D. of Orlando memo: errors concerning the status of the SSPX

A reader sent an interesting piece of news from a memo for the Diocese of Orlando.

As you can see, even official offices of the Church still refer to the SSPX as being in "schism", even though the Holy See says that it is not.

My emphases and comments.

There has been much effort on the part of the Holy See to clarify the context of the lifting of the excommunication against four bishops of the schismatic "Pius X Association". Unfortunately, this has not been given much coverage in secular media. The website of the Holy See, www.vatican.va <http://www.vatican.va/> , can provide better clarification.

a) "Lifting of excommunication" did not reinstate these bishops or their followers. They still remain in schism  [I know it is tempting to apply the "duck argument", but the Holy See now says that the SSPX is not in schism.] – for rejecting the Second Vatican Council and in defying authority of the Pope. The lifting of the excommunication was a gesture towards encouraging them to reconcile with the Church. A similar gesture [opps] took place about 30+ years ago, between the then Pope and then Greek Orthodox Patriarch. Mutual excommunications were lifted – however that schism has not yet been healed – but there is greater communication between the two religious bodies and dialog continues.  [Here is the problem.  The Orthodox are in schism.  The SSPX is not in schism.  The gesture is not similar.]

b) The rift between this schismatic group is still far from being healed – it would require them to accept the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, and submit themselves to authority of Bishop of Rome (which would mean adhering to the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the degrees of the Council, both of which unequivocally condemn anti-Semitism and all forms of genocide.

First, I think there is a very incomplete understanding of what needs to be determined about the Second Vatican Council here.

Second, I am concerned that this sort of erroneous information, probably being distributed to priests and parish workers, will distort what they say to their parishioners or others who might ask what is going on with the SSPX and what is behind the whole Williamson thing they see in the press.

They should diligently double-check their facts.

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  1. caleb1x says:

    Does anyone doubt that a stark battle is taking place and that supernatural forces are at work in this battle? With Bishop Fellay and the cardinals he alludes to, I’m convinced that the enemy of the human race has sent his minions to spread falsehoods and to attack the Supreme Pontiff’s intentions.

  2. Brian in Wisconsin says:

    Father, the only one in the Holy See who I’ve heard say the SSPX is *not* in schism is Cardinal Hoyos, and, as one of your former colleagues in Rome has told me, he does so basically because he’s desperate to reconcile them before he retires. In other words, he uses nice words because he’s trying to make nice. I pray our SSPX brethren return to the fold, but where it regards schism, as you yourself have said, if it walks like a duck …

  3. caleb1x says:

    “If it walks like a duck.” So, we’re to say that the SSPX, which expresses allegiance to the Holy Father, is “in schism,” that its adherents willfully separate themselves from the Church. Consider your words. You accuse an eminent, noble Church Father of “desperation”, of having some temporal motive for expressing a judgment that’s proper to his office in the Curia. Your comments smack of arrogance. You can gainsay Cardinal Hoyos’s motives? He speaks as he does because he’s desperate to salvage his career at the end, yes?

    It’s entirely irrelevant that Hoyos is the only one “you’ve heard” who says the SSPX is not in schism. Whom do you cite to say that the SSPX is in schism?

  4. Ioannes Andreades says:

    Did I miss something? When did the Holy See come out at announce in explicit language that SSPX is not in schism? I saw something that Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos said, “The the Pope has stopped a schism,” though this was a rather strange choice of words. Stop it from becoming a full-blown schsim? Stop it from getting worse? The cardinal also said, “We are moving forward, trying to rebuild the unity of the Church, and put an end completely to this schism.” It would be strange to say “this schism” if there weren’t one. There has been a lot of information coming out of late, and I could have missed the explicit language somewhere else.

  5. Andrew W says:

    The “if it walks like a duck” test would lead one to believe that a disturbingly high number of the laity, parish priests, bishops, and cardinals within the mainstream Catholic Church are actually in schism.

    Denying the undeniable truths that the Church has taught and passed down and that Vatican II never sought to change or get rid of. Ignoring directive after directive on how the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is to be offered, disregarding every item that is to be held in “pride of place” within liturgy and taking every option that has been allowed by indult yet deviates from traditional worship. Not suppressing heretical teachings and new age mumbo jumbo from being preached at Mass during sermons or taught at retreats being advertised in parish bulletins and newspapers. Allowing dissident Catholic groups to openly operate within the diocese and even use Church property.

    By the “if it walks like a duck” test, I note many (if not a clear majority) within the mainstream Catholic Church make it into the “schism” category.

    God Bless,

  6. I think we can all agree that if it walks like a duck much longer, it will waddle into a clear schism. But the Card. President of the PCED is saying that it isn’t. Let’s go with that.

