Tuesday, February 14, 2006

CNS STORY: Pope, curial officials discuss proposal to reconcile with Lefebvrites

[Original Story: CNS STORY: Pope, curial officials discuss proposal to reconcile with Lefebvrites]

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI presided over his first major meeting with top Roman Curia officials, an encounter that sources said focused on a proposal to reconcile with followers of the late French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.

More than 20 heads of congregations and pontifical councils attended the Feb. 13 meeting, which was to be followed up by a similar session in late March. No details of the February meeting were made available by the Vatican press office.

A Vatican source said the pope and other department heads listened as Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos outlined a possible solution to the 18-year-long impasse with the Society of St. Pius X, a self-styled traditionalist order founded by Archbishop Lefebvre. Its members reject modern liturgical practices and several teachings of the Second Vatican Council.

One possible step being discussed at the Vatican was establishing an apostolic administration, a special juridical structure that would allow the Lefebvrites to offer pastoral care to their followers around the world.

Another element being discussed was the possibility of granting wider permission to use the Tridentine Mass, the pre-Vatican II liturgy, the source said.

For its part, the society would have to make clear its acceptance of Vatican II's basic teachings on ecumenism, religious liberty and other matters.

Several Vatican sources said that while Cardinal Castrillon strongly supported a solution based on these points opinions were sharply divided among curial members on any concessions to the Lefebvrites.

Cardinal Francis Arinze, head of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, said in a recent interview with Catholic News Service that while he favored reconciliation it could not be offered at any price.

"(The pope) cannot disown Vatican II in order to make the Lefebvrites happy," Cardinal Arinze said.

The pope met last August with Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the Society of St. Pius X and one of four bishops ordained against papal orders in 1988 and declared excommunicated by the Vatican. The papal audience prompted a flurry of speculation about reconciliation.

Afterward, Cardinal Castrillon said in an interview with the Italian magazine 30 Giorni that the Lefebvrites should not be made to fear that they would be silenced if they reconciled with the Vatican. He said they were rightly concerned about liturgical abuses in the post-conciliar period.

"The critical contributions that can come from the society in this sense could, I believe, be a richness for the church, if expressed under the charism of Peter," Cardinal Castrillon said.

Others at the Vatican said they believed Pope Benedict has no illusions about the Lefebvrites. As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he unsuccessfully tried to reconcile with them in 1988 and later said the group had closed itself off in a type of "fanaticism of the elect."

One Vatican source who participated in the February meeting of curial heads said he thought the pope wanted to make one big push for reconciliation at the beginning of his pontificate.

"I think it's now or never for the Lefebvrites. As time passes, an agreement will become much more difficult," he said.

[CWNews also has a story on this.]

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