POPE FRANCIS FOR YEAR OF MERCY GRANTS THAT SSPX PRIESTS CAN VALIDLY ABSOLVE!

15_09_01_SSPX_livesHuge news. This was under embargo till noon, Rome time, which must be honored. [UPDATE: The Bollettino is now available HERE]

The Year of Mercy begins 8 December 2015 until 20 November 2016.

It is about to be announced that the Holy Father has sent a letter to Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization about the upcoming Extraordinary Year of Mercy.

In this letter the Pope says that he is granting to all priests the faculty to absolve from the sin of abortion.  He writes: “I have decided, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, to concede to all priests for the Jubilee Year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it.”  Interesting way to word it.

He also says that the faithful may go to … well… read it yourself.  Here is a screenshot from the doc:

15_09_01_Francis_SSPX

This is HUGE news.

Let’s examine this.

First, note the language.  This letter says that he hopes that the SSPX will be reconciled.  He says that he hears good things about the priests of the SSPX.  But he says that the faithful may approach the priests of the SSPX for the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Penance) and that they shall validly and licitly receive absolution.  He doesn’t say that he is granting the priests the faculty to receive sacramental confessions.  He places the emphasis on the faithful.  In effect, the priests are being given the faculty to hear confessions, but there is a different emphasis.  I have the sense that it is the need of the faithful who otherwise might not go to a non-SSPX priest that the Holy Father is stressing.  Think about the case of a person who is dying and there is, say, an ex-priest -a guy who was “laicized” because he committed certain crimes, present, the Church’s laws says that in the circumstances of the person’s danger of death any validly ordained priest automatically has the faculty validly to absolve.  The need of the dying person is of such overwhelming importance that the law itself grants the ex-priest (or suspended priest, etc.) the faculty.  The stress is on the need of the dying person, not on the priest.  I think this is an analogous situation.

Along with this, the fact of Pope Francis’ move, together with the wording, confirms what I have been saying all along about the priests of the SSPX: they do not and have not had the faculty validly to absolve sins!  The fact that this is being granted for the Year of Mercy bears out what I have been saying.

That said, if the Holy Father is willing to go this far with the priests of the SSPX, is it hard to imagine that this merciful concession might not be extended beyond the Year of Mercy?  I would like to think so!

Next, this concession also underscores a point I have been making all along.  If only Nixon could go to China, perhaps Pope Francis is the Pope who will reconcile the SSPX!

Additionally, this could irritate some bishops in, say, France… Germany….  And even though this may not be well received in certain circles, the Pope is doing it anyway.

Moreover, earlier in his pontificate, this Pope was pretty hard on priests.  He seemed to be bashing them on a daily basis.   This move to grant all priests in the world the faculty to lift the censure which results from procuring an abortion is a sign of his confidence in priests… for a change.

I take heart from this bold move – which makes so much sense (to me at least) – in favor of the access the faithful will have to sacrament of penance.  I hope that it will also spark a wider discussion on the positive things that will come from the reconciliation of the SSPX.  I hope that discussion takes place even among the SSPXers themselves.

May all the followers of the SSPX , please God, look at this move with joy and with gratitude for the concern the Pope is showing to them.

And… to everyone… GO TO CONFESSION!

But… remember, the Year of Mercy hasn’t started yet and the SSPX does not yet have their faculty.  GO TO CONFESSION with priest with faculties!

UPDATE 1020 UTC:

The Fishwrap has posted on this now. They get it wrong, of course. They openly call the SSPXers “schismatic”.

UPDATE 1648 UTC:

The SSPX has issued a statement.  HERE  It may contain a touch of snark (in the comment about learning about it through the press), and it reveals a consistent (wrong) position, but at least it was polite.

The Society of St. Pius X learned, through the press, [snark?] of the provisions taken by Pope Francis on the occasion of the upcoming Holy Year. In the last paragraph of his letter addressed September 1, 2015, to Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, the Holy Father writes:

«I establish that those who during the Holy Year of Mercy approach these priests of the Society of St Pius X to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation shall validly and licitly receive the absolution of their sins.»

The Society of St. Pius X expresses its gratitude to the Sovereign Pontiff for this fatherly gesture. In the ministry of the sacrament of penance, we have always relied, with all certainty, [wrong] on the extrdaordinary [sic] jurisdiction conferred by the Normae generales of the Code of Canon Law. [which Code?] On the occasion of this Holy Year, Pope Francis wants all the faithful who wish to confess to the priests of the Society of St. Pius X to be able to do so without being worried. [and without leaving unabsolved]

During this year of conversion, the priests of the Society of St. Pius X will have at heart to exercise with renewed generosity their ministry in the confessional, following the example of tireless dedication which the holy Curé of Ars gave to all priests.

Menzingen,
September 1, 2015

UPDATE: I thought I heard a touch of snark in that remark about having heard about this through the press (rather than from Francis himself or one of his minions ahead of time).  I dunno.  Maybe my antennae are overly extended in that line.

UPDATE: 2 Sept 0024 UTC:

A priest reminded me in an email that John Paul II gave priests the same faculty regarding abortion in 1983.

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136 Responses to POPE FRANCIS FOR YEAR OF MERCY GRANTS THAT SSPX PRIESTS CAN VALIDLY ABSOLVE!

  1. Legisperitus says:

    Whoa! I had to double-check that it wasn’t April 1!

  2. Legisperitus says:

    On Vulcan we have a saying: Only Francis could regularize the SSPX.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  3. JamesM says:

    I think this very clearly proves that the SSPX are NOT in schism.

    [No, it doesn’t prove that. But it is a good sign.]

  4. Back pew sitter says:

    Very good news indeed.

    Father Z, would this also apply to the validity of confessions to priests who have been expelled from, or who are in an irregular situation after leaving, the SSPX? What about sede vacantist priests? Would confessions (aside than when the penitent was dying) be valid also when made to priests who are suspended from priestly ministry or laicised?

  5. JamesM says:

    Dear Father – I can’t see how a Pope would grant faculties to a group in schism. For example, I can’t imagine how he might grant them to the Orthodox, who are in schism?

    I might have the wrong end of this, but as you say, it IS a good sign.

  6. Elly says:

    I thought there were no more “reserved sins” and all priests could already absolve from abortion. Not true?

  7. Back pew sitter says:

    Further to my previous question: On reflection, the notion that sede vacantist priests or those who adhere to them would be at all bothered about what the (phoney, in their view) Pope decreed about anything, makes my query about sede vacantists irrelevant. But there are priests who have similar views to those who are in the SSPX, but are not in the SSPX (like Bishop Williamson). Would confessions to them be valid for the Holy Year?

  8. JamesM says:

    Elly – a priest cannot absolve someone from the sin of procuring an abortion, this requires absolution from a Bishop. What confuses this, is in most dioceses I know, the Bishops have granted this permission to their priests.

    As far as I know, every Bishop here in England & Wales has done so. I don’t know how widespread this is in America or anywhere else in the world.

  9. Scott W. says:

    The Fishwrap has posted on this now. They get it wrong, of course. They openly call the SSPXers “schismatic”.

    NCR: “We are delighted that we’ve heard this talk of mercy for divorcees and homosexuals (granted, we’ve had to cobble it from a handful of vague statements), but mercy for the SSPX?! He’s mad!”

  10. pmullane says:

    Huzzah, thank you Holy Father!!

    The SSPX news is wonderful, hopefully one more step in the road to regularisation of the society. As a wise priest once said, ‘brick by brick’ Holy Father!

  11. Tradster says:

    Thank God for this! I, too, pray it continues after the YoM ends. This action, for me, forgives a multitude of the dubious things His Holiness has said or done which caused me so much unease.

    Would it be wrong to add a prayer that, in the spirit of the upcoming World Meeting of Families and the Synod, the SSPX be granted the authority to also validly witness marriages?

  12. phlogiston says:

    I seem to remember the discussion of Bishop Morlino’s public comments on the SSPX. I had pointed out that the SSPX priests could simply be granted faculties as easily as they could be condemned ( or more easily). A fellow commenter maintained that the SSPX priests could not be granted faculties because they were automatically suspended upon their ordination. I guess they can be granted faculties after all, huh?

    [Just in case you leave here thinking that you scored some sort of point, the Roman Pontiff can grant the faculty to any validly ordained priest. And, read the language again.]

  13. PA mom says:

    This is brilliant!

    phlogiston – I like how you are thinking. Hopefully those Bishops who are not openly opposed to SSPX will take the opportunity to extend those temporary facilities. Make it happen!

  14. Gabriel Syme says:

    What wonderful news that the Pope has made this official gesture as part of his year of mercy. It is another step towards the normalisation of the SSPX situation. As someone who prays daily for the Pope and for the Society to be granted a canonical status, I am suitably emotional.

    Thanks Pope Francis. Thanks God.

    And thanks Fr Z for bringing us this happy news.

    Hooray!

    The news is made that bit sweeter to think of those who may be somewhat irked by this – haha. On the down side, it will now be even harder to get a seat in the SSPX Chapel I attend! But I am sure we will cope!

    Now, I trust nothing will happen at the Synod which would nullify the positivity created by this gesture and create a new obstacle for the Society!

  15. SPWang says:

    A most beautiful and definitive document…

  16. SPWang says:

    …Did B16 write this? It seems like a continuation of SP and UE…

  17. DonL says:

    NBC appears to be tying this new authority to excommunication and that included in that excommunication condition, oddly, are those who defy the “authority of the pope”
    Hmmm.
    Always those “why that combination–here and now?” questions.

  18. norancor says:

    Ed Peters can correct me if I’m wrong, but if the SSPX were in schism, their confessions would be valid all the time, in the same manner Rome recognizes the validity of Orthodox confessions.

