The head of a group of traditionalist Catholics will meet Vatican officials on September 14 to continue a series of doctrinal discussions.
The Vatican confirmed that Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the Society of St Pius X (SSPX), will travel to Rome in mid-September to meet Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The superior of the Society in Germany, Fr Franz Schmidberger, said on the group’s website that the meeting would discuss the results of doctrinal dialogues from the past two years.
The priest, who is not expected to attend the September meeting, said the discussions would focus on the Society’s “point of view of canon law”, adding that the atmosphere of previous talks had been “very good”.
The talks were launched in late 2009 in an effort by Pope Benedict XVI to repair a 21-year rift with the Society. The Pope said that full communion for the group’s members would depend on “true recognition of the Magisterium and the authority of the Pope and of the Second Vatican Council”.
But Bishop Fellay has said that the Society has been using the talks as a means to show the Holy See the contradictions between the Church’s traditional teachings and its practices since Vatican II.
The dialogue with the Vatican was not a search for compromise but “a question of faith”, Bishop Fellay said in February.
Fr Davide Pagliarani, superior of the Society in Italy, said: “The canonical situation in which the Society presently finds itself is [the] result of its resistance to the errors that infest the Church.
“Consequently, the possibility of the Society arriving at a regular canonical situation does not depend on us but on the hierarchy’s acceptance of the contribution that tradition can make to the restoration of the Church,” he said in an interview published in English on the Society’s website.
Pope Benedict XVI placed the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei under the authority of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in July 2009. He said that the commission would be responsible for talks aimed at restoring “full communion” with members of the SSPX, founded by the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.
The Vatican said the talks had focused on the concept of tradition, liturgical reform, interpretation of the Second Vatican Council in continuity with Catholic doctrinal tradition, Church unity, ecumenism, the relationship between Christianity and non-Christian religions, and religious freedom.