SSPX & Womenpriests: similar? dissimilar?

Under another entry, someone suggested that the SSPX and the Womenpriest thingy were similar in some respects.  

HOW would they be similar?

HOW would they be dissimilar?

Discuss, and remain civil.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Geoffrey says:

    Thank you, Fr. Z! I will repost my original comment here:

    Does anyone but me notice a striking similarity between the Society of Saint Pius X and Roman Catholic Womenpriests?

    Ignoring the obvious differences, just think about it: Both feel they are in the right, both feel that Rome is in the wrong, both use the banner of “tradition” (though the “womenpriests” are downright deceptive about that), both feel the Church is in a mess and needs to change, both reject their excommunications, both disobey Rome and cite “extraordinary circumstances” or “state of necessity”, etc.

    And yes, I know both are very different and that the Church could really use the SSPX, etc., but I find the similarities very obvious and frightening…

  2. Similar- Disobedience to the Holy Father

    Dissimilar- Validity of orders

    Though one of the most important similarities, unfortunately, is that they are wounding the Mystical Body of Christ.

  3. Sean says:

    Similar: both describe themselves as Catholic
    Dissimilar: the SSPX is Catholic

  4. Fr. BJ says:

    With the SSPX there is some intellectual basis for what they do; they have thought things through, even if they are wrong. For example, the whole citation of a “state of necessity” — they have studied church law, and church history, etc., and have declared such a state to be present. Even if they do so on their own authority.

    It seems to me that Womenpriests, on the other hand, act on the basis of what they would understand to be a state of necessity, but without the intellectual basis for doing so. They have set up a sort of parallel magisterium — in a Womenpriests video on Google Videos they prayed at “Mass” for their female “bishop” as well as the actual Ordinary of that diocese. They really think that they are acting with some authority.

    So, in terms of a “state of necessity” as being the basis of their actions, I would say that both groups act on that basis. The SSPX does so on an intellectual level and with a love for the Church and her sacraments, even if that love is misguided on the basis of a fundamental error on their part. Womenpriests, on the other hand, also acts on a perceived “state of necessity”, but with more of an ideological and emotional basis than an intellectual one, and with a practical contempt for the Church and her sacraments.

  5. Mitch says:

    Similar – they are both in practice out of line with regular, decreed Church pracice.

    Dissimilar – one has received a swifter, more authoratative absolutely not. (women’s ordination)I think the dissilarities lay more in the way they are timely treated.

  6. joan says:

    The women priests are more in tune to Gene Robinson because they are more perverse… in away.

  7. Cole M says:

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that both believe that the “spirit of Vatican II” aka the hermeneutic of discontinuity/rupture was the true intent of Vatican II. Both sides find it to be the natural, inevitable result of the Council. The difference is that one side likes it and seeks to expand it through disobedience (i.e. Womynpriestess persons) while the other side dislikes it and seeks to contract it through disobedience (i.e. SSPX, though the disobedience is perhaps less grave).

  8. Geoffrey says:

    Cole M said: “I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that both believe that the ‘spirit of Vatican II’ aka the hermeneutic of discontinuity/rupture was the true intent of Vatican II.”

    Very interesting!

  9. Ed the Roman says:

    Similar: Ceteris paribus, I would avoid both their services.

    Dissimilar: Faute de mieux I would attend, and commune at, a SSPX mass. Not so the RCWP.

  10. steven says:

    Um… womenpriests are heretics and are going against the teachings of the Church.

    SSPX are within the Church and uphold all the teachings of the Church.

    I see absolutely no similarities whatsoever.

  11. Tim says:

    The Womanpriests cite the “Spirit of the future” to explain their actions. They won’t say where their “Apostolic Succession” comes from.

    The SSPX cite the Councils up to Vatican II, Papal encyclicals pre 1960’s, and they have clear uncontested Apostolic Succession.

  12. Antiquarian says:

    Similiar in that both blithely state that their excommunications are invalid. Who knew that the excommunicated got to decide that?

  13. schoolman says:

    Both pretend to judge the Pope and the Magisterium of the Church (i.e., a superior magisterium). Both attempt to justify their actions by a false notion of Tradition — understood according to their own private judgement. Differences are obvious.

  14. Juan Pablo (CHILE) says:

    Similar – Both think that are right (not actually both really think)

    Difference – Card Castrillón has said many times that “SSPX is within the church, we only need a “more complete” communion”.

    Also the Dogma;
    SSPX disagree with Vatican II wich is not a dogma
    womenpriests disagree with “male need to be a priest” stated by JP II wich is a Dogma.

    And for last; SSPX bases the state of necessity on THE NEED to have actual traditional education just as St Pius XI on “quadraggesimo anno” says. (on the tradition is the faith), and in many places there is not available a traditional parish with parish life, daily masses, retreats, etcetera.
    Womenpriests base the “state of necessity” on the supposed need to have women priests, wich is actual against the dogma that i already said.

    If you dont think there is state on necessity, sspx services are void, but not null, no catholic authority will discuss that, but since the nullity of womenpriests ordinations it is absolutly a mortal sin to asist to one of their erethical services.

    Finally, let me tell you that the question is actually out of place.

    Our Lord saves us, and foregives us.

    Juan Pablo
    CHILE, South America

  15. Dougall says:

    The difference is that one group saw the other coming in 1965, when people were getting geared up for this great period of renewal.

    The fact that people can even conceive of some of these unorthodox ideas, proves that the SSPX was at least partially right about Vat II. The “letter” of Vat II is just as rotten as the “spirit,” because of the purpose of the “letter” is to direct the Spirit, which, needless to say, didn’t happen. If the “Spirit” of something is flawed, then well, what does that say about the thing itself?

    This bias against the SSPX, and in favor of Pope John Paul II on this issue, does it not kind of seem self-defeating, in light of all the contemporary insanity we have to deal with every Sunday?

  16. “With the SSPX there is some intellectual basis for what they do…”

    …which makes their current discord with Rome all the more troubling. If I were to choose which group would be easier to reach accord with the Holy See, it would be the SSPX. But what prevents that, is what they have in common with the Wimminpriest people — they misunderstand a legitimate and authoritative ecumenical council, and they answer to none but themselves.

  17. Antonius says:

    On the “state of necessity” point. The SSPX say:

    1. A state of necessity exists
    2. The pope’s mind is muddled
    3. The pope’s muddled mind is part of the very reason a state of necessity exists
    4. Therefore obviously the pope is not going to declare 1, it would be paradoxical

    To put it even simpler: the Church is in trouble and the very fact that the pope cannot see this, and, moreover, is contributing to this trouble, justifies a state of necessity.

    On the SSPX’s perceived “state of necessity” vs. RCW’s arguments:

    In the case of the latter: the Church has never ordained women.
    In the case of the former: the Church consistently acted and believed until the ’60s one way but now acts and believes another manifestly contradictory way.

  18. Juan Pablo (CHILE) says:

    David L Alexander:

    We are not forced to agree with vatican II, it was made by protestans , one jew, anglicans, orthodoxs, some protestans even make use of the novus ordo missal for their services!!!!

    you dont need to agree with vatican II to be a Catholic, it is NOT DOGMATIC, it is just some popes line of working.

    Remember Paul VI words “evil smoke has enter to the church with vatican II”

    Is there any way that The Vaticane One day will recognize that Vatican II was almoust a complete mistake. I say Almoust because there are good parts on it , but the only one who uses them gess who are…. SSPX, i just say for example the “year of humanities” on the seminairs, is a vatican II improovement…. does anyone out there on the conciliar church that uses it.
    And there is a lot more, for example your local priest might not agree with Benedict XVI when he sayed that it is more convenient to say the consagration part “for manys” instead of “for everyone”

  19. Brian Kemple says:

    I am going to repost this selection from a recent blog post of my own:

    Anyone who traverses the Catholic blogging world is likely aware of the present, but hopeful struggles in regards to all the various elements of reunification: the schismatic Eastern Orthodoxy, the widening division between conservative and licentious Anglicanism, and the ultra-traditionalist Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX). In some form or another, all are evincing a desire for return to the One True Church. This is, undoubtedly, attributable to the work of the Holy Father, who has thus far maintained a cautious but receptive attitude towards these separated brethren. His Holiness has, throughout the whole of his work that I have read, expressed a desire for sincere, honest, and open dialogue with other faiths. It is this disposition which illustrates Benedict XVI’s unflagging faith in the Truth; as the Evening Prayer of the Daily Office says, “I believe in You, because You are Truth itself.” Christ is the logos; reason cannot deny or reject Him, and followed can and will lead one to Him.

    Yet sadly, this virtuosity is mutually misunderstood by those who have fallen into error on both ends of the progressive spectrum, by both the licentious and the ultra-traditional. Ecumenism is unfortunately perceived according to the more Protestant understanding; that it is a movement to “transcend differences” and work together. Ecumenism is seen as an appeal to the heart, a “Let’s all hug the Purple Dinosaur and Love Each Other,” approach to fixing the world. It has been clumped together with the rest of the nonsense that is the “Spirit of Vatican II.” This error is embraced by the licentious, those who would permit every wrong in the name of egalitarianism and self-affirmation. It is rejected, and rightly so, by the ultra-traditional, who insist truly, but with misunderstanding, that extra Ecclesiam nulla salus, outside the Church there is no salvation.

    Although the post is on ecumenism, I think the point holds valid for the larger scheme of things, within which ecumenism’s true nature is misunderstood. The error made by both the ultra-traditionalist groups and the ultra-liberal groups is the same, in regards to interpretation of Vatican II. The difference is similar to how Aristotle explained courage; recklessness and cowardice are both errors in the same sphere of action, but the virtue of courage, the mean, is closer to recklessness than cowardice. Likewise, the Church is closer to traditionalism than liberality (though you will note in the excerpt I posted, I prefer the word “licentious,” for it more accurately describes the real position of left-leaning individuals).

    The SSPX may disobey the Holy Father out of an intellectual qualm (though they are lately appearing obstinate in terms of seeking reparation), the Womynpriests out of self-aggrandizing lunacy; but intellectual pride is just as, if not more, damning than feminist pride.

  20. prof. basto says:

    Similar: both deny in practice the authority of the Pope and of the Roman Church.

    Dissimilar: the WP have serious problems regarding the doctrine on the Church regarding the role of Peter; the SSPX may have serious problems at doctrinal level, but one cannot be sure.

    Dissimilar: WP cannot validly ordain Sacred Ministers; confect the Eucharist, whereas the SSPX can.

    Similar: both groups act like little children trying to avoid, circumvert, the pronouncements of Rome.

