Italian bishop forbids people to receive sacraments from SSPX

At L’Espresso I saw this, in Italian:

Pope Francis forbids Lefevbrite priests from saying Mass
The follows of the ultra traditionalist French bishop, already excommunicated, are now in Bergoglio’s crosshairs. Through one of his most faithful men he has forbidden them to celebrate Mass and administrate the sacraments. Whoever follows them risks excommunication.

In essence the article says that “new beatings with a stick” have come from “pastor of mercy and forgiveness”.

The Bishop of Albano, Marcello Semeraro, has forbidden the SSPX priests – who have their Italian HQ in Albano, a stone’s throw from Castel Gandolfo and two stone throws from Rome – from administering the sacraments. He also forbade the faithful from receiving the sacraments from the SSPX priests saying that they run the risk of excommunication. This was issued in the form of a notification signed by Bp. Semeraro, who happens to be the secretary of the Gang of Nine assembled by Pope Francis… Cards. Marx, O’Malley, Rodriguez Maradiaga, etc.

The notification was apparently published in no less than the official daily of the Italian Bishops Conference, Avvenire. It seems that he had received numerous requests about the celebration of sacraments by the SSPX. He wrote that “it isn’t an institution… of the Catholic Church”.

The article mentions that the SSPX has 15000 followers in Italy. Given the state of the Church in some places, that’s not nothing.

I didn’t find the Notification in the online version of Avvenire, but that’s no surprise.  It would be interesting to see the actual wording. Did Bp. Semararo raise the specter of excommunication for Catholics in the Diocese of Albano who seek sacraments from the SSPX?

Just lately the Prefect of the CDF, Card. Muller, had a meeting with SSPX leadership which seemed to betoken something positive. This is more than a little chilling, don’t you think?

It also seems as if there is a lack of coordination or of vision on this topic, indeed, a lack of guidance.


An alert priest reader sent a link to a PDF at the site of the CEI.  HERE

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  1. Elizabeth D says:

    The SSPX priests are all suspended. Not one of them licitly exercises any ministry in the Church. Isn’t EVERY suspended priest directed not to administer the Sacraments (and informed he has no faculties and cannot validly administer Penance or Matrimony)? Are not ALL of the Faithful directed not to approach suspended priests for the Sacraments? Excommunication, that is another matter.

    [There are the cases of danger of death and when people are physically or morally impeded from approaching a regular priest for the sacraments. These are rare occasions. The timing of this is what is most bothersome.]

  2. brhenry says:

    Perhaps the Holy Father is more conservative than most traditionalists?
    I recall a very conservative Bishop from Nebraska who excommunicated the
    SSPX and their adherents in the 1990’s. I understand that the Bishop’s successor has
    confirmed that the excommunications remain in effect.

  3. BenYachov says:

    How is the Bishop not right to do this? Either the SSPX can get off it’s duff and return to full communion with the Church or these individual Priests who belong to the SSPX can join the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter.

    The SSPX has been courted to return to the Church since the reign of Pope St John Paul II. They have dragged their feet long enough. Their Priests have no lawful faculties to say Mass or hear confessions.

    The Priest who married my Parents fell in love with a Women. Because he was a faithful Catholic & wanted to love the woman lawfully he resigned from the active Priesthood and was return to the lay state. He was also dispensed from his vows so he married the woman in the church.

    Apart from what Church Laws allows in the cases of Emergency for Priests without faculties to dispense sacraments does this Priest who married my parents & who now lives lawfully as a layman have the right to consecrate hosts and give out sacraments? Does it make it alright if he does it using the St. Pius V Mass?

    I think not. [And I think it is a stretch to compare the situations.]

    If he did would it not be plausibly schismatic for me to receive sacraments from him? [I don’t know what “plausibly schismatic” is.]

    [The bishop surely has the right to issue this notification. He doesn’t say in it anything that isn’t already known. I find the timing to be… thought provoking.]

  4. rtjl says:

    The timing is bothersome. Following on the heels of the recent synod and looking forward to next year’s synod it’s hard not to think of this as a deliberately timed warning to tradition minded Catholics. “Don’t even think of anything even remotely looking like schism or of finding common cause with, or of taking refuge among, other traditionalists already in schism.”

  5. iPadre says:

    They probably could care less about this decree. They have been administering the Sacraments for years without permission. But, I would think it would be better to administer them honey. It’s easier to swallow than vinegar.

  6. Imrahil says:

    Generally, they are suspended priests, i. e. – as the vitandus procedure is currently in disuse, and at any rate not invoked against them – tolerated suspended priests. Which means, according to the old textbooks, that they can be approached for the Sacraments for any just reason, and that they can celebrate them without sin, to be silent of penalties, if so approached. “Discouragement” may be a different issue.

