When Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunication of four traditionalist Catholic bishops last January, it was intended as a gesture of reconciliation toward the Society of St. Pius X, a breakaway movement founded by the late French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. (The move generated global tumult when it turned out that one of those prelates, Bishop Richard Williamson, is a Holocaust denier.) The prospect of reconciliation may have taken a setback, however, with a recent announcement by the society that it intends to ordain new priests at the end of June, without papal permission, in three locations: its seminary at Zaitzkofen in Bavaria; its headquarters in Econe, Switzerland; and at another seminary in Winona, Minnesota.
Today the Vatican released a statement calling those ordinations “completely illegitimate.” The following is the full text of the Vatican statement, in an NCR translation from Italian.
COMMUNICATION OF THE PRESS OFFICE OF THE HOLY SEE REGARDING THE ORDINATIONS ANNOUNCED BY THE SOCIETY OF ST. PIUS X