Still hacking away at the SSPX book

I am still drilling through the book The Problem of the Liturgical Reform: A Theological and Liturgical Study by the Society of Saint Pius X.

It is just the right size for an airplane trip.

So far… it is very interesting, especially the section on the “Paschal Mystery”.

SPOILER: The SSPX doesn’t like it.

I am finding the argumentation to be pretty fast and loose in this section, frankly. I think I will have to get a couple more copies and give them to priest/theologian friends so we can discuss them.

I turned back to this to see if anything of interest presented itself as I contemplate a response to Chupungco’s dreadful piece… on the this feast of St. Ansgar. Not that I would base a response on this SSPX book, mind you. But I figured it could be helpful in understanding what thinking C. thinks he is responding to. If that makes sense.

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76 Responses to Still hacking away at the SSPX book

  1. Mike says:

    Interesting. I hope, Fr. Z, you at some time will share your take on this book. I don’t have contact w. SSPX, but have a friend who does–he went on one of their retreats, and it sounded outstanding–but I have problems with some statements from Levebvre, such as “there is no human dignity…just dignity of the Christian…the baptized” (that’s a rough quote).

    Huh? Isn’t Christ creator and redeemer? Isn’t the human race possessed of a dignity that was worth the blood of Christ? Sure, the baptized share in the kingly dignity of the Lord, but the creator didn’t make us into piles of earth, he made us from the earth, fashioned into his image.

  2. It’s a disadvantage of being cut off from a living magisterium (as opposed to a dead one that you can bend or twist to suit you). Sooner or later, no matter how hard you try to stay on the track, you start veering off. I look forward to an accord in this area, as I think they bring a great deal to the table. But some of their adherents might be surprised to learn what they left behind.

    A book like that is worth reading, if only to understand.

  3. JonM says:

    That quote sounds Calvinist. I wonder what the context was. ManwithBlackhat, I agree; wonderful metaphor.

  4. RichR says:

    I got a lot out of reading this. Here’s a link to the pdf version:

    http://www.sspx.org/books/problem%20of%20the%20liturgical%20reform.pdf

    It’s possible to finish it over a weekend.

  5. Mike says:

    RichR–thanks for the pdf; it looks quite interesting.

    With prayers that the priests of SSPX come fully into the fold–one flock, one shepherd, one Faith.

  6. Mike says:

    And with prayers for Benedict XVI, that his reform of the reform gain mighty force from the Holy Spirit…

  7. Jordanes says:

    Regarding the “there is no human dignity” quote, I don’t know if Msgr. Lefebvre ever said it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he did. I’ve encountered SSPX adherents who’ve argued that there is no such thing as human dignity, taking a very Calvinistical, veering on Total Depravity stance.

  8. pauljk says:

    I don’t know much about the content of the book so far, though I certainly will have a look at the pdf version linked above. Whilst I would certainly agree with much of what the Society has to say regarding the reform of the liturgy in general, there is stil an inconsitancy in their championing of the 1962 liturgical books (something completely arbitary, in my opinion) and which are full of ultramontanist reforms.

  9. Christian, know your dignity.

    Jordanes, know your Christianity.

  10. Jordanes says:

    Timothy, know your Christianity and your dignity.

  11. Thomas S says:

    Mr. Mulligan’s response brings a question to my mind:

    Could purchasing books through Angelus Press be sinful? I have great hope for their being reconciled to the Church soon, but in the meantime should I have second thoughts about giving them finacial support through purchasing their products?

    I ask this having recently purchased a couple books from them that I could not find available anywhere else. If we are discussing their publications, I suspect some other readers might be wondering the same thing that I am.

    Thanks.

  12. pauljk says:

    There is nothing sinful in it, Thomas.

  13. Thomas S says:

    Any reason? There’s no problem with giving financial support to a schismatic group (and please no sidetracks into the official status of the SSPX, people know what I mean)?

  14. FranzJosf says:

    Manwithblackhat: The SSPX is not cut off from the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. What makes you think that they are ‘cut off’? I am a Catholic in good standing at my Tridentine Parish, but I find parts of Gaudium et Spes frightening and wrong. Am I cut off? No. Documents have different levels of authority. The SSPX has no disagreement with any articule of the Deposit of Faith, only with some misguided ideas in Vatican II. In fact, I predict that you will find that the now ongoing discussions will surprise many within the Church when the Holy Office agress that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life, and NO MAN, inluding the Muslims and Jews and other heathen, can get to heaven except through him. Religious freedom is going to be messy, but on the other hand the Holy Office will not deny the Social Reigh of Christ the King. It is going to be very interesting, indeed.

    What the SSPX is cut off from is the legal structures of the Church. For instance, at present no SSPX member can appeal or contest a decision of the Superior General. The Vatican will refuse to hear it until they have official canonical status.

    Thomas S: The SSPX is not schismatic. They have not set up territorial structures with bishops who have ordinary jurisdiction. Their bishops are like auxiliary bishops, strictly for the sacraments.

    I have bought icons from the Orthodox, supporting a schismatic group, whose bishops have territories that overlap the Latin bishops. I don’t feel badly about that, in the name of beauty.

  15. johnnyboy says:

    my conscience is clear if you think its a sin go to confession

    is it sinful to purchased icons from Eastern Orthodox shop ?

    in the confession box
    the sinner says Father forgive me i have purchased icons from Eastern Orthodox shop

    priest says its moral sin to purchase icons from Eastern Orthodox shop

    now the sinner starts worrying

    priest starts Laughing

    O father your funny man says the sinner

  16. muckemdanno says:

    johnnyboy,

    I often have breakfast at the Greek diner after Sunday mass. Do you think I should confess this too?

    lol

  17. johnnyboy says:

    muckemdanno

    its your choice
    but i think the Priest would start Laughing at you

  18. JonM says:

    Wait, buying from Angelus Press could be sinful because it is supporting a schismatic (sic) cause?