    Also, not obeying is not schism, even if the thing in question is canonical structure.

    (I’m not speaking of the more difficult cases of Penance and Matrimony here.)

    A ban under pain of excommunication would thus mark a significant change in fact.

    In addition, it would be somewhat illogical if they are themselves not punished, at least not with excommunication, but the faithful approaching them are.

    In further addition, it would seem that such a notification without the clear juridic word “excommunication” would be awkward even from a technical standpoint.

    And then still… if you’ve brought yourself into excommunication, the thing to do is repent, Confess, and get the excommunication lifted. In some case the matter may be a reserved one. Still, the idea of a “personal reconciliation process under the guidelines laid down by the Bishop”, where according to the implication the reconciliation may or may not be granted at the end, is foreign even to the realm of dealing with excommunicates.

  7. govmatt says:

    I’m no “Lefevbrite,” but it is interesting that traditionalism is starting to scare some folks in the innermost places in the Church.
    Perhaps the good bishop should look at why the faithful are going to SSPX for their spiritual needs rather than threatening them. Could it be that guitars, tambourines, hand-holding, “community, fellowship and worship” and who am I to judge really isn’t what the faithful are looking for when it comes to the fate of their immortal soul?

  8. Imrahil says:

    Rev’d dear Fr Z,

    with all due respect and whether or not the bishop should issue such a note, I disagree that

    He doesn’t say in it anything that isn’t already known.

    It used not to be considered a sin, to be silent of an act of breakaway from the Church, to receive the Sacraments from the SSPX, their canonical illicity nonwithstanding. (Which by coincidence is why I personally do receive Communion from them, sometimes.)

    If the bishop now forbids it under pain of excommunication, he is issuing something new. (And of course something valid for the diocese of Albano only, rumours of Papal support nonwithstanding.)

  9. The Astronomer says:

    The notification’s timing is problematic; as recent developments give the impression of a Carrot & Stick approach to traditional Catholics. Rather than give in to the temptation of how high up the ecclesial ladder this iron-fist in a velvet glove ‘mercy’ goes, given that the notification was signed by Bp. Semeraro, secretary of the Gang of Nine, let’s pray to Our Lady and St. Padre Pio for the grace to remain true to Our Lord Jesus Christ no matter what.

  10. SaintJude6 says:

    I just find this so sad. I know that it is mainly due to those who faced a lot of scorn and ridicule to keep the TLM alive that I am now able to experience it every week. And the timing can’t be coincidental. I’m not sure what the best outcome is for the SSPX: staying in an “irregular” situation or coming under the Vatican’s power, only to be crushed like the FFI and accept the new “pastoral” methods coming down the pipe. I try to buy books from the Angelus Press website to throw some business their way.

  11. LeeF says:

    I don’t know about timing being important, as things like this are often in the works for a long time before coming to light. Who knows. As for honey vs. vinegar, honey hasn’t worked. There seems to be too much internal discord with the SSPX for them to come to any agreement any time soon. And what happens when they decide they need another bishop? We know what, automatically applying excommunications of consecrating bishops again.

    The real rub here is that these Italian bishops are too short-sighted not to fight the SSPX with the best tool they have, which is the EF! Which means not only ceasing to complain about it (Fr. Z posted that they used up valuable short time on ad limina visits to complain about the EF), but also to positively encourage the EF. If that bishop asked 3 priests to start 3 new EF Masses in the diocese, I can’t help but think it would make a big impact and put a dent in SSPX attendance.

  12. JesusFreak84 says:

    The CONTENT of the message is in the category of, “I’m breathing air.” The TIMING, however, I agree is most troubling…

  13. Papabile says:

    The issue surrounding the Bishop Bruskewitz’s excommunication of members of the SSPX, was also wrapped up in a general list of groups he found that did not form part of the Catholic Church.

    He was a canonist. He warned each group the requisite number of times, then published extra synodal legislation warning all Catholics that after a date certain they would be under interdict if they remained in groups associated with the following:

    Planned Parenthood
    Society of Saint Pius X (Lefebvre Group)
    Hemlock Society
    Call to Action
    Call to Action Nebraska
    Saint Michael the Archangel Chapel
    Job’s Daughters
    Eastern Star
    Rainbow Girls
    Catholics for a Free Choice

    If they remained in and contumaciously persisted in those groups for one month following the interdict, they would be ipso facto excommunicated latae sententiae. Removal of such censure was reserved to the Bishop.

    Since this was done by actual extra synodal legislation, it effected actual excommunications. These excommunications were not based on the 1988 confirmation of Lefebvre’s et al. excommunications.

    My understanding is that more than a couple were appealed, and they were ultimately upheld all the way up the chain.

