Pope Francis provides for valid SSPX marriages

traditional marriage certificateUPDATE 6 April:

I want to make a point.  Specific marriages (that is, involving real people not theoretical cases) are assumed to be valid, unless they are declared by a tribunal not to have taken place at all.  Some marriage ceremonies are undertaken without the proper “form” being observed (e.g., lack of an authorized witness to receive the vows – bishop, pastor, priest with delegation, etc.).  Hitherto, SSPX weddings have had a defect in the form observed because their priests have lacked proper delegation.  But!  The marriages enjoy the presumption of validity until proper authority has made the estimation that there is a problem.  That is accomplished through a proper canonical procedure.  Documents are submitted.  A case is drawn up and examined.  A determination is made and communicated.  In the case of lack of or defect of form, the process is pretty simple.  Anyway, I just want to emphasize that, in the eyes of the Church, marriages are presumed to be valid until they are shown with moral certainty not to be.

___ Originally Published on: Apr 4

For about the thousandth time, I look forward to the day that the SSPX is fully reconciled. Under the unlikely pontificate of Pope Francis, steps are being made. Just as Nixon went to China, it seems that Pope Francis may be the one to get this job done together with SSPX Bp. Fellay. Fellay, by the way… how ‘about that guy? He is proving to be a great leader.

Over the years my two biggest concerns have been the validity of sacramental confessions and the validity of marriages. To review, for absolution to be valid, the priest confessor has to have the faculty to absolve. Ordination is not, by itself, enough. To exercise the power of the keys, the priest needs permission from the legitimate authority of the Church. Also, for marriage to be valid, it must be witnessed by witness authorized by the Church. The couple give to each other the sacrament of matrimony. However, for the marriage to be valid, the proper form must be followed. One of the elements of the form is that there is a witness who is authorized by the Church. Hitherto, the priests of the SSPX did NOT have the faculty to receive sacramental confessions. Except in the extraordinary cases of danger of death, their absolutions were, in themselves, invalid. That doesn’t mean that the penitent never received any sort of graces, but they did not receive valid absolution. However, for the Year of Mercy Pope Francis (in a rather indirect and foggy way) gave the priests of the SSPX the faculty to absolve validly. After the Year of Mercy, Francis extended the faculty indefinitely. That takes care of the absolution issue. The priests of the SSPX, however, are still not authorized witnesses of marriage. Thus, the marriages witnessed by the SSPX are not valid. This is something that can be easily resolved. However, it has not yet been resolved.

Now we learn that steps are being taken to resolve the SSPX marriage issue.

In the Bolletino today we read with my emphases and comments:

Letter of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” to the Ordinaries of the Episcopal Conferences concerned on the faculties for the celebration of marriages of the faithful of the Society Saint Pius X, 04.04.2017

Your Eminence,

Your Excellency,

As you are aware, for some time various meetings and other initiatives have been ongoing in order to bring the Society of St. Pius X into full communion. Recently, the Holy Father decided, for example, to grant all priests of said Society the faculty to validly administer the Sacrament of Penance to the faithful (Letter Misericordia et misera, n.12), such as to ensure the validity and liceity of the Sacrament and allay any concerns on the part of the faithful.

Following the same pastoral outlook which seeks to reassure the conscience of the faithful, despite the objective persistence of the canonical irregularity in which for the time being the Society of St. Pius X finds itself, the Holy Father, following a proposal by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, has decided to authorize Local Ordinaries the possibility to grant faculties for the celebration of marriages of faithful who follow the pastoral activity of the Society, according to the following provisions.

Insofar as possible, the Local Ordinary is to grant the delegation to assist at the marriage to a priest of the Diocese (or in any event, to a fully regular priest), such that the priest may receive the consent of the parties during the marriage rite, followed, in keeping with the liturgy of the Vetus ordo, by the celebration of Mass, which may be celebrated by a priest of the Society.  [So, a priest who is fully “regularized”, whether he is a diocesan priest or a priest of a religious institute serving there, etc., can be present at the wedding and he would receive the vows.  The SSPX priest could do the rest.]

