The Pope explains his SSPX strategy

The post below focused on accounts of Benedict XVI's statements vis-a-vis Judaism and the SSPX rehabilitation effort which has ocassioned such controversy and pain. But the CNS story that just moved focuses on his remarks at the general audience on his thinking in lifting the excommunications:

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI said he lifted the excommunication of four traditionalist bishops in the hope that they would take further steps toward unity, including the recognition of the authority of the pope and of the Second Vatican Council.The pope, speaking at his general audience Jan. 28, said he was motivated by a desire for church unity when he removed the excommunication of Bishop Bernard Fellay, head of the Society of St. Pius X, and three other bishops of the breakaway society."I undertook this act of paternal mercy because these prelates had repeatedly manifested to me their deep pain at the situation in which they had come to find themselves," the pope said."I hope my gesture is followed by the hoped-for commitment on their part to take the further steps necessary to realize full communion with the church, thus witnessing true fidelity, and true recognition of the magisterium and the authority of the pope and of the Second Vatican Council," he said.The pope said he considered the restoration of full unity in the church as one of his primary pastoral tasks, one he had emphasized at the inaugural Mass of his pontificate in 2005. This task of maintaining unity, he said, is symbolized by the Gospel account of the miraculous catch of fishes, when the net did not break despite the heavy catch.

Always good to have it from the horse's mouth. (Full text not available yet, unfortunately.) But it still begs the question: Why so much for this group?UPDATE: Sandro Magister's analysis today is a good overview, and notes that Benedict has done much--and unilaterally--for the SSPX and received little in return. He makes this point as well:

A few of the Roman curia and the bishops criticize Benedict XVI for making unilateral gestures toward the Lefebvrists, without having anything in return.It is observed that all of his gestures have a clear coherence and theological consistency. But they are falling on soil that has not been adequately cultivated.Even the lifting of the excommunication of the four bishops falls under these criticisms. It is observed that the excommunications have also been lifted between Rome and Constantinople, but that this strongly symbolic gesture took place within a process of real ecumenical reconciliation. This process is absent among the Lefebvrists, and the divisions with them remain intact.

David Gibson is the director of Fordham’s Center on Religion & Culture.

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What do you mean 'we,' Kemo Sabe?

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