SSPX officials met with Card. Müller, Prefect of CDF

As crazy as it is may now sound, perhaps Pope Francis is the one who can reconcile the SSPX.

I’ve floated this idea before.  I don’t have any illusions that Francis likes much of anything about the SSPX.   The other day I had a chat with a South American journalist who agreed with my suspicions that then-Card. Bergoglio’s impressions of the SSPX in Argentina were not favorable in large part because of Bp. Williamson and Bp. de Galaretta.  Not hard to believe at all.

But… just maybe… could Francis be the one to get the job done?

I saw at VIS that SSPX Superior General Bp. Bernard Fellay met with Card. Müller.

Vatican City, 23 September 2014 (VIS) – The Holy See Press Office has issued a statement to confirm that this morning from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., a cordial meeting took place at the premises of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith between Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the Society of St. Pius X. The meeting was also attended by Archbishop Luis Ladaria Ferrer, S.J., secretary of the same Congregation, Archbishop Joseph Augustine Di Noia, O.P., adjunct secretary and Archbishop Guido Pozzo, secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, along with two assistants from the Society of St. Pius X, Rev. Niklaus Pfluger and Rev. Alain-Marc Nély.
During the meeting, various problems of a doctrinal and canonical nature were examined, and it was decided to proceed gradually and over a reasonable period of time in order to overcome difficulties and with a view to the envisioned full reconciliation.

“Gradually and over a reasonable period of time” can mean anytime between now and the Parousia.  But this is not nothing.  Indeed, given the spectacularly hostile treatment shown by Pope Francis’s Prefect for Religious, Card. Braz de Aviz, to the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, the meeting caught my eye.  But, hey, Pope Benedict brought Braz de Aviz to Rome, not Pope Francis.

Could Francis be the one – defying all expectations – to extend an olive branch to the SSPX?

In my recent interview with Amerika Magazine I was asked:

If you could say one thing to Pope Francis in person, what would it be?


Pretty much everything that comes immediately to mind is cliché. I suppose there is one thing. I might ask him to celebrate a Pontifical Mass in the Extraordinary Form, or at least be present at its celebration by someone whom he would designate. Catholics who have what St. John Paul II called “legitimate aspirations” and for whom he commanded by his Apostolic Authority that respect must be shown, have over many decades experienced great suffering and disrespect and even persecution, even by priests and bishops.  They have suffered because they are faithful, and at the hands of their shepherds, which is shameful.  Quod Deus averruncet!  They can, at times, admittedly be a challenge to work with, but these good people love Christ and their church and their popes as much as any Catholics ever have throughout the millennia. They would go to the wall for Pope Francis, even though sometimes he does things that make them scratch their heads.  These people need some TLC.  A little love in their direction could bring about great healing.  It’s the next step.  And were he to do it, this pope rather than the more obvious Benedict … imagine what a magnificent healing moment it would be.

I can picture a Pontifical Mass celebrated by, say, Card. Burke in the Vatican Basilica, coram Pontifice Romano, but without all the flabella and what His Holiness would surely see as frippery of the long-defunct Pontifical Court.  I can also envision Pope Francis sitting there for most of the time wearing his Grumpy Cat face.

Please follow?

The Holy Father seems to have two modes.  He is either beaming jovially, or he looks like a man at the gallows.  Yes, I exaggerate, but I do think he uses his outward mien tactically.  For example, he was all smiles during the first part of Pres. Obama’s visit.  Then, as you watched the video coverage, when it was time for the official posed photo out came Pope Grumpy Cat, like switch being thrown.  The Holy Father was clearly not pleased to be standing there, but he endured it.  That’s what Popes do.  Paul VI met with Idi Amin Dada.  That’s couldn’t have been bubbly and light-hearted.

Popes do all sorts of things they don’t like personally.

Which leads me back to the dream of having Pope Francis be present at a Traditional Roman Pontifical Mass at the faldstool, perhaps with seminarians of the SSPX as the servers.

I wouldn’t mind if Francis yawned and kept checking his watch during the whole Mass.  I wouldn’t care if he fell asleep and loudly snored, provided he was there.

It would be more than Benedict did, God bless him!

Pope Francis believes – if I get him right – that a remedy for the Church’s interior malaise must come from our “peripheries”.

Keep watching for this word in his discourses.   For Francis, the “periphery” brings back to the core something that is vital, necessary.  The problem is, how to preserve at the core the best that the core has always possessed while at the same time reaching outward to the “peripheries”?  The danger is that the core will be forgotten, that a hole or vacuum will open up at the core and we will abandon and forget vast swathes of our identity and identity shaping patrimony.

