SSPX reacts to Pope’s announcement

I have written again and again that the SSPX was going to wake up one day and experience the bad end of the stick.  That day is coming, probably with the election of the next Pope which is now a lot closer than I thought it would be.

The membership of the SSPX should converge on Rome this week.  They should, all together, crawl on hands and knees across St. Peter’s Square and stay there until the Pope will admit them.  They should beg the Pope to let them kiss his shoe, accept their promises of obedience, and the regularize them before he resigns.

The SSPX issued this statement:

The Society of Saint Pius X has learned of the sudden announcement about the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, which will be effective on the evening of February 28, 2013.  Despite the doctrinal differences that were still evident on the occasion of the theological talks held between 2009 and 2011, the Society of Saint Pius X does not forget that the Holy Father had the courage to recall the fact that the Traditional Mass had never been abrogated, and to do away with the canonical sanctions that had been imposed on its bishops following their consecration in 1988.  It is not unaware of the opposition that these decisions have stirred up, obliging the pope to justify himself to the bishops of the whole world.  The Society expresses its gratitude to him for the strength and the constancy that he has shown toward it in such difficult circumstances, and assures him of its prayers for the time that he wishes to devote from now on to recollection.

Following its founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, the Society of Saint Pius X reaffirms its attachment to eternal Rome, Mother and Instructress [Mater et Magistra] of Truth, and to the See of Peter.  It reiterates its desire to make its contribution, according to its abilities, to resolving the grave crisis that is shaking the Church.  It prays that, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the cardinals of the next conclave may elect the pope who, according to the will of God, will work for the restoration of all things in Christ (Eph 1:10).

Menzingen, February 11, 2013,

on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Supertradmum says:

    Yes, pray for this to happen now. I have this on my blog as well. We really need to pray they all come in immediately-in the next two weeks.

  2. Jason Keener says:

    I agree that the news of the Pope’s impending resignation probably does not bode well for the future of the SSPX. It is very unlikely that any Pope in the near future will tolerate their demands, which will, and should, push the SSPX into further oblivion, for good Catholics must accept the authority of the Roman Pontiff not only in word but also in deed. I pray that the situation with the SSPX will now come to a very speedy and happy conclusion.

  3. paulbailes says:

    The idea that “B.16 represented the SSPX’s only chance so they should take whatever he offers” strikes me as strange now as it ever did: if his allegedly sympathetic attitude is indeed to be that kind of aberration, then any kind of “settlement” achieved now can hardly be expected to be sustained over the successive papacies that are supposed to be so antagonistic to the SSPX.

    My understanding of the SSPX position to the contrary of that idea is that they continue to believe they are right, and that it’s merely a question of patiently waiting until God sends us the truly counter-revolutionary pope we need. That sounds to me what their statement above implies.

  4. torch621 says:

    I don’t know how to feel about this news. I just learned about it now. God save us.

  5. Ralph says:

    This is the very first thing that came to mind when I read of the Pope’s decision.

    I think your warnings were right on target Father. But I am afraid that your current advice will be ignored.

    I am a bit uneasy about how access to the EF is going to be following the resignation of the Holy Father. But, I am going to try and keep my faith and trust in the Lord and hold fast to the knowledge that, no matter how bad things may get here on Earth, everything works out in the end.

  6. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Recte dixisti, Pater.

  7. Father Bartoloma says:

    The ship has sailed.

  8. Neal says:

    I have to say that I don’t understand Fr. Z here at all. If we may use the “classical” designation system, the next pope will either be 1) a liberal, 2) a traditionalist, or 3) a conservative. If 1), then the squeeze he will likely put on all traditionalists will improve the SSPX’s position with them, and serve as a vindication for their caution. If 2), then as the Church gradually returns to tradition then the SSPX will attempt to re-enter and I doubt an understanding pope would refuse them. If 3), then basically things stay as they are until a more decisive (or divisive) papacy comes along. (I see the conservatives as trying to maintain a holding pattern for the Church, but the changes it has experienced since the Second Vatican Council make this difficult and, eventually, impossible.) The SSPX has been in the position they are now for 40 years; at this point, I doubt they see a few more as a threat to their survival. (I would also like to note that I see this division in the Church as lamentable and scandalous; I do not think the blame lies entirely with one party or the other.)

    Let’s not forget, in this moment of loss, that the Church is more than a little tangle of personalities: it is Christ’s instrument of truth and sanctification of this world. The passing of one personality from the public sphere should not have so dramatic an impact, thank God.

    Or, conceivably, I could be entirely mistaken. Let us pray the next pope is a good one.

  9. Salvatore_Giuseppe says:

    “Following its founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, the Society of Saint Pius X reaffirms its attachment to eternal Rome, Mother and Instructress [Mater et Magistra] of Truth, and to the See of Peter. ”

    It’s statements like this that just drive me mad about the SSPX. You’re out of proper relation with the Church and the See of Peter. You should be seeking to fix that immediately, and worrying about quibbles later.

    I do and will continue to hope and pray for their return, but at the same time, it serves them right if they end up with someone less favorable towards them as Pope. They were given more than every opportunity to regularize, and they chose to stubbornly drag feet instead.

    As Fr. Z said ” They should, all together, crawl on hands and knees across St. Peter’s Square and stay there until the Pope will admit them. They should beg the Pope to let them kiss his shoe,”


  10. robtbrown says:

    I’m not so sure I agree that BXVI was the best bet for the SSPX, except for him liberating the 1962 Missal with Summorum Pontificum.

    Those who seem to be the most papabili (e.g., Scola, Ouellet) have been ordained after Vat II, thus didn’t attend the Council as a bishop (JPII) or peritus (BXVI)–men who don’t have the personal investment in the Council that JPI and BXVI had and IMHO would not be so protective of it.

  11. Joseph says:

    If the affairs of the church would be a political one, yes ought to try to squeek in before the dead line. But at least some clerics do not behave like polititians.

  12. MichaelJ says:

    If regularization of the SSPX is truly desired, I think that antagonism and rather smug demands for humilation is not the best strategy to employ

  13. WesleyD says:

    I second what Salvatore Giuseppe wrote.

    Pope Pius XII reminded us that the Church is not just an invisible mystery, but is also the visible congregation of Christifideles united through their communion with an actual human being, the Bishop of Rome. (Mystici Corporis Christi 14). The SSPX leaders claim they are loyal to the teachings of Pius XII. But by repeatedly refusing obedience to the actual visible successor of Peter, while proclaiming their obedience to “Eternal Rome”, aren’t they doing exactly that?

    When I was a kid, there were times I would have preferred to obey an invisible and imaginary mom and dad rather than my actual parents. After all, obeying my visible mom and dad meant I actually had to do things I didn’t want to do.

  14. AGA says:

    I agree with Fr Z insofar as that is what the SSPX should do.

    However, I don’t think the problem should be framed as if the SSPX are the only ones to benefit from reunion or conversely the only ones to lose out from formal schism.

    Read again Matthew 18:12.

    Does not the Holy Father have responsibilities before God (not men) visavis the SSPX?

  15. pmullane says:

    The true measurement of Catholicism is deference to the final authority, that is the See of Peter. If the SSPX want to be real Catholics, they need to swallow hard and come back to Rome. If they don’t, they are not just playing with incense and Lace, they are playing with their very souls.

  16. mysticalrose says:

    Even though it pains me to say, I think it’s game over for an SSPX reconciliation. Pope Benedict had the requisite ecclesiological and historical knowledge, and the subtlety and prudence to get this done. I can’t think of another living Cardinal who could do this (or frankly would care to).

  17. Tradster says:

    I remain baffled as to why nearly everyone forgets or dismisses that the SSPX (and, in truth, all traditionalists) had one basic request: stop insisting V2 is not a break from tradition and simply produce a document supporting that claim. Whether one agrees or disagrees with their positions, there is no denying that the SSPX submitted detailed explanations of their reasoning. If Rome had done likewise then the Society would not have a leg to stand on. Instead they just kept repeating, “Because I said so.” without the slighest attempt to defend their claim. So how can the Society be blamed for refusing to accept a refusal to explain?

