24 January 2009

Excommunications Lifted

Our Holy Father has lifted the bans of excommunication from the four bishops ordained by the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre:
Saturday, January 24, 2009

Decree of the Congregation for Bishops

CONGREGATIO PRO EPISCOPIS

By way of a letter of December 15, 2008 addressed to His Eminence Cardinal Dario Castrillón Hoyos, President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, Mons. Bernard Fellay, also in the name of the other three Bishops consecrated on June 30, 1988, requested anew the removal of the latae sententiae excommunication formally declared with the Decree of the Prefect of this Congregation on July 1, 1988. In the aforementioned letter, Mons. Fellay affirms, among other things: "We are always firmly determined in our will to remain Catholic and to place all our efforts at the service of the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which is the Roman Catholic Church. We accept its teachings with filial disposition. We believe firmly in the Primacy of Peter and in its prerogatives, and for this the current situation makes us suffer so much."

His Holiness Benedict XVI - paternally sensitive to the spiritual unease manifested by the interested party due to the sanction of excommunication and trusting in the effort expressed by them in the aforementioned letter of not sparing any effort to deepen the necessary discussions with the Authority of the Holy See in the still open matters, so as to achieve shortly a full and satisfactory solution of the problem posed in the origin - decided to reconsider the canonical situation of Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson, and Alfonso de Galarreta, arisen with their episcopal consecration.

With this act, it is desired to consolidate the reciprocal relations of confidence and to intensify and grant stability to the relationship of the Fraternity of Saint Pius X with this Apostolic See. This gift of peace, at the end of the Christmas celebrations, is also intended to be a sign to promote unity in the charity of the universal Church and to try to vanquish the scandal of division.

It is hoped that this step be followed by the prompt accomplishment of full communion with the Church of the entire Fraternity of Saint Pius X, thus testifying true fidelity and true recognition of the Magisterium and of the authority of the Pope with the proof of visible unity.

Based on the faculties expressly granted to me by the Holy Father Benedict XVI, in virtue of the present Decree, I remit from Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson, and Alfonso de Galarreta the censure of latae sententiae excommunication declared by this Congregation on July 1, 1988, while I declare deprived of any juridical effect, from the present date, the Decree emanated at that time.

Rome, from the Congregation for Bishops, January 21, 2009.

Card. Giovanni Battista Re
Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops
The Superior General of the SSPX, Bishop Fellay, reacts:
We express our filial gratitude to the Holy Father for this gesture which, beyond the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X, will benefit the whole Church. Our Society wishes to be always more able to help the pope to remedy the unprecedented crisis which presently shakes the Catholic world, and which Pope John Paul II had designated as a state of “silent apostasy.”
The FSSP reacts:
The Congregation for Bishops, having made public today the decree lifting the excommunication declared in 1988 regarding the four bishops ordained without pontifical mandate by Archbishop Lefebvre, The Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter wishes to express its joy at the news of this step forward towards unity.

Since its foundation, the Fraternity of Saint Peter has not ceased to witness to its double attachment to the Seat of Peter and to the Tradition of the Church, praying constantly that a reconciliation could be achieved between the Holy See and the Society of Saint Pius X.

Today the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter unites itself completely to the hope of the Holy See, desiring “that this step be followed by the prompt accomplishment of full communion with the Church of the entire Fraternity of Saint Pius X, thus testifying true fidelity and true recognition of the Magisterium and of the authority of the Pope with the proof of visible unity”. (Decree of the Congregation for Bishops, 21 January 2009)

The Fraternity of Saint Peter would like to express its profound gratitude to the Sovereign Pontiff. It sees in this magnanimous gesture a call to unity for all Catholics in order to spread in the world, faced with all the contradictions of our day, the Reign of Christ.
The Archbishop of Paris reacts:
« [C]haque fois que l'Église peut suspendre une peine, je m'en réjouis. C'est une opportunité, une porte ouverte, pour permettre à des chrétiens de retrouver la plénitude de la communion avec l'Église. A condition qu'ils le souhaitent ou qu'ils l'acceptent. C'est un geste de miséricorde et un geste d'ouverture pour fortifier l'unité de l'Église. » [Translation: Each time the Church can suspend a penalty, I rejoice. It is an opportunity, an open door, to allow Christians to rediscover the fullness of communion with the Church, on condition that they wish it or accept it. It is a gesture of mercy and a gesture of openness to strengthen the unity of the Church."]
Christine reacts:
Deo gratias! God bless our Holy Father!
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