QUAERITUR: SSPX wedding

From a reader:

My cousin is soon to be married in a SSPX church, a church which his family has been attending for twenty years, since he was in fourth grade. I read on a Catholic website that such a wedding was not valid or even licit, and that it was not a lawful marriage. Is this all true and correct? In their current situation, what would make such a marriage valid? Would the marriage be valid if it were held in a Catholic chapel and the ceremony performed by a priest who is diocesan approved?

Furthermore, does my family have the obligation to inform my relatives of the dangerous situation into which they are entering? They typically dismiss any opposition on their chosen way of life, and are quite adamant in believing that they are doing the right thing.

 

All sacraments must have proper matter and form in order to be valid.  For a marriage to be licit and valid, recognized by such as the Church, there must be a minister who witnesses the marriage for the Church as a part of the proper form.  The minister is generally a bishop, priest or deacon, but sometimes permission can be given to a lay person to witness the marriage.  But, the fact remains that for the marriage to be valid and licit there must be, as part of the form, an authorized witness.

SSPX priests are suspended a divinis from the moment of their ordination.  They do not have faculties from proper authorities to witness marriages, nor can those faculties be assumed. Thus, the marriages they witness are not licit or valid.  They would have to be validated by the Church.

However, they might be entering a lawful marriage, in the sense that the SSPX priest could very well be registered with the state and could legally witness a civil marriage.  As a matter of fact, some ex-priests do a rent-a-priest thing because they are still legally registered with the state.  Their marriages would be civilly legal, but not valid or licit – just as those of the SSPX priest.

Does "your family" have the obligation to inform your relatives?  I cannot answer that. You stated that they tend to ignore what they are told.  You said that your cousin has been attending this chapel for decades.   This is their world view.  They are rooted in it.

As a result, would having a talk with them do any good?  Would it do harm?  Would it drive them farther from your ability to influence them for the better?  Would they be easier or harder to help back into unity with the Church if you told them this or avoided their wedding? 

I cannot answer that for you.

In the meantime, I am sure that they are trying to do the right thing as they see it.  Their problem is a problem, but it is not necessarily one of faith or of commitment. 

Patience is very important.  Kindness is going to be the key.  So many families have been divided by this thing some people call a "schism"….  though we are avoiding that word these days.   Card. Castrillon, President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, has been stating that the SSPX is not in schism and we have to go with that.

Try to find the way that will help to heal rather than making a point with the result of greater division.

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134 Responses to QUAERITUR: SSPX wedding

  1. Woody Jones says:

    Did all the marriages (or “marriages”) performed by the Campos priests have to be validated by the Church after the regularization of the SSJV?

    I have not heard of that, but perhaps I have missed something.

  2. Woody Jones says:

    What about marriages performed by Orthodox priests? Or by Protestant pastors?

  3. Melchior Cano says:

    Father,

    Perhaps its a bit of of an oversimplification, but, to my knowledge those marraiges performed by the priests at Campos during their irregular canonical situation were not ever “regularized.” What does this mean? Either the Church recognizes them as valid, in which case the same would seem to apply to the SSPX… or the Church doesn’t recognize them as valid, but doesn’t require them to be regularized, thus failing, in Her human element, to properly teach and catechise and allowing people to pretend marriage when they are not in fact married. If its the former, then there’s no problem attending an SSPX wedding (following the logic that there situation is not different in essence than pre-regularization Campos). If its the latter, wouldn’t that suggest a crisis of such gravity as to create a state of necessity?

  4. Don says:

    My understanding was that the ministers of the sacrament of marriage were the couple themselves and the role of the priest (deacon, judge, etc.) was as a witness. This is why, say, a protestant marriage is recognized as valid (and thus why there is difficulty about a Catholic marrying a divorced protestant). Am I wrong on this?

  5. Bob says:

    Catholics are obliged by positive law of the Church (it can be dispensed by the bishop) to marry before a duly authorised priest, deacon or lay minister. A priest can be in perfectly good standing, be a normal diocesan priest working in a parish, and yet not be authorised to witness weddings. A priest not in good standing though will not be so authorised. Non-Catholics are not obliged to marry before a priest (although the Orthodox have their own strict obligations about this, even stricter than ours in that deacons cannot celebrate weddings) and so can contract marriage validly without a priest.

    The question of the SSPX boils down to: are they Catholic? If yes, then their marriages are invalid; if no, then the marriage is valid. Also, if the SSPX arrange an anullment for you or grant a dispensation from an impediment that too in invalid and so the marriage is invalid in two or more counts [Lack of canonical form and the impediment(s)]

  6. Ironically, if the SSPX truly are in schism, then the marriages they celebrate are valid. That at least is my understanding, and would explain the Campos case where the parallel (albeit ‘emergency’) character of Bishop Rangel’s epicopacy was very clear.

    Though the reasoning you provide is one I have most commonly come across, Father John, might not ignorance of this positive law excuse individuals who marry before an SSPX priest?

  7. Can someone provide information regarding the document by which the Holy See declared members of SSPX were in Schism and excommunicated.

  8. Geoffrey says:

    David: Check out the Apostolic Letter Ecclesia Dei by Pope John Paul II.

    Straight from the Holy See itself:
    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/motu_proprio/documents/hf_jp-ii_motu-proprio_02071988_ecclesia-dei_en.html

  9. Jordanes says:

    David asked: Can someone provide information regarding the document by which the Holy See declared members of SSPX were in Schism and excommunicated.

    There isn’t one, and the whole subject of whether or not SSPX members are in schism and excommunicated is irrelevant to whether or not a suspended priest has faculties to witness a Catholic wedding. SSPX priests are suspended a divinis and therefore if they witness a Catholic wedding, the wedding will be invalid.

  10. The question of the SSPX boils down to: are they Catholic? If yes, then their marriages are invalid; if no, then the marriage is valid.

    This isn’t quite correct. As I understand, the SSPX are a group of priests and bishops. The title SSPX does not properly refer to ordinary laypeople who attend their chapels. What is at issue is whether the bride and groom are Catholic or not.

    If either or both of them are Catholic, then an SSPX marriage ceremony is invalid. Unless special episcopal permission is secured, a Catholic can only validly marry in a Catholic ceremony before a priest or deacon with the correct faculties. SSPX priests do not have these faculties.

    Curiously, if the couple are both non-Catholic, then they could validly marry before an SSPX priest.

    It would take a better canonist than myself to answer the question as to whether a couple, both of whom were baptised and confirmed by the SSPX, can validly marry before an SSPX priest. Are this hypothetical couple Catholic or not?

  11. Cerimoniere says:

    On the Campos question, I recall seeing it asserted some time ago that the Holy See sanated all the marriages performed by SSJV priests before the erection of the Apostolic Administration, with the exception of those where the parties had already separated. I have not seen any documentary evidence for this.

    The Ecclesia Dei Commission has certainly had faculties to sanate marriages performed by SSPX priests since its inception, so presumably the Holy See does indeed regard such marriages as invalid.

    Of course, I say this prescinding from the SSPX\’s arguments regarding supplied jurisdiction, the moral impossibility of having recourse to diocesan clergy under circumstances, the “state of emergency” and all the rest, on which I express no opinion.

  12. richard@teather.me.uk says:

    Zadok,

    Agreed.

    But is the answer to the conundrum perhaps that by choosing to be married by an SSPX priest, who they know is not authorised by the Ordinary, the man and woman have made a formal act of schism? Therefore at the time of marriage neither is a Catholic and so the marriage is valid without an authorised priest.

  13. Piers-the-Ploughman says:

    In the age of SP, it’s too bad that the couple won’t consider a non-SSPX priest to be present in some capacity, that the SSPx priest maybe would not even want to be with an non-SSPX priest and that no non-SSPX priest/bishop probably would want to share be part of an SSPX chapel wedding. For the sake of the couple and the Church, to work TOGETHER for one hour or so. The horror!

  14. Scott says:

    My wife and I were married in an independent chapel a few years back. The priest told us we had supplied jurisdiction because of the “crisis” in the Church.

    Later on we learned the error of our way and sought a regulation of our marriage through the diocese. The tribunal declared our married was valid since we acted in good faith (though ignorant) and were under the impression the Church had supplied the jurisdiction at the time of the marriage.

    We only had to explain in writing that we acted in good faith in ignorance and everything was taken care of(I believe it is called sanation). Just my experience. Hope it helps someone!

  15. The other David says:

    @ Scott

    Yes, it is called Radical Sanation (in this sense, Radical “from the root”)

    http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/1995/9504qq.asp

  16. Joe says:

    there seems to be an assumption by a few people that if a group is in schism then the members are no longer Catholics. Is that true? Or are they still Catholics, albeit schismatic ones?

  17. Malta says:

    the word “schism” shouldn’t be uttered since much of the good remaining in the Church is a direct result of SSPX: FSSP, Summorum Pontificum, etc.

    It takes mental summersaults to see SSPX as being negative in our apostate scandal-ridden church.

    Jesus Christ is still reigning in the beast unleashed by VII; and His anticdote is SSPX…

  18. The other David says:

    @ Joe

    Can. 751 Heresy is the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.

    I have always thought a formal renunciation of the faith was required, but as I am no canon lawyer I may err here

    @ Malta

    As I recall the Catholic Church rejects the concept of \”The Ends Justify The means\” If you want to argue that position, well that is very troubling indeed

  19. Tzard says:

    An interesting aside on the topic of “these marriages being invalid” was brought up in Dr. Ed Peter’s blog a while ago: http://www.canonlaw.info/2008/10/falling-canonical-dominos-from.html

    If I read it right, it seems until recently (in Church time), it wasn’t necessarily assumed that such marriages with improper form were invalid. However, Canon law is what it is now (and the Law of the Church), whether it’s wise or not.

    Tying into this discussion – any invalidity is brought about through Church discipline and law, and not through the apostolic faith. As such the Church can change the law or even dispense with it as She sees fit.

  20. St. Rafael says:

    All the sacraments, including marriage, done by SSPX priests are valid because they have supplied jurisdiction. It is true that SSPX priests do not have the ordinary jurisdiction from a bishop, but they do have supplied jurisdiction as stated in Canon Law, because the most important thing is the salvation of souls.

    In the current crisis, apostasy, and state of emergency, Jesus Christ himself provides the jurisdiction.

  21. Malta says:

    David

    Tell that to St Athansius…

    We live in unique historical circumstances.

  22. JM says:

    I find this post depressing simply because this is an issue I’m going to have to deal with in the future. Just as I really can’t see a point in attending a JP wedding involving catholics, I don’t see any point in attending an a wedding involving an SSPX priest. A wedding should be an event of great joy, not a contentious event, not an event of dubious validity.

    So many people have gotten their lives intertwined in the distortions and questionable arguments of the SSPX and now we have to figure out to deal in charity with this mess since they have been so sucked in that they will no longer give their fiat to the Church. Depressing.

  23. chironomo says:

    Would it be too radical a suggestion that the writer should perhaps contact a Canon Lawyer, perhaps one from the Tribunal in their diocese? While there might be some scepticism, at least there is a possibility of a factual answer.

  24. jj says:

    “the sacraments, including marriage, done by SSPX priests are valid because they have supplied jurisdiction. It is true that SSPX priests do not have the ordinary jurisdiction from a bishop, but they do have supplied jurisdiction as stated in Canon Law, because the most important thing is the salvation of souls.”

    Raphael, I was wondering if that might be the case.

    Fr Z, would not the Church supply for validity in this case? …because it is a juridical, and not matter/form, problem???

  25. The other David says:

    Malta,

    The case of St. Athanasius is nothing like the scenario the SSPX tries to portray. The situation of the SSPX today appears to be closer to Donatism. That is all that needs to be said here as anything further would take this discussion of the issues off topic.

  26. Malta says:

    “Donatists?”.

    No, the comparison between modernists and Arians seems apropos

  27. St. Rafael says:

    We are living in times worse than the Arian heresy. This is the greatest crisis in the entire history of the Church. the crisis of Modernism today is ten times more worse than when Arianism controlled all the Catholic bishops.

    Without our faith and the promise of Fatima, it would seem as if this was the death of the Catholic Church. That is why all the Anti-Christs and enemies of the Church are so gleeful and confident, the Church appears to be dead.

