Pope Benedict has moved the Vatican office responsible for the re-admission of four Society of St Pius X bishops back into the Catholic Church to a Curia office seen as close to him, according to a Reuters report.
The commission is now under the control of the powerful Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the department which was headed by Cardinal Ratzinger before his 2005 papal election, Reuters reported.
The news agency interpreted that the action was taken to remove the commission's president Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, who was widely blamed for poorly vetting the Holocaust denying background of the ultra conservative SSPX group's Bishop Richard Williamson and failing to properly inform the Pope.
The Vatican, however, states that Cardinal Hoyos is stepping down after reaching the customary retirement age of 80.
The Catholic Culture website says Benedict's new motu proprio papal document noted that the Ecclesia Dei commission was set up by Pope John Paul II to supervise efforts to achieve reconciliation with the traditionalist SSPX, which has advanced through broader use of the traditional Latin liturgy and by the lifting the excommunication of the SSPX bishops.
"However, it is clear that the doctrinal questions remain, and until they are clarified the (SSPX) has no canonical status in the Church, and its ministers cannot legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church," Benedict is cited as saying.
Placing it under the Vatican's doctrinal office would facilitate the discussion of doctrinal issues, the website said.
The effort to reconcile with the Society of St Pius X will now be headed by Cardinal William Levada of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Associated Press reported.
Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre founded the Pius X Society in 1969 in opposition to the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. The Vatican in 1988 excommunicated four of its bishops after they were consecrated without papal consent by Lefebvre.
Separately, a report by the AFP citing Vatican figures said the Vatican City State ended 2008 with a deficit of $21 million and had been affected "like other states, by the economic and financial crisis" while the Holy See recorded a deficit of around $1.2 million.
Gifts from churches to the head of the Roman Catholic Church had gone down, particularly at the festivals of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, and came to around $76 million.
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Ecclesia Dei commission merged into Vatican doctrinal congregation (Catholic Culture)
Pope orders reform after Holocaust denial flap (AP)
Vatican replaces cardinal in Holocaust controversy (AP)
Vatican hit by economic downturn: official figures (AFP)
Other Pontifical Acts (Vatican Information Service)
Pope shakes up office blamed for Holocaust denier (Reuters)
Society of St Pius X General House