ASK FATHER: During Year of Mercy can I go to SSPX Masses for my Sunday Obligation?

From a reader…

May I attend a Mass by an SSPX priest during the Year of Mercy to fulfill my Sunday obligation? What is the current status of their Mass and is it affected by the Year of Mercy declaration by Pope Francis on the SSPX?

Yes, attendance at a Mass by an SSPX priest can fulfill your Sunday Obligation… even before the Year of Mercy and also afterward. This is unaffected by Francis’ decision to grant (albeit indirectly) the faculty to priests of the SSPX to receive sacramental confessions and to absolve validly.

In order to absolve validly, a priest must have more than just his valid priesthood. He must have the Church’s permission to exercise the power to forgive sins because absolution involves the binding and loosing associated with the Power of the Keys, jurisdiction. That’s different from the priest’s ability validly to confect the Eucharist. The priest needs the Church’s permission to say Mass, but that permission is needed for liceity, not for validity. In the case of confession, the priest needs permission for both validity and liceity.

The Church’s Law (for the Latin Church) says that we fulfill our Sunday (and Holy Day) Obligation we must attend Holy Mass in a Catholic rite on the day itself or one it’s vigil.

Canon 1248 § 1 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law states:

The precept of participating in the Mass is satisfied by assistance at a Mass which is celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the holy day or on the evening of the preceding day.

That’s the law, plain and simple.

Some claim that you cannot fulfill your obligation at an SSPX chapel.  Unless there has been some kind of official statement to the contrary from the Holy See, they are wrong.  It has been the long-standing position of the Holy See that you do fulfill your obligation this way.

That said…

Unless you are for a serious reason prevented from attending Mass at a recognized chapel or church, I will not recommend that you attend regularly a chapel of a group that is not in clear union with the Roman Pontiff.

If you do attend occasionally, from the motive of experiencing the TLM (and not, for example, because you reject the Church’s teaching in some way), I will not recommend receiving Holy Communion, unless there is a serious reason why you cannot receive in a normal place clearly in union with the Holy Father and local bishop.  That is, in 99.9% of the place my readers are, pretty unlikely.

It would be permissible, our of justice, to make a small donation when the collection is taken up.

Furthermore, if that chapel is truly a chapel staffed by an actual priest of the SSPX, then you do fulfill your obligation on days of precept by attending Mass there on the day itself or on the evening before. However, there was a letter from the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” clarifying that attending Mass at some independent chapel associated with the SSPX but not actually under its aegis does not fulfill the obligation. More on that HERE.

Pray for an end of the division and the full reconciliation of the SSPX with the Roman Pontiff.

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39 Responses to ASK FATHER: During Year of Mercy can I go to SSPX Masses for my Sunday Obligation?

  1. thomas777 says:

    Thank you for this well-asked question and this very thorough answer. I am not sure of some of the language (confect = consubstantiation?), but I get the idea. This is the information I was looking for and I now understand the issue. Thank you again for the clear answer.

  2. Ann Malley says:

    “…Pray for an end of the division and the full reconciliation of the SSPX with the Roman Pontiff.”

    Of course we should pray for an end to this unnecessary division. And yet I do not understand at all your intimation that it is somehow ill advised to receive Holy Communion at what, for all intents and purposes, is a valid mass wherein one can satisfy one’s Sunday obligation.

    To put forward the idea that it is okay to attend an SSPX chapel just out of curiosity about the TLM, isn’t it counter purpose to advise one to put off the reception of Holy Communion because of pure curiosity?

    If the SSPX were a schism, I could understand your logic somewhat. But there is no schism, Father. Please, especially during this period of extended mercy wherein I’m certain there is a certain element of hoped for fence mending, let’s not avoid fence all together so as to miss the ‘legitimate’ opportunity provided. For prayers should be girded by action, no?

  3. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    It’s been a while since I looked at this issue, but I think the canon should be read as Fr. Z suggests. Here are two conflicting treatments by canonists: (1) CLSA Advisory Opinions, 1991-109 Provost, Sunday obligation is not satisfied at (SSPX) Tridentine liturgy; and (2) CLSA Advisory Opinions, 1991-106 Cuneo, Sunday obligation is satisfied at (SSPX) Tridentine liturgy. I don’t think these are on-line, btw.

  4. AmandaL says:

    The link at the end is not working.
    Thank you!

  5. Papabile says:

    If you do attend occasionally, from the motive of experiencing the TLM (and not, for example, because you reject the Church’s teaching in some way), I will not recommend receiving Holy Communion, unless there is a serious reason why you cannot receive in a normal place clearly in union with the Holy Father and local bishop. That is, in 99.9% of the place my readers are, pretty unlikely.

    First, by my background, I have known the SSPX closely for over 25 years. I grew up next to Ridgefield, CT where their seminary used to be. Second, I have attended their masses SEVEN times in my life. I received communion at none of them.

    With that said, and with respect Father, I find your argument above rather unconvincing. The Holy Father was pretty clear that he gave them faculties for confession for the benefit of the faithful.

