Card. Burke on attending SSPX chapels: only when “absolute necessity”

At the Deus Ex Machina Blog there is a video of a presentation given by Card. Burke (bow low here) on the occasion of the publication of his book Divine Love Made Flesh in Polish.

Included at the blog is some Q&A, which the writer says is translated well-enough to be trusted. In any event, Card. Burke’s answers are in Italian, so that’s not a problem.

One of the questions concerns frequenting the SSPX for sacraments during the Year of Mercy and after the close of the Year of Mercy. As you know, Pope Francis – effectively, though I am not sure how – conceded faculties to the suspended priests of the SSPX so that they can validly absolve penitents.


Fourth question. 44:10 Minute Mark

Layman: The SSPX question. I have a question as a faithful Catholic, can we as Catholics, without fear, take advantage of the ministry of the Fraternal Society of St. Pius X? And after the Year of Mercy, the jurisdiction granted by the Apostolic See, will it simply disappear and everything will revert back to a state preceding the Year of Mercy?  [Unless Francis decides otherwise, and makes it known, yes, that’s my take.  The faculty is withdrawn on the day the Year of Mercy ends.]

Answer: (Ed. note: With a very large grin on his face, the Great Cardinal states:) A very beautify [sic] question, a very good question. With regards to the Fraternity of St. Pius X, they find themselves in an irregular situation from a canonical point of view. [Here is the important part…]If there does not exist an absolute necessity to go to the Society of St. Pius X to obtain the Sacraments, then people should not leave their churches and their priests. [Get that?  “Absolute necessity” doesn’t mean “I don’t like the music.”] With respect to the elevation to the jurisdiction for the Sacrament of Penance that the Holy Father offered, granted to the clerics of the Society of St.Pius X during the Year of Mercy, it is hard to clearly define, or describe from a canonical point of view. Bishop Fellay himself, and so the superior of the Society of Pius X recognized that this is an unique gift from the Holy Father. Therefore, this would imply that this (jurisdiction) would have its end with the end of the Year of Mercy. I express my sincere intentions, sincere wish that the Fraternity of St. Pius X could be able to unite with the Church. [Me too.] The Holy Father, Francis gave indications to Cardinal Muller, the Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, with respect to the re-opening of discussions with the Fraternity of St. Pius X, whose aim would be to enter into a “full communion” with the Catholic Church.  [Do I hear an “Amen!”?]

Thus, Card. Burke.

Being mad at the priest… not liking the modern building… hating the music… these are not reasons to leave your parish and go to the SSPX.

Card. Burke says, “absolute necessity” which narrows it down quite a bit.

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  1. mshepard85 says:

    I’m not exactly sure what, “take advantage of the ministry” means (although contextually it likely refers to seeking sacramental confession, if not more), but HE’s answer regards the “obtainment” of the sacraments, not simply “attending SSPX chapels” as the blog title states. Therefore, the statement, in and of itself, doesn’t appear to apply to, say hearing Mass, if one does not present to receive Holy Communion (especially if done irregularly and perhaps not in lieu of any Holy Day).

  2. Gerard Plourde says:

    Dear mshepard85,

    I think that HE believes that faithful Catholics attending the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass who are not in a state of Mortal Sin would naturally avail themselves of the opportunity to receive the Great Sacrament, i.e. Holy Communion. Why would one forego receiving Our Lord, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity if in a state that would permit it in order to attend a Mass that, while valid, is celebrated by a minister lacking faculties through his irregular status vis a vis the Universal Church?

  3. Papabile says:

    Well, I went to one of the best (though not the very best) retreats I have ever been on. It was run by the SSPX in Ridgefield, Connecticut.

    I live in the Diocese of Arlington, and normally attend a parish that offers the EF, though I sometimes attend the OF (though that is no longer the norm for me).

    Quite frankly, while I respect Cardinal Burke, and actually have known him since he was Monsignor Burke, I am not sure I find myself in agreement here.

    The Holy Father wrote: “A final consideration concerns those faithful who for various reasons choose to attend churches officiated by priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X. This Jubilee Year of Mercy excludes no one. From various quarters, several Brother Bishops have told me of their good faith and sacramental practice, combined however with an uneasy situation from the pastoral standpoint. I trust that in the near future solutions may be found to recover full communion with the priests and superiors of the Fraternity. In the meantime, motivated by the need to respond to the good of these faithful, through my own disposition, I establish that those who during the Holy Year of Mercy approach these priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation shall validly and licitly receive the absolution of their sins.”

    I am not sure there has ever been a situation in the Church’s history whereby “suspended” Priests are given a wide grant of jurisdiction to hear confessions. On top of that, I have never heard of a situation whereby a group of suspended Priests are called “an association with diocesan rights” by a Cardinal so that they will be recognized as Catholic by another government.

    Honestly, this seems to me to be a situation where the Church has pretty much determined 1)The SSPX is Catholic, 2) The Faithful who attend their chapels are Catholic, 3) they lack perfect communion, 4) But that is not enough of a situation to refuse them faculties to absolve, 5)every time an SSPX Priest is now absolved, his mortal sin of offering mass is forgiven, 6)but the Church knows he will sin mortally again by offering Mass., 7) no jurisdiction yet exists to offer the Sacrament of Matrimony, 8) those who were married in front of an sspx Priest are not even putatively married, 9) they live in a state of ongoing adultery and objectively mortal sin, 10) if they go to confession without confession this sin, they perdure in mortal sin and add to it with the sin of sacrilege.