    This IS NOT the same as simply saying people are “excommunicated” by participation in such a group. I do not see any legislation or canonical references attached to this warning.

  14. Uxixu says:

    As Fr. Aulagnier told the Wanderer before he was expelled from the SSPX, the current generation has never known a normal ecclesiastical situation and the real risk is the hardening of the psychological schism into something more formal but already de facto.

    [Exactly what I have been arguing for many years now. That’s why strong efforts towards reconciliation must be made, on both sides, now.]

  15. dmwallace says:

    Unfortunately, this comes only two months after a highly publicized (i.e. via internet video) celebration of Mass in San Pietro in Vaticano by an SSPX priest, at the altar of Pius X no less. The Society’s own website said of the Mass:

    “In conjunction with the ongoing 100th anniversary of our patron, St. Pius X, it gives us immense joy to convey some recent news of an important event that occurred at his very tomb in St. Peter’s Basilica. On August 9th, a pilgrimage group from the SSPX’s chapel in Noisy-le-Grand, France, had the privilege of attending Mass offered by their chaplain, Fr. Michel Sivry, at the altar of St. Pius X. Not only has it been reported that this occurred with the prior knowledge and consent of the basilica’s ‘highest authority’, but a video team even filmed the event for the French District’s website,, where it may be watched.”

  16. Uxixu says:

    LeeF makes a great point. I heard with some… disappointment… that a parish priest in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles said he did not want the FSSP to celebrate the EF at his parish since he feared to lose parishioners to them now that they’ve been welcomed into the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

    It’s almost a tragedy that the ONLY way to avoid that very endpoint would be to not only allow the FSSP to demonstrate the Extraordinary Form as it should be done, but encourage celebration of the Extraordinary Form if not by himself by his associates in the parish and minister to those those of us who hunger for the traditional Latin Mass. I pray for this regularly as I know the FSSP would gladly help train them and those of us inclined to register with the FSSP might have to give second thoughts and help the EF proliferate in our parish.

  17. acardnal says:

    Perhaps the “Kasper doctrine” would be appropriate: “they are suspended but tolerated.”

  18. brianvzn says:

    This sounds very familiar to the 1993 Hawaii Six case in which then Cardinal Ratzinger intervened and instructed the bishop an excommunication would be illicit in a case like this.

    Im far from being an expert on Canon Law, but if an excommunication of the SSPX “followers” was illicit in that case, why would it be any different in this case?

    Thank you & God bless you all.

  19. Hank Igitur says:

    Liberal Italian clergy are scared that the few remaining Catholics practising in Italy will flock to the SSPX for orthodox Catholic teaching free of modernism. [I don’t think that most Italian bishops think like that.]

  20. Giuseppe says:

    LeeF is right on the money. Establish daily TLM in a few parishes in the diocese. Give it 1 year. Then take whatever actions you as bishop feel is necessary, including excommunicating anyone who goes to an SSPX Mass in that diocese. Invite any priest from the SSPX who is willing to come to a parish and celebrate daily TLM to join Rome and feed him the fatted calf with the brother priests in the diocese.

  21. The same letter by Benedict XVI to the Bishops of the Catholic Church of March 10, 2009 calls the people who receive sacraments from SSPX ministers “faithful” – which this Italian prelate obviously cannot comprehend.

    “Can we be totally indifferent about a community which has 491 priests, 215 seminarians, 6 seminaries, 88 schools, 2 university-level institutes, 117 religious brothers, 164 religious sisters and thousands of lay faithful?”

  22. pattif says:

    As you say, Father, the timing of this announcement is troubling, particularly in the light of the most recent signs of rapprochement between the SSPX and the CDF. I confess I’m struggling to see how the principle of ‘gradualism’, as articulated by the Synod, applies here.

  23. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    My apologies if this is a breath-takingly ignorant question, but, does SSPX conduct investigations of putative marriages and grant declarations of nullity, whether by tribunal or in any other way?

    (If so, it occurs to me someone could consider him/herself as being free to marry – and act upon that – after such a declaration, while (for example) the Bishop of Albano would consider such a person/persons as divorced and ‘remarried’. In any case, SSPX are being strongly discouraged from ‘accogliere’ such folk – among any and all others – and such folk from being so ‘welcomed’/’provided for’ – among any and all others.)

    Another possibly howlingly ignorant question: what is the exact scope of “partecipare all Massa”? For example, does it include mere presence?

  24. Through one of his most faithful men he has forbidden them to celebrate Mass and administrate the sacraments. Whoever follows them risks excommunication.

    What’s ‘excommunication’? I thought we welcomed everyone to the Table of the Lord these days.

    Perhaps the SSPX will be allowed to give Holy Communion to the divorced and remarried only?

    Or perhaps the divorced and remarried are allowed to give Holy Communion to the SSPX, but only if they’re also gay?

