On March 16, Cardinal William Levada, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, had a meeting lasting two hours with Bishop Bernard Fellay, SSPX leader. He is said to have given Fellay a deadline of April 15 to respond to the Vatican.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, with the approval of Pope Benedict XVI, has termed “insufficient” the position of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) on certain basic doctrinal principles and criteria for interpreting Church teaching.
US Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the doctrinal congregation, met for two hours on March 16 with Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior of the Society, to explain the Vatican’s evaluation of the position of the SSPX, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said.
In a formal communiqué published after the meeting, the Vatican said it wanted to “avoid an ecclesial rupture with painful and incalculable consequences,” so Bishop Fellay and leaders of the society were asked to further clarify their response to a “doctrinal preamble” the Vatican asked them to study last September.
Bishop Fellay delivered the society’s official response in January, the Vatican said, and it was “placed under the examination of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and successively under the judgment of the Holy Father.”
“In compliance with the decision of Pope Benedict XVI,” the communiqué said, Fellay was given a letter signed by Levada explaining that “the position he had expressed is not sufficient to overcome the doctrinal problems that are at the basis of the fracture between the Holy See and the society.”
Lombardi said Levada told Fellay the Society had a month to clarify its position in order to heal “the existing fracture.”
“A further clarification from the society is expected by mid-April,” Lombardi said. The society has been given “more time for reflection to see if some further step can be made.”