Where the above is not possible, [I wonder about that: for example, of the SSPX priest refuses to play ball?] or if there are no priests in the Diocese able to receive the consent of the parties, the Ordinary may grant the necessary faculties to the priest of the Society who is also to celebrate the Holy Mass, reminding him of the duty to forward the relevant documents to the Diocesan Curia as soon as possible.  [Pretty easy.]

./.

To the Ordinaries
of the Episcopal Conferences concerned

Certain that in this way any uneasiness of conscience on the part of the faithful who adhere to the Society of St. Pius X as well as any uncertainty regarding the validity of the sacrament of marriage may be alleviated, and at the same time that the process towards full institutional regularization may be facilitated, this Dicastery relies on Your cooperation.

The Sovereign Pontiff Francis, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei on 24 March 2017, confirmed his approval of the present letter and ordered its publication.

Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 27 March 2017.

Gerhard Card. L. Müller
President

+ Guido Pozzo
Secretary
Titular Archbishop of Bagnoregio

So there it is.

This move confirms the Holy See‘s view that SSPX marriages are – in general – not valid due to a defect of form.  As to specific marriages, all marriages are presumed valid until proper authority has made a determination about them. Lack of or defect of form cases are pretty easy to figure out.

I hope there are not any thick SSPXers out there who refuse to go along.

How is this being reported? Let’s look at Crux with my emphases and comments:

Pope Francis offers way to recognize marriages by traditionalist group

Pope Francis has made another concession to the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X (SSPX),in an attempt to bring the group into full communion with the Church.
The latest olive branch was extended on Tuesday, when a method was announced for their marriages to be considered valid in the Church.
Currently, priests of the society lack the necessary permissions to conduct Catholic weddings, so the marriages in their chapels are not considered valid by Church authorities.
Under the new system – outlined in a letter by Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the head of the Vatican’s doctrine office, who also serves the President of the Commission which deals with the SSPX [the Pont. Comm. “Ecclesia Dei“] – a local bishop would have a priest of his diocese attend the wedding at the SSPX chapel, and receive the consent of the parties, while the SSPX priest celebrates the wedding liturgy according to the traditional rite.
Müller also said if no priest of the diocese was available, then the bishop could give the necessary faculties to the SSPX priest to receive the consent from the parties, and have him send the necessary paperwork to the diocese.

[… some blah blah…]

Francis seems to be trying to sidestep this doctrinal roadblock by looking directly at the pastoral situations, with this latest letter citing the pope’s concern over “any uneasiness of conscience on the part of the faithful who adhere to the Society of St. Pius X as well as any uncertainty regarding the validity of the sacrament of marriage may be alleviated.”
Perhaps by increasing contact between the local bishops and local SSPX congregations – which often have no communication at all – the pope is hoping to break down some of the psychological and cultural obstacles to unity.
However, the SSPX does not think it needs these permissions, [great guys, but they are wrong] and a visit to any of their websites will give you pages and pages of explanations of why their priests have all the faculties necessary to perform their ministry.
And although Francis is known as a “pope of gestures,” these gestures on priestly faculties are probably not the ones the rank-and-file traditionalists want to see him make, and that takes the pope back to the doctrinal roadblock he has been trying to circumvent.
In an interview earlier this year, Fellay said “the main obstacle is the degree of obligation of adherence to the Second Vatican Council,” in particular mentioning the SSPX “will not yield” on questions such as “the way in which ecumenism is practiced, [ehem… that’s not a doctrinal problem] including statements very dangerous for the faith, that make you think all have the same faith; the liturgical question or the relationship between the Church and the State.” [i.e., religious liberty]
Those are questions which it is doubtful this pope will answer in a way the traditionalists will accept, even if they don’t have to worry about the validity of their marriages.  [Grrrr…. at the end, the writer had to piddle on future.  The solution isn’t that difficult: because the issues that the SSPX has trouble with are, in fact, fraught with difficulties, simply allow that people have freedom to disagree about what they mean.]

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24 Responses to Pope Francis provides for valid SSPX marriages

  1. Imrahil says:

    The appropriate comment is unfitting due to the liturgical season, so I’ll just say:

    Laus tibi, Christe, rex aeternae gloriae.