The SSPX is simultaneously the doughnut hole and the doughnut.  They are at the same time the core, preserving tradition and patrimony, and they have become a “periphery”.  They are in danger of becoming irrelevant to the rest of the Church, and therefore they have to put their best foot forward, too, to make what they have to offer attractively useful.  (Frankly, their “Eternal Rome” versus “Modernist Rome of the Curia” schtick is a bit tiresome. It makes them sound like the Fishwrap or LCWR types who moan about the “prophetic church” versus the “institutional church”.  Both approaches, if pushed too often and too far are pretty noisome.  No, let me revise that… the Fishwrap and LCWR thing is just plain wrong, whereas there is some kernel in the SSPX thing.  But I digress.)

So, I continue to hope for the reconciliation of the SSPX.  I know exactly how I would do it.  No one has asked me lately.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Bob B. says:

    “So, I continue to hope for the reconciliation of the SSPX. I know exactly how I would do it. No one has asked me lately.”
    I hope so, too…..and I’m a askin’.

  2. Robbie says:

    Stranger things could happen, but I doubt Rome and the SSPX will reconcile while Francis is Pope. Right now, Bishop Fellay faces a revolt from many of the priests in the SSPX because they believe he’s been too accommodating to Rome. At least 25 SSPX priests have joined Bishop Williamson’s side, including the one from my area. I believe they call themselves “recognize and resist”. If Fellay pushes too far, he could lose his position as head of the SSPX. Many of them already think he’s simply angling for a red hat. On top of that, there’s the cautionary tale that is the FFI. If there’s a Pope Ranjith one day, then there’s a real chance for reunion, but not right now.

  3. anna 6 says:

    A Nixon in China moment, for sure.

    The photo is wonderful. But is it me, or is Gammarelli using chaper fabrics these days? I laugh when I think of what the Italians, who are so fashion conscious, think of conspicuous black pants under white.

  4. marcelus says:

    Have you seen this??

    “During the meeting, various problems of a doctrinal and canonical nature were examined, and it was decided to proceed gradually and over a reasonable period of time in order to overcome difficulties and with a view to the envisioned full reconciliation”

    Coming back home?

  5. wolfeken says:

    “irrelevant” ??? Ha.

    The SSPX is the reason for the “indult Mass”, the reason for the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter and the reason why we are still talking about the 16 documents of Vatican II and their implementation.

    Let’s never kid ourselves about the SSPX’s influence on the revival of a remnant of tradition. It did not happen by magic. They endured (and still endure) suffering and an irregular situation so you can have the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum and a discussion about the disaster of a Council in the 1960s.

    With every big fight, someone takes the first swing, which is the hardest, followed by everyone else who was waiting for someone else to do it first.

  6. marcelus says:

    “Communiqué from the General House of the SSPX
    You are here:homecommuniqué from the general house of the sspx
    On Tuesday, September 23, 2014 Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X, met with Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Muller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

    With Bishop Fellay were Frs. Niklaus Pfluger and Alain-Marc Nely, First and Second Assistants General of the Society. Cardinal Muller was accompanied by Archbishop Luis Ladaria Ferrer S.J., Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; Archbishop Joseph Augustin Di Noia O.P., Assistant Secretary; and Archbishop Guido Pozzo, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei.

    The meeting took place in the offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 11:00am until 1pm. The goal of the audience was to allow Cardinal Muller and Bishop Fellay to meet for the first time and to discuss together the status of the relations between the Holy See and the Society of St. Pius X. This was their first encounter since the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and the end of Cardinal William Jospeh Levada’s term as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

    During this cordial meeting, doctrinal and canonical difficulties were discussed, and the current situation of the Church was mentioned. It was decided to continue the discussions in order to clarify the points of contention that remain.

    Menzingen, September 23, 2014”

    CLearly, since the Vatican doc mentions “full reconciliation” it is the Pope’s intention to bring them back. He is and has been a man of dialogue.

  7. anilwang says:

    Robbie says: there’s the cautionary tale that is the FFI.

    FFI is a bit different. The FSSP faces no persecution because it is under the protection of Ecclesia Dei. The FFI originally chose not to be under Ecclesia Dei, so they are under the Prefect for Religious. It was a mistake on the part of the founder, but it was an honest mistake since he trusted that SP would be enforced by all future popes, or at the very least, the person selected by the Pope to head the Prefect for Religious would respect SP.

