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SSPX leader criticises Pope’s plan to hold inter-religious meeting

Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the SSPX, blesses flock after ordaining priests in Econe, Switzerland (Photo: CNS)

The leader of the Society of St Pius X has expressed anger at Pope Benedict’s decision to hold another inter-religious meeting at Assisi.

Weeks after Bishop Bernard Fellay said he was feeling optimistic about union with Rome this year, the superior general of the SSPX  said he was deeply indignant about the Pope’s invitation to religious leaders around the world to join him in Assisi.

Preaching on the Epiphany, Bishop Fellay said: “Yes, we are deeply indignant, we vehemently protest against this repetition of the days at Assisi. Everything that we have said, everything that Archbishop Lefebvre had said at the time of the World Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi in 1986, we repeat in our own name. It is evident, my dear brothers, that such a thing demands reparation. What a mystery!”

Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, the founder of the SSPX, complained about the first World Day of Prayer for Peace. He said the Church had never before been “humiliated to such an extent in the course of her history”. He told John Paul II that “the scandal given to Catholic souls cannot be measured. The Church is shaken to its very foundations”.

Pope Benedict told pilgrims at the first Angelus of the year that he would travel to Assisi in October to mark the 25th anniversary of the day.

He said: “I will make a pilgrimage to the town of St Francis, inviting my Christian brethren of different confessions, leaders of the world’s religious traditions and, in their hearts, all men and women of good will, to join me on this journey in order to commemorate that important historical gesture of my predecessor, and solemnly to renew the commitment of believers of all religions to live their religious faith as a service to the cause of peace.”