Chance for Accord With Lefebvrites Is on Hold

Cardinal Ratzinger Laments «a Narrow-mindedness»

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MILAN, Italy, APR. 3, 2001 ( Talks between the Church and followers of traditionalist Marcel Lefebvre have failed to end the 12-year-old schism.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said Monday that much remains to be done before an agreement can be reached to heal the only schism that has taken place in John Paul II´s pontificate.

«I desire, hope and pray that this wound will heal, but the road is still very long,» Cardinal Ratzinger said. «There has been an acute hardening in this movement. I perceive a narrow-mindedness that makes the process of reconciliation problematic, at least in the short term.»

Cardinal Ratzinger is a recently appointed member of the Pontifical Commission «Ecclesia Dei,» established by John Paul II to maintain contacts with the schismatic Pius X Fraternity. The cardinal was in Milan for a round table on his latest book, «Introduction to the Spirit of the Liturgy» («Introduzione allo spirito della liturgia,» published by San Paolo).

The Vatican last month confirmed the establishment of contacts between representatives of the Pius X group and the Holy See.

Cardinal Ratzinger said, «Not only is diplomatic action needed, but also a common spiritual way.»

Nevertheless, he outlined the possible steps that must be taken in the future: «We must do everything possible to return to these brothers their lost confidence. We must accept that the same essential elements of the liturgy can also be expressed in different ritual forms. However, they must understand that the renewed liturgy [of Vatican Council II] is not that of another Church.»

These same words were expressed in stronger terms by Cardinal Pierre Eyt, archbishop of Bordeaux, who responded to the «Letter to Our Brother Priests,» distributed by the St. Pius X Fraternity in France, commenting on the Vatican´s confirmation of established contacts.

In the letter, the French cardinal said, «Lefebvrist theologians» make «a sad caricature of the Catholic theology of the Eucharist.»

«There is an attempt to answer radically the doctrine on the Eucharist enunciated by Paul VI and John Paul II,» Cardinal Eyt said. «How can we accept that other Catholics say that such authoritative theology is regarded as ´frightful, [and that it] is to be condemned and is partially condemned by the authentic magisterium of the Church´?»

Cardinal Eyt´s statement can be consulted on the Archdiocese of Bordeaux´s Web page:

The break between the Vatican and the Fraternity took place June 30, 1988, when Archbishop Lefebvre (1929-1991) ordained four bishops without papal approval. Two days later, the Pope wrote the apostolic letter «Ecclesia Dei,» in which he referred to the ordination as a schismistic act.

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