Thursday, September 4, 2014

Müller’s first meeting with Fellay

Andrea Tornielli
Vatican Insider
September 3, 2014

Contact was never lost between the Society of St. Pius X and the Holy See. Although no official actions or meetings have taken place, unofficial relations have continued. And now the Lefebvrians have confirmed the rumours about a meeting between their superior, Mgr. Bernard Fellay and the Prefect of the Congregation fro the Doctrine of the Faith and President of the Ecclesia Dei commission, Gerhard Ludwig Müller.

The news was announced on this website and then published by Italian Catholic blog, Il Sismografo.

This is the first time Fellay will be meeting with the Prefect of the former Holy office since his nomination in 2012. Readers will recall that one of his American predecessor William Joseph Levada’s final acts was to deliver a sort of doctrinal preamble to the Fraternity’s superior, prepared by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and approved by the Pope. The document was seen as the condition for proceeding with a Canonical settlement that would have led to the normalisation of the Fraternity’s relationship with the Catholic Church.

The text was never signed, partly because of disagreements within the Fraternity itself. Müller’s nomination by Benedict XVI as Levada’s successor was also not very warmly welcomed by the Fraternity because of the opinions he expressed in the years when he was Bishop of Regensburg.

It is no secret that there were and still are some within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith who would like to bring negotiations with the Lefebvrians to a close, reaching an ultimatum. Some had hoped that if no agreement was reached on doctrinal subjects, a new official declaration could be issued to formalise the split. But Pope Francis wants to take things slowly and seeing that relations never ceased, the dialogue between the two continues. And Fellay’s meeting with Müller proves this.

Readers will recall that in past months Mgr. Fellay and Pope Francis had exchanged a brief and informal greeting at the end of a dinner in St. Martha’s House. Francis had been indirect contact with Fr. Christian Bouchacourt, the Fraternity’s leader in Argentina who had met with the then Bishop of Buenos Aires on a number of occasions. Importantly, Bouchacourt was recently called to lead the Fraternity in France. In an interview - the content of which was revealed by Fellay himself – the Pope apparently told the priest he had met in Argentina that he had no intention of pronouncing an excommunication against the Lefebvrians.

In recent days, news circulated on the web about a mass being celebrated by a French Lefebvrian priest at the altar dedicated to St. Pius X containing the late Pope’s remains, in St. Peter’s Basilica. The news was contained in an official bulletin published by the Fraternity.

This is not a first, although there is no video footage of mass celebrations presided by the Fraternity’s priests. No objections are usually raised as long as the mass in question is a private mass and is not publicised.

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