The Holy Father has written to the bishops of the world, lamenting how his attempt to stretch forth the right hand of fellowship to the SSPX - that they may be drawn back into Catholic unity - by lifting the sentence of excommunication against their four bishops was received by the secular world, and the Catholic world, with anger, on the surface because of the unwitting appearance that Williamson's bizarre and distasteful revisionist views were being given tacit approval (a mistaken view that some seemed to rejoice to find and condemn, as if all the SSPX and even a certain German prelate were heinous Nazis), but underneath because, in the Pope's own view, many even within the Church to-day wish to have a group (the SSPX, for instance) to demonize and hate with full licence, and when anyone, even the Supreme Pontiff, acts to try and assist them (and who nonetheless still recognizes their own stiffnecked attitude, a spirit still needing to be tempered in forthcoming discussions) out of pastoral solicitude in the service of Christian unity, then that person - Benedict XVI, no less - is himself viciously pilloried without charity or mercy, and that by those who would puff themselves up as enlightened, progressive, and somehow caring. He quotes Galatians v, 13-15, giving emphasis to the last verse:
For you have been called to liberty, brethren; only do not use liberty as an occasion for sensuality, but by charity serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word: Thou shalt live thy neighbour as thyself. But if you bite and devour one another, take heed or you will be consumed by one another.
Let us set before our eyes the example of Pope St Gregory the Great, and his sterling example of shepherding the flock of Christ; let us join with him in the prayer of all the saints, living and dead, that the Lord may sustain his clergy and people alike, deliver them from the hating and hateful evil that afflicts all our hearts, and unite us with Himself in one: for in no other manner can we come nigh unto God and be the all-unworthy recipients of His free gift of salvation.
For this end, to-day's Lenten ferial collect for Thursday in the second week, and the collect for the feast of St Gregory, are both apposite:
Praesta nobis, quæsumus, Domine, auxilium gratiæ tuæ: ut jejuniis et orationibus convenienter intenti, liberemur ab hostibus mentis et corporis. Per...(Grant unto us, we beg, Lord, the help of Thy grace: that intent upon fitting fasts and orisons, we may be freed from the enemies of mind and body. Through...)Deus, qui animae famuli tui Gregorii aeternae beatitudinis praemia contulisti: concede propitius; ut qui peccatorum nostrorum pondere premimur, ejus apud te precibus sublevemur. Per...(God, Who didst bestow upon the soul of Thy servant Gregory the rewards of eternal beatitude: propitiously concede, that we who are weighed down by the burthen of our sins, by his prayers unto Thee may be lifted up. Through...)
In particular, I think that I need also to follow this good example by praying that the rebels in South Brisbane be afforded help in being reintegrated into the Church, lest their souls perish; it is all too easy to indulge in shameful schadenfreude.