Thursday, March 12, 2009

Benedict XVI On Lifting of SSPX Excommunications

If you haven't already heard, BXVI has issued a letter to the Bishops of the Church explaining why he lifted the excommunications of the SSPX Bishops and apologizes for his mistakes in the matter. A few tidbits:
The lifting of the excommunication of the four bishops ordained by Archbishop Lefebvre in 1988 without a mandate of the Holy See has led, both within and outside the Catholic Church, for a variety of reasons, to a discussion of such vehemence as we had not experienced for a long time. Many bishops felt at a loss before an event which came unexpectedly and could barely be integrated positively among the questions and tasks of the Church of today. Although many pastors and faithful were willing in principle to value positively the Pope's desire for reconciliation, against this was the question of the appropriateness of such a gesture, given the real urgency of a believing life in our time. Several groups, however, accused the Pope openly of wanting to return behind the Council. An avalanche of protests was set into motion, the bitterness of which made injuries visible which transcended the moment. Therefore I feel pressed to address to you, dear brethren, a clarifying word, which is meant to help to understand the intentions which have guided me and the competent organs of the Holy See in this step. I hope in this way to contribute to peace in the Church.
Then he explains further...
I hope, dear brethren, that with this both the positive meaning as well as the limit of the measure of 21 January 2009 is clarified. But now the question remains: Was this necessary? Was this really a priority? Are there not much more important things? Of course, there are more important and urgent things. I think that I have made clear the priorities of the pontificate in my speeches at the beginning of it. What I said then remains my guideline unchangedly. The first priority for the successor of Peter, the Lord has unequivocally fixed in the Room of the Last Supper: "You, however, strengthen your brethren" (Lk 22, 32). Peter himself rephrased this priority in his first letter: "Be ready always to satisfy every one that asketh you a reason of that hope which is in you." (1 Peter 3, 15). In our time, in which the faith in large parts of the world threatens to go out like a flame which can no longer find food, the first priority is to make God present in this world and to open to men the access to God. Not to just any god, but to the God who spoke on Mount Sinai, that God whose face we recognize in the love unto the end (John 13, 1)- in the crucified and risen Jesus Christ. The real problem of our historic hour is that God is disappearing from the horizon of men and that with the extinguishing of the light coming from God disorientation befalls mankind, the destructive effects of which we are seeing ever more.
Canon Lawyer Ed Peters comments on the letter here.

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