QUAERITUR: going to SSPX chapel when you could go to legitimate chapel

I got a question via e-mail:

Dear Fr. Z.,
 
I thank you for your great column. It is the liturgical DrudgeReport, the one I check whenever I can.
 
In your recent post on attending Mass at SSPX and fulfillment of one’s Sunday obligation, the commenter "Bill"  posted a link to a letter by Msgr. Perl which stated the SSPX priests are suspended from exercising their priestly ministry.
 
I live in ___ where there is the ___ which offers all the rites according to 1962 administered by the FSSP. My question is, in such a situation, where the EF is celebrated with episcopal permisssion and support, is one legitimately permitted still to attend a Mass celebrated by the SSPX priests? Does one’s fulfillment of the Sunday obligation, in this instance, also manifest an adherence to the schism? Or can something as better Mass times (which SSPX does have) justify one’s attence there?
 
I know many people who continue to attend the SSPX Masses. Your help in this would be greatly appreciated.
 
I thank you for all your efforts. As I have said before, your blog and Wanderer Column have given me the greatest ammo against "Traditionalists" who argue the invalidity of the OF.
 
Pax Christi

A couple of things.

First, even if there is a legitimate chapel in union with Rome and the local bishop one still fulfills one’s Mass obligation attending Mass at an illegitimate chapel of the SSPX.  However, it seems to me that there would be little reason to attend a Mass at an SSPX chapel under those circumstances, unless, perhaps, you are going for some event, such as the confirmation of the children of friends or family, etc.  I would say also that Catholics can go to the churches of non-Catholics for certain great occasions as well.  However, I will add that I do not advocate the reception of Holy Communion at an SSPX chapel when there is not long hardship involved in receiving sacraments from a legitimate parish or chapel.

Second, I think it is very hard to determine what "adherence" to schism means for lay people.  For priests or bishops I think it is less problematic.  If one receives, for example, ordination from a schismatic bishop, or takes orders and salarly from a schismatic group, as well as self-identification with them, that seems to me to be adherence to schism.  For lay people?  I don’t know.  I don’t know if it involves giving money or time or whether it needs a formal written declaration, etc.  So, perhaps we should be very careful applying the terms "adherence to schism" to lay people.

Third, I think there is a lot of confusion these days about whether the SSPX is, in fact, "schismatic".  I know that Pope John Paul used the term in his Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei adflicta.  I know that the bishops and priests of that Society refuse submission to the Roman Pontiff.  I also know that high ranking prelates such as Card. Castrillon Hoyos have been saying that the SSPX is not schismatic.  So, we can think in terms of the "duck argument", or we can leave this to a far higher pay grade than I have (which is as low as it gets these days).

I think there are very few good reasons for why, if there is a legitimate alternative for sacraments in the older form, one would choose to attend a chapel of the SSPX without the motive of some special event in favor of people with whom you have ties. 

At this point I also want to add that I have great respect for some priests of the SSPX and I long for the day when we no longer have to bicker about this stuff.  But my longing for full and unquestionable unity will not override my conviction that when there are a couple alternatives, none necessarily perfect, then one must opt for the legitimate alternative.  One must choose manifest unity with the Pope and the local bishop, even though perhaps something "nicer" can be found elsewhere.

The great Fathers of the Church had a horror of schism.  Whatever else might be said, the situation of the SSPX seems very much like schism in some aspects, even if it is not formally schism (which is above my pay grade to determine).  A persons unity with the local bishop and obedience to the Successor of Peter is of huge importance for the life of the Church and for the individual. 

Endangering that unity through frequenting illegitimate chapels (when there are legitimate alternatives – even if they aren’t perfect) strikes me as seriously imprudent for the good of one’s soul and the scandal it can cause for others.

Finally, it is absurd to claim that the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite is "invalid".  That is simply kooky.  You can argue that it is "inferior", or that it in some respects it has flaws in the texts of prayers, or that it should never have been implemented in the first place, or that it is not what the Council actually asked for, etc. but it is weird to say that it is not valid

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52 Responses to QUAERITUR: going to SSPX chapel when you could go to legitimate chapel

  1. Patrick says:

    It’s interesting that Archbishop Burke has clearly notified his flock that to attend Mass said by an excommunicated priest is mortally sinful. Since, as you point out, the priests of the SSPX pretty obviously adhere to the schism, they are excommunicated (the PCILT has basically confirmed this in their declaration on the Lefebvrists). As such, it would seem that attendance at an SSPX would not be advisable and would be sinful.

    How do you square your position with the statements of Arch. Burke?

  2. Carolina Geo says:

    Fr. Z: Before you closed the comment box on the previous thread, you’d mentioned that while one may assist at an SSPX Mass, one may NOT go to an Eastern Orthodox Liturgy in order to fulfill one’s Sunday obligation. Could you please explain the difference in the statuses of the two groups? This is not meant to be sarcastic; I really am curious! The Church recognizes the validity of the sacraments of the Orthodox Churches even though they are in schism. So what’s the difference between them and the SSPX? It was my understanding that inter-communion between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches is possible; in fact, I know of a couple of Catholic priests who encourage it.

