Rome, July 16 - The Italian chapter of the Catholic traditionalist Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) condemned Pope Francis on Tuesday for visiting immigrants and refugees on the island of Lampedusa. In a statement, the Lefebvrist breakaway group criticized the pope for going against centuries of Church efforts to "preserve Catholicism" in the face of the "Mohammedan invasion," recalling "popes, among whom many saints, who armed fleets to stop the (armed, of course) Muslims in Italy". Last week Francis chose Lampedusa, an island off the coast of Sicily, as the destination for his first official trip as pope, drawing attention to the plight of thousands who cross the Mediterranean - and the many who die in the process - each year trying to immigrate through Italy. SSPX said the visit reflected the influence of a "Masonic plot to create a multi-cultural society". SSPX broke away from the Church over theological differences stemming from the changes it adopted with the Second Vatican Council of some 45 years ago. The Vatican is currently engaged in a process aimed at formally reuniting the group with the Catholic Church.