Pope Francis releases Apostolic Letter, renews faculties to absolve abortion, extends confession for SSPX

His Holiness Pope Francis has issued an Apostolic Letter for the close of the Year of Mercy. It is 6600 words long (excluding notes) and it is called Misericordia et misera, a phrase taken from Augustine’s commentaries on the Gospel of John. It has a Latin title, but the document was not released in Latin. There appears not to be a Latin version. As usual for this pontificate. It just so happens that the Latin title results from a quote in Latin.

In any event, the big news in this Letter is that the Pope extended the opportunity to people to go to confession to priests of the SSPX beyond the Year of Mercy.

He also gave all priests the faculty to absolve the sin… and resulting censure… of abortion.

The two concessions are worded in different ways. Let’s see.  He has ben talking about the Sacrament of Penance:

12. Given this need, lest any obstacle arise between the request for reconciliation and God’s forgiveness, I henceforth grant to all priests, in virtue of their ministry, the faculty to absolve those who have committed the sin of procured abortion. The provision I had made in this regard, limited to the duration of the Extraordinary Holy Year,[14] is hereby extended, notwithstanding anything to the contrary. [Note the language.  He writes in a nearly juridical style! “grant to all priests… the faculty… notwithstanding…”] I wish to restate as firmly as I can that abortion is a grave sin, since it puts an end to an innocent life. In the same way, however, I can and must state that there is no sin that God’s mercy cannot reach and wipe away when it finds a repentant heart seeking to be reconciled with the Father. May every priest, therefore, be a guide, support and comfort to penitents on this journey of special reconciliation.

For the Jubilee Year I had also granted that those faithful who, for various reasons, attend churches officiated by the priests of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X, can validly and licitly receive the sacramental absolution of their sins.[15] [Again… note the language.  He does not seem to grant the faculty to the priests.  Right?  In the paragraph above, he explicitly says he grants a faculty.  So, he knows how to do that.  Here, however, he says something else.  But wait… there’s more…] For the pastoral benefit of these faithful, and trusting in the good will of their priests to strive with God’s help for the recovery of full communion in the Catholic Church, I have personally decided to extend this faculty beyond the Jubilee Year, [Now he uses the word faculty.  But it remains that he started out talking about the faithful rather than the priests.  Right?] until further provisions are made, lest anyone ever be deprived of the sacramental sign of reconciliation through the Church’s pardon.

[14] Cf. Letter According to Which an Indulgence is Granted to the Faithful on the Occasion of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, 1 September 2015.

[15] Cf. ibid.

In any event, Pope Francis went ahead and did it.   There does not seem to be an expiration date on the ability of people to go for valid absolution from SSPX priests.

Mind you… this settles the issue of valid sacramental confessions.   It does not settle the issue of valid marriages.  The priests of the SSPX are still not proper witnesses of the sacrament, thus not satisfying proper canonical form.

To all those who are attached to chapels of the SSPX…

… GO TO CONFESSION!

Finally, I had in my mail more than one puzzled note about this extension of confession for the SSPX.  One of my correspondents, himself a well-known internet personage, wrote:

Your thoughts on my thoughts –

Two things are weird (or big looming issues) ..

1. WHY would the Pope do this? It makes no sense given all his critical comments about “tradition” and so forth?

2. Given the official reaction from the SSPX when their confessional faculties were restored – which is to say, “thanks, but we don’t need your blessing, Pope”, I find it hard to believe that whatever might be offered would be accepted.

Is someone really restored – if they themselves reject the olive branch? What does that look like?  Does Pope Francis and the cabal surrounding him simply say “it’s wonderful  to have you home”, when those very same people reject the N.O., Vatican II etc?

This whole thing is very weird.

It seems to me that Andrea Gagliarducci gets it pretty much right in todays Monday Vatican offering:

Finally, we can spot this rationale behind the alleged decision on the SSPX, [This was clearly written before the release of the text.] as the dialogue with the Lefevbrists has been dragging on for years. Pope Benedict XVI opened the dialogue by revoking the excommunication of the bishops illicitly ordained by Lefebvre, and kept the door open with the de-restriction of the older form of the Mass. In this way, Benedict took away from the traditionalists every excuse to avoid the dialogue. [Clearly it did not take away “every excuse”.]

After this, Benedict asked the traditionalists to accept some minimum requirement in order to re-enter into communion with Rome, starting from the acceptance of the Magisterium, including the Second Vatican Council. This remains an issue. If he’d make this decision, Pope Francis would go beyond doctrinal preambles, as his pragmatic solution would bring about only the recognition of the validity of confessions heard by priests of the SSPX. The rest will come.  [But wait!  There’s more!]

This rationale is also behind “Amoris Laetitia”, the much discussed post-synodal apostolic exhortation that followed two years of discussions in the two synods on the family. …

[…]

Creeping incrementalism.

