QUAERITUR: Mass obligation and SSPX chapels

From a reader:

Does a Mass heard in a SSPX chapel fulfill the Sunday Mass obligation?

Perhaps you have answered this question before. If so, I missed it.

The 1983 Code of Canon Law, can. 1248 says:

1. "The precept of participating in the Mass is satisfied by assistance at a Mass which is celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the holy day or on the evening of the preceding day." 

The Holy See has said repeatedly that attending Masses of the SSPX fulfills the obligation according to can 1248.

However, I will add that – while this strictly fulfills your obligation, I do not recommend that this be your normal way of fulfilling your obligation.  The SSPX is not yet in manifest unity with the Roman Pontiff.  The SSPX priests are suspended and have no permission from the Church to administer the sacraments.  It can happen that people who frequent their chapels can undermine their union with the local bishop and the Vicar of Christ.

I am fully aware that in many cases what is going on at your local normal parish may seem like the childish or pagan rites of a strange cult, and that what goes on at the SSPX chapel seems entirely reasonable Catholic, our sense of ecclesial unity remains important.  With very few exceptions the SSPX priests I have met have been fine men and zealous, while many liberal/heterodox priests in good standing I have known have been ignorant, arrogant, and petty.

This should spur us to earnest and frequent prayer for the success of the theological talks going on between the Holy See and SSPX and be ready to extend a welcoming hand…. especially in this Week of Christian Unity.

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55 Responses to QUAERITUR: Mass obligation and SSPX chapels

  1. Marius2k4 says:

    But Father, would attendance at such a Mass be sinful? Do they still lack valid jurisdiction for administering the Sacrament of Penance?

  2. Marius: We are not talking about sin of simple attendance. We are talking about the canonical possibility of fulfilling the obligation. There are too many factors to consider in the question about sin and this is not the place to address them.

  3. ljc says:

    Marius2k4, as far as I understand SSPX Priests do lack valid jurisdiction for administering the Sacrament of Penance, therefore while their Masses are valid, their confessions are not.

  4. Ogard says:

    The Russian Orthodox Liturgy is the same as the Ukrainian Catholic Liturgy. Materially, in both Churches the Liturgy is Catholic. True, the Russian Church is not in full communion with the Catholic Church; but neither is the SSPX. So, if the Obligation can be fullfiled in the SSPX chapels it isn’t clear why it can’t in the Russian Orthodox Church.

    All the more because the Byzantine Liturgy is doctrinally supperior to the Novus Ordo Mass. [Send me an e-mail in which you back that up with texts.]

  5. Mike says:

    The Church needs these priests. St. John Vianny, ora pro nobis.

  6. Choirmaster says:

    @Ogard: Is it indeed true that a Russian Orthodox Divine Liturgy would not fulfill our obligation?

    My interpretation of the cited canon is that it would, but I am almost as poor a canonist as Nancy Pelosi!

  7. wolfeken says:

    Not only did the Vatican say one can attend a Mass said by an SSPX father, but one can also contribute to the collection:
    http://www.latin-mass-society.org/perl-011803.htm

    The key is whether one is attending such a Mass to separate himself from Rome or not. When I visited Scotland and Northern Ireland before the motu proprio, I relied on this decision as I attended SSPX Masses where there were no other TLMs around.

  8. JARay says:

    I attend my local SSPX chapel maybe two or three times a year. This is usually at Christmas and Easter. I love to sing from my Liber Usualis and they, of course, sing the whole Proper and Ordinary of the Mass. I join in their choir. I like their priest, we get along very well and he always welcomes me when he sees me arrive. I would never go to Confession to him because he does not have permission from my local Ordinary to hear confessions. They claim that “ecclesia supplet” covers the required permission for the SSPX priest to hear confession but I disagree and for that reason I would not go to him unless I was in danger of death…and in that case, “ecclesia supplet” does apply.

  9. Ogard says:

    Choirmaster, Canon 1248 (quoted by Fr. Z) is not clear. However, in the Ecumenical Directory approved by Paul VI 1967 there was a provision:

    “47. A Catholic who occasionally, for reason set out below (cf. n. 50) attends the holy liturgy (Mass) on a Sunday or holiday of obligation in the Orthodox Church is not then bound to assist at Mass in a Catholic Church.”

    This provision doesn’t seem to say that one fulfils the Obligation, but that he is not bound to fulfil it. And there is qualification: “occasionally”.

    N. 50 lists the reasons: “public office or function, blood relationship, friendships, desire to be better informed, etc.”; if I may comment: practically no restriction is imposed (apart from the “occasionally” referred to above).