    Thanks!

  3. wayne ratzinger says:

    It’s all too, too, technical, Fr Z. I go to SSPX Masses. I also attend “ordinary” masses. I contribute financially to both. The SSPX people seem to have an air of the “We are perfect and right, and everyone will see that eventually”. Where as the “Official” church is just as smug with their guitars and fair trade coffee, and all round left wingery, while all around falls to pieces. We definitely still need the SSPX, without some persistent odd bods pointing the finger at the ridiculous state of the average diocese nothing would get done and I don’t think we would have had the Motu Proprio.
    The pictures of the battleships are terrific. I saw USS Winston Churchill at Plymouth England on the Saturday before 9 / 11. God Bless America.

  4. dcs says:

    How do you square your position with the statements of Arch. Burke?

    The excommunication of Fr. Bozek is declared.

  5. Alan Phipps says:

    “However, it seems to me that there would be little reason to attend a Mass at an SSPX chapel under those circumstances, unless, perhaps, you are going for some event, such as the confirmation of the children of friends or family, etc”

    Dear Fr. Z. Do SSPX priests have proper faculties to administer the sacrament of confirmation? Presumably, the local Roman Catholic bishop has not granted this to them, has he? I’m no canon lawyer, but I’m thinking primarily of Canons 882-886. Wouldn’t it be scandalous for someone in full communion with the local bishop to attend a chapel under these circumstances, unless someone were in danger of death here?

  6. schoolman says:

    Patrick, I would expect that Archbishop Burke’s declaration is relative to the circumstances of his diocese — where there is ample opportunity to find legitimate TLM’s. I think the same goes for Lincoln Nebraska where the SSPX had been excommunicated by the local bishop — a decision upheld by Rome as far as I know. So, this really has to be considered diocese-by-diocese.

  7. wayne ratzinger says:

    As to whether the SSPX is schismatic ( and I don’t really think God would be that bothered, not with Hundreds of Billions of abortions to worry about ) I seem to remember reading a quote from Archbishop Lefebvre, ” I will give them something that will stick in their throat, they will never be able to swallow it down, but won’t be able to spit it out”. I don’t know if this “quote” is accurate, so don’t take my word for it. But it does seem to me this is exactly where we are at. The 60’s church is dead, and is going the way of the Dodo, the Great Auk and the Dinosaurs, there is no way back, and the quicker people realise this the better. What we need is for the Pope to stop sitting on the fence. He should be leading from the front, no more 60’s masses, he should start at Lourdes later this year, say the Traditional Mass right there amongst the “Shakers” Are you listening my Lords ? especially my Lords in the North of England ? where the Popes Motu Proprio as been almost totally ignored, I’ll be at Lourdes and will not be slow to point out your failings in this matter, so watch out…Ho ..Ho..Ho..

  8. “I would say also that Catholics can go to the churches of non-Catholics for certain great occasions as well”

    I would be really careful about saying that without making it clear that just because you might go to your Lutheran buddies service on Sunday, that does NOT mean your Sunday obligation (or any potential non-Sunday HDO) as a Catholic is fulfilled. Nor, does it mean that you can receive Communion at the Lutheran service either (or your Lutheran friend can at the Catholic Mass either).

    It’s probably a no-brainer to the folks on this blog, but I’m concerned that it’s explicitely stated because back in my dissident Catholic era, I frequnetly heard people say “Well, I went to such and such (non-Catholic) church on Sunday so I’m good” No you are not.

    I’m also not in favor of telling people you can go to a schismatic group’s service and consider your Sunday obligation fulfilled. If you say this for the SSPX, what’s to stop someone from saying they can go to an Old Catholic Mass and call their obligation fulfilled as well?

    I think I know what you are trying to say, Father, but I find this thread (and the prior one) worrisome because I think it’s a landmine of potential misinterpretation. However, I’m glad we are having this discussion.

  9. John says:

    It seems that the easiest way to sum up this whole ordeal for the faithful is that turning to the SSPX should only be considered as a LAST RESORT to fulfill the Sunday obligation and any other attendance should be limited to going as a social obligation to friends or relatives.

  10. “Endangering that unity through frequenting illegitimate chapels… strikes me as seriously imprudent for the good of one’s soul and the scandal it can cause for others.”

    If that is correct, it is a far cry from recommending it. And yet to treat such a situation as if it were licit, when one knows that it is not, is not entirely straightforward, it seems to me.

    Now, if I were in a part of the country where my alternatives were either a clown Mass with women “preaching” and invalid matter for Communion, and an SSPX chapel, I would choose the later. I do not doubt that some people are faced with those choices. At the same time, I wouldn’t pretend I had solved my problem over the long haul. And if I had children involved, I would give serious thought to moving to another city. My career versus my family’s souls — it can happen. I am familiar with the letter from Rome that deals with this practice. From what I remember, it was more carefully worded than I have read in this forum at times.

    I am also confused by the contention that the Liturgies of St John Chrystostom or St Basil the Great are only “catholic rites” when celebrated in communion with the Holy See. No such restriction appears to be granted in this forum to the Liturgy of Rome. I would be interested in how the good Father explains it.