  19. Maltese says:

    This is the best news I’ve heard in some time! Combined with Summorum Pontificum, I see clearly a day when the Traditional Latin Mass will be said in every diocese in the world. Here is a good article from just the other day by a priest (who until seven years ago only said the Novus Ordo) on the benefits of the TLM:

    http://www.traditionalcatholicpriest.com/2015/01/29/priests-view-latin-mass-vs-new-mass/

  20. The Masked Chicken says:

    It should be pointed out that December 8 is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Certainly, a time for new beginnings. The problem, now, of course is not that priests around the world will absolve from abortion or that the SSPX will have permission to absolve from sins for the year, but, rather, the real hidden problem is how to get people into the confessional to take advantage of the Year of Mercy. Those who go on a regular basis won’t be all that affected by these permissions (although, ironically, those who have frequented SSPX confessions will, ahem, have to confess to the SSPX priest the sin of confessing to him outside of the Jubilee Year) . The big problem will be to convict the rest of the Catholic population of the reality of sin, so as to get them into the confessional in the first place. This, is, primarily, a problem for priests to confront with those who attend Churches and for the laity with those who do not.

    Laity, brush up on your catechesis for Confession. You may only get one shot at getting someone in the confessional. Dear Priests, leave the porch lights on – wear yourselves out with frequent accessible hours for confession (hint: noon on weekdays would be nice or nights thrice a week – an hour a day keeps sins away).

    It will be interesting to see the SSPX’s reaction to this news – and it is very sneaky of the Pope to do this, because, if the SSPX acknowledges the granting of permission, then, essentially, they also acknowledge that they need it because their own confessions are invalid. This should be interesting.

    The Chicken

  21. The Astronomer says:

    I detect the solicitous actions of the Immaclate Heart of Mary here. I choose to believe she went to her Son and asked him to grant this singular grace to Pope Francis on behalf of us her children and her devoted son priests all over the World, including the SSPX. We also know that the Holy Father has a special devotion to Our Lady as “Undoer of Knots…”

    I, for one, will offer a Rosary of thanks for the intentions of the Holy Father for this singular grace!

  22. Andrew_81 says:

    Dear Father,

    I agree this is great news. I don’t mean to seem a bit lemony, so please pardon any sourness that may follow. It is not intended as such, but to help the discussion.

    SSPX priests has never claimed to have faculties to hear confessions. Their claim was that the Church law supplies jurisdiction in individual cases due to extraordinary circumstances like what is in Canon 1335. I know you don’t agree with this assessment, but we ought to present the argument fairly. [This is a distinction without a difference.]

    You’re right, then. They’ve not had the faculty to absolve, but it does not follow that they did not validly absolve before. [Yes, it does. And this has been hashed and rehashed many times here. They don’t absolve validly unless there are special circumstances such as I describe above.] I think that could be gleaned from how you wrote above. Otherwise we would have to say Quattuor Abhinc Annos proved that the Extraordinay Form was suppressed, while we know Benedict XVI later said was not. [Which has nothing to do with this. Rabbit hole CLOSED.]

  23. Matt R says:

    The facts of the pope being Supreme Legislator and the Petrine office being the locus of unity notwithstanding, I think that the pope only finds such a canonical procedure necessary because the SSPX is not schismatic. If they were, I think they would not need faculties. I seriously doubt anyone questions the validity of Old Catholic confessions once validity of orders is established (they and not the Orthodox are similar: the Old Catholics report all of their ordinations and episcopal consecrations to Rome).

  24. benedetta says:

    I think that a great many dioceses which are very short on priests to go around to match the demand/need for the sacraments, including the quite serious issue of no priest available to hear confessions, could benefit from aid from SSPX priests. It is not at all unusual for priests who are overworked and responsible for three or more churches and flocks at once to simply not have time to honor the 3 pm Wednesday time slot posted for hearing of confessions, even while people are showing up and have need of it, and this will only be increasing in a time when our Holy Father emphasizes and articulates so well the grave need we all have for this sacrament of mercy, on a regular and frequent basis and not only the one time when we are in second grade as so many in the last forty years have sought to convince about this sacrament.

  25. Animadversor says:

    What I should like to know is this: does this letter to Archbishop Fisichella actually effect the concession the favors mentioned, or must such concession be effected in some other document, in some other form, to be issued later? And if by this letter, which language is the original, and therefore the controlling language?

  26. dans0622 says:

    I’m all in favor of what the Pope is doing here. … I wonder what the guys over at Legislative Texts would have to say about this letter (re: the ability to forgive the “sin” of abortion and the implicit granting of the faculty to absolve).

  27. Mike says:

    The Fishwrap has posted on this now. They get it wrong, of course. They openly call the SSPXers “schismatic”.

    Considering what they think of suspicious characters like Cardinal Burke and Bishop Schneider, it’s remarkable “NcR” didn’t call SSPX ‘heretical’.

    It would be interesting to see “Crux”‘ take on the matter, were I interested, which I’m not.

  28. Ignatius_P says:

    I think someone is praying up a storm in the Mater Ecclesiae.

  29. Allan S. says:

    Father,

    Could your parsing of the Holy Father’s words be, perhaps, an over-reading? If we’ve learned anything at all about the current Pontiff, it’s that he isn’t particularly careful or nuanced in his choice of words. I doubt very much that he intended to craft a nuanced letter that creates a distinction between a priest offering the sacrament and a penitent seeking it. Benedict? For sure. Francis? Not so much.

    I think it likely that the simple reading is the correct one (to wit: SSPX priests have been granted the faculty to hear confessions and absolve validly for one year – full stop). The Masked Chicked is right – the SSPX response will be telling….

    [No. I didn’t over-read it. Perhaps you over-read what I wrote.]

  30. Michael_Thoma says:

    Re: the comments on Orthodox and confessions, some Orthodox have explicit agreement with Rome regarding reciprocity for laity to go to either priest – i.e. Syriac Orthodox, Assyrian Church, Armenian Orthodox – for confession, Eucharist, Anointing, Marriages, etc as long as indifferentism is avoided

  31. Geoffrey says:

    Wow. Stunning news. Mercy in action.

  32. Elizabeth D says:

    Unreal. This is amazing news.

    I can imagine the consternation of many if SSPX priests are the ones who actually hit the streets to hear confessions of the nonpracticing Catholic general public, reconciling them to the Church.

  33. Charlotte Allen says:

    News reports also say the pope has granted to priests the power to absolve the sin of abortion. Is that because it used to be that only a bishop could absolve that sin? Something to do with automatic excommunication?

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  35. j says:

    ack! bplfsihse?#(*@^

    ….That’s the sound of coffee going everywhere. NOT because of the extension of extraordinary faculties to validly ordained Priests who are and irregular situation, in a Year of Mercy. No….. because Crux just published the leader for worst article of the year (and it’s a tough competition).

    “Going to the SSPX; it’s just like performing an Abortion!” [my title, but accurate]

    http://www.cruxnow.com/church/2015/09/01/pope-extends-olive-branches-on-abortion-traditionalist-dissent/

    If I have to pick one “highlight”, it would be “The Catholic Church considers both abortion and “schism,” meaning the rejection of church authority, [which Crux labels as going to the SSPX] as sins that trigger excommunication latae sententiae, meaning automatically. To be able to forgive those sins, a priest needs special permission from a bishop. ”

    Of course, going to the SSPX ACTUALLY is recognized as a fulfillment of a Catholic’s Sunday obligation, and, while going to confession may not be valid, it is not even a sin, let alone grounds for excommunication. On the other hand, forgiving the ACTUAL Latae sententiae sin of abortion requires not a Bishop, but Papal forgiveness.

  36. acardnal says:

    Great news!

    I note with interest a statement from Pope Francis which you quoted above: “From various quarters, several brother bishops, have told me of their [SSPX] good faith and sacramental practice.” I wonder if one of those bishops was Anton Schneider who made an apostolic visit to the SSPX in France and the USA at the direction of the Holy See. In an interview after the fact, he said about the SSPX, “To my knowledge there are no weighty reasons in order to deny the clergy and faithful of the SSPX the official canonical recognition, meanwhile they should be accepted as they are.”

    Bp. Schneider’s remarks about his visit to the SSPX can be read HERE in the very last paragraph.

    Note: I think the word “seminar” means “seminary” the the interview.

  37. bdouglass says:

    I find this paragraph of particular interest as well:

    “I have asked the Church in this Jubilee Year to rediscover the richness encompassed by the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. The experience of mercy, indeed, becomes visible in the witness of concrete signs as Jesus himself taught us. Each time that one of the faithful personally performs one or more of these actions, he or she shall surely obtain the Jubilee Indulgence.”

    I presume 1) the normal conditions are required in addition to the performance of 1+ work of mercy and 2) the normal rules of how many indulgences one may gain per day applies as well?

    Regardless…plenary indulgences are bountiful!

  38. JesusFreak84 says:

    1) Well THAT woke me up! @_@ 2) I honestly had to check that this wasn’t Eye of the Tiber, but since it’s not, 2.5) HUZZAH!

  39. Liam says:

    I am wondering about your interpretation regarding the faculties, Father.

    Faculties are necessary for valid absolution. These can only be given to priests. In light of canons 965, 966.1, and 1378.2.2 that it would have to be the intention of the Holy Father that faculties are given to the priests of the SSPX. Everything in the law ties validity of absolution to order and office, not to nebulous mass of the laity.

    This would all make for a wonderful scholarly paper! Any takers? [I don’t see the problem. I explained this point.]

  40. anilwang says:

    Matt R says: “I think that the pope only finds such a canonical procedure necessary because the SSPX is not schismatic. ”

    Few people outside the loonie left believe they are in schism. The problem is, there situation is irregular and we don’t quite have the words to describe their position. So even among people who describe their situation as “dangerously” schismatic, there is a recognition that their priests not excommunicated and are thus still part of the Catholic Church. I like to describe and treat the SSPX as a lay society run by laicized priests, but that doesn’t quite describe their situation either.

    Hopefully, the Pope Francis approach of gradual reconciliation eventually yields fruit and we won’t have to struggle for words any more.

