Tom McFeely is the National Catholic Register’s News Editor. He lives in British Columbia.
The official text of Pope Benedict XVI’s letter to the world’s bishops about the Society of St. Pius X controversy can be viewed here.
The letter was released today, one day after unofficial texts surfaced in the European media.
While the Daily Blog has already blogged here about the letter’s contents, we recommend you read it in its entirety to get an accurate picture about why the Pope decided to lift the excommunications of the four bishops who lead the schismatic traditionalist society.
“Dear brothers in the episcopal ministry,” the Pope begins his letter.
“The remission of the excommunication of the four Bishops consecrated in 1988 by Archbishop Lefebvre without a mandate of the Holy See has for many reasons caused, both within and beyond the Catholic Church, a discussion more heated than any we have seen for a long time,” the Holy Father states. “Many bishops felt perplexed by an event which came about unexpectedly and was difficult to view positively in the light of the issues and tasks facing the Church today. Even though many bishops and members of the faithful were disposed in principle to take a positive view of the Pope’s concern for reconciliation, the question remained whether such a gesture was fitting in view of the genuinely urgent demands of the life of faith in our time.
“Some groups, on the other hand, openly accused the Pope of wanting to turn back the clock to before the Council: as a result, an avalanche of protests was unleashed, whose bitterness laid bare wounds deeper than those of the present moment. I therefore feel obliged to offer you, dear brothers, a word of clarification, which ought to help you understand the concerns which led me and the competent offices of the Holy See to take this step. In this way I hope to contribute to peace in the Church.”