    This is asinine and would be laughable if it were not so serious. To me , it looks more like the hierarchy has painted itself into a corner and now is trying to find some way out of it. Honestly, I bet H.E. DiNoia has been told to find a way to regularize them by the end of this year.

    I am no longer going to worry about it. Will I search them out? No. But, neither will I go to any extreme to avoid them. When history is written on this in 100 years, it will look like an extraordinary overreach by the Church.

  4. Papabile says:

    Oh, and to add to it, I wish some Cardinal would warn us about receiving Communion in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, where in my opinion, there is less than perfect Communion between the Cardinal and the Church due to his positing heterodoxy as good praxis with respect to the divorced and remarried.

  5. locutus465 says:

    And this was my thought when this great gift was extended to the SSPX. From the POV of a faithful Catholic who otherwise attends a diocesan parish even with the proper jurisdiction being given to SSPX priests to hear confessions there’s really no need to go to one. So in that sense the gesture was somewhat hallow.

    Which to my means the meaning of the gesture could only have been to extend good will to the society, and concern for those souls who refuse to obtain the sacraments at a diocesan parish (at least during this year, they’ll be in OK shape).

    So the main problem then is, what was the response of the society when this was announced? “Gee that’s great and all, but as far as we’re concerned we don’t need it”.

  6. jbpolhamus says:

    Question: In my parish, where I am in the pianist/organist, I sit every week while during mass, at the end but before the dismissal, lay people read out potted biographies prefacing them with, “We remember some holy men and women, in the hope that they will lend inspiration to our lives.” These have included Dag Hammerskjold (Holy?), and this past weekend, St. Brigid of Ireland, of whom we heard that “she presided over a monastic community of men AND women, and a bishop even joined her community and shared her authority. Some people say she was actually ordained a priest.” We also heard about her praise of beer, and a prayer she supposedly wrote wishing that “there were three Marys with whom to drink it.” Following the remarks, Father started to say that “This Tuesday will be…(pause), then corrected himself saying, “This Wednesday will be Ash Wednesday. But until then, as they say in New Orleans, Laissez les bon temps roullez!” (There was embarrassed silence). Then in his usual custom, he called down a blessing, rather than issuing one saying, “May the Lord bless us: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” So my questions is, how necessary is absolutely necessary? How would you react to being pinned like a mouth on a cork board to this pitiful melange of Catholicism (I use the term loosely) on a week to week basis? In your opinion, is there an objective criteria, or discernable threshold?

  7. Auggie says:

    I have other options, but the last time I heard mass at the nearest parish, the priest said: “Let us call to mind our failings and the times when we were not open to change.”
    I cannot blame folks who, with no other options, go to the SSPX.

  8. Gerard Plourde says:

    Dear jbpolhamus,

    It sounds like your bishop needs to hear of the irregularities which you report. Is there another constituted parish of your diocese nearby that you can attend until the situation in your home parish is rectified? As Fr. Z would say (quoting Pope Francis) “Hagan lio!”

  9. wolfeken says:

    “Absolute necessity” to me means there is a reasonable chance the local novus ordo liturgy will be, at worst, invalid, or at best, illicit at several occasions throughout the 45 minute service.

    If a priest does not “say the black and do the red,” then it’s my absolute necessity to get the heck out of there. If an SSPX chapel — with zero chance of invalidity or rubric ignoring — is an option, then who am I to judge in this Year of Mercy?

  10. Giuseppe says:

    The granting of faculties for SSPX to absolve sounded like an ‘all hands on deck’ in an emergency. It would be like in a flu epidemic having a hospital grant temporary privileges to physicians and nurses from out of state. As Padre has noted in his exhortations to confession, this is an emergency, and it is all hands on deck.

  11. zama202 says:

    12 February 2016 at 2:40 PM Papabile says:

    “I am no longer going to worry about it. Will I search them [SSPX] out? No. But, neither will I go to any extreme to avoid them. When history is written on this in 100 years, it will look like an extraordinary overreach by the Church.”

    I agree and could not have said it better myself Papabile!


  12. Gerard Plourde says:

    Dear Wolfeken,

    From your comment am I to understand that there is no parish in your diocese regularly celebrating Mass according to the Extraordinary Form to a stable community desiring it but that possesses an SSPX presence?

  13. wolfeken says:

    Gerard Plourde — No. In fact I live nowhere near an SSPX chapel. My diocese has 16 churches/chapels that offer the TLM, and the archdiocese next to us has a handful. However, if I found myself in an area where the options are a random novus ordo liturgy versus an SSPX chapel, the choice would be very easy.

  14. LeGrandDerangement says:

    I am sinfully envious of anyone who lives in a diocese with 16 TLMs available. My closest TLM is 2 hours away, which I’m contemplating in any case.

  15. jdt2 says:

    Thank you, Father.

    I wish I had a better understanding of absolute necessity. In my parish and many others I have attended, the words inclusive and welcoming have been said in sermons more than sin or confession by a factor larger than I am able to count. Actually, confession has not been talked about once (once!) in the two years I have been in my current Catholic Church. Does that come close to a necessity, or do we need to shoulder on, or find another Church that teaches what I remember to be closer to dogma? It is not easy these days at all.

    God Bless.

  16. tominrichmond says:

    And yet… one man’s annoyance is another’s absolute necessity. For me, the abominable practice of Communion in the hand; the ubiquity (and probable illegality=illicitness) of women EMHC and Lectors; and other deliberate, illegal liturgical practices that render the Mass illicit… these are all things which give rise in my mind to an absolute necessity to attend elsewhere if I can. Fortunately for me, it’s an academic question, there being an FSSP parish and a Maronite rite parish in town.

