“On such occasion, the Supreme Pontiff expressed his will to proceed gradually and in reasonable stages down such path and now, with pastoral concern and fatherly mercy, by means of a decree from the Congregation of Bishops dated January 21, 2009, revokes the excommunication applied to the aforementioned Prelates.”
“The Holy Father has been inspired in this decision by the hope of reaching the soonest possible full reconciliation and complete communion,” the statement concludes.
The Decree from the Congregation of Bishops begins by recalling a letter dated December 15, 2008 written by Bishops Bernard Fellay on behalf of the other three bishops who were consecrated on June 30, 1988. The letter, addressed to Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, “requested the lifting of the excommunication latae sententiae formally declared by decree of the Prefect of this Congregation for Bishops dated July 1st 1988.”
The Congregation’s decree quotes the passage from Bishop Fellay’s letter released by the Vatican Press office and continues: “His Holiness Benedict XVI – fatherly sensitive to the spiritual suffering expressed by those who face the sanction of excommunication” and who also trusts in the bishop’s commitment “not spare any effort to further engage in the necessary dialogue with the authorities of the Holy See over the unanswered questions…has decided to reconsider the canonical situation of bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson and Alfonso de Galarreta created by their episcopal consecration.”
“With this act –the decree continues- we wish to consolidate the mutual relations of trust and intensify and provide stability to the relation of the Society of St. Pius X with this Apostolic See.”
“This gift of peace, concluding the Christmas celebrations, wishes to also be a sign for promoting the unity in charity of the Universal church and to achieve the elimination of the scandal of division,” the decree states.
“We hope that this step may be followed by the caring accomplishment of the full communion with the Church of the whole Society of St. Pius X, thus witnessing true fidelity and truthful recognition of the Magisterium and the Pope’s authority with the proof of visible unity.”
“On behalf of the faculties expressly granted by the Holy Father Benedict XVI, in virtue of the current decree, I lift the censure of excommunication latae sententiae to Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson and Alfonso de Galarreta declared by this Congregation on July 1, 1988, while I declare null of juridical consequences, as of today, the decree released in the past.”
The decree is signed by Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops, on January 21, 2009.