ASK FATHER: Can SSPX priest still give absolution validly after the Year of Mercy?

confession-731x1024From a reader…

For the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis gave permission to receive Absolution from SSPX priests. Has that permission ended with the Year of Mercy or is it still in effect? We can’t find an official answer explaining this.

You can read this for more. HERE

The statement is buried in a super long, not to say verbose (6000 words), Apostolic Letter for the close of the Year of Mercy called Misericordia et misera.

The bottom line is, yes, the Holy Father extended the opportunity to receive absolution validly from SSPX priests, even though they are suspended.

this settles the issue of valid sacramental confessions.   It does not settle the issue of valid marriages.  The priests of the SSPX are still not proper witnesses of the sacrament, thus not satisfying proper canonical form.

To all those who are attached to chapels of the SSPX…


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. spock says:

    It is a very good thing that the Holy Father has made a positive move extending the faculty for confessions for the SSPX. Logistically, it is not practical or efficient for me to go to an SSPX priest for confession.

    For me personally, It is psychologically challenging for me to accept the truth of the extension of this. The reason is that there are a significant areas where I don’t really agree with the Holy Father has done (or failed to do) that I almost feel like something of a hypocrite by believing it. The issue of the four cardinals on Amoris Latitia being the latest issue where I am in the very uncomfortable position of not being on his side. But if does something I like, well now that’s different isn’t it ? This is the hypocrisy I am referring to in my own mind.

    Am I being too harsh on myself ? Scrupulous ?

    Again, for me it’s practically irrelevant because I’m not (yet) near one of their chapels. But I could just as easily be someone who is and feels the same way.

    Another question. Does the ordinary SSPXer (to use the Father Z’s term) even care ? The SSPX has to the best of my knowledge always claimed faculties anyway. Not to open yet another debate on the validity of that but at a practical level is the Pope’s action relevant to the typical attendee of an SSPX chapel ?

  2. Bthompson says:

    My interpretation of of Misericordia et Misera is that: all regular and diocesan priests (unless there is something of greater force to the contrary) andevwn those in the SSPX have confession faculties, all confessors may remit the excommunication due for procured abortions, and all the Missionaries of Mercy retain their special faculties until this or a future Pope says otherwise.

    This doesn’t affect me much, since I’m already a confessor and my bishop grants us the faculty to remit the excommunication due to procured abortion. However, there are a few priests in my sphere of acquaintances that were (are?) Missionaries of Mercy. Among them, I know one STRONGLY believes he still has special faculties, but another STRONGLY denies he has them any longer…

    I remember reading your article when the document first came out. Now I have even more reason to think that Misericordia et Misera (surprise surprise) could have been clearer.

  3. Dcduo says:

    Unfortunately, you’re right. The average SSPX’er won’t really care, but that’s a sad symptom of their overall problems . It’s important also to remember that since they are suspended a divinis they are still forbidden from offering any sacraments, including confession.

    This just insures that, glory be to God, those that would visit them for confession unknowingly would actually have their sins forgiven.

  4. Papabile says:

    What is personally hard for me to accept is the concept that the marriages under the SSPX are not valid, when Rome has been willing to grant annulments to people ‘married’ in SSPX chapels without any sanatio. (I actually know a couple who received one – psychological incapability.)

    Additionally, unless I am mistaken, there was no sanatio ever given when the crypto-diocese of Campos was reconciled as an Apolstolic Administration.

    Rome has painted itself into such a corner on these things that it strains credulity the the SSPX is in a truly irregular situation.

    Most recently, I had a Cardinal confirm to me the H.E. Lefebvre died an excommuicate. I asked how this was possible, as surely the Church supplied the faculties (as it does even to laicized Priests when death is near) to the SSPX Priest who administered Last Rights (which he received), and the excommunication would subsequently have been remitted.

    The answer: “It is not useful to speak about these things.”

  5. Eliane says:

    “this settles the issue of valid sacramental confessions. It does not settle the issue of valid marriages. ”

    So in these heady days of Amoris Letetia, are SSPX Catholics the only ones to whom the notion of valid marriage applies, even as the very concept becomes moot for everyone else? Meanwhile, Catholics not affiliated with the SSPX can get a civil divorce from a spouse and remarry another before a civil magistrate or a non-Catholic clergyman(or person or perdaughter) and be just fine with the Catholic Church of Pope Francis, as long as they stay away from SSPX priests? It’s absurdities such as this that validate the SSPX as the only ones who understood Vatican II from the get-to.

  6. Maelwys says:

    One is completely within his authority and the other is not.

  7. rmichaelj says:

    To Spock:

    I attend an FSSP mass with my family on Sundays over an hour away. But on Saturdays I go to mass and confession at the nearby SSPX chapel.

    I did not go to confession at the SSPX chapel before the year of mercy, so to some of us it does matter a great deal. I would guess that to most full time SSPX attendees it does not matter as much, but I like to think it gives them some reassurance.

    In regards to agreeing with Pope Francis in allowing for the confessions but being troubled by other things he says and does- I assume that you think of his allowance of the confessions as him “breaking the rules yet again”, and you feel that it is hypocritical to want him to break some rules and not others.

    My reply to the above concern (if that is actually a concern) is-

    1. The Pope is a monarch, the only “rules” he can’t break is that which has been established as part of the deposit of Faith.

    2. Sometimes people make the right decision for the wrong reasons, that doesn’t make the decision less right.

  8. Tom A. says:

    The SSPX chapel I attend has confessions during Mass. On a typical Sunday Mass I would say about 1/2 or more of the congregation goes to confession. I also attend a diocesan TLM when I cannot get to the SSPX chapel. At that Mass however, there are no confessions even though the pastor started having confessions during all the other NO masses. And they wonder why traditional Catholics feel like second class citizens.

  9. Ann Malley says:

    “The answer: “It is not useful to speak about these things.””

    Indeed. It is not useful to maintaining authority to have to explain how one uses said authority to contravene that which is lawful, right, and true. “Do what I say,” is far more useful when one doesn’t have an answer for feigning that SSPX marriages are somehow invalid while at the same time recognizing them.

    Interesting how we are not to judge or seek clarity for the purposes of understanding AL, but somehow, mysteriously there is a clear cut “invalid” when addressing Society marriages. I thought authority was there for the purpose of protecting and guiding, not lording it over and shinnying.

  10. Sword40 says:

    I attend a FSSP parish but have fond memories of the SSPX chapel in Post Falls, ID.
    The whole discussion of which sacraments are valid or illicit with the SSPX drives me crazy. To me it’s like “is the lady pregnant or not?”. You can’t be semi-pregnant. Perhaps a little too simplified but to me it’s the same. Either SSPX has valid sacraments or it doesn’t. But I sure don’t expect Rome to be clear under the present leadership. Sad state of affairs. Pray, pray, pray.

  11. Dcrowmik says:

    Here’s an interesting question that I don’t know the answer to. Since an SSPX priest cannot validly offer the Mass [No. It would be valid but illicit.] (although the Mass itself would be valid but not licit), if a person participating in the Mass knows this, have they thus committed a sinful act? [Participating at an SSPX Mass is not in itself sinful.]

    If so, it’s interesting the person could then, later in the week, go to the same SSPX priest, confess having participated in an illicit Mass that the priest offered then have that priest absolve them. Not trying to be obtuse, but just trying to understand. Thanks.

  12. Tom A. says:

    I have read Fr Z accurately desrcibe the canonical situation of the SSPX from the Vatican’s perspective. Yet there are so many misinformed opinions based on years of rumors and errors taught in most dioceses that demonized the society.

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