    Given that we still say that in the Rosary and on feast days, I’ll also say:

    Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto, sicut erat in principio, et nunc et semper et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

  2. Liam says:

    This is a blessing for the whole Church although a potential heachache for diocesan Tribunals. And I wonder why Francis did not circumvent the local ordinaries and simply give faculties himself directly to the priests of the SSPX.

    Note that the language here is “priests”! Does this mean that faculties cannot be given to deacons or a lay designate in this matter?

  3. Fr. Kelly says:

    All steps toward unity are to be applauded, but I have to admit that this confuses me in much the same way as the previous action with regard to the sacrament of penance.

    There the faithful were given the ability to approach a priest of the SSPX to receive absolution from sin validly without directly giving the SSPX priest the faculties to absolve.

    Here permission is given to the Ordinary to allow an SSPX priest to say the nuptial Mass in his jurisdiction. [Not quite. The Ordinary could authorize the SSPX to receive the vows of the couple.] In the first instance, he is to give delegation to, and the vows are to be received by, a diocesan priest or other priest who is fully regular.

    Only in cases where that arrangement is impossible is the SSPX priest to be given delegation to witness the vows.

    The upshot seems to be this:
    1) Bishops can now allow SSPX priests to offer Mass in their dioceses, [Again.] and 2) in the absence of an available diocesan or otherwise “regular” priest, the SSPX priest who is permitted to offer Mass can be given faculties to witness marriages of faithful who attend their chapels.

    Quaeritur: What counts towards making situation 1 impossible? [I suppose that if there were no priest willing to do it (unlikely) or available (unlikely). Or, perhaps the SSPX priest has reasons not to admit another priest to do this. Or perhaps it would be a huge problem for the couple. Hard to say. But Roman solutions usually provide flexibility. They are intended for the whole world, not just our own countries.]

    Does the possibility of situation 2 vitiate all of the SSPX arguments behind their claim of jurisdiction supplied by “necessity”? [Clearly this move confirms the Holy See’s view that SSPX marriages are invalid due to lack of form.]

  4. APX says:

    Hopefully our diocese’s chancery gets informed of this, as they are quite adamant that SSPX marriages are valid and are handled as other marriages of other baptized Christians and don’t require regularization. (There have been couples trying to regularize their sspx marriages, and there are issues at the chancery. )

  5. Fr. Kelly says:

    In light of this document, does the SSPX priest have to apply for these faculties, or may the Local Ordinary grant them universally to all SSPX priests in his jurisdiction?

  6. JabbaPapa says:

    Given that the Spouses provide the Sacrament to each other, this was always IMO the most unjust penalty imposed upon those Laity.

    Anyway.

    Baptism, Eucharist, Penitence, Holy Orders, Matrimony, Last Rites — SSPX priests now celebrate independently 6/7 of the Sacraments validly and with at least technically sufficient permissions from the Holy See.

    Laudamus Domine

  7. JabbaPapa says:

    Fr. Kelly, frankly your difficulties are matters of Canon Law — unless and until the SSPX will be regularised, the licity of the Sacramental Acts that their priests provides remains a bit ambiguous.

    Technically, for the time being, these are exceptional Indults provided to the Faithful regarding these 6 Sacraments.

    Quaeritur: What counts towards making situation 1 impossible?

    A Bishop deciding to disallow these possibilities in his Diocese. But I think you’re a bit confused — this is a ruling concerning matrimonial validity and licity, not the faculty to give Mass.

    Does the possibility of situation 2 vitiate all of the SSPX arguments behind their claim of jurisdiction supplied by “necessity”?

    No, Father, because your 2) is wrong, sorry.

    The provision of any faculties in question continues to be from the competent Ordinary.

  8. Imrahil says:

    Clearly this move confirms the Holy See’s view that SSPX marriages are invalid due to lack of form.

    With all due respect, reverend Father, I don’t think that can be said, certainly not “clearly”: the document has

    Certain that in this way any uneasiness of conscience on the part of the faithful who adhere to the Society of St. Pius X as well as any uncertainty regarding the validity of the sacrament of marriage may be alleviated.