  28. The other David says:

    Of course if you put the SSPX in the category of the orthodoxy, then you\’ve essentially rejected the notion of the Magisterium being protected from error in communion with the Pope, and we are wasting our time here and may as well go back to Judaism.

    No, Donatism is apropos of the SSPX as it is a movement that makes their definition of holiness the norm and any that disagree (even that of the Holy See) is in error by their POV

  29. St. Rafael says:

    The Magisterium is protected by error when it deals with infallible doctrine and infallible teaching. The Pope and the Church are in no way protected from error when it comes to decisions of governance and prudential decisions of a Pope. Even the Pope as taught by Vatican I, is only infallible when he speaks Ex-Cathedra.

  30. Antiquarian says:

    In order to accept the SSPX’s self-justifications, including that of supplied jurisdiction, one must engage in a willful cognitive dissonance. To claim that “we are loyal, traditional Catholics who honor and revere the Holy Father and the Magisterium, AND we will disobey them on every point with which we disagree,” is to embrace paradox. That has psychological ramifications we can see in the fervent defenses Society supporters insist on– studies of cognitive dissonance, in which a person forces himself to believe that which he cognitively knows is false, show that the attempt leads to ever more determined defenses of the unsupportable beliefs, and that is evident all over the internet in pro-SSPX websites.

  31. David Kastel says:

    This is just silliness.

    Are we saying that all the couples who have been been married by SSPX or independent priests commit the sin of fornication when they have sexual intercourse? It is more true to say that the couples married at diocesan churches are the ones committing the sin!

    Suppose a priest “formally adheres to the schism” – then the priest is excommunicated and therefore has supplied jurisdiction to impart all the sacraments. Of course, the Vatican refuses to clearly explain what that (unsurprisingly ambiguous) phrase means, and if they don’t explain what that means, then nobody better start engaging in legalistic nonsense such as this.

    The ministers of the sacrament are the couple to be married, and THE CORRECT INTENTION OF THE MINISTER IS REQUIRED FOR THE VALIDITY OF THE SACRAMENTS. One visit to an SSPX chapel will prove that the couples who marry at SSPX intend to (and subsequently do) practice what the Church teaches as the purpose of the sacrament of matrimony – the procreation and education of children. (I mean their chapels are filled with young children who also learn and practice the faith.)

    The validity of many of the marriages performed by diocesan priests are the ones whose validity should be really and legitimately doubted since they witness the so-called marriages of couples knowing full well that they neither believe in, nor intend to fulfill the purposes of marriage as stated above. (I mean that most couples who get “married” by diocesan priests intend to and do practice artificial contraception, and in many, if not most, cases do not even attend mass on a regular basis.)

    From the Catholic Encyclopedia: “It is likewise erroneous to consider the priest the minister of the sacrament; he is the authorized witness of the Church to the contract. The parties contracting really administer the sacrament to themselves.”

    From the Council of Trent, Session 7: “If any one saith, that, in ministers, when they effect, and confer the sacraments, there is not required the intention at least of doing what the Church does; let him be anathema.”

    The Church needs to take the beam out of its own eye with regard to their marriages before pointing out the mote in the eye of SSPX.

  32. St. Rafael says:

    Antiquarian,

    That is silliness that does not take into account any historical context. That kind of psychobabble might seem reasonable if we were in times like the late Middle Ages were there was something called Christendom and the Church was healthy and there was tremendous confidence.

    Now we have a complete apostasy in the Church. One can take any test one wants whether it comes to Mass attendace, numbers of ordanation, fidelity to doctrine, etc., it all goes downhill. When Popes contradict prior Popes, teaching from clerics contradict prior magisterial teaching, there is a problem.

  33. Antiquarian says:

    St. Rafael,

    Quod erat demonstrandum.

  34. Nick says:

    I heard that some (maybe all) of the SSPX priests make the couple sign a letter stating that they understand the hallmarks of marriage to be unity and indissolubility with the chief aim of procreation and eduction of children, as long as they both shall live….

    How weird — I don’t think an enlightened church in tune with the modern person hood would ever force something like that on a couple (at least not here in the United States).

  35. schoolman says:

    My wife and I were told many years ago by our local SSPX priest that he had (supplied jurisdiction) to marry us. Later we found that this was not the case and we resolved to rectify the situation. A very good diocesan priest guided us through the simple process of radical sanation. Basically, the Bishop of the diocese supplies the jurisdiction retroactively to the date of our original SSPX marriage. All is well now.

  36. David Kastel says:

    Here’s the new way of thinking in the Church…blind obedience to the “law” even though the law does not conform with right reason or the common good.

    St Rafael makes a good point…the rule was set back when that the marriage contract is void unless witnessed by the parish priest. This ensured that couples intending to marry had the intention of practicing the Catholic faith – so they were not allowed to hide from the Church when marrying. The law conformed with the common good of those subject to the law – which is the purpose of all law.

    Nowadays, the reverse is unfortunately true in many parishes. If a couple wishes to maintain their faith, they must in some cases avoid the parish authorities. What would happen if an SSPX-attending couple were to go to the parish priest and say “we go to SSPX for mass, can you marry us here at Saint Praise-and-Worship parish?” The priest would say “no – you belong to that non-Catholic cult” LOL!!!

    Have you SSPX-critics even thought of this when accusing these people? The answer is no, since all of your logic boils down to blind obedience to the “law.” The “law” of being married by the parish priest is void in such a case, since it does not conform with right reason or the common good.

  37. Peggy says:

    To offer a point of comparison: The St Stan’s Church Coporation (former RC parish) in St Louis is officially in schism b/c of the board hiring their own priest. The board members are excommunicated for their acts independent of the archdiocese. The priest is in the process of laicization and is excommunicated as well for leaving his diocese and his role at St. Stan’s.

    Abp. Burke informed the (Catholic) public that the sacraments dispensed by Bozek, the excommunicated priest, were invalid and that the diocese stood ready to regularize marriages as well as rectify the situation of other invalid sacraments.

    How are the SSPX different from St Stan’s, canonically speaking?

  38. Jordanes says:

    St. Rafael said: All the sacraments, including marriage, done by SSPX priests are valid because they have supplied jurisdiction. It is true that SSPX priests do not have the ordinary jurisdiction from a bishop, but they do have supplied jurisdiction as stated in Canon Law, because the most important thing is the salvation of souls.

    That’s what the SSPX and its apologists say, but it’s not what the Church says.

    In the current crisis, apostasy, and state of emergency, Jesus Christ himself provides the jurisdiction.

    If you’re right, then there’s no need for the Church at all any more. It’s is not at all apparent how your beliefs can be called Catholic, St. Rafael.

    Now we have a complete apostasy in the Church.

    Complete apostasy, eh? So much for, “The gates of hell shall not prevail.”

    One can take any test one wants whether it comes to Mass attendace, numbers of ordanation, fidelity to doctrine, etc., it all goes downhill.

    It was a lot worse in the Middle Ages, but the Church wasn’t vanquished by “complete apostasy” then. Why do you think Satan has overcome the Church today?

    When Popes contradict prior Popes, teaching from clerics contradict prior magisterial teaching, there is a problem.

    We’ve had popes “contradicting” popes for centuries. None of that proves your contention that the SSPX priests have supplied jurisdiction to perform marriages.

    David Kastel said: Here’s the new way of thinking in the Church…blind obedience to the “law” even though the law does not conform with right reason or the common good.

    Of course you complain about “blind obedience” to the Church’s law — after all, that law makes it inconvenient for you to do as you think is right.

    This is just silliness. Are we saying that all the couples who have been been married by SSPX or independent priests commit the sin of fornication when they have sexual intercourse?

    The silliness is that you don’t know the difference between an invalid, non-sacramental marriage and fornication. Merely civil marriages are not sacramental, but that doesn’t mean those in civil marriages are committing fornication. The Church has never believed that and doesn’t say it now.

  39. Geoffrey says:

    “How are the SSPX different from St Stan’s, canonically speaking?”

    Technically only the SSPX bishops are excommunicated, the priests are not. They have their own unique set of problems, as described above.

    The whole Lefebvre = St. Athanasius argument is old and has been debunked (I believe even Fr. Z spoke about it in a podcast a while back). The SSPX is in the wrong for illicitly consecrating bishops, just like Milingo and the women “priests” and all others who separate themselves from the Vicar of Christ.

  40. Garrett says:

    So just to get this straight: a Catholic who marries an Eastern Orthodox in an Orthodox church is not actually married, right?

  41. THe couple are the minsiters of the marriage. However marriage is not a private sacrament but takes place within the larger community (Church). So the community has a right to regulate how the sacrament is administered. THose who fall within the community’s authority and refuse to follow the community’s regulations are not engaging in a true sacramental relationship. This is why Protestant marriages are considered valid (they do not accept the authority of the church), yet Catholic union which do not follow the governance of the church are invalid–the reject the very community in which their lives are to be sacraments.

  42. Betty Lou says:

    We have a large SSPX chapel in our area. My neighbor’s son was just ordained an SSPX priest. His sister is getting married and he asked our diocesan priest to witness the actual marriage before he did a Nuptial Mass at the SSPX church in order for the marriage to be valid.

    He seemed to know, as an SSPX priest, that the marriage would not be valid and was trying to do an end run. Our diocesan priest refused.

    I have used a name not my own to protect identities.

  43. Berni says:

    Two general terms to keep in mind: ECCLESIA SUPPLET and ERROR COMMUNIS. The Church does supply jurisdiction in many instances, and may well do so in this one too. For example, a priest without faculties could marry a couple on a dessert island, if they could not otherwise marry. The SSPX priests believe they are on a virtual dessert island in the present climate, and they have a point.

    Common error works as follows: if the majority of the faithful in the congregation believe the priest has jurisdiction, then he has it. People power in canonical dress. This seems hard to believe, but I assure you, it’s true. I imagine that at most SSPX weddings the majority of the congregation believe the priest to have faculties. Hence, valid.

    A really interesting point was made earlier: is there any evidence that Rome requires SSPX adherents to undergo a sanation?

  44. jj says:

    http://www.renewamerica.us/columns/mershon/070410

    This article by Brian Mershon sheds some light on this question, read the whole thing, but especially scroll down to where it deals with marriages in SSPX chapels under the paragraph title of “Church Clarification to “Adherence to the Schism”.

    This is from an official communique from the Archdiocese of Salzburg and is given some weight because the response was approved by Ecclesia Dei (apparently).

    Worth reading in my view.

  45. Jim says:

    Weddings aside, I understand that Sacramental Confession is delegated from the local Bishop to the clergy in his diocese.
    And that SSPX priests do not have the faculty to hear Confessions.

  46. Jim is correct. The sacrament of marriage is contracted by the parties, they are the “ministers,” but they must follow the Church’s form, which requires the presence of an individual (usually a priest or deacon, but not necessarily) who has received delegation from the local ordinary (usually through the local pastor). SSPX priests cannot receive this delegation since they are suspended a divinis as Fr. Z said. Marriages performed by these priests must be santated to be recognized by the Church–thus Campos.

    As Jim observes, hearing confessions also requires faculties from the ordinary. So SSPX priests, who again cannot have faculties because they are suspended, cannot give valid absolution. Because again faculties are required. Although the faithful may be actually forgiven because they have confessed in ignorance of the law (common error–the false belief that any priest can hear confessions and absolve). By the way “common error” does not work for marriage.

    Finally, in case this was not mentioned, non-Catholics (even pagans) are bound to form in marriage (i.e., they don’t have to have a delegated Catholic minister witness the rite). So Orthodox and Protestant weddings are sacramental, if the intention is correct. Pagan marriage are natural, albeit non-sacramental, bonds. Thus the comment is hypothetically correct: if the SSPX people are really not Catholics, then they are not bound by form and their marriages would be valid, just like Protestant and Orthodox ones are, even if there were no delegation to the priest. If they are Catholic then the priest must have delegation or invalidity follows. They will need a sanation to be recognized.