    This is great news, even if it’s just for “The Year of Mercy”. But no matter what is done (and I believe more will be done), I don’t think that Pope Francis is trusted enough among the SSPX for a reconciliation to happen under his pontificate (especially after the FFI and Synod on the Family circus). But it could happen early in the next pontificate since a way out of the impasse appears to have been opened up.

    But if this approach does yield fruit, does, expect the same approach to be applied to the Eastern Orthodox. Laudato Si almost became a common Catholic-Eastern Orthodox encyclical until the Eastern Patriarch withdrew his support at the last minute. But even if politically, Eastern Patriarch is uncomfortable with a common encyclical, unilateral gestures such as affirming (a modified form of) the of Acts and Decrees of the (Eastern Orthodox) Synod of Jerusalem (A.D. 1672) could be done to bring us together.

  41. tramtrist says:

    Wouldn’t the SSPX openly accepting this mercy be admitting that all prior confessions were invalid and that they did not have jurisdiction prior to this gift from the Pope?
    I wouldn’t be surprised if they are silent on the matter.

  42. ByzCath08 says:

    I belong to a closed facebook group called Traditional Catholic men. “I found it interesting that one of the first comments to this news was along the lines of: I am underwhelmed by this. Notice how this is coupled with the forgiveness of abortion, linking the two and so an insult to the SSPX”

    I swear, some people just want to remain bitter and have something to complain about.

  43. Father I saw with ASTONISHMENT your Tweet announcing this around 6 this morning. What a distraction during Mass lol. Happy. How does this work exactly? Adding confusion perhaps? And oh yes, the Pope can certainly grant faculties! Round and round this goes in my head.

    I am pleased for the SSPX faithful. WOW. Gee, and for the rest of us who might want to get some old-style spiritual direction.

    But like The Masked Chicken and tramtrist mention, this generous gift of the Pope makes it very clear that the SSPX clergy has had no faculties for confession since the break. Some SSPXers know this. And some indignantly deny it. Well now, how is this going to play out.

  44. NBW says:

    WOW! I did not see that one coming! Great news!

  45. Nonus Centurion says:

    Fr.,

    I am sorry, though I agree with you on most points re SSPX, the letter is extremely poorly worded and is creating great scandal by the implications and omissions of Pope Francis’ words regarding abortion.

    His words make it appear as if priests and Catholics have not been open or loving to those who were involved with abortion – especially those who are “contrite”, the Pope’s word, and seek compassion and forgiveness.

    Focus on what you may, but I think many are not seeing the full fruits of this very public announcement. Pope Francis again took what could have been a great teaching moment, and because of blindness or some unknown motive, crafted an announcement that does grave damage to the Roman Church in the West to all who are not well formed in their understanding of the priesthood, the Catholic Faith, or the Catholic Church.

    [Nope. I don’t see it.]

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  47. ” I trust that in the near future solutions may be found to recover full communion with the priests and superiors of the Fraternity.”

    A precursor to a still more significant development?

  48. tgarcia2 says:

    Meanwhile, everyone is focusing on the abortion faculties granted (even though only Bishops could forgive that sin, if I recall correctly) as if it’s something new…..

  49. Giuseppe says:

    I love the phrase “several Brother Bishops.” It is wonderful to see the Bishop of Rome, the Servant of the Servants of God, taking heed from those Brother Bishops who know of SSPX’s “good faith and sacramental practice”. It’s all hands on deck coming up.

    He’s got the men to hear confessions. Next step: preaching on sin and the need for confession and repentance. Imagine if every sermon between now and December 8 (or between December 8 through Epiphany) was on sin and confession and how Jesus’s mercy is there waiting for you in the confessional if you sincerely confess and firmly resolve to change your ways.

    This year of mercy could be revolutionary.

  50. Gerard Plourde says:

    This is another merciful action extended by the Church to induce the SSPX to regularize its status.

    Pope Emertius Bendedict went very far to do this by lifting the licit and deserved excommunications from the the four bishops ordained by Archbishop Lefebvre (whose excommunication was not recinded postmortem by that action). The SSPX must recognize that The Second Vatican Council was a licit ecumenical council and that the liturgical reforms instituted by Pope Paul VI following the council were licit. This does not mean accepting as licit every hare-brained act that is justified by its perpetrator as following the “Spirit of Vatican II”, since only the Church’s supreme legislator, i.e. the Pope, can definitively proclaim how the documents produced by the Council are to be interpreted and what actions are consistent with that interpretation. (It should be noted that Pope Emeritus Bendict wisely instructed that the construct to be used in interpreting Council documents was a “hermeneutic of continuity”, i.e., that the interpretation is to be consistent with the revealed and received Dogma and Doctrine of the Church. I believe that this instruction effectively answers any alleged objections raised by by the SSPX to the doctrinal preamble required to heal the rift occassioned by the Archbishop’s disobedience.)

    The next step (submission and obedience to the Pontiff) is the SSPX’s.

  51. RichR says:

    If the SSPX truly lives by the adage prima lex, salus animarum this provision will be cordially welcomed. I think the faithful attending the chapels of the Society should take advantage of this mercy. What an opportunity to tap into the spiritual direction of these priests!

  52. plaf26 says:

    Very gracious and at the same time very shrewd on the part of the Holy Ghost! Every once in awhile I feel the breeze from His wings, if not the brush of His feathers themselves! It’s a challenge both to us and to the SSPX. How will we all respond?

  53. Transportsjoie says:

    This is joyous news, especially for traditionally minded Catholics. I found myself thinking about the SSPX chapel that is less than an hour away from my home, which I have not allowed myself to consider, not even in curiosity. But, after my initially positive response, I recalled an SSPX video I’d recently seen. In this video on Gloria TV, they state that Catholics are not obliged to attend the Novus Ordo to fulfill the Sunday Precept. The video states that knowledgeable Catholics who know of the deficiencies of the new Mass should not attend NO Masses and should, in fact, stay at home and say the Rosary and read Sacred Scripture if no Traditional Mass is available.

    Though I grieve for the changes, omissions and abuses which occur in the Novus Ordo, I think the train of thought exhibited on this video is frightening. Countless souls have lost graces and spiritual sustenance by staying away from Holy Communion needlessly. Watch the video and come to your own conclusions.

    https://gloria.tv/media/DrSLc9B5U6s

  54. Nan says:

    Back pew sitter, only the SSPX was mentioned so no as to others. I don’t know how you can extrapolate those not in good standing with them, or generally to be included.

    Norancor, it’s purely academic that the Church recognizes Orthodox absolution. I don’t think the Orthodox would be open to taking a Catholic confession, not even in an emergency.

  55. floppy2 says:

    WOW!! This is a pastoral earthquake if ever there was one! What heart! What cleverness! And…what MERCY!! The Holy Father is setting a concrete example of mercy in this gesture toward the SSPX. Now!! Will they obey and come home? The door is open once again!! May they PLEASE walk thru. We need them in the Bark now more than ever. Time is short. Danger is upon us. We need to circle the ecclesiastical wagons and prepare for battle!

    bjr

  56. tgarcia2 says:

    Transportsjoie-sad to hear…especially when regardless of what ones thoughts may be about the NO, the words of consecration are as valid in a NO as they are in the EF. To say that you should not attend a NO Mass, implies that the consecration is not valid, which is a VERY dangerous mindset. Oh well, prayers for them.

  57. I am not sorry to say I am troubled by this news, and the glee of many of you here seem only to validate my troubled mind.

    Yes, it’s great that the pope is truly desiring to extend the Church’s mercy in Confession via this temporary lifting of sacramental censure for the SSPx. However I fear this move will have more devastating consequences on the faithful who are of the Traditionalist bent or are ignorant of the whole situation of the SSPX. First those people will go to the SSPx for confession. Then they will become curious and go to their illicit Masses under the false guise it’s the same as valid and LIcIT diocesan TLMs. As they delve further into it the SSPx will take advantage and influence those people to stay, driving up their membership. And before you know it good trads will become radical traditionalists, and more souls will become self-schismatic under frequent influence.

    Not to mention for those of you hoping for reconciliation, I doubt the mentality of them are wholly open to reconciliation if it involves being nice-nice about Vatican II and accepting the novus ORDO. The same players are around since 2012, and they backhanded Holy Mother Church with a fierce slap. I’d rather put my hopes in winning a lottery.

  58. Robbie says:

    A bold move by the Pope. This seems to contradict those who hold the view the SSPX is in schism. Tradition, although suffering setbacks from time to time, keeps marching forward.

  59. I sure hope the priest that gave me absolution for my abortion was allowed to do so! It was early in my conversion, so wouldn’t have known about him needing permission from the bishop. Gulp! Like, twelve plus years ago! That’s an awful lot of communion taken wrongly….

  60. Gerard Plourde says:

    Dear Matt R,

    “the Old Catholics report all of their ordinations and episcopal consecrations to Rome”

    Are you certain of this? I am aware of “Old Catholic” groups (who do trace their lineage to the See of Utrecht) here in the US who regularly ordain women to the diaconate and the priesthood and as bishops.

  61. CradleRevert says:

    Tramtrist,

    “Wouldn’t the SSPX openly accepting this mercy be admitting that all prior confessions were invalid and that they did not have jurisdiction prior to this gift from the Pope?
    I wouldn’t be surprised if they are silent on the matter.”

    They may choose to remain silent for other reasons, but they shouldn’t necessarily remain silent because of this. It is my understanding that the SSPX never claimed to have actual jurisdiction to administer the Sacrament, but that they hid behind the “supplied jurisdiction” as outlined in Canon Law. As stated elsewhere, the “supplied jurisdiction” rationale is highly dubious at best, but that’s their story and their sticking to it. In any case, the acceptance by the SSPX of the new jurisdiction given them by the Holy Father wouldn’t necessarily have to stand in contradiction to their current stance.

  62. cornelius74 says:

    But Father, but Father! Did not the 1983 Code drop the “reserved sins”, therefore giving every priest the faculty to absolve the sin of abortion?

  63. CradleRevert says:

    Oh goodness…I hate grammatical errors, and I must correct one of my own.

    “…but that’s their story and *they’re sticking to it.”