    We do live in interesting times.

  25. makreitzer says:

    Hey, if you can follow your conscience on contraception and abortion and receiving Communion when you’re in an invalid marriage and whether to live together before marriage, etc. ad nauseum — why not follow your conscience on whether or not to attend an SSPX parish? We’re talking gradualism here. Maybe the SSPXers will “gradually” return to full Communion with Rome.

    Unfortunately, when you sow confusion, you reap the whirlwind and I’d say we are living in a cyclone of confusion these days coming out of Rome and many dioceses especially in the U.S. (Although Germany could give us a run for our money.)

    Sr. Lucy talked about “diabolical disorientation.” I’m wondering if the current confusion in the Church fulfills that description.

  26. roma247 says:

    Let me start by saying I have grave concerns about the souls of those who insist on trying to fix the problem by going outside the Church. If we look at the essence of what LeFebvre’s followers are doing, can we really make the case that Martin Luther was wrong, and they are right? Their hearts may be in the right place, but if your solution involves defiant disobedience of the Church, you can act more Catholic than the Catholics, but you’re still a Protestant.

    And I say this with the utmost love for what they are TRYING to do…

    All that being said, I can’t help shaking my head at the disparity between this notification and the love songs we kept having to listen to over the past few weeks:

    (in your best Bob Dylan voice:)
    Oh yeah, we gotta luhhhhve one another!
    No rules gunnah work for me!
    I just wannuh be free to luhhhhhhhhve my brother!
    Even if it’s carnally!

    Them hardline conservatives are so full of hate!
    They don’t know how to luuuuhhhhhve!
    They judge everybody with their mean ol’ rules
    Jes’ coz they come from abuuuuhhhhhve!

    So if you “love” another man, or a woman you’re not sacramentally married to (switch genders if need be…), then the church ought to welcome you with open arms, without judging, but if you’re in love with the way the church USED to be before they changed it…

    No love songs for you. Conform or you’re outta here.


  27. Athelstan says:

    No question that a number of Italian bishops absolutely loathe the SSPX and traditionalism in general, especially many close to the Pope.

    But I can’t help but feel that this is a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing in the Holy See. Or, perhaps, the left hand eager to take steps to undermine the right hand. Factionalism is nothing new in the Vatican, though it is disturbing that it’s now developing a more serious theological edge. Mueller’s negotiations with Fellay didn’t stand a punter’s chance to begin with, but this new development will go down in Econe like Syrup of ipecac.

    Final note: I’m not SSPX and I don’t support their resistance to the authority of the Holy See. But I find it striking that a pontificate in which there is so much emphasis on mercy and welcome right now that such harsh measures are suddenly being doled out to one particular group.

  28. poohbear says:

    When will the same be said of sisters who escort women into abortion clinics?

  29. ssoldie says:

    “The floor of hell is paved with the skulls of bishops” St. Athanasius, Council of Nicaea, AD 325

    “The road to hell is paved with the skulls of erring priest, with bishops as their signposts”
    St. John Chrysostom

    I am and will remain a F. S.S.P.X. Roman Catholic.

  30. Gerard Plourde says:

    The conundrum presented by the Society of St. Pius X goes beyond the issue of the Usus Antiquior. There are elements within the movement who deny the validity of the Second Vatican Council and who entertain the notion of sedevecantism. While it can be debated which documents of the Council are to be considered pastoral versus which have the weight of doctrine, the overwhelming stance of the Society has been to claim that the Council was defective in toto and should thus be totally rejected. Similarly, the Society’s clear rejection of Papal authority places it in a very suspect position. The Society must significantly modify these positions if it is to have any place in the Catholic Church.

  31. Peregrinator says:

    Are not ALL of the Faithful directed not to approach suspended priests for the Sacraments?

    Are they?

    Fr. Z mentions danger of death. In fact, someone in danger of death can ask for the Sacraments from a suspended, excommunicated, or even laicized priest even if there is a priest in good standing available. (Can. 976, Can. 986 §2)

    Now I would think that the standard for approaching a suspended priest for the Sacraments would be a bit lower than the standard for approaching a laicized priest.

  32. Fr. Vincent Fitzpatrick says:

    Yes, there are all sort of technicalities, but it is OBVIOUS that “Rome” (whoever that is) is INFINITELY more bothered or threatened or offended by the Extraordinary Form, and traditionalist religious, and orthodox Cardinals (Burke), than by Nancy Pelosi, Andrew Cuomo, and their ilk in Europe and America, and the Cardinals and other bishops who snuggle with them and give them Communion.

  33. Mac_in_Alberta says:

    I think that such a move is long overdue. [Apparently you are against a Church that is welcoming and tolerant of different positions and people.]