    I think we have to carefully discern situations such as these. If we are going to be so scrupulous with the very much not schismatic SSPX, then that person cannot subscribe to cable TV, shop at virtually any store, receive any Internet service, etc. because virtually all commerce involves, on some level, objectively sinful people.

    SSPX really gets picked on a lot and almost always the criticisms are pretty far-reaching, such as this.

    Now, if someone were purchasing Call to Action puppets, let’s say, the situation is clearly different because this group openly rejects crystal clear Church teachings and is notorious for this. SSPX on the other hand is not excommunicate; it lacks canonical status. Clearly they are moving in the direction of 100% unity. Pouring money directly into SSPX parishes instead of regular and orthodox ones is a different question.

    Perhaps if regular parishes sold 1962 Missals and other Angelus Press literature, there would not be the need to go through the publisher. Of course in that scenario, SSPX would be as normalized as EMHC are today, so there would be no controversy to begin with. What a paradox!

  19. JonM says:

    EDIT:

    This reminds me of a question Cardinal Arinze was asked about eating Chinese food. Apparently some very odd person got the idea to tell the faithful that we should not eat Chinese food because Chinese people are likely Buddhist or Taoist and therefore it is a sin to eat their prepared meals due to potential demonic influence. The Cardinal handled that pretty well and gave a typically lively Arinzetic response.

    I think if one is intentionally hexing a meal, that is completely different and the Cardinal would state so much. But to avoid an ethnic food on such a stupid assumption as given in the above paragraph is, well, stupid.

  20. Sam Urfer says:

    Buying from Angelus Press is not sinful, anymore than buying a book from a Baptist or Orthodox book publisher. They publish what I am told is the best 1962 Missal on the market, and the same goes for the breviary, for that matter.

    Which is not to say that it is prudent to buy from them if there are other options, but if they have what you need, buying from them wouldn’t be immoral, as far as I can see.

  21. hollingsworth says:

    It is astonishing how much verbiage is spent on analyzing, evaluating and debating the legitimacy or lack thereof of the SSPX. Without a doubt, no matter where one falls along the Catholic spectrum, SSPX is still the ‘straw that stirs’ the drink.

  22. mfg says:

    Thomas S: Could purchasing books through Angelus Press be
    sinful? Come on, Thomas, live dangerously.

  23. Thomas S says:

    As you can see from my post, I clearly stated that I DID purchase from the SSPX. But if everything is so hunky-dory between Rome and the SSPX as lots of people try to make it out, then one wonders why they’re bothering with the current dialog.

    So I’ll reframe the question: what degree of support (financial or otherwise) of a group that has harmed the unity of the Church, and to some degree remains outside full visible communion with Her, becomes morally problematic?

  24. kgurries says:

    “So far… it is very interesting, especially the section on the “Paschal Mystery”.”

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Speaking of the “Paschal Mystery”, can anyone guess who said the following:

    “Of all the seasons of the liturgical year Eastertide is by far the richest in mystery. We might even say that Easter is the summit of the Mystery of the sacred Liturgy. The Christian who is happy enough to enter, with his whole mind and heart, into the knowledge and love of the PASCHAL MYSTERY, has reached the very center of the supernatural life.”

  25. johnnyboy says:

    holy communion on the hand and standing has harmed the unity of the church and as cause grave loss of faith and its outrages and offenses to the lord it is ABUSE and the vast majority of bishops believe that the present discipline should not be changed its “pastoral pragmatism” and clericals demolishing Sanctuarys all in the name of so called “Restoration” costing millons of pounds

    question what degree of support should we give to clericals who hate Mother church and our lord ?

    i will only give financial support to traditional groups or good priests like Fr.Z

    Thank you Fr.Z for becoming a priest

  26. johnnyboy says:

    question what degree of support should we give to clericals who hate Mother church and our lord ?http://en.gloria.tv/?media=49389

  27. Sixupman says:

    Msgr.Lefebvre was no Calvinist and exuded Charity to those who supported him from within the Diocesan Church.

    Unfortunately, there exists an element within SSPX which is Calvinist to the extreme [non-celebration of Christmas being the latest manifestation]where their pastors are prone to let-loose a pack of zealots on those who fail to conform to their pastors’ addled ideas of pre-Vatican II Catholicism – of which they have entirely no experience. Preaching from the pulpit against a discerned miscreant – very ‘Wee Free’ Calvinism.

    Lack of Charity and ‘understanding’ by elements of SSPX towards ‘Diocesan Catholics’ must be a sin, the latter have been misled by false pastors and must be brought back to sanity – but not by haranguing them as “heretics”. That element of SSPX clergy who are driven by angst to vilify their brothers in FSSP and Redemptorists in Orkney must guilty of mortal sin.

    My own experience of SSPX clergy has witnessed good relations with Diocesan clergy, Traditionalist Order bretheren and Anglo-Catholic clergy. Not to mention reprobates in the wider population. TRue Catholicism in action!

  28. Justin from Ohio says:

    kgurries,

    Was it this holy gentleman:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosper_Gu%C3%A9ranger

    I don’t think many people would confuse him as a heretical product of Vatican II…

  29. “Manwithblackhat: The SSPX is not cut off from the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. What makes you think that they are ‘cut off’?”

    That they are not in perfect communion is sufficient. And while their leadership is working with the Holy See in forming an accord, it cannot be said with certitude that they are in total submission to the will of the Holy Father. Failing that to this point is probably why “[t]he Vatican will refuse to hear it until they have official canonical status.”

  30. kgurries says:

    Justin, that’s impressive. Yes, Dom Prosper Guéranger wrote that in his into to Paschaltime from the Liturgical Year. In that sense, no Catholic should be against the “Paschal Mystery” as long as it is understood as the Church herself understands it. In an earlier blog post (http://opuscula.blogspot.com/2006/05/ratzinger-on-love-and-redemption.html) I provided a quote from the SSPX book that seems to summarize their position on the Paschal Mystery:

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    “Is the Paschal mystery a total innovation? Not according to the new theology. It is a fresh look at the traditional dogma of the Redemption…classic theology is thought to have overemphasized the satisfaction of justice, the cooperation of man and the pains of Christ’s Passion. The Paschal mystery will seemingly put things back into their proper perspective by emphasizing the great importance of love, the intitiative of God, and the new life of the Resurrection.” (The Problem of the Liturgical Reform, Angelus Press, pp. 39-40)

  31. Sam Schmitt says:

    I always found it hard to get past the first page of this book as the arguments are so tendentious. Why can’t the mass be understood as both sacrifice and supper – as in the O Sacrum Convivum of St. Thomas Aquinas? One does not negate the other.

