I'm sure most people have heard by now (unfortunately, for the wrong reasons) of the Pope's decision to lift the excommunication of the four SSPX bishops who were consecrated by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre back in 1988. At the outset, I'd like to say that I'm very pleased about this action (though less so about the negative--and unwarranted--criticism of the Holy Father). It shows a true commitment on the part of this pontiff to unifying the Church (as evidenced by the fact that he took this action during the week in which the Church prays for Christian Unity). I've thought for a while now that SSPX has many valid points about the issues the Church has encountered over the past 50 years, though I can't say that I approve of the course of action they decided to take.
This has come into the news most prominently because of comments made by one of the bishops, Richard Williamson, regarding his views on the Holocaust (mainly, that it didn't happen, at least not on the scale that is generally accepted). The "progressive" wing of the Church has taken this opportunity to lambast the Holy Father at every turn for this decision. Those outside the Church somehow see vindication of their long-held beliefs that the Pope is a closet Nazi (he was a member of the Hitler Youth, after all!).
What both of these groups fail to realize is what exactly excommunication is. The revocation of excommunication does not involve or depend on personally held beliefs (though the Pope has since made it clear that Williamson must recant his views on the Holocaust before being received back into the fold).
As is excellently made clear in this article, however, it seems like the liberal wing of the Church is not much concerned with the Jews, but with losing the grip they have on . Pope Benedict has devoted much of his pontificate to a reexamination of Vatican II and its "misimplementation." By demonstrating a continued desire to bring "traditionalists" back from the fringes (through the implementation of Summorum Pontificum, this lifting of excommuncations, and the like), the Pope is threatening the monopoly that progressives have had on modernist dogma in the past four decades. Shame on the Pope for trying to turn the tide of modernism toward a more authentic and traditional theology and form of worship!
It is also ironic that the members of the Church that champion the "spirit of Vatican II" are the ones who do not understand what the Council actually did. It did NOT mandate the removal of Latin from Holy Mass (in fact, it specifically encouraged its use) or mandate celebration of the sacred liturgy facing the people. These actions and other related ones were taken after the Council and were not approved by a synod of bishops. In fact, I seriously doubt that many of these people have taken the time to read the documents produced by the Council (or any other Council, for that matter). This includes people such as our esteemed Vice-President, who calls himself a "John XXIII Catholic." Bl. John XXIII is rolling in his grave, methinks.
An interesting question I came across earlier today: if the progressives in the Church are demanding that SSPX accept Vatican II before they are reconciled with the Church, can those of us who value Tradition demand that they accept Trent to stay in the Church? Not a sermon, just a thought.