SSPX leader writes to their supporters: new prayer petition

The SSPX has sent out a letter of explanation to their followers.

Let’s have a look with my emphases and comments.

Letter of the Superior General of the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X

Dear faithful,

As I announce in the attached press release, “the excommunication of the bishops consecrated by His Grace Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, on June 30, 1988, which had been declared by the Congregation for Bishops in a decree dated July 1, 1988, and which we had always contested, [I am trying not to take this as a "neener neener" sort of comment.  The word "contested" raises in my mind the question of whether or not they finally got a canonical process to review the situation.] has been withdrawn by another decree mandated by Benedict XVI and issued by the same Congregation on January 21, 2009.” It was the prayer intention I had entrusted to you in Lourdes, on the feast of Christ the King 2008. Your response exceeded our expectations, since one million seven hundred and three thousand rosaries were said to obtain through the intercession of Our Lady that an end be put to the opprobrium which, beyond the persons of the bishops of the Society, rested upon all those who were more or less attached to Tradition. [I welcome such a petition, and I wouldn’t be sorry to see yet another initiative like this.  There are a lot of people out there who have suffered a great deal because of their attachment to the Church’s Tradition and they don’t get a spotlight!]  Let us not forget to thank the Most Blessed Virgin who has inspired the Holy Father with this unilateral, benevolent, and courageous act to. Let us assure him of our fervent prayers[Nicely expressed.]

Thanks to this gesture, Catholics attached to Tradition throughout the world will no longer be unjustly stigmatized and condemned for having kept the Faith of their fathers. [I hope that is true, but I think it is overly optimistic.] Catholic Tradition is no longer excommunicated. [Hrumph.  This is nice flourish, but Catholic Tradition was never excommunicated.  These four bishops were excommunicated, not "Tradition".  And… sorry… these men are not the human embodiment of Tradition. ] Though it never was in itself, [better] it was often excommunicated and cruelly so in day to day events. [Amen.  I agree entirely.]  It is just as the Tridentine Mass had never been abrogated in itself, as the Holy Father has happily recalled in the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum of July 7, 2007.  [Again… a statement like this harks to the idea that perhaps they were pressing for a process to determine if there was ever an excommunication in the first place.  But.. that is a moot point now.]

The decree of January 21 quotes the letter dated December 15, 2008 to Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos in which I expressed our attachment “to the Church of Our Lord Jesus-Christ which is the Catholic Church,” re-affirming there our acceptation of its two thousand year old teaching and our faith in the Primacy of Peter. I reminded him that we were suffering much from the present situation of the Church in which this teaching and this primacy were being held to scorn. And I added: “We are ready to write the Creed with our own blood, to sign the anti-modernist oath, the profession of faith of Pius IV, we accept and make our own all the councils up to the Second Vatican Council about which we express some reservations.”  ["up to"  And including?  I have no problem with "reservations".  I don’t think Pope Benedict would have problems with "reservations" either, considering what he wrote about some of the Council’s documents and his own "reservations" expressed about Gaudium et spes.  "Reservations" aren’t the real obstacle, in the final analysis, though it is necessary to determine what they are and how deeply they run.] In all this, we are convinced that we remain faithful to the line of conduct indicated by our founder, [This is a pep talk for the supporters.] Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, whose reputation we hope to soon see restored.  [Remember that the Vatican Decree is not "retroactive" for the late Archbishop.]

Consequently, we wish to begin these “talks” [ALLELUIA!  May they begin SOON!  Please God.  This would be a good prayer intention.] – which the decree acknowledges to be “necessary – about the doctrinal issues which are opposed to the Magisterium of all time. We cannot help noticing the unprecedented crisis which is shaking the Church today: crisis of vocations, crisis of religious practice, of catechism, of the reception of the sacraments… [There have been bad times in the Church before.. but okay.] Before us, Paul VI went so far as to say that “from some fissure the smoke of Satan had entered the Church”, and he spoke of the “self-destruction of the Church”. John Paul II did not hesitate to say that Catholicism in Europe was, as it were, in a state of “silent apostasy.”  [Not so silent anymore!] Shortly before his election to the Throne of Peter, Benedict XVI compared the Church to a “boat taking in water on every side.” [Remember his stunning Stations of the Cross while the late Pope was dying?] Thus, during these discussions with the Roman authorities we want to examine the deep causes of the present situation, and by bringing the appropriate remedy, achieve a lasting restoration of the Church[If something could be worked out with the SSPX to formalize unity, I would stand shoulder to shoulder with them.  In a  sense, we already do, but in a very imperfect way.]

Dear faithful, the Church is in the hands of her Mother, the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. In Her we place our confidence. We have asked from her the freedom of the Mass of all time everywhere and for all. We have asked from her the withdrawal of the decree of excommunications. In our prayers, we now ask from her the necessary doctrinal clarifications which confused souls so much need. [YES!]

