The news of the day is that the Pope has decreed that the faithful who approach priests of the Society of St. Pius X for confession during the upcoming Jubilee Year of Mercy will receive valid and licit absolution.
Praise God for this announcement; it is undeniable good news to all Catholics, regardless of one's previous view on the validity of SSPX absolutions.
I will not be the one to give vent to cynicism on the motives or timing of this announcement (though, understandably, the mind seeks to find the logical play in the move from all sides). It is good sometimes just to be grateful and leave it at that. The Pope deserves thanks, and I for one thank him.
And whatever is the motivation for this, and for that matter whatever the need for it, my take is similar to what I felt upon the promulgation of Summorum Pontificum. Though it is now known that the traditional Mass had never been abrogated, and that the faithful could always have assisted at it, many Catholics were, in good faith, ignorant of this, and were unable in conscience to go.
After Pope Benedict XVI issued the motu proprio, I believed that God was ensuring that all the faithful who wished to do so could now attend the Mass without any cloud of illegitimacy. Thus, no matter what calamities might befall, there was no hovering doubt to prevent access to the sacraments in the ancient rite.
In like manner, now (for the upcoming year at least) any Catholic can seek absolution in the traditional form from the Society. Why does this matter? Well, the reach and presence of the SSPX far exceeds the FSSP, ICRSS, and other priests. The Fraternity and the Institute are growing but are not yet present in the number of countries and dioceses as is the Society. It is a simple matter of availability.
Certainly, one can imagine a situation in the next year that persecution, schism or calamity could make it difficult to find a confessor. This act of the Holy Father, like that of his predecessor, removes doubt and widens access to the sacraments.*
God is good indeed. He has a plan more perfect than ours, and one that cannot be thwarted.
Let us all go forth with confidence to the throne of grace: that we may obtain mercy and find grace in seasonable aid. (Hebrews 4:16)
*As an aside, even sedevacantists acknowledge the apostolic succession and validity of SSPX orders, so I guess Pope Francis' mercy really does reach everyone.