    I don’t see where it says the benefit of those who only attend SSPX Masses.

    It would seem to me to be entirely cognitively dissonant to provide faculties to hear confessions for the benefit of the faithful while suggesting that it is somehow illogical to them to attend the Masses on a regular basis of those who have valid confessorial faculties.

    This is a mystery, like many things the Holy Father does.

    Meanwhile, Rome seemingly supports (not acquiesces) to the recognition of the Fraternity of the Apostles of Jesus and Mary (read SSPX) by the Argentinian Government. This was done with the Bishop of Buenoes Aires permission (Protocol N. 084/15), officially making it and Association of Diocesan Rite, and henceforth a “publicly juridical person”.

    Perhaps this is simply coating on the cake, and means nothing in canon law, but I find it amazing that this was done with the support of Rome, if it is effectively a lie.

    It just amazes me. I wonder what God actually thinks.

  6. Papabile says:

    And, while the SSPX seemingly have “deviated” from Rome over the finer points in the understanding of doctrine (religious liberty and ecumenism) and the liturgy, I find myself in the much more disturbing position that I believe that the Holy Father is taking us dangerously close to a denial the Deposit of Faith and Divine Positive Law with respect to the durability of marriage.

    I find myself looking at the SSPX in an entirely different light after a few years of this pontificate. And, while I will still attend a Mass in communion with my Bishop, I strangely find myself in more agreement with the SSPX than that which is coming out of the mouth of Peter.

    It is a mystery.

  7. LeeF says:

    What happens when the SSPX feel that they need another bishop?

  8. Elinor Dashwood says:

    “What happens when the SSPX feel that they need another bishop?”

    I wonder? I can’t say that I’m pleased by the present Holy Father’s activities, but they at least afford me the opportunity to demonstrate that the Catholic thing to do during a bad papacy is to hunker down, criticize, and strengthen one’s brethren, not to flounce off and start one’s own set of dioceses.

  9. Imrahil says:

    Assuming at least by hypothesis that we have convinced ourselves attending Mass is okay (I agree that one could have problems here – they are, after all, suspended) – I fail to see how receiving Holy Communion should add to the problem. (Provided you have validly Confessed your grave sins, fasted for an hour, etc.).

    They aren’t Eastern Orthodox, considering reception of Communion a statement to assent to their own Church implying a schism from the Catholic communion. What the SSPX does is nothing but an unlawful distribution of a sacrament of the Catholic Church (unlawful because forbidden by the canonical penalty of suspension). That is problematic as far as it goes, but it does mean that when we’ve received Eucharist spiritually by attending the likewise irregular Mass, we don’t do anything more by receiving Communion.

    And of course, dear Elinor Dashwood, I would not look down at the, if you will, formalities that the SSPX consistently speaks of “districts” with “district superiors”, “priories” with “priors” etc. and not of dioceses, of bishops of a region, or of parishes.

  10. Gerard Plourde says:

    Fr. Z includes two important caveats that must be present to allow attendance at a Mass celebrated by a priest of the Society of St. Pius X, namely unavailability of Mass in the Extraordinary Form in the diocese where the questioner resides and absence of an illicit ulterior motive, rejection of Church teaching (AKA “Cafeteria Catholicism”) being the most common.

    These two caveats indicate that the first issue that the questioner must address is the one Bishop Morlino posed in his letter to the faithful of the Diocese of Madison: What is the reason that you wish to attend a Mass celebrated by an illicitly (though validly) ordained priest whose institute is in a position of strained communion with the Universal Church as the result of an act of direct disobedience and defiance of a Papal command by the society’s founder and whose current leadership refuses to accept the validity of Conciliar documents to which the same founder assented? If the questioner is struggling in conscience with an aspect of the Church’s Magisterium (admittedly the reason could be the result of exposure to less than orthodox teaching in his home parish), then attendance at a Mass in a community that has no canonical status and a strained relationship with the Holy See could pose risk as a near occasion of sin, since it is unlikely that his doubt and confusion would decrease in that setting.

  11. Ann Malley says:

    …and yet the caveat of mere curiosity is mentioned as a legitimate motivation for attending the SSPX. That’s inconsistent and, frankly, wearing thin as the basis for canonical ‘disagreements’ becomes increasingly understood by resulting fruits. Ambiguity needs clarification.

  12. Ann Malley says:

    @Gerard:

    “…rejection of Church teaching (AKA “Cafeteria Catholicism”) being the most common.”

    The intimation that those who attend the SSPX are, most commonly, cafeteria Catholics is intellectually dishonest, Gerard, and increasingly laughable. Teaching must be clear and wholly Catholic and not represent a danger to the soul, friend. Sadly, those who strictly adhere to the loose ‘teaching’ of a varied interpretation of compromise formulas are often led away from that which is Catholic. That is why we’re in this mess today, friend, with Cardinal against Cardinal and Bishop against Bishop while all are supposedly in full communion.