  64. Pingback: Da Tech Guy Blog » Blog Archive » Breaking News from the 1st Century AD: The Catholic Church Forgives Sins!

  65. Skeinster says:

    This may be a silly question, but since the bishops of the SSPX already do many episopal things, like ordinations and setting up various chapels and other institutions, could they not have already given their priests this permission, which I imagine they would think they could? Would this fall under their definition of “supplied jurisdiction”?

  66. Suburbanbanshee says:

    mysoulwaitsforyoualone – Pretty much every American priest has been granted the faculty to absolve abortions since probably the 1970’s, because that’s standard procedure for American bishops to do. The same is true in most other countries. The Holy Father is just being completist, as is his right (and as is fitting for a Year of Mercy).

    DO NOT WORRY. If your priest hadn’t had faculties against abortion sins, he would have let you know.

    re: SSPX faculties – The crazy idea has the mark of Francis, and the implementation smells like Benedict or someone trained by him. I suspect a teamup.

  67. ppb says:

    Transportsjoie, tgarcia2: Yes, there are definitely still problems with the SSPX, and this certainly doesn’t resolve everything. For me, personally, this doesn’t erase some of the other concerns I have – I’m still going to my diocesan TLM for the sacraments, not the SSPX. But nevertheless, I think it is good for everyone that the Holy Father has done this. May it bear fruit in a full reconciliation.

  68. magister63 says:

    A very gracious response from the Society:

    Communiqué of the General House of the Society of St. Pius X on the letter of Pope Francis at the approach of the Holy Year (September 1, 2015)

    1-09-2015
    Filed under From Rome, News

    The Society of St. Pius X learned, through the press, of the provisions taken by Pope Francis on the occasion of the upcoming Holy Year. In the last paragraph of his letter addressed September 1, 2015, to Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, the Holy Father writes:

    «I establish that those who during the Holy Year of Mercy approach these priests of the Society of St Pius X to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation shall validly and licitly receive the absolution of their sins.»

    The Society of St. Pius X expresses its gratitude to the Sovereign Pontiff for this fatherly gesture. In the ministry of the sacrament of penance, we have always relied, with all certainty, on the extrdaordinary jurisdiction conferred by the Normae generales of the Code of Canon Law. On the occasion of this Holy Year, Pope Francis wants all the faithful who wish to confess to the priests of the Society of St. Pius X to be able to do so without being worried.

    During this year of conversion, the priests of the Society of St. Pius X will have at heart to exercise with renewed generosity their ministry in the confessional, following the example of tireless dedication which the holy Curé of Ars gave to all priests.

    Menzingen,
    September 1, 2015

  69. Gerard Plourde says:

    Dear my soul waits for you alone,

    I hear the concern and anguish in your post. Hopefully, one of our fellow visitors can speak difinitvely on this issue. In the meantime, I’ll try to give my understanding as a layman.

    You mention that the confession occurred shortly after your conversion. If this means that the abortion happened before your conversion, then I believe you have no worries as the provision in Canon Law applies to those whose act of having an abortion creates an excommunication from the Church. The limiting provision is designed to rectify the issue of the excommunication. If I am correct in assuming that your abortion was performed before your conversion it follows that there was no excommunication to lift.

    As to an abortion after conversion (which I think is not your situation), it has been noted that the diocesan bishop has the authority to delegate this power. Some bishops have apparently chosen to delegate the power universally within their dioceses, so that the absolution of any of the priests under their jurisdiction possess the necessary authority.

    I also ask any quaified person in the community of readers to rectify any incorrect analysis I may have made so as to alleviate the trepidition of our sister in Christ.

  70. The Masked Chicken says:

    ” ‘I have decided, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, to concede to all priests for the Jubilee Year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it.’ ”

    By, “all priests,” does he mean all priests, laicized or not, since the mark of ordination is unremovable, or just priests who are in regular service?

    The Chicken

  71. Adam Welp says:

    This is good news! Has anyone from the SSPX responded?

    On another note, I went to the NcR article on this breaking news and read the comments. Never again. I will never to that again. I feel dirty now. I guess I have to jump in the shower with an SOS pad.

  72. Lamb100 says:

    I am greatly encouraged by this act of mercy of the Holy Father, and by the SSPX’s acknowledgement of his “fatherly gesture.” Pope Francis very recently said that he is a devotee of St. Pius X.

    Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.
    Immaculate Heart of Mary, intercede for us.

  73. Dear Gerard, goodness of course you are right, it was before my conversion. Derp! I knew that! But upon reading the headline, my mind went all buzzy with anxiety and forgot that important point.
    Sigh. Of. Relief.
    And thank you kindly for taking the time to respond.
    + JMJ+

  74. Dave N. says:

    Like “Who am I to judge?” I think people will take this and run with it in all sorts of directions that were not intended or contemplated.

  75. Gerard Plourde says:

    Dear Magister63,

    It is an interesting statement from Menzingen. I understand their reference to their (misplaced) reliance on the general norms of the Code of Canon Law. I suspect that a solution could be that in exchange for dropping their reservations to the necessary doctrinal preamble accepting the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and the validity of the liturgy of Bl. Paul VI some kind of face-saving gesture can be arranged (perhaps a provision stating that reconciliation with the Supreme Pontiff and the Church retroactively regularizes previously illicit or invalidly conferred sacraments) so that the SSPX can be spared the embarrassment sanctifying scores of marriages.

  76. Legisperitus says:

    Sorry, failed to see that it had already been posted.

  77. iPadre says:

    I think this is really good news. The Holy Father is not only offering mercy to all, but extending an olive branch to the SSPX. I hope they grab the branch and run for Rome.

    At the same time, I hope all those who constantly beat this issue like a dead horse will lay down their bickering, and pray that one of the fruits of the Year of Mercy is full reconciliation of all involved. That would be a gift to the entire Church.

  78. St. Louis IX says:

    A wonderful thing to read!
    Certainly throws sand under the feet.
    (like shaking an ant farm maybe)
    One thing Pope Francis is going to do, is force everyone to take a fresh hard look at this situation.
    From local Ordinaries to the parish priests, to lay faithful.
    I suspect over the next year plus, we will all know each other much better!

    Thank you Pope Francis
    Thank you Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

  79. Back pew sitter says:

    I think the SSPX statement is quite gracious.

    Mentioning that it learned about the matter through the press didn’t seem snarky to me. The SSPX may have felt it was important to convey to its members and followers that the letter wasn’t the result of any ‘negotiations’ or that its terms had been previously agreed by anyone in the SSPX.

    I can also see why the SSPX would not want to concede that previous confessions were not valid. I thnk the expressions used enabled the SSPX to accept, as a sign of generosity, the Holy Father’s provisions.

    I have been concerned about many aspects of this papacy. Today’s letter from Pope Francis is very positive and I think the SSPX response is too.

  80. acmeaviator says:

    I have a great friend who is a Rabbi in the Chabad community – the fastest growing sect in Judaism today. While “reform” and “little c” conservative congregations have collapsed the Orthodox Chabad movement has grown exponentially. Traditionalism and Orthodoxy are deeply desired by many believers- especially by the young who have so little stability or non-relativistic ideals with which to form their lives upon. We should pray for true unity in the Church- we have more than enough enemies seeking the end of the Church.

  81. acmeaviator says:

    As for what this portends for October my money is on a two-part “solution”:1- SSPX will reconcile with Rome and FSSP will be rolled into it – with perhaps a Church dedicated 100% to the extraordinary form named in every diocese. 2-Divorced, remarried and non-chaste homosexuals will be granted a path to the Eucharist.

  82. Tony Phillips says:

    First of all, this is very good news. I gave the NCR 3 chances to post my comment; they declined, so I’ve posted it over at my own blog, where I (occasionally) post things that the blog censors delete.

    Re: Gerard Plourde (10:04)”The SSPX must recognize that The Second Vatican Council was a licit ecumenical council and that the liturgical reforms instituted by Pope Paul VI following the council were licit.”

    Personally, I think this is asking too much. First, if we as Catholics are serious about reunion with other Christians, we need to stop pretending that western councils were ‘oecumenical councils’ à la Nicaea. We need to be willing to admit that some of them—Vatican I and Vatican II are prime examples—got it wrong. They may have been licit (local) councils, but they were not infallible. In other words, we need to show not only mercy, but humility. Only then can we hope for reunion with our separated brethren—the Lutherans, the Old Catholics, the Orthodox and Eastern churches. It’s time to consign Ultramontanism to the 19th century.

    Second, I think we need to take a cue from Pope Benedict and recognise that there are things that a pope can’t do. What Paul VI did to the liturgy was not only ill-advised, it was beyond his authority. The liturgy is ‘the work of the people’; it is not the property of the pope.

    Now, I realise that Fr Z may not only disagree with what I say, but in the interests of professional survival may feel it necessary to delete this comment or cover it with his trademark bold red ink.

    [I have no idea what that last part means. But I can clarify that in 99.99% of occasions, discussion of what I do or don’t do with comments results in deletion of the comments and persistence in commenting on my moderation choices results in being placed in the moderation queue and then in being banned.]

  83. APX says:

    Julian Barker,

    Initially, I shared your sentiments and concerns, but thought maybe these people actually going to confession, receiving absolution, thus the graces of going to confession, might just be enough for a conversation of heart. I know in my own personal experience that unintended conversion can occur through a good valid confession.

  84. Geoffrey says:

    The official response from the SSPX seems to be riddled with their usual arrogance and pride…

  85. Papabile says:

    In 1996, Bishop Fabian Bruskewicz put several groups on notice that persistence in adhesian to a list of groups would result in excommunication, with the absolution reserved to the Bishop. I am quite sure that this penalty would fall upon the Priests of the SSPX who served in that diocese.

    With that said, and since they can now offer absolution, what effect does it have upon those SSPX Priests’ absolutions who were excommunicated in Lincoln? I do not know, but my guess is that these excommunications have not been rescinded.

    This may actually matter in a specific case I am aware of.