  17. donato2 says:

    I’ve been blessed with the availability of an FSSP parish and have had to attend the new Mass only a small handful of times over the last year and a half. It would be really, really hard for me to go back to the new Mass. Still, the issue of full communion with the universal Church is a very important one. To be honest I don’t even understand what the status of the SSPX is — all I know is that there is some sort of canonical cloud over it. For this reason, I don’t fool with it. Accordingly, if the choice for me were between an SSPX Mass and a liberal new Mass parish I would go to the liberal new Mass parish and accept it as a cross to bear.

  18. organistjason says:

    I never disagree with his Eminence, God willing the rightful successor to Pope Benedict’s legacy, until these remarks. After all, “Who is he to judge?” We must embrace the “Spirit of Vatican II” and have “tolerance” and “Mercy” to those poor misguided souls that believe, what the Church, teaches to be as……true. “The church will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning.” In many ways, that sounds, like the SPPX. “And so it seems certain to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun.” Sadly, that last sentence has shown its relevance, these past three years.

  19. steve jones says:

    Disappearing down a traditionalist rabbit hole with badly dressed, middle aged and socially dysfunctional British ‘traddies’ is not appetising. The reason why I support the restoration of the TLM is not for my own or the laity’s benefit in general but for the sake of priests and their sacred priesthood. The embarrassing anecdotes under this blog reflect the destruction of the priesthood which the NO has wrought. In damaging the priesthood, the sacraments are undermined and by extension the mission of the whole Church is compromised. It is this crisis which I want addressed.

  20. Mitchell G says:

    A year ago I would have agreed with Cardinal Burke. But my opinion has changed quite rapidly, I haven’t had the opportunity to approach the local Society chapel but I am looking forward to it. How is it more acceptable now to pray with protestants than to worship God with some of the most ardent Catholics? Growing up I learned from the Baltimore Catechism about scandal, yet we seem to have this completely backwards in the Church today.
    Perhaps I am a young impetuous man but I am tired of having to beg for what is my birthright as a Catholic. Until Cardinal Burke or any one for that matter, can clearly spell out why it is wrong to attend a Society mass but perfectly fine to attend a NO mass and all its entailing problems, I cannot take this caution as anything more than political manoeuvring.

  21. Tony Phillips says:

    Agree that it’s hard to know what ‘necessary’ means. I live within walking distance to a SSPX Mass chapel. I like to go there, but I’ve never gone instead of going to my local parish (10 minute drive). I go to my parish with my family, but when possible I go to the SSPX first. For days that aren’t obligations, like Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, I’ll go to the SSPX, and may give the parish a miss. I don’t dislike my parish, but I wish they’d offer the EF.

    The nearest diocesan parish that does the EF is a 20-30 minute drive, and I do that when I can, but family responsibilities often make that impossible. Sometimes the weekday mass there, though advertised as an EF mass, turns out to be OF. When this happens, it’s in Latin, celebrated ad orientem, etc–but it’s still the OF. Actually, it’s been very useful to be able to compare the EF to the OF without the usual OF accretions…and I find, for me, on balance the OF comes up lacking.

    What’s interesting is that there’s definitely some overlap between the SSPX congregation and the ‘legitimate’ EF congregation, especially when there’s a big event at the latter–Cdl Burke’s visit last year was a good example. It reminds me of Dalrymple describing the sort of syncretism that occurs on the ground between Christians and Moslems in the Middle East–visiting each other’s shrines, etc (From the Holy Mountain). It’s the hierarchy who can’t seem to get along.

  22. Imrahil says:

    Sed contra

    is the teaching of St. Alphonsus who states that, to receive legitimately the Sacraments from Catholic priests in a state of tolerated (non-vitandus) suspension which is what they are (and even of tolerated excommunication), one requires nothing more than a “just cause”, which is distinctly less than a “great utility” (to be silent of “absolute necessity”). (I conclude that a “just cause” just means that you don’t go there for any unjust cause. In any case:)

    [“They play the better music” would be such a just cause.]

  23. KateD says:

    It is interesting that this pope, especially, given what seems to be his preference for Liturgy, and the current circumstances of the SSPX would make Confession available through them…and then only for this year. The only conclusion I can come to is that Pope Francis really wants people’s sins absolved, right now. It has the feel of a directive to, “get you affairs in order”, which is always a good idea, but why the urgency now?

    Does he know something we don’t?

  24. Papabile says:

    The contradictions in granting jurisdiction to absolve are so ridiculous, I think one must either a) assume Rome already considers them Catholic and in communion, and needs to find a way to “clean things up” or b) gave no consideration to the implications and did not think it through at all.

    I choose A. The Pope is Jesuit, and quite smart. I might not like a lot of what he does, by I am sure he thought this through.

    Second, a legitimate question here: If Rome truly considers marriages witnessed by the SSPX BETWEEN the faithful to not even be putative marriages, why would Rome proceed through the full First and Second instance process in annullments? That one is a head scratcher.

    Additionally, when they reconciled the south South American diocese that had remained with the SSPX, there was no radical sanation process for couples to go through — unless it was done so thought their knowledge.

    Furthermore, when a friend who was an SSPX priest, who was reconciled to a diocese, approached the CDF, and asked if he has a moral obligation to inform those “he had married” that
    they were not actually married, he was told, “don’t worry about it. The salvation of souls is the supreme law. Ecclessia supplet.”