    Dissimilar: the WP clearly reject dogmas and infallible teaching, primarily on the impossibility of women being raised to the Sacred Priesthood, but also secondarily the teachings of the First Vatican Council on the Pope’s infallible magisterium, etc. The SSPX, in turn, do not clearly reject any doctrine that is “de Fide tenenda/credenda”. At the root of their schism – which is a true and perfect schism – however, there probably are certain doctrinal problems regarding the teaching of Pastor Aeternus as well, regarding, for instance, the Pope’s authority in matters of discipline, etc.

  21. Larry says:

    True there are similarities. But the chief one is simple: PRIDE.
    It is after all is said and done the one thing that can destroy even an angel of light, and has. Pride begets disobedience and from there it is a slippery slope. While it is true that SSPX has validity in at least some of the sacraments it never the less celebrates them illicitly even if those who participate may have no guilt. The question to ask of both Womenpriests and SSPX is: Is a little mortal sin of one kind less damning than a big mortal sin of another kind? Either or both can send souls to hell. That is a steep price for acting on a personal belief and ignoring the advice and teaching of the Church. It is however for God to judge the souls of these people and for us to pray for their forgiveness and God’s mercy for us all.

  22. Brian Kemple says:


    Syllogistically, you’ve a sound formal logic argument for the SSPX; except, of course, that the premise “the pope’s mind is muddled” is inductively weak. As Fr. Z posted on his commentary of Bp. Fellay’s interview, “Is it possible that Benedict XVI understands the Council better than Fellay?”

    On what criteria does the SSPX, or for that matter, you, base the judgment that Benedict XVI has a fallacious or flawed understanding of the Church?

  23. James G says:

    Juan Pablo, a couple of questions.

    “SSPX bases the state of necessity on THE NEED to have actual traditional education…” What do you mean by this? By traditional education do you mean parochial schools or are you just referring to children learning the traditional faith? I ask because 90% of my faith comes from what I learned at my maternal grandmother’s knee using pre-VII materials (and I was born in 1980). As long as there are parents who know the faith then they can educate their children in it; so where is the need?

    “…and in many places there is not available a traditional parish with parish life, daily masses, retreats, etcetera.” Do not all parishes have daily masses, a parish life, etc? Where is the need?

    James G

  24. Matt of South Kent says:

    After reading Excommunicated Bishop Fellay’s previous article, not much.

    I hope the individual clergy and members return home to fight for what they hold dear from inside.

    I think the orthodox and the traditionalist inside the Church are starting to turn the tide.

  25. Fr. Marie-Paul says:

    From a motivation perspective, they are on totally opposite ends. SSPX says ignore everything from Vatican II onwards, and Womanpriest says ignore everything before Vatican II. You cannot get more opposite than that (practically speaking).

    But in the end, even with totally different motivations, they operate identically.

    SSPX says there are doctrinal problems – Vatican II – and so ignore the Magisterium and listen to us who have the “real truth”.

    Womanpriest says there are doctrinal problems – that old “patriarchical stuff” – and listen to us who have the “real truth.”

    Both say “we are doing the right things in ignoring what the Magisterium says.” We know better!

    Both say they have the “state of necessity” because of the above.

    Both say “look at all the problems in the current Church” and we have the solution to those problems.

    Another difference: Womanpriest says they will be more inclusive, and get bigger numbers, so to speak. SSPX says lets let the anathemas fly, and shrink the Church as needed, since quality is better than quantity, so to speak.

    The other difference is that SSPX has valid Masses, and Womanpriest does not. So SSPX is a lesser evil. Maybe we can append Summa Theologica on this particular question? :-)

    In the end, SSPX looks more and more like an Orthodox (schism from 1054 like) group, and Womanpriest looks like another liberal Protestant denomination. So that is different.

    Lastly, they both fully agree on one principle – the Magisterium needs to “change” in order to agree with what each respective organization is saying. Both roads are wide ones, and getting hotter every day.

    However, last time I checked, dogma says that the Church is indefectible, but individual organizations in the Church are not. Last time I checked dogma, one must be in unity with Peter and his successors to remain with the Church. But then again, what would I know since I am only quoting the Magisterium?

  26. cheyan says:

    I think the clearest (least confrontational) dissimilarity is that the attitude of the SSPX is that everything good has come from the past, while the attitude of the Womenpriests is that everything good will come from the future.

    Meanwhile, three similarities are that neither of them think the present is all that good (“the time before Vatican II was so much better!” vs “now that Vatican II has happened, the time to come will be so much better!”, like Cole M said), both think Rome is being mean to them, and both point to individual bishops as supporters. (Of course, the SSPX actually names actual living individual bishops and actually has proof of them actually saying things that are actually plausible as support. The Womenpriests have mysterious secret bishops whose identity will only be revealed when they are safely beyond contradicting things said about them. So that’s another difference.)

  27. David Kastel says:

    Both these groups may think they are right, but SSPX has been proven right, in at least some ways.

    Similar: The Vatican has treated them both in a similar fashion, in that they are about the only groups who have been excommunicated.

    Dissimilar: The SSPX has been proven right in some aspects of their disobedience [for example, their disobedience in continuing to say the old mass on the grounds that they insisted (we now know correctly) that the old mass was never legally abrogated.] The SSPX ordained these men bishops on the grounds that there was a crisis in the Church, in large measure due to the new liturgy. Cardinal Ratzinger, now pope, has confirmed that there is a crisis in the Church, due in large measure to the disintegration of the liturgy. So, SSPX has been proven right on that point as well.

    Cardinal Ratzinger, along with popes John 23 and Paul 6, are in agreement that Vatican 2 was a pastoral council rather than a dogmatic council, and therefore, unlike the “Women priests” the SSPX does not oppose any doctrine of the Catholic faith. In all likelihood, Lefebvre and SSPX will be proven right about the teaching of V2 regarding “religious liberty”, “collegiality”, and the “ecumenical” movement as well. Certainly, they have never been said to be in opposition to traditional Catholic doctrine on these points. The “Women Priests” clearly oppose the Catholic faith. So, there is really no similarity at all.

  28. LCB says:

    Both have a similar view of Vatican II (that a rupture occurred in some major fashion).

    Both also refuse due obedience to their local ordinary.

  29. David Kastel says:

    Dissimilar: The Women Priests believe that the Magisterium is allowed to change the traditional doctrine of the Church, whereas the SSPX insists that the Magisterium cannot change the traditional doctrine of the Church.

    Perhaps this is what that ambiguous \”condition\” was in the ultimatum to Bp Fellay, where he had to affirm that there is no \”magisterium\” higher than the pope. Was this a request for Fellay to say that the Pope is allowed to contradict the Church\’s traditional doctrine, or was it simply a request that they affirm that they themselves do not outrank the pope?

  30. Juan Pablo (CHILE) says:


    First of allyou are right on one point YOU DO NOT HAVE THIS STATE OF NECESITY. The problem comes on people like me or many others, wich come from families where parents dont know for example what a dogma is, the importance of daily mass, dont know any difference of before and after vatican II, people who think that democracy is the government that god desires for its people, where premarital relations are just an other way of taking life. The priest at my school used to say taht it was “good to have sex with the girlfriend because then you know better each other”. Not all of us has the privilege that you had. Your grandmother’s lap ist too wide to have everyone of us on it learning the old.
    This is actually a state of necessity, we are not supposed to be dealing with the problem that is to have to be differentiating on which priest to trust or on which not. Things about sex are kind of easy, but what about incineration, organ donors, nullity of marriages and many others much more complicated than this one. Who are you supposed to have to go to ask to. Your local priest?, the same guy that you know you cant trust on other stuff.
    I really better stick with the old. This new is confusing me too much… Who told you that the sacred tribunal of inquisition was a torture center?, who told you that copernico died because of us?, dont belive everything that the communists and socialists that are now on the new churche teaches you.

    On the second part i also agree with you, you have daily mass almost everywhere, but i mean what about me or everyone that doesnt trust on “the new” wich is not a dogma, then i am free on not to trust it. What about us that we want to stay with the old teachings, i do not find any other place to learn about the traditional and trustable catholic faith than with the priests of the sspx.

    best regards

    Juan Pablo

    CHILE, South America

  31. “you dont need to agree with vatican II to be a Catholic, it is NOT DOGMATIC, it is just some popes line of working.”

    Whether or not an ecumenical council is of a dogmatic nature, does not make it any more or less an ecumenical council. Interpreted in the light of Tradition, I most certainly do accept it in order to be a Catholic.

  32. If an ecumenical council did not proclaim any new dogma, would it not pose even LESS of a dilemma, so long as it is interpreted in the light of Tradition?

  33. Joshua says:

    Dissimilar: Womenpriests are heretics and schismatics, even from the very fact of being heretics. The SSPX is irregular, with the priests at least under suspension, but are not clearly schismatic even, and certainly not heretical

    Similar: Well I think comparison is just as silly as saying \”Buddhists and Martians are very much alike\”.

  34. Juan Pablo (CHILE) says:

    is there any way that the pope has come into a mistake?

    might it be?

    or why do you think HH Benedict XVI, seems to be going back to the old?

    Please think on the chance of a mistake of the human beeing.

    Ecumenism is not a dogma, as far as i Know Jhon Paul II talked about 4 new dogmas on his Papal life , none of them was about ecumenism, and with those dogmas we obiously agree.

    Msg Lefebvre was not excomunicated because he didnt agree with ecumenism, it was because he disagreed with the Pope.

    Juan Pablo

    Chile , South America (i’m sorry for my spelling, and sometimes my sentences)

  35. Cliff says:

    Similar: They both believe they are in line with the Apostolic succession.

    Different: SSPX’s belief is true. I have a strong feeling that the RCWP deep down do not really believe in their priesthood as women.

  36. Brian Kemple says:

    Mathilda, though we must certainly hold men ordained to the priesthood in reverence to their office, the men themselves are no less fallible than any others. I think C.S. Lewis stated it well in his Screwtape Letters when he said that no sin is more pleasing to Satan than that of spiritual pride.

    This is not a comparison between the validly ordained priests of the Society, as priests, and the invalidly “ordained” womynpriests as… whatever it is they are (overeager, obstinate, self-righteous sacristans…?). It is a comparison in the nature of the faults of the men as regards their disunity from the Holy See.

  37. No need to repeat here what has been enumerated as similiarities and dissimilarities. There is a striking similarity, however, that both Fr Marie-Paul and Cheyan have hinted at in their posts: neither side is concerned with the Church as She exists both in and outside of history. Each group has a notion that the universal Church is in some way bound only to time and that in “current” time the Church hierarchy is somehow “bad.” Each group thus fails to look beyond current circumstances to that part of the church that is universal, changeless and truly catholic and that exists in saeculis saeculorum. Both the SSPX and so-called Womenpriests have a truncated understanding of the constant and supertemporal source of the Magisterium’s authority: while the “Womenpriests” assume a “magisterial” authority that is not theirs, the SSPX rejects the legitimate magisterial authority of the Council. The arguments that each side calls up in their respectives defenses are, in essence, attacks on the Church and not attacks on individual – or individuals’ – bad judgments. Each claims to “correct” wrong decisions by people in the Church while in reality they call into question the very nature of the Church’s authority to bind and loose. And I needn’t remind this readership that that authority is the timeless Author of the Church and the Creator of things seen and all things unseen.

