Catholic traditionalists who broke with Rome twenty years ago have said they could not rejoin the Church because Pope Benedict XVI still supports the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, Reuters reports.
The Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) has sought the promotion of the Tridentine Latin Mass, which has been rarely used since the Second Vatican Council of 1962-1965. It is also critical of ecumenism, especially of positive relations with Judaism, and papal apologies for Catholics’ past sins.
Some saw Pope Benedict’s permission last year for broader use of the Tridentine Latin Mass as a gesture to the SSPX seeking its reunion with the Church. The leadership of the SSPX was excommunicated when in 1988 its head, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, ordained four bishops without the permission of Rome.
"The time for an agreement has not yet come," SSPX head Bishop Bernard Fellay wrote in a letter to the society’s members, published in French on Saturday by the SSPX information service DICI.
He said the liberalization of the old Latin Mass was "not accompanied by logically co-related measures in the other areas of the life of the Church.”
"Nothing has changed in Rome's determination to follow the council's orientation, despite 40 years of crisis, despite the deserted convents, abandoned rectories and empty churches."
"Catholic universities persist in their ramblings, teaching of the Catechism remains unknown and Catholic school does not exist anymore as particularly Catholic. They have become an extinct species," Bishop Fellay wrote.
During his U.S. visit, Pope Benedict met with bishops, visited a synagogue, discussed the weakening of Catholic identity at Catholic schools, and encouraged vocations to the priesthood.
Some more traditional aspects of Catholicism were part of Pope Benedict’s appearances. He used an older style of vestments at one service, and some Gregorian chant and a Latin-language creed were used during the papal Mass at New York City’s Yankee Stadium.
The SSPX claims about 1 million members, many of whom are in France.