Pope Benedict’s bid to win over SSPX Catholic rebels seems at dead end
Pope Benedict’s bid to draw rebel Catholic traditionalists back to the Roman fold, a major effort that has divided Catholics and sometimes embarrassed him, seems to have hit a dead end with little apparent hope of a solution.
Two leaders of the Society of St Pius X (SSPX), which broke away over reforms of the 1962-1965 Second Vatican Council, have recently rejected his conditions for their rehabilitation after a series of contacts following his 2005 election as pope.
SSPX head Bishop Bernard Fellay, who Church officials expect will send a formal reply to Rome soon, has not yet indicated the group’s final position but it is not expected to be positive.
A formal or de facto SSPX rejection would be a setback for Benedict, whose decision to lift excommunications on its four bishops in 2009 backfired when it emerged one was a notorious Holocaust denier and the Vatican did not even know it.
“The SSPX has set conditions that are simply unacceptable to the pope,” Nicolas Seneze, a French expert on the Society, told Reuters. “Their discussions are now back at square one.”