As noted below by my colleague, Brian Mershon has published an interview with Bishop Rifan. Having just read, within the past few weeks, the texts that DICI published (story on this blog here), and especially the interview with Cardinal Ricard, a few phrases used by Bishop Rifan stick out.
I think that, tying these two interviews together, we may get a better idea of what the Holy Father is planning to do by way of SSPX reconciliation.
Cardinal Ricard had said:
"I think the pope wishes to make a gesture to show that the door is not closed, a gesture of good-will. In the coming months, we will see what concrete expression that will take. Then it will remain to be seen whether the Fraternity will take the next step."
That this "gesture of good-will" is probably not going to be the liberation of the Tridentine Mass is suggested by Bishop Rifan's remarks
Q. One of the two preconditions the bishops of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) have requested since 2001 was a public affirmation that the Classical Roman liturgy has never been abrogated. If this first step is eventually granted, what do you predict will happen next?
A. I think that it is very true that this affirmation of the cardinals that the Classical Roman liturgy has never been abrogated. The continuation of this usage, allowed by the Holy See, is a proof. But this universal indult has nothing to do with this precondition of the Society of St. Pius X; it will be a realization of the personal will of the Holy Father, independent of this good request.
That leaves us with the second probable option: the mysterious "gesture of good-will" that the Pope will make will be the lifting of the SSPX excommunications.
Bishop Rifan says:
Q. Do you think there are sufficient grounds for the Pope to grant the second precondition — lifting the decrees of excommunications (or declaring them null and void) against the bishops of the SSPX and Archbishop Castro de Mayer?
A. The Pope can lift the decree of excommunication, as a sign of benevolence, in order to facilitate the conversations with the SSPX. That was my suggestion [to the Pope] during the conversations.
Here, Bishop Rifan uses the same exact phrase used by Cardinal Ricard: the Pope will make a "gesture of good-will (geste de bienveillance)," says Ricard; lifting the excommunications will be a "sign of benevolence," says Rifan.
Cardinal Ricard's second statement, that after this "gesture" is made, "it will remain to be seen whether the Fraternity will take the next step," corresponds to what Bishop Rifan says next:
After this lifting of the decree of excommunications, they will be in the similar condition of the Greek Orthodox, from whom the Pope [Paul VI in 1964] lifted the decree of excommunication too. Afterwards, they will need the canonical regularization and the correction of doctrinal mistakes.
I think we can get a pretty good idea, from these two interviews, what will take place after the Society's General Chapter and the election of the new Superior-General. In all likelihood, if the odd similarity between Cardinal Ricard's "geste de bienveillance" and Bishop Rifan's "sign of benevolence" is not just coincidence, the Pope will lift the SSPX excommunications as a preliminary first step; it will then be the expectation of the Pope that the SSPX will "take the next step," that is, accept "the correction of doctrinal mistakes."