I am seeing a lot of confusion in the wake of the lifting of the excommunications of the bishops of the SSPX.
Let’s get some things clear.
VERY LITTLE HAS CHANGED JURIDICALLY except in the status of those four bishops.
I hope that this has helped to change the "atmosphere" surrounding these problems.
The "lifting" of the excommunications is a first step in the long process that still remains.
Q: Is the SSPX now legitimate?
Not in a juridical sense, no. The SSPX still does not have the approval of the Pope or of a diocesan bishop. It is still a separated group, though these days many prefer not to speak of "schism".
Q: Is it okay for the SSPX bishops to ordain now?
No. The bishops of the SSPX are validly consecrated bishops, but the fact remains that they were illicitly consecrated. That hasn’t changed. They are still not reconciled with the Bishop of Rome. They are still suspended a divinis. They still have no permission to exercise ministry in the Church. They may not licitly ordain. They have no authority to establish parishes, etc.
Q: Are the chapels of the SSPX okay now?
Not in a juridical, legal sense, no. Many good things can happen in one of those communities, but the SSPX chapels are not, because of the lifting of the excommunications, suddenly made legitimate. They are not reconciled by this move.
Q: Are the priests of the SSPX in good standing now?
Not yet they aren’t. The priests of the SSPX are still suspended a divinis. They say Mass validly, but without the permission of the Church, either from a faculty of the Holy See or the local bishop. They do not have the necessary faculties to hear confessions and give sacramental absolution except in danger of death.
Q: Is it okay to go to chapels of the SSPX for Mass?
Yes and no. It is still not "okay" to go to chapels of the SSPX if you are doing so out of contempt for the Holy See or Holy Father, etc. If are are deeply attached to the older form of Mass, and it is very hard on you to go without it, yes, you can attend these Masses our of devotion. You can fulfill your Sunday obligation still, because the 1983 Code of Canon Laws says you do.
But the fact remains that these are still chapels separated from unity with the local bishop.
In my opinion, it is not a good idea to go to these chapels exclusively except perhaps in very rare circumstances wherein there really is no acceptable alternative.
Q: Is it okay to receive Communion at an SSPX Mass?
Yes and no. Yes… if you would otherwise have to go without the Eucharist for a long time because you are morally or physically impeded from receiving in a licit way. No… if you are doing so because of contempt for the Pope, bishop, Holy See, etc.
I don’t think it is a good idea to frequent and receive Communion often in the chapels of the SSPX. I think that undermines a person’s sense of unity with the Holy Father and the local bishop.
Remember: The lifting of the excommunications was a necessary step on the way to something better.
In his letter to followers of the SSPX, Bp. Fellay reminded everyone that they prayed that the older form of Mass would be derestricted, and it was with Summorum Pontificum. He said there was a Rosary campaign to aid the lifting of the excommunications. That happened today. Bp. Fellay now says that we must pray that the necessary talks with the Holy See can begin soon about theological questions. Amen. Let us pray.
So… folks… don’t suddenly get it into your head that all the problems with the SSPX have suddenly been removed. Nothing has changed about their status. What changed was the status of the four bishops: they are no longer excommunicated, but they are still in a state of separation from clear and manifest unity with the Holy Father.