Vatican City, Oct 5, 2012 / 04:50 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Vatican's doctrine head says hope must be maintained for full communion between the Society of St. Pius X and the Catholic Church, despite his telling a German radio network that talks with the society are off for now.
“I’m always confident in our faith and optimistic. We have to pray for goodwill and for unity in the Church,” Archbishop Gerhard Muller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told Edward Pentin of the National Catholic Register in September.
This news comes amidst reports he said there would be no further talks with the traditionalist society, after an interview with North German Radio which was reported Oct. 4 and will air Oct. 6.
The Register's two-part interview was posted online Oct. 2 and 4.
Archbishop Muller affirmed that the talks are not “a dialogue between two Church partners” and described them as a “brotherly colloquium to overcome difficulties with an authentic interpretation of Catholic doctrine.”
“I believe that these problems will be resolved in the long term,” he stated.
The society, the archbishop said, must accept the Pope as head of the Church, “doctrinal pronouncements made since the Second Vatican Council,” and the new Mass as “valid and legitimate.”
The biggest obstacle for the society's reconciliation has been the teaching on religious liberty in Vatican II, which it claims contradicts previous Catholic teaching.
The Vatican's head of doctrine said the society has picked up on “a tension arising from the use of terminology,” and that the texts of Vatican II did not contradict previous teachings.
He noted the importance of a “hermeneutic of continuity” in interpreting the council: “we need an authentic interpretation of the magisterium of the Council,” an interpretation “according to the Tradition.”
In his interview with North German Radio, Archbishop Muller said that “in a pastoral sense, the door is always open” for the members of the society to come into full communion with Rome.
He again affirmed that Vatican II “validly formulated” existing Catholic teaching, and that “there will not be any more new talks” on the faith itself.
He made a similar comment to CNA in a July 20 interview. In that interview he stated that there can be no negotiation of dogmas: “we cannot negotiate on revealed faith; that is impossible.”
The Soceity of St. Pius X was founded in 1970 by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in response to errors he believed crept into the Church following the Second Vatican Council.
Archbishop Lefebvre consecrated four bishops without papal permission in 1988, and the five were excommunicated. The archbishop died in 1991, still in a state of excommunication.
In 2009 Pope Benedict lifted the excommunications on the four living bishops. Since that time, there have been continuing negotiations between the society and Rome to ensure their full communion. The society currently has some 570 priests.
Archbishop Muller told the Register that if the society returns to full communion, “they could underline what Tradition is” and assist in a “renewal in the celebration of the liturgy.”