Splitters: A few priests form the Society of St. Pius X of the Strict Observance

When you break off from the Church’s duly appointed shepherds, only trouble follows.  Schism is rather like an old fashioned women’s silk stocking: once it get’s a snag in it, it’s all over. The snag turns into a run that just gets worse and worse.

Someone sent me an email with the news that some priests of the SSPX have broken off to form a – I hope this is a joke – Society of St. Pius X of the Strict Observance.

I am disappointed.

Since there is already a Society of Pius V, I had hoped that the new group would be called the Society of Pius 2.5!

How would you write that 2.5 in Roman numerals?*

There is probably more than a touch of sedevacantism in this group.

I will also direct your attention to a response from the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” about whether you can fulfill your Mass obligation at independent chapels which are only associated with the SSPX: No. Apparently you can’t.  See HERE.  That response concerns some other group loosely associate with the SSPX, but I believe the principle will apply here as well.  That is my opinion.

Once that stocking begins to run….

When the Strict guys have a fight, over authority or money, or which post-Conciliar Pope is worse than the others, will there finally have to be a Society of Pius 2.5? 1.25?  I hope it won’t be as prosaic as “Of The Even Stricter Observance”.

Seriously, though.  This is a sad development if true.

*(ANSWER: Trick question! You don’t. There was no decimal point back in the day. They didn’t have a zero.  They wrote out the concepts.  I suppose this would be: Pius the Second and a Half… along the lines of Pius Secundus plus dimidia pars in pontificum eiusdem Pii nominis ordine.  Amazing that without zeros and decimals they built all that great stuff.  The decimal didn’t really come into use until the 16th c.)

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  1. Jacob says:

    SSPX-SO is clumsy, yes. But while 2.5 is an interesting idea, I personally would just find a previous Pius as reputable as V and X. Surely I through IV and VI through IX have good points in their favors making them worthy of being the patron of a new priestly fraternity?

    Perhaps this new group will join those who use the 1945 or even the 1920 missals to get away from Holy Week reforms and other early Bugnini influences?

  2. Mike says:

    And they say they aren’t sedevacantist…

    Ab superbia vitae, libera nos, Domine

  3. Mike says:

    The problem with the sedevacantist movement or near-sedevacantism is they all claim to be right…like Protestantism.

  4. MarylandBill says:

    In a sense I view this as a potentially positive development. Perhaps if the most radical elements of SSPX split off, it will moderate the rest of the group enough that Bishop Fellay and the Vatican can make progress in reuniting.

  5. Sorbonnetoga says:

    “Since there is already a Society of Pius V, I had hoped that the new group would be called the Society of Pius 2.5″…

    Actually, it’s called the Society of St Pius I!

  6. Charles E Flynn says:

    The next break-away group will be the Society of St. Pius X of the Strict Observance of the Strict Observance, or SSPX-SOSO.

  7. St. Louis IX says:

    I find it alarming that this site is making light of this situation.
    Today when right is wrong, and up is down, and good Catholics struggle to find a parish where they can receive the Catholic Faith and not some watered down social justice teaching.
    There is humor in this?
    Maybe I will go read my copy of the Catholic World from nov. 1967 with Luther on the Cover looking all saintly and pretend their are no scandalized souls out their struggling to keep their faith.
    Maybe I`ll just meditate on the latest CDW statement on liturgical dancing…while replaying the Brazil video….All is well merrily merrily merrily we go.

    Nope: I will just pray for all those Catholics that are trying with all their might to raise their children Catholic in the SSPX

    My Heart and prayers go out to all those Catholics that have made the choice to belong to the SSPX

  8. APX says:

    How would you write that 2.5 in Roman numerals?*

    Huzzah! I can answer that for you!

    My Latin prof likes to go off onto tangents, and Roman numerals vs Arabic numerals and the complications was one of such tangents.

    While Roman Numeral whole numbers work on a Base 10 system (decimal), when dealing with fractions, they base it off of a 12 base system (duodecimal) using a series of dots and letters. I stood for one whole number and S stood for half (s= semi).

    So to answer what would 2.5 be in Roman Numerals, the answer would be IIS So you would have SSPXIIS.

    Now if my Latin prof would only spend more time actually teaching us Latin I might actually understand what the textbook says.

  9. acardnal says:

    And yet another iteration: SSPX Strict Observance Discalced. Too penitential?

  10. Choirmaster says:

    This won’t “moderate” the SSPX, even if something like “moderation” when it comes to doctrine can be considered a good thing. No, even this split is bad in many ways.