Menzingen, January 24, 2009
+Bernard Fellay

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  1. Steve says:

    The true road block to doctrinal unity comes from the dear Pope’s attachment to the “New Theology” formulated by previously suppressed theologians, that later came to be forming philosophy of Vatican II. The attempt to somehow reconcile Modernity with Tradition into a sort of synthesis is the current Pope’s approach and is in contradiction to the Catholic approach before the Council. Nevertheless, hopefully the two sides can work out a doctrinal agreement whereby Rome clearly reestablishes publicly the great encyclicals of Pius IX, X, & XII and Leo XIII, which have been and are still completely ignored by the Vatican. Also Rome needs to make crystal clear the Traditional meaning of so many vague, ambiguous, and apparently contradictory teachings of so many Vatican statements and Cardinals (and Popes) since the Council. In addition they will need to be provided an air-tight juridical structure to protect them from the liberal Bishops. It is only then that the Society and other Traditionalists will have the sort of official sanction and backing that will enable them to fruitfully work for the restoration. [Okay… you have this all worked out. What the POPE and VATICAN has to do. Good. Good.]

  2. Paul Haley says:

    Methinks if Bishop Fellay and His Holiness could sit down and have a long chat about what they both believe as catholics, they would wind up agreeing on every important point as regards the Deposit of Faith. Perhaps even sitting down with a good bottle of wine would do the trick and make them more at ease about expressing themselves. In any case with these two good men in charge of the discussions we can look forward to them bearing much good fruit. I hope the Holy Father sees fit to grant the Society temporary universal jurisdiction in the interim. [I fear that Bp. Fellay isn’t the one who needs to be convinced.]

  3. Irulats says:

    Deo Gratias! Let’s all pray, pray, pray!

  4. Andy K. says:

    The Pope is a BAVARIAN!

    A bottle of wine?! Posh! He would need a beer!

    Let’s move em both to a beer garden in Bavaria, tap a keg, and see how things turn out in the morning!

  5. Steve says:

    Indeed I too hope for temporary universal jurisdiction in the interim. [There is not such thing as “temporary universal juridiction” in this case.] Right now you have a lot of confused Catholics wondering if it is ok to finally go to Mass at their local SSPX Chapel this Sunday instead of suffering through Fr. Teilhard’s hootenany one more time. [No I haven’t. Take some time to read and think about what I have written.]

    Fr. Z, what’s the answer now that the excommunications are no more?

    Is it ok for a Catholic to attend Mass at their local SSPX Chapel on Sunday and receive communion now? Is it ok to go to confession there? Thanks. [NO! In my opinion it is NOT okay unless there is a truly compelling reason to go to the chapel, such as the physical or moral inability to attend Mass in a legitimate chapel or church. And, NO, it is not okay to go to confession to these priests if you are seeking sacramental absolution because they do not have faculties to hear confessions. Unless you are in danger of death they cannot absolve you.]

  6. Dan says:

    “We cannot help noticing the unprecedented crisis which is shaking the Church today: crisis of vocations, crisis of religious practice, of catechism, of the reception of the sacraments…Paul VI went so far as to say”…the smoke of Satan had entered the Church”, and he spoke of the “self-destruction of the Church”. John Paul II did not hesitate to say that Catholicism in Europe was, as it were, in a state of “silent apostasy.” “Benedict XVI compared the Church to a “boat taking in water on every side.” Thus, during these discussions with the Roman authorities we want to examine the deep causes of the present situation, and by bringing the appropriate remedy, achieve a lasting restoration of the Church. Dear faithful, the Church is in the hands of her Mother, the Most Blessed Virgin Mary…we now ask from her the necessary doctrinal clarifications which confused souls so much need.”

    That’s what it’s all about, dear brothers and sisters in Christ. Let others, such as London-based journalists, fret that the news media will harp repeatedly upon Holocaust deniers and “anti-Semites” who supposedly are legion within the Church.

    As Catholics, we know that a monumental crisis of faith exists among Catholics. We know that 80 to 85 percent of Catholics refuse to assist regularly at “Ordinary Form” Masses.

    We know that the post-conciliar “reforms” have failed to bring about the “new springtime” that we supposedly had entered circa 1965, according to the party line proclaimed by Rome and our bishops.

    We know that the holy Society of Saint Pius X prays and works 24/7 to promote Holy Tradition and help end the post-conciliar crisis of faith.

    What we need are bishops and priests — and we have them within the SSPX — who have the guts to confront publicly post-conciliar “reforms” that have weakened and robbed Latin Catholics of what is theirs rightfully…that is, the Roman Liturgical Tradition.

