Rorate Caeli

Removal of the excommunications
A Guide

All signs now seem to indicate that the removal, withdrawal, or annulment of the excommunications of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre (+ 1991), Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer (+ 1991), and of the four Bishops consecrated by them for the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X (FSSPX / SSPX) in Ecône, Switzerland, on June 30, 1988 is imminent. The Papal act on the matter has almost certainly been signed, and it will be made public shortly: read Surprise 2 - UPDATED; and Surprise 1.

RORATE CÆLI has been covering this matter since its beginning. Here is a guide of posts for those who wish to understand the situation.

1. The Events of 1988. The events which led to the consecrations of June 30, 1988, and to the subsequent reaction by the Holy See are summed up in two posts: 20 years on: Reliving the Events of 1988, Part I and Part II.

2. The Process of Regularization of the FSSPX. The process is clearly following the One-Two-Three Strategy, first explained by this blog here. The first step was accomplished, first, by the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, and will be completed with the removal of the excommunications.

3. Rumors on the papal decree. Rumors regarding the removal of excommunications have been reported at least since the Jubilee discussions of the Holy See and the SSPX, begun during the Pontificate of John Paul II. The current procedure for the removal of the excommunications began in earnest in the audience granted by Pope Benedict to the Superior General of the FSSPX, Bishop Fellay, in August 29, 2005.

As Fellay himself described,
At a certain point [during the audience], the Pontiff himself put the matter on the table: pondering on the state of the Church in countries such as France and Germany, Benedict XVI recognized as perfectly well-grounded the question of the subsistence of the state of necessity in such countries... [sic] The Pope said this, not we.
In November 2007, a few months after Summorum Pontificum, Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos, President of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei", declared that
the lifting of the excommunication weighing on the bishops of the Priestly Fraternity of St. X since 1988 "can happen" but that it definitely “depends on them."
Castrillón and Fellay set the final process in motion in their meeting of June 4, 2008, when the conditions agreed by both parties were written down. Fellay soon sent the official response of the Fraternity.

In late October 2008, the Fraternity launched its Rosary Crusade for the withdrawal of the excommunications, and in early November it was rumored that the decree was already on the Pope's desk. (More information on the events of the past few months in posts labeled Decision 2008.)