  47. Prof. Basto says:

    Fr, Augustine,

    But, in the hypothesis that SSPX are not Catholics — and I’m not saying that I agree with that — the marriage still requires canonical form if at least one of the parties is a “former” Catholic (i.e., someone who was a Catholic before joining the SSPX), provided that the “former” Catholic party has not executed a formal act of defection from the Church, which formal act of defection, acording to the Holy See (Pont. Council for Legis. Texts), must be in writing and must be entered in the baptismal records.

    Now, if SSPX people are Catholics — as they probably are, in spite of schism and heresy — then they must submit to canonical form anyway, and an SSPX priest, due to the suspension a divinis and the lack of faculties, cannot validly witness the marriage in the name of the Church, so that an SSPX wedding lacks canonical form and is invalid if one of the spouses is a Catholic.

  48. Bryan Muench says:

    The way I have had this situation explained to myself by numerous priests (all of which celebrate Mass in the Extraordinary Form) is that a marriage between two individuals who attend Mass regularly in an SSPX chapel is VALID since the two individuals are viewed not as Catholics, but more like Protestants. If, however, one individual is or was at one time, a “regular” Catholic, then the marriage would be INVALID. This explanation makes sense ONLY if SSPX is viewed in schism…which apparently does NOT seem to be the case these days.

    This issue touches me deeply, as I lost a close friend over this issue 7 or 8 years ago. I told him, using exerts from canon law, that his marriage would not be valid under the circumstances (he, being a 20 year SSPX member, she just recently attending SSPX from N.O.). He has not spoken to me since. What made matters worse for me, was that many of my other friends, who were raised in the Catholic Church just as I was, attended the wedding anyway. I guess all we can do is pray.

  49. Patricia says:

    Father, with respect you are being disintenuous. You must know perfectly well that we are in a monumental crisis of faith and that is why we have the SSPX. In any emergency, the rules change. [Ah yes! the old "emergency powers" argument. Right! Sorry, that dog don't hunt.] If you’ve ever attended a novus ordo wedding, you’ll know why any traditional Catholic doesn’t want one.

    I would be amazed if you did not also know that Cardinal Ratzinger corrected a bishop when he threatened lay people with excommunication for attending the SSPX – for ALL the sacraments. Cardinal Ratzinger confirmed that they were NOT excommunicated and there was no mention of having to have conditional sacraments again.

    The correct answer to the worried cousin is that there is nothing to worry about. Her cousin WILL be validly married and given their devotion to the traditional Faith, that marriage is a heck of a lot more likely to last than those conducted, with brides in plunging necklines arriving straight from the co-habiting bed, in modern parishes. [Alas, Patricia doesn't get to make that determination. Holy Church gets to determine how people are to marry.]

  50. Patricia says:

    Apologies, typing error in the first sentence which should read “Father, with respect you are being disingenuous” (not disintenuous)

    I also meant to specify that I refer to the well known case of the “Hawaii Six” – that is the case where Cardinal Ratzinger assured the six laypeople that they were not excommunicated for attending SSPX chapels for the sacraments – all of them, including marriage.

  51. Iakovos says:

    On a tangential note, Eastern Catholics may NOT be married by anyone other than a bishop or a priest. Deacons or laymen may not validly celebrate a marriage where either the bride or groom is a canonical Eastern Catholic.

    The Code of Canons for the Oriental Churches specifically states this. It reflects the view of Eastern Christian theology, whether Byzantine or Syriac or another Eastern Christian tradition, that the minister of the sacrament of marriage (called the “Holy Mystery of Crowning”) is the priest, not the couple being married. It is the priest’s blessing which marries them. Indeed, the Orthodox, to my knowledge, do not even have vows in their weddings, since they are irrelevant. The intention of the couple is formally declared to the priest right before the wedding. In most Eastern Catholic Churches, vows have been added to the ceremony in imitation of the Latins, but the locus of the sacrament remains the priestly blessing. In a Byzantine Rite wedding, the priest crowns the couple with floral or metal crowns and blesses them; they are married at that point. Obviously, the ceremony is more complicated than that, but that is the locus of the sacrament.

    Therefore, even when a dispensation is obtained for a canonical Eastern Catholic to be married to a Catholic of the Roman Rite in a Roman Rite wedding, there is no dispensation from the requirement for the couple to be married by a priest (or bishop), not a deacon or layman.

  52. Patricia,

    With due respect, read the second part of the letter from Archbishop Cacciavilla dated June 28, 1993. There is no approval for violating CHurch norms regarding marriage, nor is there some type of bizarre eschatological justification for ignoring or abandoning Church teaching. THe letter by the then Cardinal Raztinger dated June 4 1993, also recognizes that their action while not in formal schism were blameworthy

  53. Berni says:

    Dear Fr Thompson,

    You are quite wrong about common error not applying to marriage: see CIC (1983) Can. 144,2.

    I hope your error is not a common one!

  54. Jordanes says:

    Yes, common error does apply to marriage. The only question is whether it applies to this or that particular marriage.

    Patricia claimed: The correct answer to the worried cousin is that there is nothing to worry about. Her cousin WILL be validly married

    I don’t think we know enough about the situation to be able to affirm their marriage would be valid. That’s the Church’s job, and she can’t make any declaration without examining all the circumstances and facts.

    Anyway it is never prudent or charitable to reassure people that there is nothing to worry about going to a suspended priest to witness one’s marriage. Father would have made a grave error to offer the judgment you advise.

  55. Hugo says:

    This used to be a lot easier to understand when Jimmy Aiken and Colin Donovan were taking questions on the SSPX and various RadTrads and nothing else was left to say.
    The Holy See has gone and complicated things!

  56. “Therefore, even when a dispensation is obtained for a canonical Eastern Catholic to be married to a Catholic of the Roman Rite in a Roman Rite wedding, there is no dispensation from the requirement for the couple to be married by a priest (or bishop), not a deacon or layman.”

    Iakovos,

    I think your full explanation in your post is very sound and a good summary. I’m not sure about the paragraph above, though. I think in certain mission situations or during great persecutions where no priest is immediately available, a bishop can give permission at least to a deacon, although it would be extremely rare. I will have to research the question.

    I also think the comparison between the Orthodox situation and the SSPX that someone mentioned earlier is an interesting one. I need to mull that one over, because very clearly Rome recognizes the validity of marriages of a Catholic to an Orthodox Christian with or without the permission of the Catholic spouse’s bishop. (Without permission it is regarded as valid, but illicit.)

    I’m curious if the issue of the recency of the events surrounding the illicit consecrations makes Rome take a different canonical posture towards the SSPX than it does towards the Orthodox vis-a-vis marriages and confessions.

    In ICXC,

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

  57. TMG says:

    I wonder how many of the naysayers have ever even assisted at Mass at a SSPX Chapel before pronouncing the priests and churchgoers to be non-Catholic? How insulting a sentiment, and it would actually be downright laughable, if it weren’t so mean and hurtful. This hatred of the SSPX coming from fellow Catholics is disgraceful. Shall we pretend that the state of the Roman Catholic Church is not in grave crisis? Shall we pretend that we have an abundance of priests, too? Yes, let’s do that, say the naysayers, and go after the holy priests of the SSPX as the Church and its faithful continue to suffer!

  58. Paladin says:

    Malta wrote:

    the word “schism” shouldn’t be uttered since much of the good remaining in the Church is a direct result of SSPX: FSSP, Summorum Pontificum, etc.

    Forgive me, but logically, this makes almost no sense at all… and morally, it’s one of the most dangerous positions you could possibly hold.

    Logically: “Don’t say ‘schism’, because there were good effects from it!” Come again? Even if I were to grant every “good effect” in the world, whatever would that have to do with the idea of “schism” vs. “non-schism”? Could not an evil action theoretically bring about good results, through the mercy and providence of God? (As ‘The Other David’ put it well: the whole issue of schism is a red herring, irrelevant to the issue of “authorized witness”.)

    Morally (again, as the Other David beat me to the punch): have you completely rejected the Catholic teaching that “good ends never justify evil means”? If we could end abortion tomorrow by murdering someone, it would still be wrong, and it would not be justified in the least. If we could end pornography tomorrow by a similar assassination, it would likewise be completely unjustified.

    You can’t defeat the devil using the devil’s tools, Malta. He’s setting you up for a big fall, if you swallow the “I’ll ‘do good’, whatever it takes” line of nonsense.

  59. All I can say to the SSPX leaders is: “see what tangled webs you’ve spun in excommunicating yourselves?”

  60. Shin says:

    \’if the intention is correct\’

    There\’s the rub. What constitutes correct intention? Don\’t most so-called \’Christians\’ nowadays in fact have a pre-Christian idea of what constitutes marriage? Aren\’t they more intending a profane marriage rather than a sacramental marriage?

    IE, \’under God\’, \’no contraception\’, \’chastity\’, \’until death do us part no way out\’, \’obedient to husband\’, these things having no part of it?

  61. momoften says:

    The question I have though, as a Catholic in good standing should you even attend the
    wedding? By attending don’t you validate their religion and essentially marriage? I know it is a sticky question….by in this case should a person whose relative is
    marrying in SSPX and renounces the Catholic faith even be going?

  62. Brian Mershon says:

    Ahh, If all of us were so concerned about our relatives and friends who are Protestants, indidels and apostates.

    Fr. Z summarized the Church’s current position thoroughly. It is certain that is what the Church has ruled through the PCED.

    Why all of the pretend theologians and canonists offering their conflicting opinions.

    Cardinal Castrillon has repeatedly said the SSPX is not in schism and the PCED has repeatedly ruled that Catholics, unless they believe “extra SSPX nulla salus, who attend their chapesl are Catholics.

    So WHO is dissenting from Church teaching here?

  63. Brian Mershon says:

    infidels

  64. Gloria says:

    “In the present circumstances I wish especially to make an appeal both solemn and heartfelt, paternal and fraternal, to all those who until now have been linked in various ways to the movement of Archbishop Lefebvre, that they may fulfill the grave duty of remaining united to the Vicar of Christ in the unity of the Catholic Church, and of ceasing their support in any way for that movement. Everyone should be aware that formal adherence to the SCHISM [my emphasis] is a grave offense against God and carries the penalty of excommunication decreed by the Church’s law.” – John Paul II, Ecclesia Dei Adflicta

    That is one of four occurances of the word schism as used by the late-Supreme Pontiff. I have the greatest esteem for Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos, but until a document is produced by the Holy See which clarifies once and for all how the irregular communion of the SSPX and those who adhere to it stands – the word schism is good enough for me, as it was for John Paul II. The SSPX bishops are clearly excommunicated, and while its priests are not, they are formally adhering to schism. If they aren’t, then will somebody please define the limbo that they’re in? We’re splitting infinitives here. I remember that with the publication of Dominus Iesus, a document which ruffled many many cardinalatial feathers – there were also plenty of uncomfortable words mentioned which I’m sure those involved in ecumenical dialogue were trying to get away from. But the Pope through the CDW stood their ground regardless. We see Pope Benedict bending backward for the SSPX, and while things may be brewing from within the SSPX- we keep seeing the same old pride and instransigence surfacing. I am of the opinion that ALOT more would have been accomplished, and sooner, had Msgr. Lefebvre not caved in to schism and defiance of authority, and had advanced his convictions through the virtues of patience, humility, OBEDIENCE, and dialogue. Absolutely nothing can justify his eleventh-hour decision to betray the Pope and the Church in 1988. Nothing was gained, and so much has been lost.

  65. Garrett says:

    “I also think the comparison between the Orthodox situation and the SSPX that someone mentioned earlier is an interesting one. I need to mull that one over, because very clearly Rome recognizes the validity of marriages of a Catholic to an Orthodox Christian with or without the permission of the Catholic spouse’s bishop. (Without permission it is regarded as valid, but illicit.)”

    Yes, Father Deacon, it is strange to me as well. It seems that if one is viewed as being valid, so the other one would be, too.

    This “error communis” thing is interesting as well. Does this mean that Confession by SSPX priests (and Orthodox priests) are valid? Under what circumstances? And, according to this, since I’m sure it’s safe to say that the majority of SSPX and Orthodox faithful believe their priests to have jurisdiction, then in fact they actually do, because of this fact?

    Enlighten us, Berni…or anyone.