  18. Stumbler but trying says:

    I concur with Salvatore Giuseppe and mysticalrose:
    The loving patience of a loving father should never be banked on or taken for granted. Our beloved Papa Benedicto is the prime example of humility and patience. I can only pray and hope that the SSPX will open their heart and their mind to this truth and like dear Fr. Z has already said, “The membership of the SSPX should converge on Rome this week. They should, all together, crawl on hands and knees across St. Peter’s Square and stay there until the Pope will admit them. They should beg the Pope to let them kiss his shoe, accept their promises of obedience, and the regularize them before he resigns.”

  19. maryh says:

    If [liberal], then the squeeze [the pope] will likely put on all traditionalists will improve the SSPX’s position with them, and serve as a vindication for their caution.
    Bringing more people into disobedience with the Pope. And the longer they remain apart from the Pope, the more likely they are to do something really wrong, like edit the Bible (like Luther) or ordain women priests (like the Anglicans finally did). The SSPX isn’t likely to fall for those precise heresies. But fall they will.

    If [traditionalist], then as the Church gradually returns to tradition then the SSPX will attempt to re-enter and I doubt an understanding pope would refuse them.
    Why not? Does any Pope want to set the precedent that if you don’t like what’s going on, you can just disobey the Pope until you get one you like and then come back in? Once the Church returns to tradition, the SSPX is not needed. At that point, they can be disbanded, and hopefully, they will then obey. Unless they fall into heresies (see answer to point 1 above).

    If [conservative], then basically things stay as they are until a more decisive (or divisive) papacy comes along. … The SSPX has been in the position they are now for 40 years; at this point, I doubt they see a few more as a threat to their survival.

    I’m sure they don’t see a few more years as a threat to their survival. What they don’t see is that it’s not about THEIR survival. They are already causing scandal by their disobedience. Could you please explain to me how they will avoid falling into heresy or causing schism? The longer they are separated from the Pope, the more likely both of these are.

    We are promised that the Holy Spirit will guard the See of Saint Peter (if I’m using my terms correctly) from error. Not the SSPX.

    And I’m not doubting that there is fault on both sides. That has nothing to do with the fact that the SSPX now is in the wrong.

  20. anilwang says:

    To me a simple test of Catholicity is if the SSPX is able to take the Oath of Fidelity:

    It pretty much sums up the faith: Believe the Nicene Creed and submit to the Pope and Magisterium.

    Converts have to take this oath and for many it is a leap of faith since at any time the Pope could issue an infallible teaching such as “The ‘Protoevangelium of James’, ‘Epistle of Barnabas’, ‘Shepherd of Hermas’, ‘1 Clement’, and the ‘Didache’ along with several other books are to be regarded as infallible as scripture”. If such a thing were to happen, many Protestant converts would feel sick (since it goes against their Protestant senses that the canon of scripture can change), but they would submit since they must according to their oath.

    The key question for the SSPX is, could they sign the Oath of Fidelity with full knowledge that the Pope could at any time make an infallible declaration Vatican II is infallible (which any Catholic must believe anyway and they would have to for all previous councils) and that the NO when celebrated strictly according to the rubrics is as valid as TLM. If they can, then only pride and fear separate the SSPX from Rome and there will always be hope for reunion. If they cannot, then the SSPX needs to be honest with themselves and restructure accordingly.

  21. MarylandBill says:

    @Tradster, perhaps I am mistaken, but the SSPX didn’t simply want the Church to produce a document supporting their claim that Vatican II was not a break with tradition. It appeared to me they wanted the Church to 1. Admit it was a break with tradition and 2. renounce the council. At least that seems to be the position of the more extreme elements in the Society.

  22. maryh says:

    Well said.

  23. Magash says:

    I must say I disagree with Neal.
    On 1) : Only Hans Kung believes there is any chance that a liberal will be elected Pope.
    That leaves choice 2)Traditionalist. A strong one might give the SSPX one more chance to return in humility to full communion with the See of Peter, prior to declaring them schismatics and moving on to a program of liturgical reform absent their input.
    3) Conservative. A strong one still might be tired of the continued scandal they cause the Church. He need do nothing. If they consecrate another bishop to replace their now aging (and reduced number due to the expulsion of Williamson) of bishops they will again have excommunication problem and will fade into the obscurity of the other schismatic sects, such as the Old Catholics. Meanwhile even a conservative might continue to support the slow expansion of the EF, which is happening without the SSPX at any rate.

  24. Tradster says:

    Simply stated, their position is “prove it or renounce it”. Rome refuses to do either.

  25. Clinton R. says:

    Today’s news is just stunning. Obviously a pope stepping down is quite unusual. How this will effect the SSPX and the Church in general would be speculation. Of course the mainstream media is having a field day suggesting the Pope’s resignation is the result of some wrong doing of his. And the liberal “Catholic” sites are hoping for a pontiff who will be true the “spirit” of Vatican II (ie women’s ordination, homosexual “rights”, etc.). Those of us who love Catholicism and her beautiful traditions are waiting with a certain level of trepidation over who will be the next pope. I pray he will build upon Summorum Pontificum and we will be blessed with more TLM’s. Thanks to His Holiness for his pontificate and May Our Lord bless His Holy Catholic Church and may St. Peter pray for his next successor. +JMJ+

  26. Tradster says:

    Clinton R.,
    Agreed on all your points. I pray for Pope Francis I, after Francis of Assisi, who will declare that he will rebuild the Church which has fallen into ruin.

  27. MarylandBill says:

    But what is the standard of proof? And considering the fact that SSPX initiated the break, shouldn’t they be the ones to prove that there has been a break with Tradition?

    No offense, but considering the efforts of Benedict and the reactions of some in the SSPX, I suspect that at least some of the SSPX would accept nothing other than a full capitulation.

  28. george says:


    I believe they have given a number (4?) of points where VCII seems to part with Tradition and they would like a response as to how VCII *should* be interpreted to be continuous with Tradition.

  29. mwk3 says:

    I agree with Fr Z. Indeed, the SSPX will be hard-pressed to find a more sympathetic cleric in the Vatican.

  30. Denis says:

    I suspect that this development will make SSPX regularization much less likely in the short term. Why would they risk placing themselves under the authority of a largely hostile episcopate? Who knows what the future even of Summorum Pontificum is? One of the many fruits of Vatican II is that any revolutionary change, no matter how improbable, is now possible. Who could have predicted, even at Vatican II, that something like the Neocat Mass might ever become acceptable to the Church? Who could have predicted the destruction that followed? In the Post-VII Church, the only that one can predict is that nothing is predictable and anything is possible. Summorum Pontificum seemed impossible a decade ago; the reversal of SP and even greater protestantization of the Novus Ordo seem impossible today, but who knows? The Spirit of Vatican II is a wily trickster.

  31. onosurf says:

    Or else what, another phony excommunication for being too Catholic?

  32. Joboww says:

    its not about being too Catholic when one disobeys the Vicar of Chirst repeatily and act as a parallel magestarium. That is not being too Catholic but being too Schismatic whether they pay lip service from time to time or not.

  33. Jason Keener says:

    Denis said, “Why would they [the SSPX] risk placing themselves under the authority of a largely hostile episcopate?”

    Unfortunately, this statement is a clear example of the arrgoance of the SSPX clergy and their followers. They simply will not place themselves under the authority of the Roman Pontiff even if Christ Himself has established a sacred hierarchy in His Church with a certain and visible leader who deserves obedience. The SSPX must realize that Pope Benedict XVI is the guarantor of Tradition and head of Eternal Rome, not Bishop Fellay. The SSPX must also realize that good Catholics don’t withhold obedience to Peter when things aren’t going their way.

    Onosurf, the bishops of the SSPX were excommunicated for participating in the ordination of bishops without a mandate from the Holy Father, which is another example of the SSPX thinking they can at the same time be Catholic and repeatedly disobey, question, and disregard the Roman Pontiff. I’m sorry but that is called Protestantism, not Catholicism.