    By the way, Father, sorry you couldn’t be at St John’s in McLean today. Our loss was St Benedict’s gain. You know where to find us.

  11. dcs says:

    Dear Fr. Z. Do SSPX priests have proper faculties to administer the sacrament of confirmation?

    No, they don’t have such faculties. Confirmations are administered by the SSPX bishops.

  12. Cacciaguida says:

    David L. Alexander writes: “Now, if I were in a part of the country where my alternatives were either a clown Mass with women “preaching” and invalid matter for Communion, and an SSPX chapel, I would choose the latter.”

    So would I, if those were really the only alternatives; but note that of David’s three factors, only the last one — the invalid matter — makes the “Mass” at St. Huggybear’s invalid. And it would be just as invalid if it were celebrated with nary a clown in sight, and with the priest giving the homily.

    Otoh, if it were a clown Mass, and Sister Mary Hugo Chavez gave the homily, BUT valid matter was used for the consecration, and a validly ordained priest celebrated, then this Mass, however unpleasant, would be VALID, and would NOT, imho, furnish an excuse for slipping off to the (schismatic, but undoubtedly more pleasant) Chapel of the Inaccurate Conception.

  13. dcs says:

    No such restriction appears to be granted in this forum to the Liturgy of Rome. I would be interested in how the good Father explains it.

    Think of it this way — the Roman Rite celebrated by an Old Catholic or Anglo-Tridentine priest is not a Catholic rite.

  14. Gleb says:

    Cacciaguida-

    Do you really think a clown Mass with a dissenting sister preaching the homily is not already objectively in schism? Would you really subject your family to this regularly rather than attend an SSPX chapel? I am not an SSPXer myself, but there are some true wastelands, and I’m not sure that there hasn’t existed a state of emergency in some places that has created some special situations. I know that if it were between taking my family to a Mass where heresy were preached, and demonstrated (lex orandi…) , and a Mass free of heresy with a reasonable SSPX priest, I would not have any trouble making a decision. Thanks be to God, I have never been in that situation.

    I read this as you choosing heresy before a state of impaired communion short of schism (that’s what the responsible curial parties have said). That’s surprising to me.

  15. TNCath says:

    Fr. Z wrote: “Finally, it is absurd to claim that the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite is “invalid”. That is simply kooky.”

    But, this has been the stance of the SSPX.

    Fr. Z wrote: “I think there are very few good reasons for why, if there is a legitimate alternative for sacraments in the older form, one would choose to attend a chapel of the SSPX without the motive of some special event in favor of people with whom you have ties.”

    What would those very few good reasons be? What kind of special event would this be? A wedding or funeral, perhaps? Under the circumstances, I would feel more comfortable attending a Baptist or civil wedding than any ceremonies held under the auspices of the SSPX. As for a funeral, I think I’d attend the visitation the night before to avoid attending an SSPX Requiem.

    I say this because just after Pope John Paul issued Ecclesia Dei Adflicta, our parish celebrated the first TLM to be said in our diocese in over 20 years. It was a standing room only crowd and was quite memorable. Shortly thereafter, out of sheer curiosity, I attended one SSPX Mass that was being said at a local motel’s meeting room on a monthly basis. It was a Low Mass and the SSPX priest was flown in from St. Louis, I think. Aside from the “organizers” of this Mass who were clearly angry and bitter in my conversation with them, the majority of those attending that I spoke with (mostly elderly but not all) were very good people who simply wanted the Mass they grew up with back. Most all of them in attendance had attended the Mass we had celebrated in our parish and were very grateful to the bishop’s permission for the Mass to be celebrated and to the pastor of the parish who celebrated the Mass. They couldn’t have cared less about Archbishop LeFebvre, Bernard Fellay, Richard Williamson, whether the Novus Ordo was valid or invalid, or whether they were in schism or not. It was these folks I felt bad for because they were truly looking for a place to express their faith in the way they had been taught as children. Nonetheless, I sensed that there was something beyond the externals that was terribly wrong. While I didn’t receive Holy Communion, I still felt very uncomfortable as if I had betrayed the Holy Father and the Church by my presence. As much as I love the Extraordinary Form (as well as the Ordinary Form done properly), I would never attend SSPX sponsored liturgies again and would discourage anyone from ever doing so.

  16. Jennifer says:

    How fitting this post is…I’m lucky enough to live in the diocese of Arlington where, if I don’t go into DC for Mass at St. Mary’s, I have several other options for a TLM at various times in the surrounding dioceses – we are truly blessed! However, I’m traveling to Nashville next week and find myself in this very quandary…. The parish nearest where I’ll be staying has Altar girls and Teen life mass on their website, not to mention showing people in shorts walking into the sanctuary – I certainly can’t (and won’t) go there – I just can’t stomach it. I think (at least for the weekend I’ll be there) that there will be a Novus Ordo in Latin in downtown Nashville. However, after your last post about this, Fr. Z, I decided to look up an SSPX chapel and found one…So, which do I go to? The Latin Novus Ordo, or the SSPX? Or, does anyone from Nashville have any other suggestions for me?
    Jennifer

  17. dcs: “Think of it this way—the Roman Rite celebrated by an Old Catholic or Anglo-Tridentine priest is not a Catholic rite.”

