Boston’s Sean Card. O’Malley writes about the SSPX

Boston’s Archbishop Sean Card. O’Malley has a blog and he has written briefly on the SSPX controversy which recently arose.

Hello to you all!

The Vatican announced this week that the Holy Father has lifted the excommunications of four bishops of the Society of St. Pius X. I was pleased with the news which shows, once again, the Holy Father’s concern for unity and reconciliation in the Church.

In 1988 Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who was critical of some elements of the Second Vatican Council, ordained four bishops without the approval of the Holy Father, incurring in automatic excommunication on himself and the four bishops he ordained.

This action follows the publication of the Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum a year and a half ago, in which the Holy Father lifted previous restrictions on the celebration of the Mass according to the 1962 Missal, commonly known as the Tridentine Mass.

Just before the publication of the Apostolic Letter, I was privileged to be a part of a meeting of cardinals and bishops with the Holy Father in which he expressed his hope that his action would help convince those disaffected Catholics to return to full union with the Catholic Church.

So, his outreach to the communities who follow these bishops is just one more manifestation of his ardent desire to bring these people (which some estimate to be as many as 1.5 million) back into the fold.  We know that these are generally people who practice their faith and try to live a Christian life seriously but, unfortunately, I believe that they have been misled by their leadership.

Of course, lifting the excommunications was a first step; it does not regularize these bishops or the Society of St. Pius X, but it opens the way for a dialogue. This step was in response to a letter in which they professed their desire for full participation in the life of the Church.

It was tragic that one of the four bishops, Bishop Richard Williamson, had made outrageous statements about the Holocaust and about the September 11 attacks on the United States. It certainly raises questions as to the caliber of the leadership that the Society has. Additionally, as terrible as the comments were, it underscores the importance for the Holy Father to have increasing influence over those communities.

We are very sorry that the people in the Jewish community have been so pained and outraged by Bishop Williamson’s statements. I think the Holy Father’s statements and those of Cardinal Walter Kasper, chairman of the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, have been very clear to dissociate the Catholic Church from those kinds of sentiments. I was pleased that the head of the Society of St. Pius X, Bishop Bernard Fellay, also repudiated the statements of Bishop Williamson.

It is very important for us to always remember the Holocaust so that such an atrocity could never take place again. I recall the words of the Holy Father this week: “May the Shoah be for everyone an admonition against oblivion, negation and reductionism, because violence against a single human being is violence against all.”

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  1. Thomas says:

    I seem to remember in 2007 people criticizing Cardinal O’Malley when he talked about the Holy Father’s expressed desire that Summorum Pontificum help reconcile traditionalists like the SSPX to the Church. In an overreaction they called Cardinal O’Malley an enemy of the TLM who tried to dampen the Motu Proprio’s overall significance.

    In light of the past week, maybe Cardinal O’Malley was pretty spot on with his report of the meeting he attened in 2007.

  2. Steven says:

    It is kind of the Cardinal to refer to the remarks of Bishop Williamson on 9/11. I was not aware of Bishop Williamson’s opinion concerning these events. Very interesting indeed.

  3. EDG says:

    Steven – I was aware of Williamson’s wacko statements about 9/11 and thought it interesting that the press never mentioned this. Partly, I suppose, it could be that much of the left-wing press agrees with him; but it was also because this whole thing was a carefully leveraged attack, designed to hit the Church where it could do the most damage. They must be gnashing their teeth because it looks like, once again, BXVI and the rest of the Church will survive their efforts.

  4. Joseph says:

    I cannot echo Card. O’Malley’s suggestion that the SSPX is without good leadership. What are we to say about one of the bishops on this side of the Church being indited by a federal grand jury? Are we to conclude, then, that WE are without good leadership? Perhaps we are.

    I regret to say that O’Malley’s words sound like an attempt to introduce to the public discussion more discrediting sentiments about the SSPX than are already targeted at them (some for well-founded reasons). I for one do not need His Eminence to inform me that a BISHOP who does not keep opinions like Williamson’s to himself is simply irresponsible. I’m sorry, it almost seems like a cheap shot.

    But Fellay seems to have handled himself rather well in this situation. I have rather come to admire him. At this time I sincerely doubt whether the Pope needs to worry too much about “having increasing influence over those societies” (which sounds like post-Vatican II totalitarianism anyway).

  5. Roland de Chanson says:

    I think it ironic that O’Malley should reproach the collective leadership of the SSPX when his very elevation is due to the former archbishop’s resignation for lack of any leadership whatsoever. And that in the face of moral corruption so iniquitous that it was singled out by Christ Himself for condemnation. Richard Williamson may be guilty of anhistoricity; his punishment will be internal relegation. Bernard Law is guilty of the pollution of innocent youngsters; his reward was stewardship of a papal basilica.