  7. Dominic says:


    Can you tell me…?

    Perhaps I’m wrong here, but I am tempted to say it would be contradictory to say that someone was just declared non-excommunicated but still in schism. Canon 1364 fixes excommunication as a penalty for schism. So, if we all agree that there is no excommunication, doesn’t that mean that we all have to agree that there is no formal schism?

    A schismatic tendency isn’t the same as schism itself…

  8. Mark says:

    1. Did not Cardinal Hoyos say that they are not in “formal schism”? Could that not leave material schism a possibility?
    2. Exactly how many “degrees” were in the council?

  9. Phil Steinacker says:

    Have any of those demanding the SSPX accept the teachings of the Second
    Vatican Council also demanded the SSPX submit themselves to the authority of Bishop of Rome?

    If so, then should not this apply to them also?

    I’ve seen Father Z repeatedly pose the challenge that if the SSPX must accept the teachings of Vatican II, then isn’t turnabout fair play? Musn’t everyone similarly declare fealty to Trent, the Lateran Council, et al? So, then, musn’t everyone also declare recognition of the authority of the Supreme Pontiff?

  10. Father Bartoloma says:

    I am also confused by the whole ‘schism or not in schism’ question. The 4 bishops were excommunicated not because they ‘went into schism’,they were excommunicated latae sententiae because they were illicitly consecrated.

    But as for the Society as a whole, as a unit, doesn’t it seem to be in a kind of de facto state of schism? But if that is said about the Society as a whole, how is it applicable or not applicable to individual members, clerical and lay? Catholics who prefer the Ext. Form are even at liberty to attend an SSPX Mass when there is no other Ext Form option.

    It is difficult to define exactly what their status is.

    I’m just thinking out loud.

  11. Alan F. says:

    “”Pius X Association””

    Why can they never seem to get the name right? They even put this in quotation marks! Is Society of St. Pius X too hard to say?

    “…both of which unequivocally condemn anti-Semitism and all forms of genocide.”

    The Diocese of Orlando also seems to think that the SSPX officially support holocaust denial and/or genocide and nazism, this is silly.

  12. mpm says:

    I am also confused by the whole ‘schism or not in schism’ question. The 4 bishops were excommunicated not because they ‘went into schism’,they were excommunicated latae sententiae because they were illicitly consecrated.
    Comment by Father Bartoloma — 22 February 2009 @ 2:12 am

    And since the Pope had the authority to do that they clearly must have been
    in the Church (i.e., not formally schismatic).

    I think their situation is now (post lifting of the excommunication) just
    “irregular”, and I hope that will be regularized soon. But if Catholics
    cannot be absolved or married validly by SSPX priests (for lack of juris-
    diction) their status is clearly not “full communion.”

  13. mpm says:

    The Diocese of Orlando also seems to think that the SSPX officially support holocaust denial and/or genocide and nazism, this is silly.
    Comment by Alan F. — 22 February 2009 @ 8:54 am

    Not silly, pernicious. This is the “line” being used by Benedict’s enemies
    to attack him and bring on a new age of “dissent”. Having survived the
    first age myself, I hope they fail gloriously, or perhaps go fully commune with
    Poope Richard McBrien or His Haughtiness Hans Kung.

  14. Crazy Man says:

    The Orlando diocese is nuts. If you go to http://www.orlandolatinmass.com you will see a priest from the diocese, a head of a certain deanery say Mass with clowns in the sanctuary and give Communion to the clowns. Bishop Wenski also cut a $10,000 check to a Protestant sect when their church was blown over by a tornado. This diocese is anything but Catholic — new age, Protestant, etc. You name it, anything but Catholic.

  15. Bob K. says:

    I think what Rome needs to do is that when future statements come out regarding the SSPX, or any other thing controversial, that they order their own hand written documents with explanations, to be read to all parishiners at every Sunday Mass before homilies. And if any Bishop or Priest refuses to read the document. The will be dealt with accordingly

  16. Bob K. says:

    And not let dioceses falsely interpret what is being said.

  17. Michael J says:

    There is an underlying significance that seems to have been missed. Cardinal Hoyos and Msgr. Perl both quite explicitly stated that the society is not schismatic. His Holiness (not directly, but indirectly) confirmed this by referring to it as an “internal matter”. This may not make sense, but it seems undeniable that the question has been asked and answered.

    What this means to me is quite bothersome. It means that either out of ignorance or malice, the local ordinary is not telling the truth, at least about this subject. Does it not bother anyone else that we seem to have reached the point where the laity must independently confirm what their local ordinary tells them?

Comments are closed.