    That sounds amazingly like what the Lefebvrists claim.

  25. LaramieHirsch says:

    “Being mad at the priest… not liking the modern building… hating the music… these are not reasons to leave your parish and go to the SSPX. Card. Burke says, “absolute necessity” which narrows it down quite a bit.”

    Okay, I’m not trying to be argumentative, here. However, I have recently been taking the family to Society Mass. This is largely due to scheduling; I am a third-shift worker, and there are no Latin Masses available at a later time, other than the one the Society offers.

    Now, the Society would argue that the absolute necessity for going to an SSPX Mass is already there, since the Church has been in a state of emergency since Vatican II. [They argue that, but the problem is that they have zero jurisdiction or authority to make this determination.] And they argue that we should stay away from the Novus Ordo Mass altogether, as it is “a liturgy for a modernist religion.” While I am not entirely comfortable with that idea, I can at least understand their arguments that the Novus Ordo Mass, while not invalid, can actually be a hazard to a person’s faith. [If the older for of Mass is celebrated badly and the preaching is shoddy, it, too, can be detrimental.]

    Already, this is a long comment post. I will not post the entire section, but this argument comes from a book someone gave me, titled: Most Asked Questions About The Society of Saint Pius X. The section that basically states this is page 21, Question 5: Why Should Catholics Have Nothing To Do With the Novus Ordo Missae. (I found a link to this little section online: And the section concludes with the following:

    If the Novus Ordo Missae is not truly Catholic, [That requires one to accept a premise.] then it cannot oblige for one’s Sunday obligation. [That’s a stretch.] Many Catholics who do assist at it are unaware of its all pervasive degree of serious innovation and are exempt from guilt. However, any Catholic who is aware of its harm, does not have the right to participate. He could only then assist at it by a mere physical presence without positively taking part in it, and then and for major family reasons (weddings, funerals, etc).

    I dunno. It’s a section from the book that’s stuck with me, I suppose. Especially when I perceive, more and more, an effeminate sense of things at the Novus Ordo Masses available to us. [It seems that you are talking about the style of the execution of the Novus Ordo, rather than what the Novus Ordo actually contains/requires.] In fact, the NO Mass really feels like some kind of a Lutheran insult when I attend it, and I feel that it’s an entire ceremony dedicated to opposing Catholicism itself, and it seems as if it is almost mocking the Sacrament of the Eucharist. [And yet it was the celebration of the Novus Ordo in Latin and in the most Roman style possible that brought this former Lutheran to the Church. At the same time I will admit that had I gone to any number of other parishes in that archdiocese that I can think of I doubt that I would have darkened the door of a Catholic church again.]

  26. iPadre says:

    You can tell us who are trained in theology and canon law that it will all revert back to as it was before the Year of Mercy for the SSPX. But, you will not be able to tell the ordinary lay folk. It will be just like the situation with Holy Days of Obligation in the US. They will tell you: “You can’t tell me that when it falls on a Saturday or Monday it’s not a holy day, but on other days it is.”

    The paste is out of the tube. I just hope the Holy Father can work the situation out before it can never be worked out. Young people are being raised in this situation, just as young people were raised in the Protestant Revolt.

  27. phlogiston says:

    “Absolute necessity?” What, precisely, would that look like if we haven’t arrived at precisely that location in the Church at large?! As if the same kind of “ecumenism” condemned by pre-conciliar popes isn’t proclaimed from top to bottom already? As if disrespect for the Blessed Sacrament isn’t the norm, rather than the exception in the Church at large? As if seminaries aren’t empty already, parishes and schools shuttered and “Catholic” universities aren’t promoting abortion and contraception ? Pray tell, if the current state of affairs isn’t an absolute necessity already, what would that look like?

  28. Suburbanbanshee says:

    You know, I bet everybody here who is defending the music as a reason to go to an SSPX chapel would not willingly go to a parish with good music and good celebration, but with the priest in a known irregular situation with the bishop, or with the priest in a known irregular situation with a concubine. Hmm.

    Jbpolhamus, that does sound very stupid. But yes, St. Brigid did make beer (like many nuns, including St. Hildegarde of Bingen, as beer was women’s work through most of the Middle Ages) and allegedly had several miracles of multiplying beer, as well as of multiplying milk in a very patient cow’s udder. The point of the beer poem (which is probably not by her, but appears as a “musical interlude” in one of her bios), is that her hospitality and gratitude to God was so great that she wished to extend her giving to the whole host of heaven. It is a beautiful devotional poem, but probably more appropriate outside Mass than in it (unless the congregation has studied Irish poetry, or Father does a lot of explanation).

    Brigid was not ordained a priest. There is a legend that she was accidentally consecrated as a bishop instead of a nun, and that this explains the bishop-level authority of the abbesses of Kildare. But lots of abbesses of important European convents with big territories had bishops under them, or had the same temporal power as bishops. They none of them could ordain priests or other bishops, though.

  29. Suburbanbanshee says:

    There is a whole category of Irish legends where Kildare and Armagh and Cashel all try to promote their power and authority. Iona,and other great monasteries and monastery schools got into it too. They are not actually true or historical.

  30. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Monogamous, I forgot the three Marys remark. That is “I wish the Three Marys were there to drink it.” The three Marys are the three women named Mary who were at the tomb, namely Mary Salome, Mary of Jacob, and Mary Magdalene. There is a legend that they all traveled to Gaul during the persecutions, sometimes being said to have brought along Mary of Egypt. (Thus enabling the joke and folk song about Mary Queen of Scots also having Four Marys as waitingwomen.)

