lefebvre and four bishops he made -- including Fellay -- for holding that ceremony without papal permission.
Fellay met Pope Benedict last August, as well as Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, the Vatican official dealing with the SSPX, in November. Fellay reported that his meeting with the cardinal was very fruitful.
"For the first time, we really discussed fundamental questions," Fellay was quoted as saying. "There is a new tone [to the discussions]." He added that the cardinal had said just before the meeting that he saw no heresy or schism in the Society’s activities.
Statements like those and comments by Benedict during their meeting in August meant that the Latin Mass and the 1988 excommunications were no longer blocking the way to reconciliation, Fellay told reporters.