Vatican ends talks with sect opposed to reform

Reuters/October 6, 2012

The Vatican plans no more talks with rebel Catholic traditionalists who insist the church must revoke modernising reforms launched five decades ago, Pope Benedict's main doctrinal official has told a German interviewer.

Archbishop Gerhard Müller, who took up his post as head of the powerful Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in July, said in an interview to be broadcast today that the church could not negotiate away the fundamentals of its faith.

His comments to North German Radio were the first from the Vatican on deadlocked talks meant to reintegrate the Society of Saint Pius X into the church after a 21-year schism over its implacable opposition to 1960s reforms.

In recent weeks, the society's leaders indicated that a two-year series of talks with the Vatican had hit an impasse because Rome's insistence that they accept reforms of the 1962-1965 Second Vatican Council was a deal breaker for them. "We cannot give away the Catholic faith in negotiations," Archbishop Müller said, according to a pre-broadcast report by the radio station.

"There will be no compromises here," he said. "I think there now will be no new discussions."

The German-born Pope Benedict and the CDF, which the pontiff led for over two decades under Pope John Paul, will now have to decide what to do next with the society, the archbishop said.

The Swiss-based Society of Saint Pius X broke away from Rome in 1988 in protest against the 1960s council reforms that replaced Latin with local languages at Mass, forged reconciliation with Jews and admitted that other religions may also offer a path to salvation.

Since becoming pope in 2005, Benedict has met the head of the society, promoted the old Latin Mass it champions, and lifted excommunications imposed on the group's four bishops when they accepted ordination against Vatican orders. These concessions caused a storm of protest from Catholics, Jews and Germans in 2009 when it emerged that one of the bishops whose excommunication was lifted was a notorious Holocaust denier and the Vatican did not even know it.

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