    Rome’s decision regarding the SSPX excommunications is a tremendous sign (as is Summorum Pontificum) that the Church is determined to confront and end the post-conciliar crisis of faith.

    Only the restoration of (Latin) Catholic Identity will end said crisis.

    The holy Society of Saint Pius X will play an important role in the Pope’s mission to restore Catholic Identity.

    Let the world bellow about Holocaust deniers.

    Let us give thanks unto God that Rome appears ready to truly tackle the post-conciliar crisis of faith.

  7. Paul Haley says:

    Fr. Z,
    Are you saying that the Holy Father cannot grant universal jurisdiction to Society priests and bishops for administration of the sacraments according to the liturgical books in effect in 1962 as a temporary measure until such time as doctrinal agreements and a permanent juridical structure can be worked out? I am not arguing with you, Father, I’m just asking the question for my own edification. As a layperson, I am indebted to you for your advice and counsel on this issue. [This is what happens when people start tossing around terms they don’t quite get. The Pope has the authority to grant just about anything. But you used the word “jurisdiction”. Only the Pope has universal jurisdiction, in it is permanent. What you are talking about are faculties to use the old books for sacraments etc. Of course the Pope could do that. But he won’t until all these other problems are worked out? And it won’t be “universal”. Avoid using these terms, friend.]

  8. Patrick says:

    Mr. Haley,

    I am not a priest or canonist, but I believe the Holy Father COULD, as the Supreme Pontiff, do such a thing, but it would be totally unprecedented and extraordinarily unlikely. I would say, he would be just as likely to spontaneously declare Arch. Lefebvre a saint.

    So, he could, but he won’t.

  9. Steve says:

    Fr. Z,

    The PCED answered the following question in 2008.

    Q: Do lay Catholics who frequent Society of St. Pius X chapels, either more less frequently, incur any sin or canonical delict by doing so, if done solely out of devotion to the Church’s Latin liturgical tradition and not to separate one’s self from communion with one’s diocesan Ordinary or local pastor?

    PCED: “Catholics who frequent the chapels of the Society of St. Pius X do not incur any sin or canonical delict by doing so. [Not sinning and not incurring a penalty doesn’t mean it is a good idea to go.]

    Therefore, I assume it is only your personal pastoral recommendation that Catholics not attend Society Chapels [Did you read what I wrote?] if they have an alternative and not a strict Church ruling, since the PCED has ruled it is not a sin to do so and it fulfills one’s Sunday obligation (See PCED Letter from 2003: I would think that the warnings from Rome in these letters against “imbibing a schismatic mentality” would be even less applicable today now that there are no more excommunications. The PCED says their decisions can be relied on to a moral certainty. Thus I don’t see a Catholic sinning by attending a Society Mass 20 minutes from home tomorrow if they are surrounded by folk and rock masses, even if their Bishop allows one Latin Mass 45 minutes away downtown at 8am Sunday. [Fine. God cannot be fooled about the real reason people choose to go.]

    As to confessions, a lawyer and Catholic apologist, John Salza Esq., not an SSPX attendee, and featured on mainstream Catholic apologetic radio shows, explains how SSPX confessions are valid under common error in Canon Law, and even if the faithful have a positive and probable doubt, jurisdiction is supplied. [Good luck with that.]

    See question #10.

    The SSPX’s Fr. Angles also has a detailed study of the matter here: [I think the SSPX isn’t a good judge in its own cause.]

    Thus I think confessing to Society priests, especially if there are nothing but priests of questionable orthodoxy surrounding you, would be permissible. [And I think you are VERY wrong. I wouldn’t want that on my soul, friend. Go to a man you KNOW has faculties and don’t fool around.]

    Curious to hear your thoughts Father. Thanks.

  10. Michael says:

    The orthodoxy of the priest (or lack thereof) has no bearing on the validity of the sacrament of confession.

    I go to confession sometimes at a Franciscan-run shrine, and the place is as fruity as can be, with flyers hung around advertising “LGBT” events and a big sign out front proclaiming “ALL ARE WELCOME.” Believe me, every time I am there, I pray for the friars that they may return to sanity and sanctity (there is frequent talk of some of their nocturnal activities). But they have never told me in the confessional I did not need to confess anything, and I’ve divulged sins of a same-sex nature in the past—though I suspect many of them have no problem with such activity.

    The Holy Spirit still works through them—and thank God for that assurance, because none of us know what is inside someone’s heart.

  11. Steve says:

    Fr. Z,

    If Catholics are truly endangering their souls on a daily basis and risking Hell due to invalid confessions given to Society priests, would Rome not have a moral obligation to shout this from the rooftops, especially to make this known in a statement along side the lifting of the excommunications? Or does Rome agree (silently) that jurisdiction is supplied so they are not worried. [“silently agree…. supplied” … this is mush.]