    So, the Holy See is uncertain that these marriages are valid, and considers this uncertainty a bad thing that’s got to be removed. Quite rightly so. To be certain that they are invalid is other stuff, though.

    [For my part, I have considered an implicit granting of Marriage faculties a necessary implication of the granting of Confession faculties, given that the priests in question are known to treat the marriages as valid and can be presumed to do the same in their moral advice they give while hearing Confessions. But that, obviously, is just me.]

    Rev’d dear Fr Kelly,

    in light of this document, does the SSPX priest have to apply for these faculties, or may the Local Ordinary grant them universally to all SSPX priests in his jurisdiction?

    It seems that the latter is not ruled out, but as long as such a grant is not given, the former would be the way to go. Although the Holy See clearly seems to prefer a “regular priest plus SSPX priest” setting (probably the usual practical case, for a no dialogue-related reason at all but the mere timetables of the priests invovled).

    Let it be noted, for the record, that (technically: at least for marriages), the SSPX priest is explicitly allowed to celebrate Mass. That was, of course, implied in the Confession grant as well (as they could confess to each other and are known that they don’t think to need excusing circumstances to celebrate Mass), but here, for the nuptial Mass, it is made quite explicit.

    (So, if a rector of a Church would forbid them his Church, I guess he can still, as he also can deny that to other priests: but the excuse “but they’re suspended, and after all have no marriage faculties” will no longer hold water.)

  9. Imrahil says:

    When I said in parentheses “probably the usual practical case”, what I intended to say was that the other thing, the “this is not possible” situation, is probably the usual practical case, for the quite practical reason of schedules and work to do.

  10. asburyfox says:

    The SSPX had the supplied jurisdiction argument before the Year of Mercy. The Church supplied jurisdiction in absence of the ordinary jurisdiction from the bishop. The Vatican did not declare the SSPX confessions invalid before the Year of Mercy. There was no call for reconfession and statement of invalidity. For the Vatican, it seems they conceded supplied jurisdiction and went ahead to regularize with ordinary jurisdiction.

  11. roma247 says:

    At first I was annoyed by the necessity of going through hoop #1, of having to have a diocesan priest on hand to witness the vows.

    Then I realized: that means more diocesan priests will be at least partially exposed to the TLM in this way, which is great!

    Though it does raise several questions:
    1) Would the rite of marriage itself be done in Latin, according to the Tridentine rite, or in English, with the wording used in the Novus Ordo?
    2) If the former, then is the diocesan priest constrained to be the celebrant and learn the Latin, or does he merely witness and nothing else? And if the latter, then this solution will prove to be another stumbling block.
    3) Again, if the former, in which the vows are completed before Mass begins, would it be considered acceptable for the diocesan priest to then leave and not stay for Mass? (that would be a shame…)

    Also, this point brought out in the Crux article is actually a very good one, worthy of note:

    “Perhaps by increasing contact between the local bishops and local SSPX congregations – which often have no communication at all – the pope is hoping to break down some of the psychological and cultural obstacles to unity.”

    Praying with you for reconciliation!

  12. asburyfox says:

    What provision will be made available to couples who were married in the SSPX before this regularization? How are past invalid SSPX marriages to be regularized and become valid?

  13. Imrahil says:

    Dear roma247,

    such that the priest may receive the consent of the parties during the marriage rite, followed, in keeping with the liturgy of the Vetus ordo, by the celebration of Mass, which may be celebrated by a priest of the Society.

    It is true that it is not explicitly said (the “in keeping with the liturgy of the vetus ordo” means that the marriage rite is followed by Mass), but the tone does suggest that it should be a vetus ordo marriage rite.

    That said, I’d personally say that the revision of the marriage rite as such (not the revision of the nuptial mass, the bridal blessing and the fact that marriage is now after the Gospel; but the marriage rite as such) is one, perhaps the only one(?), where the liturgy reformers really did a good job and improved what was there (if the old ritual is the one present at sanctamissa.org; our FSSP has a marriage ritual on an affiliated internet parish which seems pretty much a NO marriage ritual). But I digress.

