Benedict XVI: Remission of excommunication an act of mercy

Translated Version:

Decree Lifting Traditionalist Bishops’ Excommunication

Decree Lifting Traditionalist Bishops’ Excommunication

“A Sign for the Promotion of Unity in Charity”


VATICAN CITY, JAN. 25, 2009 ( Here is a translation of the decree released Saturday by the Congregation for Bishops, advising of the lifting of excommunication of the four bishops ordained without papal permission by Marcel Lefebvre in 1988.

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With a letter of Dec. 15, 2008, sent to His Eminence Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, Monsignor Bernard Fellay, in his name and in that of the other bishops consecrated June 30, 1988, again requested the lifting of the excommunication latae sententiae formally declared by decree of the prefect of this Congregation for Bishops on July 1, 1988.

In the mentioned letter, Monsignor Fellay affirms, among other things:

“We are always fervently determined in the will to be and to remain Catholics and to place all of our strength at the service of the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which is the Roman Catholic Church. We accept all of her teachings with a filial spirit. We firmly believe in the primacy of Peter and in his prerogatives and because of this, the present situation makes us suffer so much.”

His Holiness Benedict XVI, paternally sensitive to the spiritual unrest manifested by the interested parties because of the sanction of excommunication, and trusting in the commitment expressed by them in the cited letter to spare no effort in going deeper in the necessary conversations with the authorities of the Holy See in matters still unresolved, and to be able to thus arrive quickly to a full and satisfactory solution of the problem existing from the beginning, has decided to reconsider the canonical situation of the bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson and Alfonso de Galarreta, which arose with their episcopal consecration.

With this act it is desired to consolidate the mutual relations of trust, [and] to intensify and make more stable the relationship of the Fraternity of St. Pius X with the Apostolic See. This gift of peace, at the end of the celebrations of Christmas, also aims to be a sign for the promotion of unity in charity of the universal Church, and with this means, come to remove the scandal of division.

It is desired that this step be followed by the solicitous fulfillment of full communion with the Church of the Society of St. Pius X, thereby witnessing to authentic fidelity and a true recognition of the magisterium and the authority of the Pope, with the proof of visible unity.

In virtue of the faculties that have been expressly conceded to me by the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, in virtue of the present decree, I lift from Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson and Alfonso de Galarreta the censure of excommunication latae sententiae declared by this congregation on July 1, 1988, and declare void of juridical effects beginning today the decree published then.

Rome, Congregation for the Bishops,

Jan. 21, 2009
Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re
Prefect of the Congregation for Bishop

“So I Sent In My Resignation…”


Mary Ann Glendon, the scholarly, profound United States Ambassador to the Holy See during the past year, resigned her post this past week to allow Barack Obama, the new US president, to choose a new US ambassador to the Vatican to his liking. Now Glendon reflects on her year in Rome in an interview with our correspondent, Roman journalist Alberto Carosa. Glendon’s reflections give an insight into the work of diplomacy in Rome at the highest level.

By Albert Carosa
     Ambassador Glendon, your one year mandate as US Ambassador to the Holy See just expired and you have just returned to your home in the United States. What are your feelings now? A bit saddened?
     Ambassador Mary Ann Glendon: It was an enormous privilege to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See during a period when relations between the United States and the Vatican were so close. And of course I will miss my friends in Rome. But it’s also a great feeling to be returning to my vocation of teaching and scholarship with so many first-hand experiences to draw upon.  For someone like me who works in the field of international studies, it was a dream come true to witness diplomacy in action as practiced by the outstanding members of the Holy See diplomatic corps.

     How did you come to know that your mandate would not be confirmed or extended? Were you told so (and by whom, if I may ask) or was it your personal decision?
     Ambassador Glendon: When a new U.S. President is elected, it is customary for all Ambassadors who were political appointees of the outgoing administration to be asked to submit their resignations prior to Inauguration Day. The notification that was sent to us after the November election specified a procedure to be followed by Ambassadors who wished to apply for an extension of their term. But I was satisfied with what I had been able to accomplish during my tenure, and I was eager to get back to my home, my library, and my writing projects. So I sent in my resignation to be effective in time to be on the premises for the spring semester at Harvard Law School.

     Can you briefly mention some of the most notable highlights of your work in Rome?
     Ambassador Glendon: There are so many images that will always be fixed in my mind—the liturgies in St. Peter’s, so expressive of the universal nature of the Church, the Memorial Day services at Nettuno, where more than 7,000 American soldiers lie buried, and of course the exchange of visits between President Bush and Pope Benedict XVI. The first part of my term was much taken up with planning for the Pope’s historic journey to the United States in April 2008. It was an unforgettable experience to be at the airport with the President as he welcomed the Pope, calling him “the greatest spiritual leader in the world.” (Photo: Pope Benedict XVI is greeted by U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Mary Ann Glendon as he arrives at Andrews Air Force base outside Washington April 15, 2008 — CNS photo/Alessia Giuliani, Catholic Press Photo).

