ASK FATHER: Can we listen to talks by SSPX priests?

From a reader…


As SSPX priest and bishops are canonically suspended, would it be a sin to listen, read or propagate a book or a talk by a priest or bishop of the Society ? For example, if I wish to listen to a good talk in French about the basics of modernism, and the only one available is given by an SSPX priest. Thank you very much.

First, I don’t think that the only available talks about modernism are from the SSPX.  As a matter of fact, I have in my quiver a talk about modernism.  However, I will grant you that not many priests talk about modernism and the dangers of modernism and the modern manifestations of modernism because they either don’t know about it or they, too, are modernists.

Would it be a sin?   That depends on what the SSPX priests says, n’est-ce pas?

If the priest commits the sin of scandal in his talk, I would say yes.  If you are looking for that sort of thing, I think you would stray from the right path.  If not, if he is factual and charitable and does not lead people to undermine their unity with the Roman Pontiff and the bishops in unity with him, then I would say, “Thank you for addressing this important topic!”

The fact of belonging to the SSPX doesn’t in itself mean that what the priest says is either bad or good, to be avoided or sought out.  I can say the same for the talks given by many priests and, alas, bishops.  Just because someone is a high ranking cleric in good standing in the Church – even at the highest levels – is there any guarantee that everything that cleric says is sound or even within the bounds of what we call smart.

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  1. un-ionized says:

    I don’t know anything about all this SSPX stuff and issues but it seems to me that if something is helpful it’s okay, whatever the source. For a worst case scenario, Fr. Corapi’s talks on the catechism were helpful to lots of people and then things sort of blew up. But the talks are still helpful.

  2. Mike says:

    If the priest commits the sin of scandal in his talk . . . zing! Surely a temptation for many priests (not only those of the SSPX), but a distraction at best and not apt to be conducive to the salvation of one’s soul, rather the opposite.

  3. catholictrad says:

    “Canonically suspended”, yet with valid confession? This needs unraveling.

    Considering the abominable statements coming from canonically licit and high ranking prelates, I can’t justify looking solely to “authority” for truth. All must be judged according to the written Gospel and the Tradition of the Church regardless of the source.

    Want to hear about Modernism? Consult Pope Pius X, Pascendi Dominici Gregis. But only read it so you can identify it and avoid it. Stoking anger and division in yourself or others is mortal sin.

    Considering my own proclivities to sin; if it causes physical passion, it is flesh-porn; if it causes vengeful passion, it is anger-porn; if it causes superiority passions, it is pride-porn. Judge it, then avoid it, regardless of the source.

  4. Akita says:

    From Novus Ordo pulpits I have heard that “Obama is a good man” and “gay marriage is a matter of Equal rights”. Almost weekly I hear bizarre, modernist spin from the Novus Ordo podium, most recently that in prison John the Baptist doubted that Jesus was who He said he was so sent his friends out to find out what Jesus was doing. You know, weak John the Baptist was dispirited in that dank cell.

    I have heard sound catechesis from SSPX pulpits as well as what trying times these are for the Church. Scandalous? I don’t think so. The SSPX is a salve.

  5. anilwang says:

    Talks on modernism are most definitely not the sole domain of the SSPX. The FSSP and other traditional Catholics regularly talk about it, though some times using the term liberalism. Have a look at the following links for some good traditional sermons (I don’t have a more complete list on hand at the moment): (Father Hardon Archive)

    But getting back to whether it is a sin to listen to SSPX sermons, one could equally ask if it is a sin to listen to secular speakers, non-Catholic religious speakers, and and Protestant speakers. If one were to restrict oneself to orthodox Catholic sermons and the saints, you could spend a life time and not even scratch the surface.

