We should not miss the irony of the rehabilitation of the SSPX on the eve of the 50th Anniversary of the Convocation of the Council. The wit of Pope Benedict?
A convert friend of mine used to irritate his Evangelical parents, who's moral code was based on on "What would Jesus do?", by saying his was based on "What would Pius XI do?"
I can't help but think that Pope Benedict is giving a sign of Vatican II at its very best. Like the Good Shepherd, without judging the cost to himself and his reputation he goes in search of the lost sheep. He carries them on his shoulder, making it easy for them to return to the True Fold. He calms their kicking, their struggle. He is willing to endure being gored by their horns. He willingly endures the scorn of onlookers who regard these estranged sheep as the carriers of disease, as not of the Flock, as morally tainted.
The irony is that before the Declaration on Religious Liberty a Pope would have handed the whole affair over to the Inquisition. The leaders of the SSPX would have been excommunicated, if that didn't work their excommunication would have been followed by that of their priests and finally of the laity who supported them. The Secretariate of State would have demanded States to coerce conformity, because "error has no rights", this coersion could rightly take on the most extreme form.
In the meantime the Pope would have waited for the return of dissidents on their knees.
What would Pius XI have done?