  35. onosurf says:

    Our Pope won’t even call them schismatic, yet you do? Do you even know what a schismatic is?

    St. John Chrysostom & St. Paul, pray for the “schismatic” SSPX. LOL!!!

  36. Maria says:

    Dear Onosurf,

    Can you define what is too Catholic?

    God’s blessings peace and joy!


  37. MichaelJ says:

    Joboww, we’ve been down this road before. Could you provide examples of ” disobeys the Vicar of Chirst repeatily “?

    I think I know what you are going to say, and if I am correct, you have left off an important qualifier.

  38. onosurf says:

    Thanks Maria, God’s blessings to you as well!

    Too Catholic?

    Rejecting modern ecumenism because of its lack of charity
    Reject modern liberalism
    Reject modernism — the evolving religion

    These are basic and fundamental Catholic Truths, or at least they used to be. +Fellay has said he agrees with 85% of VII, it is the 15% that is problematic. Is he wrong? Look at the fruits of VII? And because he won’t compromise on that 15% that has caused so much rot, he’s now schismatic? Do we really want him to compromise with that rot? Some do, I don’t. Let’s fix it and have true unification and a strong church, otherwise there will be no peace, only continued clown Masses, laser Masses, Halloween Masses, pro-contraception priests and bishops, etc. Now that is schismatic!

  39. Denis says:

    Jason Keener, I’m not a follower of the SSPX–I’m a member of a Novus Ordo parish–but I don’t think that their situation is particularly straightforward or simple. The Church is still a mess, still very hostile to tradition, and still in the grips of a protestantizing episcopate. That, at any rate, is how I see it, “from within.”

  40. MichaelJ says: If regularization of the SSPX is truly desired, I think that antagonism and rather smug demands for humilation is not the best strategy to employ.

    Yes, indeed, exactly! The SSPX and its supporters need to rethink this approach to the Pope and the Church. If they continue in it, no union. But then they have acted this way for so long, I fear even a repentance today would probably be too late.

  41. onosurf says:

    Jason Keener

    If you could wake up your great grandmother from the dead and take her to a diocesan church and then an SSPX church (withhold the information that one is not “in full communion”), would your grandmother feel more comfortable at the SSPX church with the SSPX priest or would she feel more comfortable at the local diocesan church?

    Let’s keep our eye on the ball.

  42. onosurf says:

    Some may take delight in writing them off, but unfortunately, charity demands we can’t. Moreover, many in Rome recognize all the growth is coming from Traditionalists (FSSP, SSPX, and ICKSP). France, the eldest daughter, will be 30% SSPX in 10 years at the current growth rates. Will Rome ignore this? Rome needs the SSPX as badly as the SSPX needs Rome. One party must compromise, but Truth should never be compromised, even at the cost of obedience. We saw that fiasco in the archdiocese of Los Angeles.

  43. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Your grandmother and your great-great-great-grandmother would have been completely familiar with the phenomenon of a church that decided it was more Catholic than the Pope.

    Tons of Catholics in Europe and the US rebelled against Vatican I as a break from tradition.

    They either got over it, or joined another Christian group, or stayed separate and eventually created their own schismatic religion. If they did #2 or #3, they are either forgotten or super-duper-liberal. (Example: the “Old Catholics”.)

  44. capchoirgirl says:

    Suburban: bingo.

  45. capchoirgirl says:

    onosurf: In the words of Pontius Pilate: “What is truth?” Your truth, and the Vatican’s (and the Roman Catholic church’s truth) seem to be at odds…

  46. Joboww says:


    I should have qualified it better. I know that they are not schismatic but “canonically irregular”. This whole situation with them maybe only in my eyes really doesn’t help anything because I think they can do more inside the church then in their current situation. But when one talks of someone being too Catholic and placing such on a pedestal I have to object. There are not two magestariums but one and thats what I am most concerned with is a parallel magestarium. Hope that clarifies


  47. onosurf says:


    My truth doesn’t matter.

    Rome only condemns the SSPX’s not accepting a non-dogmatic council and nothing else. If Rome condemned anything else, Rome would be condemning Tradition and most popes.

    SSPX condemns the Rome’s turning away from Tradition.

    Who is wrong?

  48. SouthTxMom says:

    To really “keep our eye on the ball”, where would great grandmother feel more comfortable if you did NOT withhold that information about which church was in full communion?

  49. Jason Keener says:


    I attend the Traditional Latin Mass and also have questions about the Church’s approach to religious liberty and ecumenism, etc.; however, that does not give me the authority to persist in constantly disrespecting the Roman Pontiff by calling his regime “New Rome” and calling what the SSPX adheres to “Eternal Rome.” Such questions about Church teaching do not give me the authority to continue ordaining new priests, hearing confessions without faculties, and totally disregarding the authority of diocesan bishops.

    Also, I find this SSPX concept of “Eternal Rome” to be nonsense. What does it even mean? Which doctrines and dogmas are part of “Eternal Rome” and which are part of “New Rome?” Who would finally decide when we have once again reached “Eternal Rome?” Bishop Fellay? I’m sorry, but there is only one Rome, and Pope Benedict XVI is the head of it, problems and all. Instead of helping the crisis in the Church, the SSPX mostly exacerbates the problems through their continued acts of disobedience and uncharitable statements, such as the one coming out again today insinuating that the SSPX is always faithful to “Eternal Rome,” once again implying Pope Benedict is part of a strange “New Rome.”

    I agree that the liturgical changes made after the Council were far too hasty, but I don’t think there is anything downright heretical or even dangerous to the Catholic Faith in the Missal of Paul VI. There is definitely room for many liturgical improvements, but that, again, does not give the SSPX the authority to maintain a continued posture of disobedience where they are making demands to the Supreme Pontiff. Did St. Padre Pio and other saints constantly disrespect the Roman Pontiff when they were silenced or things weren’t going their way?

    Moreover, it is true that my grandmother would be more familiar with the Traditional Latin Mass and would probably favor it over the Novus Ordo; however, neither of our grandmas would see in the Mass celebrated by the Apostles themselves the exact form of the Traditional Latin Mass. The Sacred Liturgy has, can, and does change throughout time. Again, it is the Bishop of Rome Who ultimately decides what changes are to be promulgated.

    Let us continue to pray for the SSPX because no one wants to see them cut off from the Mystical Body.

  50. iPadre says:

    Amen! We don’t know what Our Lord and the Holy Spirit have in store for us all on the other side of the door to the Sistine Chapel! Oremus!

  51. Salvatore_Giuseppe says:


    “the SSPX’s position is prove it or renounce it”

    You have said that all they have done instead is say “Because I said so.” Correct me if I am wrong but if the Pope says something is so from his official office, isn’t that enough? “Roma locuta est…” and all that. Or do the SSPX, contrary to that statement, not really recognize the supreme teaching authority of the Pope. He has no need of proving anything to anyone. No more this than he does prove the evils of birth control to those who objected to Humanae Vitae and pointed out that the commission had recommended quite the opposite conclusion. The Pope spoke, the matter was settled.

  52. Maria says:

    Dear Onosurf,

    God’s blessings of peace and joy!

    I ask pardon for all my defects (PBXVI) as I am not too Catholic per your definition. I am simply Catholic.

    I grew up knowing nothing about TLM or SSPX until last year. I went to daily mass since I 15 yrs old. I usually go 6:30am or 7:30am. If there is an earlier mass I go to it. My only reasoning is God first. I have to start my day with a mass before anything. One time my boss told me to come to work on a Sunday and he will pay me 3x more. I told my boss that even if he gives me all his money, I will still not work. From then on my boss knew who I am. I refused a project given to me just before Christmas. I told my client that I am Catholic and I’d like my team to be with their families during holidays. I am a cradle Catholic who just knows the basic but conservative. Yes of course, I went to Catholic schools (Daughters of Charity, Franciscan sisters, Christians Brothers and Jesuits-I did not want to go their school but I have no option as there was no other Catholic school in my area offering what I like ).

