Ultra-conservative Society of St Pius X accuses Pope Francis of causing Church 'painful confusion'

An ultra-conservative Roman Catholic group has apparently abandoned efforts to reconcile with Rome after accusing Pope Francis of causing 'painful confusion' on Wednesday.

Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the Society of St Pius X, ordains a priest during a ceremony in Econe, southwest Switzerland.Reuters

The controversial Society of St Pius X has said it "does not now primarily seek a canonical recognition" from the Vatican.

The society, founded by the late French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1970, mainly in opposition to the Second Vatican Council reforms, has championed conservative and right-wing positions and has been severely critical of several popes. Some of its members have been accused of Holocaust denial.

Popes have been seeking to reconcile with the group since 1988, when the Vatican excommunicated Lefebvre and four other bishops after Lefebvre consecrated them without the pope's consent. 

However, these efforts appear to have been conclusively rejected. The society wrote in the statement, released on its website, that there is a "great and painful confusion that currently reigns in the church" that "requires the denunciation of errors that have made their way into it and are unfortunately encouraged by a large number of pastors, including the pope himself".

Pope Benedict XVI made reconciliation a priority during his papacy. However, after three years of negotiations talks collapsed in 2012, due to apparent doctrinal difficulties.

The statement comes less than three months after Pope Francis met with the society's superior general Bishop Bernard Fellay at the Vatican in April. The pope had also earlier indicated a move toward reconciliation and the potential restoration of the excommunicated bishops.

In a September letter to the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of New Evangelisation, which is organising the Holy Year of Mercy, Pope Francis said that members of the Society of St Pius X would be granted faculties during the year to offer absolution of sins to those who approach them for confession.

The statement from the society ends by writing that "The society of Saint Pius X prays and does penance for the Pope, that he might have the strength to proclaim the Catholic faith and morals in their entirety."