    NOTICE

    All Catholics in and of the Diocese of Lincoln are forbidden to be members of the organizations and groups listed below. Membership in these organizations or groups is always perilous to the Catholic Faith and most often is totally incompatible with the Catholic Faith.

    Planned Parenthood
    Society of Saint Pius X (Lefebvre Group)
    Hemlock Society
    Call to Action
    Call to Action Nebraska
    Saint Michael the Archangel Chapel
    Freemasons
    Job’s Daughters
    DeMolay
    Eastern Star
    Rainbow Girls
    Catholics for a Free Choice

    Any Catholics in and of the Diocese of Lincoln who attain or retain membership in any of the above listed organizations or groups after April 15, 1996, are by that very fact (ipso facto latae sententiae) under interdict and are absolutely forbidden to receive Holy Communion. Contumacious persistence in such membership for one month following the interdict on part of any such Catholics will by that very fact (ipso facto latae sententiae) cause them to be excommunicated. Absolution from these ecclesial censures is “reserved to the Bishop.”

    This notice, when published in the Southern Nebraska Register, is a formal canonical warning.

    By mandate of the Most Reverend Bishop of Lincoln.

    Reverend Monsignor Timothy Thorburn, Chancellor March 19, 1996

  86. rpp says:

    Father Z,

    I greatly prefer the Extraordinary Rite. In part because it reinforces the sense of sacred. Another part is that the other parishioners who also choose to attend generally self-select to be more faithful and reverent.

    Unfortunately, I live in an area where the nearest EF Mass is about 3 hour drive away, an FSSP parish. Yet, there is an SSPX chapel in town, 25 minutes from my home.

    I do not attend the SSPX chapel for the many reasons you have discussed here over the years.

    But this may change things. Could I, in good conscience, attend the SSPX chapel for the duration of the Year of Mercy?

  87. Fr Jackson says:

    Dear Father,
    I am a priest working for the SSPX currently. I wished to comment that I felt that the remarks made by “Andrew_81” at 7:27 AM were very a propos, and I thank him for posting. I am sorry that you felt that they were a “rabbit hole”. Personally, I see them as touching on the heart of the matter.
    God bless you in your work and thank you for your wonderful blog.
    Fr Jackson

    [First, I am delighted for you that Pope Francis has done this. And, yes, it is a rabbit hole. No faculty, repeated by Popes, means no faculty. Would that it were otherwise, but it isn’t. May you thrive and may we have completed reconciliation soon!]

  88. Allan S. says:

    On SSPX ‘Snark’
    I do not believe that their press release was intended to convey “snark”; rather, it was a forestall against internal…sensitivities…about “secret negotiations” which Bp. Fellay must take great pains to manage internally. I’m sure failure to give advance notice to the Society was likewise to give the Society’s leadership cover and deniability. They cannot be blamed for an act about which they had no knowledge and in the drafting of which they were not consulted.

    On ‘All Priests’
    As the Bull states repeatedly, the Jubilee Year of Mercy and its provisions “excludes no one.” I truly lost count of the number of times this was repeated. Read in context, therefore, is it reasonable to infer that “all priests” does, in fact, include every living soul that has at any time received the Sacrament of (Priestly) Holy Orders? Tu es sacerdos in aeternum etc.; in other words – laicized priests, suspended priests – “all priests”. Normally it would be reasonable to infer all priests means all priests with faculties or in good standing. But in the context of the language used in THIS Bull? Not necessarily. Probably worth clarifying.

  89. acardnal says:

    Geoffrey wrote, “The official response from the SSPX seems to be riddled with their usual arrogance and pride…”

    That seems a little harsh Geoffrey. I think they were appropriately courteous when they stated, “The Society of St. Pius X expresses its gratitude to the Sovereign Pontiff for this fatherly gesture.”

  90. Imrahil says:

    After checking and checking that this is not a joke…

    Holy God, we praise Thy Name!
    Lord of all, we bow before Thee!
    All on earth Thy scepter claim,
    All in Heaven above adore Thee!
    Infinite Thy vast domain!
    Everlasting i-is Thy reign!

    Hark! the loud celestial hymn
    angel choirs above are raising,
    cherubim and seraphim
    in unceasing Chorus praising,
    fills the Heav’ns with sweet accord:
    Holy! Holy! Ho-oly Lord!

    Holy Lord God Zebaoth!
    Holy, Lord of He-aven’s ho-osts!
    Holy, helper in need and death!
    Heaven, e-earth and be-easts and gho-osts,
    all are filled with Thy renown:
    for all in the world is Thy own.

    Lo! the apostolic train
    Join the sacred Name to hallow,
    prophets swell the loud refrain
    and the white robed martyrs follow:
    and from morn to set of sun
    through the Chu-urch the so-ong goes on.

    On the world’s entire orb
    praise Thee grand a-and pra-aise Thee little,
    whom Thy praises, Father, absorb,
    the Church as well, in full committal,
    honors Thee on Thy high throne,
    and with Thee-ee Thy one-begot son.

    She exalts in the Ho-oly Ghost,
    Whence we ha-ave all so-olace reaching,
    Who feeds so-ouls with fo-orce utmost,
    and Who gives all tru-uth in teaching,
    who, Lord Jesus Christ, with Thee
    and the Father eternal shall be.

    Thou, the Father’s eternal Son
    hast acce-epted ma-anhood for us,
    art, from where on the throne sitst on,
    come down to this E-earth amongst us,
    hast brought holy grace with Thee,
    and from si-in hast se-et us free.

    Through thee now the He-eaven’s gate,
    stands for a-all beli-ievers open,
    thou’lt us, to introduce to the Father, await,
    if like chi-ildren we will be hoping,
    thou shalt come for Judgment Day
    when this Earth is to pa-ass away.

    Therefore do we pray Thee, Lord:
    Help Thy servants whom, redeeming
    by Thy precious blood out-poured
    thou hast saved from Satan’s scheming
    Give us, when our course is run,
    of the Heavenly pla-aces one.

    Look on Thy people graciously!
    Help us! bless, O Lo-ord, thine heirloom!
    Guard it, on the right path to be,
    lest the Enemy ruin thine heirloom!
    M’ntain and nurse it, as time yet be,
    receive it then in ete-ernity!

    For all days we sha-a-all be
    praising Thee-ee and pra-aising Thy name
    and through a-all the seasons to Thee
    honors, lau-auds and tha-anks accla-aim:
    Save from sins! and save from death!
    Lord, be gracious, Lord Sa-abaoth!

    Lord, have mercy, have me-ercy Lord!
    Over us be ever thy blessing!
    And Thy go-oodness let be aboard
    on the pa-aths on which we’re progressing:
    in Thee we all our hope have tossed:
    never e-ever let us be lost!

    (Sorry for the length. But yes, this does deserve a 12-stanza Holy Lord We Praise Thy Name.)

  91. Vincent says:

    There’s an awful lot of politics in the Society atm – with respect Father, I’m not sure it’s snark:
    1. The “Resistance” has caused the loss of maybe 60 SSPX priests worldwide. These priests have now set up “Mass runs” as well (of course, with limited success, given their boss’ reputation). This is an immediate cause of concern for the Society, and I think will push them back towards Rome anyway.
    2. There is a concern within the Society’s more extreme supporters that there is a secret ‘deal’, a tacit agreement, between the Society and Rome. (Which is obviously a Very Bad Thing…) That the Society found out through the Press, and have made this clear, is merely an attempt to avoid this charge (which will be made). The Vatican is no doubt aware of this (and the Society has ways of informing the Vatican), so I rather doubt any offence will be taken.

    There really isn’t much else they could say… They must insist that they’ve always had the right (which they’ve always maintained) to provide the Sacraments, but meanwhile thank the Pope for his kind intentions. They couldn’t have done a much better job, if you ask me…

  92. Aquinas Gal says:

    I have a friend who goes to a church served by priests of the Society of St Pius V, a spinoff from the SSPX. Would this apply to them too?

  93. Auggie says:

    I read this news and rejoiced.

  94. William Tighe says:

    “First, if we as Catholics are serious about reunion with other Christians, we need to stop pretending that western councils were ‘oecumenical councils’ à la Nicaea. We need to be willing to admit that some of them—Vatican I and Vatican II are prime examples—got it wrong. They may have been licit (local) councils, but they were not infallible.”

    This is an assertion as incoherent as it is frequently encountered – and one that brings to mind my first venture into church controversies when Luis Bermejo, SJ, published a letter in New Blackfriars in 1983 making much the same argument, but no more plausibly, as Mr. Phillips. As early as the early 340s Pope Julius I declared that no synod – he seems to have meant a universal synod along thre lines of Nicaea, not a local synod – had no validity nor its canons any force without thre assent of the Bishop of Rome. E converso, any such synod to which the pope does assent, and the defnintions and decrees of which he promulgates, has ecumenical force, and is hence an ecumenical council. There is no basis in Catholic ecclesiology or tradition for differentiating between “ecumenical councils” and “general synods of the Western Church,” as Paul VI did one one, and one only, occasion in April 1974 (and in which no subsequent pope followed him, just as no previous pope anticipated him). And, to pursue this chimera a bit further, how many “ecumenical councils” are there? Most Orthodox will respond “seven,” but some of them will say “nine,” including in that number two later councils of their own, without any Western participation or papal approbation. The Oriental Orthodox (the “miaphysite” Copts, Armenians, Ethiopians, Syrians and Indians) accept only the first three, and the “Assyrian Church of the East” only the first two. (It is a pity that some rump remnant of the Arians didn’t survive in some corner of the Crimea, where there were Goths speaking Gothic as late as the 16th Century, who might have completed the tableau by accepting none of them.) My point is, why should we privilege the Orthodox reckoning over that of other Eastern dissident churches? If Chalcedon is a true ecumenical council of the Catholic Church despite the dissent of the Oriental Orthodox, then so are Florence, Trent, Vatican I and all the rest, despite their rejection by the Orthodox.