  13. Ferde Rombola says:

    @papabile. You said, “And, while the SSPX seemingly have “deviated” from Rome over the finer points in the understanding of doctrine (religious liberty and ecumenism) and the liturgy….”

    Archbishop Lefebvre may have deviated from Rome over the documents you mentioned, he did not deviate from settled Church doctrine; Rome did. And they are not ‘minor points’. Here are a couple of excerpts from a book I’m writing, first regarding the Decree on Ecumenism:

    “Say again? The Catholic bishops of the Council are asking Protestants how their schema on ecumenism can be improved?? To whose liking? Are we on the same page? Did we agree on the definition of ‘ecumenism?’ Did we understand it to mean a return of all Christian sects to the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church? If we did not, we were not talking about ecumenism and did not need the input of those who had no interest in unifying Christianity under the Bishop of Rome. The Council was not in pursuit of the truth here. It was far more important to mollify Protestants.”

    The Decree deviated from settled doctrine by advocating dialogue with Protestants on a level playing field.

    Regarding the Doctrine on Religious Liberty:

    “[The Vatican II Fathers] continued with “All men are bound to seek the truth, especially in what concerns God and his Church….” They should have stopped right there, but again had to muff it by driving their ‘religious liberty’ paper completely off the rails, finishing the sentence with, “…and to embrace it and hold on to it as they come to know it.” (!)
    “…as they come to know it.”
    With those six words the Fathers of Vatican II surrendered their authority, as the Magisterium of the Church, to declare infallibly and universally, the Church’s teachings. What they did was validate the claimed right of every Protestant to print his own bible.”

    It is these, and other reasons that cause me to side with the SSPX in their commitment to Church doctrine. By all the evidence, Archbishop Lefebvre was right and Pope John Paul II, for all he has meant to the Church and to me, was wrong. The Church continues to suffer because of it. I pray the SSPX will soon be brought back into the bosom of Holy Mother Church so they can bring the Church back into the bosom of Holy Mother Church.

  14. Gerard Plourde says:

    Dear Ann,

    First, let me apologize for using the loaded term “Cafeteria Catholic”. I also agree that teaching must be clear, wholly Catholic and not represent a danger to the soul. It is precisely for this reason that Pope St. JohnPaul II authorized the creation and issuance of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. As regards your comment regarding bishops and cardinals – the Church has never taught that individual bishops (and we must remember that cardinals are bishops) possess any form of infallibility. That is reserved to the Pope in matters of faith and morals and to Councils of the Universal Church, subject to the same restriction.

    My reservation concerning the Society of St. Pius X stems from their reluctance to accept the documents of the Second Vatican Council to which their own founder assented as a participant in that council. Note that I am referring to the actual documents, not to any specific subsequent interpretation of them by theologians, bishops, parish priests, etc., some of which are indisputably heterodox. Coupled with the undeniable act of direct disobedience of a command of the Pope by Archbishop Lefebvre in the matter of the consecration of bishops, this ongoing reluctance to submit to Papal authority gives me pause.

    Finally, a claim to maintain orthodoxy while separated either fully or through strained relationship has proven in the past to be impossible. The example of the Old Catholic Churches that objected to the promulgation of the Doctrine of Infallibility at the First Vatican Council provides a cautionary tale. Many of these churches now hold heretical teachings concerning the Trinity, morality, and the role of the Church in God’s Plan of Salvation and regularly ordain women to the priesthood while maintaining that they are fully Catholic.

    Once a branch has amputated itself from the tree of the Church it deprives itself of the sustenance guaranteed by Our Lord. The theological mess of Protestantism provides a multiplicity of ready examples – from Evangelicals who believe in a non-Scriptural Rapture that spares believers from the chaos and strife of the End Times to Episcopal Bishops who deny the divinity of Our Lord. All of this because they removed themselves from the Barque of Peter.

  15. Ann Malley says:

    “…Once a branch has amputated itself from the tree of the Church it deprives itself of the sustenance guaranteed by Our Lord.”

    And yet, Gerard, you are presuming an amputation and disregarding the Canonical authority to act in case of necessity. (Could that not be defined as a form of picking and choosing that which one prefers?) You may ascribe that the actual documents of Vatican II are all that they should be, but time and the resulting rotted fruit, and written testimony and analysis, has proved otherwise.

    The reality is that novelty and ambiguity meant to pacify a rise and revolt of modernism at the time of VII, that which was previously condemned, has led to the flowering and fruiting of said modernism within Holy Mother Church. It is no sin to name the disease and it is no sin or Cafeteria practice to point out those dishes in the buffet which are visibly festering and poisoning a great many. Indeed, to do so is an act of charity. To do so with regard to guiding one’s children is a duty.

    With regard to Archbishop Lefebvre’s having signed the documents, I would posit that all of us are capable, and thank God that we are, of reassessing actions. I thank God that the good Archbishop reassessed his position and acted in accordance with necessity. (Just look at the individuals who surround the Pope now and think of where their hearts lay with regard to promoting Catholic Truth. Times change, Gerard, people and temptations do not.)

