From a reader…
I’ve been searching through the Internet, and since I’ve found absolutely nothing regarding this matter, I’ve thought I might as well just send this question to you so that you can be the first (hopefully) to write about it. The Year of Mercy is about to end, what happens to SSPX’s faculties for confession after this Sunday? Any updates or comments about it? This is very important to me, as their confessions have benefited me greatly in the last year, and the SSPX chapels here in Malaysia are the only place in my ENTIRE COUNTRY (9 dioceses large) that the Sacraments in the traditional rite are offered.
Good question. I have a couple feelers out about this matter and I am waiting for responses.
First, keep in mind that – as it appears, at least – the Pope, in his letter to Archbp. Fisichella for the beginning of the Year of Mercy, did NOT say that the priests of the SSPX would have the faculty to absolve. He said that the faithful could go to the SSPX priests for confession! He didn’t explicitly say that the SSPX priests will have faculties to hear their confessions. It seems like a nit-picky detail but – it isn’t. Not if people want clarity. When it comes to validity of absolution, it seems to me that people would like clarity. Clear laws govern these matters so that people can have peace of mind.
In any event, it can be argued, and has been argued, that, if the faithful can have their sins validly absolved by an SSPX priest, then – somehow or other, who knows how – the Holy Father in effect granted the faculty to absolve. But that’s not how the Holy Father framed it.
That applied to the Year of Mercy, which is about to end.
So, it must be asked – QUAERITUR:
What about after the Year of Mercy?
I’ve heard a rumor that the Holy Father wanted to or was going to extend beyond the Year of Mercy what he vaguely – but I guess effectively – granted the faithful during the Year of Mercy.
I have no idea how we will know about that. Clear cut, juridically limpid, documents aren’t exactly forthcoming these days.
Since the Year of Mercy ends in a matter of a few days, we had better keep hitting the refresh key on whatever sites we follow.
My hope is that the Holy Father will, in clear and unambiguous terms, grant a faculty to the priests of the SSPX to receive sacramental confessions and to absolve validly even when there isn’t danger of death. My hope also is that the SSPX priests and the Holy See will work out something soon so that all of these questions about confession (and about marriages) are resolved once and for all.
Many people have benefited from being able to go to confession to SSPX priests during the Year of Mercy. It was a good sign from the Holy Father that he did this, however oddly. However, unless we hear something from the Holy Father (or from a competent authority such as the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei) about this quite soon, it seems that, once the Year is over, the faithful will no longer be able to go to SSPX priests for valid absolution.
As things stand now, the Latin Church has a Code of Canon Law, in which matters such as faculties to receive confessions and to absolve validly are spelled out. The Holy Father is, of course, the Lawgiver in the Church. If we wishes, he can change the law so that matters of faculties are as vague as how he imparted the benefit in question at the beginning of the Year of Mercy. However, until he does change the law, we the faithful have to expect that, for the sake of order and peace of mind, clear statements will be forthcoming. I pray that they will.