An Italian news agency is reporting that not only was a high-level meeting held Monday between the Holy See and the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X, but that Pope Benedict XVI is hopeful that a solution will found quickly. A second meeting is reported to have been scheduled for March 23.
According to AGI, "speaking to the cardinals in charge of the various Roman Curia departments, Pope Benedict XVI confirmed his intention to find a rapid solution to the issue of the followers of monsignor Marcel Lefebvre, who seem willing to join back the Church."
The society was founded by the Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, a group that in 1988 broke away from the Catholic Church after Lefebvre ordained three bishops without the Vaticanís permission. All four bishops were excommunicated, although there had been some reconciliation with the Catholic Church in recent years.
Of Monday's meeting, Zenit news was only able to report that a meeting was held between the Pope and "cardinals and heads of the Holy See's dicasteries."
The Rorate Caeli blog notes that the main topics of discussion were scheduled to be:
- A text on the remission of the canonical censures imposed on the four bishops consecrated by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and co-consecrated by Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer in 1988;
- The parameters for a stable canonical structure for the bishops, priests, orders, and lay faithful attached to the Classical rites of the Latin Church (this structure would probably use some form included in the Code of Canon Law-CIC, but could in many details be defined by particular law, as allowed by the principles of canon law and by precedent);
- A clear definition of the existence and limits (of a canonical or pastoral nature) of the rights of the priests of the Latin Church to celebrate the Mass and Sacraments according to the Ancient rites of the Latin Church.
That AGI article reported that on August 29, the Pope met with the chief representative of the S. Pius X Brotherhood, monsignor Bernard Fellay, and during the meeting Fellay told him that he was in favour of a quick solution of the whole issue.
AGI reported that the Pope is said to be willing to allow the followers of the schismatic bishop to maintain their own liturgy and a certain degree of independence in terms of discipline, which would add up to acknowledge their different 'ritual'.
In a CNS interview, Cardinal Francis Arinze, who heads the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, said that the pope wants to "offer reconciliation to followers of the late French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre -- but not at the cost of "disowning" the Second Vatican Council."
In that same CNS article, Cardinal Arinze said that the fact that Pope Benedict has written extensively about liturgy does suggest there is hope for reconciliation with the Society of St. Pius X, "which was founded by Arch