    However, the entire provision has been omitted from the Ecumenical Directory approved by John-Paul II 1993.

  10. dcs says:

    So, if the Obligation can be fullfiled in the SSPX chapels it isn’t clear why it can’t in the Russian Orthodox Church.

    Their Liturgies are not offered in union with the Pope, therefore it is not a Catholic rite.

  11. kgurries says:

    Ogard, your initial question seems a logical one. I suppose the Holy See is taking into account that the situation of the TLM (in general) and the SSPX (in particular) is slightly different than the cases foreseen by possible attendance at Russian Orthodox liturgies, etc.

    Also, I wonder if you have additional thoughts on the topic of ecumenism in light of the Holy Father’s recent plenary address to the CDF? I think we had exchanged ideas on this here previously…and I had tried to incorporate some of the key themes in my recent post on “The Goal of Ecumenism” found here: http://opuscula.blogspot.com

    Perhaps you will stop by and provide some comments or feedback….

  12. PreVatII says:

    I’ve always gotten a kick out of the term “in full communion.” After all, outstanding orthodox Roman Catholics like Cardinal Mahony and Archbishop Weakland are “in full communion.”

  13. “Their Liturgies are not offered in union with the Pope, therefore it is not a Catholic rite.”

    While not in formal schism, neither is the SSPX “in union with the Pope” in the perfect sense, even if his name is mentioned in the Canon at Masses which they celebrate. (We’re still having those talks, right?) So it still begs the question, especially in light of the reference to Paul VI (see above).

    In addition, I seem to recall that the response from the PCED on this issue was qualified, as in, “yes, you could fulfill your obligation in certain circumstances, but we really don’t encourage it.” [Sound familiar?]

  14. “Comment by PreVatII — 19 January 2010 @ 6:07 pm”

    For the record, they are in communion. In practice? Well …

  15. paulbailes says:

    Dear Father,

    You concede “that in many cases what is going on at your local normal parish may seem like the childish or pagan rites of a strange cult”.

    If that’s not a “state of emergency” that motivates the SSPX in its so-called “disobedience”, I wonder what is? [So do I. That's the problem. When individuals or independent groups decide to declare an "emergency" they do so on the basis of subjective criteria.]

    Further, re the overriding value you seem to place on “union with the local bishop” … in cases where he is one of the perpetrators of the above, would one not be justified, even obliged, to avoid “union”?

    Thanks for listening, and I hope and pray that 2010 sees continued magnanimity that will lead to us all overcoming our sincere differences.

    God bless
    Paul

  16. paul: If that’s not a “state of emergency” that motivates the SSPX in its so-called “disobedience”, I wonder what is?

    Individuals don’t get to make these decisions for themselves, especially on the basis of individual experiences of particular parishes.

  17. pseudomodo says:

    It would seem that one can attend an SSPX mass and fulfill the sunday obligation regardless whether the priests have faculties.

    Provided you simply attend but do not participate in eucharist or confession you have satisfied can.1248.

  18. moon1234 says:

    Individuals don’t get to make these decisions for themselves, especially on the basis of individual experiences of particular parishes

    Who does? Not be mean in my response, but really who gets to decide when there is a state of emergency? I think the qualifer here is what the individual believes. If Lefevbre really, in his mind, believed that there was a state of emergency in the Church, then would that not be mitigating circumstances?

    If one is in danger of losing their faith, or that of their family, if they continue to attend Masses where abuses or outright heresy is being presented, would that not be an emergency?

    I know when I was in my early 20′s my wife and I bounced around from NO parish to NO parish. We went from happy clappy with the guitar to other parishes where the priest would not even distribute communion. He would have the 12-15 EM do it while he sat in the chair. Then they would carry the chalices with the extra precious blood in them back to the sacristy where they were put in the dishwasher. No ablutions necessary.

    I really and truely would have lost my faith had it not been for the ICRSS. My wife and I traveled almost two hours to be married. It is was so very hard to go to NO Masses in this area before S.P. I prayed daily for the liberation of the Latin Mass and for priests to say it. I can only say I was overjoyed when the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest brought us 8 Priests over the last two years. Since they have been here there are now three young boys traveling to Spain for school and to discern the Priesthood. This is in less than two years.

    I really feel for people whose only recours is the SSPX to feel home. I pray that they will have some canonical structure even before these talks are finished. It just seems wrong to have them in an imperfect status.

  19. moon1234 says:

    Soory that should be 7 priests from the SJCTP. One has not arrived yet.