    As the Catechism of the Council of Trent put it: “The most ancient Fathers, following the authority of the Apostle, have sometimes also called the Holy Eucharist by the name of Supper, because it was instituted by Christ the Lord at the salutary mystery of the Last Supper.”

    Similarly, they argue that it follows from “Paschal Mystery” theology that “the Passion and the Death on the Cross are minimalized and annihilated [?] in the glory of the Christ’s Resurrection.” Again, to quote the CCT:

    “The Resurrection of our Lord . . was necessary to complete the mystery of our salvation and redemption.”

  32. hollingsworth says:

    “what degree of support (financial or otherwise) of a group that has harmed the unity of the Church, and to some degree remains outside full visible communion with Her, becomes morally problematic?”
    I find it absolutely astonishing when I see and hear quotes like the above. “(M)orally problematic,” you say? Harming “the unity of the Church,” you say? Well, let me answer with a question: How much harm and moral devastation to the Church have the last forty-five years brought? Look at the Index of Catholic Indicators: Millions have left the Church world; vocations at all time lows; rampant sexual perversion and pedophilia; hundreds of millions of dollars in legal damages paid out by Catholic dioceses; churches closing and being sold off by the gross; errant, gutless bishops who don’t know their faith or how to lead the flock. A pope who visits synagogues and mosques. It goes on and on. “Morally problematic” indeed!

  33. Ogard says:

    Father Z., I wish you good stamina in perusing that disorganized and confused book. And I doubt that the members of the ED commission will have the stamina.

    My main objection to it is that is doesn’t properly address the actual liturgical reform, but an overwhelming portion of it is preoccupied, like its predecessor Pope Paul’s New Mass, with “what Cardinal Ottaviani has said” or “what Bugnini has done”, or like.

    The actual reform is in the text of the Mass and the rubrics that determine how it should be set up, and they have hardly touched that issue. Whatever the views of liturgists, assertions of theologians, even whatever is claimed in the Church documents…all that is immaterial if there is nothing wrong with the existing text and rubrics of the Mass. Likewise irrelevant is what is “missing” in the rubrics and texts when compared with the previous texts/rubrics – again if the existing text and rubrics as such are not objectionable.

    If they considered some aspects objectionable, they should have put them in the context of defined or universally held teaching, in the context a historical development of the Western Mass, and of Eastern liturgies, and not in the context of individual theological positions, views expressed by liturgists; still less in the context of their own appropriation (better misappropriation) of doctrine.

    Briefly, I find the book disappointing.

  34. Sam Urfer says:

    Hollingsworth,

    Nobody here is advocating “clown Masses” or other shenanigans. That there are other people with problems in no way justifies the SSPX. Two wrongs do not make a right.

  35. MichaelJ says:

    I find it quite interesting that those who would accuse the Archbishop of falling into the heresy of calvanism, then turn around and offer a very calvanistic explanation of why they are not surprised.

    To paraphrase and summarize some of the statements:

    “It makes sense to me that Archbishop Lefebvre believes in the heresy of total depravity. After all, he is totally depraved since he cut himself off from the living Magisterium”

  36. hollingsworth says:

    “(H)e (Abp. Lefebvre) is totally depraved since he cut himself off from the living Magisterium” (Michael)
    Ah, “totally depraved” means essentially, then, being cut off from the living Magisterium. Then, of course, a Novus Ordo priest, having faculties and in full communion with the Church, though he may have molested forty altar boys, can not be totally depraved, because, at the very least, he operates under the jurisdiction of his Ordinary and, as I said, has full priestly faculties. Ergo, he is united juridically to the living Magisterium, right? Fr. Z, clear us up on this. Thank you.

  37. MichaelJ says:

    hollingsworth,

    I was not using the term “total depravity” in the colloquial sense that you seem to be. That being said, one of the things that irritates me to no end is people’s tendency to ascribe character traits (usually faults) to an individual on the basis of the actions of other individuals who coincidentally belong to the same group. See the recent post about “The SSPX attacks and vandalizes a Church” to see what I mean.

    That, mostly, is what prompted me to comment here, but I’m afraid that you seem to have done the very same thing with a different target (“Novus Ordo Priests”)

  38. robtbrown says:

    Interesting. I hope, Fr. Z, you at some time will share your take on this book. I don’t have contact w. SSPX, but have a friend who does—he went on one of their retreats, and it sounded outstanding—but I have problems with some statements from Levebvre, such as “there is no human dignity…just dignity of the Christian…the baptized” (that’s a rough quote).
    Comment by Mike

    In Counter Reformation thought there is often found a tendency toward a negative anthropology. One of the projects of Vat II was to correct that. Unfortunately, the pendulum swung to the other extreme and produced an overly optimistic anthropology. We went from conservative Protestantism to Liberal Protestantism.

  39. Sam Urfer says:

    Ex opere operato, hollingsworth. In point of fact, being in good standing with the Church matters more IN REGARDS TO THE SACRAMENTS than how many children a priest may or may not have molested. They will of course be held responsible for their sins, but the morality of the celebrants doesn’t matter a hoot as to where you can licitly receive the Sacraments. Donatism: Wrong Then, Wrong Now.

  40. robtbrown says:

    Ah, “totally depraved” means essentially, then, being cut off from the living Magisterium. Then, of course, a Novus Ordo priest, having faculties and in full communion with the Church, though he may have molested forty altar boys, can not be totally depraved, because, at the very least, he operates under the jurisdiction of his Ordinary and, as I said, has full priestly faculties. Ergo, he is united juridically to the living Magisterium, right? Fr. Z, clear us up on this. Thank you.
    Comment by hollingsworth

    I will not attempt to define totally depraved.

