The Vatican Secretariat of State made public a statement today that outlines several points the Lefebvrists must accept in the wake of Pope Benedict XVI’s lifting of the excommunication of four bishops ordained by Marcel Lefebvre in 1988, including “full recognition of the Second Vatican Council” and of the Magisteriums of all the Popes since Pius XII.
The statement, published by the L’Osservatore Romano, indicates that in the wake of Pope Benedict XVI’s kind gesture lifting the excommunications, “it is hoped an equal willingness on the part of the four bishops be expressed in total adherence to the doctrine and discipline of the Church.”
“The lifting of the excommunication has freed the four bishops from a very grave canonical penalty, but it has not changed the juridical situation of the Society of St. Pius X, which currently does not enjoy any canonical recognition in the Catholic Church. In addition, the four bishops, while they are no longer excommunicated, do not have a canonical role in the Church and do not licitly exercise a ministry in her,” the statement says.
In order for the SSPX to be recognized, the statement goes on to say, “full recognition of Vatican Council II, the Magisteriums of Popes John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II and Benedict XVI himself is an indispensable condition.”
“As the Decree of January 21, 2009, already stated, the Holy See will not cease to study in depth with those interested, in the ways considered opportune, the issues that are still open, in order to reach a full and satisfactory solution for the problems that have given rise to this painful break,” the letter states.
The letter also makes reference to the statements denying the Holocaust made by one of the four bishops, Richard Williamson, calling them “absolutely unacceptable and strongly rejected by the Holy Father, as he himself emphasized on January 28” during the General Audience of that day.
“In order to be admitted to episcopal functions in the Church, Bishop Williamson should also publicly and unequivocally distance himself from such positions about the Shoa, which were unknown by the Holy Father at the time of the lifting of the excommunication.”
The statement emphasizes that the Holy Father asks all of the faithful to pray for the Church and for the efforts by her pastors to protect the Church’s unity.