     Then, two months later, President Bush came to the Vatican where he was given an equally extraordinary welcome. Heads of state are usually received in the formal setting of the Apostolic Palace, but on this occasion the meeting between the Pope and the President took place in a picturesque tower overlooking the Vatican Gardens and was followed by a stroll to another idyllic spot where they were serenaded by the Sistine Chapel choir.      
     In your last farewell meeting with the Holy Father, what was the special message, if any, that he conveyed to you?
     Ambassador Glendon: Well, it was really more of a “goodbye and welcome back” meeting, since I travel to Rome regularly in connection with my work for the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, a body that reports directly to the Pope.  Perhaps it was only my imagination, but I had the impression when the Holy Father asked me about my future plans that he sometimes misses the tranquil life he enjoyed as a professor.  (Photo: Pope Benedict XVI poses with Mary Ann Glendon, the new U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, during a private meeting at the Vatican Feb. 29, 2008 –CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

     We saw you carried out many important projects during your mandate, especially the two anniversaries on human rights and US-Holy See relations. Could you elaborate a bit on this?
     Ambassador Glendon: Having accepted the position of Ambassador for a relatively short stint, I had to think hard about how I could best promote the shared values of the US and the Holy See in a limited period of time. I decided that the best way to do so would be to take advantage of the coincidence of the 25th anniversary of formal diplomatic relations between the U.S. and the Holy See with the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Since the UDHR expresses so many of the ideals to which both the U.S. and the Holy See are dedicated, the conjunction of those anniversaries provided many occasions to explore and expand common ground.

     So I arranged for our Embassy to sponsor a series of five conferences on various aspects of human rights: the contribution of Latin American and Catholic thought to the modern human rights tradition; human trafficking as a modern form of slavery; current challenges to the idea of universal rights; the role of philanthropy in bringing rights to life; and the American model of religious freedom.
     I also accepted numerous speaking engagements on human rights themes, including the keynote address for Vaclav Havel’s annual Forum 2000 in Prague; a BBC conversation with Mary Robinson, the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; a public dialogue on religious freedom with Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the past President of the Italian Conference of Catholic Bishops; and a speech at last summer’s Communione e Liberazione Meeting at Rimini where I discussed the Pope’s April address to the UN. Many other opportunities for public diplomacy grew out of the fact that the Italian translation of one of my books, Traditions in Turmoil, appeared last spring and won some Italian literary prizes.

     Can you also elaborate now about what you see as the common points between the Vatican and your country? 
     Ambassador Glendon: For the past several years, there has been a strong correspondence between the views of the U.S. government and the Holy See on the importance of strengthening the global moral consensus against terror (especially against the use of religion as a justification for violence); promoting human rights (especially religious freedom); fostering inter-religious dialogue; and working for peace in the Middle East and other troubled areas of the world. And of course President Bush and Pope Benedict XVI shared a common outlook on a wide range of social and cultural issues.

     There is another area of common concern, however, where it seems to me that neither the U.S. nor the Holy See receives the recognition they deserve. I’m referring to their commitment to the relief of poverty, hunger, and disease.  On those fronts, a natural partnership has grown up between the United States, as the world’s largest and most generous donor of humanitarian aid, and the Holy See, which oversees the world’s largest network of health care, educational, and relief agencies.          
     That community of interest intensified over the past eight years thanks to President Bush’s energetic embrace of one of the most important political ideas of the late 20th century, namely, that social services can often be delivered more efficiently, effectively and humanely through the mediating structures of civil society, than by government acting directly.  President Bush has said he considers his initiatives with faith-based institutions as one of the “crowning achievements’ of his presidency, a presidency that saw the U.S. government double its aid to Latin America, quadruple it to Africa, and triple it worldwide. Through creative partnerships between government and faith-based organizations, America has provided the world with successful models for getting official aid to its intended beneficiaries with low transaction costs and high accountability. 
      These initiatives, permitting participating religious groups to maintain their principles and identity, are very much in the spirit of Pope Benedict XVI’s first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est (“God Is Love“) where he wrote that  “The state that would provide everything, absorbing everything into itself, would ultimately become a mere bureaucracy incapable of guaranteeing the very thing the suffering person—every person—needs:  namely love and personal concern.” The notion that charity is merely a social service, he pointed out, “demeans man and ultimately disregards all that is specifically human” (DCE, 28b).  
     And what about the differences between Rome and Washington? Will they be overcome one day? 
     Ambassador Glendon: By the time I arrived last year, there was no disposition to revisit the major difference that had arisen in recent years–that over the decision to take military action against the regime in Iraq. The focus of both the U.S. and the Holy See had moved on to the need to establish stability, peace, and protection for minorities. The relationship has historically been a strong one in which both entities are able to express and explain their points of view in an atmosphere of good will and mutual respect, and I am hopeful that it will continue in that vein.
     Is there any particular way the Vatican has appreciated and acknowledged your valuable and tremendous work as Ambassador to the Holy See?
     Ambassador Glendon: It was very gratifying for me and my staff that many Holy See officials attended and participated in our events and conferences. Particularly memorable were the speeches by Cardinal Renato Martino, President of the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace, at our October  conference on “Universal Human Rights and the Challenge of Diversity”;  Professor Guzman Carriquiry, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, at our May conference on “Latin America and the International Human Rights Project”; and Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, at our 25th anniversary conference on “The American Model  of Religious Freedom.”
      Do you have any special plan or project to pursue a particular professional endeavour, now that you are no longer the US Ambassador to the Holy See?
     Ambassador Glendon: In the summer of 2007, when I got the call from the White House asking whether I would be interested in becoming the Ambassador to the Holy See, I was half-way through writing a book, “The Forum and the Tower”, about persons who had been engaged in both of what Aristotle called the two most choice-worthy vocations:  philosophy and politics.  I have long been fascinated by how persons like Plato, Cicero, Tocqueville, Burke, Weber, and others dealt with the push-and-pull between those two worlds.  Now, after having spent some time in the forum myself, I’m looking forward to getting back to the ivory tower and finishing that project.