    I would be none the wiser, as in either scenario, the priest could be validly ordained and could confect valid matter. (Yes, it is possible in either case.) Again, it begs the question of distinction: What makes the Roman Liturgy “catholic” in a way that the Byzantine Liturgy does not?

  18. TNCath says:

    Jennifer,

    I’m not from Nashville, but St. Mary in Nashville’s Novus Ordo in Latin is a good place to go. This Mass is only offered on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month at 9:00 A.M. Since next weekend is the 3rd Sunday, I’d say you are in luck!

  19. Matt says:

    I have a question that is loosely related to the above– can I fulfil my Sunday
    obligation by attending an Orthodox Divine Liturgy?

    I would love to join a parish that offers the EF or an
    Eastern Rite Catholic church but I live in Panama City, FL–spring break capital of the world and proud sponsor of the tambourine/acoustic guitar combo for every
    Roman Catholic parish.

    We have two Orthodox churches but, sadly, no EF or Eastern Rite Catholic ones.

    In Panama City, if I could go Greek and still remain RC, I sure would….

    Anyone know the answer?

    Suffering in sunny Panama City,

    Matt

  20. Jennifer says:

    TNCath,

    Thanks, it helps to know someone from this site can vouch for it. I ultimately know I won’t go to an SSPX chapel when I have a perfectly good, reverent Novus Ordo to go to. However, when I travel home to FL(West Palm Beach) every year for Christmas, I want to rip out my eyes and ears for what I have to endure…that, I just might have to consider the SSPX chapel down there. I have 8 months and so much change has already occurred in that amount of time for the Motu Proprio, that who knows???, maybe a TLM will pop up down there.

    Thanks again,

    Jennifer

  21. TNCath says:

    Jennifer,

    You are welcome. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed by the Mass at St. Mary’s. It’s also a very old, beautiful, and historic church that, by the way, was reportedly once haunted by the ghost of the first bishop of Nashville! Many a Tennessee priest and quite a few former altar boys can tell stories about this parish.

    By the way, there is a parish in Jensen Beach, St. Martin de Porres, that has a TLM at 3:00 P.M. Sundays. Prayers and best wishes!

  22. Matt:

    Before you try anything rash, do a search engine with “byzantine catholic church florida.” I found quite a few in the state. Or go to the website for the Byzantine Eparchy of Passaic (http://www.eparchyofpassaic.com). If that doesn’t work, try the Ukrainians or the Melkites. Shouldn’t take more than an hour. Maybe you’ll get lucky.

    DLA

  23. Jbrown says:

    I think TNCath is seriously misinformed. The SSPX has not held, and does not currently hold, that the Novus Ordo is invalid. That is simply not true. I can only presume the statement is misinformed, despite the fact that it is generally known that SSPX does not officially challenge the validity of this Mass. Individual priests may very well, but then again, one does not ascribe the official position of any group based on unofficial comments of its members. As for preferring civil weddings and Baptist services, to each his own. I do personally find it odd that a centuries old sect that broke from the Church, or the total rejection of religious significance, is better than attending a Mass offered by a priest who prays for the bishop and the Holy Father, as required by Lefebvre himself. However, I don’t begrudge this view, nor do I begrudge those who attend SSPX Masses to avoid liturgical abuse, unorthodox preaching and other bad influences. One other point-if all people who currently attend SSPX Masses began attending only FSSP or diocesan Indults, I believe the churches couldn’t accomodate them due to the numbers. In other words, the FSSP and other diocesan Masses grow their own congregations, out of interest among Catholics and also some SSPX attendees, but the SSPX still has very large numbers, whose attendees simply won’t go to the Novus Ordo at the present time, especially if SSPX Masses are available. I don’t believe that, as of right now, existing Masses and churches can fully accomodate all of these people, meaning they either go to SSPX or they don’t go to a traditional Mass or Sacraments.

  24. dcs says:

    TNCath writes:
    Fr. Z wrote: “Finally, it is absurd to claim that the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite is “invalid”. That is simply kooky.”

    But, this has been the stance of the SSPX.

    No it hasn’t.

  25. Jennifer says:

    TNCath,

    “By the way, there is a parish in Jensen Beach, St. Martin de Porres, that has a TLM at 3:00 P.M. Sundays.”

    Yes, I’ve been to that one once. Without being uncharitable, I will say I guess I’m really spoiled with the TLM’s around here…. It’s also over an hour and a half away and with the Christmas traditions at my house (I’m a convert, so I’m solo in this), 3pm is not really an option. So, I’ll keep praying.
    And that’s cool about the St. Mary’s in Nashville. I’m looking forward to it!

    God Bless,

    Jennifer
    P.S. Thank you for your blog Fr. Z…

  26. dcs says:

    David L. Alexander writes:
    I would be none the wiser, as in either scenario, the priest could be validly ordained and could confect valid matter. (Yes, it is possible in either case.) Again, it begs the question of distinction: What makes the Roman Liturgy “catholic” in a way that the Byzantine Liturgy does not?

