In Their Own Words
The age-old rhythms of religious life continue at St. Ignatius Retreat House overlooking Lake Mamanasco, but the 15 traditionalist Catholics who live at the priory there — five priests, two nuns, eight lay house members — now pray and work with rekindled hope for a reconciliation with the mainstream church in Rome....PHOTO: Macklin Reid/Ridgefield Press
“It’s a good sign. They are happy,” said Father Gerardo Zendejas, prior of St. Ignatius....
Some 500 worshipers drive up to an hour each Sunday to Christ the King Church at St. Ignatius on the corner of Tackora Trail and North Salem Road. There they hear the Tridentine Mass celebrated in Latin, as it was before the reforms of the Second Vatican Council began modernizing the Roman Catholic Church in 1962. About 300 people a year also visit St. Ignatius for monthly five-day retreats....
“The lifting of the excommunication of the traditionalist bishops is an important first step towards a reunion with the Roman Catholic Church,” said Dr. Joseph McAleer, spokesman for the Diocese of Bridgeport. “Pope Benedict XVI has opened the door to reconciliation, and we hope and pray that the Society of Saint Pius X’s leadership and members will respond to this invitation.
“In the meantime, Catholics who choose to worship at the Saint Ignatius Retreat House in Ridgefield must be aware that the society has not regained union with the Roman Catholic Church. Therefore, Catholics remain obliged to attend a Sunday Mass celebrated by a priest in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church.”
The lifting of the excommuncations has also prompted controversy as one of the four bishops, Richard Williamson, made remarks on Swedish television doubting the historical truth of the Holocaust and also speculating that the U.S. government might have had a role in the September 11th attacks.
In the 1980’s Bishop Williamson headed a traditionalist seminary at the Ridgefield site, and when it moved to Minnesota prompted some controversy by saying it had left the East Coast for the Midwest’s “morally purer” atmosphere....
The Society of St. Pius X has distanced itself from Bishop Williamson’s remarks.
“...Definitely, we have made it clear that it’s not the position of the society,” said Father Arnaud Rostand, the society’s district superior for the United States. “Bishop Fellay, our superior general, issued a press release on that, saying that we deal with the restoration of the Latin Mass and the traditional teaching of the church, within the church. We don’t deal with historical facts. We do not agree with the statements of Bishop Williamson.”
Father Zendejas added, “Because we keep the tradition in church, people think that we are right-wing politically, and that is a confusion.”