Hervé Yannou, Vatican correspondent for the French national daily Le Figaro, chronicles the story of a difficult document. Excerpts:
[The reassurances given by Cardinal Ricard in his speech to the French bishops] were given him by Benedict XVI, who received him for forty minutes on October 26. "For the moment, nothing has been done at the Vatican." While the newspapers were able to announce the publication of the decree, Cardinal Ricard assured the [news] agency I.Media that it had been only "a suggestion by Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos (in charge of the affair of the integrists at the Vatican) as a response to the demands of Bishop Fellay (responsible for the Fraternity of Saint Pius X and leader of the integrists) regarding the liberalization of the Tridentine Rite and the removal of the excommunications."
The Pope assured him that "the work and reflection are still to be done" and that not even the nature of the document had yet been defined. That is, the commotion of the French bishops was due to no more than a project of the Colombian Cardinal, considered as too favorable to the integrists, and to premature reports by the press.
However, in the month of October, the Vatican had informally confirmed the existence of the decree, whose date of publication had not been defined.
Have the French [bishops] caused Benedict XVI to back down? Cardinals Jean-Marie Lustiger, Jean-Pierre Ricard, and the Archbishop of Paris, André Vingt-Trois... warned the Pope of the ecclesial, doctrinal, and even political consequences of his projects. Benedict XVI had already been informed of those by the cardinals of the Curia. The American Episcopal Conference [USCCB] had already made its uneasiness known. The legal argument which is often put forward is that the Pope would put in jeopardy the prerogatives of the bishops, if he lifted their prior authorization for the celebration according to the ancient rite.
The French [bishops] were thus heard, contrary to [what had happened in] the month of September, in which the Institute of the Good Shepherd, formed by old members of the Fraternity of Saint Pius X, had been established unbeknownst to them. Benedict XVI will not give up on his projects, but he takes his time and will listen to the grievances. For their part, the Traditionalists remain determined. The Fraternity of Saint Pius X speaks of "attempts of intimidation by bishops and journalists". As for the leaders of the Institute of the Good Shepherd, they have come to Rome to ask Cardinal Castrillon to ordain their first priests and to obtain a church in the capital of Catholicism.