  66. Garrett says:

    I am absolutely no supporter of the SSPX, but here is an article by one of their priests that pertains to the “common error” Berni mentioned. It is good to know why one’s opponents think a certain way. I have to admit to being stumped by this “common error” argument, though. Seems pretty clear cut.

    http://ireland.sspx.net/miscellaneous/validity%20confessions%20&%20marriages/code/2.htm

  67. Forgive my ignorance here, but do SSPX bishops have a specific territorial jurisdiction, or do they see themselves as functioning extraterritorially?

    I wonder whether that may be a distinction with the Orthodox situation, where there is a defined canonical territory for each hierarch.

    Just a thought…

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

  68. Just to clarify…

    I have always been told that the authority to bless sacramental marriages and forgive sins through sacramental confession is rooted in apostolic authority attached to a canonical, territorial jurisdiction – a “local church.”

    This would seem then to exclude the SSPX.

    God bless,

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

  69. DM says:

    The tortured reasoning that concludes that protestants and have sacramental marriages, but that non-schismatics do not is the sort of thing that breeds cynicism.

    I know that I’ll be labelled as a “bad Catholic” for so saying, but the canonical rules regarding marriage can all be explained perfectly according to two simple principles:

    1) Church bureaucrats want allow the annullment of as many marriages as possible.

    2) Church bureaucrats want to curry oecumenical favor with every non-Catholic group in existence, but still villify the SSPX.

    I have yet to encounter anything that suggests a better explanation.

  70. Angelo says:

    Father Deacon Daniel,

    It is an error to offend the consciences of the faithful,
    which is being done with greater frequency on this site.
    It is a wrong to disturb the tranquility consciences that are truly doing
    their best in these difficult times in which we all live.

    Respectfully,
    Angelo

  71. Franzjosf says:

    Fr. Deacon Daniel,FYI: The SSPX bishops do not claim territorial jurisdiction. That would be tantamount to erecting a parallel hierarchy, and would be a schismatic act. They are like auxiliary bishops. They exist in order to confirm, ordain, consecrate churches.

  72. Brian Mershon says:

    Gloria, You must have been asleep for the past 20 years. Isn’t your attitude sort of like traditionalists who ignore authoritative statements from the authentic magisterium to harken back to Pius XII and before?

    If not, how is it different? In other words, you could care less what Cardinal Castrillon, the President of the Commission dealing with these matters with a direct line to the Pope, says?

    Could the situation possibly have changed in 20 years.

    Father Deacon Daniel: The SSPX bishops claim no territory. They function solely to ensure the traditional sacraments and function as auxiliary bishops only. Archbishop Lefebvre was a n astute canonist and specifically claimed no jurisdiction in order to avoid setting up a parallel church.

  73. Angelo,

    If you have a specific criticism of anything I have written here, it would be helpful to hear.

    God bless,

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

  74. John says:

    One rumor that I heard was that just SSPX Bishops (leaders) are/were in schism but individual priests are considered to in union with Rome and thus their sacraments are valid.

  75. “Father Deacon Daniel: The SSPX bishops claim no territory. They function solely to ensure the traditional sacraments and function as auxiliary bishops only. Archbishop Lefebvre was a n astute canonist and specifically claimed no jurisdiction in order to avoid setting up a parallel church.”

    Brian,

    Thank you for the clarification.

    But here is a further question: does not the role of an auxiliary imply some dependency upon a bishop from a specific territorial jurisdiction? Historically I’ve never known there to be any notion of “free floating” auxiliaries, moving at will in and out of the territorial jurisdictions of other hierarchs, specifically hierarchs of the same sui juris ritual church – in this case, the Latin Church. It would seem, then, to set up de facto a parallel jurisdiction.

    God bless,

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

  76. Brian Mershon says:

    Let’s all pray for the lifting of the excommunications sooner rather than later, a beginning of theological dialogues, as Bishop Fellay has repeatedly asked for (We’ve had stupid dialogues with Anglicans, Lutherans and Orthodox for years on a theological level. Why in the world won’t the Church provide the same consideration for Catholic bishops to clarify the many inconsistencies in Vatican II “in light of Tradition?”

  77. Franzjosf says:

    John: The SSPX bishops, as bishops, aren’t leaders of the group. The SSPX has a Superior and two assitants, who are elected. Bishop Fellay is the Superior because he was elected, not because he is a bishop. The SSPX bishops have no authority over the priests other than the position they might hold. If one is rector of a seminary, he has the powers of a Rector.

  78. Although I take issue with the notion that there exists theological or moral inconsistencies within the documents of Vatican II themselves, I think your prayer is certainly a worthy one so long as there is a corresponding resolve on the part of the Society leadership and membership to acknowledge, respect and venerate the territorial jurisdiction of local hierarchs, which is very much in keeping with the luminous Tradition of the Church.

    Restoration of full communion must involve a mutual exchange of repentance and pardons for offenses.

    In ICXC,

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

  79. Franzjosf,

    So then how are pastoral assignments determined? And to whom does the priest make his vow of obedience at the rite of his ordination? Also, who grants him his corresponding faculties for his pastoral mission?

    Thank you for your patience in answering my questions.

    In ICXC,

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

  80. rachel says:

    “If you’ve ever attended a novus ordo wedding, you’ll know why any traditional Catholic doesn’t want one.

    The correct answer to the worried cousin is that there is nothing to worry about. Her cousin WILL be validly married and given their devotion to the traditional Faith, that marriage is a heck of a lot more likely to last than those conducted, with brides in plunging necklines arriving straight from the co-habiting bed, in modern parishes.”

    Patricia,

    you are assuming to much here. A wedding, either in the EF or the OF can be very reverent and beautiful if done well. Nothing justifies going to a quasi-schismatic group to get married in a traditional Mass. I recently got married in October. We had an EF wedding Mass with the OF marriage rite since Father wanted us to recite the three intentions which state specifically that we will be open to children, that we will stay faithful to each other, etc. We had a full choir, organ, violin, cello, and a man who sung the Gregorian chant propers for the Mass. I have also been to two other Catholic weddings, both OF. The were both reverent and beautiful.

    Also, don’t judge what the bride wears. It is very difficult to find a decent dress. I found a very beautiful one that did have a plunging neckline but with alterations, a panel was put in so that my top wasn’t showing. Also, considering that most brides wear strapless dresses now, they normally don’t have plunging necklines either. I think this is an over generalization. It is true that to many couples do not know the teaching of the Church on contraception, etc but not everyone that goes to the OF mass is this way. I know of several very devout Catholic couples who go to the Of and some that go to the EF. This judgmental, “holier than thou” attitude that characterizes many in sspx chapels is frankly getting very tiring. I go to the Ef mass every week and consider myself and my husband a trad but we also go to the OF mass when we have to. This is the sort of attitude that we would like to see eradicated since it doesn’t help anyone and especially not the case of the SSPX and their adherents. There is a serious problem in their group with not only lack of obedience to the Holy Father, magisterium, etc but also a prudish, uncharitable attitude to many people in the church, including those who have regularized with Rome, who go the EF within the Church, etc.

    So, if you want the situation to improve, a change in attitude must take place. Otherwise, we will be in this stand off for many more years. In fact, it will be worse since the SSPX and their adherents will move further and further away from the Church.

  81. Bernie says:

    I imagine someone watching these discussions and going “hum… are these folks all under the same visible head, the same pontiff?”

    I’d like to see evidence to the contrary. And I mean it. I need a shot of optimism in this matter because this division weakens my arguments against protestants and truly saddens me.

    Is it too unrealistic to believe that SSPX will never reconcile (give or take the HS+ REALLY stepping in big time). They are financially independent, have their own hierarchy (“Magisterium”). Does anyone really believe that sspx would ever agree to anything other than eventual Pope Super-Pius I declaring:

    “Vat II is null (or some elaborate, convoluted version of this), Popes Paul VI, JP II, B XVI were apostates and dead wrong; novus ordo is now prohibited”.

    Is there any bit of evidence they would come home unless the above is satisfied?

    In my experience (though anecdote is not data) SSPXers won’t go to a licit TLM 2 blocks away… reasons abound from Hosts from NO Masses being mixed with the apparently “true” Hosts from “true” Latin Masses, and on and on…

    Ask the SSPX what they think of St Agnes (St Paul, MN) or any Latin NO parish. I hear from their own mouths how non-Catholics we are, how Protestant we have become. After two, three generations away from regular status is there even the slightest desire among SSPXers or clergy to really reconcile? Or isn’t it a fundamental part of perhaps a new religion to stand against Rome? Hasn’t the “fight for true Tradition and against Rome” become nature, deeply ingrained, impossible to live without?

    In my experience (again, for whatever is worth) there is nothing that will appease their version of Tradition other than absolute annulment of Vat II and some utopic return to some dreamed up version of some idealized pristine Church.

    As the Apostles and our Church Fathers have made clear, there is only one way we can weather the raging seas of schism, apostasy and heresy. In Peter’s boat, in good (medieval) times and in bad ones. Apparently the “emergency” banner is no different than the 95 theses; can the end result be different than the Church and SSPX moving further apart minute by minute?

  82. Franzjosf says:

    Fr. Deacon Daniel: Assignments are given by the District Superior in conjunction the the Superior General. I don’t know the answer to your ordination question, but I imagine that it is given to the Superior of the Socity had his successors. As to faculties, the SSPX claims that a State of Necessity exists, so the Church supplies the faculties. You can find an article of their defence on their web-site, SSPX.org. It is also important to remember that in the Canon of the Mass, the SSPX priests pray for the local ordinary and the Holy Father.

    What I find interesting about this whole affair is 1) Bishop Fellay reports that in his meeting with the Holy Father, in the August after his election, the Pope said that “A state of necessity may well exist in France and German.” Very interesting, indeed, especially since the Bishop is not a liar; 2) The new Code of Canon Law prevents excommunication in cases where a state of necessity does NOT exist if someone thinks it does.

  83. Franzjosf,

    Many thanks! I will look for that link.

    In ICXC,

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

  84. Christopher Mandzok says:

    “…Does “your family” have the obligation to inform your relatives? I cannot answer that. You stated that they tend to ignore what they are told. You said that your cousin has been attending this chapel for decades. This is their world view. They are rooted in it….”

    Do they not have the same oblgation to charitable inform the family of the problems as they would to a protestant family? Sometimes, the unpopular must be spoken. A Catholic has an obligation to inform another Catholic that their marriage is not valid in the eyes of the Holy Roman Church. [Not always. The principle of fraternal correction applies. Also, a great deal of harm can be done by the half-informed charging in with their elbows at the ready.]

  85. Michael J says:

    The presumption here for the most part seems to be:
    That the SSPX claims “we are loyal, traditional Catholics who honor and revere the Holy Father and the Magisterium, AND we will disobey them on every point with which we disagree”. to slightly paraphrase Antiquarian.

    I wonder, though, is this true? Does the SSPX, in fact “disobey them on every point with which we disagree”?

    In my experience, the answer is no. Quite honestly, the SSPX “position” is really indistinguishable from the majority of thise who post here. They, like everyone here, seem to try their best to understand what the Church teaches currently and has taught in the past. When there is a conflict, the SSPX, like everyone here, “rejects” the novel teaching.

    The main difference is that the SSPX will state quite bluntly (and improperly , in my opinion) that “the Church is teaching error” whereas most here will go through some excruciatingly painful convoluted logic and claim “The Church doesnt *really* teach that”

  86. Brian Walden says:

    “The ministers of the sacrament are the couple to be married, and THE CORRECT INTENTION OF THE MINISTER IS REQUIRED FOR THE VALIDITY OF THE SACRAMENTS.”

    Does the couple intend to get the permission to marry from the local ordinary?

  87. St. Rafael says:

    For years the SSPX claimed that the “for all” in the Novus Ordo consecration was incorrect, and should have been translated “for many”. John Paul II confirmed the “for all” translation all throughout his Pontificate at his masses. Now Rome admits that “for all” was the wrong translation all along.

    For years the SSPX claimed that the old Mass was never abrogated. They claimed that the faithful were being lied to or deceived by those who claimed it had been. Pope John Paul II himself issued two indults (permission to do what the law does not permit) for the old Mass. Now we are told by the Pope himself that indeed, the old Mass was never abrogated.