    Full communion with the Church, however, refers to more than just one’s canonical status with the governing arm. Any dissenter on doctrine, whether a bishop with jurisdiction or parochial pastor, is not in full communion with the Church.

  41. hollingsworth says:

    In point of fact, being in good standing with the Church matters more IN REGARDS TO THE SACRAMENTS than how many children a priest may or may not have molested.”
    I think you would have done well not to preface this remark with “In point of fact.” Because I’m not certain you’re stating a fact. Unless you can supply some broader context which clarifies your meaning, I have to believe, prima facie, you’re telling us that a priest who molests 40 children is nevertheless “in good standing” with the Church if he carries out his sacramental duties in accord with Church’s teaching and under proper jurisdiction. I can’t imagine that you’re saying that. Are you?

  42. AJP says:

    Sixupman,

    Wow! Some SSPX-ers (I’m assuming it’s a small number of them) don’t even celebrate Christmas? That is the most surprising thing I have heard in months . . . do you know what their rationale is? I know the early Calvinists and contemporary Protestants who don’t celebrate Christmas justify their stance by saying Christmas isn’t in the Bible, Sola Scriptura, and all that jazz. But obviously an SSPX-er, even one on the fringes, isn’t going to go that route. Or would they? Please tell us more about this odd practice.

  43. CPKS says:

    Fr Z wrote: “I am finding the argumentation to be pretty fast and loose…”

    I am not surprised. My experience of these people is that in particular they love to argue from a principle of guilt by association. It would be beneficial to study and better identify the pathologies of their arguments.

  44. Sam Urfer says:

    “I can’t imagine that you’re saying that. Are you?”

    If a priest had molested, raped, and murdered 40 times 40 children and ran over a nun driving to Church every Sunday, but somehow retained his faculties with the Church and used the proper matter and form with the correct intention, the Mass he offers is valid and licit, and fulfills the Sunday obligation of the Catholic Church. Further, any absolution he gives in Confession is valid, and he can witness a Catholic wedding, as he has faculties from the Church and hence Christ to offer these Holy Sacraments, unworthy vessel though he may be.

    If an SSPX priest was pure as the fresh driven snow, but his faculties to celebrate the Sacraments were suspended (such as, say, every single priest in the Society), every Mass he offers is illicit and does not fulfill a Catholic’s Sunday obligation. Further, I believe that any Confessions he hears are not absolved, and any marriage he officiates is not valid, as he has no faculties from the Church and hence none from Christ (I’m pretty sure about this last part, but I differ to the wisdom of those that are better versed in Sacramental theology than I am).

    To say otherwise it to reject the teaching of the ancient Church: Ex opere operato (“from the work done”), contrary to the Donatist heresy. The holiness of the minister means nothing to the validity or effectiveness of the Sacraments. Your confessor can be a Saint or a damnable fool.

  45. Sam Urfer says:

    From the Catechism of Trent: http://www.cin.org/users/james/ebooks/master/trent/tsacr00.htm

    The Ministers of the Sacraments

    “But although God is the author and dispenser of the Sacraments, He nevertheless willed that they should be administered in His Church by men, not by Angels. To constitute a Sacrament, as the unbroken tradition of the Fathers testifies, matter and form are not more necessary than is the ministry of men.”

    Unworthiness Of The Minister And Validity

    “Since the ministers of the Sacraments represent in the discharge of their sacred functions, not their own, but the person of Christ, be they good or bad, they validly perform and confer the Sacraments, provided they make use of the matter and form always observed in the Catholic Church according to the institution of Christ, and provided they intend to do what the Church does in their administration. Hence, unless the recipients wish to deprive themselves of so great a good and resist the Holy Ghost, nothing can prevent them from receiving (through the Sacraments) the fruit of grace.”

    “That this was, at all times, a fixed and well ascertained doctrine of the Church, is established beyond all doubt by St. Augustine, in his disputations against the Donatists. And should we desire Scriptural proof also, let us listen to these words of the Apostle: I have planted; Apollo watered; but God gave the increase Therefore neither he that planteth nor he that watereth is anything, but God who giveth the increase. From these words it is clear that as trees are not injured by the wickedness of those who planted them, so those who were planted in Christ by the ministry of bad men sustain no injury from the guilt of those others.”

    “Judas Iscariot, as the holy Fathers infer from the Gospel of St. John, conferred Baptism on many; and yet none of those whom he baptised are recorded to have been baptised again. To use the memorable words of St. Augustine: Judas baptised, and yet after him none were rebaptised; John baptised, and after John they were rebaptised . For the Baptism administered by Judas was the Baptism of Christ, but that administered by John was the baptism of John. Not that we prefer Judas to John, but that we justly prefer the Baptism of Christ, although administered by Judas, to that of John although administered by the hands of John.”

    Of course, holiness is very important for a priest, to fulfill his duties and save his immortal soul. But the state of grace in a priest’s soul is irrelevant to the validity of the Sacraments.

  46. David2 says:

    <blockquoteIf an SSPX priest was pure as the fresh driven snow, but his faculties to celebrate the Sacraments were suspended (such as, say, every single priest in the Society), every Mass he offers is illicit and does not fulfill a Catholic’s Sunday obligation. Further, I believe that any Confessions he hears are not absolved, and any marriage he officiates is not valid, as he has no faculties from the Church and hence none from Christ (I’m pretty sure about this last part, but I differ to the wisdom of those that are better versed in Sacramental theology than I am).

    I don’t think this is quite right. I can see at least the following problems:

    1. One fulfils one’s Sunday obligation by attending Mass in a Catholic Rite. The SSPX say valid Catholic Rite Masses. Ecclesia Dei has said, I believe, that one can technically fulfil one’s Sunday obligation by attending a SSPX Mass, though it is discouraged.

    2. There are circumstances where SSPX Absolutions are undoubtedly valid and effective. In danger of death, even a priest who has lost the clerical state validly absolves, even if another priest in good standing is available to the penitent.