    There is a very famous Irish “Lament of the Three Marys,” which was sung as a Holy Week devotional and on other solemn occasions, like funeral wakes.

    The annoying thing about dissidents is that they make even their traditional comments seem wacky and made up.

  31. Gerard Plourde says:

    I think that the pamphlet referred to in Laramie Hirsh’s comment raises the true difficulty that often accompanies questions concerning the SSPX. To question the validity of the Mass of Bl. Paul VI and make claims that it is possibly heretical (for that is what a claim that it is Protestant implies) subtly strikes at the orthodoxy and the authority of the Pope who promulgated it and of his successors who continued its use and celebrated it (Pope John Paul I, Pope St. John Paul II, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, and our current Pontiff, Pope Francis). To defy the authority of a Pope, as Archbishop Lefebvre did in consecrating bishops, is a serious act. It troubles me and calls to mind the final statement of St. Thomas More, the Patron of my profession and to whom I look as a model of the Catholic layman.

    “[M]ay no temporal prince presume by any law to take upon him as rightfully belonging to the See of Rome, a spiritual pre-eminence by the mouth of our Savoiur himself, personally present upon the earth to St. Peter and his successors, bishops of the same see, by special prerogative, granted.”

    While St. Thomas was speaking of the unlawful usurpation of Henry VIII, his words also have relevence to those who entertain doubts about the validity of the Second Vatican Council, called by Pope St. John XXIII and continued by his successor Bl. Paul VI, the official documents it promulgated under papal authority, and acts and rites promulgated by successor popes in accordance with those documents. To entertain thoughts that these may be contrary to the will of God is a temptation from Satan to doubt the explicit promise made by Our Lord in Mt. 16: 18-19:

    “[Y]ou are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

    It seems altogether fitting that we reflect on the ability of Satan to tempt us away from the Church immediately prior to the Sunday on which the Church has for centuries proclaimed the account wherein Satan dares to tempt God Incarnate, showing that the pride and presumption of the Evil One truly knows no bounds.

  32. I will venture to say that most people live within an hour or two drive of a reasonable non-SSPX Mass. If they don’t, they probably don’t have an SSPX Mass within an hour or two either. Even the most heterodox dioceses have a few relatively orthodox parishes (just as the most orthodox dioceses probably have a few heterodox parishes). While I sympathize with those who have to suffer nonsense near home, in the automobile age a long drive is not an unreasonable burden, and the driving time can be devoted to prayer if necessary. Jesus was insistent on the importance of unity, and I fear that the SSPX sees communion (in the sense of unity) in such a highly technical, nuanced sense as to be essentially meaningless. St. Paul didn’t just split when he disagreed with St. Peter; he went to the Council of Jerusalem and they came to an agreement. Nobody says that’s easy, but that’s how true communion works.

    Absolute necessity to me would mean “need confession in danger of death,” or “priest does not use the proper words of consecration” and “can’t find a Catholic church where the proper words of consecration are used within three hours of home.” Also, if these circumstances persist, perhaps one might consider moving to a more orthodox area.

    Jesus did not leave us a Missal. He left us a Church, which he blessed with the power to exercise His divine authority. If I have to choose between a book and the Church, I am with the Church, frail and flawed as it is in its human qualities.

  33. Nan says:

    My father was raised in the Latin Rite because there wasn’t a Byzantine rite parish nearby. Between working for the railroad and living several hundred miles from the closest parish, he raised his family in the Latin Rite. There was a Ukrainian church 60 MI away, too far to be reasonable at the time, with less reliable cars that had less reliable heat, driving on roads that weren’t all paved. Many people drive hundreds of miles each weekend for the Divine Liturgy, which is much easier for freeways.

    Many of the comments seem to be made by spoiled, petulant children. We have Mass available multiple times a day. Nobody’s persecuting us. If our schedule permits and we so desire, we can go to Mass every day, without hiding it. Adoration takes place in marked chapels, not secretly, in woods, for fear of being caught and executed. Bibles aren’t confiscated. Christians aren’t tortured before being martyred, condoned by the government.

    Praise God that we have such freedoms as we continue through Lent, knowing that Our Saviour was tortured and died for us and that most of His Apostles were martyred.

  34. Alice says:

    I wish Cardinal Burke had clarified what is an absolute necessity. I read that and think, “OK, if there’s no other way to fulfill my Sunday/holyday obligation, I’ll go.” The folks I’ve known who attend SSPX Masses regularly have EF Masses in union with the bishop close by and refuse to go because they believe it’s an absolute necessity for them to attend the Mass of All Time at a church dedicated only to that Mass.

  35. LaramieHirsch says:

    Fr Z, thank you for your time in today’s comment. I appreciate it. -LH

  36. Tony Phillips says:

    Nan’s right, we’re not persecuted, and if we were facing the terrors that Christians face right now in some parts of the world we wouldn’t be quibbling about liturgy.

    While I appreciate Andrew S’s comments too, I will say this about the SSPX: all devotees of the EF owe them a great debt of gratitude. Without them, there’d be no “EF” today.

    When it comes to the old rite, John Paul II really didn’t ‘get it’–he referred to its adherents as a ‘problem’. With Nan’s comments in mind, I suppose that Polish Catholics, who were facing real persecution, didn’t have the luxury of nitpicking about the liturgy like we have. When I was in Krakow a couple years ago I was surprised how few people attended the weekday EF–I think it was once a week. It was because of the continued activities of the SSPX that JP’s indult appeared, and it’s doubtful Benedict would have ever issued Summ Pont without them either.

