Traditionalist blog “Rorate Caeli” revealed that “sometime in the past few months” Francis received the Superior of the Society of St. Pius X in St. Martha’s House
ANDREA TORNIELLI Taken from Vatican Insider
Yesterday, traditionalist website Rorate Caeli revealed that “sometime in the past few months” Bishop Bernard Fellay, the Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X, was received BY Pope Francis in St. Martha’s House. No information was given regarding the sources and circumstances surrounding their encounter.
Authoritative religious news blog Il Sismografo, edited by Luis Badilla, reported the news yesterday evening.
Readers will recall that the Holy See’s relations with the fraternity have remained frozen since 2012, when the former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Levada, delivered a preamble – approved by Pope Benedict XVI – asking the traditionalist group to sign it, as a condition for entering into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church and gaining legal status with the establishment of a “personal prelacy”. Although the fraternity’s excommunication was lifted in January 2009, disagreements remained over certain doctrinal points and so the status of the Lefebvrian hierarchy and its priests is still irregular. Not only have the leaders of the Society of St. Pius X criticized the Second Vatican Council since Francis took over from Benedict XVI, but they have even written and published some very harsh comments against Pope Francis.
Rorate Caeli writes that for the purposes of protecting its sources, it did not wish to specify the date of the meeting but added “it was not a merely fortuitous event” in the sense that the Pope was informed about Mgr. Fellay’s presence in St. Martha’s House, giving the impression that that meeting had been planned and “apparently short and cordial.”
Vatican Insider has learnt that the meeting apparently took place in the last few weeks of 2013. Mgr. Fellay was invited to dinner at St. Martha’s House by Bishop Guido Pozzo, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei and Archbishop Augustin Di Noia, Vice- President of the same commission. Father Niklaus Pfulger and Alain-Marc Nely, assistants to the superior general of Society of St. Pius X, were present alongside the traditionalist prelate.
The Pope was sat at his usual table in the St. Martha House dining room; Fellay, his two assistants, Pozzo and Di Noia were sat at another table. When Francis got up after dinner, the fraternity’s superior did so also and approached the Pope, kneeling down to ask for a blessing. Their encounter was therefore brief. There was no audience and neither did the two have along one to one conversation. Living in St. Martha’s House makes these kinds of encounters possible for Francis.
When Mgr. Pozzo returned to the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” after a brief time at the office of papal charities, some hoped that dialogue between the Holy See and the Society of St. Pius X would resume. But some in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith are pushing for a new formal document to be signed against the Lefebvrians. Particularly given that dialogue has dragged on for years and the fraternity refused to accept the doctrinal preamble proposed by the Church. For now, however, there seems to be a general desire to wait and see.
The dinner with di Noia and Pozzo and the papal blessing scene is certainly typical of Francis’ welcoming nature. But it would wrong to attribute too much importance to this episode in terms of potential developments in the Lefebvrian situation. Even after this encounter and blessing, websites and media linked to the Society of St. Pius X continued their attacks against the Pope. The latest of these was noted on the day of John XXIII and John Paul II’s canonizations last 27 April.
Mgr. Fellay may not be too happy about Rorate Caeli’s decision to divulge the news. It is a well known fact that there are different currents within his fraternity, some of them more radical and anti- Roman Catholic Church than others. The Swiss prelate, Mgr. Lefebvre’s second successor, seems to be more open to dialogue when he is in Rome. But back in Menzingen he must face the more radical wing within his group.