  34. RJHighland says:

    This can’t be right, the SSPX was invited back to Rome for negotiations on reconcilation, he must not have got the memo. It’s all peace and love and happy thoughts now because the most wonderfullest, dreamyest pope ever is in charge. It’s more like, come hear boy, come on, come and get your treat. Once the dog comes to his loving master for the treat he is kicked and beaten to an inch of his life. Yeah I’m feeling the love. Satan has got to be just rolling on the floor of hell laughing his arse off right now. You wonder why the SSPX is gun shy with the Vatican. You ever wonder if Pope Benedict XVI ever pops down to the SSPX chapel in Albano for mass every once in a while, maybe that is what has the bishop all shook up. That would truly be a hoot. Pope Benedict XVI did lift the excommunications on the SSPX bishops and elevated the Cardinal that got the Synod back on track from way on in left field. Oh I miss you Pope Benedict XVI.

  35. jbpolhamus says:

    Do you know, I’m actually starting to think that the Freemasons inside the church are actually, if not perhaps on the run, actually rocked back on their heels! I really do. You know, when you put just a small dose of Frontline on a cat to kill fleas, the fleas get very agitated and start wiggling around on the cat, causing the cat to pick at itself irritably until the fleas actually start to die a horrible death from neuro-toxin induced paralysis. Modernist bishops are like that, too; like writhing, paralytic fleas, lashing out for all they’re worth as the neuro-toxin of Roman Orthodoxy begins to choke the life out of them for their sinful annoyance of an otherwise healthy cat. St. Philip Neri had a cat…his name was “Gatto Rosso” (Big Red Cat!), and even after he moved from San Giovanni dei Fiorentini to the Chiesa Nuova, he would send a couple of the fathers back to San Giovanni every day to feed the cat and look after him. St. Philip SEEMED to go off and leave Gatto Rosso, but in reality he was caring for him from a distance, so as not to disrupt his otherwise comfortable life. I think the relationship of the FSSPX to the flea/bishop-ridden church of the Modernists is very much like that. They are caring for it from a distance, while it scampers about irritably as the medicine of orthodoxy which they apply in small amounts but continuously, gradually takes its effect on the fleas.

    [Well…. hmmm….]

  36. EoinOBolguidhir says:

    One is reminded of the pronouncement of Malachi Martin regarding the SSPX: They are a chicken bone caught in their throats, that they can’t swallow down and they can’t cough up.

    This week it seemed like they would swallow them down (no capitulation required), and then to cough them up ( excommunication.)

  37. StWinefride says:

    ssoldie says: “The floor of hell is paved with the skulls of bishops” St. Athanasius, Council of Nicaea, AD 325

    Perhaps also the skull of Mons. Lefebvre – although I sincerely hope not.

    Looking at the first few paragraphs of Ecclesia Dei, one reads (my emphases):

    1. With great affliction the Church has learned of the unlawful episcopal ordination conferred on 30 June last by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, which has frustrated all the efforts made during the previous years to ensure the full communion with the Church of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X founded by the same Mons. Lefebvre. These efforts, especially intense during recent months, in which the Apostolic See has shown comprehension to the limits of the possible, were all to no avail.(1)

    2. This affliction was particularly felt by the Successor Peter to whom in the first place pertains the guardianship of the unity of the Church,(2) even though the number of persons directly involved in these events might be few. For every person is loved by God on his own account and has been redeemed by the blood of Christ shed on the Cross for the salvation of all.

    The particular circumstances, both objective and subjective in which Archbishop Lefebvre acted, provide everyone with an occasion for profound reflection and for a renewed pledge of fidelity to Christ and to his Church.

    3. In itself, this act was one of disobedience to the Roman Pontiff in a very grave matter and of supreme importance for the unity of the church, such as is the ordination of bishops whereby the apostolic succession is sacramentally perpetuated. Hence such disobedience – which implies in practice the rejection of the Roman primacy – constitutes a schismatic act….

    Mons. Lefebvre consecrated 3 bishops in June 1988 and he died in March 1991 – that is nearly 3 years – could he not have carried on negotiating with Rome during those years? I really don’t understand why he felt the need to consecrate Bishops without papal mandate in 1988.

    Ubi Petrus Ibi Ecclesia”

    Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.

  38. Fr. Pius, OP says:

    I do not understand all this fuss. This is not new. See Msgr. Perl’s letter from 1995:

    To quote the most relevant paragraph: “The Masses they [SSPX] celebrate are also valid, but it is considered morally illicit for the faithful to participate in these Masses unless they are physically or morally impeded from participating in a Mass celebrated by a Catholic priest in good standing (cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 844.2). The fact of not being able to assist at the celebration of the so-called “Tridentine” Mass is not considered a sufficient motive for attending such Masses.”

