Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos remains head of Ecclesia Dei
Oct. 31 (CWNews.com) - Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos (bio - news), who has resigned as prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, will remain president of the pontifical Ecclesia Dei commission, the Vatican has confirmed.
Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, who at the age of 77 is two years beyond the ordinary canonical retirement age, will be replaced at the Congregation for Clergy by Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, the Vatican announced on October 31. But the Colombian cardinal will remain at the helm of the Ecclesia Dei commission, which is responsible for Vatican outreach to traditionalist Catholics.
Father Ciro Benedettini, the deputy director of the Vatican press office, assured reporters that Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos will continue to head the Ecclesia Dei commission for the immediate future. The presidency of that commission is not linked to the leadership of the Congregation for Clergy, and in light of the intense discussions currently taking place about efforts to revive the traditional Latin Mass, Pope Benedict has ample reason to want continuity in the post. Pope John Paul II (bio - news) named Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos to head the Ecclesia Dei commission in April 2000, and gave him the sensitive assignment of negotiating with the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), seeking to end the split that began in 1988 when the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre was excommunicated for ordaining bishops to the SSPX leadership without Vatican approval.
Formed in the wake of the Lefebvrite schism and excommunications, the primary duty of the Eccelsia Dei commission is to heal the wounds inflicted by that schism, by working to bring separated traditionalist Catholics back into the Church. It is also charged with collaboration local bishops to satisfy the desires for the traditional Latin Mass in keeping with the 1962 rite. Finally, it oversees and regulates those clerical groups and associations associated with the Tridentine rite, such as the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, the Canons Regular of the New Jerusalem, and other traditionalist groups.
While talks with the SSPX itself have not yet borne fruit, in January 2002 the Vatican reached an agreement that allowed for the reconciliation of another breakaway traditionalist group in Campos, Brazil. And in September of this year a new agreement led to the establishment in France of the Institute of the Good Shepherd, composed of traditionalist priests and seminarians who have left the SSPX. The latter move has roused loud protests within the French hierarchy, which fears the Vatican is going too far to accommodate the traditionalist clerics.
Widespread reports that Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) will soon release a motu proprio allowing wider use of the traditional Latin Mass have heightened the controversy in France, and placed the focus of attention squarely on the Ecclesia Dei commission. Because of his involvement in talks with traditionalists over the past 5 years, Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos looms as an important player in any effort to achieve reconciliation with the SSPX and any new gesture toward traditionalists. The Colombian prelate-- who has said that SSPX members should be welcomed back "with open arms" when they seek reconciliation-- made an important individual move in May 2003, when he celebrated Mass in the basilica of St. Mary Major using the Tridentine rite, thus becoming the first Vatican prelate to celebrate the traditional Mass in a Roman basilica in decades.