  20. A subject of the Latin Church does not fulfill his Mass obligation by attending the Divine Liturgy at an Orthodox Church. He does fulfill it by attending the Divine Liturgy of a Catholic Eastern Church, such as the Ukrainian or Maronite.

    A subject of the Latin Church also can fulfill his obligation by attending Holy Mass at an SSPX chapel. This is the position of the Holy See.

  21. Ogard says:

    Cds – “Their Liturgies (the Orthodox, my note) are not offered in union with the Pope, therefore it is not a Catholic rite.”

    I have asserted that the Orthodox Liturgy is a Catholic rite materially. Likewise, the SSPX Mass is materially Catholic, but it is not offered in communion with the Pope. If fact, the SSPX clergy are suspended by him (the Orthodox aren’t), and in any case, they wouldn’t participate in the “Bugnini” Mass as a matter of principle, and discourage people from doing so because it is “dangerous to Faith”. They do not want to do anything even with the Tridentine Mass of the “Conciliar” Church. What kind of “communion” is it?

    Kqurries (hope to be in touch in March, I apologize)– “I suppose the Holy See is taking into account that the situation of the TLM (in general) and the SSPX (in particular) is slightly different”.

    My question was: what is the difference, when neither is in full communion with the Pope. The canonical position seems inconsistent – that was my point.

  22. dcs says:

    Likewise, the SSPX Mass is materially Catholic, but it is not offered in communion with the Pope.

    Sure it is: he is named in the Canon.

  23. Legisperitus says:

    Marius, I do believe Msgr. Perl said in that (2001 or so?) letter of his, which got published by Una Voce, that simply assisting at a SSPX Mass, without the intent to manifest a schismatic attitude, is not a sin. Sorry I can’t remember the exact year he said this. It was the same letter where he said a modest contribution to the collection could be justified.

  24. I hope and pray the SSPX gets regular soon. A big part of my reason, though, is selfish: they have a chapel that’s only an hour away from where I live, whereas the EF Masses offered by priests in full communion are all 300 miles away. Plus, I’d like the SSPX to have an influence in this church (i.e., my diocese); unfortunately, as things stand now, the diocese has just written them off and ignores them.

  25. ssoldie says:

    AMAZING, the hands of the FSSPX priest when praying the 1962 Roman Rite Mass can consecrate ‘validly’ the sacred host(our Lord) with the hands of an ordained, yet, cannot give absolution in the confessional with the same ordained hands he can consecrate with. AMAZING, and here I was going to a N.O.M. priest who was using his own words for absolution and that was o.k., but don’t go to confession to an FSSPX priest for the absolution, who has ordained hands and absolves according to the rite of confession of the Church. AMAZING.

  26. kgurries says:

    “My question was: what is the difference, when neither is in full communion with the Pope. The canonical position seems inconsistent – that was my point.”
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Ogard, I think the judgement of the ED (relative to the possibility of attendance at SSPX masses) has more to do with the spiritual needs of the faithful who are attached to the TLM – finding no other reasonable options – and less to do with the canonical status of the SSPX. In other words, it appears to be motivated by pastoral need rather than a rigorous interpretation and application of law.

  27. kat says:

    I don’t claim to know anything particular about Canon Law or the code; BUT I would think that if there is (or was in the old…is there in the new?) a canon giving permission for emergency supplied jurisdiction, if the Church is in a crisis or state of emergency, that that would be the point…somewhere somehow something has gone wrong, and and “individual” would have to be the one to point it out if the Holy Father or the Church were blind to its error or crisis (e.g. the Arian problem; or for the SSPX, the Modernist problem). And I am wondering how many people think, not knowing any better or differently, that Archbishop LeFebvre was just “some minor little bishop” somewhere who decided to do his own thing based on his own personal opinions and beliefs, because …well…because why? He was a leading Churchman of his time; he helped prepare the documents for Vatican II (most of which got thrown out by the Modernists); he wasn’t some small fry in a Swiss or French village, waiting for a chance to break from Rome. If he saw a problem, there was a reason for it; he wasn’t seeking power of his own.

  28. “Comment by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf — 19 January 2010 @ 7:31 pm”

    It does not appear that a proper distinction has been made, as to what makes the celebration of the Roman Rite more “catholic” (per Canon 1248) than any other rite of the Church, including the Byzantine, such that the celebration of one outside communion with Rome can fulfill an obligation, while that of another does not. Is it the difference between imperfect communion and formal schism? Is it because one set of books is a safer bet than the other (which begs a host of other questions)? Does the reference to the Holy See’s position to which you refer clarify this distinction?

