There will be made public in the next few days a decree with which Benedict XVI chose to cancel the excommunications of four new bishops ordained by [Archbishop] Lefebvre in 1988. In addition to the four (Bernard Fellay, Alfonso de Gallareta, Tissier de Mallerais and Richard Williamson) there were also excommunicated the aforementioned Lefebvre, and the Brasilian bishop De Castro Mayer who participated in the ceremony. On that occasion, after having been on the verge of an accord with the Holy See (and after having dealt with then Card. Ratzinger and having signed a protocol of understanding), [Archbishop Lefevbre] suddenly chose rupture and consecrating as four young priests as bishops carried out a schismatic act, justified by him by a necessity to assure the survival of the Fraternity of St. Pius X. Now, with a truly magnanimous gesture, accepting the request formulated by Fellay, Benedict XVI has decided to lift the excommunication. The excommunication which, it must be clarified, always regarded the consecrating bishops (Levebre and De Castro Mayer, both for some time deceased) and the for men consecrated, but not the Lefebvrite priests much less the their faithful. [via Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, "Excommunication of SSPX bishops to be lifted within days?" (WDTPRS, January 21, 2009).]Zuhlsdorf adds, from Paolo Rodari, "Esclusivo: Benedetto XVI revoca la scomunica ai lefebvriani." (Palazzo Apostolico, January 22, 2009):
Benedict XVI has decided. The decree containing the revocation of the excommunication for the schismatic Lefebvrite bishops is ready. It will come out in the next few days, probably by this Sunday. At the Pope’s will the President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, Archbishop Francesco Coccopalmerio drafted it and signed it."Probably by this Sunday"? -- on the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, closing of the Week of Christian Unity? On the 50th anniversary of the convocation of Vatican II by Blessed Pope John XXIII?
[Hat tip to Nathan B.]