Italian priest Fr Davide Pagliarani has been elected new Superior General of the Society of St Pius X, in a move that has surprised some observers.
Fr Pagliarani was elected by the Society’s fourth General Chapter to serve a 12-year term, succeeding Bishop Bernard Fellay, who has led the society for the past 24 years.
Fr Pagliarani was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Fellay in 1996 and spent time in Italy and Singapore before being appointed superior of the Society’s Italian district. He became Rector of Our Lady Co-Redemptrix Seminary in Argentina in 2012.
The election comes amid continuing questions over whether the traditionalist society will reconcile with Rome. Jean-Marie Guénois, religion correspondent at French newspaper Le Figaro, said Bishop Fellay had been “ousted” in favour of a candidate who opposes further rapprochement with the Vatican.
Although Bishop Fellay’s term had expired, Guénois says he was “favourite” to secure a renewed mandate.
Bishop Alfonso de la Galarreta and Fr Christian Bouchacourt, who are also believed to be against a deal with Rome, were elected as “assistants” their new Superior General.
The move comes thirty years after the Society’s rupture with Rome, when Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, the SSPX’s founder, ordained four bishops without the Vatican’s authority, thus incurring excommunication.
Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunications, but the Society continues to disagree with Rome over the recognition of certain parts of the Second Vatican Council, especially regarding ecumenism.