Vatican issues one-month ultimatum to traditionalist Catholic group SSPX

March 16, 2012

(Bishop Bernard Fellay meets the faithful after an ordination ceremony in Econe, southwest Switzerland, June 29, 2009. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse)

The Vatican on Friday told an ultra-traditionalist Roman Catholic splinter group they must accept non-negotiable doctrinal principles within a month or risk a painful break with Rome that would have “incalculable” consequences.

The ultimatum was issued after a two-hour meeting between Swiss-born Bishop Bernard Fellay, leader of the dissident Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) and U.S. Cardinal William Levada, head of the Vatican’s doctrinal department.

Levada told Fellay the group’s response after years of negotiations was still insufficient to overcome doctrinal problems at the root of the split with Rome.

The SSPX, which rejects reforms made at the historic 1962 Second Vatican Council, defied Rome in 1988 by illegally consecrating four bishops, triggering their excommunication by the late Pope John Paul.

In a gesture of reconciliation, Pope Benedict lifted those bans in 2009 and promoted the use of the traditional Latin Mass favored by the SSPX.

But Benedict has refused to grant SSPX bishops the right to reject some of the Council’s teachings, such as its historic reconciliation with Judaism and other faiths.

A Vatican statement warned of a possible “Church rupture that would have painful and incalculable consequences” and demanded that the SSPX clarify its position if it wanted to rejoin the Church and heal the rift.

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