Pope Meets with Traditionalist Leader
Pope Meets With Head of Lefebvre Movement, By NICOLE WINFIELD Associated Press Writer
Pope Benedict XVI met Monday with the head of the ultraconservative schismatic movement founded by the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, and both sides said they had agreed to take steps to resolve their differences. Both the Vatican and Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of Lefebvre's Society of St. Pius X said the meeting was held in a spirit of love for the church. But the society has spurned previous efforts by the Vatican to bring it back into its fold.
Lefebvre founded the Switzerland-based society in 1969, opposed to the liberalizing reforms of the 1962-65 Second Vatican Council, particularly its call for Mass to be celebrated in local languages and not in Latin. He was excommunicated in 1988 after consecrating four bishops without Rome's consent and died in 1991. All four bishops, including Fellay, also were excommunicated.
Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said the meeting was held with "a desire to arrive at perfect communion." "While knowing the difficulties, the desire to proceed by degrees and in reasonable time was shown," Navarro-Valls said in a statement. Fellay concurred, saying the two sides discussed the "serious difficulties" between them and had agreed to take steps to resolve them. "The Society of St. Pius X prays that the Holy Father can find the force to end the crisis of the Church by 'restoring all things in Christ,'" he said in a statement. The society claims about 450 priests, 180 seminarians and has a presence in 26 countries.