Cardinal Joseph Zen of Hong Kong presided at the service Monday, which served to present to the faithful of his diocese the letter the Pope published earlier this month in which he explained the intentions behind his gesture.

The four prelates were excommunicated in 1988 when they received episcopal ordination illicitly at the hands of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who ordained them without papal permission.

At the meeting, which consisted of a presentation of the letter and a one-hour prayer service, Cardinal Zen expressed his support for the Pope’s decision to lift the excommunication of the prelates, saying it was an act of goodwill.

Responding to criticisms directed toward the Pontiff saying that he intends to lead the Church back to the era before the Second Vatican Council, the cardinal asserted that the Holy Father has no such intention.

Cardinal Zen underlined the importance of viewing the magisterium of the Church as a continuum that can at the same time embrace Vatican II and the teachings of previous ecumenical councils.