    Oh! Vatican II, you’re the gift that just keeps on giving. As far as my understanding of history goes, first you get the heresy, then you have the council to correct it. First comes rejection of the Church and the Pope, then comes the council to clarify and anathematize.

    Why are things so backwards these days? First we had the council, now we have the heresy! It just strikes me odd, and vaguely disconcerting, that an ecumenical council has spawned so much dissent, so much schism, and so much confusion. I think all of this celebration and puff-pieces about VII should have been deferred to a later age, one with the benefit of retrospection and wound-healing time.

  11. VexillaRegis says:

    One wonders what the St. Piuses would to say about having their names hijacked by priestly societies who don’t obey the popes’s successors.

  12. AnnM says:

    Shades of the different splinter groups of the Scottish Presbyterians – Frees, Wee Frees and Wee Wee Frees :)

  13. VexillaRegis says:

    edit: …would say

  14. PostCatholic says:

    Maybe when the fractions get too small they can start going discalced.

  15. cyrillist says:

    “I think all of this celebration and puff-pieces about VII should have been deferred to a later age, one with the benefit of retrospection and wound-healing time.”

    No, it can’t be. It’s all about making Vatican II stick. To make sure it’s in there. For good. And so now, we get all this about how the famously pastoral council is actually pretty dogmatic too, come to think of it.

    People with the courage of their convictions generally see no particular need to insist on them. Apparently, that’s not the case here. Someone’s still feeling some heat, fifty years later. And so, the springtime will continue until morale improves…

  16. anilwang says:

    Of course, they could it the “Society of Pope Paul III” since he opened the Council of Trent, but if they want to emphasis “strict observance”, it would be more appropriate for it to be called the “Society of Donatists”, or taking a cue from our Orthodox brothers, the should call themselves the “Society of Old Believers” ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_believers#The_schism )

    Seriously, this isn’t a new occurrence. According to Wikipedia it happened back in August 10, 2012, see:

    Blessed John Henry Newman pointed out a key fundamental problem with separatist. Suppose you’re an average Catholic at the time of the Oriental Orthodox Schism. Both sides claim that the other side went into error. How would you know which side is correct? The theological arguments on both sides are compelling and the issues involved are two deep for all but the most learned to even grasp. Which side could you chose given that you want to remain loyal to the Church and not be a heretic? There must be a way for the average Catholic to know since Jesus said the Church was visible. The only way an average Catholic could know is St Ambrose’s formula “where Peter is, there is the Church”.

    If you don’t use this formula, you really have no way to determine who is right. If not Peter, who? Society of St. Pius V? Istituto Mater Boni Consilii? The Society of St. Pius X? The Society of St. Pius X of Strict Observance? Some future spin off of the SSPX that is “more pure”? “Pope” Michael? Eastern Orthodox? Anglicans? Lutherans?

    Did God really abandon his Church to this confusion and the Gates of Hell prevailed over the Gates of St Peter?

  17. Choirmaster says:

    People with the courage of their convictions generally see no particular need to insist on them. Apparently, that’s not the case here. Someone’s still feeling some heat, fifty years later. And so, the springtime will continue until morale improves…

    @cyrillist: Wow! I never thought about it that way. You are brilliant. I’ve been thinking for a while that all of this celebration over VII was kind of dubious, as I don’t see much for us to celebrate. I was operating under the opinion that the anniversary celebrations are pumped up just to stick it to the SSPX and the traditionalists, like a bishop sending a “traditionalist” priest to be the full time chaplain of the LCWR, but I was myopic in that view. I think you hit the nail on the head, it’s more about repeating a lie loud enough and long enough so that it becomes believable, even to one’s self, and not so much to inflame the SSPX.

    Nevertheless, the SSPX should come home. The longer they’re away, the worse it will be for them and us. They’re splintering, and honestly so are we.

  18. Cavaliere says:

    Sadly not a hoax, nor a surprise after seeing two of the priests involved and seeing their previous defiance of their superiors which caused division with a parish as sides formed around their favorite priests.