    We have two instances of Pope John Paul II and the hierarchy being dead wrong and the SSPX being right.

    In thirty years when the horrible baby boomers and VII generation are dead, my generation now in our twenties, will vindicate the SSPX during these times and we will be celebrating St. Lefebvre.

  88. Brian Mershon says:

    Father Deacon Daniel: “Restoration of full communion must involve a mutual exchange of repentance and pardons for offenses.”

    First of all, I do not know what full and partial communion mean. One is either in a state of grace or not. If one is, then he is a Catholic in a state of grace. If one does not believe the teachings of the Church and directly opposes them, then he is not in communion with the Church. Until someone explains how this new ecclesiology can be reconciled with the old (Does someone in “imperfect” communion have part of his soul go to heaven and part to hell when he dies.), I will stick with the St. Robert Bellarmine formula.

    Secondly, the Holy Father is the one who will ultimately decide what is neccessary for the SSSPX to reconcile. Neither the Campos, Brazil priests nor the Institute of Good Shepherd, as far as I’m aware were required to “ask pardon for their offenses.”

  89. Brian,

    Glory to Jesus Christ!

    “First of all, I do not know what full and partial communion mean. One is either in a state of grace or not. If one is, then he is a Catholic in a state of grace. If one does not believe the teachings of the Church and directly opposes them, then he is not in communion with the Church. Until someone explains how this new ecclesiology can be reconciled with the old (Does someone in “imperfect” communion have part of his soul go to heaven and part to hell when he dies.), I will stick with the St. Robert Bellarmine formula.”

    I suppose one could see the early roots of an “ecclesiology of communion” that admits of degrees depending upon ones proximity to the apostolic college of bishops and the Apostolic See of Peter in the early debates regarding the validity of the baptisms performed by heretics and the decision of Pope St. Stephen in favor of the acceptance of baptisms outside of full, visible unity of the Catholic Church. The belief was also taught forcefully and upheld by Saint Augustine, and reaffirmed time again both magisterially and in pastoral practice.

    This of course then causes one to ask: if an individual is baptized by an heretical or schismatic group and that baptism is valid, are we not to say that they are in, as you say, a “state of grace,” filled and illumined by God’s very Trinitarian life and destined for the eternal life of heaven – WHILE remaining, albeit presumably through no fault of their own, outside of the visible confines of Catholic communion? They answer is clearly “yes.” This said, their visible unity (or communion) with the Catholic Church is imperfect, since they are not permitted to approach the Sacred Mysteries without recanting or repenting first….leaving their older affiliation and cleaving, if you will, fully to the One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church and faith.

    If you have not already done so, I would recommend that you read this document, which I believe clarifies certain aspects of an “ecclesiology of communion.”

    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_28051992_communionis-notio_en.html

    And may I only say that St. Robert Bellarmine, for all his great holiness and erudition, does not himself constitute the entire patrimony of Catholic teaching in this regard.

    As far what is required, my point was not to say that public repentance should be a stipulation for administrative unity, but rather that unity of life and faith does not necessarily follow from administrative unity. There is certainly room for repentance on both sides if the wounds against the Church are to be healed and full communion restored.

    In ICXC,

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

  90. Patricia says:

    Brian – when the very liberal (understatement) Cardinal Cassidy, once responsible for ecumenical relations, was asked at a press conference if the SSPX would be included in ecumenical dialogue, he replied “no” because, he said, relations with the SSPX are “an internal matter”. Well, you can’t be in schism and “internal” at the same time. They are mutually exclusive states of being.

    It is clear that the SSPX are not in schism. I would not dream of attending their Masses if I thought for a second that they are in schism. I read widely and consulted thoroughly before deciding that I really had, at last, found a way out of my weekly novus ordo nightmare.

    Rachel, I am not prudish. Plunging necklines and strapless dresses (bridal or not) are immodest. That is not prudish. At least it wasn’t before Vatican II. We were properly taught about purity and had a Catholic sense of modesty instilled into us. Frankly, there is nothing so unattractive as a woman immodestly dressed. No, I didn’t say that. You didn’t see my lips move did you? That’s what one of my male friends said to me recently. Actually, those weren’t his exact words but I’m afraid “cleavage showing” might not get past the moderator.

    Of course not every bride may be guilty of such immodesty but most are. It is wonderful that you had sufficient Catholic sense to adjust your dress but I see a lot of brides and I have not seen one dressed modestly for years now. I once met a non-Catholic bride to be who told me she had to fork out to have her dress made because she hated these uncouth looking modern dresses which are all that are available in the shops – you seem to admit that yourself, Rachel since you were forced to make adjustments to your own wedding gown.

    A friend of mine, whose priest-friend was to conduct her wedding, told me she gave up trying to find a modest dress in the mainstream stores and found one in a charity shop. It was absolutely beautiful. Much nicer than anything I’d seen for years. She said she just couldn’t face standing in front of her priest-friend dressed in one of those ugly modern dresses but, more importantly, she would have been grossly insulting the Blessed Sacrament by standing there with bare shoulders and/or plunging neckline. Did you ever see any sight more ridiculous than a “bride” (not usually technically brides at all, of course) wearing a veil over bare shoulders?

    As for the idea that we cannot “judge” the situation of brides coming to the altar. Look, there ain’t no judging involved. Any priest will tell you that couples routinely give the same address when arranging their wedding. Is your experience different, Fr Z? Cohabitation is the norm. That is a fact. Unless Scotland, from whence I hail, is different from the rest of the universe? Right. No chance. So, please don’t accuse me of being judgemental unless I am also being judgemental when I say it’s been pouring with rain here all day.

  91. Alice says:

    Patricia,
    Like Rachel, I disagree with your characterization of all of us who have been married in the “modern parish”. My wedding was a “Novus Ordo” wedding, but we had Gregorian Propers sung by a chant schola. My wedding dress was modest – I insisted- and my attendants had their shoulders covered as well. My husband and I have always tried to live chastely according to our states in life, so I moved in with him after the wedding and not before. We now have a child because of our openness to life. I am an organist for a “modern parish” and my story is by no means unique.

    I should add that I am thankful to my mother for saying that she could not attend the SSPX chapel because she wanted her daughters to have a parish in which they could marry validly. While we probably could have gotten a diocesan priest to marry us (many people get married at a church that they do not attend regularly for various -and sometimes legitimate – reasons), it would have been harder.

  92. St. Rafael says:

    Degrees of communion is a novelty.

    Heretics and Schismatics are just that, heretics and schismatics. You are either inside the Church or you are not. Heretics and schismatics do not have an ounce of communion with the Church because they are outside it. They are at fault for remainig outside the Church because when one reaches the age of reason they need to choose the one true Church once they have heard about it.

    Baptisms are valid because of the form and matter. When water and the correct words are used it is valid because of the necessity of baptism for salvation and this does not place the administrator closer to the Church in a degree of Communion if he is outside the Church.

    Heretics have lost the sanctfying grace of baptism due to their actual sins which they have no way of erasing without the sacraments.

  93. Alice says:

    I’m not sure why things are crossed out. I must have formatted something wrong.
    [Be careful when you use hyphens.]

  94. St. Rafael says:

    All this “degrees of communion” new ecclesiology seems to come from the heresies of Karl Rahner. Karl Rahner was influential in the Church with his theology on Ecumenism and the heretical Anonymous Christian concept. He thought has led to devastating new ecclesiology.

  95. Brian Mershon says:

    Fr. Deacon Daniel,

    Thank you very much for the link. I will download it and read it this evening. Thus far, in my voluminous reading on theology and especially, ecclesiology (from authoritative Church documents–not from a speculative theology approach), I see absolutely no mention of “degrees of communion”: from anything pre-Vatican II.

    Of course, the ideas might have been there, but the terminology was not. And besides, full, partial and full communion concepts are but ONE model of the Church–and perhaps due to my low intellect–one I have not really been able to grasp yet.

    I’ll stick with Trent, Vatican I, St. Robert Bellarmine, the Baltimore Catechisms and all the way up to Mystici Corporis by Pope Pius XII. These are crystal clear to me.

    Please pray for enlightenment for me, Father. Seriously!

    I still can’t seem to be able to put a square peg in a round hole. Someone is either in the state of grace or not. Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus. I’ve read the three dogmatic statements on that and they are crystal clear.

    All of the speculation about “anonymous Christians” and “anonymous Catholics” and the like is NOT crystal clear. Nor is it dogma.

    Perhaps the partial communion model is from the authentic magisterium–but certainly rises no higher than that.

    Why is everyone so enamored with it anyway?

    No one, in the end, is partially saved. There is no such thing as being in “partial or degrees of grace” with the Church.

  96. Father,

    Sadly, you err gravely on this issue. I have seen this false judgement on the canonical validity of the marriage confected in the Catholic rite, with a (non-delegated) SSPX priest acting as a witness of the Church.

    Under CIC 1983 Canon 1116, par. 2, if no marriage impediment which must be dispensated (e.g. disparitas cultus) exists, a marriage before witnesses and if possible assisted by a priest or deacon without jurisdiction is valid always (also in case of doubt about a legitimate reason existing), if ‘grave inconvenience’ would be expected, in case a minister with jurisdiction would sought or waited for, for more than a month. An ordained ROman Catholic priest should be present though: according to § 2 of the same Canon 1116 (new 1983 CIC).

    This is the mode of thinking, and much canonical jurisprudentia exists on these matters, about e.g. Austrian priests in Russia assisting at a marriage (of Latin Rite Volga Germans) without proper jurisdiction being delegated to him. The marriage was declared valid nevertheless.

    Father Zuhlsdorf,

    I have seen you claim marriages before witnesses confected by the spouses mutually before an assisting SSPX (or other “traditionalist”) priest are invalid if no ordinary jurisdiction is delegated by the parish administrators. I searched via google.com and found it was claimed numerous times by you at the catholic.com forum and at your own website, but it is a pertinently false judgement.

    I do agree with you, that SSPX attending Roman Catholics never left the Church by a formal act, and in se would be held to the ordinary canonical form (unlike so-called Orthodox schismatics and other non-Catholics).

    A marriage between a Jew and a Roman Catholic confected before witnesses and an SSPX priest without necessary dispensation disparity of cult, would be invalid though for lack of canonical form.

    But the absence of an ordinary minister for a grave cause, does not invalidate the marriage itself, it remains a valid Sacrament.

    In fact, a sedevacantist couple of ‘home-aloners’ would confer marriage validly before two witnesses in their home during a prayer service, and after a civil marriage (of course), with only laymen assisting. They might err practically, but this marriage would also be valid canonically.

    The Church is not a positivistic organization that instrumentalizes law. She established it for the salvation of souls, not to ‘harm’ them or demand the impossible from e.g. Catholic Papuas in a Papua tribe in the middle of a mountainous isolated region with a priest coming in once per 2 years.

  97. The entire cabal is out, discussing about irrelevant long-solved questions about schism etc. (There are actually people here who think they know beter than Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos and ‘know’ the SSPX is “in schism and heresy”, like “Prof. Basto”) Then again Cerularian theologians come up claiming the Byzantine administration of marriage is the only norm, and that the priest closes the marriage (as a priest could ever close a marriage between a random woman and a random unmarried man whenever he wanted, as he could administer it without their consent being needed) – which is a common so-called Orthodox error on this sacrament.

    But the core Canonical arguments are denied, even by the Catholic priests here writing.

    A sad development, it also proves general Canonical ignorance that I as a layman can succinctly refute a purely political “scare-and-divide” reasoning.

  98. Brian Mershon says:

    Fr. Deacon Daniel,

    It appears that the Pope, in this excerpt from the letter that accompanied SP, believes that the Church itself should reflect on how to bring the division to an end:

    “I now come to the positive reason which motivated my decision to issue this Motu Proprio updating that of 1988. It is a matter of coming to an interior reconciliation in the heart of the Church. Looking back over the past, to the divisions which in the course of the centuries have rent the Body of Christ, one continually has the impression that, at critical moments when divisions were coming about, not enough was done by the Church’s leaders to maintain or regain reconciliation and unity. One has the impression that omissions on the part of the Church have had their share of blame for the fact that these divisions were able to harden. This glance at the past imposes an obligation on us today: to make every effort to unable for all those who truly desire unity to remain in that unity or to attain it anew.”

