Translation to follow soon (Italian text).
[Update: 1500 GMT - Translation:]
n. 25 of 2008-06-23 page18
The Ultimatum of the Vatican to Lefebvre's rebels: peace, if you accept the Council
by Andrea Tornielli
In exchange, they will receive a Prelature. But they must choose before June 28.
ROME -In the relations between the Holy See and the Lefebvrians the countdown has begun: by this 28 June, the Fraternity of St. Pius X, founded by the French Archbishop who would not suffer the post-conciliar liturgical reform, will in fact have to decide whether to accept the five conditions proposed by the Vatican in order to reenter into full communion with Rome. Some days ago, the superior of the Lefebvrians, Bishop Bernard Fellay, met with Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, president of the Commission Ecclesia Dei, which deals on behalf of Benedict XVI with negotiations with the traditionalist group. Fellay, who previously had written to the Pope asking for the revocation of the excommunication imposed by John Paul II in 1988 to Lefebvre and the four new bishops that he had wanted to consecrate without the consent of the Holy See (among them Fellay himself), has received a letter with the five points set by the cardinal [Castrillón] and will discuss them during the next chapter of the fraternity, to be held at the end of the month.
Never like at this moment the negotiations have come close to an agreementwhich would heal the mini-schism which had been created now two decades ago, allowing the full reentering of the Lefebvrians into the Catholic communion. Among the points that the Holy See asked to sign there would be, according to the indiscretions gathered, the acceptance of the II Vatican Council and the declaration of full validity of the Mass according to the reformed liturgy: two conditions that Lefebvre had already signed with the then cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 1988. The Vatican, for its part, offers the traditionalist group a canonical framework similar to that of Opus Dei, namely a [personal] "prelature", which would allow the Fraternity to continue its activities and to train its seminarians.
The march of rapprochement was started in 2000, when the Lefebvrians made a Holy Year pilgrimage to Rome. It was followed by a brief audience granted by Pope Wojtyla to Monsignor Fellay and the beginning of the long and laborious negotiations with Cardinal Castrillón. Many things have changed since then however. The Lefebvrians asked, before making any step towards an agreement, that the old preconciliar missal, which fell into disuse after the liturgical reform, be liberalised. The new pope, Benedict XVI, particularly sensitive to these issues, a year ago published the Motu proprio declaring the full citizenship of the old Mass allowing it in every parish, in fact stripping the bishop of the possibility of prohibiting it. The application of the new papal directives has not been easy, there are a lot of cases of resistance - some blatant, as is known - but it is beyond doubt that by declaring the existence of an extraordinary Roman rite (the old one) and an ordinary (the reformed one), the Pope has authorized throughout the Church and without restrictions the celebration of the Tridentine Mass. Moreover, Ratzinger has reintroduced the Cross at the centre of the altar, has begun to distribute communion to the faithful kneeling, has restored ancient vestments: all signals that go in the direction of emphasizing the continuity of tradition.
Conditions this favourable for a reentering into full communion will in all likelihood not repeat themselves. Many faithful, now that they have obtained the Mass according to the ancient rite, do not understand why the Fraternity does not definitively make peace with Rome. The Lefebvrians have come to realize what is happening, even if Fellay has some problems of internal resistance. The choice is whether to make an agreement and reenter into full communion with the Holy See, or rather to remain a small separate body with the risk of turning into a little sectarian and uninfluential group.
(Translated by Gregor Kollmorgen, for The New Liturgical Movement). [ITALIAN ORIGINAL]
The Holy See, contacted by the news agency I.MEDIA, has neither confirmed not denied this information [reported by Tornielli]. It confirmed to it, however, that Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X had indeed made a visit to Rome a few weeks ago.
Asked Monday by [Swiss news agency] Apic, Father Alain-Marc Nély, second assistant of Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X at Menzingen (Canton of Zug), has completely confirmed the existence of proposals by the Vatican.
Unwilling to enter in the wider details, Father Nély has nonetheless confirmed that an agreement proposal has been made at the beginning of the month. With conditions. The answer will be given from now up to June 28, "God willing", and will then be made public, he explained. The number three of the schismatic [sic] community has not wished to indicate what direction Bishop Fellay's response would take.