    That’s not the distinction I’m making. I’m saying that the Roman Rite offered by a non-Catholic minister (“Western Rite Orthodox”, Old “Catholic”, “Polish” “National” “Catholic”, etc.) is not a Catholic rite. It is not offered in union with the Pope. It doesn’t matter that the priest is validly ordained and that he truly celebrates Mass validly. It ain’t Catholic.

  27. The long and the short of it is that splitting off and starting one’s own religious entity is Protestantism. If the SSPX’s sole raison d’etre was that its members wanted the Tridentine Mass and couldn’t get it, that still wouldn’t justify disobedience, but it would now be a moot point because they would happily have come back into the Church once they could get it. The fact is that rebellion is addictive: after being one’s own Little Tin God On Wheels for all these years, an SSPXer must find the prospect of returning to the Church and acknowledging his fault pretty galling. I don’t speak in ignorance, either: I was away from the Church myself, about thirty years ago. When I returned, however, my view was that unconditional penitence and obedience were the only proper ground from which I could ask to be taken back in. The Lefebvrists could take a lesson from that.

  28. TNCath says:

    Jbrown wrote: “The SSPX has not held, and does not currently hold, that the Novus Ordo is invalid. That is simply not true.”

    All I can do is respectfully refer you to the following site:

    http://www.sspx.org/SSPX_FAQs/q5_novusordo.htm

    After reading all this, the core issue from this site is as follows:

    “THIS BEING SO, CAN IT BE SAID THAT THE NOVUS ORDO MISSAE IS INVALID?

    This does not necessarily follow from the above defects, as serious as they might be, for only three things are required for validity (presupposing a validly ordained priest), proper:

    *matter,
    *form,
    *and intention.

    However, the celebrant must intend to do what the Church does. The Novus Ordo Missae will no longer in and of itself guarantee that the celebrant has this intention. That will depend on his personal faith (generally unknown to those assisting, but more and more doubtful as the crisis in the Church is prolonged).

    Therefore, these Masses can be of doubtful validity, and more so with time.”

    So, when it’s all said and done, while the SSPX won’t “offically” (whatever that means for the SSPX) say that ALL Novus Ordo Masses are invalid, they are certainly quite skeptical that a good number aren’t.

    Personally, it really doesn’t matter to me what the SSPX says. I often think the SSPX is given much more discussion than it deserves. What does matter is souls returning to the Chair of Peter. Perhaps if all the people who currently attend SSPX Masses would return to the Church and attend FSSP and other diocesan Masses, parishes would be able to offer additional licit TLM’s so that the Extraordinary Form could begin to legitimately grow in influence.

  29. Maureen says:

    Btw, there’s a school of thought that, if you know what you’re doing is illicit, receiving or confecting a valid but illicit sacrament is actually a worse offense to God than confecting an invalid sacrament, or receiving a sacrament unworthily.

    One tries to be polite about the SSPX and their friends, but it’s never a good plan to play tag with schism. Sooner or later, you’re going to get yourself tagged.

  30. I’m fairly new to tradition, growing up in an otherwise unspectactular vernacular novus ordo parish (where I still largely attend today). In fact, I didn’t even know that Traditionalists, by name, even existed until a few months ago; I didn’t know that the TLM was legal, practiced or even still known by anyone but the fogiest of fogies. Since learning of trad communities, there’s one thing that I’ve learned: discussing SSPX is like handling a liturgical hand grenade. And polite conversation or intellectual discussion is almost impossible in comment boxes of a blog.

    Nothing personal to anyone. I’m also reaching the conclusion that until we get a conclusive answer on how rank-and-file “bag-o-doughnuts” Catholics should relate to the SSPX, the quasi-legitimacy of the SSPX will continue in confusion. Because within the absence of definition, clergy and lay catholics fill the void with their own speculation.

  31. dcs says:

    Btw, there’s a school of thought that, if you know what you’re doing is illicit, receiving or confecting a valid but illicit sacrament is actually a worse offense to God than confecting an invalid sacrament, or receiving a sacrament unworthily.

    There are lots of kooky schools of thought. ;-)

  32. Woody Jones says:

    Dear Fr Z: When you say “I know that the bishops and priests of that Society refuse submission to the Roman Pontiff” what exactly are you referring to? As I recall it from back in the day, the SSPX here in Houston always included the Roman Pontiff in the proper place in the Roman Canon, had his photograph on the sacristy wall, advised the faithful about the current rules regarding fasting and abstinence, although suggesting the older more stringent standards as better practices, recognized the validity of the new Mass, when said with the proper intentions, as well as baptisms, marriages, confirmations and ordinations in the new usage, and other things as well. Obviously they do not obey papal directives in some cases. If refusing to obey the Pope in ALL cases is what you mean by “refuse submission” then I would expect you could say the same about a number, perhaps large, of bishops and priests in the US and elsewhere; just think of the reception (or not) of the MP as documented on this site so well, and Archbishop Ranjith’s statements about the crisis of obedience.

