We live near a private school run by the SSPX. I have no doubt the school eschews educational fads and gives a solid, faith-based education, and because of that it, along with the oddly sectarian-like community around it, seem to be thriving. I’m wondering about the canonical allowability (and general wisdom) of sending our children to this school. One of them already attends an evangelical Protestant school and two others are in the public system; I hardly think the SSPX folks would be any more dangerous as teachers than the Protestants and pagans already teaching my children, although I realise that these other teachers don’t necessarily have as much of an axe to grind about Rome. I’m also wondering about the canonical status of attending their Mass – is it permissible even to attend? Would it be necessary to refrain from Communion?
All things being equal, it is wise to give a wide berth to those groups which are not in unimpaired communion with the Bishop of Rome.
However, as you know, all things are not equal these days. Alas, we live in a time when having “Catholic” on the school or the parish’s sign is no guarantee of sound doctrine.
If one had the option of a solid school, staffed and operated by the Priestly Society of St. Pius X and a solid school, staffed and operated by the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, there would be no question of an obligation to support and send one’s children to the FSSP school.
Parents now have to make some very difficult choices.
The fact that the local parish has a school is no longer a guarantee that it’s a school where little Barney and Beatrix will get a solid education and good formation in the Faith. Parents have a serious obligation to educate their children in the Faith. This is even spelled out in canon law. Canon 226 states, in part,
“parents have the most serious obligation and right to educate their children. It is therefore primarily the responsibility of Christian parents to ensure the Christian education of their children in accordance with the teaching of the Church.”
If solid, Catholic schools in full communion with the Bishop of Rome are not available, then parents must do their utmost to supplement their children’s education in the Faith.
But remember… parents are the FIRST educators of their children! They must know the Faith so they can hand it on regardless of how solid their parish or school. Parishes and schools are NOT SUBSTITUTES for the instruction that parents must give.
It may be that sending one’s children to a Protestant school, which provides good moral training, decent scripture study, and quality overall education, might be an option for some parents, [Since I posted this, I must revised. Canonist Ed Peters added in the combox the sobering can. 1366: “Parents or those who take the place of parents who hand over their children to be baptized or educated in a non-Catholic religion are to be punished with a censure or other just penalty.” I suspect that this canon is hardly ever applied. I had forgotten about it, frankly.] who will then have to take the extra time to teach their children the Catholic dimension they will miss. They would need to correct Protestant heresies and errors. They would probably have the difficult task of teaching their children to respect their teachers, but not believe everything those same teachers tell them. Not a good scenario.
Other parents could choose a public school. They must then shoulder the entire responsibility of teaching the Faith to their kids.
Others may choose a school operated by the Society of St. Pius X. These parents will also have to supplement their children’s education in the Faith to stress the importance of fidelity to the Bishop of Rome and obedience to proper ecclesiastical authority. They will have to teach their children to respect all priests and bishops. It could be, in some cases, a reasonable option to choose.
I would monitor very closely what your children are being taught. But that rule applies no matter which school they attend!
I caution against regular participation in Masses offered by the priests of the Society, especially if there are options available in parishes that are in full communion with the local bishop.
I strongly caution against reception of Holy Communion at these Masses, especially in places where the local bishop has made his magisterial opinion known.
Yes, the Masses are valid. Yes, the Eucharist is validly confected. Yes, it really is Jesus Christ. Yes, one can fulfill one’s Mass obligation there. However, their priest’s do not have faculties validly to receive confessions. What happens when it is time for little Beatrice’s 1st confession?
Strive always in your actions and prayers to cleave closer and closer in unity with Holy Church’s visible head, the Bishop of Rome.
I look forward to their canonical reconciliation… and soon!