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HDNet's 'Dan Rather Reports' Examines the Church's Return to Conservative Catholicism Is the Pope supporting a movement to bring the Church back to pre-Vatican II practices? TONIGHT, Tuesday, December 7 at 8:00 p.m. ET

DALLAS, Dec. 7, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Tonight, "Dan Rather Reports" investigates some subtle changes - and some not so subtle - that may indicate a conservative shift in the Roman Catholic Church. Is Pope Benedict the XVI supporting these changes, or simply trying to heal rifts within the Church itself?

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In the 1960's, under Pope John XXIII, and Pope Paul VI, the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, or Vatican II made changes to the Roman Catholic liturgy including conducting Mass in the native vernacular, instead of Latin, and allowing priests to face the congregation. These changes made it look as if a new more liberal view would shape the Church in the coming years.

However, it seems as if lately, and somewhat quietly, the Church is slowly becoming more conservative under Pope Benedict XVI.

One of the bigger indicators of this shift is the Vatican bringing a group called "The Priestly Society of St. Pius X," (or SSPX) back into the fold. The group was excommunicated in the 1980's for being too conservative in their practices after Vatican II.

Bishop Bernard Fellay, head of the SSPX tells Dan Rather in a rare television interview his thoughts on Vatican II.

"And the result is there. The fruits are there. It's a disaster. The Church now, in many countries is not far from collapse," said Fellay.

However, there are others who had hoped the changes of Vatican II would present a Church that was more liberal and less tied to ancient dogma. Former Catholic Priest Ed Flavahan is one of those who are disappointed with the Church's shift.

"There are a lot of people who are angry at the Catholic Church and the hierarchy and its solemn pronouncements and they're being driven from the Church," Flavahan tells Rather. "I want to be with these people even if it means being called an outcast."

However, some Church experts believe that the reinstatement of the leadership of  SSPX is simply the Pope's attempt to repair schisms to create a more united Church.

Should Catholics expect a return to the days before Vatican II? Find out tonight on HDNet.

"Dan Rather Reports: True Believers" premieres on HDNet, TONIGHT, Tuesday, December 7 at 8:00 p.m. ET with an encore at 11:00 p.m. ET.

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