    I grew up in the Philippines were masses were full (I was there 2 yrs ago, it is still full). I went to Uganda for a missionary work in 2003. The church was full 15 minutes before the mass started on a Sunday. You have to be early to have a seat. I was in Tanzania (2007), the same thing. I was in Tonga (2006) for vacation, it was the same thing. I was recently in Carmarthen, Wales, UK, the mass was full and people were standing up at the back but I will not consider this because they have only one mass and those who attended were mostly Filipinos. Do you think the Novus Ordo is that really bad? If it was that bad, there should be less people. don’t you think?

    I do not know what is happening in other areas but where I live, 6:15am, 6:30am, 7:30am 8:15am, 12noon mass have sizeable church goers. As you can see I love going to mass, it is my life. These are the different mass schedules at different parishes in my area within 10m radius.

    I love reading protestant stories converting to Catholicism. Most of their stories echo so much on the mass during consecration. Most of the conversion are from 1985 onwards, thus, I would say it is NO mass (I hope I am correct with my assessment). My sister even told me that a friend of hers had a friend who hated Catholics. Just to investigate what a mass is she attended a mass. As soon as the Holy Eucharist was elevated, she cried and trembled for no reason. She later asked my sister’s friend how to be a Catholic. Is Novus Ordo that really bad?

    All of these are Novus Ordo mass. I did not experience much of the mass abuses because I usually go to the earliest mass. I was shocked that the mass in Africa was done differently: songs and the body language. I am so used to solemn mass but not at any moment did I concluded that I was better catholic (or too Catholic) than them and that the masses I attended here in US and in the Philippines was a lot better. I saw the joy they have and I was moved. How they manifested their love for our Blessed Lord was enough witness for me. Novus Ordo with sacred music and Latin responses when congregation if diverse (I do not like bilingual mass) and without the abuses, would be really really beautiful.

    I only knew SSPX last year when I started to read more about being Catholic. To check on SSPX claim of TLM, I looked for one. Since July 2012, I go to TLM mass on a Sunday because there is non during weekdays where I live. I have to drive either 71 or 69 miles to be at either at 6:30am or 7:15am mass. I go where the earliest mass.

    SSPX is claiming so much stuff is happening to the church and loss of vocation because of abuses in the liturgy. Maybe right or I would say spot on. What I know is vocation is growing in Korea, Vietnam, Africa, & China (incrementally). Per Wikipedia: Total church membership (both lay and clerical) in 2007 was 1.147 billion people, having increased from 437 million in 1950 and 654 million in 1970. On 31 December 2011, membership was 1.196 billion, an increase of 11.54% over the same date in 2000, which was only slightly greater than the rate of increase of the world population (10.77%). If the numbers in Wikipedia is a business result, excellent growth rate but we are talking about the salvation of souls which I will put in the merciful and loving hands of our Blessed Lord. SSPX should also look into the conversion of intellectual protestants. Do you think ecumenism per Rome definition is bad?

    I have really enough of SSPX spreading that Novus Ordo mass is flop or per Bishop Fellay “evil” or whatever SSPX labels it or bashing. Too much for me to handle. I understand and respect SSPX position but to label the mass where we give our highest worship to our Blessed Lord, I weep. The decision to make is Papa Benedict XVI’s or the future successor of St Peter, not mine and I will honor and respect it regardless of how I feel and what I know. He likes unity so am I.

    Growing up, my grandmother says just pray the rosary. My father says, just follow the priest don’t make a lot of complaints about the church. My priest says, obedience.

    The keys of heaven were not given to SSPX but to St Peter down to his successor, the Bishop Rome.

    Again, I ask pardon for all my defects (PBXVI).

    God’s blessings of peace and joy!

    In Christ for unity,

  53. I think Fr. Z is right– they had their best shot with the Pope of Christian Unity. The next Pope, while not being openly hostile to the SSPX, probably isn’t going to care much about it either. He will have far more pressing matters requiring his attention, which is probably why Pope Benedict felt the need to make way for a more energetic successor, who will say a short prayer of regret, cut the ropes to the life rafts, and sail forward. At the railroad terminal, at some point, the usher says, “All aboard Track 15,” and people either choose to get on board or they are left behind. “Last Call, One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church!” Will they board? Or will they continue to argue with the conductor as the doors close and the train leaves the station?

  54. Stumbler but trying says:

    God bless you Maria! I agree with all you have said. I see the beauty of the faith in the people I meet at various Masses, conventions, retreats and all of the Masses are Novus Ordo or in Spanish. Now, while I have seen abuses, I have also seen holiness, a love of the Eucharist and love for the Church and our Lady. The faith thrives through the power of the Holy Spirit and in the hearts of the faithful. Who has time to argue?
    Strike now SSPX while you still have a chance to board the barque of St. Peter…lest you become irrelevant and lost to your pride and your demands. We are a Church made up of sinners who are in need of the mercy of God and who acknowledge such beginning with our beloved Holy Father. I bet our Lord Jesus will bless you a hundred-fold if you come back. I bet he will then send those who in his infinite wisdom will be better able to assist you in making your home once again in the heart of the Church.
    But should you decline…the Church will survive with or without you. She will be renewed and will grow in holiness and in humility and in truth because that is what the faithful Catholic heart desires and prays for, every single day. If you remain steadfast in your pride, you will miss this great blessing.

  55. raylan says:

    I can’t figure SSPX out. They claim to not be excommunicated, but still are in “talks” with the Vatican and making “demands.” Some say there was never an excommunication but still claim it was “lifted” by Pope Benedict XVI. What was lifted? That which wasn’t? Then despite claims of being readmitted they still perpetuate an existence. What’s up with that?

  56. Fr Jackson says:

    The SSPX made a very nice public expression of gratitude. Just take it as such.

  57. lana says:

    Maria, thank you for that beautiful post. I also go to TLM once a week. I never went to one before last summer. Like you, here in Massachusetts there are NO Masses at all times of the day and evening and many people go daily and pray the Rosary, too. I also am grieved to hear the NO disparaged, through which I have received Our Blessed Lord daily for years since He mercifully gave me the grace of conversion. The NO Mass is the center of my life, and to hear it put down all the time by Catholics hurts as much or worse than when the atheists in my family do the same.

    To those of you who read this blog and wonder what you are missing because you cannot find a TLM near you… yes, the TLM is reverent, is beautiful. We want to give Our Lord the most beautiful worship we possibly can, and that is why I go whenever I can. It draws you. But in the NO, it is the same Lord we receive, and that is why we go, to be cleansed of our sins and to be with Him and grow in love. If I arrive early, prepare with the same preparatory prayers as in the Latin missal, and read along and really – pray – the NO Mass, (in other words, do the work) I get (and give) just the same.

  58. Aquinas says:

    I know this isn’t top of the list for the Vatican at present, but the Medjugorje pronouncement has been shelved, I can’t understand why this was prosponed until this year.
    This is an issue that needs to be knocked on the head once and for all.

  59. Aquinas says:

    Prayers for the Holy Father and his successor!

  60. Gratias says:

    SSPX had the nerve to come out with a statement on the Pope today. Benedict XVI’s pontificate had a as a principal aim to bring SSPX and their 500 priests and many faithful back into obedience. He gave us Summorum Pontificum, Revoked the Excommunications, gave us Universae Ecclesiae, and sent a proposal to SSPX. They decided to pocket their winnings and DID NOT DEIGN ANSWER BENEDICT XVI’S GENEROUS OFFER OF AN ORDINARIATE. In their hubris did not even send a formal answer to the Holy Father so far. Hope they realize the great opportunity they lost, and so many of us also lost. Advancing the Extraordinary Form of the Mass through Summorum Pontificum will now be much more difficult.

  61. Phil_NL says:

    If the SSPX got a new Pope in the mold they would prefer – the fire-breathing, pre-modern kind – that new Pope would more than likely excommunicate the entire society immediately for gross and continued disobedience.

