They were excommunicated for ordaining people without the permission of the pope.
Unlike the protestants, their ordinations were licit (ie, performed under the correct form), however they are not valid. They haven’t been valid since Pope John Paul didn’t recognise them. That’s the problem. Everyone who was ordained by SSPX is not yet a priest of the Catholic church, not until they are brought back into full communion, and they accept the authority of the Pope.
The biggest effect of lifting the excommunioation is to bring their flocks back into the fold.
“They were excommunicated for ordaining people without the permission of the pope.”
“Unlike the protestants, their ordinations were licit (ie, performed under the correct form), however they are not valid.”
Sorry, you have that backwords. Licit means it would be “permitted” or “allowed”. Valid would mean it was “properly done” or “effective”. Please note that the Vatican does not doubt for a second that the 4 SSPX bishops are in fact bishops. The Vatican does not doubt for a single second that the men they ordained are really priests. What is not in doubt by the Vatican is that all of that was illicit - i.e. done withour permission.
I have seen this first hand. As I said, I know of more than one priest who was ordained as an SSPX priest who is now an FSSP priest. No conditional ordination was ever deemed necessary.
“They havent been valid since Pope John Paul didnt recognise them. Thats the problem.”
Incorrect. Please note that all properly consecrated bishops are properly consecrated whether or not they are some how recognized by a pope. The pope does not need to recognize the bishop of Smolensk for him to be a REAL bishop. He’s Eastern Orthodox, and he’s a real bishop. Period.
“Everyone who was ordained by SSPX is not yet a priest of the Catholic church, not until they are brought back into full communion, and they accept the authority of the Pope.”
They are full priests. They just aren’t in full communion. Those are two separate issues. Again, look at the Eastern Orthodox. Are they validly ordained even though they are not members of the Catholic Church? Yes.
By the way, when the Society of St. John Vianney came back into full communion all they had to do was sign a piece of paper. No ordinations were necessary. http://www.latin-mass-society.org/ssjv.htm They were all validly ordained from the start.
“The biggest effect of lifting the excommunioation is to bring their flocks back into the fold.”
I hope so. That’s what we all want. What will not happen is a single conditional ordination of consecration, however. All of the SSPX priests will be accounted as priests and all of their bishops will be understood to be bishops. They were all validly but illicitly made so.
As Fr. Z notes:
Q: Is it okay for the SSPX bishops to ordain now?
No. The bishops of the SSPX are validly consecrated bishops, but the fact remains that they were illicitly consecrated. That hasnt changed. They are still not reconciled with the Bishop of Rome. They are still suspended a divinis. They still have no permission to exercise ministry in the Church. They may not licitly ordain. They have no authority to establish parishes, etc.
As the Ecclesia Dei committee has freely admitted:
b. While the priests of the Society of St. Pius X are validly ordained, they are also suspended a divinis, that is they are forbidden by the Church from celebrating the Mass and the sacraments because of their illicit (or illegal) ordination to the diaconate and the priesthood without proper incardination (cf. canon 265). In the strict sense there are no “lay members” of the Society of St. Pius X, only those who frequent their Masses and receive the sacraments from them. http://www.ewtn.com/library/curia/cedsspx2.htm