I’m not sure if the timing has anything to do with Pope Benedict’s U.S. trip, but the schismatic traditionalist Society of Saint Pius X chose this weekend to announce its disappointment in the pontiff and its decision not to seek closer ties to Rome now. SSPX leader Bishop Bernard Fellay wrote in a “Letter to Friends and Benefactors” (here in French) that Benedict had not budged in his support for the Second Vatican Council despite his decision last year to allow wider use of the old Tridentine rite Mass in Latin.
“The time for an agreement has not yet come,” Fellay wrote. The decree on the old Latin Mass was “not accompanied by logically co-related measures in the other areas of the life of the Church … Nothing has changed in Rome’s determination to follow the council’s orientation, despite 40 years of crisis, despite the deserted convents, abandoned rectories and empty churches.”
The letter is dated April 14 but was only published on Saturday by the SSPX information service DICI. Here’s our story and here’s a partial English translation of Fellay’s statement at Rorate Caeli (hat tip to Father Z for that).
Fellay signalled his continued estrangement from Rome in February when he accused the Vatican of caving in to “foreign pressures” when it issued a new wording of the Latin prayer on Good Friday. In a FaithWorld post on that statement, I wondered out loud whether any or many SSPX parishioners would drift away from their churches to attend Latin Masses in their local parishes. From scattered comments I’ve heard since then, it seems that few if any of the people attending the (admittedly also few) old Latin Masses now seem to have defected from the Lefebvrist ranks.
Fellay isn’t the only one who might feel let down by Benedict. Michael Sean Winter had an interesting piece on Slate about “How Pope Benedict has disappointed the Right.” He recalls how conservative Catholics welcomed his election in 2005, only to find he didn’t crack down the way they hoped he would.