  47. Sam Urfer says:

    “1. One fulfils one’s Sunday obligation by attending Mass in a Catholic Rite. The SSPX say valid Catholic Rite Masses. Ecclesia Dei has said, I believe, that one can technically fulfil one’s Sunday obligation by attending a SSPX Mass, though it is discouraged.”

    This part I am certain is wrong. Faculties from legitimate Church authority (local Ordinary) are required, in addition to the Rite. Schismatic groups like the Old Catholics cannot fulfill the obligation. And since the SSPX priests are all under suspension, they have absolutely no authority to administer the Sacraments licitly, though the Mass is still valid, I believe.

    “2. There are circumstances where SSPX Absolutions are undoubtedly valid and effective. In danger of death, even a priest who has lost the clerical state validly absolves, even if another priest in good standing is available to the penitent.”

    Ah, yes, I stand corrected.

  48. David2 says:

    Father Z would beg to differ on #1:

    http://wdtprs.com/blog/2008/04/quaeritur-attending-an-sspx-on-a-sunday-obligation-fulfilled/

    Specifically, the Canon to which Fr Z refers is Can. 1248 §1. A person who assists at a Mass celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the feast day itself or in the evening of the preceding day satisfies the obligation of participating in the Mass.

  49. hollingsworth says:

    Well, Sam, I can see that your phylacteries are strapped firmly to forehead and arm. Of course, Only in New Church can a priest molest 40 boys and, perhaps, get away with it. As for Donatism, I don’t pretend to be an expert- but were Donatists not the folks in N. Africa who thought that Christians who had avoided, or fled from, martyrdom, should not be brought back into communion with the Church? As I say, I don’t know much about this schismatic sect. But in your case, I simply look upon you as a good old-fashioned, chest-thumping sacramental rigorist. You folks have been huffing and puffing about the SSPX for at least 40 years. Again, such a priest, so disposed to molesting dozens of boys would not last long enough in SSPX to accomplish that level of ignominy. I say that as a lay associate of that apostolate, and as a sacristan in one of their chapels. I do not agree with some of the actions taken by SSPX, (particularly lately touching the Bp. Williamson affair). But I know and believe this: I am receiving valid Sacraments there, and am taking full advantage of them. Thank you.

  50. Fr_Sotelo says:

    hollingsworth:

    The insinuation that “Newchurch” priests are child rapists while the SSPX priests simply confer sacraments and preach the true Faith is getting tired, not to mention that it borders on the ridiculous as it ignores reality. If you are a student of statistics, you will see that the vast majority of the molesters were ordained in the pre-Vatican rites. So, if an argument is to be made, it is that the Novus Ordo rite of ordination has done something to lessen clergy molesters, not increase them.

    But I wonder how a Catholic, traditionalist or otherwise, can profess to love the priesthood while at the same time harboring a “they are molesters” suspicion about a good number of the clergy. Is this how you propose to increase vocations? Tell young men you love the priesthoood, encourage them to be priests, and then in the next sentence insert your insinuations that the good number of priests are molesters?

    The only group of clergy in the Church that have pretty much been unsullied by the molestation scandal are the priests of Opus Dei. I can’t think of one that has been charged with this crime. But both SSPX and “Newchurch” priests have both been found guilty of this, albeit a very small fraction.

    Again, if you study statistics, most young girls report being molested by their fathers, grandfathers, uncles, or other married men in their families. Perhaps before Catholic marriage preparation begins, the priest could trot out this statistic as somehow being relevant to the sacrament of marriage: “by the way, among the married men are to be found the greatest percentage of molesters.” I think not.

    I highly suggest that liturgical, theological, and canonical discussions of the clergy keep to liturgical, theological, and canonical issues. Dragging out the molestation cases when we are not even talking about sexual problems is irrelevant and simply masks a latent anti-clericalism.

  51. We’ve been over this issue several times, and it appears to be the most inexhaustible subject in this venue, at least to me. I’m gonna take a(nother) stab at it.

    “1. One fulfills one’s Sunday obligation by attending Mass in a Catholic Rite. The SSPX say valid Catholic Rite Masses. Ecclesia Dei has said, I believe, that one can technically fulfill one’s Sunday obligation by attending a SSPX Mass, though it is discouraged.”

    On the assumption (if only for now) that this accurately reflects the original language, there are two operative clauses in that statement. The first is “[O]ne can technically fulfill one’s Sunday obligation.” That means that it is POSSIBLE to do so. One is ABLE to do so. The second is “[I]t is discouraged.” It is not EN–couraged. It should be avoided if possible. We don’t recommend it.

    How can this be, you ask? Well, consider the higher law of “salus animarum suprema lex.” There may be circumstances where attending a valid Mass that is otherwise not licit (notice the words “valid” and “licit” are two different words with two different meanings) is the only recourse to a Catholic, in a locality where the sacramental life of the Church is in chaos. We’re not talking about bad music and burlap vestments here. We’re talking about parishes, perhaps entire dioceses, where errors against the Faith are regularly preached, and where invalid matter is used for Holy Eucharist. Something that serious.

    On the other hand, to make this determination as a Catholic, or as the head of a family, requires that one be completely honest with oneself, with respect to the circumstances. A “Catholic rite” if it is valid (in other words, being what it appears to be in its essential nature), is not always a licit (that is, lawful) one. There is a point at which the higher law might be prevailed upon. One would think that, at some point, this becomes a confessional matter, as one is employing the internal forum in an external matter.

    It has never been explained here (and the question has been asked), how it is that the Roman form of a “Catholic rite” can meet the canonical requirement if celebrated by the SSPX, but that the Byzantine form of a “Catholic rite” must be celebrated by a church in communion with Rome, as opposed to an Orthodox church, which technically would be in formal schism, even as its sacraments would be valid. That’s the one I’m still scratching my head over.

