FSSP reacts to the lifting of the SSPX excommunications

When the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre decided to consecrate four bishops without the permission of the Holy See back in 1988, some of his priest broke away.  Seeking unity with the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, they formed the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter.  Rome confirmed their status and they have functioned ever since in union with Rome and Catholic bishops, hopefully providing an alternate to the SSPX.

They reacted today to the news of the lifting of the excommunications of the found SSPX bishops.

Press release of the FSSP following upon the Decree of the Congregation for Bishops

Fribourg (Switzerland), Saturday, January 24th, 2009 – www.fssp.org

The Congregation for Bishops, having made public today the decree lifting the excommunication declared in 1988 regarding the four bishops ordained without pontifical mandate by Archbishop Lefebvre, The Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter wishes to express its joy at the news of this step forward towards unity.

Since its foundation, the Fraternity of Saint Peter has not ceased to witness to its double attachment to the Seat of Peter and to the Tradition of the Church, praying constantly that a reconciliation could be achieved between the Holy See and the Society of Saint Pius X.

Today the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter unites itself completely to the hope of the Holy See, desiring “that this step be followed by the prompt accomplishment of full communion with the Church of the entire Fraternity of Saint Pius X, thus testifying true fidelity and true recognition of the Magisterium and of the authority of the Pope with the proof of visible unity”. (Decree of the Congregation for Bishops, 21 January 2009)

The Fraternity of Saint Peter would like to express its profound gratitude to the Sovereign Pontiff. It sees in this magnanimous gesture a call to unity for all Catholics in order to spread in the world, faced with all the contradictions of our day, the Reign of Christ.

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  1. Edward C. says:

    Deo gratias! Keep the good news coming Father!

  2. TJM says:

    As I predicted the mainstream media seized on Williamson’s holocaust lunacies. Tom [Yah.. you went out on a limb there! o{]:¬) ]

  3. Great to hear from the FSSP. Most excellent.

  4. EDG says:

    Wonderul reaction – very generous and positive. I had only met American SSPX people until last year, when I was in Spain and met a large number of folks from France, Spain and, oddly enough, the US, on a pilgrimage. The earlier ones I had met years ago in the US had been bitter and hostile. But the ones I met this summer were warm, pious, did not dress strangely or, if they did, did not seem to consider this essential to Christian belief, and they left a positive impression on me. I met a young American seminarian at their seminary in the Northern Midwest (I don’t recall the state) who was very nice, smart, devout and kind. So I really think it’s great that the hand is being held out on this side, and I hope they take it.

  5. puella says:

    Yes, the word “generous” also sprung to my mind. It would have been oh so easy for the FSSP to take a holier-than-thou stance on this, but they seem to have done otherwise. God be praised for all His graces.

  6. BobP says:

    Why not? We’re all on the same side.

  7. Tom Ryan says:

    I haven’t heard any heresy from the lips of +Williamson and his views on secular topics aren’t enough to get him excommunicated.

    Why are people demanding he recant them to come back into the fold? Our excommunications have a therapeutic intent unlike the Jewish excommunications that wish starvation if not death from exposure first.

  8. I think if there is anyone that can lead the SSPX back into the church (a helping hand??) Its the FSSP. I think its wonderful that they are being understanding, and yes generous. They could easily look down their noses, especially given the circumstances of the two orders. They dont. They show and lead by example. Kudos to them!

  9. David says:

    I’ll be honest, I was very surprised when I was the news that the excommunications had been lifted. I understand that some sort of letter was sent to the Supreme Pontiff with language that can be considered as asking for forgiveness but I was still surprised. When I think of Christian unity I normally think of the Greeks, Slavs, Armenians, Egyptians and Syrians. The SSPX weren’t really even on my radar. As someone fluent in Latin I have had my share of run-in’s with SSPX people and I was not impressed. Every sort of nasty lie about the Pope and the Bishop was uttered and it pained me greatly to have to deal with them when I did. These people accused my Bishop of being a freemason right to my face and then accused me when I defended the Bishop who is definitely not a freemason. Even if they know something about our Bishop that no other Catholics here are able to figure out, I should definitely know if I myself were a freemason or not. In my mind I basically filed information about them in the “protestant” file and forgot about them. To me they behaved just like Luther, when in a tight spot, make something up.

    Still, if they are now intending on mending their ways and coming back into communion with the Church then I have to be happy for them. I would never attend their chapels personally no matter how much Latin they used but we must always rejoice when the sinner repents. I may yet live to see the four SSPX bishops validly go to confession. It would be a great joy. Still no matter though, I will never attend their chapels. In Baton Rouge the SSPX made it clear what kind of people they want in attendance and I am just not fair skinned enough. They also made it clear what they think of our Bishop when the spray painted “666” all over the side of our Cathedral and demolished a 300 year old stone Crucifix of our lord. I hope the SSPX does enter full communion and get their act together, then I hope all the Baton Rouge SSPX people march down to the Bishop’s office to ask forgiveness.