    One of life’s little ironies.

    More to the point, the longer the SSPX remains outside, the longer the elements that do not care one bit for the Church – and unity with Peter – can fester. expelling the loon Williamson may have bought them some time, but there are others still within. If the SSPX thinks think they have another 30 years they can wait, they’re more than likely wrong. Not on account of any condition in Rome, but on account of their own I’m-right-everyone-else-will-have-return-to-my-position spirit. That’s a distinctly unhealthy disease, and it won’t get any better.

  62. Tradster says:

    Salvatore Giuseppe,

    You wrote, “…the supreme teaching authority of the Pope. He has no need of proving anything to anyone.”

    These two statements are totally contradictory. A teacher instructs and explains, not simply makes blanket “just because” pronouncements. Yes, the Pope is the supreme teacher. Fine, so teach us why he believes Vatican II maintains tradition without break. Any father would do as much for his children.

  63. Midwest St. Michael says:

    When this 52 y.o. grows up – he hopes to have the faith of Maria @ 7:33P.M.

    God bless you Maria. Beautifully said.


  64. cyrillist says:

    For everyone who’s been piling on the SSPX over their not reaching agreement on regularization during Benedict’s pontificate, one gentle reminder: The Holy See sent the SSPX a doctrinal preamble to sign. The SSPX sent it back unsigned, with revisions. The Holy See rejected the revisions and sent it back to the SSPX. And so on, for several iterations, with failure to reach an agreement as the current result. Apart from the parties directly concerned, no one knows what is contained in the doctrinal preamble, and without this knowledge, no one is qualified to weigh in on whether it was foolish or wise for the SSPX not to sign it. And the wisdom of not revealing its contents is now beyond dispute, what with people now groundlessly assuming that the Vatican’s terms must have been generous. (@Gratias: “Offer of an ordinariate?” First I’ve heard of it – where’d you get that?)

    One counter-point to the chorus of “The SSPX just blew their best chance”: Don’t forget who was the chief negotiator for the Holy See during the 1988 talks with ++Lefebvre which ended with the illicit consecrations of the four bishops. As much as Benedict wished to resolve this matter himself, his previous history with the SSPX may have been a serious encumbrance to achieving this. Even if the next pontiff is (most likely) less favorably inclined towards the Society, he will be able to approach the issue fresh, without the baggage of his predecessor. We all received a huge surprise yesterday; the anti-SSPX naysayers may be in for a few more.

  65. MichaelJ says:

    Fr. Augustine Thompson , touche!

  66. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Salvatore_Giuseppe,

    Correct me if I am wrong but if the Pope says something is so from his official office, isn’t that enough?

    If by “from his official office” you mean “ex cathedra”, then yes, that is enough.

  67. thouart says:

    Fr. Z’s logic is brilliant! Now that the modernist Pope Benedict has given up his battle against the wolves, now is the time for the only voice of truth and reason in the Church, to jump into their fangs. It’s only Fr. Z’s ego that could make him proclaim such stupidity. I hope Michael Voris has enough room and food on the boat for Fr. Z’s arrogance.

  68. THIS is what boggles me about the blindness of SSPXers. “Anti-SSPX” as if the “society” is any more than any other protestant sect, and still acting just the same.

  69. robtbrown says:

    Cyrillist says,

    @Gratias: “Offer of an ordinariate?” First I’ve heard of it – where’d you get that?)

    I don’t know about Gratias, but I got it from a German friend who publishes a pro SSPX newspaper and is very close to the Society. He told me that the SSPX was very satisfied with the juridical structure which they would have upon reunion.

    Msgr Fellay has said more than once that BXVI is well disposed toward the SSPX, but I think there are two problems: First, the positions of the Society became hardened due to persecution during the papacy of Paul VI. Second, as I said before, BXVI (and JPII before him) both had personal investment in Vat II and seemed to think it was necessary to make constant references to the Council.

  70. phlogiston says:

    As a non-member of SSPX (but very sympathetic to it), I find it odd that articles such as this one ( can be published outside of the context of SSPX without raising an eyebrow. Read the article, but I think it can be fairly summed up as saying Gaudium et Spes is entirely capable of two diametically opposed interpretations. One is consistent with Tradition; the other gave rise to clown masses. So what exactly is so bad about SSPX following that to its logical conclusion and pointing out that V II has caused confusion and that confusion is no gift of the Holy Spirit?

  71. RJHighland says:

    You make a very good point and it is something that I started investigating. I live in the southwestern US which has a large Hispanic population and a very old Catholic history and tradition. A Couple things I have noticed. When the Spanish settled this area the most prominent structure in a town was the Church it was the center and focus of the community and the town would grow out from that. (In most Protestant Cities the Court House is the Center of the Community) As the town grew Church’s would be built in neighborhoods and that was the center of the neighborhood. A priest through the confessional was able to assess not only individual needs in the parish but also trends in community and would have a better sense as to how to guide his flock. Now back in those days we had a lot more priests. Now with fewer priests the parishes are getting larger and confessions are not as regular combine that with poor catechesis and feel good homilies and you have a break down in the moral structure of the Church. I have a sense that the drop in vocations is due to the change in the mass in part, modern culture and family sizes. When I first started attending a TLM the first thing I noticed was the number of young men participating in the Altar Society. Of the 10-12 boys assisting at mass 6 of them were discerning vocations. Now this was a small parish maybe 80 families, but family sizes were on average 4 or more. The altar society was were the future priests discern there vocation. With the changes in the Church since Vatican II, girls have been allowed to become alter services and the training required to be an alter server has dropped substantially. It is much easier to be an alter server in the new mass than in the old and especially how the old mass elevates the roll of the priest. In the new mass except at the consecration and elevation the priests roll is demised, even that has changed substantially in the new mass. He faces the people, the number of times he kneels and the discipline of the fingers and such. All of which erodes the reverence of the incredible event that is taking place. Then at distribution of communion at my old parish anyways there were an army of EMC’s distributing both the body and blood so the priest kind of gets lost in the shuffle. The USCCB established the norms of standing and receiving in the hand with permission from Rome so once again the reverence for the incredible event that is taking place is diminished. Now my old parish is packed but I think they are up to 3000, families or something crazy like that and basically one priest and a Jesuit that assist the priest to handle all those souls. You would think that with all those families you would have a vocations boom, there has not been one priest from that Church to my knowledge and I was a vocation liaison for a year. Most of the parishes in my city are like this. Very few people go to confession, the tabernacle has been moved to a prayer room, project screens have been added, they have a rock band set up to the left of the altar for teen masses, and there is a push for permanent deacons, and talk of the need for women priests and deacons. Contraception, abortion and homosexuality are never spoken of in the homilies it is all about love and God’s mercy, there are many paths to heaven, and such. In the 10 years that I was there I never heard a sermon on the three last things. Often when I spoke with the priest about reception of communion or Gregorian chant his response to me was “Oh that is so Roman, we are beyond that know.” Really caught me off guard, I was like well you are a Roman Catholic Priest how could you have such distain for things Roman? As John XXIII once said there are many baptized pagans in the Catholic Church. There are a lot of wonderful people in my old parish and the priest is a very nice guy but I could say that about my old Methodist Church too, that does not mean they are teaching or proclaiming the faith given to us by our Lord and His Apostles. When I was the vocations liaison one thing that always rattled around in my brain as a looked at the large empty seminary across the way was “You will know them by their fruits.” The greatest fruit of any family, church, and dioceses is vocations. Men and women that dedicate their lives to the Lord with-out them you do not have masses being said, confessions heard, heaven stormed with prayer, highly trained low cost teachers for Catholic schools and Universities or affordable care for the poor and sick. The harvest great and the laborers are few. At one time we had Catholic Schools and Hospitals filled with religious teaching the next generation and caring for the infirm, go to any Catholic school or hospital and see how many are religious and how many are laity. We don’t even have enough priests to keep parishes open in the US or Europe, parishes and schools closing all the time so please don’t confuse attendance with spiritual growth or spiritual health of the Church. Now there is growth in parishes, orders and dioceses that are returning to tradition and you know them by their fruits. The vines that are traditional are growing and bear much fruit while the vines of the progressive NO parishes are large but they are withering and there fruit is bitter. It is funny how the progressives always say that traditional masses are filled with old people. What I see is large families and a nice mix with at my old parish there are smaller families and the congregation is aging. One thing as a Protestant convert I must say that the NO was a nice transitional move from the Baptist faith because it was not as shocking a contrast in posture and style as the TLM is. But that is my experience. I think the NO can be said reverently but spiritually and theologically I don’t think it compares to the mass of Pius V. In the modern Catholic Church you have a low church (Novus Ordo Progressive/liberal), a High Church (Extra ordinary form) and a whole lot of muddling around in the middle. I pray the Lord gives a man to lead the Church from the See of Peter that continues the work of Pope Benedict XVI in healing this divide, growing the traditional teachings of the Church and guide us out of this storm that is threatening to scuttling the Bark of Peter.

