First, and most importantly, Pope Benedict used today's General Audience to make three special announcements. He welcomed the election of Patriarch Kyrill as the new Patriarch of Moscow. More about that later. He then spoke of the lifting of the excommunications of the four SSPX bishops. Rorate Caeli has an English translation of the original Italian text in which he spoke of the importance of his duty to call to unity and said that he decided to remit the excommunications "precisely in the accomplishment of this service of unity, which qualifies, in a specific way, my ministry as Successor of Peter." the Holy Father went on to express his hope for their solicitous effort to accomplish the remaining steps necessary to accomplish full communion with the Church.
In his third announcement, the Holy Father recalled the images imprinted on his memory from his several visits to Auschwitz
"one of the camps in which the brutal killing was carried out, of millions of Jews, innocent victims of a blind racial and religious hatred."The Holy Father went on to say:
"I hope that the memory of the Shoah leads mankind to reflect on the unpredictable power of evil when it conquers the heart of man. May the Shoah be for all a warning against forgetfulness, against denial or reductionism, because the violence against a single human being is violence against all."Also today, the District Superior of the SSPX has issued a strong statement dissociating himself from the behaviour of Bishop Williamson and apologising for it. See the translation at Rorate Caeli: Note of the District Superior for Germany of the SSPX.
And in a surprising development, La Ciguena de la Torre has claimed another scoop via his Vatican mole "Cardinal Re" who has alleged that Bishop Williamson has written to the Vatican to apologise of the damage caused by his reckless statements. (Cathcon has a translation of the post.)
Via Cathcon, I found the link to an interesting article by Christopher Ferrara in the Remnant: Triumph and Tribulation. On the question of the present canonical status of the four bishops, Ferrara argues that it was only ever Archbishop Lefevbre who was suspended a divinis and that the only penalty imposed on the four bishops was excommunication. Since that has been lifted, he says, they are no longer under any canonical penalty. However the article in Inside the Vatican with which he takes issue, alleges that all the priests of the Society were suspended. My own guess, for what it is worth, is that Cardinal Castrillon would be keen to dispel any such doubts in fairly short order and affirm the good standing of the Bishops and priests of the Society. I found it amusing that Ferrara referred to the SSPX as an "ecclesial movement" - it would certainly be an advantage if they were to bring to new movments generally a sense of what is "sacred and great" in the Church's Liturgy.
Ferrara also scorns the "usual conspiracy-mongers" who would see the Holy Father's gesture as "part of a sinister neo-Modernist plot to capture and neutralize the Society." He also has some very sensible comments to make on Holocaust Revisionism, together with some of the obvious evidence for the Holocaust, especially from Nazi sources themselves.