The Archbishop of Bordeaux and member of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, said this week the lifting of the excommunication imposed on four bishops ordained by Marcel Lefebvre demands they and their followers recognize the Second Vatican Council.
In a statement published on the French bishops’ website, the cardinal explained that Pope Benedict XVI has reached out his hand “as an invitation to reconciliation. The Pope, as a theologian and historian of theology, knows the drama that a schism in the Church represents.” “He understands the question often raised in the history of schisms: Was every means used to avoid this schism?” the cardinal stated.
Pope Benedict XVI, he continued, “felt called to the mission to do everything possible to attract those estranged from ecclesial unity,” as “he knows the issue well because he was commissioned by Pope John Paul II to get in touch with Archbishop Lefebvre and try to prevent him from committing the irremediable act of the episcopal ordinations” without the permission of the Pontiff.
Cardinal Ricard noted that the lifting of the excommunication is not the end but only the beginning of the process of dialogue. “It does not resolve two fundamental issues: the juridical structure of the Fraternity of St. Pius X in the Church and an agreement on dogmatic and ecclesialogical issues. But it does open a path that should be traveled together. This path will undoubtedly be long. It will demand better mutual knowledge and esteem,” he added.
“At some point,” the cardinal stressed, “the issue of Vatican II as a magisterial document of primary importance must be considered as it is fundamental.” The lifting of the excommunication should help bring about this dialogue, he said.