Today is the 50th anniversary of the convocation of the Second Vatican Council, our diocese was founded in May 1965, our first Bishop, David Cashman who was consecrated on 14 June 1965 and died in March 1971, only attended the last session of the Council which closed in December of 1965. I am told he rejoiced in the fact that he was the only Council Father in world with a full non placet voting record, apparently he voted against everything he could, unlike Archbishop Lefebvre.
One of the great Ratzingerian projects that is going to get a boost from the discussions with the SSPX is the question of the weight that we give the four Dogmatic Constitions of the Vatican Council and the Council itself. Other Councils were more easily dealt with, their documents all ended with declarations of Anathema: one knew where one stood. Their absence from Vatican II has actually been a disservice and left us floundering, either by us giving the Council too much or too little weight.
I reject out of hand those who speak of the "Spirit of the Council", if it is not enfleshed in a careful reading of the Council's documents, as rooted in Catholic Tradition, then it is merely a dangerously mischievous poltergeist.
In the same way too, as a Catholic, I have serious problems with those who reject the Council as being, merely, pastoral. They have obviously never even opened the documents, let alone examined the Acta. To distance oneself from the Council is profoundly un-Catholic.
I am sure that the Pope welcomes those of the SSPX who have the intellectual capacity to do more than rant, as somehow representing a significanct pre-Concilliar theological "school".
Reconcilliation with the SSPX is important and good but I suspect for Pope Benedict it is but a step en route to our reconcilliation with the Church's own Sacred History.
For Catholics Vatican II has to be seen in the context of a seamless hermeutic with all the preceeding magisterial acts of the Church. There are obvious problems with Vatican II that the SSPX happily point out but I suspect that good minds combined with goodwill, combined with a certain freshnes of approach can find a way through, what Bishop Fellay calls "reservations" about Vatican II.