    The Bishops have a moral obligation to remind the people that the SSPX is not in full communion with the Church, even if the decrees of excommunication have been rescinded.

    I will say that the Italian Bishops should have at least mentioned the possibility of communicatio in sacris. That is covered by Can. 844 §2 (as Msgr. Perl rightly noted in his 1995 letter), which says, “Whenever necessity requires it or true spiritual advantage suggests it, and provided that danger of error or of indifferentism is avoided, the Christian faithful for whom it is physically or morally impossible to approach a Catholic minister are permitted to receive the sacraments of penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick from non-Catholic ministers in whose Churches these sacraments are valid.”

    The letter from the Bishops cannot change this aspect of universal law. Nonetheless, it is not an open door for Catholics to frequent SSPX chapels.

    [The “fuss” is about the timing. Also, keep in mind that the faithful DO fulfill their Sunday obligation by attending Mass at an SSPX chapel, though they are strongly urged not to receive Communion.]

  39. StWinefride says:

    Father Z, here is another letter from Msgr. Camille Perl:

    While it is true that participation in the Mass at the chapels of the Society of St. Pius X does not of itself constitute “formal adherence to the schism”, such adherence can come about over a period of time as one slowly imbibes a schismatic mentality which separates itself from the teaching of the Supreme Pontiff and the entire Catholic Church classically exemplified in A Rome and Econe Handbook which states in response to question 14 that the SSPX defends the traditional catechisms and therefore the Old Mass, and so attacks the Novus Ordo, the Second Vatican Council and the New Catechism, all of which more or less undermine our unchangeable Catholic faith.

    It is precisely because of this schismatic mentality that this Pontifical Commission has consistently discouraged the faithful from attending Masses celebrated under the aegis of the Society of St. Pius X.

    I once attended an SSPX chapel and I left for the above reason. It is better to attend and support a local Diocesan TLM or FSSP, ICKSP… In my own Diocese, the presence of the SSPX has caused division and has harmed the unity of the Traditional community – very sad and painful.

    “Ubi Petrus Ibi Ecclesia”

    [I am glad you have the opportunity to do that. Many don’t.]

  40. Fr. Pius, OP says:

    Timing is a matter of prudence, and we can recognize some legitimate disagreement among points of view there. And it’s not as if they are promulgating something new, but rather reminding the faithful of what the Church has been saying for some time now.

    And our following of Christ should not be limited to the question of fulfilling the Sunday duty. As Msgr. Perl said back in 1995: “While it is true that the participation in the Mass and sacraments at the chapels of the Society of St. Pius X does not of itself constitute “formal adherence to the schism”, such adherence can come about over a period of time as one slowly imbibes a mentality which separates itself from the magisterium of the Supreme Pontiff.” [I might have been the one who wrote the English of the letter you just quoted.]

    Even if attendance of an SSPX Mass is valid, [Attendance is not “valid”. It is licit or illicit.] their refusal to fully submit to the Roman Pontiff presents for the faithful a nearer and nearer occasion of sin. [Or… maybe it doesn’t. I’m not psychic. For some maybe it does, for others, not so much.]

    I do agree that there should be greater even handedness with regards to groups within the Church that are de facto schismatic or heretical. But the lack of equitable treatment by those in authority is not an excuse to continue in illicit or immoral behavior. [I wonder: Do you have any personal experience in this field? With these people?]

  41. Lili of the fields says:

    We live in very confusing times…I thought there was some dialogue to receive the SSPX back into the fold… And what about mercy, and pastoral charity? If I understand well: be an unrepentant sinner, an openly defiant non-practicing catholic and the Church will bend backward to accommodate your whims, even to the point of calling a special synod; if you are attached to the Catholic tradition, want to kneel to receive communion or just kneel after receiving communion, if you want to go to confession more than once in a blue moon: you get the boot. Troubling times indeed.

  42. oblate says:

    a plot thickens.

  43. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    It makes me very sad that the SSPX seems to be the only group the Church uses “anathemas” and the bugaboo “excommunication” language anymore.

    Sodomy used to cry to heaven for retribution, but who are we now to judge because even gay couples have elements of stability, mutual care, and other worthy traits Catholics need to welcome and value. Heresy, who are we to judge because even separated brethren have elements of sanctification and some of the Sacraments and God works for their salvation as well. Adulterers, who are we to judge because like gays they love eachother and they mutually support children and really the first spouse was a big jerk and why should a jerk get to ruin the spouse’s happiness? Nuns and clergy who support abortion, well we don’t really like that but there’s a place at the Lord’s table for them too. There is so so so so much mercy and non-judgmentalism from our God of Surprises.