    If so, does it explain how an unlawful means can be used to accomplish a lawful end?

  29. Ogard says:

    Dcs, “Sure it is (Mass offered in communion with the Pope): he is named in he Canon.”

    The fact that he is named does not make a communion, or better it doesn’t make a full communion. For the latter to exist the parties concerned have, both, to accept that it exists; while in this case the Holy See has repeatedly asserted that that it does not exist.

    Kqurries, “it (i.e the judgement of the ED relative to the possibility of attendance at SSPX masses to fulfil Sunday obligation) appears to be motivated by pastoral need rather than a rigorous interpretation and application of law.”

    That might be the case; but if so, it is inconsistent. Why for the same pastoral reasons one cannot fulfil obligation in the Orthodox Church? All the more, because a hostility of the SSPX toward the “conciliar Church”, Novus Ordo, and even the TLM if in “conciliar Church”, is indisputable. Or, to put it in another way: if one can’t fulfil in the Orthodox Church because she is not in full communion, why one can in the SSPX chapels although the SSPX is not in full communion either.

    Manwithblackhat, has put it lucidly: “It does not appear that a proper distinction has been made, as to what makes the celebration of the Roman Rite more ‘catholic’ (per Canon 1248) than any other rite of the Church, including the Byzantine, such that the celebration of one outside communion with Rome can fulfil an obligation, while that of another does not.”

    But then, he spoiled it: “Is it the difference between imperfect communion and formal schism?” Because, it follows from UR no. 3 that the formal schism is nothing but an imperfect communion, and it has been repeatedly asserted by the Holy See that between the Catholic and the Orthodox Churches there already exist almost a full communion.

  30. “Comment by Ogard — 20 January 2010 @ 2:09 am”

    My declaration was not spoiled by the question. It might have had I presumed an answer.

    There is indeed a distinction. The Orthodox Churches have erected jurisdictions as an ordinary function. This makes the action “formal.” On the other hand, the Society of St Pius X claims its filial loyalty to Rome (however genuine being currently a matter of conjecture) and does not presume to participate in jurisdiction, nor erect its own, at least not in the way as do the Orthodox.

    The Holy See has cited the closeness between the “two lungs” of the Church. Would that all components of the other lung concur.

  31. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Ogard is absolutely right. It makes no logical sense to say that attending an SSPX chapel fulfills the Sunday obligation while attending a Russian Orthodox Divine Liturgy does not. The reality is that both the SSPX and the Russian Orthodox Church do not submit in practical obedience to the Roman Pontiff. The reality is that neither possesses communion with the college of bishops in a real and practical way.

    The Ecclesia Dei commission letter stretches canon 1248 out so wide that you can drive a truck through it. And Ogard is calling an ace an ace and a spade a spade. Everyone’s response to him falls under semantic and canonical acrobatics, or church lawyering. I agree with Fr. Z that it comes down to, “well, that is what the Holy See says” although I do not think for that reason alone it is a logically thought out position.

    The SSPX mentions Benedict in the canon? And what use is that if you don’t follow his orders?

    The SSPX doesn’t establish a jurisdiction or claim to have jurisdiction like the Russian Orthodox Church? Well, what do you call buying your own properties, building your own churches, seminaries, and convents, and ordaining your own clergy who administer these congregations if it is not setting up a parallel church?

    The SSPX is not in formal schism, only imperfect communion? Is that why, as Ogard pointed out, they do not give permission to their members to attend even a Tridentine Mass celebrated in a “Conciliar” church?” It’s funny that the SSPX can be said to have any communion with us when they forbid their members to ever set foot in one of our churches.

    Let’s just call this what it is. It is another example of post-Vatican II “pastoral flexibility” which allows for canons to be so twisted as to lose any real meaning as a stable and clear law for the Church. That we do this to assuage the consciences of Catholics who wish to participate in SSPX chapels is fine (not that the SSPX tolerates a reciprocity–their members are told that coming to Mass in one of our churches does NOT fulfill the Sunday obligation). But let’s be honest and just say we are lawyering for the sake of good relations with a group that might rejoin the Church.

    And if the SSPX were honest, they would admit that the very flexibility which moves the Pope and bishops to be so amiable to Protestants, which they detest, is also working very much to their advantage as Catholics feel free to see them as being fully united to the Church when in reality they are not.

  32. JCCMADD says:

    As long has the N.o. mass is said at my local parrish and it is cheap and low church, childISH songs are sung and the priest think nothing is to cheap for GOD. AND ALL THE NON CATHOLIC NOSENSE going on, I will goto the Real mass. If the n.o was celabrated like it is done at EWTN I would go there once in a while. N. O. may or may not be valid it depens on who is saying the mass. I will go to SSPX Chapel.WHILE THE CRISIS IN THE CHURCH RAGES ON.

