Benedict Writes Our Sins In The Sand

The Pope's written a moving letter to bishops explaining the lifting of the excommunications against the SSPX. He apologizes for the PR problems it caused, although I still maintain he shouldn't have to. Anyone with the slightest bit of either good will or intellectual curiosity could have gotten the story right. Anyone who didn't was lacking one or the other or both.

Nevertheless, it's a good letter and his humility is evident. No official English yet, but Fr. Z. has the best version I've seen so far (although still rather pidgin; in red are Fr. Z's personal comments). He thanks his Jewish interlocutors for being more reasonable than certain Catholics.
I was saddened that also Catholics, who really should have known better, felt the need to lash out at me with jump-ready enmity. [Of course they did know better, but their enmity was greater than their respect or their sense of justice.] All the more do I thank the Jewish friends who helped to quickly rid the world of the misunderstanding and to re-establish the atmosphere of friendship and trust which—as in days of Pope John Paul II—also continued to exist through the whole period of my Pontificate and God be praised, will continue to exist.
Anyway, the rest of the letter explains for us the full meaning of the move. I love this:
One cannot freeze the teaching authority of the Church in the year 1962—the society has to be clear about that. But some of those who play the great defenders of the Council, need to be reminded that the Second Vatican Council carries with it the whole teaching history of the Church. Whoever wants to be obedient to it, must accept the faith of centuries and may not cut the roots from which the tree lives.

Having explained the practicalities, he gets to his fullest explanation (which just happens to take us all very gently but profoundly to school) and it's just marvelous. Was it worth it? he asks? Absolutely, because his role as Peter is to "strengthen the brethren."
The actual problem of our point in history is that God is disappearing out of humankind’s horizon and with the extinguishing of the from God-coming-light the lack/inability to of direction breaks into humanity, the destructive effects of which we are seeing ever more of.

Bringing mankind to God, the God who speaks in the Bible, is the highest and most fundamental priority of the Church and the successor of Peter in these times. That we should be occupied with the unity of the Faithful will arise from that on its own. For her quarrel, her inner contradiction/disaccord — calls the speech of God into question. For that reason the struggle for a common witness of faith of Christians — for Ecumenism — is included in the highest priority. To that also comes the necessity that all those who believe in God search for peace together, attempt to come closer to one another in order to, through the variety of the their image of God, approach the source fo the Light together — the interreligious dialogue. Whoever proclaims God as love until the end must give the witness of love: turned towards the suffering in love, stave off hatred and enmity, the social dimension of the Christian Faith, of which I spoke in the encyclical Deus Caritas Est.

If the struggle for faith, hope and love in the world represents the true priority for the Church in this our (and always in different forms), then the smaller and the larger reconciliations also make up a part of it.We need to recognize that the quiet gesture of an outstretched hand became such a great noise and so exactly the opposite of reconciliation. But now I still ask: Was and is it really wrong to come towards the brother “who bears a grudge against you” and attempt reconciliation (Cf. Mt 5, 23f)?

Should civilized society not also attempt to anticipate radicalization, to tie back her potential agents, if it is possible, with the great creative force of social life in order to prevent seclusion and all its consequences? Can it be completely wrong to strive for solutions to cramps and narrowing and to give room for the positive and which can be tied into the whole? I myself experienced in the years after 1988 how much the internal climate of communities which were breaking away from Rome changed through their homecoming; how the homecoming into a great broad and common church overcame one-sidedness and unraveled knots, so that positive strength for the whole came out of them.

Can we be apathetic about a community in which there are 491 priests, 215 seminarians, six seminaries, 88 schools, two university institutes, 117 brothers and 164 sisters? Should we really allow them to drift away from the church with quiet minds. I think for example of the 491 priests. We cannot know the weave of their motivations. But I think that they would not have chosen the priesthood if the love to Christ and the will to proclaim him and with him the living God. Should we simply exclude them from the search for reconciliation and unity as the representatives of a radical fringe group? What would happen then?

To be sure, we have for a long time and again on this given occasion heard many discordant notes from representatives of this community — arrogance and condescension, obsessing into the one-sided-nesses and so on. To this I need to add for the sake of the Truth that I have also received a series of moving proofs of gratitude in which an opening of hearts was noticeable.

But should the larger Church not also be able to be generous in the knowledge of the long breath that it has, in the knowledge of the promise that was given to it? Should we not, like righteous educators, be able to overhear many an offense and strain ourselves to quietly lead out of the impasse? And must we not admit that discord has also come from Church circles? Sometimes one has the impression that our society needs at least one group to which it needs to show no tolerance, which one is allowed to attack with hatred, unquestioned. And whoever dares to touch them—in this case the Pope— has also himself lost the right to tolerance and was allowed to be thought of with hatred, without shyness or restraint.

The bold is Fr. Z's, but I left it because that (and the following sentence) is the answer to the question Why does the Pope not excommunicate such and such person and be done with it? That letter, my dear brothers and sisters, is what is meant by charity. Meditate on the whole thing.