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.
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.