    And of course, I’d venture to say (as above) that the usual path will be to go for the “when this is not possible” with a view to the work they have to do. In fact, this could even have been a face-saving gesture: the SSPX priests will witness these marriages in large part (I guess), but the other ones could have if they had had the time.

    (The problem is that bishops are merely asked, quite clearly it is true, but merely asked, to provide these faculties.)

  14. WmHesch says:

    SSPX has been witnessing weddings for two or even three generations now… Is there going to be some sort of vast radical sanation? Or will we see the anomaly of a young couple being validly married, while their parents and possibly grandparents are in invalid unions?

    What about annulments issued by SSPX tribunals? Can diocesan clergy witnessing SSPX weddings under this new schema rely on decisions made by SSPX annulment tribunals in determining freedom to marry? Or do diocesan tribunals have to re-examine each case “de novo”?

  15. Elizabeth M says:

    Great. As if it isn’t difficult enough for a couple who want an EF Nuptial Mass. Now, if the couple attends a SSPX chapel not the local parish because they prefer the EF and there are no other EF options, they must coordinate their wedding with both the SSPX priest and their local Bishop who probably doesn’t have extra time to over see this or doesn’t care. The Diocese already has a 6 month attendance policy which could easily delay the wedding and then you have to attend marriage prep classes (at least here – and they are nothing more than an NFP promoting, feel love-y about your partner talks). Preparing for Marriage (I’m not talking about all the foofy extras) takes time and in ordinary circumstances already has obstacles to overcome. In diocese where the SSPX are not on friendly terms with the Bishop this is going to get tricky.

    What if the couple want their vows to be the older wording? There is a difference! Would the diocese priest need to bend to this wish or could he simply say no for whatever reason he sees appropriate and the couple would have no choice but to obey?

    asburyfox: Good question. Right now the couple would need to present themselves in front of a priest who has faculties and receive a Blessing. At least this is what I’ve been told.

  16. Papabile says:

    If this confirms that the Vatican thinks their marriages invalid, I am confused as to why a close friend of mine had an annulment confirmed by Rome -for the reasons cited by SSPX – after it went to Rome.

  17. Papabile says:

    news & events
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    SSPX Statement about Holy See Letter Concerning Marriages
    April 04, 2017 District of the USA

    Communiqué of the General House about the letter from the Ecclesia Dei Commission concerning marriages of the faithful of the Society of Saint Pius X (April 4, 2017)

    As with the measures taken by Pope Francis granting to the priests of the Society of Saint Pius X the faculty to hear confessions during the Holy Year (September 1, 2015), and extending this faculty beyond the Holy Year (November 20, 2015), the General House has learned that the Holy Father decided “to authorize Local Ordinaries to grant faculties for the celebration of marriages of faithful who follow the pastoral activity of the Society.” (Letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith dated March 27, 2017, published on April 4).

    This decision by the Supreme Pontiff foresees that: “Insofar as possible, the Local Ordinary is to grant the delegation to assist at the marriage to a priest of the Diocese (or in any event, to a fully regular priest), so that the priest may receive the consent of the parties during the marriage rite, followed, in keeping with the liturgy of the Vetus ordo, by the celebration of Mass, which may be celebrated by a priest of the Society.”

    But it also provides that: “Where the above is not possible, or if there are no priests in the Diocese able to receive the consent of the parties, the Ordinary may grant the necessary faculties to the priest of the Society who is also to celebrate the Holy Mass, reminding him of the duty to forward the relevant documents [attesting to the celebration of the sacrament] to the Diocesan Curia as soon as possible.”

    The Society of Saint Pius X conveys its deep gratitude to the Holy Father for his pastoral solicitude as expressed in the letter from the Ecclesia Dei Commission, for the purpose of alleviating “any uncertainty regarding the validity of the sacrament of marriage”. Pope Francis clearly wishes that, as in the matter of confessions, all the faithful who want to marry in the presence of a priest of the Society of Saint Pius X can do so without any worries about the validity of the sacrament. It is to be hoped that all the bishops share this same pastoral solicitude.