    And yet I am not glad out of the motive you ascribe, that of picking and choosing doctrine. I am glad because, as Holy Mother Church has foreseen, as evidenced by the Canons in place that one may act in case of necessity, the Archbishop understood that if he did not act to preserve Catholic tradition – Catholic clarity and priests to promote it – then that clarity would be obscured. This obfuscation is made manifest again in the undeniable fruits of chaos, Gerard, despite whether it gives you pause or not.

    So while your assertion of, “…Many of these churches now hold heretical teachings concerning the Trinity, morality, and the role of the Church in God’s Plan of Salvation and regularly ordain women to the priesthood while maintaining that they are fully Catholic,” may hold true in some circumstances, in this circumstance, it does not.

    Your argument is that of the fear monger for it is obvious that the rotten fruits of false ecumenism and false religious liberty are devastating our Catholic vineyard. Time for one and all to place their Faith firmly in God and do what He bids us to. Keep the Faith. All of it. Not maintain a false sense of obedience that would have us now double down on supposedly not wasting our efforts in converting our Jewish brethren for fear of political correctness. Really? You may proffer the notion that one builds up a tolerance to botulism by exposing oneself in slow measures by way of a tainted cafeteria, but I am not.

    Just like drugs. Some can handle it and get through the nightmare of experimentation or bad trips, but others are offed by just one taste. That is why this perpetuating the myth of blind acceptance, and I’m sorry if you find that offensive, is increasingly intolerable and counterproductive. Much like the fear mongering of asserting that one ‘could’ become a heretic while that which is heresy is ushered into the Church by way of an increasingly threadbare blanket.

  16. Ann Malley says:

    @Eleanor Dashwood:

    “….not to flounce off and start one’s own set of dioceses.”

    You may not want to flounce off and make accusations that are false. If not for Archbishop Lefebvre, there would be no FSSP and, pretty much, no one standing up for Catholic tradition and clarity. While you may not approve of the means used, you are certainly benefiting from the action taken.

    The old adage, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth comes to mind.

    For the constant ‘threat’ of an SSPX traditional Catholic parish gives rise to an FSSP offering to counter the evil baddies in diocese that all-too-often want no part of Catholic tradition at all. So hunker down and give thanks for all your benefactors, even those you may inadvertently disparage because they’re busy taking the hit for others.

  17. Papabile says:

    Rombola:

    Archbishop Lefebvre may have deviated from Rome over the documents you mentioned, he did not deviate from settled Church doctrine; Rome did.

    Perhaps you missed that the Archbishop actually signed those documents? I remember my father speaking to him about that very issue in 1984 and 1985 when he was in Ridgefield for ordinations. He was pretty clear that, if understood with the common understanding of the previous Magisterial documents, he had no problem with them.

    @papabile. You said, “And, while the SSPX seemingly have “deviated” from Rome over the finer points in the understanding of doctrine (religious liberty and ecumenism) and the liturgy….”

    Perhaps you missed my quotation marks around the word “deviated”? Perhaps you missed that I explicitly was not making that word mine? Perhaps you missed the whole point of my post?

    Perhaps you missed that I find Father’s argument, in this case, unconvincing.

    In point of fact, I will be in Ridgefield January 18-23 for the Men’s Retreat. I presume Pope Francis gave them faculties for the benefit of the faithful, and I intend to take it.

    The Decree deviated from settled doctrine by advocating dialogue with Protestants on a level playing field.

    Dialogue deviates from settled dotrine? The Fathers of Trent invited Protestants to PARTICIPATE in the Council of Trent in the 13th session.

    SAFE-CONDUCT GRANTED TO PROTESTANTS
    The sacred and holy, general Synod of Trent,-lawfully assembled in the Holy Ghost, the same Legate and Nuncios of the holy Apostolic See presiding therein,-grants, as far as regards the holy Synod itself, to all and each one throughout the whole of Germany, whether ecclesiastics or Seculars, of whatsoever degree, estate, condition, quality they be, who may wish to repair to this oecumenical and general Council, the public faith and full security, which they call a safe-conduct, with all and each of the necessary and suitable clauses and decrees, even though they ought to be expressed specifically and not in general terms, and which it is Its wish shall be considered as expressed, so as that they may and shall have it in their power in all liberty to confer, make proposals, and treat on those things which are to be treated of in the said Synod; to come freely and safely to the said oecumenical Council, and there remain and abide, and propose therein, as well in writing as by word of mouth, as many articles as to them shall seem good, and to confer and dispute, without any abuse or contumely, with the Fathers, or with those who may have been selected by the said holy Synod; as also to withdraw whensoever they shall think fit. It hath furthermore seemed good to the holy Synod, that if, for their greater liberty and security, they desire that certain judges be deputed on their behalf, in regard of crimes whether committed, or that may be committed, by them, they shall themselves nominate those who are favourable towards them, even though the said crimes should be ever so enormous and should savour of heresy.

