Pope allows schismatic society to celebrate marriages

Pope Francis has taken another step to bring a breakaway traditionalist society back under his wing by allowing its priests to celebrate marriages that will be recognized by Rome.

The measure announced Tuesday follows the pope's decision in 2015 to allow priests of the schismatic Society of St. Pius X to validly hear confessions.

The permissions come amid continuing negotiations to regularize the status of the Swiss-based society, which split from the Vatican over the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council.

The Vatican letter to bishops' conferences announcing the change says the society remains "irregular," but only "for the time being."

For months, news reports have suggested that a deal is near to give the society the same legal status in the church as another Catholic movement, Opus Dei.