  33. dcs says:

    It makes no logical sense to say that attending an SSPX chapel fulfills the Sunday obligation while attending a Russian Orthodox Divine Liturgy does not… The reality is that neither possesses communion with the college of bishops in a real and practical way.

    In addition to the fact that our Holy Father is mentioned in the Canon at SSPX Masses, the members of the SSPX – even though they are objectively under the censure of suspension – are in communion with the Pope and therefore with the bishops subject to him. Disobedience is not schism. That is, the priests of the SSPX are Catholics (even if one is inclined to say that they are “bad” Catholics), while priests of the Russian Orthodox Church are not. So again, there is a very clear logical distinction.

  34. kat says:

    When I was a child and disobeyed my father, I was not refusing the idea that he was my father, and was still a part of his family. There is a difference between disobedience and a refusal to acknowledge another’s authority. And if one believes, even erroneously, that the order being given is sinful, or dangerous to one’s salvation, then the disobedience itself is not true disobedience; but is, rather, obedience to the highest law, which regards the salvation of souls. Whether one agrees with the SSPX’s belief that they are following that higher law, the fact is that that is what they base their “disobedience” on. In all things not sinful, in all things that are in accordance with the teachings of the Church and the Pope’s before Modernism crept into the Church, they obey. In disciplinary laws (e.g. fasting, etc.) they obey. e.g. They ENCOURAGE the Faithful to keep the more traditional fasts of the Church; but do also explain that because the Holy Father can change disciplinary laws, it is NO LONGER sinful if people choose to follow the newer laws.

  35. Roland de Chanson says:

    There can be no clearer evidence of the lack of communion between the Orthodox and Roman Churches than that the Orthodox do not permit their own members to receive the Eucharist in an RC church and forbid RC’s (or any non-Orthodox) from receiving in one of their churches.

    The Roman Catholic Church allows Orthodox to receive communion in an RC church if the particular Orthodox church allows it. My understanding is that almost all do not.

    The putative upcoming meetings between Kirill and Benedict may lead eventually to permission for intercommunion as an intermediate step while the old Council of Florence issues are flogged to death yet again. In the meantime, pressing theological issues such as the scourge of secularism and the necessity for environmental works of mercy must be painstakingly hammered out. Dura est vita theologorum.

  36. Ogard says:

    Manwithblackhat, “The Orthodox Churches have erected jurisdictions as an ordinary function. This makes the action ‘formal’. “

    I apologize: I have paid no attention to the word “formal” but to the fact that in either case, whether SSPX v. Orthodox, or Orthodox formal/material v. only material, it is the schism which is another word for an imperfect communion; and so, I saw no consistency in the current ruling regarding Obligation. I don’t think, however, that they have formalized the schism by erecting jurisdictions. They continued to live as before the schism, which took place gradually to reach the present proportions. They are in continuity with the apostolic sees of Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria.

  37. dcs says:

    That A might be a state of imperfect communion and B might also be a state of imperfect communion does not at all imply that A’s state is equivalent to B’s. Therefore if we say that the SSPX is not in full communion and that the Orthodox are not in full communion, it does not follow that the status of the SSPX is the same as that of the Orthodox. Therefore one cannot take an interpretation of law that applies to the SSPX (that one can fulfill one’s Sunday obligation at their Masses) and apply it to the Orthodox.

  38. moon1234 says:

    The SSPX doesn’t establish a jurisdiction or claim to have jurisdiction like the Russian Orthodox Church? Well, what do you call buying your own properties, building your own churches, seminaries, and convents, and ordaining your own clergy who administer these congregations if it is not setting up a parallel church?

    It is no different than if a layman were to do these things. They do not establish Churchs (Parish), they have Oratories. There is a very distinct difference. An oratory is a place of worship, but it has no authority over the people in a geographic area. A parish priest however has authority over those who belong to the parish and/or live in a geographical area.

    The SSPX Bishops have no Diocese nor do they attempt to setup any. This is also important in liturgical law as a Bishop normally would be assigned to a specific diocese and have authority over all of the clerics and laymen in that diocese.

    The Orthodox however setup parallel structures with Rome. Sort of like a state within a state or country within a country. For this reason they are considered seperate from Rome. They do not accept the Pope as the supreme legislator while the Eastern Catholics do. The Pope technically can change the liturgy for the Eastern rites, but he chooses not to.

