by our Rome correspondent WITHIN days rebel Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, leader of 40,000 dissident traditionalist Catholics throughout the world, will reply to Vatican proposals of compromise formulated to prevent a schism in the Church.
Earlier this year, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, met with the 81 year old Archbishop in Rome to dissuade him from ordaining four bishops. The cardinal presented Lefebvre — suspended by Paul VI for refusing to adhere to Vatican II reforms — with a series of proposals, considered an unprecedented compromise.
One was a request to Lefebvre to authorise a study of his movement by three theologians and two Canon law experts who would devise what was called "an hypothesis towards a solution". It is thought Cardinal Ratzinger wishes to appoint permanent Vatican observers at the Archbishop's main seminary in Econe and in Rome where his followers are known as the Fraternity of Pius X. Sources at the Congregation said the five experts who have been studying the Lefebvre case at close hand were now ready to present their report to Cardinal Ratzinger.
Meanwhile Cardinal Ratzinger is expected to reiterate the Vatican's hard-line opposition to the Brazilian priesthood's controversial "theology of liberation" which sanctions clerical participation in left-wing politics.
In 1985 Brazilian monk, Leonardo Boff, was sentenced to a year's silence for his book on the new theology. And last week another Brazilian priest appeared on Polish television to declare: "God's will is realised through all political systems but the best way to transmit the message of the gospel is via communism".
Frei Betto, a Dominican and the author of a controversial book on the Cuban revolutionary leader, Fidel Castro, appeared for the brief interview.
The Dominican Order has already protested about his comments. "The Dominicans and the Church in general in Poland do not have access to the mass media so they have no redress to this declaration. Frei Betto has given the impression we support the Polish communist regime", a spokesman said.