  99. Iakovos says:

    Fr. Deacon Daniel,

    In the Byzantine tradition, deacons give no substantive blessings. They may not bless sacramentals, people, etc. This is a function of the priesthood. I understand that this is NOT the case in the Roman Church. In addition, in the Byzantine Catholic Church, deacons are neither ordinary ministers of baptism nor ordinary ministers of Holy Communion. In emergency situations, a deacon may baptize. With scarcity and illness of priests, deacons may distribute Holy Communion (and lay people as well, in certain circumstances).

    Regarding weddings, allowing a deacon to “witness” a wedding when no priest is available, still does not make it a sacramental marriage in the Byzantine tradition. Perhaps it would be a union that is not considered sinful and would be recognized by the Church, but this is all conjecture. Byzantine theology and the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches are quite explicit on the matter of the NECESSITY of a PRIEST blessing a wedding for it to be valid.

    Your hypothetical case changes neither Byantine theology nor canon law.

  100. Orville_B_Croft says:

    It would be good for the Church to come out and clarify these things asap.
    Whilst my gut feeling is that the things you have stated, Fr, are correct it would be nice to have the Church address these things.

  101. David Kastel says:

    You people are ridiculous when insulting and attacking these couples for “not getting permission from the local ordinary” to marry.
    [And I advise that you moderate your tone, or I will lock you out of this blog.] The local ordinary won’t agree to marry SSPX mass-goers. (At least, they shouldn’t. Several of the local (good) pastors around here will not agree to marry any couple unless at least one of them has been registered and is a regular mass attender at that parish – for at least six months.)

    Where the heck are these people supposed to get married if not at the chapel where they attend mass (which they attend so that they can maintain their faith – because of the abominable and sacrilegious masses they find in their own parishes!)

    “If they are Catholic – their marriage is void, if they aren’t then the marriage is valid.” lolol This is just nonsense.

    The LAW is void if it unjust…the marriage is fine. It is unjust to demand that persons go to irreverent and in many cases sacrilegious masses. It is unjust to demand that a priest marry a couple whom he does not know. It is unjust to demand that this couple must not get married simply because the local ordinary says “no.” The SSPX reports the marriages at their chapels to the state as well as the local diocese. They are not hiding anything here.

    The LAW is void, the marriage is VALID. P.S. – Those of you who do not accept the idea that a law or command may be unjust and need not be obeyed – please exchange your baptismal certificate for your National Socialist Party membership card.

  102. Iakovos,

    Calm down. I am well aware of the scope of my ordo.

    Yes, I know that deacons do not bless.
    Yes, I know that deacons do not baptize, except in emergencies.

    You may even be surprised to know that I believe these things among the Latins to be an aberration and not a legitimate development. Deacons are not supposed to preside at anything! It is not our charism!

    I do take issue with your view that deacons are not ordinary ministers of Holy Communion. The Patristic evidence seems most certainly to the contrary.

    My point was that I was not sure that in emergency situations, such as times of persecution and the prolonged absence of a priest, I wondered if it was within the purview of an Eastern Catholic bishop to delegate such a thing to a deacon. I certainly would not advocate for this, knowing what I do about our theology of marriage. My thought was that perhaps there was some tradition of oikonomia.

    So I consulted Victor Popishil’s work, “Eastern Catholic Marriage Law”, and found that you are quite correct. There is no provision for such an emergency or extraordinary circumstance. I had been told by a priest that such things might be permitted, so I now am able to cite the canons.

    Now I need to explore more what can be done in times of persecution, of which our churches have suffered plenty.

    In ICXC,

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

  103. St. Rafael,

    You speak with such assurance while completely ignoring the Church Fathers and the magisterium and all the while inaccurately citing Karl Rahner as the source of the “ecclesiology of communion”.

    Not to mention that you seem to treat baptism as if it were somehow entirely separate from any ecclesiological dimension. A strange view of baptism, indeed! Rather like a magical formula than an sacramental entrance into the new covenant People of God.

    I found this quote rather stunning: “They are at fault for remainig outside the Church because when one reaches the age of reason they need to choose the one true Church once they have heard about it.”

    Oh? So if a seven year old Baptist boy, newly baptized, is presented with the teachings of the Catholic Church and rejects it because his mommy tells him to, he’s at fault?

    Be careful not to offer blanket condemnations so quickly, St. Rafael, Son of Thunder!

  104. My brother in Christ, Brian:

    I will certainly offer prayers for you if you promise to do the same for me! (Ok, even if you don’t I will! :-) )

    I want to reply to your note, but need to make my way to bed. Unfortunately, at my age, the mind can only absorb what the bottom can endure.

    God bless,

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

  105. Orlando Catholic says:

    Call me a heretic and burn me if you wish, but my old ordinary allowed Lutherans to “consecrate” a bishop and have their “Eurcharist” at a Catholic Shrine and they saw nothing wrong with this, as do current priests and bishops — but they have a problem with the SSPX. Something is wrong here. It’s a double standard if there ever was one. Clearly invalid sacraments are given the “A OK” at supposidly Catholic churches and given not only Catholic blessing, but the blessing of other Protestants & the Orthodox as well in many times, but Society administered Sacraments (in this case, Matrimony and Confession) are deemed invalid by many despite historical conflicts reaching this opinion. Something seems out of wack.

  106. Iakovos,

    Please accept my apologies for my tone in the previous post. After reading your post again, I realized that I initially misread the tone of your post. You were merely stating facts, and I was being defensive and needed calming.

    Ah, if only life and internet posts had undo buttons!

    Wishing you a blessed Nativity,

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

  107. Brian Mershon says:

    Fr. Deacon Daniel,

    As promised, I read the CDF document and believe it accurately summarizes the status of Churches and ecclesial bodies as communities, but does not really touch on individual non-Catholic Christians and how they can possibly be in “degrees of communion.” In fact, the document barely touches on “full communion” and never mentions “degrees of communion” as many have written about, but instead talks, I believe, about “imperfect communion.” Again, though, in the matter of ecumenism, these are references to local Churches (Orthodox) and Protestant denominations as bodies of Christians, not as individual members.

    Perhaps the most interesting thing I gleaned from this document is the following that I trust you will indulge me with a bit more of your time.

    “This communion exists especially with the Eastern orthodox Churches, which, though separated from the See of Peter, remain united to the Catholic Church by means of very close bonds, such as the apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist, and therefore merit the title of particular Churches(74). Indeed, “through the celebration of the Eucharist of the Lord in each of these Churches, the Church of God is built up and grows in stature”(75), for in every valid celebration of the Eucharist the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church becomes truly present(76).”

    How about instead, this?

    “This communion exists especially with the Society of St. Pius X, which, though separated from regularization with the Seee of Peter, remain united to the Catholic Church by means of very close bonds such as the apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist, and therefore merit the title of Catholic. Indeed, “through the celebration of the Eucharist of the Lord in each of the SSPX chaepls, the Church of God is built up and grows in stature,” for in every valid celebration of the Eucharist the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church becomes truly present.”

    What do you think. Another caveat is that unlike the Orthodox, the SSPX priests pray for the intentions of the Holy Father and the local Ordinary at every single Mass.

    The webs we have weaved with this “ecumenism,” so-called.

  108. Brian,

    Just a few points…

    1. “Degrees of Communion” and “State of Grace” are distinct, but related, concepts. “Degrees of Communion” refers to the degree of proximity to the visible sign of unity among the Churches, the ministry of the college of bishops with the vicar of Peter as its head and spokesperson (respecting all privileges of the primacy as identified by the church’s teaching authority). The “State of (Sanctifying) Grace” refers to the degree of spiritual and moral proximity to the covenant sign of unity in the local church (the bishop, the presbyters, the deacons gathered in the Eucharistic assembly = the Mass or Divine Liturgy), namely the Holy Eucharist. Holiness is to bring our lives into conformity with the Sacrifice of the Holy Eucharist, from which flows the communion of charity (agape). This Eucharistic sign is intrinsically linked to the visible sign of the hierarchia in apostolic succession and in full, visible union with the vicar of Peter, since it is impossible to separate the unified ministry of the apostles from the liturgy.

    With Christian divisions, which should always be seen as an aberration and not the norm for the Church, we have a situation where there are Christians who are in varying degrees of visible proximity to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church as well as members who are in varying degrees of “sanctifying grace” (or in various states relative to the grace of Christ).

    Why have such a teaching? I believe it helps in some measure to understand how God is able to work both within and outside the visible confines of the Catholic communion of Churches (aka “the Catholic Church”). As Saint Augustine wrote, there are those who are in the Church but not of the Church, and those who are of the Church but not in the Church. The problem is that, given the polemical environment surrounding Trent, the post-Tridentine posture reflected much more of the historical situation, and was not in any way a comprehensive treatment of all points of ecclesiology, sacramental theology or theology in general. This is the pastoral nature of councils – they are never divorced from their historical context, but rather involve the prudential application of the Church’s faith to the needs of the faithful.

    I do not agree with the caricature of Trent or Tridentine teaching as Imperial, Monarchial or “like a Fortress”. Certainly, such things could be said of its later interpretation and pastoral application. But there can be no doubt that the emphasis of Trent is on unity…so much so that the great diversity of liturgical rites in the West were either suppressed or canonically contained within a specific territory as a “symbol” of Latin Church unity!

    Trent, like Vatican I and Vatican II, must be interpreted faithfully according to this principle of the hermeneutic of continuity. Vatican II in many ways represents a return to biblical, liturgical, patristic and magisterial sources (both East and West) in a “new synthesis”.

    Which brings me to my second point…

    2. Why exclude the Documents of Vatican II in your research? The Documents of Vatican II address this teaching of the ecclesiology of communion quite extensively.

    And I am not saying that I agree with the notion of the “anonymous Christian” either. I believe that such a view, especially taken to extremes, is both wrong-headed and kills the apostolic and missionary spirit of the Church.

    Thanks for the conversation. I wish you a blessed Nativity!

  109. pjo says:

    Isn’t it this case?

    Can. 1335 (…) If a latae sententiae censure has not been declared, the prohibition is also 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.

  110. dymphna says:

    I’d go to the wedding and have a good time. The doublestandards that seem to be set for SSPXers are unjust. The same people who merrily go to seder’s and have no problem attending the civil weddings of unchurched relatives balk at the SSPX. People are too harsh. There is fault on both sides and mainly on ours.

  111. Brian Mershon says:

    Father Deacon Daniel: Thank you for the succinct explanation of a very complicated topic. Your explanation jibes with others I have read and heard on this subject. There are a few things I would like for us to explore, if you will oblige me. You said:

    “With Christian divisions, which should always be seen as an aberration and not the norm for the Church, we have a situation where there are Christians who are in varying degrees of visible proximity to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church as well as members who are in varying degrees of “sanctifying grace” (or in various states relative to the grace of Christ).”

    I can understand how “elements of sanctification” can be found in other ecclesial bodies and Churches (the Orthodox). However, that does not mean they alone can produce saints because they are indeed outside the visible confines. It certainly would have been better to say “actual grace: exists outside the visible confines, but nowhere, to my knowledge, are “elements of sanctification” defined as “grace”–actual or sanctifying or sacramental–in the discussions in Lumen Gentium or the Decree on Ecumenism. This change away from standard Catholic (Thomistic) terminology does nothing to add insight or clarity to Church teaching in my humble opinion.

    I have heard and read much about this “hermeneutic of continuity.” Haven’t see the phrase used previous to this pope. Any sources from authoritative Papal encyclicals prior to Vatican II? Fathers or Doctors of the Church? I’m just asking.

    And just to set your mind at ease. I have read the principle documents of Vatican II on multiple occasions. In fact, my Master’s thesis was on showing how Dignitatis Humanae reaffirmed the teaching on the Kingship of Christ over societies. Talk about a hermeneutic of continuity (still not sure I believe it myself, to be honest)!

    What I have found is that if a Catholic has only experience post-Vatican II Catholicism at his parish and has read only the Vatican II and papal documents after Vatican II, along with the Bible, he ends up having a very truncated understanding of Catholicism.