    The SSPX is not in formal schism, only imperfect communion? Is that why, as Ogard pointed out, they do not give permission to their members to attend even a Tridentine Mass celebrated in a “Conciliar” church?” It’s funny that the SSPX can be said to have any communion with us when they forbid their members to ever set foot in one of our churches.

    That is a view that is not shared by all SSPX priests. Even Lefebvre told his followers that they must accept priests consecrated according to the new rituals as valid priests. What the SSPX asserts is that it may be dangerous to ones faith to attend a NO Mass due to all of the abuse and the changes in the liturgy that have a less overt display of the sacrifice and worship of God.

    I have never heard an SSPX priest say that it is sinful for a member to assist at a Tridentine Mass celebrated by a diocesan priest. Where have you heard/read this?

  39. Fr_Sotelo says:

    dcs:

    You are right that imperfect communion has various grades, and we could say that of the Russian Orthodox is more serious than that of the SSPX. But disobedience to the Roman Pontiff is certainly part of the traditional definition of schism.

    Ask yourself the question, “how would St. Pius X, or even Venerable Pius XII, have handled an archbishop who ordains prelates without apostolic mandate and forms a society of priests who take no orders from the bishops who possess jurisdiction?”

    It is in that light that canon 1248 should be seen. It was meant to say clearly that Catholics should only attend Mass where the priest is not just “united” but under the obedience of a bishop who is under the obedience of Rome. Any person who dealt with ecclesiastical authority before Vatican II will tell you that it was not even in the realm of possibility that Catholics would be given permission to attend Sunday Mass offered by a suspended priest.

    Now, after Vatican II, Ecclesia Dei handles things as one expects in the post-Vatican II era, which is to say, “yeah, go ahead and attend Mass there, since we live in the age of tolerance and loving acceptance of “separated brethren.” As I have said, “fine”, but then let’s not pretend that the canon would have been so loosely interpreted in another more traditional period of the Church.

  40. Fr_Sotelo says:

    moon1234:
    You stated, “An oratory is a place of worship, but it has no authority over the people in a geographic area. A parish priest however has authority over those who belong to the parish and/or live in a geographical area.” While this is true on paper, the actual reality is that the SSPX oratories operate de facto as parishes and the parishioners look up to the SSPX priests as men with authority to whom they render obedience. So, the SSPX may state they have no jurisdiction, but for all practical purposes they carry out the ministry as if they did.

    Thus, Fr. Peter Scott was very firm when he stated as District Superior about the Tridentine Mass of the FSSP, “This being so, attending their Mass is: accepting the compromise on which they are based, accepting the direction taken by the Conciliar Church and the consequent destruction of the Catholic Faith and practices, and accepting, in particular, the lawfulness and doctrinal soundness of the Novus Ordo Missae and Vatican II. That is why a Catholic ought not to attend their Masses.”

    The website is: http://www.sspx.org/SSPX_FAQs/q13_fraternity.htm

    The word “sin” is not used, but the implication is clear. I have yet to meet an SSPX priest who has ever given permission for their members to attend Tridentine Mass in a Novus Ordo parish, much less the Novus Ordo itself.

  41. Ashley says:

    Fr. Z,

    I have heard that though a Catholic may attend a Mass at a SSPX Chapel, it would not fulfill the Sunday obligation as the Mass is illicit.

    Is it true that the Mass must be licit to fulfill the Sunday obligation?

    (Is there such a thing as a “Mass” being licit or illicit vs. “parts” of the Mass being licit or illicit?)

    Thank you!

    God Bless,
    Ashley

  42. kgurries says:

    I don’t have a problem with variable application of law for practical prudential (pastoral) reasons. These decisions ultimately belong to the Holy See.
    The question remains whether the EC decision remains in force in light of recent declaration of the Holy Father regarding the status of the SSPX (Cf. Letter to the Bishops concerning remission ; March 10, 2009):

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    “The fact that the Society of Saint Pius X does not possess a canonical status in the Church is not, in the end, based on disciplinary but on doctrinal reasons. As long as the Society does not have a canonical status in the Church, its ministers do not exercise legitimate ministries in the Church.”
    Letter to the Bishops concerning the Remission of Excommunications; March 10, 2009
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    What impact does this have (if any) on the previous position of Ecclesia Dei? Does it nullify it? If the SSPX does not exercise (any) legitimate ministry in the Church then it would seem to rule out that ministry that enables one to legitimately fulfill his Sunday obligation, etc. I don’t say that this in fact is the case, however, it raises a big question in my mind….

