Many SSPX sympathisers also claim that Lefebvre was not excommunicated because he acted out of necessity. Canon 1323 does not apply here. If Lefebvre was not sure of the applicability of this canon, he did have recourse to other options. Canon 6§2 states: “Insofar as they repeat former law, the canons of this Code must be assessed also in accord with canonical tradition.”
Under Pope Pius XII, canonical tradition was clear that grave fear or necessity did not excuse bishops who consecrated others as bishops illicitly or illicitly receive consecration from automatic excommunication. The Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office decreed April 9, 1999:
“Episcopus, cuiusvis ritus vel dignitatis, aliquem, neque ab Apostolica Sede nominatum neque ab Eadem expresse confirmaum, consecraus in Episcopum, et qui consecrationem recipit, etsi metu gravi coacti (c. 2229 A73:3É [CIC 1917]), incurrunt ipso facto in excommunicationem Apostolicae Sedi specialissimo modo reservatam” (AAS 43  217-218).
Canonical tradition dictates that grave fear or necessity does not excuse the aforementioned bishops’ disobedience. Therefore Canon 1323 is not applicable in this situation.
To sum it up: the bishops were definitely excommunicated, so Lefebvre died under excommunication and in schism. The four bishops he consecrated later petitioned to have their excommunications revoked, which Benedict XVI did. However, these bishops have continued to disobey the Pope down to the present day. As for the SSPX as an institution, it still has no canonical status and should first seek to regularize their status before doing anything else, including their ministry and celebration of the sacraments.
In general, when priests are ordained, they also receive their faculties. However, due to the SSPX’s canonical irregularity, they were not granted faculties at first because their institution had no relations with the bishops of the dioceses in which they resided in. However, for the Year of Mercy Pope Francis allowed them to have faculties to hear confessions and celebrate marriages.
This was simply done for the good of souls and no, the pope is NOT endorsing the SSPX.
Besides, if someone didn’t know a priest didn’t have faculties, he/she would still be absolved validly due to the concept of “common error.” In these cases, the principle of “Ecclesia supplet” applies - the Church supplies the faculties in certain circumstances.