    It is truly unclear and to me why sodomites, heretics, adulterers, and a large variety of other public unrepentant sinners receive honeyed bread and mercy and surprises for Christmas, but the traditionalists receive blocks of coal in the form of excommunication decrees and anathemas.

    Why does the hierarchy only sound like the harsh tolerate no error episcopate when the error is ultratraditionalism?

    I have never been to an SSPX chapel, never spoken with an SSPX priest, nor have any contacts with the SSPX laity, so I have no dog in the fight in defending them.

    But the schizophrenic response by the episcopate of mercy/toleration/surprises toward the SSPX is truly puzzling and disturbing to me. That “Lefebvre” is a bad word but sodomy or heresy or adultery isn’t a bad word is truly puzzling and disturbing to me. That the only public excommunications I can think of in the last 25 years have been toward traditionalists while princes of the Church like Kasper et al publicly promote the good fruit of adultery or sodomy and scandalize the entire world and this goes unpunished, this is also truly puzzling and disturbing to me.

    It all brings me great sadness.

  44. RJHighland says:

    St. Winefrede, That letter is wonderful Vatican speak but have you studied the events leading up to that. By the late 1980’s Arch Bishop Lefebvre was in his 80’s and realized for the society to grow and maintain it’s orthodoxy it would need new leaders to take his place. He requested the permission to elevate bishops for several years directly to St. John Paul II but they never came, take into consideration the FSSP who came out of the SSPX in 1988 still do not have bishops. Now why was Rome waiting, I say they were waiting for Archbishop Lefevbre to die and then crush the Society ie. like the Friars of the Immaculate. Archbishop Lefebvre elevated Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Alfonso de Galarreta, and Richard Williamson. I have personally met and spoken with Bishops Fellay, Tissier de Mallerias and de Galarreta all humble holy men, I would put them up against any in the Roman hierarchy. Williamson went off the rails sadly. But three out of four solid bishops selected by Archbishop Lefebvre to continue his work is pretty good looking a the records of recent Popes it is outstanding. If 75% of bishops elevated by John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI where orthodox we wouldn’t be in this situation. Considing St. John Paul II elevated Bernardin, Mahoney, Kasper, Weakland, and so many more Cardinals and bishops that have inflicted so much damage on Holy Mother Church I think Archbishop is doing alright. Could you imagine any one of those Cardinals or bishops elevated by St. John Paul being put in charge of the SSPX. My wish would be for the FSSP and the SSPX to work together better than they are I think bishops like to put them against each other when we are on the same team and have the same goals. Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunications on the Bishops that was put on them by St. John Paul, so lets see what happens. I firmly believe the SSPX are like the Special Forces of the Catholic Church as long as the SSPX is out in the brush the Vatican can not bring the hammer down on the FSSP. That is why the Vatican keeps trying to loure them in and do the bate and switch. By the way how are things going over at the Friars of the Immaculate, they tried to work inside the system to develope holy priests and brothers in the traditional rite of the Church. Are there issues inside the SSPX people with sedevacantist leanings yea sure there are and those battles are fought with prayer and guidance but considering how they have been treated by the Church for 40 yrs. for simply developing priests the way they were prior to Vatican II one tends to get defensive and guarded. Look at any SSPX seminary and compare the caliber of the men to those in a post Vatican II seminary. You tell me who is doing a better job of screening. It wasn’t until Pope Benedict XVI put his foot down on accepting sodomites that you started seeing an improvement in Catholic seminaries. The sodomites were running the seminaries during St. John Paul’s rein, just ask Fr. Z I’m sure he will say the same thing so many good men who left the seminary have told me is going on in American seminaries. It’s better now but we are not nearly there yet. So when your priest of questionable masqualinity starts preaching questionable theology ask yourself in which seminary was he developed and what side of the fence is he on. Remember Jesus was a 1st century construction worker and most of the Apostles were fishermen, these were not girly men no matter how DiVinci wants to depict them. I imagine St. John the Evangelist wanted to have a word with DiVinci when he stood before the Judgement Seat.

  45. robtbrown says:

    Fr Pius OP says,

    The fact of not being able to assist at the celebration of the so-called “Tridentine” Mass is not considered a sufficient motive for attending such Masses.”

    Is not considered a sufficient motive by whom?

    Acknowledging the irregular relationship of the SSPX with Rome and assuming that Abp Forte was the author of the offending (and offensive) phrases (1) in the prelim draft of the relatio, I propose the following:

    Someone has the choice of attending Sunday mass said in Italian by Abp Forte or one said by the SSPX.

    How can the former, said by someone not in Communion with the Pope (cf Catechism), be preferred over the latter? Further, according to various documents of the Church, including Vat II, Latin is the liturgical language, which means that the people have a right to Latin liturgy–and the hierarchy has the obligation to provide it.

    (1) “accepting and valuing their sexual (i.e., homosexual) orientation” and “mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners”.