    Now, has the Decree on Ecumenism been misinterpreted, and should it, perhaps, have never been written? I actually tend to think that, but evidently, Archbishop Lefebvre thought otherwise when he signed it.

  18. Ann Malley says:

    @Papabile:

    Glad you’re taking advantage. The Society gives a solid, Ignatian Retreat.

  19. Ferde Rombola says:

    Papabile, my citation of your remark was intended to introduce the topic, not to criticize you. I read your remarks about the current pope and agree with you.

    Yes, I am aware Abp. Lefebvre signed his assent to the documents (while holding his nose). I suspect it was done more to avoid a conflict than to agree to something with which he disagreed. When it became clear to him the conflict could not be avoided, he recanted his assent. Those two documents remain the principal points of departure between the SSPX and the Holy See.

    Protestants were given safe conduct to Trent because some of them feared for their lives should they venture across the Alps. They were invited to the Council to discuss Luther’s heresies and parenthetically anything else they wanted to discuss.

    ” So, Venerable Brethren, it is clear why this Apostolic See has never allowed its subjects to take part in the assemblies of non-Catholics: for the union of Christians can only be promoted by promoting the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it, for in the past they have unhappily left it. To the one true Church of Christ, we say, which is visible to all, and which is to remain, according to the will of its Author, exactly the same as He instituted it. During the lapse of centuries, the mystical Spouse of Christ has never been contaminated, nor can she ever in the future be contaminated, as Cyprian bears witness….”

    Pope Pius XI, “Mortalion Animos” 1928

    I’m sorry if I offended you.

  20. Elinor Dashwood says:

    I can’t consider disobedient bishops a blessing in any way at all, because we are pretty clearly warned not to do evil that good might come. I’m not a particular admirer of the Extraordinary Form in any case, but your argument that the Sanctimonious Society of Panicky X-Catholics promotes its spread into new dioceses is specious in any case. If that were so, it would fade out wherever a legitimate FSSP parish was established, and that is observably not the case. Catholics are expected to obey legitimate authority, not when they feel like it, but all the time. Part of legitimate authority is that one’s bishops are appointed by the Holy Father. There’s hardly a less Catholic thing it’s possible to do than start one’s own church and one’s own hierarchy.

  21. everett says:

    “You may not want to flounce off and make accusations that are false. If not for Archbishop Lefebvre, there would be no FSSP and, pretty much, no one standing up for Catholic tradition and clarity. While you may not approve of the means used, you are certainly benefiting from the action taken. ”

    You can’t know that. We don’t live in a world where you can go back and see what would’ve happened if Abp Lefebvre hadn’t done what he did. Perhaps he would’ve been able to work things out and all of the SSPX would’ve remained wholly within the Church, and FSSP would never have been necessary. Perhaps SSPX would’ve died out and FSSP would’ve formed as a result anyway. Just because God can bring good (FSSP existing) out of evil (disobedience), doesn’t mean that we should cheer the evil.

  22. Gerard Plourde says:

    Dear Ann,

    Before I attempt to address the issue of necessity that Archbishop Lefebvre invoked prior to committing his act of disobedience, the question arises whether my premise that you accept the authority of the Catechism of the Catholic Church promulgated by Pope St. John Paul II as a true guide to the Catholic Faith is accurate. It is not clear based on the content of your reply. If you have reservations about the authority of this source then your adherence to the Society of St. Pius X is based on a rejection of Church Teaching and must be recognized as such.

    This brings us to the question of necessity. As Bishop Morlino pointed out in his letter to the Diocese of Madison, there was no widespread recognition of a condition of necessity when Archbishop Lefebvre acted to consecrate bishops in defiance of Pope St. John Paul. The 1983 Code of Canon Law’s treatment of necessity does not negate the fact of violation but rather makes allowance for the reduction or abatement of punishment. However, abatement of the penalty exists only if the act was “not intrinsically evil or tended to the harm of souls” (c.1323:4) or a reduced penalty if the “delict is intrinsically evil or tends to the harm of souls” (c.1324, §1:5). A further factor to consider is the fact that the situation was not that the Pope was barring the consecration of bishops for service within the Society, but rather that the choice of priests to be elevated and the time of their elevation was reserved to the Holy See as it always has been. Finally, there is never a state of necessity to ordain contrary to the will of the Roman Pontiff. For Archbishop Lefebvre to unilaterally assume authority in all of these matters was an act of gross disobedience to the Vicar of Christ and the Successor to St.Peter and at all times would have resulted in a severe penalty up to and including the excommunication that did in fact result. His act was one defined in the Code of Canon Law as schism and, as such, laid the groundwork for debate whether the Society had, in fact, become schismatic. Since I have no authority to judge this matter, I will accept the findings of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that the Society has not crossed that line but it is undeniable that Archbishop Lefebvre did.