    No other regularized Traditional society, to my knowledge, has been required by Rome to make general confessions or to have their faithful make general confessions. [So? Holy Church also only tells you you must confess all your mortal sins once a year. That doesn’t mean the Church thinks it is not necessary to make your confession when you know you are in a state of sin. Enough. Don’t fool around with this sacrament.]

  12. Steve says:


    I never said the orthodoxy of the priest necessarily affects validity. (Though if they screw up the form or lack the right intent it might). I said that if the Society priests are supplied jurisdiction through common error then it would be preferable to confess to them over priests of questionable orthodoxy. [“supplied juridiction”…. a canonical fan dance… enough of this.]

  13. Nick says:

    Wow! that was quick only twenty years — didn’t figure I would live to see it…now let’s work the word “humility” somewhere into the mix on both sides.

    By the way — may God grant to His servant, Marcel, heavenly repose and eternal memory.

  14. Paul Haley says:

    Fr. Z.,
    I apologize for opening a can of worms using the term “temporary universal jurisdiction”. Mea culpa. And I do thank you for taking the time to give me counsel on that.

  15. Cosmos says:

    God bless Pope benedict, and God bless all the people who prayed for this. May the tradition re-emerge!
    Nonetheless, there are major obstacles to be overcome. The holocaust questioning from one of the SPPX bishops, to me, is in no way minor. It demonstrates an issue with many of us traditionalists. We lack judgment. Perhaps aspects of the WWII history are not perfectly accurate… What of it! The essentials are true, and to debate the minutia is to make many people legitimately nervous in a way that absolutely and predictably distracts from the bishops role of spreading the Gospel. The fact that this bishop does this demonstrates a desire for “truth” cut loose from the difficulties of living in the world present in many of us traditionalists. We have seen things, heard arguments, read documents, and had personal experiences which make us highly skeptical of the Church. We are tempted to take drastic actions, Yet we KNOW that to stray to far from Peter, in word or deed, is perilous. To venture too far down the road of criticism and “loyal opposition” is to risk never coming back. Bishop fellay seems to have recognized this danger, and risked a lot to prevent it. I know the play is exagerated, but perhaps A Man for All Seasons serves as a good analogy. St. Thomas Moore was extremely prudent, and understood that he was a man in the world, and his faith had to navigate in the treacherous waters of his society. His son-in-law wanted to tear down the forest to get to the devil, but Thomas appreciated the safety of the trees. There is a certain lack of humility and/or prudence that marks many traditionalists, and it is far more evident in those directly involved with the SPPX (Is it really safe to debate the canonical legitimacy of an organization AFTER you join it? How can you be sure that your conclusions are sound when they lead you so far from the Popes?) If the SPPX is heroic, it is in the manner of the judges. Unlikely men, chosen to protect God’s people, not based in any way on their own virtue, but rather on the inevitability of God’s will. Like the female warrior Deborah, their victories are not so much a testament as an affront to an unfaithful people.
    On the other hand, the Roman catholic hierarchy, especially the Europeans, are going to make the tradition’s come-back particularly difficult. They simply don’t like it; it seems to embarrass them in the way that being pro-life, or anti-contraception can be embarrassing in polite company. I wonder if, at some level, the hierarchy of the Church is suffering from over-education. The Church seems to value education over faith the same way that European government stress technocrats over true representatives. Once that ball gets rolling, once a critical number of at the top are academics, the reality starts to perpetuate itself- if you didn’t go to this or that school, and you cannot talk about this or that theorist, you are simply not tier 1, are not going to be in consideration. For this reason, in my opinion, today’s Bishops seem particularly susceptible to accepting the trends of modern academic theology as the basis for their faith, and particularly uninterested in looking backwards or challenging their assumptions unless it comes from the top. Many bishops seem to think that modern theology IS the faith. While a man like Benedict seems to be able to discard what is not in line with tradition, many do not.
    In any event, I predict we are about to see the imprudent intellectual over-confidence of the traditionalists come head-to-head with the worldly intellectual pride of the RC hierarchy. Neither side will want to give an inch, and this will seem perfectly reasonable to both. they will be reinforced by the only people they respect- the people in their own ranks who already agree with them. Thank God there is a man at the helm that is a true master of theology and history. God pray for this Pope.

