Vatican expert says intolerance greeting Pope's efforts at unity with SSPX


Commenting on the Pope's ongoing efforts to bring the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church, Vatican writer Sandro Magister noted on Wednesday that some traditionalist groups have already "made their peace with Rome." However, because of his efforts, Pope Benedict has become “the target of intolerance,” Magister said.

After commenting on the criticism made about the Pope for his continued efforts to approach the SSPX, Magister referred to an article published in L'Osservatore Romano on May 11 by Fr. Giancarlo Rocca in which he recounted the work of the Ecclesia Dei Commission to bring various splinter groups back into the fold.

The article explains that the foundation of Ecclesia Dei by John Paul II in 1988 came about in response to episcopal ordinations carried out that same year by the founder of the SSPX, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.  The objective of the pontifical commission, wrote Fr. Rocca, was to bring those groups that split from SSPX at that point back into full communion.

Since then, more than 10 institutions have returned to Rome, including the formidable priestly fraternity of Saint Peter during the commission's first year. Listing the other examples, Rocca observed, "The progress made by 'Ecclesia Dei' in these nearly twenty-two years has been significant."

A "modest number" of institutes have been given the possibility of entering, with pontifical approval, while still following the traditional rite in the Church, related Fr. Rocca.

He also explained also that there are still many priests, religious, seminarians and faithful "under supervision" by the commission in the hope that they will also eventually reunite completely with the Church.

In his article, Sandro Magister provided a look at Pope Benedict XVI's efforts to bring the SSPX back into the Roman Catholic fold despite continued criticism for approaching dialogue at all.

Turning to a March 2009 letter sent to the world's bishops that explained the intention of lifting the excommunications of the four bishops illicitly ordained by Archbishop Lefebvre, Magister recalled how the Pope said he did it to call "those thus punished to repent and to return to unity." Pope Benedict also lamented the intolerance in the Church for both SSPX members and those who "dare to approach them."

Magister wrote Wednesday, "Benedict XVI himself is a target of this intolerance."

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