  72. RJHighland says:

    Could not agree more, well stated short and to the point, I am jealous. Many things will be answered when the public gets to see the preamble that Our Holy Father was requiring the SSPX to sign. My prayers are with our Holy Father he has been a blessing to the Church. He can not be all things to all people but he truly has helped to stablize a floundering ship and start to get her back on course.

  73. LisaP. says:

    Couple things I found interesting in your comment.
    One, the role of confession in informing the pastor about the needs of the parish. Very important, never thought of that before.
    Second, your demographic comments made me think, as an aside, I’ve noticed for awhile in our parishes I find so difficult that there are few children, mostly older people and couples without children, usually well dressed and very professional looking.
    I just saw our parish budget, and realized these families are actually contributing a huge amount of money every week. In our mission of maybe 30 families, tops, they are contributing $3000 to $4000 a month. That’s twice my family’s monthly income — the parish is receiving enough to pay for a full time employee (two at minimum wage with no benefits) for essentially one hour of “product” a week. And ours is a relatively low income parish.

    I note this for this reason — double income no kids means more disposable income, therefore more income to contribute. I don’t think there’s anything conscious in the decision, but I wonder — if a pastor encourages people to have children and those children to have vocations, he is actually cutting down the income to the parish. My husband has noted (and I just saw a television sitcom do the same) that the disproportionate influence of homosexual men in public life has much to do with the fact that they generally have a lot of money to spend on nonessentials.

    So I wonder if part of the puzzle is that in our culture, that caters so much to the demographic with money, the Church in America has accidentally drifted into trading vocations for contributions.

    Sorry if that’s a derail!

  74. WesleyD says:

    Phlogiston, you advanced an excellent argument. You wrote:

    [The article I cited] can be fairly summed up as saying Gaudium et Spes is entirely capable of two diametically opposed interpretations. One is consistent with Tradition; the other gave rise to clown masses. So what exactly is so bad about SSPX following that to its logical conclusion and pointing out that V II has caused confusion and that confusion is no gift of the Holy Spirit?

    The answer is: nothing. If that was all that the SSPX was saying, there would never have been a quasi-schism in the first place. In fact, Benedict XVI said all of this in his Christmas 2005 address. I think the pope might argue that it’s not precise to say “Vatican II has caused confusion”, but rather that the way Vatican II has been interpreted has caused confusion. But he certainly agrees that there exist possible interpretations (hermeneutics) of the texts that lead to false conclusions — that was the entire point of his speech about hermeneutics.

    But that’s no break with tradition. The Council of Ephesus released a dogmatic and infallible teaching about Christology that can be interpreted in an orthodox way or in a monophysite way; twenty years later the Council of Chalcedon had to clarify this statement, and those who considered themselves most loyal to St. Cyril (the leader at Ephesus) consisdered Chalcedon to be a betrayal of Ephesus, because it contradicted the way they had been misinterpreting Ephesus. The fact is that no human language can express complex truths in such a way that it becomes impossible for someone to twist the words into what it doesn’t mean. That is why we have an ongoing Magisterium that can resolve confusion when it arises.

    No one in the SSPX has ever been excommunicated or even disciplined for their theological statements or beliefs. All of Rome’s excommunications and disciplinary acts have occurred because of the SSPX and its members’ actions: refusing obedience to their local ordinaries and to the Supreme Pontiff. If Pope Pius X had learned of a faction within the church that refused obedience to him and to their local bishop (and who, for example, regularly heard confessions without even asking for faculties from their local ordinary, without ever warning their congregants of the canonical irregularity of such a thing or the danger to their souls it caused), would he discipline them? Or would he give them a pass if their theology was orthodox?

  75. Cathy says:

    With all of the commentary, all I can think is, well, wow. Correct me if I’m wrong, but lifting the formal excommunication of the bishops of SSPX, did not somehow make them legitimate bishops or even obedient. Until February 28, Pope Benedict XVI is still the very legitimate Bishop of Rome and Holy Father of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, to whom obedience is owed as is obedience to Christ. Both the extremes, right and left, should shudder in examination! In fomenting disobedience to the Holy Father I lose sympathy for both, and, in The Year of Faith, I hold both as robber barons of the faith.

  76. MichaelJ says:

    WesleyD, You bring up an excellent point when you note that “twenty years later the Council of Chalcedon had to clarify this statement”.

    Despite the Holy Father’s exhortation to use a correct hermeneutic, there has been no such clarification of any of the problematic statements. I’ve seen gratuitous assertions that there is no contradiction, I’ve seen indignant statements to the effect that others do not have the “authority” to determine what was previously taught (as if we needed some sort of gnostic super sectet decoder ring), but so far, no clarification. No explanation of what exactly was being taught and how it fits in with the prior Councils and how it deepens our understanding .

    I also agree that His Holiness would say” it is not precise to say “Vatican II has caused confusion”, but rather that the way Vatican II has been interpreted has caused confusion”, but he would be mistaken.
    Sorry, but if the vast majority of a teacher’s students misinterpret what that teacher intended, then the fault lies primarily with the teacher.

  77. Michael J, pick a side: SSPV or Catholic. Stop riding the middle of the road and move on your disobedience.

  78. LisaP. says:


    “Sorry, but if the vast majority of a teacher’s students misinterpret what that teacher intended, then the fault lies primarily with the teacher.”

    I’d agree, while the students were genuinely trying to understand the teacher’s intent.
    If the majority of students were intentionally misunderstanding, or their leaders were and the rest followed those student leaders instead of the teacher’s direction, then no amount of clarification would be helpful, and it actually can at times be counterproductive. (Ever been in an argument with someone who absolutely refuses to understand you, and if you patiently re-explain and re-phrase to try to be understood they get all hurt that you are beating up on them?).

  79. phlogiston says:

    Raylan, is it possible to disagree without being disagreeable? Some of us here would like to have a reasonable discussion. Resort to ad hominems only makes your position look weak.

  80. MichaelJ says:

    ray, here’s my “side”. I see no contradiction in supporting the efforts of SSPX and being Catholic.
    The SSPX does many things that many here find objectionable. They offer Mass, hear confessions and “pre-review” anullments. I’m sure that there are more but these three seem to be the “biggies”.
    Anyway, if you care to look, you’ll find that the SSPX also offers a detailed, logical and reasonable justification for these actions. Invariably, the response to these justifications it to try, as you have done with me, to beat the SSPX with the obedience stick. It’s one thing to refute their arguments. It’s quite another, again as you are doing, to gratuitously deny that they have a right to make these arguments, all in the name of “obedience”

  81. jhayes says:

    WesleyD wrote: “In fact, Benedict XVI said all of this in his Christmas 2005 address. I think the pope might argue that it’s not precise to say “Vatican II has caused confusion”, but rather that the way Vatican II has been interpreted has caused confusion. ”

    More importantly, I think, he said in that 2005 speech that older encyclicals and other statements of the Magisterium were being misinterpreted by not recognizing that some elements of those statements were “contingent” and related only to specific conditions of that time rather than being enduring principles.