    The priests of the Society of Saint Pius X will strive faithfully, as they have done since their ordination, to prepare future spouses for marriage according to the unchangeable doctrine of Christ about the unity and indissolubility of this union (cf. Mt 19:6), before receiving the parties’ consent in the traditional rite of the Holy Church.

    Source: FSSPX/MG – DICI dated April 4, 2017

  18. Gabriel Syme says:

    This further progress is great news and as someone who attends an SSPX Church, I am very grateful to Pope Francis (I’d also be grateful if he would finally answer the Dubia, but I guess we already had our good news for today).

    asburyfox,

    What provision will be made available to couples who were married in the SSPX before this regularization? How are past invalid SSPX marriages to be regularized and become valid?

    When the “Priestly Union of St. John Baptist Mary Vianney”*** was recognised by the Church Authorities, I understand that no mention was made in the official decree regarding marriages it had conducted before an agreement was made.

    Some people, who consider the original marriages invalid, claim that Rome quietly issued a “radical sanation” for these marriages which is essentially making the marriages valid retrospectively with a wave of the hand. Nothing is required of the couples or priests involved, apparently not even their knowledge of the action taken. But if such action was taken, then there must be evidence of it somewhere.

    Others, who consider the original marriages valid, claim that Rome did nothing because the marriages were always valid. They say if there was a problem, it would be incumbent on the authorities to state this and also state what was required to rectify the situation (which seems reasonable).

    Perhaps the good Fr Z can shed some light on what happened in this similar situation?

    ***this was the Diocese of Campos, Brazil, which refused the changes of Vatican II and, under its Ordinary, Bishop Antonio Castro de Mayer – “The Lion of Campos” – became an SSPX ally. (Castro de Mayer was co-consecrator with ++Lefebvre, when he consecrated the 4 SSPX Bishops without authorisation). There was quite a remarkable situation in Brazil, where there was a modern Catholic Diocese, considered canonically regular, and a traditional Catholic Diocese, considered irregular, operating in parallel in the same territory. There still are, but now they are both considered regular.

  19. Fr. Kelly says:

    I just got back to my computer and found the helpful comments and discussion that has occurred since my questions this morning.

    First of all, Thank you Fr. Z both for providing this forum and for your answers above. Particuarly helpful is your experience with the character of Roman decrees.
    And to Jabba Papa for your thoughtful remarks. Taking these as exceptional Indults provided to the Faithful is probably the right way to think of them.
    And to Imrahil for your kind address and for pointing out the explicit permission for an SSPX priest to offer Mass.

    However, it should be noted that the explicit permission given in this decree is to the Local Ordinary who is authorized “to grant faculties for the celebration of marriages of faithful who follow the pastoral activity of the Society, according to the following provisions…”

    In the provisions, the first case does not involve granting these faculties (for witnessing marriage) at all, but merely permitting the SSPX priest who is ‘objectively subject to canonical irregularity for the time being’ to say Mass in his jurisdiction. The Local Ordinary is instructed to grant delegation in this case to a diocesan priest or at least to one who is fully regular. (NB. The language changes from permission to direction here.)

    So, in this case, the SSPX priest is granted faculties to say Mass but not delegation to witness the marriage. Delegation is instead granted to a diocesan priest, or at least one who is fully regular)

    In case of the impossibility of this, or if there are no priests in the Diocese able to receive the consent of the parties (This could be due to total lack of priests, I suppose, or perhaps lack of priests acceptable to the couple?) the Local Ordinary may grant delegation to the SSPX priest to witness the marriage.

    With several commenters above, I will agree that, in practice the second case will probably be more common than the first.

    Another point that I missed at first, is that this decree provides a clarification of the issue of faculties for confession. While Misericordia et misera makes it possible for the faithful to validly receive absolution from an SSPX priest, it did not explicitly mention faculties being granted to those priests. Here, however, the authority behind that decree interprets it for us as granting this faculty. Hence, since law must always be interpreted according to the mind of the lawgiver, now it does grant that faculty to the priests of the Society of Pius X.
    Clarity is a good thing!