    And in any event what are ecumenical “councils’ à la Nicaea?” Councils called by emperors? Calling all emperors! Anyone got an emperor? Those bishops who gathered at Nicaea in May 325 had no concept of a thing called an “ecumenical council.” They had been summoned together by the Emperor Constantine to advise him about various church troubles, notably the ruckus caused by Arius’ views, so that he could deal with them. The bishops condemned Arius’ views and went ahead on their own initiative to deal with various other matters, such as the period of the Lenten fast and the dating of Easter, and then went home. Later emperors, notably the Arianizing Constantius I, called a number of councils which he intended to have the same status of Nicaea and the purpose of which was to get rid of “homoousios” and to frame more “inclusive” Creeds, which were accepted as authoritative by those of an Arian disposition and rejected by those of a “Nicene” one. Still later, the orthodox Emperor Thoodosius I summoned a council at Constantinople in 379 which was intended as a purely local synod – no bishops from the West were summoned, nor from any Eastern locales other than from Constantinople and Antioch [although some from Egypt turned up to make trouble, and then left when they didn’t get their way] – but which due to the prestige of its revision of the Nicene Creed gradually became reckoned as the Second Ecumenical Council (Rome didn’t accept it as such until the year 534). Only at the meeting of the Council of Ephesus, the third ecumenical council, in 431, does one see a sense of recognition of an institution (or event) called an “ecumenical council,” which had both civil and ecclesiastical aspects.

    From Rome’s point of view, however, as much in the Fifth Century as in the Fifteenth, it was Roman recognition that constituted a council as ecumenical. It is true that it was a prerogative of the Emperor to summon an ecumenical council, but as early as 649 the great Greek monk and theologian Maximos the Confessor, a refugee in Rome after the embrace of Monothelitism at Constantinople, apparently insisted that the (local) Council of Rome which met to condemn Monothelitism could be reckoned as an ecumenical one because the pope had the obligation and the duty to summon such a council when the emperor had embraced heresy. Given the papacy’s belief about the nature and source of its authority from the time of Leo the Great, if not Damasus – indeed, if not Victor – (plenitudo potestatis, anyone?) it was no big step for popes to act on their own to summon “ecumenical councils” from the 12th Century onward (the Council of Ferrara-Florence, 1438-1445, was summoned by both the Pope and the Basileus).

    It is strange and sad to see Tony Phillips, who claims to be a Catholic, advancing such incoherent and historically fallacious “arguments” which reach their conclusion in what can only be seen as a denial of the infallibility of the Church (as well as of papal infallibility) as well as of its authority. One would expect such rhetoric from an historically unsophisticated Orthodox Christian or an old-fashioned high-church Anglican, not from a Catholic – but such are the times in which we live.

  95. jflare says:

    Call me a cynic if you like, but I too consider the statement from SSPX to be pretty arrogant. They worded it in a manner that’s polite enough, yet I see the typical SSPX “we’re already completely Catholic, perhaps more than you” attitude finding it’s way through.
    I’m finding the response to be pretty disappointing really.
    I find I do wonder whether the members of the Society trule seek to be reconciled. They don’t come across to me as being terribly interested in getting along with anyone, except by terms that they, the SSPX, insist upon.

    [I don’t hear arrogance in the whole thing. I hear some error. Maybe a little shot at the beginning.]

  96. jflare says:

    “There really isn’t much else they could say…”

    Seems to me they could’ve simply kept their collective mouth shut, Vincent. They had no need to respond at all, outside of obliquely advancing their own cause.

  97. BCSWowbagger says:

    I don’t have anything to add. I’m just so pleased about this I had to post! WHOOHOO!

  98. Legisperitus says:

    Papabile: I am certainly no canonist, but I think it goes beyond what Bishop Bruskewitz actually did to say that he excommunicated anyone. He issued a warning that certain people were going to incur a latae sententiae excommunication, which is something that simply happens ipso facto, not something done by an act of the Bishop.

    Now, what Bp. Bruskewitz was basing his warning on was probably the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei, which said the four SSPX bishops had incurred a latae sententiae excommunication along with anyone who “adhered to the schism.” Therefore, for any SSPX priest to have incurred an excommunication, two things would have to be true: (1) there would have to exist a schism in the first place, dubious in itself, and (2) that priest would have to be personally in schism. But after Pope Benedict’s lifting of the latae sententiae excommunication against the four bishops, what is left of even that?

  99. Gerard Plourde says:

    Dear Vincent,

    Thank you for your information concerning the internal state of the SSPX. I have great worries that a reconciliation with the Holy See (which I pray for) will expose some elements within the Society who will actually actively reject the move and will either join splinter groups already existant (like the Society of St. Pius V or Bishop Wilkinson’s “Resistance”) or create their own. It is sad that Archbishop Lefebvre’s direct act of disobedience against the authority of Pope St. John Paul II engendered this possible further wounding of the Mystical Body of Christ.

  100. Nonus Centurion says:

    Fr.,

    Re [Nope. I don’t see it.] to Nonus Centurion says: 1 September 2015 at 9:43 AM

    Considering the SSPX is not mentioned until the final paragraph of the official Bollettino [link below] and the paragraphed is introduced with “A final consideration concerns …”, which clearly indicates the preceding paragraphs did not concern the SSPX, I find it disappointing you cannot “see it”.

    Especially since every major non-Catholic news outlet and the hundreds of millions of comments by those ignorant of the Catholic Church and Faith have been “seeing” in this announcement exactly what I’ve pointed to…

    The whole thing appears to me be an Alice in Wonderland moment where those inside the church are celebrating an apparition that appeared during the tea party while those who have not tumbled down the rabbit hole hear something very, very different emanating from the hole the ridicule as a snake den…

    Regardless, on purely canonical grounds, I am glad for the announcement regarding the SSPX part. The group has been much maligned by so many in and out of the Church…

    https://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/it/bollettino/pubblico/2015/09/01/0637/01386.html#ing

  101. Nonus Centurion says:

    Fr. Z: “Moreover, earlier in his pontificate, this Pope was pretty hard on priests. He seemed to be bashing them on a daily basis. This move to grant all priests in the world the faculty to lift the censure which results from procuring an abortion is a sign of his confidence in priests… for a change.”

    This quote from you goes to one of the points I was making. You see this as Pope Francis expressing confidence in priests. Yet to my eye, and many outside the church it appears to be Pope Francis, after a period of bashing the priests, is now riding in to say “See how great and loving I am, I’m telling everyone they can now do what those earlier popes would not let them do and they obviously did not have the Mercy of Christ to disobey!” Not saying that is correct, but it is what I think many who are ignorant see.

    I have no doubt you honestly see it differently and do so with a heart of Charity.

    However it begs the question of how much exposure – outside of this blog – do you have to the hatred that exists and is growing toward faithful Catholics and the Catholic Church? In some ways your ability to moderate this blog protects you from hearing what is going on over the wall…. A protection regular Catholics do not receive. Likewise it has been my experience that priests who wear their collar are almost always treated much more gently, and the tone in the room around them becomes much more gentle, than when a faithful Catholic walks out alone into the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Simply my experience. I’m sure you and other priests when alone have experienced visceral hatred directed at you. My question really regards how often and how intense is it relative to the solitary Catholic.

    In the end I don’t see Pope Francis’ announcement as decreasing the growing hatred for the Church but rather by the comments and news stories it seems to have embolden them and will cause them to act more aggressively toward Catholics who simply speak the full truth about the Church’s teachings…wrongly so because they do not understand the full truth behind the announcement. But the attacks and using very ignorant understandings of Pope Francis’ “announcements” to do everything they can to destroy the reputation of such Catholics as “crazy” among their community and “friends”. It happens far more often and very silently to many faithful and well formed Catholics…far more I think than most priests realize.

    Regardless, just the thoughts of a nobody Catholic.

    By the way. I do think you have one of the best Catholic blogs on the internet and the Church needs legions more priests like you Fr. Z.

  102. iamlucky13 says:

    “The Church is called to come out of herself and to go to the peripheries, not only geographically, but also the existential peripheries”

    ~Cardinal Bergoglio, prior to his papal election.

  103. marcelus says:

    Honey Badger Pope!! He just does not care! impressive.

    I recall when upon the declaration of thed HY of Mercy, people reacted: welllet’s see who those missionaries of Mercy are.. He should make the SSPX priests missionaries of Mercy…

  104. marcelus says:

    iamlucky13 says:
    1 September 2015 at 6:30 PM
    “The Church is called to come out of herself and to go to the peripheries, not only geographically, but also the existential peripheries”

    ~Cardinal Bergoglio, prior to his papal election.

    Do not forget that Crdl Bergoglio was already helping and talking to the SSPX before he was Pope.

  105. Jason Keener says:

    This is wonderful news indeed. Pope Francis is moving to the peripheries and making room for all that the faith truly allows. I see no reasons why the SSPX should not continue to be brought more fully into perfect reconciliation with the Church, which allows for legitimate diversity on a number of theological and liturgical questions. Also, I don’t think we can speak of the SSPX as being in schism because we have repeatededly heard officials of the Holy See tell us that the SSPX situation involves an internal matter of the Church and that the SSPX is not in schism but in a state of “imperfect reconciliation.”

  106. GOR says:

    “…an ex-priest – a guy who was “laicized” because he committed certain crimes…”

    No doubt, due to recent history, there seems to be an assumption abroad that if a man is a “laicized priest” he must have ‘done something’ – e.g. “committed certain crimes” – to be in that state.

    I take exception to that. There is a process for a priest – secular or regular – to seek a dispensation from celibacy and/or religious vows and return to the lay state – through the appropriate Vatican Congregations and granted by the Holy Father.

    I, and many other priests – still then ‘in good standing’ – availed of that process 40+ years ago and since then. It may not have been the ideal, but it was the appropriate way to exit the active priesthood – via the Church’s mercy for weak human nature.

    I have nothing but admiration and respect for all priests who have “stayed the course”. I just ask for acknowledgment that many who didn’t – first went through the lengthy process to do so licitly, by choice, without having committed any crimes.

