(Rorate Caeli) - All signs now seem to indicate that the removal, withdrawal, or annulment of the excommunications of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre (+ 1991), Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer (+ 1991), and of the four Bishops consecrated by them for the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X (FSSPX / SSPX) in Ecône, Switzerland, on June 30, 1988 is imminent. The Papal act on the matter has almost certainly been signed, and it will be made public shortly...THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: So what does this mean? If it actually happens (and I do say "if") then it does signal the end of the schism, but it still does not mean full reconciliation. The Vatican and the SSPX still have some very pressing issues to hash out, particularly as they relate to the place and interpretation of the Second Vatican Council. However, the lifting of the excommunications places the SSPX bishops back in the fold of the Church, giving them greater access to the pope, and some moral authority within the worldwide Catholic Church. Certainly this does not mean full communion has been restored, but it does mean the impediments to full communion have been removed, and the two parties can now get to the real business of hashing out the details.
read full story here
If this comes to pass (and I still say "if"), then the next order of business we can expect would be some documents coming out of the CDF giving a new (and perhaps more "traditional") understanding of certain decrees from Vatican II. Such would be necessary to pave the way toward a permanent status of the SSPX within the Church, and to further Pope Benedict's "Reform of the Reform."
Addendum: The SSPX, unlike some other traditionalist groups, is NOT a sedevacatist organization. The SSPX officially acknowledges Pope Benedict XVI as the true and rightful pope of the Catholic Church. It also pledges "filial devotion and loyalty" to the Holy Father. This has always been the case. There is much debate as to whether the excommunications issued against Archbishop Lefebvre, and the four SSPX bishops, were legitimate to begin with. It is also widely known that Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) disagreed with these excommunications issued by the Congregation for Bishops in 1988.
UPDATE 1/22/2009: The Vatican has refused to comment on the news stories currently circulating about this issue. Had the stories been false, we would expect to see a Vatican rebuttal, but instead we get "no comment." Based on this I think it's fair to assume the excommunications have already been lifted, and we can expect an official announcement on it shortly.