    If the SSPX were to rejoin, they’d be under Ecclesia Dei.

    IMO, FFI is more a cautionary tale about orders that are currently not under the protection of Ecclesia Dei. If you have any affinity with TLM, you had better attempt to rectify the situation before the anti-TLM mob comes for you.

  8. Vincent says:

    I had the pleasure of hearing Bishop Fellay talk at the opening of a new church, and his views and ideas were refreshing (especially compared to the “schtick” that you get from a number of the Society priests). In that particular oration he suggested that Pope Francis could be the pope to restore the Society.

    The sad thing about the Williamson problem is that it was more or less caused by a dispute between him and Fellay over who should be the leader. However, the ‘Resistance’ does mean that those priests who remain are loyal to Fellay (and far better disposed towards Rome), perhaps lessening the parlous nature of his position. But then the last negotiations ended badly and it will require the personal intervention of the Pope to really get anything moving…

  9. JesusFreak84 says:

    I’m hoping for a personal prelature when it does happen, at least until Chicago’s on it’s next-next Bishop, or he WILL kick them out =-

  10. marcelus says:

    I would imagine the SSPX would not even come close to the Catholic Church in the middle of all this Synod controversy and all the rest, having turned down BXVI’s hand in the past. Yet they did… I wonder what Crl Muller talked about. From their postion this , I guess, would be the worst of all times to approach Peter, unless something we do not know is taking place. I do not recall another comuniquee talking about “full reconciliation” for wgatever is worth if it ever takes place.

    For those TLM fans out there, here is a FB link with pictures of TLM in Argentina. These pictures show TLM held in different cities, Mar Del Plata, Mendoza, Tucuman, San Juan, Cordoba, Buenos Aires, etc.Though not massive (not many people know It exists or where it is celebrated), it is alive and well. Also consider that NO here is solemnly celebrated, so no complaints there either. Ohh this ‘evil’ Pope who banned TLM in his country! !

    On Galareta and Williamson, though SSPX have offices, Churches, retreats and schools in Argentina, their presence and influence in Argentinian society is almost nonexistant. Reason why they resort to showdowns or stunts like they pulled some months ago stormirmg the Buenos AIres cathedral in the middle of shouting and loud praying. Some 50 people.So I do no see how one can think thatthey might have posed some sort of threat to Crdl Bergoglio or anything if he ever noticed them.

  11. FrAnt says:

    Having the SSPX reunite with the Church would be a wonderful thing. I often pray for the reunion of the Orthodox with Rome as well. That is the wonderful thing about a real leader, they do things for the good of the organization. Popes endure meetings with dignitaries not for their own good, but for the good of the Church. I only wish our president would do the same.
    If the reunion of SSPX and Rome happens under Francis, then great. It has nothing to say about the work Benedict did to foster that reunion. Sometimes one plants and another harvests, but if it is all for the good of the Church then it is for the glory of God.

  12. Sid Cundiff in NC says:

    If Nixon could go to China …

  13. CradleRevert says:

    @Robbie – I hope that Bishop Fellay won’t be hesitant about reconciliation in hopes to appease the Williamson crowd. That faction of the Society is likely to reject any reparation that doesn’t include a complete repudiation of Vatican II and an abolishment of the Ordinary Form.

  14. SimonDodd says:

    My impression is that Francis does not consciously care a whit for anything that happens in church buildings–that seems to be the gravamen of his criticism of “sacristy Christians” among various other insults that he has hurled at people with different liturgical views. His focus, I think he would want to say, is to get people out of the church buildings and into the streets doing whatever it is that he thinks we should be doing instead of fussing over “small-minded rules.”

    (I doubt the truth of such protestations, because a person who is truly indifferent is not so intolerant of other people’s preferences, but not their conscious sincerity.)

    One does not get the impression, moreover, that he much understands those who have different views from his own, so I should rather imagine that he finds the whole business mystifying. “Why are you fussing over these incidental details instead of getting out into the streets and working for the poor?,” one imagines him saying to SSPX. But then the flipside of that, I suppose, is that if he really is as praxis-focused as he seems to want to think, maybe that is the ground for reconciliation: “Yes, yes, have a personal prelature, do whatever, just get out and get working!”

  15. ppb says:

    marcelus: Thank you for the link to the photos of TLMs in Argentina! Very nice.