  20. Andrew_81 says:

    Practically, I see the only way this plays out is that SSPX priests would be given delegation in most cases. I can’t see most parish priests bothering to come by the SSPX Church to marry people they don’t know (and who they probably will never see again) in an unfamiliar ritual, in an unfamiliar language, and then head back home 10 minutes later, probably sans stipend.

    I would assume most would just give the delegation and stay home, or spend the drive time and brief ceremony time worrying about their own faithful.

    Same with the bishops.

    [I suspect that, in many cases, bishops will find a couple of priests who are willing to take this on and then make contact with the SSPXers. Some bishops will make contact with the SSPXers and then give them the delegation.]

  21. Andrew_81 says:

    Dear Fr. Z.,

    I am well aware you take a fairly “letter of the law” approach to SSPX marriages, which you repeat here. I understand it is out of concern for the faithful.

    Still, I hope you will allow me to respectfully take issue with that position on several counts.

    Historically, I know of several cases (at least 5, and I’ve heard there are many others) where delegation was given to an SSPX priest for a particular marriages. Some, thus, certainly followed canonical form. [If those are true cases, that affirms that the SSPX needed delegation… because they can’t witness marriages.]

    Also, recently I was told by an SSPX seminarian that an officialis from a diocesan tribunal gave a lecture at their seminary arguing for the validity of their marriages due to “Extraordinary Canonical Form” (Canon 1116). That seminarian said the JCD talked about one case he knew personally and several other Rotal cases where SSPX marriages were determined to be valid because of Canon 1116. [I’d have to see all of that information.]

    I appreciate your concern, but I think you may be oversimplifying the issue about past SSPX marriages, and you read that into your commentary on the CDF document here. [Nope. I’m right.]

    Nowhere does it clearly say that the judgement of the Holy See is so categorical. Rather it says the purpose of this is to “ease consciences” and “resolve uncertainty”. If the Holy See did view all SSPX marriages as invalid, an absolute sanatio in radice of all marriages would be warranted since this welcome letter does not solve the already existing putative SSPX marriages. [A sanatio is probably yet to come.]

    If the letter did show the Holy See viewed SSPX marriages as certainly invalid, as you suggest, this letter would trouble consciences and create uncertainty with regard to 40 years of SSPX marriages, not solve things. [Of course that dicastery, at least, of the Holy See isn’t going to write something that will bother consciences.]

    No disrespect intended, Father.

    [I’m still right.]

  22. Oneros says:

    Upon reconciliation Vatican might/should issue a vast radical sanation for all SSPX marriages still intact (i.e., where consent still persists).

    Any that fell apart before the sanation won’t need “full process” annulments (whether the SSPX granted one or not; always one of the most dubious things they did…) because from the Vatican’s perspective they were invalid all along anyway just for lack of form.

    If some SSPXers who bought into the “supplied jurisdiction” argument are uneasy about this, if they had previously gotten one of those SSPX “annulments,” the diocesan bishops could be given permission to rubber-stamp the SSPX’s findings about another [additional] cause of invalidity (since from our perspective they were invalid for lack of form anyway; this would just be to ease consciences).

    If the SSPX never gave an annulment to someone who nevertheless clings to the supplied jurisdiction idea…those people hold the keys to their own prison, really; they can either accept that the very fact that the marriage was SSPX made it invalid and accept the freedom to remarry the Church determines based on that, or they can not remarry under the presumption their first marriage was valid. Or maybe the pope would even be so merciful as to give permission for bishops to “conditionally” look for a second cause of invalidity (even though the assumption is that the marriage is already invalid due to lack of form) “just in case” the person is right about the supplied jurisdiction (though, they’re not…)

  23. spock says:

    So I guess this means the rumors about a personal prelature in the near future are incorrect. Why bother doing this now if the personal prelature is right around the corner?

  24. Ann Malley says:

    @Andrew

    “…Rather it says the purpose of this is to “ease consciences” and “resolve uncertainty.”

    Thank you, Andrew. And thank you, Fr. Z. While we all may have differing pronouncements, we are also limited to making judgments based on what information we have. Not everyone has the same information. But just because one has not seen does not mean certain realities do not exist.