  43. Fr Sotelo asks:

    “[H]ow would St. Pius X, or even Venerable Pius XII, have handled an archbishop who ordains prelates without apostolic mandate and forms a society of priests who take no orders from the bishops who possess jurisdiction?”

    Well, Venerable Pius XII is quite clear in how he would handle such an archbishop in Ad Apostolorum Principis:

    “47. From what We have said, it follows that no authority whatsoever, save that which is proper to the Supreme Pastor, can render void the canonical appointment granted to any bishop; that no person or group, whether of priests or of laymen, can claim the right of nominating bishops; that no one can lawfully confer episcopal consecration unless he has received the mandate of the Apostolic See.[18]

    48. Consequently, if consecration of this kind is being done contrary to all right and law, and by this crime the unity of the Church is being seriously attacked, an excommunication reserved specialissimo modo to the Apostolic See has been established which is automatically incurred by the consecrator and by anyone who has received consecration irresponsibly conferred.”

  44. kat says:

    “[H]ow would St. Pius X, or even Venerable Pius XII, have handled an archbishop who ordains prelates without apostolic mandate and forms a society of priests who take no orders from the bishops who possess jurisdiction?”

    Kind of a funny question about Pope St. Pius X…
    Can you imagine an archbishop even feeling a NEED under Pope St. Pius X to try to protect and hand down the Faith he received, by ordaining prelates without apostolic mandates??? Let’s not pretend Abp. LeFebvre was trying to be Martin Luther or Henry VIII and start a new church because he disagreed with the teachings of the Church. He was trying to preserve the Faith from the “synthesis of all heresies,” as Pope St. Pius X called Modernism. Whether or not one agrees with what he did, one must concur that IN THE ARCHBISHOP’S MIND he was fighting for the Church which he loved. So many continue to say there is no crisis. Well, he saw one, and he used Canon Law as he knew and understood it to fight that crisis. There is a big difference when one looks at INTENTIONS. (e.g. One only has to look at the 3 conditions that make a sin mortal to know how important an intention is.) You can argue to the death about whether or not there is a crisis. The fact that Canon Law provides for emergency situations in a crisis, and Abp. LeFebvre did what he believed he must because of that crisis, is important to one’s judgment of him.

  45. “Comment by ssoldie — 19 January 2010 @ 9:47 pm”

    I hope I explain this correctly.

    In this case, there is more at issue than the words. A priest has what are called “faculties” to say Mass. He carries around a little photo ID card written in Latin called a “celebret,” which is sort of like a license. (They don’t exactly go showing them off; for all the priests I’ve known in my life, I’ve only seen one.) The faculty to preach publicly, and to hear confessions, are while generally granted as part of the total package, are technically separate. If you know the story of Venerable Solanus Casey, he is an example of a priest who had faculties to say Mass, but not to preach or hear confessions — what is known as a “sacerdotus simplex.”

    Now, it is these faculties which confer licitness, not necessarily validity. A priest can say Mass validly without faculties, but not licitly. The faculty for hearing confessions, however, requires jurisdiction for validity.

    There are other conditions for validity, mind you, and your priest may have an issue there. But not here.

    This is how it was always explained to me. No doubt the good Father could explain it better.

  46. PreVatII says:

    Fr. Sotelo,
    You said “I have yet to meet an SSPX priest who has ever given permission for their members to attend Tridentine Mass in a Novus Ordo parish, much less the Novus Ordo itself.”

    That’s interesting. I attend a SSPX chapel, but I have, and I do attend FSSP, ICKSP, and diocesan Traditional Latin Masses. I do not need any “permission” from my SSPX priests. I know full well how they feel about such things, but they have no hold over me or my family.

    As to attending the Novus Ordo: I hold that the New Mass is valid (as does the SSPX). But I choose not to attend it because I believe that it can be extremely dangerous to the faith of my children. I, as their father, am responsible to God for their religious education.

    For Kat:
    Brilliant comments. I may just use them in my blog…if you don’t mind?

    Semper Fi

  47. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Kat and PreVatII:

    I do not deny there is a serious crisis, nor do I begrudge you for seeking out a Mass at an SSPX chapel because it is “lux in tenebris” and you need that to protect your faith. What I am saying is that the very wiggle room of Vatican II “pastoral practice” which makes all sorts of allowances for “separated brethren” is being invoked here.

    So, people who are traditional want the old discipline and for Pope Benedict to quit making concessions, yet when that wriggle room and canonical lawyering serves a traditional Catholic, it is all good and fine. I do find that to be inconsistent and a double-standard.