  16. Thorfinn says:

    I hope the “Resistance” thing will be an impetus to reconciliation – first, a reminder that once a group splits from the path of unity, that group itself may split and split again. And secondly, that if the choice for members of the Society becomes Rome or Williamson – well, you don’t have to like everything about the current state of the Church for that to be an easy call!

    It also must be extraordinarily helpful to see the Ecclesia Dei groups continue to flourish.

  17. anilwang says:

    marcelus says: From their position this , I guess, would be the worst of all times to approach Peter, unless something we do not know is taking place.

    Perhaps, or perhaps not. It might be the best time. It’s a matter of perspective. If they joined under Pope Benedict XVI, their contribution to the Church would be small since the Church was moving towards reconciling with TLM. They would also get fewer guarantees since “they have nothing to worry about”. There would always be the fear that “the next Pope might suppress them”. There was also less urgency since they could extend their negotiations to the next Pope because the Church was warming to TLM.

    Under Pope Francis, if they joined their contributions could be bigger (especially since they’re currently located in many diocese that are openly hostile towards TLM), and they could secure more guarantees…especially since they can point to the disbanding of the FFI to explain they fear reunion. Because the Church is being moved away from TLM (for now), there is more urgency since the window for negotiation might close after a decade. The Williamson split further adds urgency. The longer the SSPX stays out, the more likely they are to split again (as they have in the past), become sedavacantist (as some SSPX offshoots have) or become another “Old Catholic” or Polish National Catholic Church, both of which have drifted in the faith and have little chance of ever reconciling (as a whole) with the Catholic Church.

  18. KM Edwards says:

    I love brethren who are hopeful, and I don’t hold it against those “hoping against hope” for a Vatican-SSPX reunion under Pope Bergoglio. But – and I will be careful not to presuppose the interior dispositions of anyone, especially a reigning Pope – my *opinion* is that the Pope and his Vatican apparatus are, like a lion prowling and hunting its prey, sniffing for ways to get the SSPX, the kingpin of traditionalism within the Church, completely under their clasp to rip into it with their jaws.

    Ecclesia Dei – my *opinion* again – was just a wedge strategy to divide and conquer the traditional movement within the Church. Else, it would have been established long before the 1988 consecrations by Archbp Lefevebre.

    Bp Fellay, as long as he has his sanity, will never sign the SSPX under the domain of the Vatican under Francis. It would destroy the SSPX from within, even if Francis has true shepherdly intentions, which – my opinion – I very much doubt in this case.

    However, Bp Fellay has always insisted that his view is that the SSPX can never ever close the door to the eventual time when SSPX is fully reconciled with the Vatican. He preached on that extensively in 2011 and 2012 when it appeared a genuine normalization was possible with Pope Benedict. Remember also, that things back then only fell apart once Pope Benedict’s “Vatican helpers” somehow scuttled the revised texts and re-presented the first text that had started the negotiations in 2011 – effectively telling Fellay that the deal was off. No one more than Fellay and Benedict, as individuals, had stuck their necks out to make that deal possible. But just around the time that the negotiated text was abandoned by the Vatican, rumours of Benedict’s imminent abdication began to surface … hmmmm

    I think Fellay wants to keep the doors open. I think Pope Francis and his Vatican cabale want to find a way to subjugate the SSPX. As long as they keep talking there is hope.

    i would love for my opinions expressed above to be wrong. I am not an SSPX member. I pray for Pope Francis many times daily. May God restore His Church soon.

  19. Pingback: SSPX/Rome Talks, Round ??? | Opus Publicum

  20. Uxixu says:

    Unfortunately, even Ecclesia Dei was not full protection for FSSP against Bp Cupich when he padlocked the doors of a parish in his diocese over the Easter Triduum (well before Summorum Pontificum).

    Which turns to what I suspect is the biggest issue with SSPX, rather than their polemics on the Mass or Catechism, or the Council, or even submission to the Holy Father, but their scope. They seem to recognize no diocesan boundaries or the authority of the Ordinaries within and effectively goes & does what it wishes. Contrast with the FSSP, ICRSS, etc which require the invitation of the Ordinary to enter a diocese, use those bishops for their Sacraments, etc. It may not be insurmountable, but it’s hard to see the SSPX voluntarily constricting itself or in what form it would take if an ordinary doesn’t want to permit them to remain in his diocese without invitation. Many bishops could perhaps be persuaded, but all of them?

  21. JKnott says:

    Maybe this is a stupid question but if they reunite with the Church would they then be subject to the same treatment (re-education camps etc.) as the FFI? Would some unfriendly bishops harass them?