  52. “Then, of course, a Novus Ordo priest, having faculties and in full communion with the Church, though he may have molested forty altar boys, can not be totally depraved …”

    Nor can it be said that one of his accusers has read much of the history of the Church, lest he would know that pedastry in the clergy has plagued her ranks at one time or another for centuries. Yes, even during the glorious era before anyone ever uttered the phrase “novus ordo” with routine derision.

  53. Sam Urfer says:

    Okey-doke, David, as I said, I bow to those with superior knowledge of sacramental theology. I’ve had Eastern Catholic friends tell me an Orthodox Divine Liturgy can satisfy the obligation, which also struck me as weird, but that’s life.

    The are correct on ome of the fuzzy outlines of Donatism, hollingsworth. One of their big issues was saying that the morality of the celebrant determined the validity of the sacraments. Some 1700 years ago, the Church defined against them that the Sacraments themselves work through the power of Christ, and the celebrants state of grace is irrelevant.

    I in no way approve of child molestation by priests. But it is irrelevant to questions of communion and the sacraments. The priest could be a mass murderer, or he could be a saint. The Mass remains valid, and licit.

    The Sacraments at the SSPX chapel are valid, but they are not licit, and are outside the Catholic Church.

  54. Sam:

    Well, not THAT superior. But thanks anyway.

  55. MichaelJ says:

    manwithblackhat,

    I am not saying that you are wrong, but only that what you say regarding fulfilling ones obligation contradicts what Msgr. Perl has stated.
    The entire contents of his letter can be found here:
    http://www.latin-mass-society.org/perl-011803.htm

    but he does say :
    “In the strict sense you may fulfill your Sunday obligation by attending a Mass celebrated by a priest of the Society of St. Pius X”

    and

    “If your intention is simply to participate in a Mass according to the 1962 Missal for the sake of devotion, this would not be a sin.”

    I am well aware of the “dangers” that could be present, but based on his authority I have no qualms about attending an SSPX Mass. I imagine you may also bring up Msgr. Perl’s caveat of “In the strict sense”. Admittedly, I may not fully understand the reason for these words, but they seem to have little true meaning. About the same as if he had stated “In the strict sense, you do not break the law if you drive the speed limit”.

  56. Sam Urfer says:

    Never assume that words have “little true meaning” coming from a curial official.

    I believe what he means, Michael, is that similar to how the Orthodox and Old Catholics (at least the ones who haven’t broken succession, like the Polish Nationals Church) have valid sacraments, and hence could theoretically fulfill the obligation if necessary, hence with the SSPX. This does not mean one should not have qualms about attending an SSPX Mass. On the contrary, such a hesitant and round about answer shows that one should feel very serious qualms about taking such a drastic action.

  57. MichaelJ says:

    Sam,

    I realize that I misspoke. By “little true meaning”, I intended to convey that these words, by their inclusion or exclusion, have no effect on the truth of the statement that “you may fulfill your Sunday obligation by attending a Mass celebrated by a priest of the Society of St. Pius X”.

    In order for me to accept your assertion and your interpretation, you will have to demonstrate how “In the strict sense” means the same as “It is theoretically possible”.

    Please start by citing where the Church has ever stated that a Catholic may fulfill their Sunday obligation at an orthodox church. I think you’ll find that the closest is something to the effect that a Catholic may attend an orthodox service in extenuating circumstances but that this does not fulfill the obligation. If for example, there were no Catholic Mass available, one could attend an orthodox service for personal reasons but their obligation would not thereby be fulfilled, because (due to the lack of a Catholic Mass) there was no obligation in the first place.

  58. Alice says:

    Sam,
    The Code of Canon Law for the Latin Church requires that Latin Rite Catholics attend a Catholic Mass (or Divine Liturgy) on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation. It is very possible that the Canons for the Eastern Churches allow Catholics of those churches to fulfill their obligation to attend Divine Liturgy or other liturgies at Orthodox churches under certain circumstances, just as a Catholic of the Latin Church may fulfill his/her obligation at an SSPX church. I have been told that Ruthenians (maybe all Eastern Catholics) can fulfill their Sunday obligation through attending Vespers, so obviously, some laws are different between the various Catholic churches.

  59. Sam Urfer says:

    http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/in+the+strict+sense

    “In the strict sense, also in the strictest sense:
    according to the most limited and exact meaning of a word or idea. ‘Conservative’ in the strict sense of the word is not a label that fits her. The novel is not tragic in the strictest sense, but it is certainly full of sadness.
    Usage notes: usually used to say that someone or something does not have the characteristics of this limited meaning.”

    So, yeah, “in the strict sense” does not imply that it is a-okay.

    My source about the Eastern Orthodox Liturgy (which is just as much a valid Mass as that offered by the SSPX, let us be clear) is a friend who is a Serbian Greek Catholic. I fail to see how they would be any different than the SSPX.

  60. Jordanes says:

    MichaelJ said: I find it quite interesting that those who would accuse the Archbishop of falling into the heresy of calvanism, then turn around and offer a very calvanistic explanation of why they are not surprised.

    No one here has accused Archbishop Lefebvre of falling into the heresy of Calvinism (or calvanism, for that matter), nor has anyone offered any Calvinistic (or calvanistic) explanations of why they are not surprised.

    You are clearly referring to my above comment, but you have gravely misconstrued what I said.

    To paraphrase and summarize some of the statements: “It makes sense to me that Archbishop Lefebvre believes in the heresy of total depravity. After all, he is totally depraved since he cut himself off from the living Magisterium”

    No one here has said anything like that. Quite building straw men and deal with what has actually been said.

  61. MichaelJ says:

    Jordanes,

    You are correct that you were one of the individuals I had in mind, but the comment was not directed specifically at you. Since I got it wrong then, what did you mean when you wrote

    “Regarding the “there is no human dignity” quote, I don’t know if Msgr. Lefebvre ever said it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he did. I’ve encountered SSPX adherents who’ve argued that there is no such thing as human dignity, taking a very Calvinistical, veering on Total Depravity stance.”

    Does it not mean that the phrase is a calvanist heresy, and that it would not suprise you if Archbishop Lefebvre said it, and that by saying it, he has subscribed to a calvanist heresy?

