PARIS (Reuters) - The leader of a breakaway traditionalist Catholic group has rejected a Vatican offer to rejoin Rome, accusing Pope Benedict of trying to silence dissenting voices.They base the "snubbing" on Fellay's speech of last week where he said "So, we have no choice, we are not going this way, we are continuing what we have done, we have fought now for forty years to keep this faith alive...That's what we continue to say today." While this is certainly not helpful and obviously not a good sign, I do not think that it constitutes the definitive rejection of the offer of the Holy See. Further, we have no real idea what is contingent to the signing of the letter sent to Fellay.
Bishop Bernard Fellay, head of the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) that broke with Rome 20 years ago, said conditions set by the Vatican amounted to muzzling the traditionalists who claim to be the only true Catholics since Church reforms in the 1960s.
Keen to end this schism, Benedict agreed last year to their demand to restore the old Latin Mass. But he insists they must accept the reforms of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) before he can lift excommunication decrees against them.
"Rome is telling us, okay, we are ready to lift the excommunications, but you cannot continue this way," Fellay said in a sermon last Friday now posted as an audio file on the U.S.-based Voice of Catholic Radio website.
"So we have no choice... we are continuing what we've done," the Swiss-born Fellay said in English at an SSPX seminary in Winona, Minnesota. "They just say 'shut up' ... we are not going ... to shut up."
I hope that since this letter was not public knowledge at the time, Fellay might have just been playing to his base preparing them. So that even if he is to accept the offer of the Vatican, they would know that he will still work to address their concerns, if not as publicly and vocally. But Fellay should know that those concerns are better addressed when seated at the table and not on the outside looking in. Like I said, hopefully. We shall see soon enough.