  23. zama202 says:

    The Holy Father has given us a wonderful opportunity in this year of Mercy, to get to know the Society of St. Pius X personally. Lets take advantage of that opportunity whenever possible.

    Perhaps His Holiness realizes how much we will need the SSPX in the near future.

    Charles

  24. liquidpaw says:

    They’ll consecrate one. It’s pretty clear with what’s going on now the state of necessity is even greater than it was in Archbishop Lefebvr’s time. Sorry, can’t keep silent on this one.

  25. rmichaelj says:

    Point 1. Disobedience is not an intrinsical evil. I understand your point of view that this particular act of disobedience was evil, but in the SSPX’s judgement it was not-making your arguement unlikely to be convincing to anyone who is sympathetic to why the SSPX disobeyed.

    Point 2. Name calling lessens the dignity and credibility of the caller, not the target. While I’m not a regular attendee of an SSPX chapel, I have met many of them and two of the priests- the persona they expressed was quite the opposite of your mischaracterisation.

    Point 3. It is not unusual for a family to attend and support both an FSSP and an SSPX chapel. Do you really think a family would abandon a chapel who provided what they saw as (and may have well been) a refuge when an FSSP parish opens nearby.

    Point 4. It is demonstrably false that the SSPX have set up a new Church or Hierarchy. They have been very careful not to do so. In answer to those who suggest that the SSPX will “go off the rails” like the Old Catholics, does the fact that they haven’t strayed from their original intent, even to the point of removing members who have strayed, not impress upon you that they are different from these other groups?

    Point 5. Unfortunately I have seen and heard and read of many, many things which Bishops who remain in good standing have done which are much less “Catholic” then the disobedience of the society. This is one and probably the main reason many families flee to the Society. Your arguments will fall lightly on the ears of a father or mother who believe (correctly or not) that they are fulfilling the duty of protecting their childrens souls. If the fruit of the changes in the Church over the last 45 years had not been so rotten-the SSPX would have withered away.

  26. rmichaelj says:

    I agree, and would remind everyone that while often treated as such, the members of the SSPX and attendees of their chapels are not lepers. Even if they were, Our Lord and Savior had a soft spot for lepers. These are good people doing the best they can in what everyone should admit is a confusing time. Get to know them, and share in the good work that they do, instead of shouting “Unclean, unclean!” and adding to the division.

  27. Gerard Plourde says:

    Dear rmichaelj,

    I’m not certain which of your points are directed toward me and which may be directed to other commenters. I will try to make my position clear.

    Point 1: With respect to the issue of necessity, I agree that members of the Society would not be convinced of the argument that no condition of necessity existed. The point of departure is that the Society believes that the judgment of the Archbishop Lefebvre is dispositive. This is not the case. It is indisputable that the selection of those to be elevated to be successors to the apostles and the timing of their consecration is a prerogative reserved to the Holy See. While the conclusion is unpalatable to members of the Society and those sympathetic to the Society, it is nevertheless true that Archbishop Lefebvre’s deliberate act in defiance of the Pope was one that would have produced the same result in the pre-conciliar Church.

    Point 2: If your reference to name-calling is directed at my use of the term “Cafeteria Catholic” you will note that I have apologized for it above. I’m not sure what you refer to as mischaracterizations of the Society’s position. If you mean the examples I gave of beliefs held by some present iterations of the Old Catholic Churches, it is clear that this does not in any way refer to the Society. (As a side note, I would point out that the Polish National Catholic Chuch withdrew from the Union of Utercht over that group’s approval of the ordination of women to the priesthood, a clear departure from Catholic Doctrine.)

    Point 3: While it is understandable that there would be reluctance to cease attending a Society Chapel once a parish is staffed by the FSSP, this reluctance should be tempered by the knowledge that the FSSP possesses regular status within the Church and that therefore the Masses celebrated are both valid and licit, the confessions heard are effective because the priests have been granted faculties and operate with the approval of the Church, and that the marriages performed there are valid. These last two points have been addressed previously by Fr. Z. Thus no legitimate reason remains to attend illicit Masses and to receive illicit, and in the case of Penance and Matrimony invalid sacraments.

    Point 4: I did not assert that the SSPX has St up either a new church nor a new hierarchy. However, the fact that the Society has bishops who ordain and confirm validly but illicitly causes confusion among the members of the Catholic Church.

    Point 5: As I stated above, the Church makes no claim of infallibility with respect to bishops. The question I posed was whether the Society accepted the teachings of the Catholic Faith as contained in the Cathechism of the Catholic Church promulgated by Pope St. John Paul.

  28. rmichaelj says:

    Gerard,
    My comments were not directed at you at all, but to Elinor Dashwood. I should have made that clear in my post- apologies if you felt that it was.

  29. Gerard Plourde says:

    Dear rmichaelj,

    Thanks for the response. Also, rest assured that there is no need to apologize. I was not offended. The matter of the relationship between the Society and the Universal Church presents us with difficulties rivaling the Gordian Knot. We can only hope and pray that the matter can be finally resolved to the greater glory of God, so that we may all serve Him fully and joyfully.