    Granted, you were not one of the individuals who offered an explanation of whyyou thought that Archishop specifically and “the SSPX” in general were “calvanistical”(instead seeming to take it as a given), but the rest seems pretty dead-on to me.

  62. hollingsworth says:

    Fr. Sotelo,
    Please don’t put words into my mouth. I didn’t say all Newchurch priests are child rapists and you know that. Nor did I make any reference at all to SSPX priests preaching “the true faith,” sir. So, “Fr. Sotelo,” if it’s getting “tired,” it’s because you yourself erect the straw man, then proceed to knock him down. That activity must tire you. Then we get this “If you are a student of statistics” routine, inferring, of course, that you are just such a student. Please forgive me if I am less than overwhelmed by any “statistics” which you might array. They would apparently conclude that the “vast majority of the molesters were ordained in the pre-Vatican rites.” Well, since we can look back at 1960 years of pre-Vatican ordination rites, and only 40+ years of post-Vatican ordination rites, your sources, (if they really exist), may have some validity. But you must, in fairness to yourself and others, adduce some of those “statistics” for all of us to see. Lastly you affirm, “if an argument is to be made, it is that the Novus Ordo rite of ordination has done something to lessen clergy molesters, not increase them.” Wow, “Fr.Sotelo,” I hope, for your sake, you can back that claim up with some hardcore, irrefutable data. Otherwise, I just have to believe your blowing smoke.

  63. MichaelJ says:

    Sam,

    I stand by what I said. The modifier “in the strict sense” has no really helpful meaning when applied to an objective question when there are only two possible answers. “In the strict sense 2 + 2 = 4 is true”?

    If you read Msgr. Perl’s letter, you’ll find that he outlines the conditions under which attending a Mass offered by a priest of the SSPX does not fulfill one’s Sunday Obligation. So no, since I do not fall into these criteria, there is no problem with me (or anyone else who also does not fall into these conditions) attending one of these Masses.

  64. Sam Urfer says:

    It would be a more accurate analogy to what the Msgr. said to say that in the strict sense, 2 + 2 = 10, as long as we are talking about base 4 mathematics.

    From his letter, a nice summation of the status of the Society:

    “In a previous letter to the same correspondent we had already indicated the canonical status of the Society of St. Pius X which we will summarize briefly here.

    “1.) The priests of the Society of St. Pius X are validly ordained, but they are suspended from exercising their priestly functions. To the extent that they adhere to the schism of the late Archbishop Lefebvre, they are also excommunicated.

    “2.) Concretely this means that the Masses offered by these priests are valid, but illicit i.e., contrary to the law of the Church.”

  65. MichaelJ says:

    Sam,

    This is quite interesting, but is going nowhere, so I plan this to be my last post on this issue. If it can be summarized, we both agree that Msgr. Perl stated
    “In the strict sense you may fulfill your Sunday obligation by attending a Mass celebrated by a priest of the Society of St. Pius X” and seem to agree that his opinion carries more weight than either of ours.

    Our respective interpretation of his statement seem to differ rather dramatically.

    You seem to iterpret it to mean “Normally, and in most circumstances, a Mass offered by the Priests of the SSPX does not fulfill the Sunday Obligation. In limited and very specific circumstances it will though”.

    On the other hand, I interpret it somewhat differently. I take it to mean “A Mass offered by the Priests of the SSPX does normally fulfill the Sunday Obligation but will not if one has fallen into a schismatic attitude”.

  66. Fr_Sotelo says:

    hollingsworth:

    I have argued stats till the cows come home in other forums, but that is not the point here in this thread. If you need to see the gory details of pre-Vatican II and post-Vatican II criminal conduct of the clergy, you can read the John J. College of Criminal Justice study which is at the bishops’ webside(www.usccb.org/nrb/johnjaystudy/)

    What is at issue here is that Fr. Z has posted on an SSPX book which contends, among other things, that liturgical emphasis on the paschal mystery has somehow detracted from the importance of the sacrificial and propitiatory nature of the Mass.

    In the above comments, MichaelJ stated that Lefebvre had cut himself off from the living Magisterium of the Church. Instead of defending Lefebvre on a doctrinal basis of what it means to be part of the living Magisterium of the Church, you asked a nasty and sarcastic question of why a Novus Ordo priest who has molested 40 children should not be seen as depraved, just because he possesses faculties and is under the jurisdiction of the local bishop.

    The snarky question you asked has nothing to do with defending Lefebvre, except to introduce into discussion the term “Novus Ordo priest” and “molester” in the same sentence. MichaelJ was right to follow your comment with the observation: “one of the things that irritates me to no end is people’s tendency to ascribe character traits (usually faults) to an individual on the basis of the actions of other individuals who coincidentally belong to the same group.” From a comment that Lefebvre was viewed as cut off from the Magisterium, you went down another path to ask why a Novus Ordo priest would molest children and yet be seen as in union with the Magisterium.

    If you wish to speak to whether Archbishop Lefebvre was or any SSPX priest is in contact with the living Magisterium, or whether a Novus Ordo priest is in contact with the living Magisterium, it suffices to point out the doctrinal definition of what it means to be in communion with the living Magisterium and what it means to be cut off. First of all, a true Catholic must not dissent from Catholic teaching.

    This was the clarification which Dr. Brown inserted as a prudent means of elevating this discussion out of unnecessary innuendos and aspersions on the moral character or alleged sexual perversities of either SSPX or Novus Ordo priests. To be in union with the living Magisterium means to theologically assent to Catholic doctrine, *as well as* be in legal and canonical good standing.

    Thus, I repeat a simple plea. Let doctrinal disagreements about SSPX clergy and Novus Ordo clergy rest on doctrinal premises, not on an assertion of an alleged moral superiority for either group which can only rely on anecdote and stereotyping: “Again, such a priest, so disposed to molesting dozens of boys would not last long enough in SSPX to accomplish that level of ignominy.” As you should know, with any type of crime, ignominy is no true indicator of anything, as any group is capable of sweeping things under a carpet and individuals can engage in sinful conduct without that conduct ever coming to the light of day.