The Pope seems to be trying to get things done by … not doing them.  That is, if you want to cook a living frog, you heat the water very slowly.  Right?  Picture vibrating table until a coffee cup bit by bit moves to the edge of a table.  By tiny and nearly imperceptible increments, it slides, it teeters, it falls, seemingly of its own accord!

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56 Responses to Pope Francis releases Apostolic Letter, renews faculties to absolve abortion, extends confession for SSPX

  1. Jean-Luc says:

    Does one need to “attend (with what frequency?) churches officiated by the priests of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X” to be able to receive validly the absolution from one of their priests?

    What about someone whose only contact with those priests would be for the Sacrament of Penance?

  2. Josephus Muris Saliensis says:

    The suggestion of a willingness to act further, and sooner rather than later, on the regularisation of the SSPX may surely be read into the following words: “and trusting in the good will of their priests to strive with God’s help for the recovery of full communion in the Catholic Church, … until further provisions are made”.

    This is then most encouraging.

  3. LeeF says:

    Besides the stuff on abortion and the welcome news on the SSPX, I find this passage notable:

    The Sacrament of Reconciliation must regain its central place in the Christian life. This requires priests capable of putting their lives at the service of the “ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:18), in such a way that, while no sincerely repentant sinner is prevented from drawing near to the love of the Father who awaits his return, everyone is afforded the opportunity of experiencing the liberating power of forgiveness.

    The HF also mentions “repentant” a couple more times. I wish all priests would take this to heart and be more generous with confession times instead of the common in my area once a month or “by appointment”. We are canonically guaranteed the right to go anonymously, and that does not fit with making an appointment. Of course the people in the pews have to actually believe going to Hell is a real possibility or what need of confession? And where would they hear of that possibility if their pastors don’t teach them same?

  4. David in T.O. says:

    A person married in an SSPX chapel has applied, after a marriage breakdown and civil divorce (surely it has happened) to a regular diocesan tribunal for a decree of nullity. They receive it based upon a “defect in canonical form.” As some point. Francis, or the next Pope, reconciles the SSPX and then regularises all marriages and confessions previously undertaken. The person that received that Decree of Nullity is now “remarried” in a regular diocesan parish. Except, his or her first “marriage,” has now been declared valid.

    Kinda makes ones head hurt trying to figure that one out.

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  6. JabbaPapa says:

    Jean-Luc :

    Does one need to “attend (with what frequency?) churches officiated by the priests of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X” to be able to receive validly the absolution from one of their priests?

    No.

  7. JabbaPapa says:

    I’m genuinely impressed with the quality of this Apostolic Letter — despite some minor stylistic hiccups in the middle, I think it’s the best official text of this Pontificate so far.

    The clear and manifest focus on Confession, and the description of sins as being evil, give a degree of Clarity that certain “progressives” and some sundry Pope-bashers have sought to undermine in various ways.

    (it’s FAR better in French than English BTW, for those of you that can read it)

    There’s the hand IMO of Cardinal Müller in the text, and possibly something even of our dear Pope Emeritus.

  8. Joan M says:

    Didn’t priests have permission to absolve the sin of abortion for years now?

    Joan Moore

  9. MWindsor says:

    I feel the need to point out that it’s rather cruel to boil a living frog.

  10. hwriggles4 says:

    Fr. Z and Joan M:

    I believe St. John Paul II in the 1980s (or maybe it was in the 1990s) gave priests permission to absolve the sin of abortion. I was a one hour Catholic through the majority of the 1980s, so I wouldn’t remember exactly when it occurred.

    The secular media made a big deal a year or so ago when Pope Francis I brought up the issue to absolve the sin of abortion, and carried on like this was the first time in history. There was very little mention from the mainstream media that St. John Paul II had done this approximately 25 years ago.

  11. S.Armaticus says:

    Somehow it doesn’t appear that the two sides of the Conservative/Traditional, A.K.A. Catholic divide will bury the hatchet anytime soon.

    So I bring good news from one of the SSPX breakaway group here:

    http://eponymousflower.blogspot.com/2016/11/new-peak-in-membership-in-fraternity-of.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheEponymousFlower+%28The+Eponymous+Flower%29

    Parting thought, it would also appear that the Holy Ghost wants everyone just where they are. And with this pontificate, that is not necessarily a bad thing.

    Think FFI.

    Which also brings to mind the Poles. They, with their long history of foreign occupation and partition have a great saying, which goes something like this: For your freedom and ours. It would appear that this is what the SSPX are doing.

  12. albizzi says:

    Is attending a SSPX mass and receiving the Eucharist from a SSPX priest a sin?
    If yes, it would look very odd to confess this to a SSPX priest and of course to ask absolution for this sin.

    [It depends on the reason for your going to the their Masses, I think. If you are doing so out of hatred for or defiance towards the Pope or the bishop, etc. I would say that you have a problem. If, on the other hand, you are looking for reverent Masses, etc., that’s another matter. These are not black and white situations (as are cases of adultery). For example, having visited Saint Nicholas du Chardonnay in Paris, and having seen the care the SSPX and people lavish on that place, and having visited many other parish churches in Paris, with their sad abandoned altars and dopey noncommittal displays and silly glass rooms and revolting music and unappealing vestments, etc….]

