Thursday, March 12, 2009

Withdrawal of excommunication: "An invitation to return"

Benedict on the meaning of his gesture of lifting the excommunication of the four bishops of the Society of Saint Pius X: as a "call to return" his act of reconciliation "serves the same purpose" as the excommunications.

"Episcopal consecration without papal mandate means the danger of a schism, because it calls into question the unity of the Bishops' College with the Pope. The Church must, therefore, react with the harshest punishment, excommunication, and that is to call back the persons thus punished to repentance and into unity. 20 years after the ordinations this goal has unfortunately still not been achieved. The withdrawal of the excommunication serves the same purpose as the punishment itself: once more to invite the four bishops to return."

-- Benedict XVI, Letter to the Bishops