  67. Fr_Sotelo says:

    hollingsworth:

    You do not need to place my title of Father in quotation marks. I am a priest in good standing, ordained Novus Ordo since 1991, a pastor of a parish and a country chapel that serves dairymen and their workers in the San Joaquin valley in Central California. On the weekend I offer five Sunday Masses in English, Spanish, and sometimes Portuguese. I have the care of 2,000 souls in the parish. I enjoy the many discussions on Fr. Z’s blog but do not understand why the disagreements we have cause people to resort to behavior such as putting a priest’s name in quotation marks.

  68. dcs says:

    My guess is that when stating that SSPX Masses fulfill the Sunday obligation, the PCED simply didn’t want to increase the burden on laypeople to find a licit Mass. If we argue that liceity is a condition for fulfilling one’s Mass obligation, then we have a real problem, because there are many Masses celebrated today (not just within the SSPX) that are illicit. For example, no priest has the right to alter the the liturgical text, so Masses in which the priest changes the words of the prayers (in places where such change is not permitted) are illicit. One may respond, “But that is not the fault of the people assisting at Mass.” This is true. Similarly, the fact that an SSPX priest celebrates Mass is not necessarily the fault of the people assisting at the Mass. It’s really the priest’s duty to see that the Mass he offers is licit. It does not follow from the fact that a Mass fulfills the Sunday obligation that the priest is blameless. Consider this: A priest who hears Masses without faculties may hear confessions validly in cases of common error. That doesn’t mean that he is justified in doing so. It’s his duty to make sure he has the faculties to hear confessions, but it is not the duty of the layman to check up on a confessor’s credentials.

  69. It would be interesting to compare Fr. John Corapi’s Pascal Mystery talks (http://www.fathercorapi.com/Paschal-Mystery-2-Talks-P217.aspx) with SSPX complaints about said term & theology.

    As to attending SSPX Masses, the answer is simple. Because SSPX Masses are valid, they can fulfill obligations. BUT, because they are illicit, one should not do so without grave necessity, hence the discouragement of regular attendance. Simple prudence there. Unless driven by grave necessity (e.g. all the local N.O. parishes offering invalid Masses), one’s regular attendance at illicit Masses implicitly supports the disobedience of the priest / Order. Remember that one can sin by confirmation of another’s sin? Of course an illicit but valid Mass is always better than any invalid Mass.

  70. robtbrown says:

    As to attending SSPX Masses, the answer is simple. Because SSPX Masses are valid, they can fulfill obligations. BUT, because they are illicit, one should not do so without grave necessity, hence the discouragement of regular attendance. Simple prudence there. Unless driven by grave necessity (e.g. all the local N.O. parishes offering invalid Masses), one’s regular attendance at illicit Masses implicitly supports the disobedience of the priest / Order. Remember that one can sin by confirmation of another’s sin? Of course an illicit but valid Mass is always better than any invalid Mass.
    Comment by Fr. Marie-Paul

    I would say that the circumstances would be the unavailability of a TLM except for the SSPX.

    BTW, it can also be said that regular attendance at many NO masses also supports disobedience.

  71. “Comment by MichaelJ — 5 February 2010 @ 1:55 pm”

    Hey, thanks for the link. I’ve been looking all over for that. Msgr Perl doesn’t explain how an unlawful means can be used to accomplish a lawful end, does he? Probably because he can’t. Probably why “[w]e have already told you that we cannot recommend your attendance at such a Mass and have explained the reason why.” One almost gets the impression that people are gonna spin his letter until they get what they want.

    I thought Fr Corapi took it on very well.

  72. hollingsworth says:

    “But if everything is so hunky-dory between Rome and the SSPX as lots of people try to make it out, then one wonders why they’re bothering with the current dialog.”
    I have to wonder that myself, as one who attends an SSPX Chapel. At the end of Abp. Lefebvre’s life, his rhetoric got stronger and more vitriolic. He said that the whole hierarchy of Newchurch, at the very highest levels, was “anti-Christ. He said that Rome had “left the Faith.” He said that they were “apostate,” that they were the true “schismatics,” not the Society. He said that post-Conciliar Church officials had made themselves “collaborators of international Jewish Freemasonry, that JP2 was a “communist-loving politician,” at the service of world communism. He said that the pope and bishops preside over a “new religion,” which is not the Catholic religion. He said it was “sterile- incapable of sanctifying society and the family.” So I too have to wonder why SSPX leaders are bothering with current dialog. I believe as the Archbishop believed

  73. Sam Urfer says:

    Probably because he was wrong.

  74. Henry Edwards says:

    Every time I look at one of these long SSPX threads, I can’t help wondering whether it’s something about the SSPX that causes a level of discussion beneath the usual level of WDTPRS, or is it just the kind of folks who typically comment pro and con on this stuff.

  75. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Henry:

    I think the Catholic instinct is to be very passionate in defending the Holy Father, and this is why emotions are intense in these threads about the SSPX. St. John Bosco wrote many years ago:

    “Always have the highest esteem and deepest respect for the Roman Pontiff, hating the errors that are spread concerning his quality as head of the Church; speak of him with the highest regard, scolding severely those who abuse him in your presence; refute as ably as you can, the errors and calumnies that might be hurled against him; always reject writing that attack his authority and jurisdiction. This you can do by destroying them or refuting them or opposing them by spreading good literature even at the cost of much expense.” (Mario Mich, SDB, “Don Bosco: Apostle of the Papacy” in American Ecclesiastical Review, August 1962, page 104).

  76. hollingsworth says:

    I’ll assure everyone that these Abp. Lefebvre quotes are accurate and not misrepresentative in any way. There are a lot more where those came from. You can characterize the “kind of (SSPX)folks” who allegedly bring the level of discussion down. Would you accuse the Archbishop of doing the same thing, were he alive, and participating in this thread? As for The Problems of the Liturgical Reform. This book breaks no new ground. SSPX has always taken these positions.