  46. acardnal says:

    ” . . .unless they are physically or morally impeded …”

    What does the Church mean by “morally impeded”?

  47. Lili of the fields says:

    Let me apologize for my previous comment which may sound a little bit harsh toward the people who struggle with their life. But traditionalists also struggle some of the times and I find difficult to accept that the struggle of some may appear more important than others in the eyes of many bishops. Where is the pastoral charity?
    It is my experience as a very simple old lady that all these chicaneries within the Church have sad consequences in the parishes where people who are old fashioned in their faith are ostracized (sometime publicly) by the more modern priests and parishioners. Are we going to start pointing fingers at each others now? Much prayers are needed. Pope Francis should set the tone and call for patience and charity to both “camps” and excommunicate no one: if SSPX is dissident, well, right now so are the numerous Catholics that demand changes.

  48. TheAcolyte says:

    This “decree” is ironic considering that 2 SSPX bishops, Bishops Fellay and Tissier de Mallerais were allowed to publicly offer a Pontifical Mass at the Throne in the lower basilica of St. Pius X in Lourdes, France just a few days ago! This included the distribution of Holy Communion to hundreds of faithful as well.

    In fact, this has been going on for several years now in Lourdes with the SSPX, which the ecclesiastical authorities must be aware of – and yet have not attempted to put a stop to it (and are required to if indeed the SSPX’s clergy lack facilities, let alone endangering the faithful through a supposed schism).

    I think though, the bishop of Albano should read the case of the Hawaii Six, which clearly shows (from none other than the Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) that attending Mass offered by a priest of the SSPX is not a schismatic act.

    Of course, there are also the studies in the book, “Is Tradition Excommunicated?” which prove that no excommunication was incurred by any of the bishops during the 1988 Episcopal Consecrations, which were done out of a state of necessity and thus exonerated from any canonical penalty.

  49. Peregrinator says:

    I do not understand all this fuss. This is not new.

    It is certainly new to claim that those who receive Sacraments from the SSPX “de facto” (of course it must be de facto since it certainly isn’t de jure!) excommunicate themselves and that their “readmission to the Catholic Church must be preceded by an adequate personal path of reconciliation.” That, in addition to the “timing” already mentioned by Fr. Zuhlsdorf, is the reason for the “fuss.”

  50. Fr_Sotelo says:

    I am not surprised by the bishop of Albano’s warning and the conflicting message being sent about the SSPX. These days, there isn’t much coordinating of Vatican messages. Everyone wants to “hacer lío”, or make a mess.

  51. StWinefride says:

    RJHighland: yes I have read about the events leading up to the consecrations. One article in link below. Even if Pope John-Paul II’s words in Ecclesia Dei are “Vatican-speak” – the sentiments expressed are genuine.

    I hope and pray that the SSPX situation is resolved soon.

  52. RJHighland says:

    Stwinefride, Thanks for the link, it was a nice refresher it has been a few years since I ran through that. After actually watcing what has happened to the Friars of the Immaculate, Rome used the same methods on them that they used on the SSPX but Archbishop Lefebvre saw that it was Romes intent to squash the traditional developement and adherence to the TLM by its priests. The great point was that other bishops were upset because of the caliber of priests being drawn to the society when their seminaries were drying up. This about says it all “By 1976, [Lefebvre’s] society had come under open attack, particularly by certain members of the French episcopacy. Central to the complaint was the continued use of the old Roman liturgy in his canonically approved seminary now located at Ecône, Switzerland. That this same seminary was bulging at the seams with clean-cut young Frenchmen wearing cassocks, when the seminaries in France were depleted of all but a few seminarians now sporting blue-jeans and long hair in the anti-clerical mode of the day, did not help the widening gulf between the two sides.(28)” Sounds about right. Who was widening the gulf between the two sides the SSPX or Rome? The SSPX did not change anything the Church has taught or how priests were trained, so the gulf was being widened by the other bishops was it not? Those priests wearing blue-jeans and long hair are the bishops we are dealing with today!! I’m praying for the Church to get back on track and they are trending back in areas but they are not nearly their yet.

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  54. Rita_mar says:

    Does this statement only apply to the diocese of Albano? I attended an SSPX mass (not in Albano) one time, took Communion and went to Confession and had a conditional baptism…this was two or three years ago. I’ve never been back to an SSPX chapel and have no plans to, unless they regularise their situation with the Church.

    I had heard some things about the problems between SSPX and Rome, but I did not really understand the details. I certainly had no intention of separating myself from the Church by doing this. I haven’t somehow managed to excommunicate myself, have I?

    I don’t live in Albano (I’ve never been there).

    Sorry for the ignorance, but I have always found the situation between SSPX and the Vatican confusing.

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