  13. gretta says:

    Incrementalism, certainly. But it also seems to me with the pope’s focus on the importance of reconciliation, coupled with a willingness to not let certain laws obstruct what he sees as a greater good, I think he’d find making this accommodation a more permanent one a “no brainer.” It allows SSPX’ers access to valid confessions, and gives Rome the ability to claim they made the first, substantive gesture to reconciliation.

    I think your correspondent is mixing up the Pope’s confusion about why someone would want to attend the EF and adopt traditional forms with a general dislike of traditionally-minded people. I think the Pope genuinely wants all people of all stripes reconciled with the Church, including the SSPXers, and that it truly pains him to have anyone out of communion. So while he may have no understanding of why traditionalists want what they want, he is not about to let it stand in the way of being reconciled, or for the good of their faithful, reconciling others.

  14. JabbaPapa says:

    IIRC, the faculty until today was subjected to Episcopal permission.

  15. jhayes says:

    Catholic News Service (USCCB) clarifies that the Letter authorizes priests to lift the excommunication attached to abortion without requesting permission from their bishop. Although most (all?) U.S. bishops have granted that authority to all their priests, that is not so in all countries.

    In his letter, Pope Francis said he formally was giving all priests permanent permission to grant absolution to those who confess to having procured an abortion. While many bishops around the world, and almost all bishops in the United States, routinely grant that faculty to all their priests, Pope Francis had made it universal during the Holy Year.

    According to canon law, procuring an abortion brings automatic excommunication to those who know of the penalty, but procure the abortion anyway. Without formal permission, priests had been required to refer the case to their bishops before the excommunication could be lifted and sacramental absolution could be granted to a woman who had an abortion or those directly involved in the procedure….

    Speaking to reporters during a Vatican news conference Nov. 21, Archbishop Rino Fisichella said procuring an abortion still results in automatic excommunication the very moment the procedure is carried out.

    Sacramental absolution, therefore, is not just forgiving the sin of abortion, but also means “the excommunication is removed,” he said.

    Now that all priests have been given the faculty to lift the excommunication and grant absolution, the Code of Canon Law will have to be updated, said the archbishop, who is president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, the office that organized events for the Year of Mercy.

  16. Papabile says:

    I find the SSPX decision interesting. As I said over a year ago, allowing them to validly confess creates too much cognitive dissonance to continue to maintain they are not really in Communion.

    For instance, consider this.

    While Rome has evidently said new ordinance are no longer ipso fact suspended a Dominos at the point of ordination, it has not liftes the previous suspensions of all Priests of the Society.

    Hence, Rome would maintain that a suspended Priest, when offering Mass, sins mortally.

    This same Priest has now been given the faculty to validly confess. So, do unrepentant suspended mortally sinning Mass offering Priests of the SSPX actually validly confess when they go to Confession?

    Also, they have not been given jurisdiction to marry the faithful, and hence the faithful still supposedly enter invalid marriages. If true, they live in an ongoing mortally sinful way. Does that mean their Confessions are also invalid as they would not likely confess that sin?

    This decision makes no coherent sense, UNLESS they actually really are in Communion already.

    My personal opinion is Rome just wants to find a way to save face at this time.

    While I do not make an effort to attend this Masses, I no longer avoid them, and celebrated with them at the opening of their new seminary.

  17. bombcar says:

    There’s absolution and removing the excommunication. Not sure if Francis has covered both.

  18. jhayes says:

    I suppose the reason for the language about SSPX confessions is that Francis wants to make the point that they are valid but not licit. Granting faculties could imply that they are both valid and licit, which might cause confusion as to whether SSPX priests can validly and licitly perform other sacraments, such as matrimony.

    [That might be it. It is all very odd.]

  19. Athelstan says:

    1. I think we just have to accept that observing proper form is not a fair expectation with this Pope, for whatever reason. But penitents shouldn’t be concerned. I think the estimable Fr. Hunwicke is in the right of it in this case: “…such a statement by a Roman Pontiff must inevitably create a common opinion that those clergy must have faculties to absolve, otherwise the Vicar of Christ would not have urged the laity to visit their confessionals. And Canon 144 makes clear that in cases of common error, the Church supplies the necessary jurisdiction. “

    2. Marriages are not the same situation, since there has been not even an attempt to grant the faculty (which means the SSPX has to fall back on its “supplied jurisdiction” argument). To my knowledge, every SSPX marriage that has come up before a diocesan or Roman tribunal has been recognized as valid, but this seems to be an ad hoc policy. Those wanting surety of the validity of their marriage – if they accept papal authority at all – should take the sure route of being married by a priest with faculties. Indeed, I have heard of at least one Society priest who urged this on a young couple in the Chicago who also had the option marrying at a local Ecclesia Dei parish.