    But you’d also limit your job prospects and your understanding of others around you and even your own faith. I can tell you that I would not be as passionate about the Catholic faith if it were not for my earlier wanderings into Eastern Orthodoxy. It’s not that what the Eastern Orthodox is completely absent from typical orthodox Catholic speakers/sermons/saints. It’s just that the Eastern way of thinking is different. There are different metaphors and understandings of the same faith and a different emphasis for support (e.g. Eastern Catholics/Othodox tend to focus on the Church Fathers whereas Western Catholics tend to focus on the councils, constant tradition, the Bible, and mostly later saints) and a difference in worship (e.g. in Eastern liturgy, you are brought into Heaven which is why there is such an emphasis on idealized icons and the heavenly hierarchical arrangement of those icons, while in Western liturgy heaven is brought down to Earth, which is why more fleshy statues and the stations of the cross are present).

    Similarly, from Calvinists you can gain an appreciation of the sovereignty of God and from the French (mostly atheistic) Existentialists you can gain an appreciation of why God is needed for there to be meaning at all. Again, it’s not as if these concepts aren’t part of Catholic thought (e.g. Ecclesiastes, Job, St. John of the Cross). It’s just that they approach these issues from a different perspective (with sometimes unfortunate conclusions) that can greatly enhance ones love and understanding of the Faith.

  6. Akita says:

    The TLM in my diocese is very difficult to access. One Mass weekly at an odd time and the priest is a weak, non-native English speaker. He can scarcely be understood. God Bless him for his service.

    There is no FFSP, SSPX in my diocese. Small, backwater diocese. I travel to a neighbouring state regularly with an SSPX mission.

    This is to clarify my circumstances. I’m sure others are trapped in similar situations.

  7. Orphrey says:

    Didn’t the Pope even say you can go to an SSPX priest for Confession?

  8. bombcar says:

    Given that we can listen to a Protestant preacher talk about the Bible (and there are some good ones!) and a Russian Orthodox discourse on Mary, we can certainly listen to a priest of the SSPX talk – the danger would come if we by doing so encourage others to reject the Pope or something, but that’s unlikely, especially if you’re listening to a recording.

  9. Dan says:

    I frequently will listen to homilies and talks given by SSPX and find them very enlightening and rarely scandalous. SSPX is a priestly society and they take that responsibility very seriously and spend much effort properly forming their priests.
    In fact whenever I have a question of Catholic teaching I will often seek for the answer in the form of talks or articles from the SSPX because they present the answer in terms of the full magisterium of the Catholic Church and not just in terms of the latest modernist fad. Although they do deny many aspects of Vatican II that they believed would damage the Catholic Church and cloudy Her universal teaching (do you think they were right?) they also frequently caution against sedivacantist attitudes.
    In short, I would trust an SSPX priest for a proper formation of conscience to the Catholic faith much more than I would trust a random priest from the “Basilica of St. Modern Do What You Like Sing Happy Tunes” who removes Christ from the center of the sanctuary and sets themselves there instead.

  10. rmichaelj says:

    Most of the talks I’ve heard from the SSPX are similar to the talks from the FSSP priests. They discuss the issues, but tend to not name specific people in order to avoid detraction (there are of course exceptions to this). Having said that- If you are a Catholic who knows his faith well, I doubt anything said by an SSPX priest in a talk would be able to scandalize you. Quite the opposite, as the SSPX has been consistent in protecting itself from sedevacantism as opposed to some priests who have left the SSPX.

    And of course if you think you might be easily scandalized then pray the Acts of Faith and Hope often. Actually, considering the great confusion being spread at this time, we should all do so.

  11. Sword40 says:

    Many years ago we attended an SSPX chapel in Post Falls, ID. When I changed jobs and locations we returned to a Diocesan parish. Finally we got our own FSSP parish with two priests.

    If the FSSP were to ever quit saying the TLM we would be back at SSPX in a heart beat.

  12. aliciakay says:

    For those interested, I’d recommend Dr. Patrick’s “Essays on Modernity.” We are blessed to have him nearby to speak on these matters in our Ordinariate parish.

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