    Fr. Zuhlsdorf’s question brings to mind (+)Msgr. Schuler’s now famous dictum, “You can run off the road from the left or you can run off the road from the right; either way, you wind up in the ditch.”

  38. CPKS says:

    I don’t think the pastoral/dogmatic distinction should be pushed too hard with regard to the Second Vatican Council: see, for example, this article. It does not seem to define dogmas (in an exercise of the extraordinary magisterium). Its agenda was positive, not negative (in the sense of excluding error). It is a misconception to think that all dogmatic pronouncements must be definitive or exclusionary.

    Antonius’s representation of the SSPX argument is interesting:

    A state of necessity existsThe pope’s mind is muddledThe pope’s muddled mind is part of the very reason a state of necessity existsTherefore obviously the pope is not going to declare 1, it would be paradoxical

    (1) seems to depend on the truth of (2), as (3) bears witness. (Perhaps the statements should be re-ordered.) But (4) seems to be saying that “obviously” (i.e. as a matter of some kind of deduction?) the Pope is not going to admit the truth of (1). But if, given the putative truth of (2), the Pope’s mind is muddled, what is to stop him? We could instead lead the argument on:

    5. (But) the Pope might admit that a state of necessity exists
    6. This (by 4) would be paradoxical, which would prove the truth of (2).

    It is an “argument” that is equally compatible with the Pope’s acceptance or rejection of (1), and hence is incoherent as it stands. It needs a great deal more analysis (and revision) before it could become remotely persuasive as an exercise of logic. In general, any argument that tries to derive conclusions from the putative assertions of an irrational reasoner is going to fall foul of the liar paradox. Not very safe ground for the conduct of one’s spiritual life, in my view.

  39. Sanity says:

    One thread that seems to run through these discussions and really any discussions with the defenders of SSPX is that VII was not dogmatic but pastoral. This is necessary of course for defenders of SSPX since it allows them to claim that they are intrisically different from groups like WP or Prots. The problem is that the proposition is false and is just bad theology (especially from a pre VII perspective). The fundamental difference between SSPX and WP is not quite as clear as they would like to pretend it is. SSPXer’s often use theological arguments that simply would have been laughed at by the very Popes and theologians they claim to honor.

  40. Maureen says:

    Re: being more Catholic than the Pope

    Tertullian just wanted a less lax church that didn’t let cowardly lapsed people back in. He ended up joining a nice rigorous sect, yes, and it eventually ordained women and worshipped pagan deities.

    Similarly, you see the Old Catholic Church. It originally claimed to be refusing the innovations of Vatican I, but eventually ended up ordaining women and… well, I’m pretty sure they’ve done that Anglican pagan thing in some places.

    So the Womanpriests and the SSPX are simply on different steps of the same stair. The major difference is that the Womanpriests started on a lower step. The good thing, of course, is that all you have to do is go back to Peter to get off the stair altogether.

  41. LCB says:

    It seems to me that rejecting Vatican II (by claiming it brought about a rupture, a new Church… which both the SSPX and WP do either implicitly or explicitly) contains within it a rejection of Vatican I as well.

    Seems rather ironic, unless I’m wrong. Ultimately, papal infallibility and certain understandings of the scriptures need to be jettisoned to sustain a rejection of V2.

  42. Melchior Cano says:

    Fr. Z,

    I understand that this was brought up as a comment on a previous post, but, in all charity, what possible good can come from this post?

  43. JustDave says:

    Similar: They both think they know what is best for the Church

    Different: I think that the RCWP are more dangerous to the faith in that they are leading people to believe that they have actually ordained women as priest and bishops. Just real the media reports. “Woman Ordained a Roman Catholic Priest” People believe this stuff and are being led down a dangerous path. Their actions have the potential to confuse the faithful. That scares me.

  44. Atlanta says:

    They are not at all similar. They are very different. SSPX started out canonically, right? There have *never* been women priests, that is an innovation and may be a heresy. SSPX is traditionalist, that is the problem. If they were traditional, that would be the solution. SSPX seems to be asserting its moral superiority over the Roman Catholic church and that is a mistake. They are not morally superior to the Roman Catholic church. They have the right impulse, but they have missed the mark. There is no justification for women priests in the church and there never will be.

  45. Brian Kemple says:


    Dialogue regarding the divisions and disputes in the Church has produced the clearest definitions of dogma and the works of many of the greatest Saints; St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine, St. Chrysostom, and all the works of the great dogmatic councils. Certainly, most of the posters here, myself included, are not ecclesiastical authorities, but who is to say we may not express our opinions to those who are?

  46. Dougall says:

    There is no comparison.

    The SSPX priests accept all councils but one. The WP’s accept only one.

    Frankly, until the Magisterium issues documentation reconciling all documents, the “hermeneutic of rupture,” is still the norm, and this is logical cause for SSPX caution.

    This idea that the SSPX are “Protestant” is absolutely ridiculous. They are the most non-Protestant element of the whole Church. The Orthodox aren’t in communion with the Pope, and they aren’t Protestant. Throwing that term around in an attempt to make the SSPX look like WP’s is almost nonsense.

  47. Estebandito says:

    Hmm, seems to me those women who have been “ordained” are not “priests” but rather “priestesses.”

    Priestess. n. a girl or woman who officiates in sacred rites, especially of a pagan religion. (Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary).

    SSPX is certainly fully Catholic and in communion, albeit maybe a strained communion, with the Holy See — did not the Holy See more recently clarify this? SSPX maintains the doctrines and traditions of Holy Church as they have been handed down from age to age.

    These wymyn have introduced an idea totally alien and novel. Those wymyn who have decided quite on their own to be “ordained” are not only illicit but invalid. They are protestants extraordinaire. One might even dare say “pagan.” [One is forced to wonder if they are Christian. – Fr. Z] And so the definition cited fits.

  48. Matt Q says:

    Dougall wrote:

    “There is no comparison.

    The SSPX priests accept all councils but one. The WP’s accept only one.

    Frankly, until the Magisterium issues documentation reconciling all documents, the “hermeneutic of rupture,” is still the norm, and this is logical cause for SSPX caution.

    This idea that the SSPX are “Protestant” is absolutely ridiculous. They are the most non-Protestant element of the whole Church. The Orthodox aren’t in communion with the Pope, and they aren’t Protestant. Throwing that term around in an attempt to make the SSPX look like WPs is almost nonsense.”


    Very well put, Dougall. I would like to add though that “almost nonsense” should be stated as “is nonsense.” :)

    Carrying this a bit farther, comparing what the SSPX and the WPs hold and making them mutual is ludicrous. It then becomes a Sophist argument and thus without resolution. No, again, SSPX and the nag gang are NOT the same.

  49. Estebandito says:

    Surely you refer to NAG — the National Association of Gals.


  50. Thomas says:

    It seems to me that there is a very fundamental similarity: neither body is capable of offering all of the sacrements (vide previous posts on the need of a facility from the ordinary to give confession and marriage). In other words, the salvific mission of the Church is incomplete in both excommunicated groups. [Actually, no priest in the Latin Church confers the sacrament of matrimony: the couple confer it on each other, but for validity it must be done according to the proper form, which includes an authorized minister witnessing the marriage. Also, there are circumstances in which the validly ordained SSPX priests validly absolve sins. The WP types cannot do any of these in any circumstances.]

  51. The one thing the SSPX and women priests have in common – a certain privatisation of teaching, pastoral and sacramental activity – is the same thing they have in common with any group which stands aside from the visible Church. So in fact the comparison is not that helpful. It is a bit like asking whether human beings are not like centipedes because they both need oxygen for life.

    I’m as firmly opposed to the SSPX’s curent position as can be imagined, but I owe them de facto an immense amount. We shouldn’t forget that many Ecclesia Dei communities started alongside or even within the SSPX – the founders of St Peter’s, Le Barroux, the Society of St Vincent Ferrier – and that Archbishop Lefebvre, for whatever mistakes he made later on, was a hero of the Church in West Africa where he worked out much of his illuminating thinking about the priesthood. If only the SSPX can be brought back to that obedience of the Faith which they allege has been lost elsewhere (not without reason in many areas), then I am convinced they could be a force for great good.

    People need to stop picking up any stick to beat the SSPX. Their problems are specific. We should not in short be breaking the bruised reed nor extinguishing the smoking flax.

    [Good comment! – Fr. Z]

  52. Ian says:


    As above, meaning this with all charity, is this post and string of comments truly going to produce good fruit and edify us?

    I cannot see how it does anything of the sort. Instead, I see gobs of mischaracterizations of the SSPX, SSPX viewpoints, the Pope, the Church, the Magisterium and the Vatican Council.

    Patrick is right. These comparisons are odious.

    May I please beg you to take down this post for the good of everyone? [But you have done nothing either to respond to the questions which were posed. You claim there are mis-characterizations, but you offer nothing in return. So, if you perhaps don’t know what to say, perhaps you might watch and learn. Some people here will come up with some good arguments (after we sift through the dross). – Fr. Z]

  53. I think it is an interesting question, comparing the two very public movements that is. Perhaps the irony of it all will be a “great knock” (to quote C.S. Lewis) for some within the schismatic, but not heretical Society to realize that they are operating based on some similar principles with the schismatic and heretical WP movement.

    But I have my doubts…

    Similarity: Neither the SSPX nor the WP has any canonical jurisdiction. Marriages blessed in their chapels are invalid.

    Dissimilarity: The SSPX has valid, but illicit orders. The WP does not.

    Fr. Deacon Daniel

  54. Warren says:

    Similarity: both groups claim authority that does not belong to them; both groups are defined by their protests; both groups live in denial of the gravity of their actions.

    Dissimilarity: the SSPXers are radical conservatives; WPs are conservative radicals.

    It is important in this day and age to define obedience. This topic helps us clarify Catholic identity by affirming the differences between Catholics and those who claim to be Catholic.

  55. John Galvin says:

    A scurrilous and contumelious post Fr. Z. You should be ashamed of yourself!

