Personally, I think that this is a very generous act of the Holy Father, and I hope that no one would doubt his good will and sincerity. It will attract criticism, no doubt, but it's important to understand precisely what this gesture means. It's a gesture of mercy because the excommunications were justly imposed. It's a concrete sign that the Holy Father wants to bring the Society back into communion. However, my understanding of this (and I admit that I'm not a canonist) is that this is simply a starting point. Bishops Fellay et al still lack jurisdiction within the Church and the Society cannot be said to have been restored into full communion. Bishops Fellay and the clergy of the society are still canonically irregular and do not have faculties to exercise their ministry. Whilst not excommunicate because of their irregular consecration, the Bishops of the Society are not properly members of the Catholic Hierarchy. Membership of the College of Bishops depends, not only on valid episcopal consecration, but also on hierarchal communion with the Bishop of Rome and the other Bishops.
It should also be noted that there is a lot of theological ground which needs to be covered, especially in the area of religious liberty, the authority of the Second Vatican Council and the newer liturgy. The clergy of the SSPX will need to undergo a severe examination of conscience regarding some of the things they have said over the past few years. However, with charity and the work of the Holy Spirit, wounds can be healed.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
What lies ahead
~from Zadok, a concise assessment of what lies ahead: