Rome has given the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X until February 22 to accept the outstretched hand of Pope Benedict XVI. But the Lefebvrist priests will not move before the election of the future pope.
According to our information, the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" which is responsible for dialogue with the Lefebvrists, sent Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X (FSSPX) in early January, a letter giving him until Feb. 22 to accept the latest doctrinal Preamble delivered on June 13. [Rorate was the first website to confirm this, on Feb. 13]
This document would make possible the return of the Fraternity into the Church provided it recognizes the validity of the Missal of Paul VI, the Second Vatican Council, and the Magisterium as the authentic interpreter of Tradition ... conditions rejected in July by the General Chapter of the FSSPX. Also, in the absence of a positive response from Bishop Fellay by Friday, Rome would exercise the possibility of applying individually to each priest of the Society.
Queried by La Croix , the Lefebvrist clergy do not seem ready to leap. "If they want to write me, I will answer very nicely, but I do not see myself leaving the Society where I have been since my ordination thirty years ago. I am not going to change my opinion today” said Fr. M.
THE MAJORITY RALLIED BEHIND THE SUPERIOR GENERAL
The vast majority rallied behind the superior general. "In the past I considered leaving the Fraternity,” recounts Fr. K, “but more for interpersonal difficulties than for doctrinal reasons. However, today I have no doubt, given the approach adopted in discussions with Rome; I have absolute confidence in Bishop Fellay.”
Even those who present themselves as the most "agreement-oriented" do not intend to leave the Fraternity on their own. Thus, Father B. in the South regrets that it is "increasingly difficult to discuss this subject with (his) colleagues because there is a distinct hardening, they have turned in recent months." However, he says he does not want to lose the "spirit proper to our own congregation.” “Our strength is precisely this spirit, this community life that sustains us.” […]
The General Chapter of the summer seems to have even tightened the links between the Lefebvrists. "Communication within the Brotherhood has not been easy in the past,” continues Fr. B. “but last summer Bishop Fellay acknowledged that he should keep us better informed about the discussions with Rome."
"SOME ARE FED UP, BUT NOT TO THE POINT OF LEAVING"
“Since then, the climate of confidence has grown between us." Join an Ordinariate? Few would see that as a resolution because on the doctrinal level they have not changed one iota: "We are always open to proposals from the Holy See, but do not force us to accept Vatican II! For forty years we've been saying that!” exclaims Father Jean-Yves Cottard Tours. "The Council has promulgated a text contrary to the Catholic faith –that concerning religious liberty. We cannot in good conscience accept this text … "
Although there are some who would seize the outstretched hand, they would be twenty at the most. "Some are fed up, but not enough to leave. There have been departures in twenty-five years, but all those who could have already left” says a friend of the FSSPX. “The prospect of another excommunication does not worry, they are accustomed to sanctions.”
Moreover, according to them, the concessions made by Benedict XVI, the Motu Proprio of 2009 foremost among these, have reassured them of their rights and the idea that they have more to gain by waiting. "In the dioceses, it will soon be very hard humanly and financially whereas we have vocations; we had a huge series of acquisitions last year” says Fr. Gregoire Celier, spokesman for the district of France who was installed mid-March in the Chapel of Our Lady of Consolation in Paris.
In any case, "the resignation of Benedict XVI has suspended everything,” summarizes Celier, “we will not move until we know the name of his successor."