    What is the similarity between Fr. Z and his fellow neo-Cats and Womenpriests? They both reject traditional Catholicism to various degrees. [Brilliant analysis. But none of that is the topic of this entry. You have nothing better to add than this? Just an empty ad hominem?No solid examination of the question? You must not be very sure of your position. – Fr. Z]

  56. jacobus says:

    Here’s a difference: if an SSPX priest and a Woman”priest” are walking down the street towards you and you’ve just been shot, which do you ask to give you last rites? [The problem with this is that the SSPX priests, validly ordained, are given faculties to absolve sins by the law itself when there is danger of death. The women can say any words they want, they are firing nothing but blanks. However, in other circumstances (outside danger of death) the SSPX priests cannot absolve, because the Church says they must have faculties to do so. – Fr. Z]

  57. Antonius says:

    Brain Kemple:

    On what criteria does the SSPX, or for that matter, you, base the judgment that Benedict XVI has a fallacious or flawed understanding of the Church?

    1. There is a great deal of evidence indicating that Pope Benedict XVI subscribes to many modern theological ideas including many of those expressed at Vatican II. This is clear from his writings, speeches, actions etc.

    2. But many of these ideas are questionable and appear to contradict previous magisterial teachings and the constant tradition of the Church. This has been pointed out consistently over the past 40 years by the SSPX.

    3. If the SSPX are wrong, then clarifications are required to settle the matter. But this pope, just like his predecesors, appears unwilling to issue such clarifications.

    4. For as long as this situation remains, the SSPX remain justified in maintaining their irregular canonical status and asserting that the pope’s mind is muddled.


    5. (But) the Pope might admit that a state of necessity exists
    6. This (by 4) would be paradoxical, which would prove the truth of (2).

    If you have read any SSPX material you will understand by “muddled” not a general muddle of nonsense like that of a mental patient, but a muddle of truth and error, of modern theological and philosophical ideas with traditional Catholic Truth.

    What is the basis for such an assertion? His writings, his actions, statements, his unwillingness to address and settle the serious questions raised by traditionalists for the past 40 years.

    Interestingly, even in issuing the motu proprio he confirms SSPX suspicions. This act was in part an overture directed at the SSPX, part of a wider attempt to affect some kind of practical reunification. This confirms their suspicions that he remains blind to or unperturbed by the underlying issues afflicting the Church which are doctrinal in nature and is more concerned with tenuous practical unions.

  58. Most of us recognize that much of the Church has drifted off course, away both from tradition and the intent of Vatican II, in the past forty years. It appears to me — viewing them from the outside — that the SSPX is trying to help the Pope steer the Church back on course, though they may (or may not) be misguided in the most effective way to do this.

    But the womenpriests and their ilk would not agree there’s anything wrong with the most progressive abuses (as the rest of us see them), and their goal is to steer the Church further (and permanently) off course.

    So far as I know, the SSPX denies no doctrines of the Church. The womenpriests deny almost everything.

  59. Memphis Aggie says:

    Similar: both are sustained by pride and self-righteousness, both are small fringe groups that distract, confuse and mislead by creating a fraudulent Church.

    Disimilar: Womanpriests are the more easily identifiable almost comical fraud while the SSPX endangers the faithful by satisfying our desire for beautiful worship (as we see it) yet placing self first. They are the much more dangerous for being superficially correct.

  60. Good topic! Had this conversation with a independent ‘Catholic woman bishop’ online last year.

    I don’t call things Roman Catholic that aren’t under Rome.

    So how are the SSPX and RCWP different other than style and opinion?

    (Saying they’re the same is a 1980s-vintage slur from the kind of conservative RC who hates traditionalists.)

    Yes, valid orders in Rome’s view.

    Basic orthodoxy: I doubt most if any of RCWP agree with the Council of Trent on the nature of the Mass and what happens to the elements, preferring a protestantised view of the Eucharist primarily as a communal meal (which the Mass is but not exclusively) and seeing the objective Real Presence in the elements as tacky superstition.

    The SSPX are ‘irregular’ but NEVER claim to be a separate church or dissent from ANY RC doctrine. Rome rightly treats this as an internal matter and NOT about relations with a different church.

    RCWP pretend they’re not a separate church (and bad media coverage plays along with that: ‘WOMAN ORDAINED ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST… not recognised by Rome’) but do reject RC doctrines including about the Pope. Because of that they’ve joined the wild, woolly world of vagante (‘independent Catholic’) churches.

  61. Memphis Aggie says:

    Maybe I should add this bit about the SSPX. Let\’s assume that their liturgy is perfect in every exterior detail, and represents the ideal practice as we can observe it, it is their interior state I worry about. The disobedience and scandal of separation is serious. Refusal to obey the Pope, in direct contradiction of a vow made before God, over the worldly details of the liturgy is a refusal of the cross offered them by Christ. Granted the liturgical abuse is real, but splitting the Body of Christ rather than being a voice of reform and restraint from within is abandoning ones duty and ones leverage. Had the SSPX remained within the Church perhaps they could have reigned in some of the more extreme abuse. As it is, from outside they are more easily dismissed.

  62. Matt says:

    I would suggest that SSPX adherents are in theological error, not in the need to be subject to the Holy Father, but in the Traditional definition of the word “subject”. Is that not also true of RCWP?

    Of course the error of the SSPX is largely an honest one, come to after deep anguish over the errors following the council, the RCWP are simply dishonest and nefarious in nature.

    I’ve always said that the return of the SSPX would be a great help to traditional Catholics in full communion, but I start to wonder, this attitude of personal judgement is rife through the organization and would make it difficult for us to find refuge in their chapels. This may be less a concern in places where they are the ONLY traditional option, but in places where there are extraordinary form and sound sermons, it is much worse.

    God Bless!

  63. dcs says:

    I think it might be said that there are surface similarities but that’s about it. But then one can make such comparisons about virtually any two groups and find surface similarities. For example, there are “conservative” priests who think priests should not wear lace. And I see no lace on any of these wimminpriests. Of course their reasons are different (the “conservative” priests think lace is unmanly, and one would hope that the wimminpriests have different reasons), just as the reasons for the disobedience of the SSPX are different from the reasons for the disobedience of the wimminpriests. The SSPX is seeking to preserve what they believe are perennial Catholic teachings and practices, while the wimminpriests movement is seeking to overturn perennial Catholic teachings and practices.

  64. Phil says:

    The dissimilarities have been repeated several times, and make the SSPX compare favorably, even though their disobedience still sets them outside the pale in my book.

    Yet a worrying similarity – which has hardly been discussed sofar – is that both seem to be home to people who have no desire for unity with the Church whatsoever (unless the Church does exactly what they want – dream on). In a way that’s even worse than developing a seperate magisterium per se, as it also adds the intention of disunity. I wíll certainly not go so far as to say that this is true for the groups in their entirety (and probably a bit less in the SSPX), but both groups are very much threatend by these kinds of attitudes.

  65. Memphis Aggie says:

    Similar: both buck or mock the Pope, and members in the leadership publicly do so.

    Disimilar: “womanpriests” are invalid, SSPX priests are valid but illicit.
    Womanpriests are unambiguously in formal schism. SSPX have a “schismatic attitude” but are not formally in schism, if only by the smallest technical margin. The SSPX is being actively courted by the Pope to return, while womanpriests are not.

  66. Jrbrown says:

    Is the purpose of this discussion to elicit the most over the top ‘slam downs’ of the SSPX priests and faithful who attend their chapels? Because that is what is occurring.

  67. Brian Mershon says:

    …those on the right and on the left…

    This is the logical fallacy of a false idea of a middle way between two extremes. It is a logical fallacy and has no application to the Church. [Card. Newman helped us see the problem with that via media approach. – Fr. Z]

    We have heretics and schismatics and disobedience, of which the “Womynpriests” are all three.

    The SSPX is disobedient but used canon law (the current code) to uphold its disobedience.

    Dietrich von Hildebrand ably discussed this in his comments about “integralists” who stick solely to the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas (if there were only some of these alive today!!!) and those of the “left” or “liberal-modernist” variety who are both heretical and schismatic.

    But then again, few will read Dietrich von Hildebrand, I suppose. Or Michael Davies for that matter.

  68. David says:

    Warren raises a good point with regard to defining “obedience”

    If obedience amounts to doing everything that your lawful superiors order, then SSPX is disobedient. However, if obedience amounts to obeying lawful orders, then SSPX was perfectly obedient in their insistence on continuing to say the old mass. The order (from their lawful superior, Pope Paul) was invalid, as the old mass never was legally abrogated. [So… is this really only about liturgy? Or is it about doctrine? – Fr. Z]

    Obedience is only owed to lawful superiors when they give lawful orders and when they are acting within their lawful jurisdiction.

    The obedience of doing whatever your commander says (even if he is your lawful superior) is not true obedience. It is the obedience demanded by tyrants. If the officer orders the soldier to committ murder, then the soldier is obligated to disobey that command and obey the higher authority (i.e. – the state and divine laws against murder.)

    If the Council or the Pope or the local bishop [Whoa! Hang on. You are mixing up several different ways in which the Church teaches.] commands priests to preach that all religions aare salvific, [I don’t think any Pope or V2 did that.]or that it is a God-given right to practice false religions, but the priest consults the 1st Commandment of God (You shall have no other gods before me) and the words of Our Lord (whoever does not believe will be condemned) then whom should the priest obey? [We are back to the religious liberty question.]

  69. Paul Haley says:

    Is the purpose of this discussion to elicit the most over the top ‘slam downs’ of the SSPX priests and faithful who attend their chapels? Because that is what is occurring.

    I find the comparison of the FSSPX and the RCWP to be extremely distasteful and in no way helpful to the sincere efforts at reconciliation of the FSSPX with the Holy See.

    Matter, Form and Intention – these say all that needs to be said.

  70. Calleva says:

    Similarities: disobedience, believing to know better than Peter (ie, telling Peter how to do his job), neo-protestant mindset (remember that Martin Luther began by objecting to the selling of Indulgences, something that the Church today would never do). Both groups attract people with a desire to rebel against something.

    Dissimilarities: The WP bunch appeal in the main to those whose faith is influenced by the thinking of contemporary society, who may not have been well catechised and are what might be termed ‘Catholic-lite’; the SSPX appeals mostly to more serious Catholics whose understanding is much deeper. The two groups hold very different views about liturgy and what the Mass actually is – a communal meal in which the sign of peace is arguably the most significant act, or a holy sacrifice in which the Eucharist is the central focus of worship and devotion. [I would add this: the womenpriest group tries to argue their position on the basis of false evidence. For example, they claim that there were female priests in the early Church. That patently is false, and laughably so. On the other hand, the SSPX makes arguments based on documents of the Church herself. They might come to conclusions we can dispute, but they are not making it up as they go. – Fr. Z]

    As others have pointed out, WP are focused on the ‘future church’ which they believe they represent, and SSPX the Church of the Past. They refer to this as ‘Tradition’ but Catholic tradition has never advocated putting oneself out of obedience to Rome via the local ordinary. Their orders are valid, but in the end, are they becoming some kind of historical re-enactment society? As time progresses, the more this may look like the case, whereas the WP will come to resemble something out of science fiction, an episode of Star Trek, or something. I know which I prefer, but this isn’t about taste or aesthetic preference, but obedience to the authority of Peter. [If the womenpriest gaggle also claims some ancient practice of ordaining women – and we reject this entirely – would they not also be falling into a false archeologizing?]

