Ron Fraser has a different take in the April 2009 edition of the magazine published by the Philadelphia Church of God (although he seems no more happy about it):
A great cry went up from the press when the pope lifted the excommunication from a Holocaust-denying bishop. Yet again, the press got it wrong on Benedict XVI....
In the wings—observing, participating actively in and occasionally commenting on this crisis—waits an institution that, as faz noted, is far more ancient than any of Germany’s—or Europe’s—political parties. Its resilience is borne out by its almost 2,000-year history. It has survived contests between church and state to rebound, time and again, in the wake of failed empires, redundant dynasties and the ebb and flow of economic conditions.
The Vatican looks on and bides its time.
It is significant that in this latest verbal contest between church and state, it was the state that blinked first. Pope Benedict clearly won the day politically, within a crucial election year for the European Union’s chief law-making institution, the European Parliament, and the EU’s leading nation, Germany. His win was Merkel’s loss.
Few observers read between the lines of Joseph Ratzinger’s crafty, carefully chosen and deliberately challenging public statements and power plays as he steadily follows his agenda to “Christianize” Europe, to give Europe its “soul.”
As Pope Benedict xvi, Ratzinger declared his hand against pan-Islamism and secularism in his infamous speech at Regensburg University in 2005. Shortly after that speech produced a great outcry against him from leading Muslim clerics, the pope met with leaders in the Muslim religious community to pour a calming diplomatic oil upon the turgid waters that he had stirred. But he did not recant his position, which behind closed doors remains powerfully anti-Muslim.
With the sspx affair, Benedict did it again. This is an extremely astute pope, with long experience roaming the corridors of Vatican diplomatic power. There can be no doubt he knew that his reinstatement of Bishop Williamson, an unrepentant Holocaust denier, would cause an outcry. It did. It surely did from the Jewish community.
Just as he did with leading Muslim clerics after their being insulted by his Regensburg speech, Benedict met with leaders of the Conference of American Jewish Organizations on February 12 in a diplomatic maneuver to both assure world Jewry that they had the respect of the Vatican, and to create an official forum for his announcement that he had accepted the invitation to visit Israel.
This was followed days later by the Vatican announcing that Benedict would visit Israel in May of this year....
Benedict is a pope who out of one side of his mouth lauds ecumenical dialogue and out the other declares that Roman Catholicism is the one true faith and all other Christian denominations are spurious.
This is simply a pope for all seasons. He is a master diplomat, with a universal vision from which he will not retreat one iota.
Nope, the Pope is not rolling back the clock on ecumenism -- he is reminding Catholics what the word really means.