    Opposing a pope isn’t a matter to be taken lightly, but frankly Paul VI overstepped his authority. The Mass was not his to change, nor his to abrogate. As Benedict pointed out, the pope can’t just do whatever he wants.

  37. Wiktor says:

    Tony Phillips: one reason you didn’t see many people on EF Mass in Poland is that it is almost underground here: in some places only those “in the know” attend. Another reason is that Ordinary Form in Poland is still quite decent of the “say the black do the red” kind, especially when compared to other parts of the world: most parishes don’t have EMHC’s or altar girls (though they are not unheard of), choirs are rare so you are spared of having to listen to the bad ones (and good ones too…), Communion standing on the tongue is the prevailing norm, rosaries and adorations are commonplace, etc.

    Though the things are getting worse and worse with each year. Fortunately the number of places with EF is slowly rising.

  38. Gerard Plourde says:

    Dear Tony Phillips,

    Are you questioning the validity of the promulgation of the Ordinary Form of the Mass? While Paul VI promulgated a major revision of the form he was not the first. Pope Clement VIII, Pope Urban VIII, and Pope Leo XIII all made revisions as attested by the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1917. Pope Ven. Pius XII presided over a major revision of the rites of Holy Week, including the reintroduction of the Easter Vigil. To state that Bl. Paul VI overstepped his authority in similarly revising the liturgy is incorrect. It could equally be said that Pope St. Pius V’s promulgation of his Form of the Mass “in perpetuity” is at odds with the authority to bind and loose granted to all Popes by Our Lord in Mt. 16:18-19 and constitutes an overstepping of personal authority over his successors. It should also be noted that St. Pius V did permit celebration of alternate forms of the Mass that had historic roots i.e. The Milanese and Mozarabic Forms being prominent examples. In our own day there is no demand that the Eastern Churches that acknowledge the Supremacy of the Pope forego their liturgical traditions and conform to the Latin Rite form of celebration.

    To be Catholic is to allow for a diversity of expression of the One True Faith. So long as the Form of the Mass expresses the essential truths required by the Church, i.e, that the Mass is a sacrifice, that in the sacrifice we are uniting ourselves to the Sacrifice of Our Lord at Calvary, that the Mass confects the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist which become the Real Presence of Our Lord – Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity through the miracle of Transubstansiation, changes such as addition of a reading from the Old Testament (or from the Acts of the Apostles during Easter Season) addition of a Responsorial Psalm, use of appropriate music composed specifically for use in the Mass but in a contemporary musical style, and additional choices in form of the Canon of the Mass are certainly not heterodox or heretical. At the same time continued availability and use of the Liturgy promulgated by St Pius V is laudible and should be nurtured as much as possible.

  39. Tony Phillips says:

    From G. Ploude: Are you questioning the validity of the promulgation of the Ordinary Form of the Mass?
    To state that Bl. Paul VI overstepped his authority in similarly revising the liturgy is incorrect.
    Not at all. This idea that the pope can do whatever he wants is incorrect. Where ‘tweaks’ end and abrogation begins may be a bit fuzzy, but Paul VI clearly crossed the line. What he did was not only inopportune, but illicit.
    A certain Peter tried to impose circumcision and particular dietary laws on the church. He didn’t get away with that either.

  40. Gerard Plourde says:

    Tony Phillips,

    I never asserted that a pope can do whatever he wants. A pope cannot change dogma or doctrine and no pope has. It appears, though, that you also believe that a pope is barred from making changes in discipline. The Form promulgated by Bl. Paul VI continues to express the truths of the Church concerning its nature and fruits as expressed most recently in the decrees of the Council of Trent. The fact that is it many of the changes were already introduced in 1965 including use of the vernacular, abbreviation of the prayers at the foot of the Altar, and elimination of the Last Gospel.

    Further, it seems to me to be a form of special pleading to claim that the changes made by the popes I named merely constitute “tweaks” and therefore don’t count as rejection of the interpretation that St. Pius V, if he intended to bind his successors to an unchangeable liturgical form, possessed the authority to do so. Your example of St. Peter, in fact, would tend to support the argument that a change in discipline is fully within the authority of a pope or of a Council with the assent of a pope, since the example you cite involved the abrogation of existing Mosaic Law and in fact established a change in discipline.

  41. Tony Phillips says:

    Gerard P: Pio Nono changed dogma by adding the Assumption, which previously had been a pious belief accepted by some, but not all. To justify this, he appealed to the dogma of papal infallibility, another new dogma promulgated by a very ‘stacked’ First Vatican Council.

    I don’t disagree that the NO ‘continues to express the truths of the Church’ (though I’d argue less effectively than the TLM). I could invent my own liturgy that does the same thing, but I don’t have any right to impose it on the church. And neither, I’d argue, did Paul VI. What he did was not only misguided, but wrong.

    It wasn’t Peter who abrogated Mosaic Law. He resisted that abrogation, and only caved in when St Paul, foreshadowing Marcel Lefebvre, resisted him ‘to his face’.

  42. christulsa says:

    Tonight after Mass, Fr McBride, SSPX responded to the Cardinal’s comment. He said the “absolute necessity” comment in itself could be read as an admission that grave circumstances in the Church could justify the kind of stance taken by the Society.

    Premise: We are not obliged to attend a liturgy that by all right reason and faith appears to be Protestant, habitually irreverent and profane, even if the official missal used is accepted as orthodox.