    The SSPX has a chance of being fully reconciled with Rome since attitude is the sticking point, not doctrine. Wimminpriests cannot be reconciled without a radical change of direction. Still, it’s possible – Clovis Boff, former Liberation Theologian and brother of Leonardo, has embraced orthodoxy (thanks be to God!!).

    Excellent discussion topic, Fr Z!!

  71. David says:

    I find the topic overly simplified of course. The differences quite outnumber the similarities. However with that said, both groups absolutely insist they are right and Rome is wrong, and both groups refuse to consider the error could be on their part.

    In this tragic similarity, they put themselves at odds with the Church, rejecting what is not a part of their personal interpretation.

    What is also similar is that they need to repent of their error and return to the obedience of the Church accepting the full teaching of the magisterium, and not only what they like or what they personally believe to be true

  72. Fr. Z, I have a question about the canon law “necessity” expressed by the FSSPX, and at times, the Women Priests. How does one determine that an act is out of “necessity” within the confines of canon law?

    I read “necessity” as requiring an “impossibility” to meet the use of the term as found within canon law. An act becomes a “necessity” when it is impossible to achieve the act with the approval of the Magisterium, BUT is an act that would otherwise be approved by the Vatican if not for the impossibility. [I think that is fair. What I think we, therefore have to rule out anything which the Roman Pontiff has specifically said should not be done. – Fr. Z ]

    For example, in my view, this COULD include the underground Church in China loyal to the Pope. It is impossible for the people of China to get a new bishop and impossible for the Vatican to appoint one. Therefore, a new bishop is chosen and validly consecrated, and, if not for the impossibility of contacting the Vatican, the act otherwise would have been approved from the Vatican. [I am not sure that, these days, there is such an impossibility even in China, but the example is not bad.]

    Here, the Women Priests and the FSSPX are not meeting this definition of necessity. Yes, they cannot get approval of their actions and may need bishops to sustain their order, but the Vatican would not otherwise approve of their actions. It was not impossible to request approval of the Vatican before taking these actions, and the Vatican would not be willing to give approval after the actions are taken. [As a matter of fact, Card. Ratzinger and Archbp. Lefevbre had both signed a concordat in which the Holy See agreed that the SSPX could have a bishop (or more than one? I don’t remember). But that was based on other conditions. So, the issue of consecration of bishops was on the table and it had been clarified.]

    Just a thought. My apologies if it is a little off topic.

  73. Bruce says:

    I think that everyone is missing how both groups are similar, they both lack HUMILITY. That is true humility in the Christian sense which comprises the following behaviors and attitudes:

    (A)submission to God and legitimate authority
    (B)recognition of the virtues and talents that others possess, particularly those which surpass one’s own, and giving due honor and, when required, obeisance;
    (C)recognition of the limits of one’s talents, ability, or authority; and, not reaching for that which is beyond one’s grasp.

  74. James G says:

    Juan Pablo,

    Thank you for answering my questions. My town has been blessed with wonderful and faithful priests who teach the truth of the Catholic faith. I often forget that others are not so lucky and that in many cases the family has failed to impart the faith as well.

    This is why full communion for the SSPX is so imperative because their witness is tainted by the black-eye of irregularity. It is easier for those who have not experienced the horror stories that others have to dismiss the perceived need for the SSPX because of that irregularity.

    James G

  75. Memphis Aggie says:

    Bravo Bruce I agree completely

  76. SSPX DO NOT uphold the Lord’s teachings on the ministry of Peter, His vicar on Earth.

    One cannot claim the mantle of tradition AND claim to be able to pick and choose among the elements of Tradition which one will hold or obey and which one will disregard or disobey.

    SSPX CANNOT claim the mantle of tradition.

    Hypocrisy and scandal.

  77. Fr Andrew Wadsworth says:

    Similar because:
    1. Both reject the legitimate and authentic magisterium of the Catholic Church.
    2. Both encourage their followers to adopt non-Catholic ecclesiology.
    3. Both movements are led by those who have been excommunicated.
    4. In both cases the Holy See had made a plea for reconciliation.

  78. Matt says:


    “Obedience is only owed to lawful superiors when they give lawful orders and when they are acting within their lawful jurisdiction.”

    This could arguably apply to certain things which are specifically in contradiction to Church teaching, however in many other matters the SSPX has refused obedience not because the command is unlawful, but because they disagree with it or that it may weaken their position.

    Take for example the suppression that Padre Pio humbly accepted, while the bishop’s decision was probably bad, it was not unlawful. Look at some of the activities of the SSPX which clearly are disobedient to lawful commands of the Holy See.

  79. Both are in danger of permanent schism.
    Both are gradually seperating themselves from Peter.
    Both risk the salvation of the faithful who adhere to them.
    Both have most probably have reached a stage where reconcilliation is impossible.

  80. The other David says:

    “I find the topic overly simplified of course. The differences quite outnumber the similarities. However with that said, both groups absolutely insist they are right and Rome is wrong, and both groups refuse to consider the error could be on their part.

    In this tragic similarity, they put themselves at odds with the Church, rejecting what is not a part of their personal interpretation.

    What is also similar is that they need to repent of their error and return to the obedience of the Church accepting the full teaching of the magisterium, and not only what they like or what they personally believe to be true”

    Just changing my name so people don’t confuse my posts with anyone else’s

  81. Michael says:

    The SSPX deserve a comparison with another ecclesiastical movement, like Old Catholics – the women “priestesses” deserve no comparison: they are just for a scrap.


    Time Out

    I got this by e-mail:

    Comparing the SSPX to heretical women pretending to be priests is absurd; many of your readers have succeeded in entirely missing the point, slamming the SSPX and their faithful, and sailing wide of the real issue, which is doctrine.

    Please, in charity, remove the post.

    Ummm…. no!  I don’t think I will do that.

    The questions in the top entry are fair questions.

    If people are “missing the point” then set them straight.

    It is not my problem, or a problem with this entry, if people who believe that the SSPX and the whole womenpriest thing are wholly dissimilar cannot come up with arguments to support their position.

    This thread might be able to help them sort out their thought.

    There are times when you have to work through your positions. 

    So, no.  I won’t remove this entry.

    Cope with it.

  83. Brian Kemple says:


    I see two claims quite frequently from Sedevacantists: the first is that since Benedict XVI was consecrated as a Bishop under the revised form, he was not validly made a Bishop; the second is that both his and JPII’s participation in non-Catholic services is a “false ecumenism” which, in the misunderstood words of Pius XI’s Mortalium Animos, is “tantamount to apostasy.”

    As to the validity of the consecration, I’m not much of an authority on that subject (i.e., I’m not one at all), but in reading the two forms, I don’t really see what the qualm is, other than a hair-splitting dispute on exactly what words are used.

    As to the rest… the only sources which seem to be cited to support the thesis are 1) Mortalium Animos, in which it is evident that Pius XI is condemning the false ecumenism, but not the genuine ecumenism promoted by JPII/BXVI (read my whole argument here: and 2) the 1917 Code of Canon Law, canon 1258 (I think), which states that it is forbidden for Catholics to participate in non-Catholic worship.

    Now, perhaps I am wrong and someone here can correct me, but Canon Law is *not* infallible; and though there is tradition and a set precedent, those are not absolute barriers to change. Law is always to be governed by prudence – hence, the word “jurisprudence.” What was not a prudent action in 1917 may, in our day and age, be prudent action.

  84. Memphis Aggie says:


    I think Father Zs questions are fair as the hostile attitude of the Society to the Vatican certainly appears real and offers scandal as does that of the much more radical womenpriests. Further because thinking on this requires humility, it will certainly help anyone open to it on the road to heaven. Father has provided a service to those who might through self examination recognize the issue.

    PS Thanks Father I love a lively post

  85. Michael makes a good point that the Old Catholics (by which I mean the Utrecht communion that schismed from Rome in 1871, a Middle European denomination not found in Britain or America) are a real but small church; RCWP is really just a spite movement with no real ministry or congregations, too small even to be called a rump sect. A few disgruntled middle-aged and older women.

    (America has the Polish National Catholics, an 1897 immigrant schism that from 1907 until a few years ago was Old Catholic – likewise a little but real church complete with generational members. Largely a Novus Ordo copy now as they’ve always closely followed Rome liturgically, they’re an interesting mix: credally orthodox and ‘reform of the reform’/devotionally conservative in some ways thanks to Polish conservatism; liberal/americanised in others… Confession optional, remarriage after divorce and contraception OK. The one noticeable difference in practice is married clergy including married bishops. Their other big identifying principle is congregational ownership of church property. Nowhere near liberal enough to appeal to RCWP and anyway they’re opposed to women’s ordination just like Rome, a reason why they’re not Old Catholic any more.)

    The SSPX passes this reality test too but unlike the Old Catholics is not a separate church in principle.

  86. Jane M says:

    Another difference, the SSPX is bringing up lots of children and the Womyn priests movement isn’t. So the similarity of disobedience is more worrisome in the SSPX. To obey is better than sacrifice.

  87. SamanthaP says:

    The SSPX exists because they truly wanted only what was best for The Church at a time of crisis. And though they’ve lost sight of their noble cause because of pride and anger (just visit but don’t go without your holy water and a crucifix), I am one who believes that there really was an emergency and if not for Archbishop Lefebvre, we would have no Holy Catholic Tridentine Mass today.

    However…there ain’t a snowball’s chance in Hell that these womyn want anything but “empowerment” for themselves. Their intent is pure evil and don’t fool yourselves into thinking otherwise. Behind all their deceptive rhetoric is a Pagan agenda, though some don’t realize it. They are to the Gaia worshippers what Norma McCorvey was to Planned Parenthood and what the “peace and justice” anti-war moonbats are to the Communists…useful idiots.

    Womyn faux priestesses deserve and indeed own a valid excommunication. I doubt it is so with the SSPX. Womyn faux priestesses claim a state of necessity and that is outright lie. There have been more times than not in Church history when we had only circuit priests who came ’round once a month or even less and all was just dandy. Knowing the Freemasons embedded inside The Church and how long these devils have been plotting the VatII takeover (they almost pulled it off in VatI), and how the lazy Protecatholics revel in the aisles at the current “y’all come, ya’ll is saved” state of affairs, I find it highly likely that Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre not only saw an extreme state of emergency but that his very life was at stake.

    I find no similarities between the two whatsoever.

  88. Patrick says:

    Misinterpretation of Tradition
    Rationalization of illicit and invalid acts
    Refusal to repent
    Leading the weak into error through bad example.