  22. anna 6 says:

    It would be wonderful for all of the above stated reasons…

    but one side benefit would be that, the (hopefully) still living Pope Emeritus, aka the Pope of Christian Unity, could witness a reunion in this time of so called “de-Ratzingerization”.

  23. Gabriel Syme says:

    @ CradleRevert [@ is used on Twitter. This isn’t Twitter. o{]:¬) ]

    I am sure +Fellay is not concerned by Williamson and Co. The “resistance” is an irrelevant side show; recall +Fellay expelled Williamson from the SSPX and so is unlikely to ever include the mans opinion in his own considerations.

    To his great credit, +Fellay has explicitly stated that a canonical recognition is not the “be all and end all”, but rather the first principle remains always the preservation of authentic Catholic doctrine.

    This situation can be ended now, on terms suitable to the SSPX, or it can be ended later, on terms suitable to the SSPX. +Fellay is more than happy to wait, if necessary. In its short existence, the SSPX has been a great success story, which exerts an influence in the Church which is disproportionate to its size and status – the Society clearly pleases Our Lord. In contrast, Curial demands of the organisation have thawed considerably over the years. It is clear which way the wind is blowing, Francis or no Francis.

    Regarding Vatican II, the SSPX are on record as stating they accept 95% of Vatican II – the points of contention are relatively few, but crucial none-the-less. Ironically, their accepting 95% of the Council is likely significantly more than the typical lay person or cleric accepts.

    Let us pray that the Society will soon be properly recognised, given they will provide such a tonic for the whole Church.

  24. marcelus says:

    ppb says:
    23 September 2014 at 12:12 pm
    marcelus: Thank you for the link to the photos of TLMs in Argentina! Very nice.

    You are welcomed!

    @anilwang : [@ is used on Twitter. This isn’t Twitter. o{]:¬) ]

    Yes , you make a goog point.You may be right.

    In any case, It’d be a blessing to have them come under full submission to the Pope.

    @robbie: “if Fellay pushes too far, he could lose his position as head of the SSPX. ”

    Why accept or call the meeting then? all this publicity for nothing? I don’t know, besides the man seems to have changed his mind or reconsidered or the Lord has shown the was finally?

    We have a”first hand witnesss” on that:

    “Vincent says:
    23 September 2014 at 11:01 am
    I had the pleasure of hearing Bishop Fellay talk at the opening of a new church, and his views and ideas were refreshing (especially compared to the “schtick” that you get from a number of the Society priests). In that particular oration he suggested that Pope Francis could be the pope to restore the Society.”

    And, it is my belief, we must not think for a minute about any machinations or schemes in the the back of the Pope’s mind, not Jorge Bergoglio, in order to gain this or that advantage, particularly with this issue. I’d bet my hand he is sincere and thinking of the good beautiful things that it could bring about for the Church.

  25. marcelus says:


    or the Lord has shown the way finally?

  26. marcelus says:

    At lunch in Santa Marta , Bp Fellay incidentally “running into” Francis a while back, The SSPX saying a mass by the Vatican grave of St Pious X a few weeks ago…..

    Something else is happening, we have failed to see it.

    And it may be good!!

  27. Father Z said:

    So, I continue to hope for the reconciliation of the SSPX. I know exactly how I would do it. No one has asked me lately.

    I’ll ask: a bit more, bitte?

  28. Robbie says:

    If my memory serves me, Bishop Fellay referred to Francis as a “genuine modernist” in the not too distant past. As much as I would love a reunion, I just don’t think it happens while Francis is Pope. Fellay has internal forces tugging him in the opposite direction and it seems pretty clear the hierarchy of the Vatican is no predisposed to the terms the SSPX wants. And would they ever want Cardinal Aziz having any say about their operations, even if it was merely tangential?

    As for their meeting, Fellay has met with Vatican officials on more than a few occasions. And quite frankly, it would look petty and small for a group who accepts the authority of the Pope to deny a request for a meeting. The lines of communication Fellay has established in his past meetings will serve him and the SSPX well if there’s a Pope who is more sympathetic to their views. That’s why I mentioned it would be more possible if Ranjith were ever Pope. He suggested he’d invite the SSPX in to run his seminaries if their had been reconciliation in 2012.