  107. Gail F says:

    A snarky reply is still a reply and that’s good. I hope for reconciliation with the SSPX for the good of all the Catholics who attend their parishes.
    I think it’s a beautiful letter, particularly the part about prisoners, which I haven’t seen quoted anywhere and which you will have to look up yourselves or see on my webmagazine tomorrow, http://www.thecatholicbeat.com

  108. Gerard Plourde says:

    Dear GOR,

    Thank you for the reminder that a number of priests found that they were not able for a variety of reasons (many felt called to the married state) to continue the active ministry. I have met, been taught by, and worked alongside some of these men and have found myself enriched by the gifts they possess and share. Given the shortage of priests in the Latin Rite and given the service of married clergy both in the Eastern Uniate Churches and among those formerly of the Anglican Communion who have “swum the Tiber” both in the ground-breaking work of Cardinal O’Connor of New York (endorsed by St.John Paul II) and later by the formal declaration of Pope Emeritus Benedict to establish and nurture a sub-rite within the Latin Church drawing on the deep Catholic roots of England, one wonders whether the discipline of priestly celibacy (which is enphatically that and not dogma) should be re-examined. I should state that I believe that the demands of the priesthood also warrant that celibacy should also continue as a choice and, like the Eastern Uniate Churches be a necessary criterion for admittance to the College of Bishops.

  109. Monica says:

    I am thrilled by this news. My Catholic prisoner “pen pal” (through First Century Christian Ministries) has indicated that she and her elderly parents are FSSPX adherents. Since she has never directly answered my question as to whether a diocesan/vs SSPX priest makes the occasional visit/celebration of Mass that she can receive in prison, I don’t know whether this will affect her or not. (I suspect that the SSPX is not involved in the prison ministry.)
    Thinking of her 90 year-old (+) parents making a general confession to their ‘regular’ FSSPX priest fills my heart with joy. I will leave the arguments to the rest, and write to my prison pen pal to celebrate this great day.

  110. Elizabeth M says:

    Better sign up for an Ignatian Retreat while there is still room.

    The Lord buildeth up Jerusalem: he will gather together the dispersed of Israel. Who healeth the broken of heart, and bindeth up their bruises…The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him: and in them that hope in his mercy.

  111. Nan says:

    @Gerard Plourde, I think it was you above who commented on the Old Catholics stance on women priests? Note that they also have a gay ministry for those special snowflakes. I do owe thanks to them however; it was through an encounter with an Old Catholic priest that my mother, who left the Church in 1972, was reconciled to the Church before her death a week later. He is a chaplain at a protestant place, who, when I objected to his claim to being Catholic, sneered at me for being one of “those Roman Catholics.” His tune quickly changed upon learning that I’m an Eastern Catholic, those which you describe as Uniate (which is a pejorative) and the resulting discussion triggered my mother’s mentioning the Eastern Catholic priest by name, which resulted in her reconciliation with the Church at the time of her death the next week – I had asked many times if she wanted to speak with a priest and she said no, until I asked if she wanted to speak with the priest she named. She left the Church in 1972.

    I do take issue with your statements about married priests – please note that while I can’t comment on the Anglican Communion except to say it was made clear that while married men were ordained in the Catholic Church at the outset, that would not be a continuing tradition; neither Orthodox nor Eastern Catholic priests marry but instead married men are ordained prior to their ordination to the diaconate. It is atypical for the Latin Church to ordain married men. I think it would be a huge mistake to change this, especially citing the priests who found that they couldn’t faithfully keep their promise to the Church, whether secular or religious priests. Many people have the wrong idea that Orthodox and Eastern Catholic priests can get married which has never been true; the Orthodox have celibate, monastic priests but also ordain married men and bishops have always been celibate. If a priests wife dies, he can’t get married again; if a priest divorces, that causes great scandal. In the Greek Orthodox Church, a divorced priest has a year to decide whether to remain a celibate priest or to be released resign so he can marry again. I don’t know whether they have a formal laicization process to accomplish that.

    Eastern Catholic priests have much more time on their hands, at least in the US; most of the parishes are small and have a few activities per week, my local parish doesn’t have the Divine Liturgy every day although for certain feasts there’s usually an anticipatory liturgy. Father has a job besides his parish, along with a wife and cat. He has taken on many commitments and regrets it as he has no time.Also, in the US, there are Eparchies that only have celibate priests. The bottom line is that with all the priests responsibilities, there would be many difficulties as they’d have no time to spend with their families.

    Take heart though; we have seminaries full of faithful men, discerning a vocation.

    GOR, while it’s true there is a process, those priests who bailed out scandalize the little children and contribute to the decay of society. Priests used to be excommunicated for leaving.

  112. So does this mark the first gesture nodded towards the SSPX by Pope Francis?

  113. organistjason says:

    I would pray that this is a genuine movement on Francis’s part and not a Machiavellian action. I feel so weary after the past two years, (mistranslations, misinterpretations, sending faithful Bishops packing, etc) that the first thing that entered my mind this morning was, “I hope Francis is doing this for the opportunity of genuine reconciliation and not to throw a bone to “those evil right wing traditionalists” before he does something “breaking with the traditions and doctrines of the Church” at the upcoming Synod Part Two. Let’s all pray this leads to genuine reconciliation, with the non schismatic, SSPX.

  114. Alan Aversa says:

    Why does “mercy” have an a future start date (8 December 2015) and expiration date (20 November 2016, the end of the “Year of Mercy”)?

  115. jflare says:

    “I hear some error. Maybe a little shot at the beginning.”

    I think you actually highlighted the part that strikes me as being trouble in the original posting. That little bit about the certainty they’ve had, which you highlighted as wrong, strikes me as the sort of idea the SSPX typically uses to justify their actions.

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  117. Imrahil says:

    It’s not precisely the topic here, but as to priestly celibacy:

    There is no such thing as “voluntary, or optional, priestly celibacy”. Any celibacy that is voluntary is either of religious nature (whether or not the person is a full monk) or of have-found-no-wife nature (possibly, of course, both).

    Priestly celibacy, i. e. the idea of an estate “between”, if you will, laity and the religious, not bound by religious vows or to poverty, and not so much to obedience as religious are, but still celibate (it being the more fitting thing for those that offer the Holy Sacrifice), depends on its being compulsory… and on the ones that, in the words of the Pope emeritus, subscribe to that secondary vocation (celibacy) not for its own sake, but going to considerable length for the sake of their primary vocation, priesthood.

    Plus, some have credibly conjectured that married clergy won’t be accepted as confessors on a large scale.

  118. robtbrown says:

    Liam says,

    I am wondering about your interpretation regarding the faculties, Father.

    Faculties are necessary for valid absolution. These can only be given to priests. In light of canons 965, 966.1, and 1378.2.2 that it would have to be the intention of the Holy Father that faculties are given to the priests of the SSPX. Everything in the law ties validity of absolution to order and office, not to nebulous mass of the laity.

    This would all make for a wonderful scholarly paper! Any takers?

    An argument can be made tying the validity of SSPX absolution to canon 144.

  119. robtbrown says:

    Geoffrey says:

    The official response from the SSPX seems to be riddled with their usual arrogance and pride…

    The “arrogance and pride” of the SSPX response is minor league compared to what has been coming out of various German bishops.

  120. GOR says:

    To Gerard and Nan.

    I don’t wish to sidetrack this post into a discussion of celibacy – just to say that I’m in favor of the discipline. Having been there, I can’t imagine the difficulties in juggling the responsibilities of the priesthood with those of family life. To do either is a full time vocation.

    That said, I recognize that some men can do it successfully – Fr. Hunwicke and Fr. Longenecker, among many others – and I have tremendous admiration for them also.

  121. Sonshine135 says:

    Regardless of personal opinions on the Holy Father, there is no doubt in my mind that he practices the mercy that he preaches. Actions indeed speak much louder than words. I hope that this mercy will also be extended to the FFI. One can pray and hope.

  122. j says:

    Was hopeful that Crux might get SOMETHING right, if their serious columnist weighed in. Unfortunately, John Allen does a similarly bad job on the extension of faculties for absolution as the previous “catholic” columnist.

    http://www.cruxnow.com/church/2015/09/01/reflections-on-a-daring-double-play-by-the-pope-of-mercy/

    “First, it’s important to stipulate that this does not represent any change to official Catholic teaching. Both abortion and defiance of papal authority are still considered grave sins, triggering what canon law, the compendium of Church legislation, describes as latae sententiae excommunication, meaning “automatic.””

    NO NO NO NO NO NO!!!!!!!!!

    Allen again repeats the (maliciously?) false equivalency between the SINS confessed, rather than the FACULTIES to Absolve.

    NO-ONE in the SSPX is excommunicated (assuming you no longer count Williamson)
    NO-ONE who attends the SSPX or has their confessions heard has EVER been excommunicated for this
    NO-ONE who attends the SSPX or has their confessions heard is even therefore guilty of “GRAVE SINS”, as Crux has twice implied. The SINS involved are garden variety – some grave, no doubt, but also no doubt, most being at the level of being unkind to a co-worker or sibling.

    The “doubt” about Absolution has NOTHING to do with the sins, but with the general faculties of the Priests.

    EVERYONE who procures an abortion is Excommunicate (if they have knowledge of what they are doing)
    EVERYONE who has procured an abortion has been Excommunicate
    EVERYONE who has procured an abortion IS guilty of “GRAVE SIN”

    The “doubt” about Absoultion has EVERYTHING to do with the sin, and how serious it is, and nothing to do with the general faculties of Priests. It is BECAUSE of the gravity of the SIN that special faculties are required of all Priests do be able to Absolve.

  123. WmHesch says:

    I think it’s very interesting this comes about a week after the Holy Father paid his respects at the tomb of St. Pius X. I’m sure he prayed for the Society’s reconciliation that day.

  124. Gerard Plourde says:

    Dear Nan,

    Let me apologize for the use of the term “Uniate”. I was unaware of its perjoritive connotation.

