Traditionalists must sign a “doctrinal Preamble” to rejoin the Catholic Church, with a status similar to that of Opus Dei. A “legitimate discussion” on aspects of the Second Vatican CouncilAlessandro Speciale vatican city
The Holy See is ready for a complete reconciliation with the Lefebvrian traditionalists, so that they accept the content of a brief “doctrinal Preamble”: this is what emerged from this morning’s meeting in the Vatican between Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and Monsignor Bernard Fellay, superior of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X, founded by Monsignor Lefebvre.
A tempting offer for traditionalists who would be welcomed back into the Catholic Church using the “personal Prelature” formula, in return for accepting what has been defined as the “fundamental basis” for a “future and much hoped for reconciliation.” The personal Prelature formula is a canonical structure which so far, only the Opus Dei has enjoyed, free as it is from any reference to specific territory and from the supervision of local bishops and Episcopal Conferences.
The “doctrinal Preamble” offered today to the Lefebvrians, as foreseen yesterday by the Vatican Insider, is a concise two to three page long text, which reaffirms the fundamental principles of the Catholic faith, needed to maintain the unity of the Church. The Vatican’s spokesman, Federico Lombardi, however, said that its content is supposed to be kept secret.
The Holy See’s newsroom published a communiqué explaining that the text “mentions a few doctrinal principles and criteria for the interpretation of the Catholic doctrine that are necessary in order to guarantee loyalty to the Church’s Teachings and to “feel cum Ecclesia”.” The note, however, left “the study and theological explanation of individual expressions or formulations in the documents of the Second Vatican Council and the subsequent Teachings, for a legitimate discussion.”
The “doctrinal Preamble” therefore, does not seem to contain an explicit request for “full recognition of the Council and the teaching of John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI himself.” This was affirmed by the Secretary of State, in a communiqué published issued in December 2009.
The Vatican’s newsroom said that this morning’s meeting took place two years after the doctrinal talks which made it possible for “the two parties to clarify their respective motivations and relative motivations.” The Holy See’s dialogue with the Lefebvrians started again in 2009 thanks to Benedict XVI., who decided to annul the excommunications of the four traditionalist bishops. Amongst them, was Monsignor Richard Williamson who had denied the Holocaust during an interview. According to Father Lombardi, this morning’s talks were “courteous” and “lively.” The Lefebvrians’ response to the Vatican document will be given in about a month’s time.
The Holy See’s newsroom explained that the Vatican’s offer takes into account “the concerns and the motions presented” by the Lefebvrians “with regard to the safe-keeping of the Catholic Church’s integrity” in relation to what Benedict XVI defined as “the hermeneutics of the Second Vatican Council’s break with Tradition,” in a speech to the Roman Curia on 22 September 2005. His interpretation of the Council contradicted the thousand year old history of the Church.