October 6, 2011. (Romereports.com)
The story begins in 1969 when French bishop Marcel Lefebvre founded the
Society of St. Pius X, also know as the “Lefebvrians.” It's made up of
an association of traditionalist priests who don't agree with the
teachings of the Second Vatican Council, like liturgical reform and
Lefebvrians don't accept the Council itself or the Magisterium that followed once the Council was created. More specifically, the group rejects inter-religious dialogue and also the collegiality among bishops.
The relationship between this group and the Vatican has always been somewhat difficult, but the situation got even worse on June 1988. That's when Lefebvre ordained four bishops without the permission of John Paul II.
Back then, the mediator was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who met with Lefebvre yet failed to reach an agreement.
The ordination of bishops without the Pope's permission automatically caused the excommunication of Lefebvre and his new bishops, creating an even deeper schism between the group and the Catholic Church.
In seeking reconciliation, Pope John Paul II instituted the Commission “Ecclesia Dei.” As a result over the years, some members of the group have returned in unity with Rome.
The Society of St. Pius X has roughly 551 priests, 239 seminarians, several hundred religious and about 100 thousand followers.
Since the beginning of his pontificate, Benedict XVI has sought to end the divide between the two. In the summer of 2005 he agreed to meet with the group's superior, Bernard Fellay.
When the Lefebvrians asked for the excommunication of the bishops to be lifted, the Pope agreed. Yet still, this action did not formally welcome the group back in the Church.
From October 2009 until April 2011, a committee of experts from the Vatican and the Lefebvrians have met eight times to find some type of middle ground. During that time, the Lefebvrians have made some provocative public statements against Vatican officials.
Nevertheless, the Pope has generously invited the group back into Catholic Church if it agrees with a list of doctrinal points. Whether the group accepts or not, is yet to be seen.