VATICAN CITY - The leader of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X said talks with the Vatican demonstrate that "Rome no longer makes total acceptance" of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council a condition for his group's full reconciliation with the Church.
Accepting the council's teaching is no longer "a prerequisite for the canonical solution" of the status of the society, said Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the SSPX.
In an interview published June 7 on the society's news site, www.dici.org, Fellay said it was the Vatican that approached the society, and not the society that went to the Vatican, asking to begin the talks.
"So the attitude of the official Church is what changed; we did not," he said. "We were not the ones who asked for an agreement; the pope is the one who wants to recognize us."
In 2009, Pope Benedict lifted the excommunications that had been incurred by Fellay and other SSPX bishops when they were ordained without papal permission 11 years earlier.
Also in 2009, the pope established a Vatican committee to hold doctrinal talks with society representatives.
In September 2011, the Vatican gave Fellay a "doctrinal preamble" outlining "some doctrinal principles and criteria for the interpretation of Catholic doctrine necessary to guarantee fidelity" to the formal teaching of the Church.
The Vatican said the text leaves room for "legitimate discussion" about "individual expressions or formulations present in the documents of the Second Vatican Council and the successive magisterium" of the Church.
Fellay gave the Vatican his latest response to the document in April and, as of June 7, it was still under study at the Vatican.
In the interview on the SSPX website, Fellay said, "We are still not in agreement doctrinally, and yet the pope wants to recognize us.
"Why? The answer is right in front of us: there are terribly important problems in the Church today."
The reconciliation talks, he said, are a sign that the Catholic Church has begun to recognize it needs to recover traditions and traditional teaching eclipsed by the Second Vatican Council.
If the SSPX were to reconcile fully with the Church, Fellay said, its members would continue to denounce "doctrinal difficulties" in the Church.