    Premise: When a Novus Ordo habitually has non-sacred music, breaking of rubrics, a Protestant style (is like a Lutheran service), even if otherwise celebrated with reverence, we are not obliged to attend.

    Practically speaking, these kind of Masses are the universal norm, and SSPX Masses become a real option in countless situations.

  43. Suburbanbanshee says:

    If you are describing his argument correctly, this Fr. McBride is a sophist. I bet he would not respond well to an argument (by some liberal like a women’s ordination fan) that Pope John Paul II’s statement that the Church had no authority to ordain women could be read as an admission that women could just ordain themselves. Or an argument that the shortage of priests was a grave circumstance that could justify a stance of self-ordination or women’s ordination.

    All I know is that my parents never thought the “grave circumstance” of my hatred of liver was an argument that I didn’t have to eat it. The one time I drew out the eating of the liver so late that it was past my bedtime and I was still sitting at table staring at my plate, I found out that the liver had been saved for my breakfast delectation. Luckily I was permitted the option of huge amounts of ketchup.

    My likes and dislikes in food and liturgical music do not rise to the level of necessity, no matter how strong they may be.

  44. Gerard Plourde says:

    Tony Phillips,

    I wasn’t saying that Peter abrogated Mosaic Law. As you point out, the Council of Jerusalem’s abrogation of circumcision ended a practice enjoined on Abraham by God in sealing their covenant and predated the covenant entered by the entire nation of Israel at Sinai. Peter ‘s position was to preserve the practice. It could be said that in the situation concerning the SSPX and the Universal Church that the SSPX stands in the role analogous to that of Peter and the Church in the role analogous to that of the Council Fathers of Jerusalem.

  45. Gerard Plourde says:

    Tony Phillips.

    As to your claim that the declaration of the Assumption and of Papal Infallibility changed dogma – that view is not correct. By your own admission, belief in the Assumption predated it’d formal definition by Ven. Pius XII and the doctrine of Papal Infallibility was understood and accepted prior to the formal declaration of its limits by the First Vatican Council in 1870.

  46. Imrahil says:

    Dear Banshee,

    we know about correct arguments and incorrect arguments, about correct simple arguments, incorrect simple arguments, correct subtle arguments and incorrect subtle arguments – but not of “subtle hence incorrect” arguments (which I think is meant by the terminus “sophism”).

  47. Imrahil says:

    A certain Peter tried to impose circumcision and particular dietary laws on the church

    Well, no, he didn’t. It was in fact Peter who, following a vision from the Lord (the famous point of time “death of the last Apostle” had not, after all, arrived), abrogated the dietary laws.

    He then assented, it is true, to the introduction of a certain dietary law, as proposed (as a sort-of compromise) by St. James (whether or not St. James adhered to the party that rallied around him, which did want circumcision and mosaic diet law, in these points, he at any rate offered the compromise): the diet consisted of “no meat sacrificed to idols” and “no blood” – as Church discipline, not as Divine law – and the latter part has long now been obsolete. But he did get away with it.

    The famous incident where St. Paul rebuked St. Peter, which you were probably referring to, had nothing to do with introduction of circumcision and mosaic dietary law, per se, but with a slightly more complicated thing.

    At that time, the debate was whether heathens that became Christians had to fulfil the Mosaic law. It was answered by “no”, but that Jews continued to fulfil it was treated as a matter of course (this was abondoned only later; tradition connects this abandonment with the fall of the Temple). So far all was fine and settled, and naturally St. Peter kept company at the tables with both – and it is here that the next dispute arose: Some Judaizers arrived and said that as Jews are not to eat with heathens, neither are Christian Jews to eat with those who don’t follow Mosaic law: and St. Peter, while not convinced, did (being a Jew himself) as they wished – for the sake of peace and quiet…

    and it was this departure from St. Peter’s own position for the sake of peace and quiet that aroused the stern rebuke from St. Paul.

  48. Gerard Plourde says:

    Dear Imrahil,

    Thank you for providing a more complete and correct answer the question of what St. Peter actually did.

    Also, I think Suburbanbanshee’s point, while apparently incorrectly labeled, does indicate a certain amount of special pleading on Fr. McBrien’s part. To claim that Card. Burke’s comment amounts to an admission that “grave circumstances in the church could justify the kind of stance taken by the society” relies on an interpretation of “absolute necessity” that does not comport with the meaning long attributed to it by the Church. As Andrew Saucci states, it usually is a situation approaching “danger of death” or “no other way to receive valid sacraments”.

    I think the difficulty of applying St. Alphonsus’ less stringent standard as you proposed above lies not in the celebration of the Sacrifice of the Mass itself by clergy of the SSPX, but in the danger to the faith that may come from the community of the laity within which it is celebrated. It has been reported here that attenders of SSPX chapels include persons who are sedevacantists and persons who argue that the Mass of the Ordinary Form is invalid and Protestant. Both of these views strike at the very heart of the Catholic Faith, namely, Our Lord’s assurance that the Holy Spirit would guide and protect the Church, in the persons of Christ’s Vicar and the Apostles’ Heirs when united to His Vicar from the snares of Satan and consequently could pose the danger of a near occasion of sin to a person whose faith is waivering.

  49. Papabile says:

    Gerard Plourde said: I think the difficulty of applying St. Alphonsus’ less stringent standard as you proposed above lies not in the celebration of the Sacrifice of the Mass itself by clergy of the SSPX, but in the danger to the faith that may come from the community of the laity within which it is celebrated. It has been reported here that attenders of SSPX chapels include persons who are sedevacantists and persons who argue that the Mass of the Ordinary Form is invalid and Protestant. Both of these views strike at the very heart of the Catholic Faith, namely, Our Lord’s assurance that the Holy Spirit would guide and protect the Church, in the persons of Christ’s Vicar and the Apostles’ Heirs when united to His Vicar from the snares of Satan and consequently could pose the danger of a near occasion of sin to a person whose faith is waivering.

