Is the SSPX in schism?
A commentor in another thread on this blog wrote:
The Holy See has never said that the SSPX is in schism. Therefore, to say that they are strikes me as somewhat rash. Why would one make such a judgment?
In considering this question, we might first take a look at the following. Here are some excerpts from 1988 Motu Proprio of John Paul II entitled Ecclesia Dei adflicta. (me emphasis)
3. In itself, this act was one of disobedience to the Roman Pontiff in a very grave matter and of supreme importance for the unity of the Church, such as is the ordination of bishops whereby the apostolic succession is sacramentally perpetuated. Hence such disobedience — which implies in practice the rejection of the Roman primacy — constitutes a schismatic act [3 – Cf. Code of Canon Law, can. 751.]. In performing such an act, notwithstanding the formal canonical warning sent to them by the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops on 17 June last, Mons. Lefebvre and the priests Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tisser de Mallerais, Richard Williamson, and Alfonso de Galarreta, have incurred the grave penalty of excommunication envisaged by ecclesiastical law.
Okay. The Roman Pontiff, whose opinion is the one that counts, thinks that it was a schismatic act and that they incurred excommunication.
4. The root of this schismatic act can be discerned in an incomplete and contradictory notion of Tradition. ….
There’s the "s" word again.
5. Faced with the situation that has arisen, I deem it my duty to inform all the Catholic faithful of some aspects which this sad event has highlighted. …
c) In the present circumstances I wish especially to make an appeal both solemn and heartfelt, paternal and fraternal, to all those who until now have been linked in various ways to the movement of Archbishop Lefebvre, that they may fulfill the grave duty of remaining united to the Vicar of Christ in the unity of the Catholic Church, and of ceasing their support in any way for that movement. Everyone should be aware that formal adherence to the schism is a grave offense against God and carries the penalty of excommunication decreed by the Church’s law [8 – Cf. Code of Canon Law, can. 1364].
And there it is again!
Questions can be asked about what constitutes "adherence to schism".
It seems to me that the situation of their clerics is pretty clear. If a cleric were to "stick with" ("adhere") the schismatic excommunicated bishops after the schismatic act, that seems like "adherence". They would be sticking with them by receiving ordination from them, obeying commands from them, publically identifying themselves with them, receiving payment from them for their work, etc.
The case of lay people is far far more difficult. Would attending an SSPX chapel be enough for "adherence"? If so how many times? Would public vocal declarations be enough? Would it require a written statement sent to the parish of baptism for notation in the register? Would giving money to them be enough? If so, how much? Would receiving Communion or other sacraments? If so, how many times?
So, where the case of clerics is far clearer, the case of lay people is not clear at all.