Title of Pope’s third Encyclical “Caritas in Veritate”


The Holy Father’s third encyclical will discuss Catholic social teaching.  ANSA reports that the encyclical will be titled “Caritas in Veritate,” “Love in Truth,” and it will build upon the previous encylicals Populorum Progressio by Pope Paul VI & Sollicitoud Rei by John Paul II.  The four chapter encyclical will no longer be published on May 1st as previously planned due to the difficulties in translating the document into Chinese.

Pope Benedict: resurrection of Lazarus reveals Christ’s power over life and death

angelus.jpg Vatican City, Mar 9, 2008 / 01:17 pm (CNA).- Pope Benedict XVI in his Angelus message said that the Gospel story of Lazarus shows Christ’s absolute power over life and death and reveals His nature as true man and true God.The Holy Father also repeated his appeals for peace in the Holy Land and the release of a kidnapped Iraqi archbishop.

After returning from an apostolic visit at the San Lorenzo International Youth Center, where he celebrated Mass Sunday morning, Pope Benedict appeared in the window of his study to recite the midday Angelus with thousands of pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square. 

Before reciting the Angelus, the Holy Father offered a reflection on today’s Gospel.

Recounting the story of Lazarus, Pope Benedict said this reading “shows Jesus as true man and true God.”

Sleep, he said, is a metaphor for physical death. That is, the death of the body is a sleep from which God can awaken man at any time.

In raising Lazarus and in restoring life to the young son of the widow of Nain (cf. Lk 7:11-17) and the girl of twelve years (cf. Mk 5:35-43), Jesus shows an absolute power over physical death.

At the same time, the Holy Father said, Jesus’ lordship over death does not prevent him from showing sincere compassion over the pain of this separation. 

Seeing the tears of Martha and Mary and those who had come to console them, even Jesus was “deeply disturbed” and “wept” (John 11:33-35).

“The heart of Christ is divine and human,” the Holy Father said.  “In Christ, God and Man are perfectly one, without separation and without confusion. He is the image, in fact, the incarnation of God who is love, mercy, paternal and maternal tenderness; of God, who is Life.”

The Holy Father added that just as Jesus asked Martha if she believes that he is the “resurrection and the life,” Jesus addresses to each of us this same question that in fact exceeds our ability to understand.

Jesus asks us to trust him, as he has been entrusted to the Father. And, the Holy Father said, despite our doubts and our darkness, we are invited to follow Martha’s example and say to Jesus, “We believe in you, because you have the words of eternal life. We believe in you, we hope in the gift of life after life, an authentic and full life in your kingdom of light and peace.”

After reciting the Angelus, the Holy Father appealed for the second consecutive week for an end to violence in the Holy Land.

He said, “In recent days, violence has again bloodied the Holy Land, fuelling a spiral of destruction and death that seems to have no end. While I invite you to pray with insistence to the Lord Almighty for the gift of peace for the region, I wish to entrust to His mercy the many innocent victims and express solidarity with the families and the injured.”

The Holy Father also urged the Israeli and Palestinian authorities to continue negotiations in order to build “a peaceful and just future for their peoples.”

“In the name of God, he said, “leave the tortured path of hatred and revenge and pursue the responsible paths of dialogue and trust.”

Pope Benedict also expressed his heartfelt concern for the fate of Chaldean Archbishop Paulos Rahho who was kidnapped last week in Iraq.  The Pope also voiced his concern for the many Iraqis who continue to suffer violence, which the Holy Father called “absurd” and contrary to the will of God.

Finally, Pope Benedict invited young people from the diocese of Rome to St. Peter’s Basilica next Thursday, when he will preside over a penance service in preparation for the upcoming twenty-third World Youth day in Sydney Australia.

He said,  “Dear young people of Rome, I invite you all to this meeting with the Mercy of God! For priests and youth ministers, I urge you to encourage the participation of young people by incorporating the words of Paul: “We are ambassadors for Christ…. Let us be reconciled to God!” (2 Cor 5:20).