A text reached the Vatican from the Society of St. Pius X: a document not a response. Meanwhile, in France the hard anti-Roman wing is on the rise
It was expected these days, and the Lefebvrists’ answer to the “doctrinal preamble” proposed by the Vatican has just arrived. Except that the reply surprisingly gives no answer. Or at least it is not the answer that the Ecclesia Dei commission was expecting (positive, negative or requests for clarifications and the amendment of specific points of the text of the preamble). The text that came from the Fraternity will now be studied by a commission headed by Cardinal William Levada and Secretary Guido Pozzo.
As readers may recall, last September the Ecclesia Dei commission delivered into the hands of Bishop Fellay a doctrinal preamble, the result of talks between Lefebvrians and the Holy See. The preamble asked the bishop to accept it in view of the canonical recognition of the Society of Saint Pius X: although Benedict XVI had lifted the excommunication of four bishops who had been consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre without a papal mandate, from a canonical point of view this conservative group is still in an irregular situation.
The preamble, which was never published, was not a “take it or leave it” text. The Holy See had foreseen the possibility for Lefebvrians to seek clarification and to propose further explanations. In essence, however, it could not be changed, since the Vatican asked that the Fraternity accept the “profession of faith” which is a prerequisite for anyone who takes on an assignment with the Church. This was the condition upon which the Lefebvrians could once again enter into relations with the Catholic Church, and a personal prelature dependent on the Pope was created for this purpose. The preamble also recognised that the Church’s Magisterium has the last word in doctrinal disputes.
Fellay, while failing to publish the (temporary)text for the preamble, had however anticipated on at least two public occasions – an interview and a sermon – the difficulties that the Lefebvrians find with the preamble. He had stated plainly that the text as it stood could not be accepted. Many in and outside of Rome, considered the words of the superior as a sign of friction within the Fraternity: the Fellay line has in fact been subject to strong criticism and open dissent by superiors in various districts, who oppose the agreement with the Holy See.
A document has finally arrived, but it is not what the Vatican was expecting. This is because as sources explain, it is “a document”, and not a response. In short, it seems that Bishop Fellay is still biding time, deferring and avoiding taking a decision one way or another, or asking for clarification and possible changes to the text proposed by the Holy See.
In the meantime, uncontrolled rumors about the tensions within the Fraternity are increasing. A newsletter from the Virgo- Maria.org website speaks openly of the possibility that Fellay will be “removed” before July 2012 when positions within the Fraternity will need to be renewed. But the site is known for giving out unfounded information on other occasions.
Beyond the delirious statements contained in this newsletter that speaks of the “apostasy” of Rome and the Pope, it is undeniable that a strong internal dissent, contrary to the agreement with Rome, has grown in recent years in the