Schismatic Groups Coming Home, Reports Vatican

Cardinal Assesses Impact of "Summorum Pontificum"

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By Mary Shovlain

ROME, JAN. 13, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Six months after Benedict XVI issued an apostolic letter on the extended use of the 1962 missal, the Vatican says it is seeing fruits of reconciliation with Catholics who objected to the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council.

"Summorum Pontificum," allows for more availability of the Latin-language Mass, a rite the document dubs the "extraordinary form." The letter, issued "motu proprio" (on his own initiative), brought attention to the situation of schismatic groups such as the Society of St. Pius X, that refuse to celebrate the "Novus Ordo" Mass established by Vatican II.

Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos told ZENIT that after the June 7 document, one group has already asked to return to full communion with the Church.

Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos, as the president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesiae Dei, is the Vatican official in charge of facilitating the return to full ecclesial communion of people linked to the Society of St. Pius X, founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.

"We have already received responses [to the letter]," Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos said. "Here in Rome we have a community that has asked to return and we have already begun mediating their full return."

Requests, he continued, are coming in from around the world: "Many of the faithful have contacted us, written and called, to say they want full communion."

Sewing unity

Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos clarified the current status of members of the Society of St. Pius X due to excommunications issued by the Vatican to group members in 1988, in the wake of the schismatic gesture by Lefebvre of ordaining four bishops illicitly.

He explained: "The excommunications for the consecration done without the Pope's permission affects only those bishops who carried out the consecration, and those bishops who received episcopal ordination in this illicit form in the Church, but it does not affect the priests or the faithful. Only those bishops are excommunicated."

According to the Vatican prelate, what is needed now is "to sew back together the ecclesial fabric, because our brothers -- I know them, I know some of the bishops even better -- are all people of good will, people who want to be disciples of Jesus."

"In this moment," he continued, "with a little humility, with a little generosity, we can return to full communion, and the faithful want this because they do not want to participate in the rites when the priest is under suspension because the Church does not permit them to say Mass and absolve sins -- so the faithful want this full return."

Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos said he hoped that everyone involved will continue "to work with the Holy Father to sew back together this unity so that these good people can have the fullness of holiness that comes from union with the only Church of Christ, founded upon Peter and his Successors."