    Hierarchical male priesthood vs new age pagan priestesses
    Adherence to pre 1962 Liturgy and Canon Law vs rejection of liturgy and all canon law
    Chapels vs synagogues and protestant churches

    God’s Peace to all


  89. Got to agree with Mershon on this one even if it may look like I’m questioning Newman’s method. My college Religious Studies text quoted liberally from Newman and protestants to not prove God’s existence but merely let get a “hunch” for it. “No more precise then when your mom cooks something and uses ‘a pinch of this or a pinch of that.'” Newman was writing for an audience that would have trouble with Scholasticism whereas St. Thomas says from the outset that many wouldn’t understand him (Summa).

    But let’s illustrate this fallacy by way of an example. We’ll choose INFALLIBILITY.

    On one “extreme” you have the leftie liberals like McBrien who don’t believe it.

    On the other “extreme” you have the neo-Catholic EWTN types who thought Pope John Paul the Great could never err.

    And in the “Middle of the Road” you have the SSPX which takes the traditional Church teaching that Infallibility is very narrowly defined, concerns faith & morals, and does not mean impeccability .

    See… this is ABSURD! It reminds me of Bill Clinton’s Triangulation Strategy under Dick Morris.

  90. David says:

    Fr Z,
    It is not entirely about liturgy, it is about doctrine as well. But the episcopal consecrations of 1988 were about liturgy. Please everyone, bear in mind that the position of JP2 (for all of his good traits) was that the old mass was illegal and suppressed, and that priests needed special permission to say it. Pope John Paul 2 was wrong. [Can you point me to the document wherein John Paul II said that the older form of Mass was abrogated? Can you show me in what ways he was more restrictive than his predecessors? – Fr. Z]

    The 1988 consecrations were done (at least according to Lefebve and SSPX) as a necessity to preserve the old mass. [Well… at least to be able to ordain priests… but let that go.] The main reason the accord broke down was that it did not acknowledge that the old mass never was legally abrogated. [I wonder if that is the case. It seems to me there were other problems.] Pope Benedict has fixed this part of the problem. If S.P. had been issued in 1988, the episcopal consecrations would have been unnecessary.

    The doctrinal issues remain as they did in 1988, but the SSPX has not been censured for any specific point of doctrine. (Rather the SSPX makes clear that they accpet the “traditional” position on religious liberty, for instance. The Vatican, as far as I know, has not contradicted them for that position. It is the SSPX which is seeking clarity in the teaching of Rome, not Rome which is seeking a statement of faith from SSPX.

  91. Ian says:

    The centipede analogy describes best the futility of comparing the FSSPX to “Catholic” women priests. After reading the comments, it seems clear that those who are hostile to the FSSPX readily find comparisons and those who are not find hardly any or none. Here’s an idea: Why not ask the Holy Father what similarities and differences exist between the FSSPX and these protestant women “priests”? What I wouldn’t give to hear his response. (I have never attended an FSSPX chapel, but would if there were no other option.)

  92. Geoffrey says:

    “This is not the finest hour of this blog.”

    Why are the ones complaining not contributing to the discussion? [Perhaps they don’t know how to make distinctions or read closely what it supposed to be happening here. – Fr. Z] Fr. Z put it best above (10:36am). I for one am learning a lot from this topic.

  93. Ian says:

    My previous post ought to have been more specific and read “doctrinal differences”.

  94. schoolman says:

    David, the 1988 consecrations were done NOT because Archbishop Lefebvre could not live with the letter of the agreement or protocol that he signed. Ultimately, the 1988 consecrations happened because Archbishop Lefebvre did not feel that he could TRUST that the Holy See would abide by the signed agreement. The issue really boils down to TRUST. Looking at the recent history of those traditional communities that have placed their trust in the Holy See and PCED, it would seem that they have been vindicated.

  95. Louis E. says:

    I note that the SSPV (see and rely on their Bishop Clarence Kelly and his handpicked sucessor Joseph Santay for ordinations (and I think consider them the only legitimate Catholic bishops in the world).Bishop Kelly was consecrated by Bishop Mendez,emeritus of Arecibo,and Bishop Mendez left a signed statement saying that he had done so.
    If the “Womenpriests” can’t produce a statement by a consecrating bishop they effectively admit to being less canonically regular than the SSPV,who they are unlikely to recognize as legitimate in the first place.

  96. Warren says:

    To Breier et al,

    By inviting comparison an opportunity is created whereby contributors may examine the distinctions or similarities, connections or lack thereof between ideas and actions, causes and effects. Of course, the process is aided if contributors write intelligently and remain focussed on the topic. The process is impeded if people drift in one way or another (e.g., by employing ad hominem attacks).

    The process itself is valid because the act of skillfully comparing ideas and actions helps the examiners refine understanding. If we are skilled enough, we can determine whether or not we are comparing “apples and apples”, or “apples and oranges”. With skill (common sense, really), we can determine whether or not the apples are fresh or rotten. In other words, this forum topic is a useful extension of a process in which people engage (consciously or unconsciously) most days.

    Perhaps an acronym might help keep the process on track as Fr. Z. directed: F.A.C.T. = Fair (thoughtful use of language, balanced approach), Accuracy (detail, on topic), Constructive (logical, rational, helpful), Thorough (complete).

  97. KOM says:

    SSPX is part of the solution to the extreme crisis in the Church; women priestesses are part of the problem.

  98. Damien says:

    “The fact that people can even conceive of some of these unorthodox ideas, proves that the SSPX was at least partially right about Vat II”

    As far as I know, The Second Vatican Council was convoked to deal with issues arising out of the modern world, not to create issues. The socio-cultural situation within which the Council took place was already swimming in so-called “women’s lib” among other phenomena. The Council itself did not create the attitudes and mentalities that have manifested themselves in the “Roman Catholic Womenpriests” organisation. These ideas were already floating about, they just weren’t talked about. The very rapidity with which movements began after the council to promote the idea of women priests is a testament to this. To say that these things are only concieveable because of Vatican II is pathetically nostalgic and simply naieve. If Vatican II hadn’t happened these women would probably just be wearing multi-coloured fiddlebacks instead of multi-coloured scarves!

  99. Jrbrown says:

    To David’s point re: John Paul II’s attitude on ‘abrogation’ of the 1962 rite. Quattuor Abhinc Annos seems quite clear when it speaks of celebrating the traditional Mass as a ‘concession’ to be allowed by bishops under strict conditions, and only if reported to the Holy See. A dossier prepared by N Bux and S Vitiello, and published by Fides ( specifically makes the point that Quattuor presupposes an abrogration of the old rite, which of course we know never occurred. That same dossier noted that the Cardinal Commission from 1986 explicitly determined that not only was the 1962 Missal never abrogated, but that Quattuor was unduly restrictive, if not illegal itself. I would note that this same document notes the remarkable occurrence that there HAS actually been a suppression of a Missal-Paul VI did it to his own Missal in 1969 in order to correct ‘inaccuracies’ of a doctrinal nature and republished a year later in 1970. So, in reality, John Paul II did in fact at least BEHAVE as if the Mass had been abrogated, and we know that he also declined to accept the findings of the Cardinals in 1986 even after the events of 1988. Thus it took 21 years for the findings of those Cardinals, one of whom is now Pope, to be officially enacted, and even then it is like pulling teeth to have it followed despite it being the unbroken law of the Church, evidently since Quo Primum. Oh, and I think that if we’re going to compare SSPX to apostate feminists, then we should only be fair and compare, say, certain bishops of the Church to Archbishop Mlingo, or maybe the current Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury?

  100. Jrbrown says:

    Consider one other item, directly from Pope Paul VI at a General Audience on November 26, 1969, commenting on the new Missal:

    8. It is here that the greatest newness is going to be noticed, the newness of language. No longer Latin, but the spoken language will be the principal language of the Mass. The introduction of the vernacular will certainly be a great sacrifice for those who know the beauty, the power and the expressive sacrality of Latin. We are parting with the speech of the Christian centuries; we are becoming like profane intruders in the literary preserve of sacred utterance. We will lose a great part of that stupendous and incomparable artistic and spiritual thing, the Gregorian chant.

    9. We have reason indeed for regret, reason almost for bewilderment. What can we put in the place of that language of the angels? We are giving up something of priceless worth. But why? What is more precious than these loftiest of our Church’s values?

    10. The answer will seem banal, prosaic. Yet it is a good answer, because it is human, because it is apostolic.

    I would ask: does this not sound like someone who THINKS that the previous Missal, and frankly the larger liturgical tradition, has been abolished? Frankly, it sounds like someone who has been worn down by the arguments of certain interest groups into making these changes, and has internal conflict. Yet, our present Holy Father has said the exact opposite and indeed states that it is ESSENTIAL that Latin and Gregorian chant be learned by all seminarians, presumably along with the heretofore supposedly abrogated 1962 Missal.

  101. Xpihs says:

    I disagree with those that say that this is a poor choice of post on Fr. Z’s part.

    It is immensely important to be able to parse the distinctions of things that might seem similar at their base. It may be distasteful to some to imagine that it appears as though the SSPX and RCWP are acting on a similar premise, namely that each group knows better than the Pope how things should be. For this reason, it is all the more important to look into this matter, regardless of certain comments.

    Let us first look at two questions:
    What is the fundamental reason that the SSPX exists as they themselves proclaim?
    What is the fundamental reason that RCWP exists as they themselves proclaim?

    SSPX: The fundamental principle that dictates our action is the safeguard of the faith, without which no one can be saved, no one can receive grace, no one can be pleasing to God, as the First Vatican Council states. The liturgical question is not paramount; it only becomes such inasmuch as it is the manifestation of an alteration of the faith and, consequently, of the worship due to God. A notable change of orientation took place at Vatican II with regard to the Church’s outlook, especially on the world, other religions, the State, and even itself. These changes have been acknowledged by all, yet not all judged them in the same way. Until now, they were presented as being very profound, even revolutionary.

    RCWP: The RCWP initiative as a renewal movement within the Roman Catholic Church that is transitional, and whose goal is to achieve full equality for women and men within the Church. RCWP as a communion of local and regional entities whose common purpose is to promote the ordination of women and men in full Apostolic Succession as a matter of justice and faithfulness to the Gospel.

    The major premise of the Society is: Continuity with Tradition is essential for the fullness of the Faith.
    The major premise of Womenpriest is: Egalitarianism of the sexes is essential for Social Justice.

    The secondary premise of the Society is: Changes in the Church following Vatican II indicate an hostility to Tradition and a change in the clear teaching of the Faith.
    The secondary premise of Womenpriest is: A male only priesthood is incompatible with egalitarianism of the sexes.

    The conclusion of the Society is: That which is essential for the fullness of faith must be maintained against the current hostility within the Church that is against Tradition and a clear exposition of the Faith.