    My own personal experience is that the catechisms and papal encyclicals and General Councils prior to 1965 were much clearer in their teaching. The Vatican II documents, instead of reiterating authoritative teaching, seemed to have been developed by Nouvelle Theologians (which they were) who were using the Council as a testing ground for their new ideas (which they did). Instead of giving the Church clear authoritative and dogmatic/doctrinal teaching (which they did NOT), they opened up a whole new can of worms and instead did speculative theology and tried to pass these documents off as just as authoritative as Vatican I and Trent (which, for the most part, they were not).

    No. The upheaval after Vatican II wasn’t caused just by the dissent within the hierarchy on Humanae Vitae, and it wasn’t caused just by the social crisis in the ’60s and ’70s, and it wasn’t caused just by the misinterpreting of the mythical spirit of Vatican II–the murky, unclear and non-Thomistic nature of the documents themselves (which often have contradictory thoughts within the body of the text itself)also aided and abetted the crisis.

    The Church wanted to come to terms with the world and look hip and cool.

    How silly, for example, some of the suggestions found in Gaudium et Spes and the Decree on Soclial Communication in the Church, sound in 2008. The language and topics addressed were limited to the silly 1960s time period from which they emanated.

    That is why I will concentrate on improving my understanding of the Faith much more by reading the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, gaining a deeper understanding and appreciation of the liturgical year, customs and devotions, meditating on Sacred Scripture, learning the Divine Office and learning Gregorian Chant and other sacred music and reading pre-Vatican II papal encyclicals–rather than wasting more time trying to make chicken soup out of chicken fecies.

    Everyone who attempts the “hermeneutic of continuity” uses their favorite pull quotes to back up their perspective. Unfortunately, it is just as easily for modernists/liberals to do it, as it is for conservatives. Traditionalists, for the most part, know there is something wrong with the contents of the documents and they are not going to say the Emperor has clothes when he does not.

    Finally, there is absolutely nothing in the documents of Vatican II, nor the authoritative teaching after the Council, that as a Catholic, I am bound to uphold as a matter of Faith and morals that was not taught before Vatican II.

    I have a certain amount of time in my life to read and live. I have already spent WAY TOO MUCH of it trying to show how Vatican II is “in line with Tradition.”

    I value clarity. I think I’ll start with the Summa and Thomistic Philosophy so I can clear the nonsense I’ve imbibed for 46 years out of my mind.

  112. Brian,

    One could infer degrees based on the distinctions mentioned in paragraphs 17 and 18. For instance, mention is made of the “wound,” with varying degrees of depth, depending on whether one body has still retained apostolic succession.

    “Degrees of Communion” and “proximity” and “separation” are other ways of referencing the wounds of disunity. While I think it is a positive development that the Church emphasizes points of connection with other Christians, it cannot be in any way understood without reference to the pain of Christian disunity.

    I think your treatment of the question of the SSPX is interesting, and may demonstrate how one can speak about the Society vis-a-vis the full visible communion of the Catholic Church.

    “This communion exists especially with the Society of St. Pius X, which, though separated from regularization with the Seee of Peter, remain united to the Catholic Church by means of very close bonds such as the apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist, and therefore merit the title of Catholic. Indeed, “through the celebration of the Eucharist of the Lord in each of the SSPX chaepls, the Church of God is built up and grows in stature,” for in every valid celebration of the Eucharist the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church becomes truly present.”

    Perhaps you could explain more your thinking on the meaning of this phrase: “separated from regularization with the See of Peter.”

    As I mentioned, i think two key differences between the Orthodox situation and the SSPX situation are recency and territorial jurisdiction.

    Your point about the commemoration of the Holy Father in the Masses said at SSPX chapels certainly continues to give one hope. The removal of a hierarch from the diptychs was historically very often regarded as an act of formal schism (or a symbolic way of expressing it). That this has not occurred is a welcome and hopeful sign that the irregular situation will one day be resolved.

    God bless,

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

  113. Somerset '76 says:

    Let me just observe that the question of validity of SSPX sacraments requiring jurisdiction (Matrimony, Penance) goes round and round between the factions for one simple reason, and until that underlying issue is resolved, these matters will remain locked in factional impasse.

    The real issue, as Dr. Brian Sudlow has done the best work in identifying, is the sense of certitude with which the SSPX views its understanding of the content and meaning of doctrinal Tradition, in suchwise as to contend that the Vatican II era represents in principle a thoroughgoing derailment from what they contend was an unbroken logical continuity prior. They view this discontinuity as affecting every single major aspect of the Church’s life and work: doctrine, morals, liturgy, evangelization, you name it.

    From this central contention flows their contention of a “state of emergency” in the contemporary Church unparalleled in history, whence then comes their particular views on the interpretation of Canon Law (and thus the sanctions imposed on them from their suppression in May 1975 forward), their strategy on relations with the Holy See, and indeed all of their practical strategies.

    There really is only one solution to this impasse: the Holy See needs to authoritatively examine the Society’s sense of Tradition, in both principle and with respect to the major issues of doctrinal contention. For greatest credibility among the disaffected, this ought to be done in a Thomistic framework … unless the Holy See can make the good case that Thomism is an inadequate vehicle for the task. That’s no minor point: one of the Society’s most significant allegations is indeed that the Conciliar era has practically undone Leo XIII’s enshrinement of Thomism as the “official language” of Catholic theology.

  114. Brian Mershon says:

    Father Deacon Daniel,

    You said: Perhaps you could explain more your thinking on the meaning of this phrase: “separated from regularization with the See of Peter.”

    Well, because there is no formal schism and they obviously practice the Latin Church’s Catholic Faith more precisely in accord with the Pope Pius XII era and prior, the SSPX is probably more closely in the “concentric circle” (if we indeed must use that concept) to the center and heart of Catholicism than the Orthodox. The Orthodox are still in formal schism and I personally don’t know how we can reconcile their positions on allowing divorces and contraception.

    Obviously, the SSPX is not in formal canonical regularization, even if not in formal schism, and they adeptly use the new Code of Canon Law, just as others have done here, to persuasively prove their points about their subjective state of mind.

    I had to use something to replace the words which were originally from Lumen Gentium, so that was the closest I could get.

    I think very soon, it is all going to be moot because the Pope is going to lift the excommunications without necessarily bringing them into full canonical regularization.

    Boy then will the conservative Catholic SSPX haters howl!!!!!

    Somerset is right on his post–by the way. If there are any true Thomistic theologians left (Are there?) in the Church, they will need to engage them to have theological talks with the SSPX because otherwise they will not even be speaking the same language using words with the same meaning.

  115. Brendan Peters says:

    you lot need to get out more or to try a spiritual enema

  116. RBrown says:

    you lot need to get out more or to try a spiritual enema
    Comment by Brendan Peters

    Your comment is typical of someone who is ignorant and fearful.

  117. RBrown: This is the person who was defending, in rather vulgar terms, Fr. Bourgeois and his agenda. He won’t be joining us very much in the future, if I can help it.

  118. RBrown says:

    RBrown: This is the person who was defending, in rather vulgar terms, Fr. Bourgeois and his agenda.

    I know. I lifted the “ignorant and fearful” text from one of his comments in that thread.

    He also, BTW, reproved someone else for a misspelling–even though he twice misspelled Fr Bourgeois’ name.

    He won’t be joining us very much in the future, if I can help it.
    Comment by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

    Too bad. I was looking forward to the Duel in Sun, Death in the Afternoon, etc.

    Morituri te salutant!

  119. RBrown says:

    Should be: Duel in the Sun.

  120. Brian,

    You wrote: “Well, because there is no formal schism and they obviously practice the Latin Church’s Catholic Faith more precisely in accord with the Pope Pius XII era and prior, the SSPX is probably more closely in the “concentric circle” (if we indeed must use that concept) to the center and heart of Catholicism than the Orthodox. The Orthodox are still in formal schism and I personally don’t know how we can reconcile their positions on allowing divorces and contraception.”

    Very clearly the need for conformity of the pastoral leadership and teaching of the Orthodox hierarchs in the sensitive areas you mentioned (remarriage after divorce and contraception) would be one of the stipulations for full communion. At this stage of the dialogue with the Orthodox, I do not think practical matters like these have been fully addressed – at least not publicly.

    One cannot help but see – and this has just occurred to me – some similarities with the SSPX following Vatican II and the Old Catholics after Vatican I. Similarity does not mean sameness, of course. As far as I can tell, the SSPX has not denied any dogma per se, which is a key difference. But I think there is a danger in the notion that one can pick a favorite era of Church history (era of Pope Pius XII, era before Pio Nono and Vatican I) and act as if it existed in some form of hermetically sealed ecclesiastical package. We Byzantines (Orthodox and Catholic), for instance, certainly treasure our liturgical and spiritual heritages – as well as our ethnic roots – but no one can simply plunk themselves down into 19th century Moscow by attending one of our services or joining one of our communities. There are those who come with those expectations, and very often they wear all black or start to wear ethnic clothing even though they are not of the same heritage, grow out their hair and beards, etc etc. This, of course, is not spirituality…it’s Halloween!

    I’m not accusing the SSPX of such zealous extremes usually seen in converts (although I have heard some unfortunately dreadful stories that remind me of this “time capsule” mindset) but there is something unhealthy in the notion that one can exist separate from history, almost denying that it exists…which in this case would mean from Vatican II, the theology that led up to it and the modern age. I wholeheartedly and categorically reject the abuses, but I can see and appreciate the beauty of what was written and even some of the things that have followed the Council. New and Old are factual statements about when something existed or occurred, they are not value driven statements, or at least should not be. As Msgr. Richard Schuler of blessed memory used to say, not everything that is old is good! (THe same thing could be said for the “new” to be sure.)

    You and I will agree that not everything that has ever been written or officially taught by the Catholic magisterium (whether in councils, through the episcopate or through the pontifical magisterium) was said or done in the best way at the best time using the best words or even in a comprehensive manner. This does not challenge its authority, but rather recognizes its limitations. (I would very much like to read your paper, BTW!)

    I thought Somerset offered a tremendously valuable suggestion. I hope that this is able to be pursued.

    Yours in Christ,

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

  121. Malta says:

    Fr Deacon Daniel

    The problem in the Church, as I see it, is that she exists very often as if Vatican II were a super council, whereas, in fact, and as Pope Benedict XVI himself has said, the council’s goals were comparatively modest: Pastoral and never dogmatic. In fact, one may say, it was reflective of a generally unfortunate period in human history. In my personal opinion, one may completely disregard VII now, 40+ years on, and still be an ardent Catholic–in fact, possibly more so. VII offered the Church nothing of perennial value, again in my opinion, even though it was a valid pastoral council. So, men who dress in their best and women in chapel veils aren’t just living in the past, but preserving Tradition, which St Paul admonishes us to do.

    The Novus Ordo is a different subject altogether. I’ll only say this: if the “fabricated” (to use BXVI’s own word) liturgy were spear-headed by a Saintly soul, I might have some reservations as liturgies, by their nature and proper growth should be products of tradition, and not novelty, but the fact that the Novus Ordo was spear-headed by Archbshop Bugnini gives me serious pause, and makes me consider carefully SSPX’s contention that there is a real emergency in the Church, even though I am not a member and consider obedience to the Pontiff a necessity to be Catholic–but then, St Athanasius was not obedient to the Pontiff when to do so was heretical; SSPX claims, with some argument, that to be other than what they are would be to fall into modernism–a heresy.

  122. Hugo says:

    I recall a case where a couple wanted to get their marriage declared null. No basis could be found until the man’s uncle, the bishop who performed the wedding , came to the rescue.

    The reason for the null marriage:: Though the bishop at the groom’s parish (the cathedral) knew this other bishop was coming in from another diocese- and rearranged the weekend’s schedules according, he did not give proper permission for him to marry the groom to the bride (a distant relative of the local bishop).

    Marriage isn’t a word, it’s a sentence. And, this was like letting the parties off on a technicality.

  123. Malta,

    “The problem in the Church, as I see it, is that she exists very often as if Vatican II were a super council…”

    I agree that there are those who treat Vatican II as if it represented a “break” with history, rather than a “new synthesis” of what has come before – a re-presentation of the Church’s dogmatic and doctrinal patrimony.