  10. Mark says:


    I agree with you completely. SSPX, in general, has been in the attack mode for so long that it may have affected their ability to test reality. What you described is a road to paranoia and sedevacantism.

    There is a healthy and intelligent Traditional movement inside the Church (FSSP), that is gaining impressive ground and goodwill. Just take a look at the gracious note from them Father Z posted above. SSPX, on the other hand, has long ago ceased to be the only Traditional game in town.

    In view of SSPX Bishop Williamson’s Holocaust denial statements, and so far no disciplinary action from his superior, this group should withdraw and ask itself, for a change, a few basic questions.

  11. Ottaviani says:

    David: They also made it clear what they think of our Bishop when the spray painted “666” all over the side of our Cathedral and demolished a 300 year old stone Crucifix of our lord.

    That is shocking to hear but was there undoubted proof it was the SSPX? Was it reported in the news? The event you have described sounds more like the doings of some wacky evangelical heretics.

  12. David: As someone fluent in Latin I have had my share of run-in’s with SSPX people and I was not impressed. Every sort of nasty lie about the Pope and the Bishop was uttered

    Especially in view of the outrageous views and actions you describe, it’s pretty surprising that you had to be “fluent in Latin” to understand the lies they uttered.

  13. Tom Ryan says:

    Somehow, I think such vandalism would have been more widely reported.

  14. Mr. Edwards, I think I understand what David meant by “As someone fluent in Latin I have had my share of run-in’s with SSPX people….”

    As someone with a B.A. in classics, who taught Latin, and was Catholic all sorts of people assumed I would automatically be interested in the Latin Mass and willing to help them out with translations of documents, obscure points of canon law, and some of the questions that get fired at people like Father Z.

    I don’t think David’s SSPX run ins were lying in Latin – but they found him because he was a Latinist.

  15. JRS says:

    I do not question the Holy Father’s decision here, but I have little (in fact, no) respect for SSPX. For years, SSPX and its members and cohorts have touted their willful disobedience with arrogance and abandon.

    I have a great admiration and love for the Extraordinary Form of the Mass; I also have a great admiration and love for the Church, including her visible form, hierarchy, and authority — not to mention all 21 Ecumenical Councils.

  16. Robert says:

    The problem with Internet comments that is people can post any sort of unsubstantiated accusation.

    For example:

    “They also made it clear what they think of our Bishop when the spray painted “666” all over the side of our Cathedral and demolished a 300 year old stone Crucifix of our lord.”

    In a Google search, here’s the only information I could find on the vandalism incident “David” describes (scroll down to April 5):


    Please provide any evidence you have that this was linked to the SSPX. Otherwise, I will have to assume all of your accusations are baseless.

    Here’s a previous vandalism incident in Baton Rouge, which provides a clue as to possible motivation for such incidents (scroll to January 3):


    “In Baton Rouge the SSPX made it clear what kind of people they want in attendance and I am just not fair skinned enough.”

    I’ve never been to an SSPX chapel or to Baton Rouge. Maybe SSPXers in Baton Rouge are racists; maybe you met one or several racists who were not representative of the congregation; perhaps you were treated in a way you feel inappropriate for reasons other than color (i.e., inappropriate dress or behavior during the Mass); or given your statement above, maybe you’re making this all up.

    In any event, if the SSPX wanted to limit membership to the “fair skinned” why are they evangelizing in Africa?


  17. Mitchell says:

    I would not doubt some of the bad rhetoric coming from them but criminal acts of vandalism? It is a little unlikely and horrifying if so…Either way, in light of what this Holy Father has done in regards to their superiors they should really straighten out the attitude and soften their stance, even if nothing further develops for a while, for the remainder of this Pontificate..Pope Benedict XVI has reached out to them quite graciously and with stark humility. He will forever be remembered as taking bold steps to heal this rift. The FSSP had a wonderful response and the SSPX should adopt this posture from now on even behind closed doors. (in their seminaries etc.) It is time for change, for they are good for the Church but really nobody wants them back with bitterness or hotility. If I heard of any malicious remarks about the Holy Father I would walk away in utter dissappointment in the individual and depending the view maybe the group as a whole. We lay people are now watching closely any future rhetoric.

  18. It is no surprise that non-Catholics would eventually recognize other non-Catholics after the whole thing became monotonously clear that the Lefebvrite Sect was just another ploy to gather in conservative heretics blinded by superficially clinging onto the true Mass.
    Lefebvre’s “priests” and “bishops” were never validly ordained or consecrated – just like the Modernist “clergy”.