    If on the other hand you would say that the SSPX refusal to obey is in more substantial matters and thus more grave, then I would think that the higher pay grades would need to pass final judgment, as you suggest. At the moment, until there is the much to be hoped for reconciliation, I guess the judgment of the Good Lord is what is relied on.

    I recall here what some associated with the Action Francaise said after their regularization with the Church under the Servant of God Pius XII: “we had our reasons.” The judgment of history on the AF affair has been, at least in some quarters, that it was probably unwise for Pius XI to “suppress” them as he did, as it substantially weakened a group which, as it turned out, the Church could well have used to combat the oncoming liberalism and atheism.

  33. Felix says:

    I’m struck by the verse in Sacred Scripture, “I prefer obedience to sacrifice” (quoted from memory).

    So I decline invitations to attend Mass or other liturgical functions held by the SSPX.

    But I also prefer to travel an hour each way to get to the TLM conducted by the PFSP, to get an orthodox sermon and no liturgical abuses. (As a friend of mine said, I always end up angry if I attend the local Novus Ordo.)

  34. Malta says:

    It amazes me that there are those hyper-bent on disparaging SSPX when manifest heresy and pederasts pretty-well dominate the new Catholic Church. You know, you go to the average “licit” diocese in the US. and find guitar strummers, banner-wavers, liturgical dancers, abortion-condoning priests and unhabited nuns claiming that they are “authentically Catholic” because they believe in liberation theology. I can’t tell you how many places I’ve been where the services was positively protestant, yet “approved” by the local Bishop. In fact, I went to Mass in Sedona Arizona a while back, and almost threw-up during the proceedings (I couldn’t call it a “mass”).

    So, you can split hairs over whether SSPX is valid, licit, illicit, proper, improper, etc. But, you pull any of the great Saints out of history, and they would have felt at home at the SSPX Mass; at the same time, you put the same Saint at a Sedona, AZ, “valid” mass, or a mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, in Santa Fe, NM, where the they have nearly-naked Guadalupean dancers on the feast day of Our Lady, they would have cried “heresy”.

    Yet, we are so immune, so desensitized to the new, modernistic Church, that we almost think the absurd is commonplace.

    The new mass is, of course, a valid mass, but it is so universally abused, and the form so open to interpretation and abuse, that it would be best to put it in the trash bin, and work on the mass that created the greatest Saints: the Extraordinary Form.

    More than that, Rome should acknowledge that they were wrong, and SSPX was right in fighting and sacrificing over the years to combat the “reforms” of VII; and not just liturgy, but the silly enforced ecumenism, etc., that VII wrongly imposed on the Church (even though it was a valid council; remember, councils are able to make bad pastoral decisions unless they proclaim dogma or doctrine, but VII was a decidedly “pastoral” council.)

  35. I do believe that Fr. Z. has said all that needs to be said on the
    status of Sunday Mass in SSPX chapels.

    It needs to be repeated, however, that no matter what the status
    of their Masses for fulfilling the Sunday obligation, Catholics
    cannot go to their priests for Confession or Marriages.

    Confession, to be VALID (save in the moment of death when even a
    laicized priest can absolve) requires faculties from a legitimate
    ordinary. There is no legitimate ordinary to give SSPX priests this
    faculty.

    Valid Marriage (unless there are dispensations from a legitimate
    bishop) must come from the legitimate local pastor. No SSPX priest
    has has such an office. So no delegation is possible.

    In addition, as priests ordained without a legitimate dimissorial
    letter, all SSPX priests are ipso iure suspended a divinis. Although
    that does nothing to change the status of their invalid absolutions
    and marriages.

    Catholics need to be warned against receiving invalid absolutions
    and invalid marriages from the SSPX.

    I can understand that under soem circumstances, e.g. no other option
    is available, one might decide to attend Sunday Mass at an SSPX
    chapel, but Confession and Marriage there are out.

  36. Matt Q says:

    “I do believe that Fr. Z. has said all that needs to be said on the status of Sunday Mass in SSPX chapels.

    It needs to be repeated, however, that no matter what the status of their Masses for fulfilling the Sunday obligation, Catholics
    cannot go to their priests for Confession or Marriages.

    Confession, to be VALID (save in the moment of death when even a laicized priest can absolve) requires faculties from a legitimate
    ordinary. There is no legitimate ordinary to give SSPX priests this faculty.

    Valid Marriage (unless there are dispensations from a legitimate bishop) must come from the legitimate local pastor. No SSPX priest has has such an office. So no delegation is possible.

    In addition, as priests ordained without a legitimate dimissorial letter, all SSPX priests are ipso iure suspended a divinis. Although that does nothing to change the status of their invalid absolutions and marriages.

    Catholics need to be warned against receiving invalid absolutions and invalid marriages from the SSPX.

    I can understand that under some circumstances, e.g. no other option is available, one might decide to attend Sunday Mass at an SSPX chapel, but Confession and Marriage there are out.”