    And O’Malley has made the obligatory mea culpa to the Jews over what ought rightly to be an internal Church matter. What copioius tears will he shed when Piux XII is finally canonized?

    But at least Law gave Boston the TLM at Heilige Dreifaltigkeit. O’Malley, tutored by the Germans, has closed it and will sell it off to be converted into upscale condos for the local sodomites. Meanwhile, the TLM has been banished to a limbo on the outskirts of the diocese.

  6. Thomas says:

    Thanks for that twisted logic, Roland. Cardinal O’Malley rightly criticizes an anti-semite/9-11-truther bishop and his superior who never saw fit to silence him until now, and your responding criticism of the Cardinal is to criticize his predecessor. And even then Cardinal O’Malley praised Fellay’s recent remarks.

    Also, your characterization of the TLM situation in Boston is at best incomplete, and at worst deceitful and inflammatory. Holy Trinity was closed in an Archdiocese-wide reconfiguration. Mary Immaculate of Lourdes, where the TLM community moved to, is right off Rt. 9 in Newton, easily accessible from I-95 and Boston itself. How a suburb that BORDERS ON BOSTON is a limbo on the outskirts of the diocese is beyond me.

  7. Massachusetts Catholic says:

    Roland, Cardinal O’Malley is my cardinal. He is in good standing with the church; he is a man of piety; he deserves your respect, or at least the benefit of the doubt. You showed neither good judgment nor charity in your remarks.

  8. Kevin says:

    Roland’s logic is not twisted at all. The same thing
    occurred to me as I read the statement. The Cardinal of
    Boston should be more aware than most that
    the presence of people “outside the fold” (in the
    case of his archdiocese, the secular authorities) has
    been necessary to address the failings of the Church’s
    own leadership.

  9. Joe says:

    Is this man serious? The people who assist at the SSPX chapels/missions have been mislead by their leaders? In a sense, this is accurate, but not for the reasons he would submit. It is the stove calling the kettle black! In his own newspaper, “The Pilot”, in the latest edition shows one of his auxilary bishops having an ecumenical prayer service with an Orthodox priest and a protestant minister during the week of unity. By allowing that, he is misleading his people into thinking it is okay to have public prayer with heretics/schismatics. But, then again, he is only copying what JPII “perfected.” I pray that those assisting at the SSPX finally realise that the Vatican does not have any authority over the faithful and to seek out the sacraments from fully traditional venues. Compromise will only lead one to possibly becoming lukewarm in the faith.

    I would recommend reading the current articles posted at concerning the present situation concerning the SSPX and for a good apologia on the rights of Christ the King.


  10. Michael says:

    Mary Immaculate of Lourdes in Newton is not very accessible for those of us without cars.

    The same could be said for the Cardinal’s ugly new “Pastoral Center” in Braintree.

    former Holy Trinity worshipper

  11. Dan says:

    And another thing…..the Latin Mass community from Holy Trinity was transferred to the crypt church of Holy Cross Cathedral. The rector of the cathedral is very open to the Latin Mass Community and there is talk of bringing the Mass up into the Cathedral Church. There has already been a few EF Masses celebrated upstairs.

  12. Folks… think very carefully before posting in this combox. I am not inclined to take a lot of the knuckle-head stuff in this entry,

  13. Dan says:

    Ok, sorry for the harshness of my comment about sedevacantists. But I have to be honest and say that I have a problem with their position. If Christ said that the Holy Spirit would guide the Church and that He would be with the Church until the end of time, then how can it be that some believe that the Chair of Peter is empty. It doesn’t make sense that Christ would say that he would be with the Church and then leave the Seat of Peter empty and us all alone. It makes Christ sound like a liar.

  14. TNCath says:

    Cardinal O’Malley: “It was tragic that one of the four bishops, Bishop Richard Williamson, had made outrageous statements about the Holocaust and about the September 11 attacks on the United States. It certainly raises questions as to the caliber of the leadership that the Society has. Additionally, as terrible as the comments were, it underscores the importance for the Holy Father to have increasing influence over those communities.”

    This, I believe, is the crux of the matter. If SSPX priests and those attending their churches are to be reconciled with the Church, the Holy Father needs to get his own people involved with them to lead them in that direction. While Bishop Williamson has rightly apologized for his remarks, he would now gain a lot more credibility if he now repudiated, recanted, and denounced them and then gracefully retired to obscurity.

  15. Roland de Chanson says:

    Massachusetts Catholic: You showed neither good judgment nor charity in your remarks.

    I can accept your censure for lack of charity. But my judgement is flawless. O’Malley may be imbued with piety but his remarks on the SSPX are as devoid of charity as you deem mine.

