Friday, January 23, 2009

Pope Withdraws Excommunication of SSPX Bishops

Over the last few days, the buzz began over news-leaks that Pope Benedict XVI will publicly "withdraw" or "lift" the 20+ year excommunications of four bishops consecrated by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer in Ecône, Switzerland on June 30, 1988. Controversy has raged ever since Lefebvre and de Castro Mayer disobeyed Pope Paul II in consecrating as bishops Bernard Fellay, Alfonso de Galarreta, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, and Richard Williamson. Although the four bishops were never appointed jurisdiction by either Lefebvre or de Castro Mayer, their consecrations led to what many hold as an unjust charge of "schism" by Pope John Paul II via the July 1988 Motu Propio, Ecclesia Dei.

Along with the recent news leaks, online discussions prove the controversy still rages - much of it centering on personalities and prejudices rather than the Faith and facts. It seems the hot topics about the upcoming withdrawal of excommunication range from the Pope's motives to the anticipated reactions of the four SSPX bishops. From those two points alone, the tangents seem inexhaustible. So far, however, most of them focus on previous remarks made by one individual - SSPX Bishop Richard Williamson - recently publicized (some say conveniently-timed), thus unfairly casting negative aspersions upon the entire SSPX community. That in itself leads to discussion over whether or not Williamson purposely made the remarks to give his honest but imprudent opinion or to "rock the boat" (the Vatican's boat) , whether or not his interviewer possessed malicious intent, and so on. One thing is certain: Public discusssion so far is little concerned with explicit doctrinal issues. Whatever the case may be...

The devil is an opportunist. So why give him any opportunities? It's one thing to defend dogma and doctrine and another to defend subjectivity. St. Michael, the Archangel, defend us in battle...

Incidentally, I do not think it a coincidence that the Pope's announcement is supposedly set for January 25th - which is day after the octave of the 138th anniversary of the Virgin's one-time apparition at Pontmain, France (for more info, please see the post directly below this one).

Surely Our Lady's message then applies now - "But pray, my children. God will hear you in a short time. My Son permits Himself to be touched. "

And, as St. Pio said, "The Rosary is the weapon."

Although obstacles and roadblocks are already being thrown in the way, Pope Benedict XVI's decision must be due to the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces and the million Rosaries prayed to God for this intention. Such is the efficacy that God has given the Rosary!

However, now is not the time to rest on our proverbial laurels. What the Holy Father plans to do is a first step to the Church's restoration. There are many more to follow.

Might I suggest to my brothers and sisters in Christ that we offer our forthcoming Rosaries in thanksgiving for this incredible development toward reconciliation and for the Church's and the Holy Father's protection? The Church and the Holy Father have many foes who will not be happy about this new development. Recall St. John Bosco's prophetic dream about the Barque of Peter, tossed on the sea and bombarded by enemy ships...and the two popes who strove, one after the other, to direct and then anchor the Barque to two pillars, the first bearing the Holy Eucharist and the second bearing a likeness of Our Lady Help of Christians.

It might be that prophecy has begun to see it fulfillment with the Pope's July 7, 2007 Motu Proprio in which the Mass of all time was released from bondage. It follows that the Holy Father's next plan of action is directly related to the first, for the SSPX have long maintained their purpose of existence is not only the Tridentine Rite of Liturgy but to preserve Tradition. Therefore, the Church's enemies will vehementaly oppose the Pope's recent decision - using any excuse possible - because the withdrawal or lifting of the SSPX bishops' excommunication possesses the ability to further the restoration of both Tradition and the Liturgy.

As Our Lord urged Sr. Lucia when speaking of God's Will for the Collegial Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, "Pray! Pray much for the Holy Father! He will do it, but it will be late."

We must pray and sacrifice for Pope Benedict XVI, who has proven that he can respond to the graces of his high office! May we also continue to pray and sacrifice so that he soon exercises his prerogative as the Vicar of Christ, commanding the bishops to join him in the Collegial Consecration of Russia to Our Lady's Immaculate Heart!

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