Vatican doctrine chief says no more talks with French Catholic fundamentalists
The Vatican’s new doctrine chief has said there will be no further talks to bring back a breakaway fundamentalist group founded by a controversial French bishop.
The Vatican had been seeking to end the rift with the Society of Saint Pius X brotherhood, which was founded by the late French bishop Marcel Lefebvre to counter changes to modernise the Catholic Church.
Since 2009, the Vatican and the Society had been holding talks aimed at resolving differences.
But on Saturday, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Gerhard Ludwig Mueller, told German radio NDR: “I don’t believe there are now any more new discussions.”
“We can’t leave the Catholic faith at the mercy of negotiations. There are no compromises there,” the archbishop, who took up the position at the Congregation earlier this year, continued.
But he said: “In a pastoral sense, the door is always open", adding it is now up to Pope Benedict XVI to decide which position to take with regards to the movement.
The brotherhood, which claims about 150,000 followers around the world, mainly in France in Brazil, broke away in 1970 and established a seminary in Écône, Switzerland.
The movement wishes to have the traditional Latin mass restored, and rejects the Church’s approach to religious freedom and ecumenism (unity among Christian churches) as the work of the antichrist.
Relations with the Vatican have been strained since Lefebvre defined orders from Pope John Paul II in 1988 and consecrated four bishops against his will.
This led to Lefebvre and the bishops being excommunicated.
The excommunication was remitted in January 2009.
The Society of Saint Pius X has been embroiled in several controversies in its history, many of which relate to political support for non-democratic regimes and alleged anti-semitism.
Lefebvre vocally condemned the 1789 French Revolution; spoke approvingly of the Vichy government in power during the Second World War; and was once quoted as supporting the party of the French far-right leader, Jean-Marie le Pen.