    )(

    Yes, folks, this means that everyone is to be as disparagingly hateful towards the real schismatics called the Orthodox ( and I don’t like this word applied to anything regarding the Roman Catholic Church and the staunch desire for Sacred Tradition and Teaching–it’s called Authenticity! ). Yes, whatever invective one feels for the SSPX, apply it to the Orthodox as well.

    Yes, while their sacerdotal link to the Church is irregular, the SSPX desires to uphold Roman Catholicism in a most noble form more than any schismatic from 1054. To whom would you turn in a moment’s desperation?

  37. Joseph says:

    I have heard as a Catholic growing up that the highest moral authority is one’s own conscience, and of course but that we mean an informed conscience.

    The move of the SSPX to stay independent of Rome was to preserve their sense (conscience) of Catholic orthodoxy, which by its fruits of late can be legitimately questioned. Without a Benedict, where would this all be heading, toward more Mahonyism, O’Brienism, Bernadinism.

    As an over fifty, remember the old church, victim of a cheap annulment, watcher of current trends, seeing crosses torn off buildings (literally torn in half) of buildings we still own and used to house Catholic school children, now rent to secularists, next store to the RC churches with the rainbow flag proudly and prominently displayed, to seeing the most “Catholic” populated states the most vociferously pro abortion, and on, and on, and on, and we are picking nits about those who would say Enough! and for those we should thank for really bringing all of this madness to a head.

    The Bible speaks of a remnant, and they may be it or part of it. I am with you Malta, the namesake of a truly Catholic country, and you have the right perpective here, IMNSHO.

  38. Peter says:

    Joseph: “I have heard as a Catholic growing up that the highest moral authority is one’s own conscience, and of course but that we mean an informed conscience.”

    Sorry, you were told incorrectly. The highest moral norm is a *properly formed* conscience. It is hard to square a properly formed conscience with
    schismatic attitudes.

    Perhaps “invincible ignorance” is the term you need to explain how
    a schismatic might end up in heaven. It isn’t impossible, you know.

  39. Matt Q says:

    Joseph, you are correct in your sentiments. Disregard Peter as he he can’t see past his ego, always making smug comments which may be totally inappropriate to the post he’s commenting on.

  40. Joseph says:

    Don’t worry Matt, I understand — if I had a similar problem going to the bathroom I would probably be the same.

  41. Kradcliffe says:

    I hear there are lots of families with young children going to the SSPX Mass in Glasgow. I wish they would come to the licit Mass at Sacred Heart. But, I think they’re being told not to. I know that when I was looking for a Latin Mass in the area, I first talked to a woman at Catholic Truth for Scotland who was *extremely* eager to steer me away from the licit Mass at Sacred Heart, insisting that I would get “the whole package” at the SSPX.

    I dunno… full communion with Rome is part of “the whole package” to me.

  42. Peter says:

    “Joseph, you are correct in your sentiments. Disregard Peter as he he can’t see past his ego, always making smug comments which may be totally inappropriate to the post he’s commenting on.”

    = Ad hominem attack.

  43. pjo says:

    What about FSSPX priests and CIC 1335?

    Can. 1335 (…) If a latae sententiae censure has not been declared, the prohibition is (…) suspended whenever a member of the faithful requests a sacrament or sacramental or an act of governance; a person is permitted to request this for ANY JUST CAUSE.

    And my question: Is it just cause to ask FSSPX priest for the Mass when I have a “licit NOM” in the neighbourhood? I have asked this question to “Ecclesia Dei” PC, but they did not respond at all :-(

  44. Malta says:

    Lefebvre’s situation is comparable to that of Saint Athanasius; I know, I know, the comparison is ridiculed here. But, really, you have two saintly souls “excommunicated” by Popes fraught with modernistic tendancies and outside pressures–separated as they are by a millenia–in both instances, that is Athanasuis’ and Lefebvre’s, they upheld the traditional moral fabric of the Church where overwhelming forces inimical to tradition fought to insinuate heresy into the Church. In the case of Athanasius it was Arianism, and in the case of Lefebvre it’s Modernism. Make no mistake, Modernism is insidious and has insinuated itself into the very fabric of the Church, the the point where most Churchmen don’t realize that they, too, are modernists where they are. In Athanasius’ day, 80% of Bishops and Priests subscribed to the heresey of Arianism, the Pope included. Benedict, fortunately, seems to be trying to fight Modernism. But most priests and bishops, today, are modernists. The pederast scandal only touches those caught, or those who abuse children. In my diocese, it’s hard…very hard, to find a good priest (there are a few, to be sure), but so many, so very many priests work filth with the hands that God meant for them to work good with.

    Except–I have never met a a filthy SSPX priest. It’s laughable to say they are “illicit” while the filthy priests who assume so many diocese’s in America are “licit”; SSPX is purging the Church of its filth right now. Many of the Church’s holiest priests are SSPX priests, and they are valid priests, who pray for our Holy Father’s intentions, etc.

    Holy Mother Church carries a big stick with SSPX, but, historically, coddled pederasts and dissidents to basic Church teaching; ironic, that, since SSPX are some of the most faithful sons and daughters of the Church, and live Her teachings, unlike the majority of the rest of the Church.

