Let’s have a look with my emphases and comments.
CONGREGATIO PRO EPISCOPIS
By way of a letter of December 15, 2008 addressed to His Eminence Cardinal Dario Castrillón Hoyos, President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, Mons. Bernard Fellay, also in the name of the other three Bishops consecrated on June 30, 1988, requested anew the removal of the latae sententiae excommunication formally declared with the Decree of the Prefect of this Congregation on July 1, 1988. In the aforementioned letter, Mons. Fellay affirms, among other things: "We are always firmly determined in our will to remain Catholic and to place all our efforts at the service of the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which is the Roman Catholic Church. We accept its teachings with filial disposition. We believe firmly in the Primacy of Peter and in its prerogatives, and for this the current situation makes us suffer so much."
His Holiness Benedict XVI – paternally sensitive to the spiritual unease manifested by the interested party due to the sanction of excommunication and trusting in the effort expressed by them in the aforementioned letter [Pope Benedict has clearly also taken into consideration the pain that this excommunication caused.]deepen the necessary discussions with the Authority of the Holy See in the still open matters, so as to achieve shortly a full and satisfactory solution of the problem posed in the origin – [Yes... the problems still remain. This was not an ending of the story. This was an important, but single, step toward beginning to resolve problems which remain. Hopefully this reciprocal expression of, at least, desire will help.] decided to reconsider the canonical situation of Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson, and Alfonso de Galarreta, arisen with their episcopal consecration. [That is interesting. They decided to study and reconsider the canonical situation. I wonder if they determined that the excommunication wasn't in fact ever incurred and therefore the zeroed out the declaration of such by the Cong. for Bishops? Either way they are lifted.]
With this act, it is desired to consolidate the reciprocal relations of confidence and to intensify and grant stability to the relationship ["grant stability".... hmmm... the status of the SSPX hasn't really changed. They are moving toward some changes, of course, by dealing with their leadership in this way.] of the Fraternity of Saint Pius X with this Apostolic See. This gift of peace, at the end of the Christmas celebrations, is also intended to be a sign to promote unity in the charity of the universal Church and to try to vanquish the scandal of division. [Especially during the Week for Christian Unity.]
It is hoped that this step be followed by the prompt accomplishment of full communion [There is, of course, some level of Communion. What that is is a little hard to determine. But it is clear that this step will help them to a more manifest union.] with the Church of the entire Fraternity of Saint Pius X, thus testifying true fidelity and true recognition of the Magisterium and of the authority of the Pope with the proof of visible unity. ["proof" of visible unity... that's what we are waiting for.]
Based in the faculty expressly granted to me by the Holy Father Benedict XVI, in virtue of the present Decree, I remit of Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson, and Alfonso de Galarreta the censure of latae sententiae excommunication declared by this Congregation on July 1, 1988, while I declare deprived of any juridical effect, from the present date, the Decree emanated at that time.
Rome, from the Congregation for Bishops, January 21, 2009.
Card. Giovanni Battista Re
Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops
of the Superior General of the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X
The excommunication of the bishops consecrated by His Grace Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, on June 30, 1988, which had been declared by the Congregation for Bishops in a decree dated July 1, 1988, and which we had always contested, has been withdrawn by another decree mandated by Benedict XVI and issued by the same Congregation on January 21, 2009. [I am back to my earlier question. I think they often protested that the excommunications were not valid, namely, that they never were excommunicated. Thus, I wonder if the "study" on the part of the Holy See, mentioned above, was in some part a canonical process to determined that.]
We express our filial gratitude to the Holy Father for this gesture which, beyond the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X, will benefit the whole Church. Our Society wishes to be always more able to help the pope to remedy the unprecedented crisis which presently shakes the Catholic world, and which Pope John Paul II had designated as a state of “silent apostasy.” [I can think of a couple ways in which they could help the Pope do that.]
Besides our gratitude towards the Holy Father and towards all those who helped him to make this courageous act, we are pleased that the decree of January 21 considers as necessary “talks” with the Holy See, talks which will enable the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X to explain the fundamental doctrinal reasons which it believes to be at the origin of the present difficulties of the Church. [I hope those talks begin SOON!]
In this new atmosphere, [Read THIS] we have the firm hope to obtain soon the recognition of the rights of Catholic Tradition
[A little pompous, but basically that sounds like an appeal simply to be allowed to behave like Catholics, without harsh accusations just because they don't like the documents or fruits of Vatican II, etc.]
Menzingen, January 24, 2009
I was deeply gratified to read this.
The remission of the censures has raised my hopes