    3. “until further provisions are made” – the pregnant expression. It makes you wonder, given recent comments by Bishop Fellay about ongoing negotiations with the Holy See.

  20. Athelstan says:

    “Hence, Rome would maintain that a suspended Priest, when offering Mass, sins mortally.
    This same Priest has now been given the faculty to validly confess. So, do unrepentant suspended mortally sinning Mass offering Priests of the SSPX actually validly confess when they go to Confession?”

    That IS a sticky question.

    And I think it’s one reason why Benedict never made such a move. But Pope Francis plainly is not bothered by such difficulties.

  21. Athelstan says:

    Joan M:

    Didn’t priests have permission to absolve the sin of abortion for years now?

    Most priests worldwide did, but not all.

    All the priests with faulties in the United States did.

  22. bushboar says:

    The lawyer in me reads the language regarding SSPX confessions as nothing more than poor drafting. He did speak of the faithful and not the SSPX priests first, but the fact that he referenced the language about the faithful and referred to it as a faculty leads me to that conclusion.

    But I’m not a canon lawyer and not schooled in the nuances of reading between Papal lines so maybe I’m off base.

  23. LeeF says:

    @Papabile & Athelstan

    I think a good analogy to use here is the common one of priest as physician. Assume a physician is suspended by his state’s medical board. But he comes on an accident and uses his medical training anyway. The state probably is not going to have a problem with that because it was an emergency and the patient’s life was at risk. Same thing with a suspended priest. Going to Mass and getting married are not emergencies and there are other options than a suspended provider. But needing to go to confession can be considered an emergency, as the patient’s spiritual life may be in danger. The focus is on the patient and not the physician, and it being OK for the physician to render care in an emergency does not imply his license is in good standing.

  24. Papabile says:

    My only point was cognitive dissonance. The Roman policy no longer makes any logical sense.

    @Athelstan, you are right that the Roman tribunals have always considered the SSPX marriages valid,and have treated them as such any time a case gets referred to them. However, diocesan courts do not always treat them this way. Another boomblet of dissonance.

  25. The Masked Chicken says:

    “This same Priest has now been given the faculty to validly confess. So, do unrepentant suspended mortally sinning Mass offering Priests of the SSPX actually validly confess when they go to Confession?”

    Yes. There is no difference between this mortal sin and another. A priest, even in mortal sin, still absolves validly and licitly, if they have faculties, which this document seems to supply, although in a round-about way. See the heresy of Donatism. From Wikipedia:

    “The second question was the validity of sacraments celebrated by priests and bishops who had been apostates under the persecution. The Donatists held that all such sacraments were invalid; by their sinful act, such clerics had rendered themselves incapable of celebrating valid sacraments. This is known as ex opere operantis, Latin for from the work of the one doing the working, that is, that the validity of the sacrament depends upon the worthiness and holiness of the minister confecting. The Catholic position, according to Augustine, was ex opere operato from the work having been worked; in other words, that the validity of the sacrament depends upon the holiness of God, the minister being a mere instrument of God’s work, so that any priest or bishop, even one in a state of mortal sin, who speaks the formula of the sacrament with valid matter and the intent of causing the sacrament to occur acts validly. Hence, to the Donatists, a priest who had been an apostate but who repented could speak the words of consecration forever, but he could no longer confect the Eucharist. To Catholics, a person who received the Eucharist from the hands of even an unrepentant sinning priest still received Christ’s Body and Blood, their own sacramental life being undamaged by the priest’s faults.”

    So with the Mass, so with confession.

    Now, suspended priests can have partial faculties restored, so even if the priest is still suspended, I don’t see, in principle, why that priest would not, likewise, have the partial faculty.

    As for excommunication, it seems as though Pope Francis did not give permission to lift that, so I don’t know how that would work, since Can. 1398 (with the usual provisos for ignorance, etc.) would cause excommunication if the abortion is done with full knowledge and consent. Lifting censures is a different part of the confessional procedure than simple absolution, so, I don’t know what this document does in that regard. Anyone care to enlighten us?

    The Chicken

  26. Potato2 says:

    So how does this work.
    Sspx priest # 1. “Forgive me Father, today I said Mass.”
    Sspx priest #2.” No problem.”

  27. StDonatus says:

    This whole thing with the SSPX confuses me. Now let me understand this. Those who are married by a Catholic priest who promotes homosexuality, shacking up, and contraception marries a couple, and it is valid. An estimated 98% of which will go on to commit daily mortal sin by using contraceptives. An estimated 75% of which will commit mortal sin by not attending Sunday Mass. An estimated 90% don’t believe the some of the teachings of Jesus Christ, including contraception, divorce, homosexuality or same-sex ‘marriage’. It is estimated that barely 85% of the children of the 25% who do go to Mass, will abandon the faith by the time they are done in a Catholic university like Marquette. Even the couple married in the 1st Baptist Church by a woman ARE validly married.