  82. catholicmidwest says:

    Phil, you said, “If the SSPX got a new Pope in the mold they would prefer – the fire-breathing, pre-modern kind – that new Pope would more than likely excommunicate the entire society immediately for gross and continued disobedience…..One of life’s little ironies.”

    You’re 100% correct. And this is how you know when the baby’s been thrown out with the bath-water. The whole thing becomes viciously circular. Time to stop and think hard about where this went wrong and admit that this has gone too far.

  83. Cathy says:

    Michael J., without faculties, what SSPX offers, with all faithfulness to Tradition, is simply a mirror. I cannot go to an SSPX “priest”, and have my sins absolved any more than one could go to a wymyn “priest” and have my sins absolved. This is not simply an obedience stick, this is the reality stick.

  84. THIS is my problem with SSPX-ers; Real Catholics do those things you mention as well. But the problem is: do you have valid Priests doing them. It looks very questionable from the obedient Catholic’s point of view. Protestants have last supper services too without valid Priests, and some believe they have the Real Presence. So stop being so weak and sensitive. Also, stop being so high and mighty and painting all Real Catholics in the same box, what your types call Norvus Ordo. All of us faithful conservative Catholics realize the weaknesses and are working WITHIN the Church to be faithful mainly by raising our children in the Faith, and teaching them the TRUTHS of the Faith regardless of what questionable things are being taught or what is not being taught at all. And we’re doing all this without grandstanding and placing some phony label on ourselves.

  85. Bishop Trautman and his camp thought the new translation of the Mass was too haaaard.

    And the SSPX and their supporters think that Vatican II is too haaaard.

    Don’t look now, but thousands of faithful priests, bishops, cardinals and scholars can read the documents of Vatican II in a hermeneutic of continuity. But for some reason the SSPX priests just can’t wrap their heads around it. I’m not sure if it’s a lack of intelligence or just an unwillingness to admit they were wrong.

    Either way, unless a left-leaning Pope is elected, the SSPX will be shut out once and for all. If a traditionalist Pope is elected, they may find the end of discussions and find themselves quickly excommunicated.

    It seems they have about 16 days to make it right.

  86. Legisperitus says:


    Left-leaning like Ranjith?

  87. VexillaRegis says:

    Raylan Alleman:

    do you realise that you are screaming? My ears are ringing, as they are used to the civil and nice tone of Fr. Z’s salon. Phlogiston is right.

  88. Legisperitus,

    No. I think you would find most traditional bishops likely to use the law to bring about obedience. A traditional Pope would be likely to say, “First obey me and reconcile with the Church, then we talk.” You wouldn’t see someone like Cardinal Burke hold a series of meetings to “negotiate”, you would likely see him follow the process outlined in the law to remedy problems of disobedience.

    A left-leaning pope, might very well allow the SSPX to continue floating in their weird space of Catholic non-communion.

  89. You mean the same Fr. Z that said they should crawl across St. Peter’s Square and ask to kiss the Pope’s shoe? I thought I was speaking the same language. These guys affronting Holy Mother Church. I call a spade a spade.

  90. phlogiston -Ad hominem what? You mean if you speak directly to someone, it’s an attack? That’s how they got the status they have now. So they can condemn every other Catholic for not attending a Latin Mass, and they are OK? That’s ad hominem in the worst degree.

  91. MichaelJ says:

    Cathy, nobody, not even the SSPX argues that these Priests have been granted faculties, at least not in the normal sense. Instead, the SSPX appeals to Ecclesia Supplet to demonstrate that the Absolution is valid. Many (most here?) , including Father Z disagree with the SSPX “position”.

    I on the other hand, after looking at both sides, am convinced of the validity of a Confession to an SSPX priest and would go to one (if I had the opportunity) without a second thought.

    If you think I am in error and am putting my soul at risk, then convince me.

  92. MichaelJ, I think the burden is on you to explain how you have convinced yourself that confession to a “priest” without faculties is valid. I would say you are at risk the same as if you made a confession to a protestant “minister.” So please tell us what has convinced you of the validity of such a confession.

  93. Geoffrey says:

    This article alleges that the situation with the SSPX is one of the issues that weighed on the Holy Father when coming to his decision to abdicate:

  94. eulogos says:


    I know you were just using it as an example, but your example is problematic. I really do not think the Pope can by decree add to what is considered Scripture, and not just because Protestants would not like it!

    The Pope does not invent the faith. His position is as the guarantor of tradition. He is the defender and proclaimer of “the Catholic faith which comes to us from the apostles.” ( That is the old translation of the NO, I honestly don’t know the new one. OK, I looked it up: “all those who, holding to the truth, hand on thecatholic and apostolic faith.” Or “et omnibus orthodoxis atque catholicae et apostalicae fidei cultoribus”. ) The Church has already decided which writings of the apostolic Church are to be considered sacred scripture. When the Church formally decided this, it was already proclaiming what the tradition held, not making a new determination.

    The Pope’s infallibility was able to be declared because the church had a millenium and a half of observation that a Pope had never officially proclaimed heresy, although some popes privately believed some heretical statements. But it isn’t an infallibility of the sort amenable to hypothetical questions like What if the Pope declared{some heretical statement}? We believe that the Pope cannot and will not do this, not that if he did the statement would somehow be true.

    The Canon of Scripture is the Canon of Scripture. The Pope cannot change it; therefore he will not change it, ever.

    You need a different example. Perhaps that that the title of Our Lady as “The Mediatrix of all Graces” were to be declared infallibly. That would fit, I think, everything else you say. (As long as it is really true and can really be shown to be inherent in Scripture and Tradition.)

    Susan Peterson

  95. phlogiston says:

    Raylan, what I meant by ad hominem attacks are statements like your one to Michael J that he was being disobedient (who made you his spiritual director?) or your labeling everyone who thinks exactly as you do a “Real (with a capital “R”) Catholic” as if anyone who disagrees with you is a pseudo-Catholic. Are you sure you don’t need a “TM” after “Real Catholic?” That makes your complaint about SSPX supposedly criticizing everyone who attends a Novus Ordo mass a bit ironic. Never seen that myself, BTW. They typically criticize modernists within the heirarchy, not “everyone.” Then there’s your use of all caps to shout as VexillaRegis noted. As for Fr. Z’s statement about crawling across St. Peter’s square and kissing the pope’s shoe, if I’m not mistaken, that’s what’s referred to as “hyperbole.”

  96. phlogiston
    I was assuming MichaelJ was an SSPX-er as he was being sympathetic to their position–if he’s not, my bad.
    I am not labeling everyone that agrees with me as a Real Catholic; I use the term to refer to those who are faithful to the Church and the Holy Father; sinful, but trying.
    I have often often often (no caps noted here) heard people who are not SSPX referred to as Norvus Ordo Catholics.
    My use of caps in selective words (the entire comment was not in caps) was for emphasis. Am I OK with using caps for OK and SSPX?
    I see we have a sensitive bunch here–can criticize they disagree with on an “intellectual” level but can’t take it in return. I’ll tone it down a bit but never never never compromise without any apologies. (emphasis oh so gently added)

  97. MichaelJ says:

    Raylan, much as you appear to dislike it, an SSPX Priest is a true Priest. There are no quotes required.
    As far as what convinced me of the validity of Confesstions to an SSPX Priest, see:

    There may be errors in this assesment, and it could very well be wrong, but so far, nobody has been willing to go beyond “That’s not true”. Are you willing to do so?

  98. MichaelJ, you want me to just accept that the SSPX Priest is valid just because you say so like any protestant wants me to recognize his minister? Why should I go beyond that to convince you otherwise?

  99. Panterina says:

    Sorry, but if the vast majority of a teacher’s students misinterpret what that teacher intended, then the fault lies primarily with the teacher.