    Dan: There has already been a few EF Masses celebrated upstairs.

    Out of the catacombs? Are you sure it is not still too dangerous? Perhaps it’s safer out among the pagans in the boonies?

    Thomas: Holy Trinity was closed in an Archdiocese-wide reconfiguration.

    Why? No fans in the Novus Ordo bleachers? Hence the “reconfiguration.” A most tragic euphemism for the effects of the utter spiritual bankruptcy of the Novus Ordo. Without the SSPX, there would have been no true Masses at all. And as for Newton being a limbo, that was, I concede, deceitful and inflammatory. The home town of Boston College deserves greater esteem. I will email my abject repentance to Mary Daly.

    Parenthetically, I will add that were I the Cardinal Archbishop of Boston, and the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church expressed his wish that the Traditional Latin Mass be celebrated in every parish, I would have implemented the papal will posthaste. I would myself celebrate it every Sunday and I would train my priests to do the same. Si Papa vult, Deus vult.

  16. Dan says:


    Some people are just never happy.

    God bless.

  17. anon says:

    Writing from outside your Church may I say how excellent is the statement. Williamson however was not wrong in blurting out what he believed, he was wrong in believing such arrant nonsense. As it is completely without factual support we can only guess at his motivation for believing it.

  18. Mike says:

    Now I know why I don’t read Cardinal “Sean’s” (O’Malley’s) blog anymore.

    The hypocrisy is breathtaking. And yes, he’s my bishop.

  19. Roland de Chanson says:

    Dan: Some people are just never happy.

    Dan, no ad hominems, please. You don’t know me. I’m a homebrewer. I’m always happy! ;-)

    Benedicat te Dominus et cerevisiam istam tuam. :-)

  20. Cathguy says:

    This is a WONDERFUL letter. The good Cardinal says it ALL.

    Nicely done!

  21. Dan says:


    Hmm, that says it all.

  22. Maynardus says:

    Cardinal O’Malley means well, but he needs our prayers. He is much like Paul VI: personally humble, devout, and pious; but distant from the people, detached, and reluctant to lead. It’s very nice to read something less-than-100%-disparging from him about the “traditionalists”, but since he mentions his presence at the 2007 meeting prior to the release of Summorum Pontificum it is illustrative to read his contemporaneous comments to get a sense of his true feelings about the traditional liturgy:

    Please note that I am not disparging him, only presenting some information which will help to understand the Cardinal’s viewpoint. Circa 2001 I discussed the question of the traditional Mass with him and he told me frankly that he didn’t understand why anyone was still interested in it…

  23. Thomas says:

    “Without the SSPX, there would have been no true Masses at all.”


  24. jwsrjwsr says:

    The criticism of Cd. O’Malley’s take on the pre-MP meeting did not concern his comments on the SSPX, but rather the comment that the MP really was not directed nor applicable to his own Archdiocese (basically he intimated that His Holiness was writing only for a sect in France). This latest letter is progress (and, following Cd O’Malley closely, I actually think/hope it represents real progress in his thinking about Trads in general) in that he recognizes the need to bring Trads outside the fold back in, does not dismiss it as someone else’s problem, and recognizes the legitimate piety and Catholic faithfulness that those who adhere to the EF.
    It may be wishful thinking, but I do see change in the heart of the Cardinal. Let us all pray that this is so.

  25. Boston Architect says:

    jwsrjwsr, Roland, maynardus, et al.

    Let’s hope the Cardinal has a change of heart about Holy Trinity!

    Everyone else, please pray – that the sort of miracle that happened to St. Gelasius in Chicago (now to be the Shrine of Christ the King) happen to Holy Trinity! Pray urgently, as the situation is VERY critical; Holy Trinity COULD be just days from being stripped.

  26. Boston Architect says:

    Regarding Holy Trinity (German) Church, it was suppressed by the RCAB on 30 June 2008. An appeal was filed and recently denied by the Congregation of the Clergy. Further recourse is now being considered with our Canonists.

    The sad chronology of events leading to suppression:

    This is what we stand to lose.

    Holy Trinity is a 7 minute walk from Boston’s Cathedral of the Holy Cross
    and the Cardinal’s residence on Union Park. To the best of my knowledge, His Eminence has never darkened Holy Trinity’s door. In fact, on one occasion a couple of years ago he visited Holy Trinity’s Rectory that was for many year years served as “Bridge Over Troubled Waters”, a home for at risk young adults. It was my understanding that he was asked at that time if he would like to see the interior of the church. He simply stated he wasn’t interested. In fairness, I don’t know what that meant at the time. I and many others were a bit hurt when we heard what was purported to be his response. Mind you many of us were involved in the effort to raise awareness of the church’s patrimonial and historical significance to the Church in Boston.

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