Bishop: Parable Gives Insight Into Lefebvrite Case

Urges Caution for Catholics in Full Communion

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LUGANO, Switzerland, FEB. 10, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Catholics who are closed to a reconciliation of the Society of St. Pius X with the Church should have a look at the parable of the prodigal son -- from the perspective of the older brother, says a Swiss bishop.



Bishop Pier Giacomo Grampa of Lugano affirmed this to ZENIT as he reflected on last month's lifting of the excommunication of four Lefebvrite bishops.

The bishops, including the current superior-general of the Society of St. Pius X, were excommunicated in 1988 when they received episcopal ordination illicitly at the hands of Marcel Lefebvre, who ordained them without papal permission.

Bishop Grampa said he would advise Catholics who do not see with magnanimity the Pope's decision to remove the sanction in an attempt to restore Church unity to look to the Gospel of Luke.

"I would invite one who has remained faithful to the common fatherly House to share the benevolence of the merciful Father of the parable […] and not the attitude of the older brother who reproaches, criticizes, does not want to forgive and does not rejoice at the return of his brother, loses his temper and does not want to join in the party."

The bishop said he has invited the faithful to look at the Holy Father's decision with positive spirit, even as they recognize that it does not mean full communion for those who "do not recognize the Second Vatican Council."

The Vatican Secretariat of State clarified the meaning of the lifting of the excommunication in a Feb. 4 statement. The note explained that the four bishops, though liberated from excommunication, do not have a "canonical function in the Church and they do not licitly exercise a ministry in it," and that the Society of St. Pius X continues with the same "juridical situation" and "does not enjoy any canonical recognition in the Catholic Church."

Yet, Bishop Grampa called the lifting of the excommunication an "important stage on the road, in which there should be an advance by stages, and we hope that it would even be within a reasonable time."

Still, he recognized, Vatican II -- which the Society of St. Pius X does not fully accept -- is not "optional." Instead, he said it is the "'compass' to orient us on the road of the 21st century that has just begun."

"If," the bishop said, "we want to avoid dangerous ideologies, harmful fundamentalism, or anachronistic returns to the past, to carry out the necessary discernment of the changing times, we cannot disregard the prophetic orientation that the Second Vatican Council, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, with the approval of the Pope, was able to indicate for the spread of the Gospel today, according to the will of the Lord."