April 28, 2012. (Romereports.com)
After years of disagreements, Lefebvrians could be a step closer to reconciling with the Vatican. Last year, in mid September, the Vatican said it would welcome the traditionalist group back into the Catholic Church, if it agreed to several points of doctrine. Now, seven months later, Lefebvrians have issued their response. Even though the details have been kept private, the Vatican's spokesman describes it as 'encouraging.' The response is being evaluated by the Vatican, but the final decision will be made by Benedict XVI.
It's described as a key moment for relations between the Vatican and the Society of St. Pius X. The movement was founded in 1970, by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who broke away from the Church after strongly opposing the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.
The group says it now has a presence in 31 countries, including 500 priests and 200 seminarians. The majority of its followers are in France.
Journalist “La Croix”, France
“In reality, they are around 100.000 people in France, which is very few, because as you may know in France we have around 5 million people who go to Mass each Sunday, so the Lefebvrians are very few and their priests are around 215, which is 2% of the French clergy. So it's very very small movement and a very very typical movement”.
According to the Vaticanist of French Catholic newspaper 'La Croix', different factors, not just religion, played a role in the movement.
Journalist “La Croix”, France
“You have to understand that this is before all a political movement, before a Church movement. They found their sources in the French revolution, more than 200 years ago, and from that time they decided that the world went crazy, so they decided to keep at that time and for them this is the basic source. And so we could say they want the king to come back, some of them, they decided that the democracy is a very bad thing, that the Republic is not a good thing.”
The controversy rose to its peak in 1989, when Archbishop Lefebvre decided to ordain four bishops, despite the opposition of John Paul II. Lefebvre argued the action was justified given what he described as a 'crisis in the Church.'
He and the four bishops were soon excommunicated. But in 2009, Benedict XVI reversed it to facilitate the reconciliation.
Now to actually reunite with Rome, the group must agree to a series of points listed in a 'doctrinal preamble,' which would actually allow them to have legitimate discussions on the document formulations of the Second Vatican Council.
The main problem though, is that for years, the traditionalist group has not accept the Second Vatican Council nor the Magisterium that has followed.
Journalist“La Croix,” France
“The Pope is worried with the unity, it's part of his job, it's one of the main goals for him. And he wants them to go back to the Catholic Church. He knows there are four bishops, and that those four bishops may ordain other bishops. This could grow into a problem, so he wants them to go back to the Church, so they can be in full Communion."
Even if the Society of St. Pius X accepts the offer, some experts believe, the controversy may continue, but this time within the traditionalist group. Some argue it's likely that some leaders of the group may oppose the terms of the reconciliation, which would cause a possible divide among its members.