    Forgive me for being theologically and morally correct.

  19. Ed the Roman says:

    Being a holocaust denier doesn’t mean you hate black people. It means you’re an idiot who probably hates Jews, but you might have no issues with black people at all.

  20. Class act from the FSSP. If only other Catholics would follow their lead.

  21. David says:

    In regards to the vandalism, I have reason to believe personally that they may have been involved. I heard certain comments that were made and then I saw those comments turn into action in the form of the vandalism. That does not mean 100% that they did it in objective reality but it isn’t like they were sad or upset about it. This vandalism was a big deal, it did make the news and everyone, even some protestant heretics, were shocked. The only people not upset were the Swaggerites, who are not Christians to begin with, and the SSPX.

    In regards to the racism I am pretty sure you all have figured out that I am not “white”, though how anyone can tell the difference in race in Louisiana anymore is beyond me. Everyone here is mixed with something whether they admit it or not. I had a friend who wanted to get married to his girlfriend. He was “white” and his girlfriend was “black”. They were both devoutly Catholic and wanted to get married in a Latin Mass. Now I was not party to the conversation but what was told to me later was that they were advised by someone in the SSPX, someone with a collar, that they should not get married since they were so different and belonged to different cultures. These two people lived not more than a mile from each other, went to the same school all their lives and received first communion and confirmation together. They both moved to Baton Rouge for college so that they could be together and they had come to the point of wanting to get married. The first time I ever thought of them as being two different races was when they relayed that comment to me. It is obvious that whoever said this to them did not know them very well, did not see how they would take the comment and did not know the reputation it would heap on the SSPX for everyone who would hear of it.

    I began to study Latin for one reason, it is the language of the Church. When I converted to Catholicism someone said “Latin is the language of the Church” and so I began and have not looked back. This has exposed me to the ‘other’ languages of the Church; namely Greek, Coptic, Armenian, Slavonic, Ge’ez, and of course Syriac. Yet Latin is my rite, it is through Latin that I became a Christian and it is in the Latin Church that I participate in the worship of God. Because Latin is the language of the Church I have stayed with her even when I have had to put up with “classicist” who butcher the pronunciation, professional Anti-Catholics who believe that only Latin written before Constantine is “real” Latin; and generally negative and ignorant people who constantly say that Latin is either difficult or non needed. Not only is Latin the easiest language to learn, much easier than English for a non native speaker like me, but it is most certainly needed and all of America could do with enough Latin to read Humanae Vitae so that we stop killing ourselves off.

    Again, I was surprised by the lifting of the excommunications but I am not a donatist that will not welcome them back. However, I really do want to see a change in attitude. Our Bishops are not our enemies, they are our spiritual fathers whom we owe loyalty and fidelity to. As a convert I value my Catholic identity greatly and learning and living the traditions of the Church have helped me to be a better person and I hope a better Christian though I am far from perfect. I have certainly met my share of priest in the Church who have said and done really stupid things but their errors do not make the Church as a whole wrong and that is what the SSPX needs to understand. When most Catholics don’t pray that much at all, why would it be wrong to pray in English? I say my prayers in Latin but I certainly would not call Lebanon and tell them to abandon Syriac. I have been upset as much as anyone over the bad translations of the Mass into English but the Mass is still the Mass. I prefer the older Mass, it makes more sense to me, but the newer Mass is still the Mass. I hear that some people in Greece believe that only Greek can be used and any other language makes the Mass invalid. They qualify to carry “I’m stupid” cards in my opinion if it is true that they believe that.

    I would love to see more priest willing to tell me when I am wrong so that I can learn form my mistakes and be a better Christian. It is a shame that I had to learn so much of my Catholic faith on my own because many of the people who were supposed to teach me these things did not. Knowing Latin at least came in as a great help in this area. From what I understand the SSPX priest are not shy about guarding their flocks from sin but no matter how orthodox they may seem, not being in communion with the local bishop is not being in communion with the local bishop and I have to question what they teach. I feel that I would have to go behind them and check and verify everything. I Russian priest could tell me something and I would do the same thing. I don’t trust them because they are not in what I understand as The Church established by Lord Jesus. I would be uneasy, I would not have confidence that what they teach is the 100% true and authentic teachings of Christ. That said, again, I if communion is reach I would welcome them. Maybe one day I could come to a point where I could look past my problems with them but as of now I only see them damaging the Church when the Church has to deal with enough attacks from people who openly hate her.

  22. irishgirl says:

    I second what you said, WhollyRoamin’….a class act by the FSSP!

    (Now if we can get them to come back to the Syracuse Diocese)

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