ASK FATHER: How to record SSPX sacraments in regular sacramental registers?

From a priest…


We have a woman who was baptized in an SSPX Parish [not a parish… just some sort of chapel]. She attends Mass there. She recognizes that the SSPX lacks the jurisdiction for a Catholic Marriage. [Exactly, they don’t act as a witness for the Church, which results in lack of proper form.] She has approached the local parish in the Diocese about getting married there.  [Good for her!]

Is she in need of making an act of faith prior to the marriage?

Where should such a marriage, that takes place in the diocesan parish, be recorded? It isn’t as if she is being received in to the Church.

The SSPX is not in formal schism.  Therefore, she would not need to make a Profession of Faith.  She is Catholic, albeit in an irregular situation.

I strongly urge this thoughtful lady to make a good confession to a priest with faculties, if she’s been going to confession to an SSPX priest over the years.  They don’t have faculties to receive sacramental confessions and therefore they do not absolve validly under normal circumstances (but they do in danger of death).

Record keeping.  That’s a puzzle.  Here’s a solution, the best I know so far.

SSPX chapels are located within the boundaries of a real parish associated with local diocese.  All the baptisms and 1st Communions and confirmations that take place irregularly within the boundaries of the diocesan parish are the “property”, so to speak, of the local diocesan parish.   Therefore, I suppose you would send a note to the parish whose boundaries include that SSPX chapel.  Include all the information you can gather.

Ideally, we could go to the SSPX chapel and take possession of their sacramental record books, because those valid Catholic sacraments took place, not in the SSPX chapel, but truly in the Latin Catholic parish.  So, when news came down of a marriage for someone who had been baptized at St. Athanasius the Long Suffering Chapel of District 529 of the SSPX a record would be written into the register at Our Lady Queen of Holy Popes Catholic Church recording as much information as could be gleaned.  Thereafter, all the people in question, receiving sacraments, should be told that all sacramental records should be asked for from OLQHP, and any future notations should be sent there.

I look forward to the day when these things are resolved.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Father Z,

    Given the many thousand invalid marriages between Catholics having recourse to the SSPX for the sacraments, and the tens of thousands of illegitimate children they are generating, you think it would be charitable for someone with actual authority to speak on this question to declare this to be the case.

    I look forward to the day when, instead of having to rely on the opinion of Internet commentators with no authority whatsoever to resolve the question, I can read where the relevant Roman authorities actually say that SSPX marriages are presumptively invalid, instead of doing crazy things like directing African bishops to record SSPX marriages of couples in the official registers. It’s almost like they want those poor fornicators to keep living in sin.

    [And so, ladies and gents, the nasty side of the traditional end of the spectrum, just as nasty as most of the liberal end.]

  2. Andrew D says:

    Father Z if I may ask, in the SSPX chapels of today, is the consecration considered valid [Without question, yes, it is valid.] and therefore, is it a sin to receive communion in one of their chapels? [It depends on the circumstances. If a person is receiving Communion there in defiance or protest against Holy Catholic Church, the local church, bishop, etc. Then it could indeed be a sin. If through constant participation in such a chapel one is knowingly weakening bonds with the local church, I would say so. I don’t recommend reception of Communion at a chapel that is not fully in communion with the local bishop. I don’t recommend it and I don’t say it is forbidden.] I have not been to a SSPX chapel but I am fearful that if present trends continue, we may see the Traditional Latin Mass shut down in our diocesan parishes. Going back to the Novus Ordo will be very, very difficult but if its what we must do to avoid sin, so be it. [WORK WORK WORK!]

  3. Legisperitus says:

    May I alternatively suggest contacting the territorial parish where she resides, rather than where the SSPX chapel is situated?

    When the FSSP chaplaincy I belong to was established, our chaplain gave notice of our families’ registrations to the pastors of the parishes we live in, since we may need to have recourse to them in a sacramental emergency.

  4. Netmilsmom says:

    The Neo-Catholic in the first comment is not very charitable.
    The problem with Catholics today is that they are looking for the loophole, on both ends of the spectrum. The Neo-Catholics want to find a way to live in their sin, the Traditionalists want to find a way to live in theirs.
    Until the Vatican comes out with CLEAR teachings about the SSPX, Father is right, those who rationalize their SSPX attendance with the confusing teachings from the Vatican, should be brought back to full communion to the best of our abilities. They are not evil, just desperate. I’m not SSPX, but having been in “Innovation Central” I can see how they could be led astray and pray for them.

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