Catholic sect ordains more priests

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Society of St Pius X in the Swiss village of Econe defies the Vatican by ordaining eight priests.

Econe -- Breakaway fundamentalist Roman Catholics on Monday ordained eight priests at their seminary in the Swiss village of Econe, in defiance of a ban by the Vatican.

The ceremony by the Society of St Pius X, which was again declared "illegitimate" by Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi, marked a second rejection of Pope Benedict XVI's authority after four other ordinations over the weekend in Germany.

"I repeat what I have said before: these ordinations are illegitimate and there is therefore nothing to add to our earlier statements," Lombardi told AFP.

In January the head of the Roman Catholic Church lifted the excommunication of four of the society's "bishops", including Holocaust denier Richard Williamson, in an attempt to end conflict.

It was meant to facilitate talks on ending the 39-year division between the Roman Catholic hierarchy and the traditionalists, provided the latter accepted the Vatican's doctrine.

Instead, the pope's move angered many Catholics and Jews, while the traditionalists continue what the Vatican considers illicit ordinations.

The leader of the Society of St Pius X, French traditionalist "bishop" Bernard Fellay, said in his sermon Monday that the order would carry out a total of 27 ordinations in Germany, Switzerland and the United States in 2009.

Fellay said he was "surprised by the fuss surrounding our ordinations when in many countries the Church is short of priests".

Some 2,500 worshippers attended the ceremony outside the chapel at Econe, which was celebrated mainly in Latin.

The Vatican said earlier in June it would maintain its position "as long as issues concerning doctrine are not clarified," adding that the Pius X group had "no canonical status in the Church".

The pope said in March that while the bishops excommunicated by his predecessor John Paul II had been "invited" back into the fold, they "do not legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church".

They include Fellay.

Benedict said that the traditionalists must recognise "the authority of the pope and the Second Vatican Council".

Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, the founder of the Society of St Pius X, consecrated the bishops of his order in 1988. He had broken away from the Church in 1970 in protest at reforms passed by the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s.

AFP / Expatica

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