00 10/26/2009 2:57 PM

The Vatican Press Office issued this statement today in Italian and English:


On Monday 26 October 2009 in the Palazzo del Sant'Uffizio, headquarters of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei", the study commission made up of experts from "Ecclesia Dei" and from the Society of St. Pius X held its first meeting, with the aim of examining the doctrinal differences still outstanding between the Society and the Apostolic See.

In a cordial, respectful and constructive climate, the main doctrinal questions were identified. These will be studied in the course of discussions to be held over coming months, probably twice a month*.

In particular, the questions due to be examined concern
- the concept of Tradition,
- the Missal of Paul VI
- the interpretation of Vatican Council II in continuity with Catholic doctrinal Tradition
- the themes of
the unity of the Church and the Catholic principles of ecumenism,
the relationship between Christianity and non-Christian religions, and
religious freedom

The meeting also served to specify the method and organisation of the work.

NB: The Press Office has corrected the communique - meetings will be 'every two months',
not 'twice a month'. [In Italian, 'bimestrale', not bimensile'.]

I am glad that the Vatican Press Office is giving these discussions the dignity and status they deserve. The fact that they are taking place at all is historic and may well be unprecedented in modern Church history. It is also historic as an institutional attempt by the Church to formally define what it considers to be the correct interpretation of Vatican II.

Oh, remind me again - what was it most media writers had been saying about Benedict XVI? That he would be a 'transitional' Pope - i.e., unlikely to do anything much or anything significant, for that matter? That it would be a 'boring' Pontificate where nothing exciting happens, especially in comparison to his predecessor? Well, eat your words!

Vatican starts talks
with traditionalists


The FSSPX delegates to the study commission arrive at the CDF building this morning.

VATICAN CITY, Oct. 26 (AP) – The Vatican said talks held Monday with a group of breakaway traditionalist Catholics were cordial and will continue over the coming months.

The Vatican issued a statement at the end of an inaugural meeting between Vatican officials and a delegation from the Society of St. Pius X, which split from Rome following the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council.

Pope Benedict XVI has been keen to reconcile with the group — even though one of their bishops denied the Holocaust — because of his greater aim of unifying the church and putting a highly conservative stamp on it. [I thik the more correct term is 'orthodox' in the generic sense - the official positon of the Church in line with the Gospel and the Tradition fo 2000 years.]

Just last week, he took a major step in that direction by making it easier for Anglican traditionalists to convert to Roman Catholicism.

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said the meeting marked "the beginning of a new phase of relations" and there was a "sense of trust for the meeting and its prospects" that hadn't existed before.

The late ultraconservative Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre founded the Swiss-based society in 1969, opposed to Vatican II reforms which included outreach to Jews and other Christians and the celebration of Mass in the vernacular rather than Latin [The language was not the main problem! - The form of the Mass itself was radically changed overnight!]

In 1988, the Vatican excommunicated Lefebvre and four of his bishops after he consecrated them without papal consent.

Benedict has worked for two decades to bring the group back into the Vatican's fold. In 2007, he relaxed restrictions on celebrating the old Latin Mass, which the traditionalists had demanded. In January, he answered another one of their demands by approving a decree lifting the bishops' 1988 excommunications.

But on the same day the Vatican decree was signed, British Bishop Richard Williamson was shown on Swedish state television saying historical evidence "is hugely against 6 million Jews having been deliberately gassed" during World War II.

The outcry was immediate, with both Jews and members of the Catholic hierarchy criticizing the Pope's rehabilitation of a Holocaust-denier. While condemning Williamson's remarks, the Vatican defended its decision, only saying later that it hadn't known about his very public views about the Holocaust.

The society's opposition to Vatican II, particularly its teachings on ecumenism and religious freedom, remains at the heart of the dispute with Rome and is the focus of the talks.

The Vatican statement said the two sides on Monday identified the "outstanding doctrinal differences" between them that would be discussed in meetings expected to take place twice a month for several months.

Such an intense workload "shows that they want to go ahead with a certain amount of determination," Lombardi said.

Prior to the start of talks, the society's delegation leader, Bishop Alfonso de Galarreta, had said negotiations may take years.

The Vatican statement said the work was conducted "in a cordial, respectful and constructive climate."

It listed a host of issues stemming from Vatican II that are on the table, including the principles of ecumenism and the relationship between Christianity and non-Christian religions.

There was no immediate comment from the society.

The Vatican has said the society's members must "fully recognize" Vatican II as well as the teachings of all the Popes who came after it if they want to be fully reintegrated into the Church.

The society says it is upholding true Catholic tradition by rejecting elements of Vatican II's teachings, and says the Church's current problems, including a shortage of priests, are a direct result of the 1962-65 meetings.

The Vatican has set out particular conditions for Williamson to be fully brought back in, saying he must "absolutely and unequivocally" distance himself from his Holocaust remarks if he ever wants to be a prelate in the church.

Williamson has apologized for causing scandal to the pope but hasn't publicly repudiated his views.

Let us give thanks to the Lord that Benedict XVI has brought matters to this stage, and let us pray to the Holy Spirit to 'enkindle the fire' among the discussants. God bless the Church and Benedict XVI.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/27/2009 5:32 PM]