  45. Peter says:

    “The pederast scandal only touches those caught, or those who abuse children. In my diocese, it’s hard…very hard, to find a good priest (there are a few, to be sure), but so many, so very many priests work filth with the hands that God meant for them to work good with.”

    = *vicious* ad hominem attack

  46. Caroline says:

    I find it somewhat ironic that the SSPX is being compared to the Orthodox in some of the posts above.

    Of course on one level there is a strong correlation: both at some point in history said no to changes made by Rome. However, Orthodoxy takes liturgy very seriously indeed and one would never have anything like a Low Mass in Orthodox worship.

    The other concern I know some of my traditional friends have is the validity of the new (1968) rite of ordination. Many of them would take the view of Leo XIII on Anglican orders and argue that people like Fr. Z’ orders are ‘utterly null and void’. If that is the case a Catholic would surely be best to avoid new-rite priests and go to Mass where the priest was certainly valid?

  47. Caroline says:

    I find it somewhat ironic that the SSPX is being compared to the Orthodox in some of the posts above.

    Of course on one level there is a strong correlation: both at some point in history said no to changes made by Rome. However, Orthodoxy takes liturgy very seriously indeed and one would never have anything like a Low Mass in Orthodox worship.

    The other concern I know some of my traditional friends have is the validity of the new (1968) rite of ordination. Many of them would take the view of Leo XIII on Anglican orders and argue that people like Fr. Z’ orders are ‘utterly null and void’. If that is the case a Catholic would surely be best to avoid new-rite priests and go to Mass where the priest was certainly valid?

  48. AC in NY says:

    malta — such a SWEEPING and abusive generalization about the bulk of our priests is not an act of charity. Taking a PARTICULAR priest to task in person very well might be; your post is more akin to slander.

    But I am fortunate; after my wife and I decided that I couldn’t take the (not tremendous, but annoying) liturgical abuse at one parish, we left for another in which we knew that the homilies would be orthodox and the rubrics followed. If I were in a situation in which this was impossible, I might be more embittered about this…

  49. Mark Jacobson says:

    Even my children find the Novus Ordo boring and uninspiring… and they are only 6 and 8.

    Luckily we have a High Mass TLM 35 minutes away, so the only time we have to be subjected to the Novus Ordo is when we just can’t make it to the noon TLM. And then, the only way I can keep my spiritual focus is to bury my head in the Missal of 1962 and read along as the Novus Ordo proceeds…

    As far as the SSPX goes, I believe that the SSPX in the long run will be recognized as an instrument of unity due to its unwavering support and defense of Tradition. The only way to unite the Church is through Tradition, especially the Traditional Mass. The Novus Ordo has only fostered disunity and confusion. I would attend an SSPX chapel any day over a Novus Ordo Mass if that were my only choice, since I have found the Novus Ordo lately to be a serious drain on my spirit… and I pray for the end of the Novus Ordo daily.

  50. a religious says:

    I think it would be good to have something authoritative and CLEAR on all this. I have a number of questions. For example, may a Catholic attend an SSPX Mass if there is no other alternative – i.e. there is no other ritus antiquior Mass by a priest in good standing in the neighbourhood, as Fr Z. has said ? What if someone goes to a foreign country on holiday – where the liturgy is in a different language and possibly a bit loopy – where SSPX have a chapel ? Previously I have advised individuals not to attend SSPX Masses, but as clarifications come from individuals in Rome – and the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei – perhaps this position can be modified. Of course, one would be allowed to receive the sacraments from SSPX priests in danger of death. What do you think about this Fr Z ? Best wishes to you and you good work.

  51. Eire says:

    Attendance of an SSPX Mass Just Because its Nicer?

    Father Z

    With all due respect – I can’t attend my local Mass because I fear it will produce a loss
    of faith in my Children. I find myself falling into a relaxed attitude because
    simply everyone there is behaving in a certain way and importance of the Christ as a central
    figure is obscured or eliminated.
    I run to EF Mass not sanctioned by the Bishop – A Bishop I might add who doesn’t turn up to 2/3
    of confirmations in the diocese because he’s too busy and declares the death of Christ at the end
    of NO mass.
    Its not a Choice if I wish to hang on to my Faith – the others are still blinded by faith and
    do not see the elephant in the room and are protected to some extent.
    I however see the elephant in the room all too clearly and find it hard to
    bear.

    Adhere to Heresy?

  52. Habemus Papam says:

    Fr Z: As far as the schism situation goes I think its difficult to say, a grey area now. The reasons why anyone should turn to the SSPX? As an example of what drives people away from NO churches, I went into a local church the other day where they have Perpetual Adoration (in a side-chapel; the main altar is the masonic style box in front of chairs). As I was leaving I noticed a felt-banner made by the school on the wall depicting the Tree Of Knowledge, with pupils faces surrounding it. Surely this is the Tree of Good and Evil and eating its fruit caused the Fall. So whats it doing in a Catholic Church, celebrating Catholic education? I felt uneasy, really disturbed in fact. I can quite understand why people want nothing to do with the Novus Ordo.