  16. Steve says:

    John Salza, Esq., featured on EWTN (hardly an SSPX mouthpiece)

    On SSPX Confessions and supplied jurisdiction for validity:

    “The fact that a community is capable of common error is precisely what triggers supplied jurisdiction. If a fact could induce Catholics to believe that a priest has faculties, the Church supplies jurisdiction under Canon 144 on the grounds of factual common error. Would a community of average Catholics be induced to believe that a priest has faculties if they saw that priest celebrating Mass and hearing confessions in a Catholic chapel? Particularly when the chapel is in the public square, advertises its Mass times, has hundreds of congregants and all the other indicia of a Catholic parish? (Remember, the community doesn’t have to actually believe it; only that they could be induced to believe it.) I believe the answer to this question is “Yes.” This is why the community of believers is “capable of having a common error.”

    It is not much different than seeing a priest sitting in a chair on a remote beach vested with a stole and hearing confessions. A community of reasonable persons could be induced to believe that this priest has faculties. Of course, the Church supplies faculties only for cases where the person acting would have been capable of exercising the power (he must be a priest). Thus, if this same community of believers saw a teenage boy or a woman attempting to hear confessions, the Church would not supply faculties no matter what the community believed. Moreover, in such an outrageous case, a community of reasonable persons could not believe that the boy or woman had faculties in the first place, and thus there is no factual common error.”

    “The question, rather, is whether there is “positive and probable doubt of law,” namely, the application of the law recognizing factual common error, for ecclesia supplet to be triggered. As applied here, there are arguments supporting the idea that a community of reasonable persons (average Catholics) would believe an SSPX priest had faculties, leading to factual common error. There may also be arguments supporting the idea that a community of reasonable persons (well-informed Catholics?) would not believe an SSPX priest had faculties so that there is no factual common error (however, it seems that these arguments would not be as strong since it is not what the community actually believes, but only what a community of reasonable persons would be induced to believe).

    Thus, there is “positive doubt” concerning whether the law of factual common error applies to SSPX priests (“doubt of law” can deal with the law’s meaning, application, existence, extension, force or cessation). The doubt also appears to be probable because there are strong arguments in favor of the conclusion that a community of reasonable persons (average Catholics) could be induced to believe a priest celebrating Mass in an SSPX chapel has faculties. Thus, it seems to me that there is “positive and probable doubt of law” which leads the Church to supply jurisdiction to SSPX priests to hear confessions. This is consistent with the Church’s supreme law: The salvation of souls.

    In summary, if a fact could induce Catholics to believe that a priest has faculties, the Church supplies jurisdiction under Canon 144 on the grounds of factual common error (first prong). If a positive and probable doubt exists as to the application of this law (of factual common error), the Church still supplies jurisdiction under Canon 144 (second prong). In my opinion, SSPX priests meet both the first and second prong, or, at least the second prong of Canon 144. This is sufficient for ecclesia supplet to apply.”

  17. Brian says:

    Pope Benedict graciously chose to “remit from Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson, and Alfonso de Galarreta the censure of latae sententiae excommunication.”

    He neither “lifted” the censure, nor did he declare that due to a perceived state of emergency the censure was never valid. That prudent course gracefully avoids the implication that Pope John Paul II was wrong in censuring the SSPX, while at the same time allowing Bishop Fellay to state, the “censure was which we had always contested has been withdrawn.”

    Quite elegant.


  18. Greg says:

    Yes Brian, this was a wonderfully “elegant” solution, and one which really shows high diplomacy at its finest, and for such a great and good end.

  19. Ioannes Andreades says:

    In terms of accepting the documents that came out of the Second Vatican Council, to what extent do they contain teachings to which all Christians must give consent? My understanding is that when the various constitutions were voted upon, none of them received unanimous votes. Did all the bishops who voted against a given document eventually sign on to the document? My understanding is also that when dogma is formulated at ecumenical councils, all bishops present must be in agreement, as what finally took place at Nicea and at the First Vatican Council. Moreover, not all the documents of the Second Vatican Council are of the same \”weight\”; some are constitutions, some are declarations, and some are decrees. Are all meant to be infallible like Pastor Aeternus and requiring subjection of believers\’ intellect? There aren\’t any anathemas in the Vatican II documents.

  20. Steve says:

    Rome has to come back to her own Tradition and provide an environment whereby Traditional Catholics can live a normal parish life. SP has been ignored a by a majority of American Bishops. It has made almost no difference in my archidiocese. The Society is the only Traditional presence besides one TLM for 700 sq. miles of archidocese.

    Pope Benedict still embraces the New Theology condemned by Pre-Vatican II Popes. Until he rejects that theology which has so injured the Church, the Church will continue to suffer. This is why the Society has insisted, since ’88 on doctrinal discussions for their to be any sort of true reconciliation. In ’88 Rome simply wanted a band-aid juridical fix, as they did again in 2002. To Bishop Fellay’s credit he would not accept it. The Pope and Cardinals are living in the diabolical disorientation Sr. Lucia spoke of. They cannot see that the very repackaged modernism they embraced has ruined the Church. They recognize a crisis but are blind to its true causes and its true remedy, which can only be a return of the Church to Her own Tradition. There can be no reconciliation between the spirit of the world and Tradition, no Hegelian “synthesis”. Christ never “synthesized” the attitude of the world and God. He said man cannot serve two masters.

