From a reader, a priest…
We offer the old mass every Sunday at midday. Missa cantata with very sound teaching.
There are individuals who choose to attend Sunday mass at an sspx chapel near to us (and no nearer or more convenient to these individuals) because the Sunday congregation there is small (15) and perfecti whereas our is larger (40) and messier (more crying babies, etc)
These individuals can’t get daily mass at sspx but come to us for the daily tlm.
I’m starting to think that these circumstances make their decision schismatic and that I should inform them that I will not give them holy communion.
What do you think?
Can. 912 establishes the basic principle that Catholics who are not forbidden by law may and must (potest et debet) be admitted to Holy Communion.
Can. 915 clarifies further, stating that those who have been excommunicated or interdicted are to be excluded, as are those “who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin.”
Can. 916 add that those who are conscious of grave sin should not receive Holy Communion without going to confession or at least (if confession is not possible) making a perfect act of contrition and resolving to go to confession as soon as possible.
Can. 1364 say that apostates, heretics, and schismatics incur latae sententiae excommunication (for which our wise friend Dr. Ed Peters will be quick to call an end, in that they create messy and cloudy situations) and therefore should be excluded from Holy Communion.
Can. 751 informs us that schism is the withdrawal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or from communion with the members of the Church subject to him.
The general principle is that, when dealing with penalties or restrictions of rights, the Church wants us to take a strict interpretation of the law (can. 18) lest someone’s rights be unjustly abridged.
Hence, I urge great caution before deciding that someone has committed the delict of schism and thus incurred the penalty of excommunication.
The SSPX, as it has been affirmed by several authorities in the Church, is not schismatic, though it is also not in full communion (it’s in a sort of a tertium quid).
Further, the SSPX only consists of the clerical and seminarian members of the Society itself. Even if the SSPX were to be declared schismatic (quod Deus avertat), the faithful who merely attend their Masses would not fall under that same category. The lay faithful do not belong to “priestly societies”.
In an ideal world, would it be better for the faithful to hear the Holy Mass at a Church in full and unimpaired communion with the rest of the Church? Yes.
Is their decision not to do so a schismatic act? Not according to the Church.
So, what’s to be done in this situation?
The work of a priest is often hard and difficult. While there are ample rewards for it in this life and the next, the answer in this life (for your sins) is more work. Ergo, befriend these parishioners. Cajole them (warmly, tenderly, as a father, not as an imperious scold). Go to their houses, get to know them. Develop the sort of relationship that will allow you, on Monday morning, to call them up and ask if everything is alright because they were missed in their regular pew on Sunday. Preach regularly about the benefits of full communion. Remin them of their responsibilities as Christians to cling close to the Church, even when the human flaws of the institution are all too real.
Perhaps getting to know the priest or priests at the SSPX chapel would also be advisable. While the “big” work of reintegrating the Society back into full communion is handled by committees and commissions in Rome and Econe, the real work of reconciliation is going to take place at the grass roots. Invite him over for a brandy and a cigar. Talk sports. Talk hunting. Talk politics. Compare seminary war stories.
Brick by brick. That’s the process forward.