August 29, 2005
Pope opens talks with Latin Mass renegades
From Richard Owen in Rome
POPE BENEDICT XVI, who reached out to Muslims and Jews last week on his first trip to his native Germany since his election, is preparing to mend an enduring schism within the Roman Catholic Church.
Vatican sources say that the Pope is planning to lift the excommunication of a group of renegade ultra-traditionalists by his predecessor, John Paul II, 17 years ago. …
In an unprecedented move, the Pope is to receive Bishop Bernard Fellay, the Superior General of the Society of St Pius X, for conciliation talks at his summer residence at Castelgandolfo today.
The society (or brotherhood) was set up in 1969 by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, of France, who gathered around him right-wing traditionalists opposed to the reforms of the Second Vatican Council and established a seminary at Ecône in Switzerland.
Archbishop Lefebvre died in 1991 but his breakaway group continues to operate worldwide, with 4 bishops, 460 priests, 7 seminaries and nearly 500 churches, all using the Latin Mass.
Andrea Tornielli, a papal biographer, said that Benedict XVI — formerly the guardian of Vatican tradition as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger — was well placed to mend the rift since he had himself shown a preference for the Latin Mass.