  29. Gerard Plourde says:

    @ Uxixu

    I tried to verify your statement about Bp. Cupich and the FSSP. The story I found seems somewhat more complex. The news story from the time indicates that the community (which at the time appears not to have been served by a member of the FSSP) may have been questioning the validity of the Ordinary Form. The lay spokesperson for the group quoted in the story stated that he stopped attending Mass for 30 years once the EF was no longer available and refused to attend Mass in the Ordinary Form. It was also reported that the group chose to hold an alternative Good Friday service on the sidewalk rather than attend the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion in the diocese’s cathedral. This appears to me to have been an act in defiance of the Bishop’s authority over his own Diocese. At the time the Bishop had full authority to restrict or even forbid celebration of the form. The First Precept of the Church clearly requires weekly attendance at Sunday Mass. If the tables were turned and an Extraordinary Form Mass was the only one available a Catholic who usually attended the Ordinary Form would and should not be excused from the obligation just because his preferred Form was not available.

    To provide context, another illustration of the supremacy of Episcopal authority which occurred in my own Archdiocese of Philadelphia some years ago may be in order. Prior to the promulgation of the Code of Canon Law of 1983 Cardinal Krol did not permit (as was his right) the Saturday evening vigil Mass. In fact, Philadelphia was in the end the only diocese in the country that did not allow the Saturday evening Mass in anticipation of Sunday. Immediately upon the issuance of the the revised code that mandated the Saturday vigil Mass, Cardinal Krol implemented the vigil Mass.

  30. Supertradmum says:

    Pray, pray very hard…

  31. truthfinder says:

    Or, this could be the perfect time for the SSPX to reconcile considering the canonic and sacramental state of their marriages; if anything, they would benefit the most from a sweeping ease of marriage rules, and maybe all their marriages would be retroactively validated or something?

    Seriously, though, the fact that the SSPX are even being allowed into the Vatican and speaking with various clerics is a good sign.

  32. ChesterFrank says:

    I don’t like to admit it, but I am confused with SSPX. Can Roman Catholics attend these SSPX masses and receive communion from their priests? I thought at one point we could not, and then I thought there was a change. The problem is though I know there is debate and conflict: I don’t know what the plain and simple official stance is on their legitimacy, and how that affects the church goer like me.

  33. paulbailes says:

    Dear Gerard Plourde

    When you say “At the time the Bishop had full authority to restrict or even forbid celebration of the [Extraordinary] form”, says who? Summorum Pontificum concedes what traditionalists (or rad-trads at least) have always contended, that the hitherto prohibitions/restrictions on the TLM were in fact not legal.


  34. Pingback: SSPX ers Pose an Obstacle to Reconciliation -

  35. JonPatrick says:

    ChesterFrank, Fr. Z had a post on this about a year ago. The short answer is that their Masses are valid (but other sacraments are not) so one can attend the Masses, but one could not go to confession there before Mass and receive absolution:

  36. Gabriel Syme says:


    Yes, Catholics can attend SSPX masses – because the SSPX are Catholic too. They provide a legitimate Catholic mass, in the traditional rite, attendance at which fulfills the Sunday obligation of Catholics to hear mass.

    This has been clarified by the Church, as has the fact that Catholics incur no sin via attending an SSPX mass. It has also been clarified that the SSPX is not a schismatic group. Cardinal Castrillon-Hoyos once stated this five times in a single interview, yet still today malicious, ideological voices continue to falsely allude otherwise.

    The SSPX are not schismatic, rather – they are irregular. That is, while the clergy are validly ordained Catholic clergy, the organisation as a structure currently has no official canonical status. In my opinion, this is unfair, as the Organisation was created canonically and legally and then was unfairly suppressed retrospectively (and ideologically). The SSPX have always argued the suppression was illegal under canon law (I believe them).

    You are correct that, originally, Vatican officials tried to ban attendance at SSPX masses on a variety of unfair grounds. The position has gradually shifted, when it became clear the SSPX was not going to fizzle out and the stance has since moved through vague acceptance – though shrouded in severe warnings and discouragement – and currently stands at an open acceptance, with even the concession that it is legitimate for Catholics to support SSPX missions financially.

    The transformation has also coincided with the rehabilitation of the SSPX Bishops and the emancipation of the traditional liturgy, both occurances taking place under Benedict XVI.

    I attend an SSPX Church – but I would not do so, if there was even a slight possibility that it might not fulfill my religious obligations. But it does fulfill my Sunday obligation, and so I go happily. (I also attend a midweek Diocesan TLM.)