    As for the SSPX married couple, 95% of whom will NOT use contraception, do not get a divorce, agree with all the traditional teachings of the Church, and raise their children to be rock solid Catholics, we are to believe are NOT validly married.

    Am I understanding this correctly?

  28. Papabile says:

    Masked Chicken, you missed my point. These priests who would be confessing, are also unrepentant for the sin of offering mass while suspended .

    At least, according to Roman logic, they would be in a state of mortal sin for offering mass, yet priests – who are also part of the faithful – now have the ability to hear confessions fallibly, but are seemingly unable to absolve most of the very same priests of the SSPX.

    Basically, according to Roman logic , Laypeople could be validly absolved. And then, with respect to those living in a marriage performed by the SSPX, They might be able to be absolved, or they might not – depending on whom you speak with about the validity of their marriages.

    My point has nothing to do with Donatism. I understand the doctrines undergirding that quite well. It has to do with cognitive dissonance.

  29. JabbaPapa says:

    jhayes :

    I suppose the reason for the language about SSPX confessions is that Francis wants to make the point that they are valid but not licit.

    No, the Pope has explicitly stated that the Sacrament is provided both validly and licitly.

    Pope Francis : For the Jubilee Year I had also granted that those faithful who, for various reasons, attend churches officiated by the priests of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X, can validly and licitly receive the sacramental absolution of their sins.

    For the pastoral benefit of these faithful, and trusting in the good will of their priests to strive with God’s help for the recovery of full communion in the Catholic Church, I have personally decided to extend this faculty beyond the Jubilee Year, until further provisions are made, lest anyone ever be deprived of the sacramental sign of reconciliation through the Church’s pardon.

  30. The Masked Chicken says:

    Dear Papabile,

    Thanks for clarifying. I read too fast. I read, absolve, where you have confess.

    The Chicken

  31. JabbaPapa says:

    Athelstan :

    “Hence, Rome would maintain that a suspended Priest, when offering Mass, sins mortally.
    This same Priest has now been given the faculty to validly confess. So, do unrepentant suspended mortally sinning Mass offering Priests of the SSPX actually validly confess when they go to Confession?”

    That IS a sticky question.

    Except that the Pope earlier this year granted Faculties to the SSPX Bishops to freely ordain men into the priesthood with no need to request permission from a Diocesan Bishop. [Is that so? I think that needs to be backed up.]

    So, the automatic suspension a divinis for an illicit Ordination de facto no longer exists. [Until it can be proven that he has some sort of faculty or … dimissorial letter, I don’t think we can assume that.]

    And besides, the Pope has declared in his Sovereignty as the Roman Pontiff that the Sacrament of Reconciliation is received licitly by the Faithful from SSPX priests. This is not a “question” of any sort, let alone a “sticky” one …

    Roma locuta est.

    [Haudquaquam est cause finita.]

  32. Bthompson says:

    Also buried in there was an seeming indefinite extension of the Missionaries of Mercy.

  33. rbbadger says:

    This is not the only canonical question this document raises. The canonists over on Twitter have pointed out some obvious problems. One of them concerns the absolution of the sin of abortion, faculties which most priests have. However, while we can absolve the sin, there is also the question of the latae sententiae excommunication which may have been incurred. My diocesan faculties state that I have the faculty to absolve sins in the case of abortion and to also lift the latae sententiae penalty of excommunication the first time this sin is confessed. However, if the person has another abortion afterwards, I cannot lift the penalty of excommunication but I can absolve the sin. The bishop has reserved to himself the lifting of the penalty in those cases. Nothing in the document seems to change that.

    The document fails to differentiate between sin and delict. It is causing more, not less, confusion.

  34. gretta says:

    “As for the SSPX married couple, 95% of whom will NOT use contraception, do not get a divorce, agree with all the traditional teachings of the Church, and raise their children to be rock solid Catholics, we are to believe are NOT validly married. Am I understanding this correctly?”

    The problem with what you have said is that if they are not in union with Rome, or they are Catholics who are flouting Catholic teaching on the necessity of marrying validly and according to Catholic law, then they are not “rock solid Catholics.” If they aren’t in union with Rome, then they don’t agree with the most fundamental of Catholic teachings, which is the necessity of unity with Rome. So you are correct that their marriages are invalid, because they have disobeyed Catholic law and married outside the Church. Disobedience is disobedience, regardless of which side is doing it.

  35. LeeF says:

    @St. Donatus who said:
    As for the SSPX married couple, 95% of whom will NOT use contraception, do not get a divorce, agree with all the traditional teachings of the Church, and raise their children to be rock solid Catholics, we are to believe are NOT validly married.

    While those would be fruits of not only a valid marriage, but a truly lived Catholic one, they do not necessarily prove validity, i.e. correlation does not equal causation. And what if you flip it around. A marriage that practices contraception, ends up in a divorce with the couple dissenting from Church teachings and raising their children to be lukewarm Catholics at best, would then by the same logic you use, be proven to be invalid, even if the reason were not discernible to a diocesan tribunal charged with examining requests for annulments.