    The conclusion of Womenpriest is: Women must be ordained so that there is nothing incompatible with the egalitarianism of the sexes to ensure Social Justice.

    I will say once again that the Society should be respected in as much as it’s objections to what its members perceive as being Modernist tendencies are open and available to all. Where is the counter argument that also accedes to the major premise but understands the circumstances after Vatican II as being in full and clear continuity with Tradition?

  102. RC says:

    One similarity is that both groups attempt to offer Mass in unauthorized places, and attempt to administer the sacraments to Catholics without the permission of the competent authority.

  103. Antiquarian says:

    I too find this to be an interesting topic and am learning from the responses on both sides of the argument. It seems to me that those objecting to the discussion are those who don’t like the conclusions being drawn.

  104. Jane says:

    Similar: They are both disobedient to the Church.

    Non similar: The SSPX does seem to look like the genuine article but it is not.
    The so called women priests don’t even look like the real thing.

  105. Nancy says:

    “Is the purpose of this discussion to elicit the most over the top ‘slam downs’ of the SSPX priests and faithful who attend their chapels? Because that is what is occurring.
    Comment by Jrbrown”

    I agree with this comment. If someone were to suggest we compare and contrast Roman Catholicism with Celtic Fairies, perhaps the point would be made. Why even bother to compare two groups that are clearly utterly different in purpose and action, even in “reality?”

    I admit I am not an expert on SSPX, but from what I know (by virtue of attending a chapel, having no real alternative where I am), the intent is to preserve the Faith as handed down, to be loyal to Rome and the Pope while still being faithful to tradition, and that’s about it.

    The priests of the SSPX are among the most humble, decent, hard-working men I have ever met; the Mass is beautiful and honorably and reverently offered; the parishioners are sincere, active, and patiently praying for the well-being of the Church.

    I get the feeling that what many of you like to call arrogance might once have been called martyrdom. When Thomas Moore was told, what difference does it make – just say Henry is right; it won’t make any difference, it will calm Henry down, and you won’t have to die, Thomas told the truth as he knew it in faithfulness to his Church. The priests of SSPX believe deeply that they are being faithful to the doctrine and tradition of the Catholic Church, and that they must stand up for what has been handed to them – including, for Lefebre’s generation a VOW to reject modernism!! How can you break a vow made to the Church and be a faithful Catholic??

    Wouldn’t it be the case, if the SSPX were the renegade excommunicates that many of you think, that this would be simply, once and for all time, without equivocation, be stated by the Pope and that information would be made available to all Catholics? Just the fact that there are so many wildly divergent opinions, and so many different “interpretations” in this thread of various Church laws, statements, documents, etc., would lead me to believe that it is not a simple matter,nor a done deal.

    Nor would it be the first time in Church history when the smaller, less “popular” group had right on its side. I’m not saying that is the case, because I don’t know. But at least I know I don’t know.

  106. Breier says:

    If this were Advanced Dungeon and Dragons, people here would be lawful good, the SSPX would be chaotic good, and the womanpriests would be chaotic evil.

    The SSPX are doctrinally orthodox and traditional Catholics. They dissent on nothing. Though some object to portions of Vatican II, they believe the same things as orthodox Catholics who apply a hermeneutic of
    continuity to that document. The differences on prudential matters they have with the Holy See are permissible, and are shared by many traditional Catholics in full and unambiguous union with Rome.

    In fact, the only thing that sets the SSPX apart from Roman Catholics in full unambiguous communion with the church is their jurisdictional irregularity.

    “Womanpriests” supporters, to my mind, have lost the Catholic faith.

    Ironically, some of the CTA/Womanpriest/dissenter types may have jurisdiction. [None of the women who went through those ceremonies can have jurisdiction. To have jurisdiction, to use the power of the keys, you have to be ordained. – Fr. Z] Isn’t Hans Kung still a parish priest? [Not if he doesn’t have an office which requires him to have jurisdiction.] Didn’t a retired bishop celebrate the puppet Mass at the Call to Action meeting? [Perhaps he doesn’t hold any office which gives him jurisdiction?] Aren’t some religious superiors dissenters on these issues? [I am sure that is so.] While the SSPX priests are all suspended, and their bishops excommunicated, that’s not true of most modernists in the Church. However the women “ordained” were excommunicated. They have that in common with the SSPX bishops.

    The only disobedience of the SSPX is regarding their jurisdictional status. Setting up chapels, administering sacraments without permission from the bishop, etc. [Well… some also possibly simulate sacraments (they don’t have faculties to hear confessions) and some certainly behave in a disrespectful manner, even abusive, toward the Vicar of Christ.]

    The SSPX think they have supplied jurisdiction because of the crisis in the Church. I think many other Catholics agree their is a crisis in the Church but still feel uncomfortable with the idea of disobeying canon law, even though they might sympathize with the SSPX.

    Sure, both groups disagree with the Holy Father on certain areas. But the womanpriests disagree on matters of faith, the SSPX disagrees with the Holy Father on prudential decisions, which is their right. It’s every Catholics right to disagree with prudential decisions of the Holy Father. [True enough. However, how we act on that disagreement is another matter. Also, there seem to be doctrinal disagreements as well.] In that sense we all have similarities with Womanpriests.

    I agree that this question has academic value, but I think one has to be careful not to allow too much association to flow from one group to the other. For example:

    How is my disobedient teenage son similar to the devil? Might have academic value in a scholastic setting, but is not the best way to achieve family harmony. I think a better question might have been positive, like: “How does the SSPX compare to St. Athansius, or not?” [They don’t.] But glad it’s helpful to everyone!

  107. Brian Kemple says:

    Nancy, I don’t think anyone is attacking the men within the SSPX. I think their position is being attacked, as it is being judged as erroneous. They are excommunicated. In fact, they recently asked the Holy Father to lift the excommunications; furthermore, it has been said by the Church that the SSPX may be attended by those who love the old liturgy, in an area where it is not otherwise available – which is no longer an issue with the Summorum Pontinficum as anywhere a parishoner requests the TLM, the pastor must make it available.

    What does seem evident is that the SSPX is beginning to act with obstinancy. Their main objection prior to the SP was the rise of the Novus Ordo and removal of the TLM as the ordinary form. Now their tone is changing and they are clinging onto smaller qualms.

  108. Nancy says:

    “The pastor must make it available.” You know that this is not the case for many, many parishes, right? And even if it were, there is a vast difference between an occasional Mass at 4pm on Sunday (or 7pm on Saturday) and a functioning, active, parish faithful to the traditional Church. If SSPX is “clinging to smaller qualms,” and I can’t say for certain one way or the other (to be honest with you, I think most of us here may be a bit “arrogant” in thinking we can parse Church law; I’m confused enough about whether VII was a pastoral council or a council called to settle matters of dogma), perhaps they are just being careful.

    I do know that I lived through the aftermath – and if there was no intent to savage the Church, that certainly was the result. The SSPX were among the few, who, risking all, were willing to stay true to what they had been taught, what they believed, and what they had sworn to uphold. If this requires a bit of obstinacy, then I say their obstinacy is perhaps a virtue in these circumstances. As a simple Catholic in the pews, my faith was shaken when on day I was told that it was not ok to do certain things or behave in a certain way, and literally days later, as the altar rail was being ripped up and the crucifix ripped off the wall, I was told, oh, never mind. That’s ok now. How much more distraught might I have been had I been a priest, have devoted my life to a Church, a tradition, a set of beliefs and behaviors that were “catholic” and unchanging – except they weren’t and they did.

    I guess it bothers me that what I see as heroic and unselfish behavior on the part of just a few priests is interpreted as arrogant, obstinate, prideful – well, you know all the words. For my part, I pray that these fine few priests and religious and the main body of the church can be brought back together – and in the meantime, the last thing I’ll do is call them names or doubt their sincerity. (Having said that, there are jerks in any walk of life.)

  109. Brian Kemple says:

    Nancy, obstinacy moves a heretic or schismatic from what is called “material” heresy or schism into formal heresy or schism. It is not a virtue under any circumstances, as it is quite different from perseverance. If someone is obstinate, then they are denying what has been made evident to them.

    In particular, I have a hard time calling the behavior of Archbishop Lefebvre heroic or unselfish when he called John Paul II an apostate, that his work was the “wholesale, worldwide and radical destruction of the Faith.” I have a hard time seeing him as a man of humility when he says that “we were chosen by God to continue the Catholic Church.” He says that the SSPX must be humble, but I don’t see it in his actions or his words.

    And though the TLM is not available in many, many parishes, if a parishoner requests it and the pastor denies, the parishoner may go to his bishop and inform him.

  110. Mathilda says:

    I agree completely with Nancy’s comments above. Like her, I also am not an expert in these complicated matters of the SSPX, nor do I pretend to be. There are, I am sure, good folks here more learned and schooled than I on this subject. My objection is not to people’s opinions, they have the right to that, of course, but what I object to is the way some here have characterized these fine priests. That is what I find distasteful.

    As for the comment by Brian “…which is no longer an issue with the Summorum Pontinficum as anywhere a parishoner requests the TLM, the pastor must make it available”, he obviously hasn’t been in our diocese, where NOT one pastor in one church will offer the TLM, despite many attempts and many requets to do so, and the bishop does nothing, he sits silently by while the Faithful continue to suffer.

  111. schoolman says:

    This just posted from Fr. Michael Mary directly touches on this question.

  112. Ken Hendrickson says:

    They are both similar in that we should be praying for both groups.

    They are very dissimilar in that we should covet the prayers of the SSPX for us.

    Lord Have Mercy!

  113. Tiny says:

    I just finished reading a part of Adrian Fortescue’s book on the Orthodox Eastern Churches, and the differences between the SSPX and the WP closely resemble the differences between the Orthodox and the Protestants, as described on pages 201 and 202, found here:

  114. Ian says:

    Mathilda, unfortunately you’re not alone in having an intransigent bishop who is openly opposed to the TLM. Several of us formed a Latin Mass Society which have requested our pastor to make his church available for the TLM. Despite the bishop’s displeasure, he courageously granted our request. However, there are but two priests in our diocese trained in the TLM, both of whom live a considerable distance away. The LMS must pay the priest’s stipend and travel expenses. We have Mass said once a month with 75 to 130 Faithful in attendance despite the Latin Mass not being included in the church bulletin. I have often thought it curious that the FSSPX are more faithful to Summorum Pontificum than many “mainstream” bishops. I encourage you to ask friends desirous of the TLM to write letters to your pastor. Perhaps begin an Una Voce chapter in your area. Womynpriests (must admit that I like that spelling!) are no real threat to the Church and any similarities between it and the FSSPX are in essence meaningless given the current negotiations between Rome and the Archbishop Fellay. It seems very clear that both seek a reconciliation. I believe reconciliation is imminent; the womyn will have to fend for themselves, I’m afraid.

