VATICAN - Remission of the excommunication “Latae sententiae” of Bishops of the Fraternity of Saint Pius X
Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) – The Holy Father Benedict XVI, “following a process of dialogue between the Fraternity of St. Pius X and the Holy See,” has accepted the request made once again by the Superior General of the Fraternity, Bishop Bernard Fellay, as well as in the name of the other three Bishops of the Fraternity (Bishops Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson, and Alfonso de Galarreta), to lift the excommunication imposed on them upon their episcopal ordination on June 30, 1988 without pontifical mandate.
As a press release from the Holy See Press Office states, Bishop Bernard Fellay, in his letter on December 15, 2008, clearly expressed to the Holy Father that “We are always fervently determined in the will to be and to remain Catholics and to place all of our strength at the service of the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which is the Roman Catholic Church. We accept all of her teachings with a filial spirit. We firmly believe in the primacy of Peter and in his prerogatives and because of this, the present situation makes us suffer so much.”
His Holiness Benedict XVI, who has followed the process closely from its beginning, has always sought to mend the break with the Fraternity, even meeting personally with Bishop Bernard Fellay on August 29, 2005. On that occasion, the Pontiff expressed his desire to gradually proceed on the path and now, it is with great pastoral solicitude and paternal compassion, through a Decree issued by the Congregation of Bishops on January 21, 2009, that he lifts the censure of excommunication from the above mentioned Prelates. The Holy Father was inspired to make this decision by his desire for a complete reconciliation and full communion as soon as possible.
In the Decree from the Congregation of Bishops, with which the censure of the excommunication latae sententiae, which was declared by the same Congregation on July 1, 1988, it mentions that
“This gift of peace, at the end of the celebrations of Christmas, also aims to be a sign for the promotion of unity in charity of the universal Church, and with this means, come to remove the scandal of division. It is desired that this step be followed by the solicitous fulfillment of full communion with the Church of the Society of St. Pius X, thereby witnessing to authentic fidelity and a true recognition of the magisterium and the authority of the Pope, with the proof of visible unity.”
(SL) (Agenzia Fides 26/1/2009)
Complete text of the Decree, in Italian