  36. sisu says:

    As an attempt to be the one to reunite the Eastern Orthodox to Rome, I believe he is attempting to make our theology-in-practice (especially concerning divorce and remarriage) localized. If theology-in-practice is only the pastoral opinion of a local bishop, then of course you can admit the divorce/remarriage practices of the Eastern Orthodox, as well as the traditional Catholic practice of SSPX.
    Why pastoral practice should in some way vary from theology/belief is beyond me. What is Christianity but living out the truths of the faith? That there should be a tiered system of belief, one ideal, and the other for the average people, smacks of Gnosticism.

  37. jhayes says:

    Papabile wrote “Masked Chicken, you missed my point. These priests who would be confessing, are also unrepentant for the sin of offering mass while suspended ”

    I believe that the official SSPX position is “ecclesia supplet” and that they are not sinning in saying Mass, hearing confessions or performing other sacraments.

    If I recall correctly, +Fellay has said that he and other SSPX priests are allowed to say Mass in St. Peter’s during trips to Rome.

  38. Imrahil says:

    It is still somewhat sort of an outright regularisation – as yet.

    Still, I shall say now what I was going to say:

    So this is what we have had to endure all the rest for. Eternal praise to God Who, after all, knows best.

    Hooray! (and up she rises…)

    Also, I think a Te Deum might be in order.

  39. Gabriel Syme says:

    Potato,


    Sspx priest # 1. “Forgive me Father, today I said Mass.”
    Sspx priest #2.” No problem.”

    For your penance, say a dozen masses.

  40. Gabriel Syme says:

    jhayes,

    +Fellay has said that he and other SSPX priests are allowed to say Mass in St. Peter’s during trips to Rome

    That is right. The SSPX clergy are also permitted to say mass at the big pilgrimage sites, such as the Basilica of Pius X, at Lourdes (I understand the annual SSPX pilgrimage to Lourdes is one of the biggest in the calendar, if not *the* biggest).

    Important places like Knock, Ireland and Lisieux, France are other examples.

    (Btw the photos I have seen of the inside of the Pius X Basilica at Lourdes looks like a setting from Star Wars, or the like.)

    In the past, there had been unfortunate instances of SSPX pilgrimages being forced to use secularised Churches for worship (as happened in Trier, Germany) or holding mass outdoors in the grounds of Churches, after being turned away at the door. But the Church has moved past that sad phase now, for which we should all be grateful.

    I can think of 2+ local (to me) examples, where SSPX clergy where allowed to offer requiem masses in Diocesan Churches.

  41. robtbrown says:

    JabbaPapa  says,

    IIRC, the faculty until today was subjected to Episcopal permission.

    The pope is a bishop.

  42. StDonatus says:

    LeeF,
    the result you pointed to is exactly what Pope Francis has intimated when he said that at least half of Catholics marriages are not valid anyway. My point is that we have been going down a very confusing road for some time now. It appears today that one can sin as much as you want as long as you are ‘obedient’ to Rome. I know this is a very dangerous direction to go, but today we see priests destroying the faith of the laity in order to be obedient to their heretical bishop. If the bishop tells a priest to do something that is against the teachings of the Church, one way or another, he is disobedient. I know several priests who have indicated that their bishop informed them that they MUST tell couples that not only can they use contraceptives but in some cases they are not good Catholic parents if they don’t use contraceptives. So if a priest disobeys his bishop in this regard, is he in mortal sin.

    This is the kind of convoluted logic that has become apparent when you have a Church that generally flouts its own teachings. If an SSPX bishop is not excommunicated, is recognized as a bishop by Rome, ordains priests and tasks them with performing marriages, is the marriage invalid. The priest must obey his bishop, am I not correct.

    Again, if a Baptist, Lutheran, or Orthodox marriage is valid, how can an SSPX marriage not be valid?

  43. robtbrown says:

    jhayes says:

    Papabile wrote “Masked Chicken, you missed my point. These priests who would be confessing, are also unrepentant for the sin of offering mass while suspended ”

    I believe that the official SSPX position is “ecclesia supplet” and that they are not sinning in saying Mass, hearing confessions or performing other sacraments.

    The phrase is Ecclesia supplet iurisdictionem, thus only applies to Sacraments whose validity depends on iurisdiction. That would not include the Eucharist.

  44. The Masked Chicken says:

    Another effect of common and essy absolution of abortion sin might be that the Faithful might be led to think of abortion as just another mortal sin, not an especially heinous one. This could be good for getting them back into Church, but bad for making them avoid the sin. A simple priest being able to lift the excommunication only for the first offense might be a corrective to this if excommunication is extra explained to the penitent.

    The Chicken

  45. Unwilling says:

    …one after another all withdrew. The two were left alone, the wretched woman and Mercy.
    Relicti sunt duo, misera et misericordia. Augustinus, Tractatus 33, 5.