  30. Ann Malley says:

    Gerard,

    A widespread acknowledgement of necessity doesn’t mean there isn’t one. And your continued devolution into pretending that Archbishop Lefebvre’s actions were nothing more than, an act of disobedience, is bordering on the juvenile. Not that it is childish to address the issue of obedience and/or disobedience, but the Simon says mentality that you employ negates logic (and the visible fruits). It also negates the reality that Holy Mother Church foresaw potential necessity. (…engaging terms like ‘defiance’ is hyperbolic and wholly inflammatory and with a purpose. It is not defiance to act out of a genuinely perceived necessity. Let us be clear here and intellectually honest in our assertions. )

    That is also why your bow-tied assertion that one must accept in whole the current CCC and its reliance upon the ambiguities upon which portions are founded – namely the sketchy portions of VII – is also narrow in its scope. For while you assert that one must wholly accept the CCC or else, you seem to forget that the CCC is a second edition precisely because the first edition was found to have faulty language that could – and DID – mislead many with regard to the disordered nature of certain proclivities. (I certainly hope during the period of revision between CCC v1 and CCC v2, you didn’t call out those who held to the time honored truth of the deviant nature of homosexual sexual acts as being uncharitable and/or not Catholic because they didn’t cleave to the letter of the moment.)

    Sorry, Gerard, but Canon law must be engaged as a whole as well as the CCC.

    Our Lord has told us quite clearly that we should judge by the fruits and that we should be wary of blind guides. This is not to negate the authority of the Church. But this is precisely why the Holy Ghost was promised to defend Her. For if the Pope and the hierarchy was all that were necessary and that there was never to be cause for their potential subversion, then the promise of the Holy Ghost would be redundant.

    That is why Bishop Athanasius Schneider, to his credit, in my view, correlated today’s ongoing CRISIS as being on a similar scale to Arianism. The similarity being wide spread infection. To include the fear of those in the positions to correct, obfuscating or coming too late to the table to do as they should to prevent the poisoning of the body. (…often those afflicted with a virus are already in the advanced stages before they even realize they are sick, Gerard. That is why a ‘recognized’ situation is not always the proof of crisis.)

    That said, who are you to disparage the means that Our Lord chooses to use to bring about the good? For while you denounce Archbishop Lefebvre’s so called unnecessary disobedient act, you are reaping the benefit of what was, despite whether you see it or not, necessary. Bishop Morlino didn’t exactly welcome the TLM into his diocese because he felt like it. Although I applaud him for doing so. God bless and defend him!

    To continue with all due respect, Gerard, look at who is advising Pope Francis right now. Are they of a mind to defend the entirety of Catholic Faith and Morals? Look to actions, Gerard, not what they say. Now, put yourself back in time to those advising Pope John Paul II. Were they of a mind to advise the selection of episcopal candidates of a mind to continue and keep whole and entire Catholic Tradition and the fullness of the Deposit of the Faith?

    No, Gerard. So simply putting forward that the Vatican’s desire was ‘merely’ to choose proper candidates as is the normal case, the problem arose because no compromised (that is modernist) priestly candidates were to be found. Hence the delay. Again, let us put the matter into proper historical context instead of pretending all was/is business as usual. This hasn’t been the reality for quite some time, my friend. That could also be why the FSSP still has not received the Bishop they were promised.

    Needs must, Gerard. And Holy Mother Church has provided in Her wisdom for just such situations so as to promulgate and defend the Catholic Faith.

  31. Papabile says:

    Ann Malley:

    re: your “Second Edition” comment as a reason to prove the inadequacy of the First Edition and problems with the CCC in general….

    If I am not mistaken, the “Second Edition” in English was done to bring it into conformity with the editio typical as published in latin by the Vatican Polyglot press.

    If I am not mistaken, and I am pretty sure I remember correctly, the “First Edition” was leaked out – contrary to Rome’s instructions – before the editio typica was certified. The only formal edition that matters is the edition typica, which was never “corrected”.

  32. Papabile says:

    Rombola:

    ” So, Venerable Brethren, it is clear why this Apostolic See has never allowed its subjects to take part in the assemblies of non-Catholics: for the union of Christians can only be promoted by promoting the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it, for in the past they have unhappily left it. To the one true Church of Christ, we say, which is visible to all, and which is to remain, according to the will of its Author, exactly the same as He instituted it. During the lapse of centuries, the mystical Spouse of Christ has never been contaminated, nor can she ever in the future be contaminated, as Cyprian bears witness….”

    Pope Pius XI, “Mortalion Animos” 1928

    I agree with Mortalium Animos, but this part is clearly a reference to discipline and does not rise to the level of doctrinal binding authority.

    Concurrently with this, Rome had allowed Chaplains in the various armies to attend protestant services – and attend directly to Protestants – as far back as 1840.

