by Martin Newland WITH the rebel prelate Archbishop Lefebvre poised to incur excommunication on friaself by independently consecrating bishops to his Society this week, Vatican officials are predicting a mass defection from his traditionalist movement by people not prepared to follow him into schism.
"Of those who have been following Lefebvre, only about 20 per cent will remain with him," said the Vatican press spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls on Sunday.
Representatives of the English Province of the Society were this week making their way to E,cone, Switzerland where the consecrations are taking place. Fr King, a member of the Society who is remaining in his London headquarters, decided that the potential break with Rome would produce a falling off of membership. "From what we have seen in our travels around Britain recently there is nothing but calm and composure. History will judge the archbishop as right," he said.
The archbishop for his part remains unabashed by the prospect of schism. "Schism with whom?" he asked at a press conference after his decision to proceed with the consecrations. "With the successor of Peter? No. With a modernist Pope."