    I don’t see the linguistic justification for translating “et” by “with”. It, “with”, suggests some continuity with “accompanying” the woman. Jesus did not go anywhere with her (as he did to the publican); he simply exhorted her to stop what she had been doing and sent her away.

  46. Papabile says:

    Athelstan: my original post took into account the new Sspx priests are not suspended. It was referring to the already extant Priests that are suspended.

    Again, cognitive dissonance.

  47. Michelle F says:

    StDonatus,

    I hope the bishop who is telling his priests that parishioners may use contraceptives meant to say that parishioners may engage in periodic continence (abstaining from relations once in a while). The Catechism of the Catholic Church says periodic continence is permitted, but any other form of contraception (usually called “artificial contraception”) “…is intrinsically evil” (CCC #2370).

    As for the dilemma of obedience, no one has the authority to order someone else to commit a sin.

    St. Thomas Aquinas addresses this problem in his Summa Theologiae, Second Part of the Second Part, Question 104: Obedience, Article 5: “Whether subjects are bound to obey their superiors in all things?”

    St. Thomas’ short answer is: “On the contrary, It is written (Acts 5:29): ‘We ought to obey God rather than men.’ Now sometimes the things commanded by a superior are against God. Therefore superiors are not to be obeyed in all things.” (http://www.newadvent.org/summa/3104.htm)

    There is also a passage from the Old Testament book of Ecclesiaticus (called Sirach in modern Bibles): “He hath commanded no man to do wickedly, and He hath given no man license to sin: For He desireth not a multitude of faithless and unprofitable children” (15:21-22).

    The saints all agree that obedience to one’s lawful superiors in the Church, the state, the workplace, and the family is pleasing to God, and a sure means of cultivating humility, but this obedience cannot be blind. The orders given by one’s lawful superiors must be in conformity with God’s law. If they aren’t, then the orders are unjust and must not be followed. You should assume, in charity, that your superior has simply made a mistake and explain, humbly and reverently, why you cannot do as he commanded. In doing this, you might discover that you were the one who misunderstood. If you understood correctly and your superior does not relent, however, you cannot obey the command. As St. Thomas More said, “I am the king’s servant, but God’s first,” and St. Paul said we may not do evil that good may come of it (Romans 3:8).

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  49. Imrahil says:

    As for the problem of saying Mass (or the like) in a state of suspension, first, Church moral law is very lenient with toleratedly suspended clerics (and has someone ever heard of a vitandus suspension these days?). It is, by allowance of the Council of Constance, no sin (in general) to attend or ask for such a Mass and (as otherwise this allowance would be morally void in Christian charity) no sin to say them if asked, as St. Alphonsus teaches

    In any case, by making people Confessors (for something else than an exceptionalyear, too) who will, officially, not hold the things to be sins (or to be ineffective, e. g. witnessing marriage) that SSPX priests generally do, one might ask whether the Holy Father did not actually lift the censure by implication.

  50. JabbaPapa says:

    Canon 1398 does not reserve the penalty of excommunication for abortion to the Bishop.

    Here’s Father Z on the topic of lifting such excommunications : http://wdtprs.com/blog/2014/06/ask-father-excommunication-after-abortion-and-absolution/

  51. Fuerza says:

    I’m a little late to the discussion. To my non-theologically trained mind, this extension of penitential faculties for SSPX priests almost seems to imply that Catholics can validly fulfill their Sunday obligation at an SSPX Mass. I know there are many who say that that has always been the case, but there are also many among the clergy who disagree ( Just take a glance at some diocesan websites in the Southern and Western US- many specifically list SSPX chapels as non-Catholic parishes which the faithful should avoid). I raised the same point on another Catholic forum when the first grant of faculties was issued last year, and several users, including at least one priest, strongly disagreed. The wording of this release, however, which directly addresses those who attend SSPX Masses, seems even stronger. Certainly, one cannot be absolved from sin by any priest at all if he knowingly continues to attend Masses which do not fulfill the obligation, so this implies to me at least a passive recognition of these Masses as licit. Using the same logic, one can also argue for the recognition of SSPX marriages, but that is admittedly more of a stretch. I could be way off base here. Am I wrong in my interpretation?

  52. LeeF says:

    @St. Donatus,

    I agree these are confusing and trying times. But I do think as I said above, that an emphasis on the patient (sinner) and making allowances for him/her, does not imply that the physician (priest) also gets any other special allowances except in the issue specified (confession not marriage.)

    If an SSPX bishop is not excommunicated, is recognized as a bishop by Rome, ordains priests and tasks them with performing marriages, is the marriage invalid. The priest must obey his bishop, am I not correct.

    Under canon law, the lack of excommunication does not mean an SSPX bishop possesses valid and licit powers of jurisdiction and thus can validly and licitly task his priests to perform marriages. And the lack of obedience and faithfulness by other bishops does not change that. No amount of circuitous reasoning can change the fact that the SSPX bishops do not currently possess full faculties from the supreme pontiff and thus cannot pass on same to their priests.