    May the scales be lifted from the Holy Father’s eyes and may he finally fully honor the Oath Against Modernism he swore on his ordination.

  21. Christopher says:

    Peace be with you!

    Fr. Z, you commented that the excommunication decree is now a moot point. It seems though, that the community, if not now, but in the future, does, in fact, still concern themselves with this. If the community is engaged to a full cannonical status in the proximate or distal future, they are going to wish to pray for the soul of their founder in a licit sense, too. Unless I am mistaken, we still do not pray for the souls of those formally considered to be seperated from the Church (whether or not they actually are). Though, that question need not be resolved in the current moment, necessarily.

    Likewise, it may make significant difference for all those who have administered and receieved the Sacraments in the past 21 years with their priests.

    May God bless you.
    Holy Mary protect you.
    In ICXC,

  22. wsxyz says:

    Steve, I am no expert, but it seems to me that you are trying really hard to justify confessing to SSPX priests when there is no doubt whatsoever that they do not have normal jurisdiction. You want to believe they have supplied jurisdiction, and advance convoluted arguments, but why would you be willing to risk your soul over it?

    It is entirely possible that your other alternatives are “priests of questionable orthodoxy”, so don’t send your kids to them for catechism, but as long as they have jurisdiction, will hear your confession and correctly absolve you, then what’s the problem? At least with them you know that your confession is valid. Why risk your soul?

  23. Mark says:

    After the statements from one of their Bishops about the scope of the Holocaust, and no disciplinary action from his superior, I’m not really sure what kind of guidance to the “confused souls” this SSPX outfit can provide.

    It would be better for them to have a substantive discussion with some of the members of the Jewish faith first, before they attempt to teach the rest of us about our Traditional Catholic faith. How can we reconcile their leadership’s claimed piety with no correction of some of their own’s blatant historical falsifications? Does credibility still matter?

  24. Steve says:


    I confess there because I think Canon Law is clear that jurisdiction is supplied and even in the case of doubt another canon supplies it. In addition I refuse to believe that Rome would be publicly silent on such an issue potentially damning hundreds of thousands to Hell. It makes no sense if they truly believed the confessions to be invalid. As I said previously, Rome has never required a general confession of any reconciled Trad group. So either Rome is evil to the core or they don’t believe there is a problem. I think the latter.

  25. JM says:

    Rome has not been silent on the issue. The Ecclesia Dei replies are clear about the fact that SSPX confessions and marriages are invalid. If Rome thought supplied jurisdiction applied, perhaps they would have said something, or they wouldn’t have said anything at all about the validity of confession and marriages, but an answer has been given. Now you’ll probably start in about the ED letters being private correspondence, or how those Romans are devious modernist, or some such rot, but the message from Rome is clear if you listen to what the Church is saying instead of putting your hands of your ears, humming loudly, and spouting off the SSPX certified litany of interpretations, technicalities, and arguments that are wishful-thinking at best.

    It is utterly insane to go to an SSPX priest and risk your eternal soul due to the very serious issues involving the validity of the sacrament.

    “Amen I say to you, whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven.”

    Think about that before you continue down the SSPX path. It is something I thought about when I involved with the SSPX in the past.

    It is possible to attend an SSPX Mass if there is really no other option in the area, but there isn’t an option when it comes to confession or marriages. I know things can seem so awful that you want to run away and hide in an SSPX parish. I know their arguments give a sense of hope that you can go to them for all the sacraments. I know. I’ve been there and its better to be within the Church, dealing with the good and the bad, than looking at the Church from the outside through rose colored glasses at a perfect vision of the Church that never was.

  26. Steve says:


    The private ED correspondence simply says they don’t have ordinary jurisdiction and that therefore the confessions are invalid. Then they state an exception for genuine ignorance. They only address one of the Canons that apply and ignore the rest. So, first, it is indeed private correspondence and Rome has not ruled officially on the matter. Second, the private correspondence only states two things we already know, but is simply silent as to other Canons that may apply.

    If SSPX confessions were truly invalid, Rome would be morally obligated to make an official ruling on the matter and make that ruling public. In addition Rome would be morally obliged to require general confessions from every Trad priest who reconciles. The fact is, they do not.

    Besides this, the concept of common error is codified in the ’83 code and Society priests clearly meet the definition. Just read Salza’s explanation. He’s a non SSPX mainstream apologists. Canonists before Vatican II even agreed on what constitutes common error. Beyond that there is even a Canon that provides jurisdiction in the case of positive and probable doubt so there are no worries. We must remember that the supreme law of Canon Law is the salvation of souls. Not sending them to Hell on technicalities.