    Again, I do not regularly attend an SSPX Mass. But, in fairness, I thought I would report on what many of the attenders of the Novus Ordo at my parish believe.

    1. Many believe in abortion as a right of the woman.
    2. Many believe in the use of birth control.
    3. Many do not believe in the efficacy of the Sacraments.
    4. Many do not believe in Transubstantiation.
    5. Many do not believe that Holy Orders results in an ontological transformation of the soul.
    6. Many do not believe that Confession is necessary for the forgiveness of sins.
    7. Many believe that it is OK to receive Communion at a Protestant Church.
    8. Many believe that Mary’s virginity was not preserved intact.
    9. Many believe Christ had a human Father.

    I make these comments to draw out the point that attending my parish have beliefs that “strike at the very heart of the Catholic Faith namely, Our Lord’s assurance that the Holy Spirit would guide and protect the Church, in the persons of Christ’s Vicar and the Apostles’ Heirs when united to His Vicar from the snares of Satan and consequently could pose the danger of a near occasion of sin to a person whose faith is waivering.”

    Quite frankly, Gerard, I would expect better of you in your argumentation — which I often admire.

  50. Gerard Plourde says:

    Dear Papabile,

    I don’t doubt that what you report of your parish is true in many places. The question I have is: Do the parishioners you enumerate actively promote those heterodox and, frankly, heretical views? If so, does the pastor countenance them or, if he hears of someone promoting heterodoxy and heresy does he clearly set forth the Church’s teaching? My concern regarding SSPX communities is that the Sedevacanitists and those who hold the Ordinary Form to be invalid actively seek to promote those views to others in the community and are not challenged or silenced by the SSPX. In point of fact, official videos produced by the SSPX come very close to actually claiming the Ordinary Form is invalid.

  51. Papabile says:

    Gerard Plourde wrote: ” My concern regarding SSPX communities is that the Sedevacanitists and those who hold the Ordinary Form to be invalid actively seek to promote those views to others in the community and are not challenged or silenced by the SSPX. In point of fact, official videos produced by the SSPX come very close to actually claiming the Ordinary Form is invalid.”

    OK, I will deal with both seperate issues.

    First the Sedevacantists.

    Lefebvre, himself, was merciless when it came to the sedevacantists. He expelled a group of them from the SSPX and it resulted in the creation of the SSPV. NUMEROUS Priests have been expelled from the SSPX for exactly the same thing over the last 30 years. Angelus Press, the SSPX publishing House, published in 2003, Sedevacantism: A False Solution to e Real Problem.
    They more recently published True or False Pope: Refuting Sedevacantism and other Modern Errors The Angelus Magazine has addressed this multiple times (2/83, 7/87, 10/95, 6/98, 11/98, 12/01, 1/02.

    There can be no doubt that the leadership and Priests of the SSPX have actively refuted sedevacantism. Have the “pastor”s (SSPX has no actual pastors. That’s a canonical office)
    always addressed it from the altar if people are positing it in their pews? That clearly enters in the prudential realm of how to address an issue of a publicly dissenting parishioner.

    But, you raise an interesting point. What if a pastor refuses to “set forth the Church’s teaching”. That’s often clearly the case in many parishes I have attended over the years. In fact, more often than not, I have actually attended parishes where the Priest himself is a dissenter.

    But more to my point, it’s fundamentally unfair to call into question whether people should attend their Masses if the Priest doesn’t actively and publicly “set forth the Church’s teaching” in response to idiots. If that were the case, a majority of most Diocesan parishes in the Northeast US should be empty.

    With regards to the validity of the Novus Ordo. This has been clearly set forth by the Society for over 30 years. They believe if done with the intention of the Church, and according to the actual books, it is valid. Whether it is as pleasing to God, or sometimes crosses into invalidity is pretty much open for debate. And the reason I say this follows from the fact that Rome allowed them to hold this opinion when they were offered a structure in both 1989 and more recently. What they were to promise was “not to engage in polemics.”

    In fact, if one were to read Fellay and the other Bishops statements since the last round of talks, one no longer seems to see the traditional polemic that was associated with Lefebvre himself. For instance, you no longer will hear call the NO a “bastard Mass.”

    With respect to “official videos”, I have actual Diocesan videos” where Priests deny dogmas of the Faith.

    Again, I don’t attend an SSPX chapel. But I think your comments are fundamentally unfair.

  52. Gerard Plourde says:


    I accept your view that my comments are unfair. My concern is that Cardinal Burke if, who is a champion of the Extrordinary Form, who no one would accuse of being “soft” doctrinally, and who formerly headed the Apostolic Signatura, states that one should not attend SSPX Chapels except in “absolute necessity”, I should hesitate and consider long had hard before attending a Mass there.

  53. Papabile says:

    I respect Cardinal Burke, and, again, I knew him when he was a Monsignor.

    With that said, simply reading what the Holy Father wrote leads me too believe that his intended grant of mercy was much wider than the way some construe it. If I wrote to hear differently from the Pontical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, I would probably respond differently. And worth due respect to H.E. Burke, his opinion is a personal one, and while sincere, is limited in having any authority whatsoever.

    Wrote to PCILT and ask for an authoritative answer.

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