News outlets in various languages are reporting that a letter from Pope Benedict XVI to the bishops of the world, explains the decision to lift Bishop Richard Williamson’s excommunication. Significant excerpts of the letter were leaked by the Italian papers Il Foglio and Il Giornale as well as the German paper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
The official full-length letter will be published by the Vatican on Thursday in Italian, German, French, English, Spanish and Portuguese at noon Rome time. Fr. Federico Lombardi, the Holy See press director will offer a briefing at 11:30 in the press office.
The published excerpts quote the Pope as writing, “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.”
The passages in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung also mention that Pope Benedict says he was unaware of Bishop Williamson’s statements on the Holocaust and that “closely following the news available on the internet would have made it possible to obtain knowledge of the problem in time.” The Holy See intends to follow internet news sources much more closely.
According to reports, the Holy Father also defends the Second Vatican Council and cites steps he is taking to ensure that the St. Pius X Society contends with the teachings of the Council before any progress is made in its canonical status.