Our friends at Rorate have an intriguing rumor.
Decree for the removal of excommunications on the Pope’s desk?
From Spanish blog La Cigüeña de la Torre:
On the Holy Father’s bureau [read=desk] stands a prepared decree which will lift that of [excommunication], of 1988, which applied to the consecrating [Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer] and consecrated bishops [Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Alfonso de Galarreta, and Richard Williamson]. I mean removing the decree, and not absolving of the excommunication. [If I understand this correctly, that would mean the Holy Father would declare that the excommunication would have been, effectively, confirmed by the Cong. for Bishop in error.]
The thesis of the subjective element, extenuating or mitigating of fault, and, therefore, of the penalty, according to Canons 1323, 4 and 7, and 1324, 1, 8, and 3, has prevailed. [The idea is this: in order to incur a penalty you have to have sinned. You must know what you are doing and will it. If there are forces working on you from outside, so that you act under compulsion, the guilt for the objective wrong act is mitigated. If forces are acting on your will from withing, that is, you are emotionally or mentally unstable or impaired by substances, etc., that mitigates the guilt of the act.]
The information sounds highly credible, it matches recent events (including the Rosary Crusade), and Spanish conservative Catholic lawyer Francisco José Fernández de la Cigoña usually only posts on future events (such as the nomination of Bishops) when he is truly certain of the matter. Nonetheless, even if the information is accurate, there is no way of knowing when [if] the Holy Father will sign the document, or when it will be made public.
The referenced canons of the Code of Canon Law (CIC) are the following:
Can. 1323 The following are not subject to a penalty when they have violated a law or precept:
4/ a person who acted coerced by grave fear, even if only relatively grave, or due to necessity or grave inconvenience unless the act is intrinsically evil or tends to the harm of souls;
7/ a person who without negligence thought that one of the circumstances mentioned in nn. 4 or 5 was present.
Can. 1324 §1. The perpetrator of a violation is not exempt from a penalty, but the penalty established by law or precept must be tempered or a penance employed in its place if the delict was committed:
8/ by a person who thought in culpable error that one of the circumstances mentioned in can. 1323, nn. 4 or 5 was present;
§3. In the circumstances mentioned in §1, the accused is not bound by a latae sententiae penalty.
I am reminded of something the Holy Father said last summer during his "vacation" to a gathering of priests in N. Italy. If my memory serves, a priest asked the Holy Father what to do about people who present their children to be baptized when there is little or no chance they will practice their Catholic faith.
The Holy Father replied along the lines that when he was a young priest, he was far more strict in these matters. Now that he is more than 80, however, he would be inclined to baptize.
Tangentially, last night I was watching an episode of the Forsyte Saga. Old uncle Jolyon toward the end of his life softens about the split in his family, about which he had been quite stern years before.
I am not suggesting that the Holy Father is an old man, "foolish, fond", as the poet says.
Perhaps this rumor is too optimistic. The Holy Father seems to move slowly and reflect for a loooong time about certain things… even dither.
Still, there was the letter sent back by Bp. Fellay to Card. Castillon about the infamous "conditions".
There has been a bit of a softening of rhetorics from the SSPX.
The SSPX went to Lourdes and asked or a Crusade of prayer through the Rosary for the lifting of the excommunications.
I fear this new report is overly sanguine… which is better than the opposite tack… but I hope it is true.