    You wrote: “In fact, one may say, it was reflective of a generally unfortunate period in human history. In my personal opinion, one may completely disregard VII now, 40+ years on, and still be an ardent Catholic—in fact, possibly more so.”

    And yet councils speak with pastoral authority sealed by the Holy Spirit, which means as an act of the teaching ministry of the Church, they and their teaching cannot be simply ignored, nor should they be. One cannot simply burrow down to a level of historical strata and live there, as if nothing else existed above. I think such a posture offends the magisterium of the bishops and the Holy Spirit who works through them to speak to the Church in every age.

    Speaking as an Eastern Catholic, Vatican II has had tremendously positive implications for our churches and for Catholic relations with the Orthodox in general. It spoke very decisively and authoritatively about the equality of our Churches and our theological, spiritual, canonical and liturgical traditions (which had been buried under centuries of Latinization…something of a “Western captivity”) and the need to rediscover and restore our patrimony. Very frequently VII is seen as the council that helped to build relations with the Protestants, but I think Blessed John XXIII’s ecumenical aspirations were far more Eastern in their orientation.

    The preparation for the restoration of the permanent diaconate, something discussed very seriously at Trent but sadly was never implemented, was also wonderful fruit of the council, although I take certain issue with the presidential responsibilities assigned to the diaconate. (I am convinced that these were intended to be extraordinary functions of deacons in missionary situations, NOT ordinary functions as they are today, but that is another conversation…)

    I think Dei Verbum and Lumen Gentium are theologically very rich, and in a particular way do represent watershed moments in the areas of biblical and ecclesiological studies. I believe they were also intended to act as something of a historical “corrective” for the theological trajectory of certain schools of thought and interpretation since Vatican I (particularly the ultramontanist stranglehold and the “Roman” biblical school). I think these two documents, if read and followed faithfully, especially help make Vatican II an authentic “catechism” on the Catholic Church and her common life.

    So to say that VII offered nothing of perennial value because nothing specifically dogmatic was defined I think is inaccurate. Every ecumenical council represents an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Church – a new Pentecost. I think we are only now beginning, some 45 years later, to plumb its depths and riches. That its teachings were abused and in some cases completely ignored or contradicted is not a reflection on the council itself, IMHO.

    As to the way people dress for Mass, that was not so much my point. I used that as a way to illustrate how the “time capsule” mindset has affected some of our Eastern converts, particularly to certain forms of Orthodoxy. I’m all for modest dress at Mass/Divine Liturgy, and I think headcoverings for women is a beautiful feminine expression of spirituality that is being slowly rediscovered.

    Finally, as to the Ordo of Paul VI, I agree that, for the most part, these are separate issues. There can be no doubt historically that the Mass of Vatican II for the Latins was the 1962 Missal of Blessed John XXIII. Period. That said, I can certainly appreciate some of the post-conciliar developments such as the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, the New Lectionary and the revised Liturgy of the Hours..and, of course for me, the generous use of the vernacular (which at times had been permitted with the 1962 Missal or an earlier version, I understand?)

    God bless,

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

  124. RBrown says:

    Fr. Deacon Daniel,

    I do not consider Vat II a “new synthesis” of what has come before, nor do I know anyone who does.

    1. Generally, Vat II disassembled the Counter Reformation Church, which was a good thing. The theology of that period (sometimes known as Roman Theology) was more dependent on the legal authority of the Church (The Church says . . .) and not so much on Scripture, Tradition, and Reason.

    The famous statement quoted in a book by JPieper and attributed to Garrigou LaGrange says it all: There is a conspiracy in moral theology to eliminate the virtue of Prudence.

    2. The theology that replaced Roman theology was anything but a new synthesis of what had come before. Mostly, it was a combination of Existentialism (hello, Germany) and selected Patristic thought that was useful for Ecumenism. There is very little, if any, attention given to the great Medieval Theological Synthesis.

    3. John XIII was very interested in Ecumenism with the Orthodox.

    Paul VI, however, was interested in Ecumenism with the Protestants, thus the various Protestant elements that have seeped into the Church–like a sewer backing up, and accompanied by the One Size Fits All rationale: The Early Church blah, blah, blah.

    4. There are, however, certain elements of Vat II that are good, such as a call for real liturgical reform, reform of moral theology, and, as I have mentioned here before, the extension of the the Ordinary Universal Magisterium into Secondary Objects of Infallibility (cf. Ordination Sacerdotalis)

  125. RBrown,

    You wrote:

    “I do not consider Vat II a “new synthesis” of what has come before, nor do I know anyone who does.”

    And yet, all one would need do is simply look at the weaving together of the many and varied sources and citations from Sacred Scripture and Tradition including the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, the Councils, the Popes, the saints, the liturgies, etc etc to see in fact it was intended to be a new synthesis. The intent clearly was not to present a new doctrine or dogma, but rather to re-present traditional Catholic teaching, culled together from the sources of tradition, to the modern world.

    One can certainly argue how effective the new synthesis was, but that it was seems obvious even to the casual reader glancing at the footnotes!

    “The theology that replaced Roman theology was anything but a new synthesis of what had come before. Mostly, it was a combination of Existentialism (hello, Germany) and selected Patristic thought that was useful for Ecumenism. There is very little, if any, attention given to the great Medieval Theological Synthesis.”

    This point I will need to ponder after a bit of clarification. Are you referring to “post-conciliar” theology? If so, I largely agree. If you are saying within the documents themselves, I guess I would need to understand a bit more about what you mean by the “great Medieval Theological Synthesis”…AND synthesized where and by whom (or are you just speaking in general reference to the rich patrimony of the Medievals?

    God bless,

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

  126. RBrown says:

    Fr. Deacon Daniel,

    1. It is well known that the theology of St Thomas played almost no part at Vat II. There were no Thomists who were influential periti at Vat II. Both the theology of the Priesthood found in Presbyterorum Ordinis and the Eucharist as Meal concept found in Gaudium et Spes are more Protestant than Thomist.

    2. The theology that went into and out of Vat II was largely produced between WWI and WWII by the French and Germans. Generally, it takes two different forms:

    Aggiornamento–a kind of neo-neo-Scholasticism that is an attempt to blend Revelation with German Philosophy. The work of Rahner and Schillebeeckx are a good examples of this.

    Ressourcement–in the main a good idea, but, as JRatzinger pointed out, most of Ressourcement theology ignores the great Medieval theologians.

    3. In so far as I am by training, inclination, and practice a Thomist, by Great Medieval Synthesis, I am primarily referring to the theology of St Thomas.

    How was it a synthesis?

    First, philosophically it is a synthesis of the thought of both Plato and Aristotle. In fact, there was much work done in the 20th century by men like Etienne Gilson and Fr Cornelio Fabro that brought attention to the Platonic elements in St Thomas, which had been all but suppressed since the Council of Trent.

    (BTW, The Summa Contra Gentiles is chock full of Neo-Platonic elements.)

    Second, theologically, St Thomas’ work is a synthesis of Western and Eastern Fathers. It was a great surprise to me when I first started reading the Summa Theologiae how much of the Fathers was there.

  127. Matt says:

    It is just sad that those Catholics who seek out a priest who is faithful to his vows, is devout, yearns for unity with the past are denied a traditional catholic wedding that if held 60 years ago who have been the norm. The passage of time is their enemy.

    My wife and I were married in an ICTK parish. The EXACT same ceremony is performed by a SSPX priest, but is not considered valid?

    It is so sad to see this state of afairs in the church. This is a failure of Rome to allow so many catholics to hang in a state of “limbo”. Why are so many catholics still drawn to the SSPX chapels? Over 25% of catholics in France now attend SSPX chapels. 25%! The estimate is that 50% of remaining catholics in France will attend SSPX chapels by 2015.

    SP was a great blessing, but my guess is that a great many of the people attending the TLM offered under SP ONLY attend the TLM. Most also seek all of the sacrements in the older form. Where there is also a ICTK or FSSP parish these parishes have many more people attend vs a SP TLM mass. Why? This is my opinion, the formation of these priests in catholic doctrine and teaching is much more complete. I have no worry about the instruction I receive from an ICTK or FSSP priest (Or SSPX priest). I DO worry about some of the instruction I have received from new priests that have gone to post VII seminaries. The formation for many of these priests seems to be lacking in many areas or non-existant all together.

    Until Rome adresses the situation the SSPX will continue to grow in numbers and these discussions will only become more frequent.

  128. RBrown:

    My prof was a student of Gilson in Toronto. He used to say that Thomas referenced Plato twice as often as Aristotle. I think this is the point of the book: “Aquinas the Augustinian”

  129. RBrown says:

    My prof was a student of Gilson in Toronto. He used to say that Thomas referenced Plato twice as often as Aristotle. I think this is the point of the book: “Aquinas the Augustinian”
    Comment by Tom in Columbus

    IMHO, St Thomas’ philosophy is a marriage of Aristotelian Causality and Platonic Participation. Without the concept of participation, it is all but impossible to posit an ontological foundation for the universal.

    BTW, who was the professor?

  130. Professor Dr. Larry Azar (died last year)

  131. RBrown and Brian,

    You might appreciate a book I am reading at present: “Sacrifice and Community: Jewish Offering and Christian Unity” by Michael Levering. It deals with the subject of reconciling both the sacrificial and meal aspects of the Mass as treated in the theology of St. Thomas, as well as its implications for a “Eucharistic ecclesiology.”

    Dr. Levering is a professor of theology at Ave Maria University in Naples, a prolific author and an ardent advocate for the rediscovery of Thomism.

    http://www.amazon.com/Sacrifice-Community-Christian-Eucharist-Illuminations/dp/1405136901

    RBrown you wrote: “Second, theologically, St Thomas’ work is a synthesis of Western and Eastern Fathers. It was a great surprise to me when I first started reading the Summa Theologiae how much of the Fathers was there.”

    I agree. In fact, I have often said (in other places) that I believe that St. Thomas intended to create a great patristic synthesis in his Summa Theologica and that a study of his Summa would be a great benefit to Eastern theologians, particularly those involved in biblical studies.

    Have a blessed Nativity!

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

  132. RBrown says:

    You might appreciate a book I am reading at present: “Sacrifice and Community: Jewish Offering and Christian Unity” by Michael Levering. It deals with the subject of reconciling both the sacrificial and meal aspects of the Mass as treated in the theology of St. Thomas, as well as its implications for a “Eucharistic ecclesiology.”

    Dr. Levering is a professor of theology at Ave Maria University in Naples, a prolific author and an ardent advocate for the rediscovery of Thomism.
    Fr. Deacon Daniel

    I have not read the book, nor has anyone ever recommended it to me. I was able, however, to examine some of it via Amazon.com, where someone can search using a word, then read pertinent texts. From what I was able to determine, the author is trying to justify that the mass is a sacrifice by referencing Jewish tradition. That is good, but he is attached to the meal concept.

    I strongly disagree with anyone who portrays the Eucharist as a Meal or considers it a reenactment of the Last Supper. It is not a Christianized version of the Passover Meal (a point also made by JRatinger in, I think, The Spirit of the Liturgy). And I also don’t know of any Thomist who would use the phrase Sacrificial Meal or the couplet Meal and Sacrifice–in the treatise on the Eucharist in the Summa Theologiae, St Thomas does not use the word meal.

    Such a criticism does not apply to the Orthodox description of the Eucharist as a Heavenly Banquet. Such a description is eschatological, not historical, and reflects the concept that the Eucharist replaces a meal–it does not create a new one.

  133. RBrown,

    “I strongly disagree with anyone who portrays the Eucharist as a Meal or considers it a reenactment of the Last Supper. It is not a Christianized version of the Passover Meal (a point also made by JRatinger in, I think, The Spirit of the Liturgy). And I also don’t know of any Thomist who would use the phrase Sacrificial Meal or the couplet Meal and Sacrifice—in the treatise on the Eucharist in the Summa Theologiae, St Thomas does not use the word meal.”

    So would you take issue with the perspectives outlined here?

    http://www.latin-mass-society.org/2008/mealorsacrifice.html

    Also, does this mean you might favor a restoration of the Artos to the Latin West? :-)

    In ICXC,

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

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