CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 29, 2005 ( Benedict XVI received Bishop Bernard Fellay, who succeeded Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre as head of the Society of St. Pius X, with the "desire to arrive at perfect communion."

Today's meeting took place in the apostolic palace of Castel Gandolfo, in response to a request from Bishop Fellay, reported Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro Valls.

"The Pope was accompanied by Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, president of the Pontifical Commission 'Ecclesia Dei,'" the spokesman said.

"Ecclesia Dei," the Holy See's Web page explains, was "instituted by John Paul II with the 'Motu proprio' promulgated on July 2, 1988, following the schismatic gesture of illegitimate episcopal ordinations carried out by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in Ecône."

Navarro Valls said, "The meeting unfolded in a climate of love for the Church and the desire to arrive at perfect communion." His communiqué added: "Being aware of the difficulties, willingness was expressed to advance by degrees according to reasonable times."

Attached to Holy See

Later, Bishop Fellay revealed in a statement that "the meeting lasted some 35 minutes in a serene atmosphere."

"The audience was the occasion for the Society to manifest that it has always and always will be attached to the Holy See, Eternal Rome," said the bishop.

"We recalled the series of difficulties already known in a spirit of great love for the Church," he added.

"The Society of St. Pius X prays that the Holy Father will find the strength to put an end to the crisis of the Church, 'restoring all things in Christ,'" concluded the bishop's communiqué.

Previously, Bishop Fellay told his group's DICI press agency that, if he were to meet with Benedict XVI, he would request two things.

First is the possibility for all priests to celebrate the Tridentine Mass without special permission from the local bishop, as is now required. Second is the "recanting [of] the decree of excommunication related to the consecrations" of four bishops in the Society.