  19. Phil_NL says:

    SSPX of the strict observance
    SSPX of the stricter observance
    SSPX of the even stricter observance
    SSPX of the strictest observance
    SSPX of the chained observance
    SSPX of the strict chained observance
    SSPX of the absolutely-nothing-is-allowed-observance
    SSPX of perpetual schism

  20. anilwang says:


    You forgot one more:
    SSPX of So Strict Observance that God is the only member:-)

  21. The Masked Chicken says:


    You forgot the really last one:

    SSPX of So Strict Observance that even God isn’t a member…

  22. Pingback: THURSDAY EVENING EDITION | Big Pulpit

  23. cyrillist says:

    @Choirmaster: You are way too kind, and boy, do I hope I’m wrong. It would have been nice if some of the golden anniversary could have been dedicated to something a bit more sober, say, an acceptance of Msgr. Gherardini’s call for serious debate geared towards genuine clarification of the more, shall we say, puzzling aspects of the Vatican II documents. But I guess the response to that must have been, “Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

    And lest I neglect the subject of this post entirely, here’s a shout-out to all the schadenfreudians nyah-nyah-ing over the SSPX’s latest set of woes (whether or not self-inflicted): Do stay classy, folks.

  24. dspecht says:

    Why accusing the aftermath (confusion, fighting, splintering/splittering) but not the reason/cause (nouvelle theology, Vat. II [adapting resp. adopting it], weakness of after-Vat.II-magisterium [still adapting/adopting it or not doing anything effectively to stop it]?

  25. AnnAsher says:

    I like 2.5, SOSO (made me laugh!) but it is sad.

  26. Luvadoxi says:


    Definitely a gold star comment!!

  27. Luvadoxi says:

    This is all rather Monty Pythonesque…

  28. As I have said, over and over again here, there is no need for protracted negotiations and discussions. The SSPX’s sane members just need to do what their saner members did decades ago: Join the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. End of all the controversies, recriminations, and accusations.

  29. Luvadoxi says:

    the springtime will continue until morale improves…

    I meant this was the gold star comment–I guess putting the symbols in front of it didn’t work (I don’t get the tag/attributes thing).

  30. RobertK says:

    This is probably one of them Father.
    This priest is having a fit with Bishop Fellay.

  31. RobertK says:

    First we had the SSPX.
    Then the SSPV – From the SSPX
    Then Several Branched Off From the SSPV – Anthony Cekeda, etcc
    Now the SSPX-SO – From the SSPX
    Maybe Bishop Fellay will now see that coming back to Rome would be the best for what is left of the SSPX.
    Then we could have the FSSPX, FSSP, ICKSP, Institute of the Good Shepherd, etccc all spromoting and building up parishes that offer the EF of the Roman Rite brick by brick. And helping out the New Evangelization. With Cardinal Burke and Cardinal Fellay navigating us through!.
    Did I say Cardinal Fellay!:)

  32. Sixupman says:

    Some time ago there was published a ‘tree’ which demonstrated, from Petrine times, the branches of dissent and dissent upon dissent, ad infinitum, over the ages. An SSPX priest said to me the longer one is away from Rome the worse the position becomes.

    That said, whilst all this crowing and levity over the SSPX debacle proceeds, what is completely ignored is that extensive network of diocesan clergy and Bishops’ Conferences who are only nominally in tune with BXVI and, de facto, plough their own furrow in their Protestant orientation.

  33. The Masked Chicken says:

    My apologies for my, “Strict Observance,” remark, above. It as in poor taste.

    The Chicken

  34. VexillaRegis says:

    @chicken: I think you were right – the stricter people are, the less humour they tend to have, and God definetely has a great sense of humour!

  35. AnnAsher says:

    So I followed some links to http://angelqueen.org/2012/09/24/priests-break-away-to-found-an-sspx-of-the-strict-observance/ That article directs the reader to traditio for contact information for the SSPX-SO (seriously ? Is that Providential?!) it sounds like a warm fuzzy relationship with sedevacantists.

  36. RobertK says:

    This is a sad situation. But this is what happens when you have individuals who do not want to give up what they have learned for many years. And you cannot blame them. Not that they would have to give up anything. But they do feel threatened. Same goes for all of us. Just look at the fit the German Bishops are having, just over the thought having the SSPX, or any traditional group, back into the fold. They to feel threatened. On a brighter note. I thought this was really cool. Kansas City Crusaders!. For children. Being taught to defend the faith, rather than compromising it for the sake of the times.

  37. lethargic says:

    It sounds like one of those parodies that Fr. Longenecker is always thinking up …

  38. Texas trad says:

    Even though I have attended SSPX for a decade, I find what Father Pfeiffer is doing as an absolute horror and is doomed to fail. Chaval and Pfeiffer are WITHOUT faculties at this time. They cannot do this and they have NO bishop. They cannot claim an “emergency.” They are formally expelled.

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