  115. Fr. Marie-Paul says:

    For those that are complaining about some of us “daring” to question the SSPX behavior, recall Church teachings that a moral act must not only have a good end, but also a good means. Directly disobeying and continuing to disparage the Holy Father and a Council of the Church is not a valid means. If you think so, please provide the doctrinal references. And, to the degree that SSPX disagrees with Church teachings (Vatican II) or misinterprets the liberal dissenters’ behavior (yes, clergy included) as a “proof” of erroneous Church teaching (all trads have this latter faith problem), they may also not have as pure an end as claimed. I have seen (and heard) much material from SSPX that spreads FUD – fear uncertainty and doubt – about the validity of the Novus Ordo Mass Rite, which is just one topic. Doubt is a tool of the devil. One doesn’t separate from the Church to “fix” it, one stays inside and does battle with those spreading the errors. And I do know what it is like to live under a heretic Bishop – one who supports women priests and whose several parishes win homosexual awards for supporting homosexual lifestyles, etc.

  116. Memphis Aggie says:

    As for those arguing that the SSPX somehow preserved the mass, I would argue that it was preserved in reverence in the heart of Joseph Ratzinger who, out of charity and recognition of the value of the liturgy, retained his empathy for the SSPX despite their scandalous disobedience. He was the faithful patient man working humbly within the church and was castigated by the SSPX who don’t even know their own friends. The fact of the Lefebvre’s disobedient consecrations doubtless delayed the return of the mass. Just ask yourself what might have happened if Lefebvre had pursued a Latin rite within the Church as a means of reconciliation with JPII. The Latin mass might have been offered much sooner. What if he had not (informally, lets be technically correct) split at all but remained close to the Vatican pursuing his cause with patience and humility like the reforming saints? He’d likely be venerable by now.
    Give credit where credit is due. It was our Pope who kept the old rite alive and who has restored it.

  117. CPKS says:

    Regarding Antonius’s second argument:

    1. There is a great deal of evidence indicating that Pope Benedict XVI subscribes to many modern theological ideas including many of those expressed at Vatican II. This is clear from his writings, speeches, actions etc.

    2. But many of these ideas are questionable and appear to contradict previous magisterial teachings and the constant tradition of the Church. This has been pointed out consistently over the past 40 years by the SSPX.

    3. If the SSPX are wrong, then clarifications are required to settle the matter. But this pope, just like his predecesors, appears unwilling to issue such clarifications.

    4. For as long as this situation remains, the SSPX remain justified in maintaining their irregular canonical status and asserting that the pope’s mind is muddled.

    Regarding (1): it is only to be expected that modern theologians are going to subscribe to “modern theological ideas”, some of them being their own, if they have any.

    Regarding (2): all ideas are questionable. Where there are apparent contradictions, it is the duty of all theologians to consider whether they are real or merely apparent. This, it seems to me, is true of any theological process whatsoever.

    Regarding (3): some recent declarations from the Holy See, particularly regarding the “substitit in” question, do seem to be addressing a few of the “apparent contradictions” between the teaching of Vatican II and earlier teaching. So the “apparent unwillingness” may not be “apparent” to all.

    Regarding (4): This is highly contentious. The “apparent” contradictions in (2) are merely subjective states, i.e. there is no such animal as an “apparent contradiction”, but only a subjective state of supposing a contradiction to exist. This latter subjective state justifies neither maintaining irregular canonical status nor ascribing a “muddled mind” to the Pope. It may be that the Pope is actually a very acute theologian who understands his business very well, whilst those who mistakenly perceive a contradiction are actually failing to understand the force of his thought.

    Antonius goes on to say:

    If you have read any SSPX material you will understand by “muddled” not a general muddle of nonsense like that of a mental patient, but a muddle of truth and error, of modern theological and philosophical ideas with traditional Catholic Truth.

    Now in the first place, it is always possible in principle to accuse a theologian of proclaiming a “muddle” of old and new (although I would prefer a less tendentious term such as “mixture”). Theologians do not simply parrot the ideas of previous generations. Likewise, the output of artists and mathematicians is inevitably a mixture of old and new; and to the extent that they are great artists or great mathematicians, we tend at first to be surprised by what is novel, and only latterly to realize how utterly dependent the novel elements are upon the old.

    Of course it is always going to be possible to characterize anything new as “different” from the old, or even incompatible. That is easily done. Einstein’s new science appeared to contradict that of his predecessors, and according to his predecessors’ hermeneutic, Einstein was just plain wrong. Messiaen’s compositional procedures appear diametrically opposed to Haydn’s. Of itself, this does not entitle us to say that Einstein or Messiaen had “muddled minds”.

    I would take seriously the SSPX allegation that the Pope’s mind is “muddled” if they were to show the least evidence that they understood it. All I have seen is the brandishing of various “apparent contradictions”, exhibiting nothing more than a superficial juxtaposition of isolated passages, provoking suspicion with airy allegations such as “apparent unwillingness”, mistrust and facile misjudgment, and blaming the resultant dismay on the “muddled mind” of the Pope. Were I uncharitable, I would call this hubris and slander. Being charitable, I call it “projection”.

  118. CPKS says:

    My apologies, the third to fifth paragraphs above numbered 2, 3 and 4 should be part of the quote. My commentary begins with the word “Regarding”.

  119. Memphis Aggie says:

    Similarity: both SSPX and The Womanpriests are unwilling to sacrifice or suffer for unity.

    Disimilarity: SSPX are still clearly Christian as Biblically defined while the Womanpriests have diverged.

  120. Mathilda says:

    Fr. Marie-Paul, I appreciate your words in your last post and agree with what you say. What you have written makes more sense to me and gives me a different perspective on this subject. I do not attend an SPPX chapel, but I am sympathetic to SSPX and do believe once they become regularized they will accomplish many good things for the Church and the salvation of souls. I cannot say the same for the so-called “women priests”. My disappointment with the comparison comes from a place of wondering what good can truly come of it. Shouldn’t we be working in a more concrete way (praying) to help the Holy Father and SSPX realize the goal which is to get them back into the fold? I’m not suggesting there aren’t those praying fervently to this end, however, I can’t help but get the impression there are many here who do not want to see this reconcilliation. We all complain about the shortage of priests, but when the SSPX is regularized, this will surely help, and I for one will rejoice.

  121. Tom says:

    Here’s a pretty good study of the faulty Spectrum Analysis
    that appeals to many reluctant to challenge their own

  122. Ian says:

    Well said, Nancy.

  123. Ian says:

    Perhaps I’m mistaken, and invite being corrected if I am, but didn’t the late Archbishop Lefevre indicate that the Novus Ordo was acceptable if said in Latin and the celebrant facing God?

  124. LCB says:

    It seems one of the major problems, vv. the SSPX, is a great deal of murkiness on several matters.

    By that, I mean there is a great deal of murkiness as to what precisely the SSPX objects to. Personally, I have great difficulty figuring out what exactly the SSPX does and doesn’t stand for. I’m going to provide a partial list, as best as I can determine, and welcome others to add to it so as to aid my personal clarity on these matters:

    1) Certain notions of religious liberty they believe are found in DH (without judgment as to those notions being present or not)
    2) Issues related to the use of the 1962 Missal (seemingly corrected by SP, but there still seem to be some doctrinal issues here)

    1) A great number of Bishops, Priests, and Parishes being ‘out of sync’ with the clear teaching of Mother Church on many matters
    2) Widespread liturgical abuses seemingly uncorrected

    If the doctrinal issues could be fully resolved, would the SSPX come home? Sometimes I feel the answer is “no” because so many emotional issues are involved.

  125. MPenny says:

    I think the Traditionalists felt like they had to choose between loyalty to Sacred Tradition or loyalty to the Pope. A position no Catholic should have to be in. The WomanPriest is just loyal to herself. Only in saner times when the Church is able to revisit Vat2 and clear it up dogmatically will the need (or desire) for the SSPX fade. Something i believe the SSPX sincerely desires. But that will only be when everyone involved in Vat2’s conception will have passed on, and others can look at it without so much of their life and hope invested in it. IMHO.

  126. David Kastel says:

    Thank you, JrBrown, for following up on my comment. Very well said…Quattor Abhinc Annos is completely meaningless without the pre-supposition that Quo Primum is rescinded, and that Catholic priests do not have the right to use the traditional missal…why “grant” bishops the right to “allow” priests to use the old missal unless the old missal has first been disallowed?

    And it was disallowed, de facto, if not de jure.

    Memphis Aggie, if Lefebvre had not gone thru with the consecrations, he would have died, the SSPX would not have had any of its seminarians ordained, the traditional mass would have been offered in far fewer places, as SSPX would have been far smaller, and its priests far older. Remember, Lefebvre was suspended from ordaining priests long before 1988, as the bishops did not want any priests ordained who were of a traditional mindset. I have heard this in a public talk from a priest whom Fr Z himself says “gets it” (not an SSPX priest, by any means, a local parish priest) who claims that any seminarian who expressed any interest in the traditional mass would effectively end his chances of ordination. (and he was in seminary about 10 years ago!)

    The traditional mass would have died without the Archbishop’s actions. In human terms, it is impossible to conceive how it could have been preserved absent APPARENT disobedience. You may answer that God works in mysterious and incomprehensible ways, but then I respond that He generally works through His own creatures. (Such as Archbishop Lefebvre, God rest his soul.)

  127. Freddy says:

    Dear Meeting Christ in the Liturgy,

    I must respectfully say that your characterisation of the SSPX is more consistent with the post VII “cafeteria” Catholics who have nearly succeeded in destroying Catholic culture and tradition. The latter are well-practised in “picking and choosing from the elements of Tradition…”. I have never attended an SSPX chapel, but it is clear that their intent is to preserve the TLM and traditional catechism. They have remained no less Catholic than many of us, and ot is to be hoped that they will soon be in full communion with Rome. The ladies might consider becoming Anglicans.

  128. Derik Castillo says:

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  129. Justin says:

    The absolute bottom line in assessing whether the SSPX has a case or not is this: does the Mass of Paul VI do what a Mass is supposed to do – effectively care for the supernatural needs of those who attend it?

    To answer the question another has to be asked: what is the Mass for? Why do we go to it?

    Resolve these and the SSPX’s position becomes very clear.

  130. Sterling says:

    There is nothing similar between SSPX and women priest. SSPX uphold what Popes and the Saints have said and they uphold all the traditions of the catholic faith etc… Women priest are starting something new. I am not a member of the SSPX but I have heard them speak they only seem to care for the salvation of your soul. I have study agruments against SSPX (which have errors, getting information mixed up and some things are even made up) and I have study things in favor for SSPX, I came to one conclusion ArchBishop Lefebvre will be a saint of the church. This comes from one who was against SSPX.

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