Pope, leader of St. Pius X Fraternity agree on “gradual process” towards unity

benxvi fellay

Pope Benedict XVI met today with Msgr. Bernard Fellay, superior general of the Society of St. Pius X, Holy See Press Office director Joaquín Navarro-Valls told journalists.

Msgr. Fellay had requested the meeting, which was held at the Pope’s summer residence in Castel Gandolfo. Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, president of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei," created after the 1988 excommunication to try to negotiate with the society, was also present. Msgr. Fellay is one of the four bishops ordained by Msgr. Lefebvre  without the consent of Rome.

 “The meeting was held in a climate of love for the Church and a desire to arrive at perfect communion,” said Navarro-Valls in the statement. Fellay, for example, welcomed Benedict's April 19 election, saying there was a "gleam of hope" that the new pope might find a way out of the "profound crisis" in which the Catholic Church currently finds itself.

There has been controversy surrounding the Society for more than a decade. Pope Benedict XVI, as Prefect of  the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, had been  negotiating with the society to try to keep its members in the fold.

“Although aware of the difficulties, there was manifested the will to proceed by stages and in reasonable time,” Navarro-Valls said. The Saint Pius Society  requested from the Pope to rescind the excommunication order and also allow Catholics to celebrate Mass in Latin without having to ask permission first, as steps toward reconciliation.

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