    Again, if a Baptist, Lutheran, or Orthodox marriage is valid, how can an SSPX marriage not be valid?

    A good question, presuming we are dealing with the first/only marriage to avoid complications. Just as Catholics must obey things Protestants do not, and non-Christians must obey at least the natural law, one’s obligations are dependent on one’s state of knowledge of the Truth and the obligations imposed thereby. As long as Catholics realize that they must obey the laws of the Church in respect to marriage, including having it witnessed by a priest/deacon in possession of faculties, then they are obligated to obey same. Even if adherents of the SSPX believe differently and/or do not realize that, the lack of faculties means SSPX priests preside invalidly, not just illicitly which means no marriage. The same as if any one of us received communion hosts that were adulterated, i.e. it is no true communion, regardless of our belief and intent.

  53. Wiktor says:

    The way this is formulated suggests it is a “faculty” of the faithful to receive the absolution from SSPX priests, not a faculty of SSPX priests to give it.

  54. JabbaPapa says:

    Except that the Pope earlier this year granted Faculties to the SSPX Bishops to freely ordain men into the priesthood with no need to request permission from a Diocesan Bishop. [Is that so? I think that needs to be backed up.]

    OK, I looked it up again, and this time I found the actual text of a letter, though clearly there are at least two other letters, one to the Bishop of Ratisbonne and another to Bishop Fellay from the CDF, which are not made public at present.

    (this is so far the only official public declaration that I’m aware of on this matter)

    http://tradinews.blogspot.fr/2016/06/diocese-de-ratisbonne-communique-de.html (French translation — original text in German)

    Diocèse de Ratisbonne – original en allemand: bistum-regensburg.de – 22 juin 2016

    L’évêque de Ratisbonne se félicite de toute initiative visant à surmonter un schisme, au rapprochement des groupes séparés de l’Eglise catholique et donc à retrouver l’unité visible de l’Eglise.

    Les ordinations qui ont été annoncées pour le 2 juillet à Zaitzkofen, comme l’explique le secrétaire de la Commission pontificale Ecclesia Dei Mgr Pozzo, ne présentent aucun danger, à l’heure actuelle. Il ne résulte cependant pas qu’elles soient licites du point de vue canonique, ce n’est pas non plus une reconnaissance implicite de la licéité du sacre de l’évêque de la Fraternité qui officie.

    Les ordinations sont simplement tolérées et acceptées, sans sanction. Cela résulte d’une concession que le Saint Siège accorde sans contrepartie, en vue du rapprochement espéré de la Fraternité, après un temps de réflexion intense et d’examen. Le critère pour la reconnaissance de la Fraternité est et reste la pleine acceptation de l’autorité du Concile Vatican II et tous ses documents (liberté religieuse, l’œcuménisme, etc.).

    Now, I think there’s more to this lying under the surface, given that two SSPX Bishops have spoken of a letter “from Rome” supposedly giving faculties beyond what is described in this letter from the Bishop of Regensburg relaying a decision of the Commission Ecclesia Dei.

    Nevertheless, even taken prudently and conservatively, it describes the ordinations of this past 2nd July as being “without danger”, and “accepted”, and “free of sanction(s)“, albeit “not licit” — but legally, the acceptance of those ordinations and the absence of sanctions, in other words Canon 1383, must de facto constitute a lack of suspension a divinis for these particular priests, given that it IS the relevant sanction.

    Now — everyone involved does seem to think that this lifting of the sanctions will continue going forward ; but this letter does clarify one point I wasn’t sure about, which is that such sanctions clearly continue to be in place for those priests ordained by the SSPX Bishops after the excommunications but before this past 22nd June, except where they may have been lifted for individual priests and other such exceptions.

    So, it’s not as cut and dried as I suggested in the earlier post, but the lifting of sanctions for these illicit Ordinations is still a significant step forward for the Fraternity.

  55. JabbaPapa says:

    LeeF :

    Under canon law, the lack of excommunication does not mean an SSPX bishop possesses valid and licit powers of jurisdiction and thus can validly and licitly task his priests to perform marriages.

    This is all a bit technical, but as far I understand the matter, and given that this Sacrament is provided by the spouses, not the priest, and provided the spouses are in a sufficient state of penitential grace, and IF their Diocesan Ordinary (or if he may do so, their Curate) permits their marriage in a SSPX chapel, then the marriage is valid and licit.

    Frankly though, I’ve always thought that this particular sanction concerning only the lay supporters of the SSPX is overkill.

  56. Imrahil says:

    Dear Jean-Luc,

    no.

    First, it is an extension of the Jubilee faculties which to my knowledge did not contain such a restriction.

    Second, “attend” without specification means “attend at all”, so if you go to a chapel of theirs to confess, or have ever been there for some religious Service, you “attend”.