    The recourse of Canon Law is against the priests that set up the common error. It is a mortal sin to do so unless they have grave reason. That is a separate issue entirely.

  27. CPKS says:

    “Pope Benedict still embraces the New Theology condemned by Pre-Vatican II Popes.”

    I suggest that the above quotation embodies a dangerous and misconceived way of thinking, one that is alas rife in the SSPX and similar bodies, and which I sometimes characterize as “theological guilt by association”.

    The term “New Theology” – not very new any more! – denotes (not very precisely, but in a superficial, journalistic fashion) a school or method of theology. Within that ill-defined school, all kinds of propositions, both orthodox and heterodox, may have been discussed and espoused. But it is not and never has been within the remit of popes, whether pre or post Vatican II, to condemn all theologians or theologies within a given school, unless membership of that school necessarily entails the holding of unorthodox beliefs.

    We remember that S. Thomas himself was accused of infidelity, simply because his theology arose out of the philosophical school of Aristotle, preserved until his times by the Islamic doctors.

    Until it is demonstrated that a specific theological method leads necessarily to error, it is important not to reject it; for the practice of theology is good in itself, other things being equal. Even if the majority of adherents of a specific school embrace error, there is no excuse for condemning all of them (cf. Gen 18:23-33).

    “Until he rejects that theology which has so injured the Church, the Church will continue to suffer.”

    The term “New Theology” does not have sufficient precision to designate anything that might either injure or inspire the church. Thinking in vague, journalistic labels like these is not theology. Prescriptions of this kind, particularly when directed to a singularly erudite and devout theologian who also happens to be the pope, betray theological illiteracy and possibly presumption.

  28. matt says:


    even if “common error” would allow for supplied jurisdiction, it would not do so for you, the scales have been lifted from your eyes by Fr. Z. You now are taking the less cautious path. You’re a braver man than I.


  29. Steve says:


    Common error has nothing to do with your personal knowledge of whether a priest has ordinary jurisdiction. It is a fiction of law based on whether a fictional reasonable group of people would believe a priest could validly absolve under the circumstances. An example given in the New Commentary is a priest putting on a stole and entering the confessional. He has created a situation of “common error” and even if he does not have faculties he can validly absolve.

  30. Steve says:


    The very theologians who were previously condemned were then asked to attend VCII as theological experts “pareti” without renouncing their previous heretical views. One of these was Pope Benedict’s friend Karl Rahner. Ratzinger (at the time) worked side by side with these previously condemned theologians (Kung, Congar, Schillebecx, etc.) and shared (and still shares) their theological philosophy. This theology won the day at VCII. It is basically repackaged modernism. An orthodox view is given and then a heterodox view is given all in ambiguous doublespeak. JPII was a master at this. The documents of VCII and Post-Conciliar Papal documents all use it as well. They employ a purposeful lack of clarity so evident in previous Thomistic Vatican documents. Pope Benedict has said he disliked Thomism in the seminary because it was too limiting. Disciples of the new theology need to be “free to explore” notions the Church has already spoken on, such as universal salvation. Instead of treating it as a settled matter since Scripture is clear on it, JPII in Crossing the Threshold of Hope, treated it as a possibility! Pope Benedict has made similar allusions as a Cardinal. This is astounding to hear from a Catholic priest, much less Bishop or Pope.

    Also we are now hearing of the anniversary of the calling of VCII. Did we hear a peep out of the Vatican regarding the anniversaries of Pope St. Pius X’s landmark encyclicals against Modernism, the greatest theological threat of our time? No, because Rome wants to forget those encyclicals. They’re not “ecumenical”. They are “limiting” theologically. They must be “free” to “explore”. Then it is wondered why we are in a crisis. We are in a crisis because our Popes strayed from the antimodernist oath they took at their ordinations. They promised to be faithful to the doctrines they have received in the exact same form and exact same sense that they have always had. Truth does not change over time and Catholic truth has already been revealed to us in the Deposit of Faith. There can never be any “new” doctrine. Yet today we have notions of ecumenism previously condemned by Popes being represented as Catholic Truth.