    As to the issue of self-identified “Old Catholics” – here in the United States there exist a number of groups that trace their lineage to the Old Catholic See of Utrecht – The Old Catholic Apostolic Church of the Americas based in Bethlehem, PA, The International Old Catholic Church which claims to have seven member Dioceses in the United States, one in Cameroon, and a vicariate in Columbia, the Old Roman Catholic Church in North America (which separated from the North American Old Roman Catholic Church), The Old Catholic Church – Province of the United States just to name a few.

    One of the difficulties encountered is the lack of uniformity within these groups – some, while recognizing the Catholic belief concerning the Sacrament of Marriage perform commitment ceremonies for same-sex couples. Others fully adhere to Catholic Doctrine concerning homosexual relationships. It seems that one of the first things to go among these groups is a clear magisterium. In the most extreme cases, some groups with succession from the Utrecht line have adopted Theosophical beliefs and thus broken from orthodox Catholic teaching (in most, if not all cases, these latter groups drop “Old” from their titles but continue to maintain they are Catholic and do trace their lineage back to the Old Catholic split and claim valid Orders and Apostolic Succession through the Uteecht line.)

    Because of all of this confusion, I rely on the promise of Our Lord to Peter and summarized in the wisdom, “Ubi ergo Petrus, ibi Ecclesia.”

  125. Nan says:

    GOR, that’s a bit ironic, you support something you promised but couldn’t follow through with. Not familiar with Fr Hunwicke but note that married convertsn ordinations are rare. While I’ve read Fr Ls blog a bit, I stopped a long time ago. Where I live there’s a married convert priest hospital chaplain who helps with a Paris daily Mass. I had no idea until a homily about baptism… Of his son.

    Imrahil, celibacy is optional in that becoming a priest is optional.

  126. Vincent says:

    If I might just respond, jflare: the point I was trying to make was that the response was not necessarily intended just for the external audience (ie the Vatican). It might well have been intended as a means of avoiding an internal story that would have appeared – and probably still will – that Bishop Fellay was complicit and in discussion with the Vatican when this came about. From a Public Relations point of view (and to prevent further losses to the “Resistance”, it was exactly what they needed to say.

    Gerard. Agreed. I am convinced that the poor Archbishop felt he was left with no option: however, what inevitably has happened is that the Society managed to gain some rogue elements – people who otherwise would have left the Church. They will not hold on to them, and they will go on to form their own fractured groups (like the “Resistance”….) even if/when the Society “reconciles” with Rome.

    Priests high up in the Society have realised that children of SSPX-goers have been separated from Rome for long enough that they may feel that there is no link to it (something I’ve seen). The price however, of returning to Rome, is likely to be great. I think maybe a quarter to a half will refuse to return…

  127. The Masked Chicken says:

    There is a problem that must be discussed, here, with regards to parishioners of an SSPX chapel. If they think their confessions to date have been valid when they are not, then they will have no incentive to repeat their previously invalidly absolved sins when the Jubilee Year goes into effect, at which time any sins will be validly absolved. This could get sticky as to the validity of such Jubilee Year confessions for these people, since, it is not, necessarily, a matter of invincible ignorance in not at least having heard the notion that SSPX confessions are invalid.

    In other words, if one deliberately holds back on confessing a mortal sin in confession, then the confession is not only invalid, but sacrilegious. If one is invincibly ignorant of the mortal sin due to bad memory or inadvertence, or genuine ignorance of something being a sin, then the confession is valid. Most SSPXers have at least heard that Rome does not, at this point, consider the SSPX confessions valid, so most are not invincibly ignorant – they have a badly formed conscience on the matter. Thus, this permission, while useful for Roman Rite drop-ins at SSPX chapels, could be disastrous for regular SSPX attendees, who won’t re-confess their sins.

    Yes, this may need to be discussed.

    The Chicken

  128. StWinefride says:

    Allan S. and Vincent are right to point out the fact that Mons. Fellay has to be mindful of the internal conflicts within the SSPX. Just as an example, the following 2014 letter (in French) addressed to Mons. Fellay from many French SSPX families shows the pressure he is under – they don’t think he’s the right person to lead the Society because they fear that he will strike a deal with Rome, something they don’t want.

    http://aveclimmaculee.blogspot.com/2014/02/adresse-publique-des-familles.html

    Prayer, prayer and more prayer is what is needed.

    Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.
    St Michael the Archangel, pray for us.

  129. Oh my gosh …. I came back here to see if I kicked the hornet’s nest and what do I find but Fr Z added his own touch to my comments. Hahahahhaa!!! Oh Fr you gave me the best laugh of my day. Will the sour grapes award become a regular feature at WDTPRS? [It is an old feature, which I revived for you. You are pretty negative. I think you can sit out for a while.]

    Really I just am concerned for the souls of people and well there is a general antipathy to Rome from the SSPx, and we always have to watch out for our souls, and as best as possible the souls of others. Not to mention there are some quasi-radicals in my diocese that support the SSPX and are sour grapes just like them that Ruin the good name of the TLM. So yeah …. Sour grapes I’ll be but I like my narrow path to the gate thank you! [Best wishes.]

  130. excalibur says:

    Well, it is nice. But if the SSPX is eventually “normalized” will they get the FFI treatment shortly thereafter? In these times one cannot but help think of such a possibility.

  131. Gerard Plourde says:

    Dear Vincent,

    “The price of returning to Rome is likely to be great. I think maybe a quarter to a half will refuse to return…”

    I think your estimate is likely to be accurate, which is truly a tragedy. If history is any guide, those choosing not to return to the Barque of Peter will further fracture and some groups will drift farther afield into heterodoxy and heresy.

    The tragedy of both Archbishop Lefebvre and the earlier bishops who rejected the teaching of papal infallibility at the First Vatican Concil is that, in actively resisting (in good conscience) what they perceive to be an error on the part of the Church, their example unleashes uncontrollable forces that wound the body of Christ and, if the fractured history of the Old Catholics is any guide, some of these forces produce results diametrically opposed to the initial intent of preserving the Ancient Faith.

  132. Prayerful says:

    I might be taking it wrongly, but is this Papal statement not in effect saying that before and after the Year of Mercy, a Confession heard by an SSPX priest is somehow invalid or defective? I am not expert on this at all, so that’s only a thought I have had, and some too above, from a quick reading of the ComBox.

    @excalibur

    The FFI situation was and is horrendous, but if one considers the FSSP and some other priestly societies reconciled in the past, they have not been forced to offer the Novus Ordo Missae. The only FSSP priests saying the Novus Ordo Missae, are former FSSP priests, as best as I am aware.

  133. Tony Phillips says:

    Re: Wm Tighe (1 Sept 4.16 pm): I really don’t think it’s possible to fit a ‘coherent argument’ into a blog combox—which is one reason I merely offered my opinion, and not a detailed argument. Dr Tighe should realise it’s quite possible for reasonable people to come to different conclusions; it does not mean arguments are ‘incoherent’, ‘historically unsophisticated’ or ‘old-fashioned’ (not that I have anything against ‘old-fashioned high-church Anglicans’). Perhaps he confuses Ultramontanism with Catholicism.

    Dr Tighe wants us to believe that a council cannot be oecumenical unless it received the assent of the pope. Space prevents us from discussing that, but whether or not it’s the case, even he must admit that this does not mean that any council convened by a pope is a de facto oecumenical council. Nor does the fact that the various churches differ over how many oecumenical councils there were somehow mean that the Vatican’s tally is the correct one. If the pope assents to the canons of a non-oecumenical council, does that somehow render it oecumenical?

    Just as Vatican II was a creature of its time, so was Vatican I. Pius IX, who has Gladstone famously quipped was Pio Yes-yes before he became pope but quickly became Pio No-No afterwards, found it difficult to come to terms with the collapse of his temporal sovereignty. It seems that when he convened Vatican I, he felt desperate to compensate by expanding his power in the spiritual realm instead. We all know that Vatican I was heavily stacked towards Italian bishops, but that even so a sizable minority was dead-set against the novel definition of papal infallibility. Unfortunately, most of them fled Rome rather than standing up to vote ‘non placet’; only 2 remained to do so. (Co-incidence, but I know of only 2 bishops who stood up to Paul VI’s liturgical changes, actions which I believe exceeded his authority.)

    As traditionalists, we should not shirk from providing an honest critique of Vatican I as well as Vatican II. But if it makes you more comfortable, you can still cling to the notion that the councils were valid but the ‘spirit of the councils’ are the problem: the ‘creeping infallibility’ that has followed V-1, the liturgical, doctrinal and moral chaos that has followed V-2. But if we’re to be honest, we need to admit that both councils, for all their good points, also got it wrong. The only way to Christian re-union in the near term is to admit this. And unity is something Jesus prayed for.

    Somehow I don’t think the Vatican will do this, even under—especially under—Pope Francis. They can’t even admit they got the liturgical ‘reforms’ wrong, can they? No, more likely they will simply stop talking about papal infallibility for a couple centuries until it becomes a mere historical curiosity, like the banning of usury, or extra ecclesiam nulla salus.

    For the record, I do believe in the infallibility of the pope—as long as he’s very, very careful about what he says. And of course the less he says, the more infallible he is. But then that’s true of all of us, Dr Tighe and myself included.

    Again, I rejoice in this measure of recognition the pope has given the SPPX. I hope they will continue to speak out about the bits of Vatican II they object too. There’s room in our church for all these views. And somehow I suspect that people who frequent SSPX Mass centres go to confession a lot more than those of us who frequent our regular parish churches…

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  135. Gerard Plourde says:

    Dear Tony Phillips,

    Would that be the same Gladstone who claimed that the Church of England possessed a monopoly of religious truth and that consequently Nonconformists and Roman Catholics ought to be excluded from all government jobs and who described Catholicism as “an Asian monarchy: nothing but one giddy height of despotism, and one dead level of religious subservience”? I’m not sure that I would rely on his judgment concerning the First Vatican Council or Pope Pius IX.