    As I said, at one time, canon 1248 was clearly meant to say, “the Mass of ANY priest without faculties from lawful, canonical authority does not suffice to fulfill the Sunday precept.” It was a simple canon, a simple law, and priests knew how to apply that easily. Now with wriggle room and clever lawyering we look at the “intentions” of suspended priests and need “understanding” of the laity’s difficulties before we interpret the canon.

    Okay, I’ll play along. It’s the way we do things now. Schisms are now “imperfect communions” and suspension isn’t really suspension when I decide that the priest’s “intentions” allow for him to do what he wants. It is all “pastoral” and I guess if we learned anything from Vatican II it is the importance of being “pastoral” and not hurting people’s feelings with medieval legalism which is “insensitive” and “unpastoral.” But I methinks that what this means is that traditionalists don’t find all the new ways of doing things for “separated brethren” to be so bad if it works to their benefit.

  48. kat says:

    Father Sotelo,

    I do understand what you are saying. Thank you. I guess that is just really what the whole crisis leads to: a great deal of confusion that nobody but Satan and his cohorts have ever desired.

    God bless you.

    (PreVatII: If you really think what I said has some value, you have my permission to use it. I’m not trying to be brilliant; just trying to understand; and to explain things as my little mind understands them. God bless you too.)

  49. Athanasius says:

    Father,

    The only problem is that Ecclesia Dei is not competent to contradict the Church’s theology of jurisdiction.

    Public Mass is something you can only offer if you have jurisdiction from your bishop. To attend a public liturgy which is offered by a priest without jurisdiction is communicatio in sacris, even if it is in the same rite. Now that the SSPX are back in the Church their private Masses are okay since one does not need jurisdiction to offer a private Mass, but a public Mass requires jurisdiction from the local ordinary.

    Canon. 901 “Licite Eucharistiam celebrat sacerdos lege canonica non impeditus, servatis praescriptis canonum qui sequuntur.”

    SSPX priests are suspended A divinis from the moment of their ordination, which means they do not have jurisdiction to offer the Church’s public worship. This is nothing more than a case of Rome talking out of both sides of their mouth.

  50. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Athanasius:

    “This is nothing more than a case of Rome talking out of both sides of their mouth.” This is what has made me uncomfortable. I find Fr. Z’s advice to be the best route. If at all possible, a way has to be found to adhere to a parish that is canonically erected by the local bishop, even if it means travelling a little and seeking occasional guidance from a good priest who keeps one grounded to the doctrine of the Church. With such good young priests getting ordained, along with the solid ones who have already been in the trenches, it should not be an impossible task.

  51. “Now that the SSPX are back in the Church …”

    Oh? The excommunications have been lifted, and the dialogue between Rome and the Society has continued in earnest, but I am not aware that a state of perfect communion yet exists. That IS what you meant by “back in the Church”, right?

  52. Athanasius says:

    What I meant was that the bishops of the society were no longer excommunicated and a formal state of schism no longer exists.

    “back in the Church” means essentially that they are no longer outside the church as a body, but not that they are no longer in imperfect communion. That shall persist until they work out proper jurisdiction with Rome.

    Years ago I was persuaded to accept their argument about the crisis in the Church. And while the crisis in the church has not subsided, after reading the theologians, such as Franzelin, Billot, Bellarmine, Suarez, Tanquery, and many others, it is clear that a “state of crisis in the Church” does not justify clear disobedience to the will of the Pope or Canon Law, no matter how right one might be in his opinion of the Holy See. There is a crisis in the Church, but this does not give the SSPX the right to ignore the authority of their local Bishops. It is untraditional period.

  53. There was never a schism in the formal sense, and the excommunications only applied to the consecrating and consecrated bishops. The priests of the Society, and the bishops to whom they answer, were suspended “a divinis” before, and are suspended now. To say they are “back in the Church” implies a resolution where none exists. (All those talks between two parties have to do with resolving something, right?) Imperfect communion is not perfect communion. They are not in perfect communion. Therefore, they are not quite “back in the Church” just yet.

    I quite agree that their actions defy some conventions of tradition.

  54. Athanasius says:

    They are not in perfect communion. Therefore, they are not quite “back in the Church” just yet.

    Actually, there is a distinction here. They are within the Church. They are not within the Church’s jurisdiction, there is a difference. A priest suspended a divinis simply has no jurisdiction, it does not mean he is not in the Church.

  55. “Comment by Athanasius — 26 January 2010 @ 12:55 am”

    So they’re “within the Church” but not “in perfect communion.” Is that like what happens to me when I don’t go to confession often enough?