    I am not arguing for attendence at Protestant services. But engaging with them at an ecumenical level – from the starting point of “You must return to the True Faith. Here’s why. This is what Christ taught.” is not violating any Catholic principle.

    Trent was willing to allow them to “propose therein, as well in writing as by word of mouth, as many articles as to them shall seem good, and to confer and dispute, without any abuse or contumely, with the Fathers, or with those who may have been selected by the said holy Synod”.

    There was nothing wrong with that, and if one starts from the point that we firmly believe what the Catholic Faith teaches, there is nothing wrong with engaging them this way today.

  33. rmichaelj says:

    To Gerard,
    Further I don’t think in specific points we necessarily disagree. I believe the main difference is that many, like me, make allowances for situations in which there does not seem to be a good answer. We can discuss what obedience is due to the Pope and what is not- but when one has a responsibility before God for the care of souls, and tradition seems to go against Tradition I can see an honest soul sincerely believing that their duty before God comes before their duty of obedience to the Pope. To believe otherwise is clericalism (ecclesiolatry?) of the worst sort. Again we are not talking about a situation in which one is justifying a sin or wanting to take the easy path despite what the Pope says- quite the opposite. One should note that such instances should be rare, but what happened in the 60’s and 70’s was certainly a rare event in the history of the Church!

    In short, while I can not say what the SSPX did or is doing is right- I find given the circumstances then and now, and what I have experienced myself in my own lifetime, I’m not willing to say what they have done or are doing is wrong. I give them the benefit of the doubt- especially knowing the price that many of them paid and are paying when they made their decision.

    In regards to no longer attending an SSPX chapel once there is an FSSP chapel nearby- I do not disagree with your argument (in point of fact my family and I make a great deal of sacrifice in time, money and risk on the roads to go to an FSSP chapel many miles away, despite having a very close SSPX chapel) but I don’t agree with the argument strongly enough to denounce someone else for choosing to stay. When a ship is between Scylla and Charybdis I give the captain of the ship a lot of latitude. And frankly, I have other battles to fight for which my energy is needed.

    Better for all if a reconciliation could be effected, something for which I and many pray often. Then there is no need to abandon a community in which many have made a spiritual home.

  34. rmichaelj says:

    Gerard,
    I hadn’t seen your response before I sent my second post. You seem a most charitable individual who puts genuine concern for those in the SSPX forefront with goodwill towards all, including those with whom you may disagree. May God increase your tribe!

  35. Ann Malley says:

    @Papabile

    …my mentioning the Second edition was intended not for a proof, but rather to draw a comparison of the necessity, at times, to reviewing what is written and how it corresponds, in reality, to what has come before. Surely, in these times of increased confusion, Catholics should charitably do as much with each other before pronouncing who is supposedly in or out of compliance. Or prior to declaring the actions of another as defiance.

    We’re actually on the same team.

  36. Rushintuit says:

    I could be banned at any moment for speaking candidly, but… Go back and look at how things went for the TLM after the Council. Only one Bishop stood up for holding to Tradition. That’s how close the Church came to losing the link.

    The FSSP was created for the single purpose of luring Priests away from the SSPX. The FSSP had to sign a document accepting the New Mass and Vatican II. These days when you ask an FSSP Priest if the NO is valid, he answer yes, like a robot, whether he believes it or not.

    The FSSP and the ICKSP are the true indult Masses. They say the TLM because it is beautiful, but they have also formally accepted the NO and the Council with all of the ramifications. Not in any way judging individual priests, these groups are running a museum.

  37. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Rushintuit – You do know that you sound just like the Donatists?

    They set up their own churches and priests and bishops to preserve the real Catholic Church, unlike the church that permitted lapsed apostates to repent and rejoin, and allowed lapsed priests to repent and say Mass again, and even allowed lapsed bishops to repent and ordain priests. They were super-sure that they were holy and true.

    But St. Augustine and the Catholic Church condemned them. They ended up heretics as well as schismatics. Even having confessors among them who had bravely faced torture and possible death didn’t save them for arrogance and a hatred of penitence.

    Fortunately, the SSPX hasn’t quite gone schismatic or heretical, and that is good. But their founder made a huge mistake by trusting disobedience over trusting God. Meanwhile, the FSSP has gone from strength to strength.

    Why? Because traditionally, God helps those who are obedient to their legitimate superiors’ legitimate commands. The risk of living in conditions of suckitude is great; and obviously there are ways to speak up or to deal constructively with a bad situation. But God helps the obedient.

  38. Mary Jane says:

    Rushintuit, you are doing exactly as your username says. With respect, you have no idea what you are talking about. I would suggest you research more throughly the history of the FSSP and how they were started.

  39. Mary Jane says:

    rmichaelj said, “I agree, and would remind everyone that while often treated as such, the members of the SSPX and attendees of their chapels are not lepers.”

    I think people who attend SSPX chapels might need to be reminded (the reverse) of this as well – that people who attend Masses at locations other-than-SSPX-chapels (say, at a FSSP parish) are not lepers either.