    Fine. Can we please all move inside and discuss it in the same classroom with the teacher? For one thing, it’s warmer inside. And secondly, staying outside we are like sheep among wolves, not to mention there’s a lion roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

  100. MichaelJ says:

    Well, I would expect that fraternal charity would compel you to correct the misconceptions of those you believe are in error.
    I’ll have to get back to you with “proof” that an SSPX Priest is, in fact, a true Priest

  101. MichalJ, that would be fantastic (I would have capitalized that but I don’t want to scare anyone). But I noticed the justification you previously posted was from the SSPX itself. Sorry, that just won’t do. I could read something presbyterian and be convinced if I believed them. Something can’t justify itself.

  102. phlogiston says:

    I’m not sure I get the lack of faculties argument. If I’m on vacation in Miami and so is a priest from, let’s say, Chicago. And let’s say I’m having some type of medical emergency and ask the priest to hear my confession. And let’s further say he doesn’t have permission (“faculties”) from the bishop of Miami. Clearly, because it’s an emergency, that’s not an impediment to my receiving absolution from him. So if the lack of faculties does not negate the validity of the sacrament in one case, why does it invalidate it in another?

  103. cyrillist says:

    And while you’re at it, Mr. Alleman, you might consider dialing back the snark as well, if you’re at all interested in persuasion and apologetics, as opposed to venting and contemning. If what you have to contribute could be beneficial to other immortal souls, it would be nothing short of tragic if it was lost on account of a surly tone. What would BXVI do?

  104. Mike says:

    The SSPX link provided 4 extraordinary circumstances where express jurisdictional requirements do not apply. Their argument does not assert that any of those extraordinary circumstances actually apply, but rather argues ‘see, there are supposed to be exceptions, so on that basis, jurisdiction is not necessary.’

    There is a logical principle commonly expressed as ‘the exception proves the rule’. That is, naming exceptions demonstrates that there is a rule to which the exceptions apply. It is carried further to assert ‘since one or more exceptions were specifically named, one can not say: the need for exceptions was not anticipated, so we must come up with exceptions now’. Yet that is the basis for the argument SSPX is making.

    It seems ironic that the first of the 4 extraordinary circumstances they cite is ‘when the faithful think the priest has a jurisdiction which he does not have’. Fortunately they do not seem to be resting their arguments on that.

  105. Um cyrillist, point your little popgun at thouart above whom you seemed to have excused as he made severe ad hominem attacking comments toward not only Fr. Z a Priest who is in good standing with the Holy See, but the very Vicar of Christ himself. There seems to be a double standard here for those who disagree with your cause, unless I missed something. SSPX-ers just take the cake–UNBELIEVABLE!

  106. thouart–Infidel! How dare you libel the Holy Father in this public forum! What a grave offense!

  107. maryh says:

    @Raylan Alleman
    You’ve now been told by three different other posters to cut the snark and the ad hominem, including a clear explanation of what was considered ad hominem. Believe it or not, they are not all SSPX’ers. It may be useful for you to spend some time observing the blog before jumping to conclusions.

    As for thouart, since thouart made no contribution but ad hominem attacks, I imagine we’ve all just ignored him or her. That’s what one usually does with a troll.

  108. Maryh–good math. I don’t get all the hypersensitivity. If the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t wear it.

  109. Hhmm, guess I’ll give up snark for Lent–if I can figure out what it is.

  110. Mitchell NY says:

    I hope Pope Benedict can work behind the scenes and help continue to heal this rift with the SSPX with the next Pontificate. Maybe he will be more effective in the Emeritus role than as Pope. Stranger things have happened I am sure. A great part of feeling ones frailty is the need to remain productive and as if still a part of something. Yes, I know he will continue to pray for us in the Church and the new Pope but it would be nice to see him be somehow responsible for a permanent healing in this area without anyone being able to influence or over ride his words or thoughts. In some ways I think protocol and outside influences affected the outcome of the latest dealings with the SSPX and once these burdens are lifted.

  111. VexillaRegis says:

    Raylan Alleman:

    May I gently remind you, that we are guests in Fr. Z’s livingroom?

  112. cyrillist says:

    @Raylan: “…if I can figure out what it is.”

    At your service.

    Urban Dictionary: “Combination of ‘snide’ and ‘remark’… Use of sarcasm or malice in speech… commonly used to verbally attack someone or something.”

    A blessed Lent, dear chap – I’ll see what can be done about my hypersensitivity. ;-)

  113. MichaelJ says:

    Mike, thank you. You are the first person I know of that actually addressed the substance of the justification offered by the SSPX. This could be a springboard for a very productive discussion (who knows, I may even change my mind), I suspect, though, that this will be considered a “rabbit hole” . Hopefully we can pick this back up on a more appropriate post.

  114. MichaelJ says:

    Father Z himself discussed this very issue in a heavily moderated post:

    Nowhere in this did he assert that a Priest from the SSPX was not a “real” Priest. A curious oversight if, as you assert, the SSPX priests are not, in fact, Priests.

    This has gone well beyond a discussion of ther SSPX though and whether it should or should not exercise any ministry. By denying that an SSPX Priest is a true priest, although I do not think this is your intent, you are denying the efficacy of the Sacraments. The Sacraments operate “Ex opere operantis ” so are not at all dependent on the disposition of the minister or recipient. Whether they should have or not, these men did, in fact, receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

  115. VexillaRegis, thanks for that–duly noted.
    My typical nature is to be quite “charming” if I don’t say so myself. However, SSPX tends to arouse in me a great zeal and passion toward the effect of defending Holy Mother Church and the Holy Father.
    My comments here have been to support Fr. Z on his position expressed in this post in their regard and to thwart his (and the Holy Father’s) detractors.
    I will see you all on the next post that attracts my attention.
    God bless you, and a blessed Lenten season to you all.

  116. jhayes says:

    Benedict has given the SSPX a final chance (according to Rorate)

    “Rorate can independently confirm the report –hinted at just now in Le Forum Catholique — that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has sent a letter with a final offer to the Society of Saint Pius X (FSSPX / SSPX): resume the dialogue with the Holy See by February 22, or else the Holy See will make an offer of reconciliation and full communion to individual SSPX priests. (What kind of offer or structural basis will be offered is unclear.)

  117. Mari-Lynn says:

    May God’s Peace and Blessings be with you all,
    I am a relatively recent American revert to Catholicism from Islam. I was surprised to read of Sedevacantism and don’t quite understand it. (I am still reading my way through the “CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH”.)
    I love my local parish, the Marist priests there are so kind and their charism really speaks to me as it was Mary and the Rosary that lead me to Christ. Now I am reading that some Masses are not valid if they are in English and with the Priest facing the congregation? I am truly and honestly confused, and more than a little concerned for my eternal soul if I am following the wrong path. Can Father Z elaborate on this? Why are post-Vatican II popes “heretical”? Is this true? How can it be true when the Church is protected by the Divine?
    Yours in Christ

  118. VexillaRegis says:


    don’t worry, the Church *is* protected, because that’s what Christ has promised. Stay away from the sedevacantist websites. Reverting from Islam is quite a big step, and it can take quite a long time for you to feel completely spiritually and culturally at home in the Catholic Church again. Maybe you could speak to one of your parish priests?

    Have you BTW listened to Fr Z’s LENTCAzTS? If not, I think you will find them to be very good for your soul – I do :-)!

    Oh, and Welcome home!

  119. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Mari-Lynn,

    is this true?

    No, it is not.

    Never be confused. Just believe.

    Should you, once, feel to be able and in the mood to go into it a little deeper without being confused, then do distinguish between, if you may allow me to say so, crazy people and reasonable people. The SSPX are the latter (I mean such people as belong to them now and have not been expelled); but we simply cannot discuss everything with all people in the world, that’d be too exhausting. A man cannot think himself out of mental evil[…] He can only be saved by will or faith. (Chesterton, Orthodoxy)

    And, yes, welcome home and God bless you! Hope your family makes not too much trouble.

  120. VexillaRegis says:

    Mari-Lynn: The replies for you got buried along with the thread. Just hoping you see this. Sorry if this sort of puffing isn’t allowed, but I feel M-L needs some support.

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