    It is said that, because the SSPX are irregular, their confessions and marriages are not valid – these are supposed to be authorised by the local Bishop (which would require the SSPX to have a canonical status). However, the SSPX convincingly argue against this, using canon law in their defence.

    But, hey, there is no need to gamble on the point of confession etc- it is legitimate to go to the SSPX on Sunday mass, and to the Diocese for confession (for example).

    (Though I like it how, at SSPX Churches, you can go to confession right up to the Sunday mass begins – it is so much more accessible and sensible, than asking Catholics to attend scattered “30 mins here, 30 mins there” Confession times during the week. I have never known a Diocesan parish to have Confession time scheduled on a Sunday.)

    Its worth noting though, that the official actions of the Vatican in this area always agree with the SSPX argument, (i.e that these sacraments are valid) not their own. This is shown by -the fact no action was taken regarding the many marriages which had taken place in the Diocese of Campos (Brazil) before that traditional Diocese was reconciled. If being irregular genuinely meant marriages were invalid, then the Vatican would have had to take some action here to remedy this. And the Bishops of Gabon queried the Vatican asking should they record SSPX marriages as Catholic marriages and they were instructed that they should indeed record them as such.

    Fr Z himself gave good advice on this topic here, where – in response to a specific query – he affirms that it is legitimate to attend an SSPX Sunday mass, and go to confession at a Diocesan Parish:

    I like the SSPX for beautiful, uplifting liturgy and sound Doctrine. Despite unfounded fears from some about the kind of opinions you might encounter among the SSPX, my experience is that they espouse only solid Catholicism and do not hesitate to condemn non-Catholic ideals, (such as sedevacantism or womens ordination), whereas some of these things are tolerated – or even openly encouraged – in some Diocesan Churches.

    The current situation is crazy – Walter Kasper is a Cardinal of the Catholic Church, yet we are told that the SSPX is what we should be worried about!?!

  37. Wiktor says:

    It’s “de Galarreta” actually.

  38. Netmilsmom says:

    marcelus I’d be very careful with a FB page that started today. No one has been able to vet it at all. I’ve seen fake pages before. As for your statement of the “evil” Pope Francis, he did not allow a TLM in Buenos Aires, NOT his country. He had no control over someone else’s Diocese.

  39. frangelo says:

    Father, why is it you think the meeting of officials from the Holy See with the SSPX is significant of the Holy Father’s thinking, but the Holy See’s treatment of FFI is not? [I don’t accept your assumption or premise.]

  40. pgepps says:

    Dear Fr. Z,

    Twitter stole the use of the ampersand to designate targets for replies from users of nonthreaded forums everywhere and rebranded it. Some of us retain the usus antiquior in this matter, and hope you will honor our “legitimate aspirations” to the precedence of semantically coherent traditional usage over any merely technical and instrumental use or its rebranding.

    tongue_firmly @,

    P.S. I quite agree that Pope Francis may well be in a better position to reconcile SSPX than our dear Benedict was, and hope you are right that the due claims of various elements at the “periphery” to attention and merciful deference will be prudently examined. I also hope SSPX will unconfuse principled silence and open disobedience, and will be shamed into reflection by the nearly exact parallel between their dissent and that of LCWR. PGE

  41. marcelus says:

    Netmilsmom says:
    24 September 2014 at 7:52 am

    marcelus I’d be very careful with a FB page that started today. No one has been able to vet it at all. I’ve seen fake pages before. As for your statement of the “evil” Pope Francis, he did not allow a TLM in Buenos Aires, NOT his country. He had no control over someone else’s Diocese.

    Thank you for your comment!!

    Please know that I am argentinian and live and write from this country.

    The links and pics are real. I can tell you for a fact that TLM is celebrated in those provinces, and probably more, though, as I mentioned, is not well known since most churches offer NO Mass solemnly celebrated.

    This is only one of a few links I know, that I thought would be useful when discussing this issue that another poster mentioned above. I do not think anyone would serioulsy try to fake a FB page on TLM in Argentina today.

    God willing I’m attending TLM come next sunday at Bellavista BA, about 30′ from whewre I live

    Here is another link a a procession carried out by a catholic group to the Basilica of our Lady of Lujan, Argentina’s most important Marian Shrine and Patroness.

    TLM was held at the end (see pics). (TW this group walked 100 kmts thru some rough terrain as you can see)

    THere is also another larger processsion to the same place every year, that in 2013 gathered 2.5 million people doing the walk (walking the highway this time)

    Finally you mentioned Bergoglio did not have command over the rest of Argentina, correct me if I’m wrong, but as Cardinal Primate I believe he did (and some influence too?).