    This dear Pope tries to synthesize Catholic truth with modern errors and it is quite simply impossible. What you get is confusion and as we have seen, there is a lot of it. A lot of doubletalk to attempt to reconcile opposites that cannot be reconciled. To move the Church forward, we must go backwards. Retrace our steps and find where we departed from St. Thomas and 1960 years of previous Papal teaching. The departure point is obvious. But some have staked their entire lives and careers on this Council and feel their success and legacy are tied to it. So they must rehabilitate it and make it work at all costs. Hence the “hermeneutic of continuity” we hear so much about. It is analogous to taking a man who never touched alcohol for 50 years; then all of a sudden he goes on benders get trashed, loses his job and beats his family; and we try to explain his behavior with a “hermeneutic of sobriety”. It’s madness. 2+2 can’t equal 4 AND 5. It’s either or. The “new theology” that came out of VCII and its spirit are in opposition to that which came before. There is a decision to be made and there are no half measures. Either you restore Catholic truth or you don’t. A mixture of the two, as we’ve seen, is doomed to failure. You can’t eat an apple that is 20% poison and 20% good and expect to survive for long.

  31. Joe says:

    Michael, I think it would be better not to repeat suggestions (“frequent talk”) of sinful activities.

  32. SARK says:

    Dear Father Z,

    I thought you might be interested in the response to the lifting of the excommunications in a normal SSPX church. At St Josephs here in Bruxelles today the response was extremely positive and the spirit of the faithful was joyous. Bishop Fellay had asked that his letters in response to the Pope’s generous action was read out in full and that we sang the Magnificat in thanks giving to our Holy Mother for her intercession. It was dutifully sung with great gusto. Not surprizingly the congregation was large (perhaps 500 compared to our normal 400 for Solemn sung Mass) and there was perhaps a broader range of people in the congregation (indexed by the number of ladies in trousers and ‘sans’ headscarves). The lifting of the excommunications has been covered quite widely here in Catholic Belgium.

    In short, there was certainly no sense that ‘hardliners’ had boycoted the SSPX because they had asked the Pope to lift the excommunications – as has been suggested would happen by some on this blog.

    There is a great sense of anticipation with regard to the start of the doctrinal discussions which will, by God’s grace, clarify the ambiguous teachings of the VII.

    I think its sometimes difficult for people who have not been part of this struggle to understand the sacrfices that the SSPX priests and faithful have made to defend Holy Tradition over the last twenty years (and more), and the stigma they have felt. Despite the SP most did not dare to believe that the excommunications would be lifted so soon, thanks be to God and the intercession of his Holy Mother. Viva il Papa!


  33. CPKS says:

    “It is basically repackaged modernism. An orthodox view is given and then a heterodox view is given all in ambiguous doublespeak. JPII was a master at this. The documents of VCII and Post-Conciliar Papal documents all use it as well. They employ a purposeful lack of clarity…”

    When a caution against a certain corrupt way of thinking only elicits more of the same – only worse – then it’s too late for the doctor. Had I done my research, I should have realized that sooner.

    “This dear Pope tries to synthesize Catholic truth with modern errors…”

    Takes one’s breath away, doesn’t it? My apologies to all for having unwittingly provoked it.

  34. rob says:

    Pope Reinstates Four Excommunicated Bishops

  35. JM says:

    All that is left is to pray for you. You responded exactly as I expected you would, just like every other SSPX supporter. There really isn’t any point in talking to people like you because you are so incredibly desperate that you will never accept that the SSPX is wrong, that their actions are wrong. You’ll jump through hoop after hoop to prove your point, instead of seeking the truth. (The truth is painful though, so its understandable.) From your response, you didn’t comprehend what I wrote, you didn’t actually think about it, you just rattled off the same old tired rubbish. There is no argument that will convince, which is exactly why I didn’t even bother to try. What’s the point? Words aren’t going to change you mind, logic won’t do it, example won’t do. Oh well. It is very sad that so many people have been caught up in the SSPXs little web.

  36. Steve says:

    JM & CPKS,

    It is ironic you accuse me of being blind and not listening to you, when I did listen to what you had to say, analyzed it, applied reason and Church teaching and responded. Because my responses weren’t in line with your preconceived notions, you simply disregard me as some sort of blind, mind numbed kool-aid drinker. But who is truly being closed minded and refusing to engage in the arguments and truth here? Me or those who simply name call, denigrate, and move on?

    Food for thought…

    We are Catholics and that means we hold to the Catholic faith. The Pope is not the Catholic faith. If he is in error in his private theology, we do him no service by flattery and blind submission. Quite the opposite, we have a duty to respectfully point out to the Holy Father and others in power, where they have gone astray. A gentle task indeed, but this will be the task of Bishop Fellay and the Society during the doctrinal talks, may God help them.

    The dear Pope’s heart is with Tradition, but his mind is with the “New Theology”, may this be the turning point for him and for the Church, that both may return fully to Truth and Tradition. [I have little patience for this sort of thing. I suggest you use it very sparingly if you are going to post here and without the pretentious rhetoric.]

    God Bless.

  37. Steve says:

    Goodbye Vatican II…and good riddance!

    “Vatican II is not a dogma of Faith,” Roman sources say

  38. Steve says:

    Fr Z,

    Fair enough.

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