    He never banned TLM here in BA or anywhere else. I recall back when BXVI’s MP went into effect, 48 hs after , TLM was said in two Churches in BA after a long time. I also remember he had a hard time finding priests who knew the TLM in full-. Eventually he found 2, Fr. Dotto if I recall and another priest. I believe Fr. Z. run a piece on that after Francis’s election.

    If he wanted to do so, I believe it would not be much of a problem for him to do it now? Yet, it is alive and well.

    Thank you again and God bless!

  42. StWinefride says:

    Gabriel Syme says: They provide a legitimate Catholic mass

    From what I understand, their Masses are not legitimate because they are illicit. Valid but illicit.

    In his letter to the Bishops on the lifting of the excommunications of the SSPX Bishops, Pope Benedict XVI said:

    In order to make this clear once again: until the doctrinal questions are clarified, the Society has no canonical status in the Church, and its ministers – even though they have been freed of the ecclesiastical penalty – do not legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church.

    Please, if anyone has a local or reasonably local Diocesan TLM where the Mass is valid and licit, where the Priests have full faculties from the Bishop, please go there, help build a community and support the Diocesan Priest. Our Priest is so happy to have discovered the TLM – he thanked us for having asked him to learn it and say it for us.

    I have nothing against the SSPX, I used to go myself but I left because I didn’t like the “schismatic attitude” that I picked up on, both from the Priests and some of the laity and actually felt that it was not good for my faith or prayer life.

    Pope Benedict XVI gave us a great gift: Summorum Pontificum

    Deo Gratias!

  43. StWinefride says:

    Sorry, I forgot to mention the FSSP, ICKSP and others in addition to the Diocesan TLM.

  44. Gerard Plourde says:

    @ paulbailes

    I’m confused by your comment. The point I was making was that the Diocesan Bishop has full authority to regulate the liturgies in his diocese. Prior to the promulgation of “Summum Pontificum”, celebration of the the Extraordinary Form was permitted but not mandated. That’s why I included the example of Cardinal Krol and his suppression of the Saturday vigil Mass prior to the promulgation of the Canon Law of 1983. To imply that Bishop Cupich acted illegally is not correct.

  45. paulbailes says:

    Dear Gerard Plourde

    I am disputing your contention that “the Diocesan Bishop has full authority to regulate the liturgies in his diocese”, on grounds as follows:
    (1) as you acknowledge, Cdl. Krol’s authority to forbid the Saturday vigil mass was overridden by the 1983 Code
    (2) Quo Primum (never abrogated) confers unrestricted permission on priests (presumably Latin rite) to say the TLM.


    Regards, Paul

    PS your “Prior to the promulgation of “Summum Pontificum”, celebration of the the Extraordinary Form was permitted but not mandated” seems strange, on grounds as follows:
    (1) SP had nothing to do with *mandating* the TLM, rather admitting that Quo Primum remained in force;
    (2) prior to SP, the story from Rome was that the TLM was permitted only under certain circumstances (again which SP admitted was actually not so).

  46. Legisperitus says:

    Unless it were a danger-of-death situation, I wouldn’t personally seek absolution from a SSPX priest because of the chance that it would be invalid.

    But even that is complicated. Bishop Fellay reported in 2010 (and I doubt he would risk his reputation by lying about this) that occasionally SSPX confessors will encounter a grave sin with absolution reserved to the Holy See, and when the priests write to Rome they are invariably permitted to give the absolution. The Holy See doesn’t refuse them on jurisdictional grounds.

  47. jservorum says:

    For the life of me I can’t imagine this happening, at least in this way, or at this time, or with Pope Francis.
    Have stranger things happened? Perhaps, but perhaps not.

  48. Jimbo says:

    My understanding- the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass climaxes when Heaven meets earth and God in all His Glory is present…My eyes fail me in my witness of this miracle. If the Church has approved a Liturgy for the Mass, I find it hard to believe anyone would encourage or wish someone yawn during a Church approved Liturgy (or invitation of God to our presence). I was exposed to this group and realize you cant pick and choose what to accept! That is why I left. If the Catholic Church has approved a Liturgy then I guess its “bound on earth” regardless who likes it (English or Latin). If the Church disapproves and says its invalid… I suppose we can yawn away. I hope I remain in good standing with the Church. Please correct me if i am wrong. Thank you Fr Z, thank you for your service to the Mystical Body of Christ.

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