SSPX forbidden to pray at Shrine of Our Lady of Knock

OL_KnockI saw this, thanks to a reader.

From God does not die:

Knock and it Shall NOT be Opened to You! – SSPX Pilgrimage Group Refused Entry to Knock Shrine.

The Society of Saint Pius X annual pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady at Knock in Co. Mayo was disrupted yesterday, Saturday 16th September, when Shrine officials refused entry to priests and laity.  [St. Peter’s Basilica permits them.]

Members of Knock Shrine Security approached the SSPX priests, informing them that they were not permitted to celebrate Mass or carry out any devotions as a group. They confirmed that these were the orders which they had been instructed to convey.

For the first time in over ten years, therefore, the Society was forced to celebrate Mass outside of the Shrine grounds (heretofore, for a number of years, SSPX priests had been granted permission to celebrate Mass in various chapels on the grounds of the Shrine). And, for the first time in the entire history of the SSPX’s presence in Ireland, the pilgrimage group was not even permitted to recite the Rosary or pray the Stations of the Cross within the Shrine precincts!

As a result, Mass was celebrated in the car-park of an obliging local café, and the Rosary was prayed on the Main Street which runs adjacent to the Shrine. Security was posted at the gates during the rosary procession, ensuring that the group did not enter the Shrine grounds at any time.

Just like there was no place in the inn for Christ in Bethlehem, so there was no place for those faithful to the Tradition of the Church at Knock this past Saturday. The Knock Shrine authorities should be ashamed of themselves! Rector, Fr. Richard Gibbons, had no problem allowing an “ecumenical service” last January in the Saint John’s Rest and Care Centre at the Shrine. Neither did he have any problem with the assistance of “Reverend Canon” Derek Swann of the Church of Ireland, the Presbyterian “Reverend” Molly Deatherage and a Muslim representative, Manar Cherbatji, at a 2014 Peace Mass at Knock. He even had his photograph taken with them on the occasion:
Also in 2014, Father Gibbons was content to conduct a joint ecumenical service in the Knock Shrine Basilica with the Church of Ireland “Bishop” of Tuam, Killala and Achonry, “Dr.” Patrick Cooke in August of that year to celebrate the 190 years of the Royal National Lifeboat Association. On this occasion, as the Irish Catholic reported, Father Gibbons went the extra mile … “Dr.” Cooke led the celebration, while Father Gibbons was his assistant!

Conclusion? Father Gibbons cordially invites Anglicans, Presbyterians and Muslims, who do not accept the Church’s infallible teachings on the Blessed Virgin Mary, to participate in, and even lead services on the site where Our Lady appeared. But, he does not allow the Society of Saint Pius X and those faithful who assist at their Masses to even say the Rosary as a group on the same site, despite their obvious love for the Mother of God. Shame on him!

To contact Father Gibbons to protest against this injustice, call: (094) 93 88100 or email:

I remember a story about a bishop who locked a group who wanted the traditional Sacred Triduum out of their church.  The particulars escape me.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Kerry says:

    Father Z, that was Bishop Blaise Cupich when he was Bishop for the Archdiocese of Rapid City, SD. Easter of 2002:

  2. Charles E Flynn says:

    Saint Patrick was not available for comment.

  3. JohnoftheCross says:

    Is your final sentence referring to the 2002 Latin Mass incident involving Cardinal Cupich? (then Bishop of Rapid City, South Dakota).

    See this link:

  4. CradleRevert says:

    Yep, the last sentence definitely refers to then-Bishop Cupich when he was in Rapid City. He locked the FSSP parishioners out of the church building they were sharing with a diocesan parish, and all in the name of “unity”. As I recall, they had to do their Good Friday service in the parking lot.

  5. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    The double standard would be laughable if it wasn’t so heartbreaking.

  6. jfk03 says:

    The left likes diversity, but strictly on its own terms.

  7. JMGcork says:

    During the Novena in Knock this past August, The Church of Ireland bishop, Patrick Rooke preached the homily at a Mass and processed in beside Catholic Archbishop Michael Neary. This can be seen on the Knock Shrine YouTube channel. ‘The Reformation, 500 Years On’

    If you look about six months to a year ago, you’ll hear the master of ceremonies telling people to stand for the Eucharistic Prayer. They’ve stopped now (Deo Gratias) but there are no kneelers.

  8. kurtmasur says:

    I too was aware of traditional faithful being forced to celebrate the Triduum outside on the sidewalk of their church, but I could have sworn it was much more recent, and I definitely did not realize the bishop in question had to be no other than Cupish himself! :-o

    I am willing to guess that perhaps the above incident made Cupich stand out amongst liberals, and was the reason why he was ultimately transferred to Chicago and subsequently given a red hat. I think this definitely reflects the bad state of the church in which liberal and heretic clergy get promoted to positions of prominence (Cupich and others), while faithful Catholic clergy get demoted (Burke, Muller).

  9. ResMiranda says:

    Might seem silly, but how does one “protest” by email? I can hardly write and say “shame on you, shame!”

    [You could write a short, respectful note to say that their decision left you, shocked and saddened.]

  10. JustaSinner says:

    I’d always thought that Liberalism was a mental disease. Now I see the error in my ways; it’s merely cancer.

  11. thomistking says:

    “Also in 2014, Father Gibbons was content to conduct a joint ecumenical service in the Knock Shrine Basilica with the Church of Ireland “Bishop” of Tuam, Killala and Achonry, “Dr.” Patrick Cooke in August of that year to celebrate the 190 years of the Royal National Lifeboat Association.”

    He’s not a real bishop, but surely he is a real doctor!

  12. Ben Kenobi says:

    Speaking as someone who had to wait years before I could receive at mass, the solution is simple. Was it easy? No. But I could not be in full communion with the Church until I was willing to obey what the Church taught. Do they want to pray at the shrine? Leave the SSPX and join the rest of us.

    If being SSPX is more important than unity with the rest of Catholicism, then what should they expect? Special treatment? They have received special treatment, that most of us did not get. Was there a year of mercy where my pastor could have performed services? No. And why not? Because the Church has important teachings that have to be followed and accepted.

    I needed to be *excluded* before I could develop an appreciation for why unity was important. The tail does not and should not wag the dog.

    [On the other hand, such an approach might smack of spiritual stinginess.]


  14. SAHMmy says:

    I just checked out the newsletter the Shrine puts out for this week and found an offering of a class entitled “Enneagram Part I”. Wow. Things seem to have gone terribly wrong at Knock. [Oh dear.] In my daily rosary I include petition for the people of Ireland, but I think I’m going to pray especially for the Knock Shrine and those involved in it’s operation.

  15. MacCheese says:

    Father, as a person who is from this area and one who visited Knock Shrine this past Friday, I know there are many Holy priests there. They are mostly (not all) foreign priests who are true to the teachings of the Church.
    While we don’t know the particulars as to why this happened, observing how the catholic culture in Ireland has disentegrated over the past few years, puts this in context. For most ppl of faith they are reluctant to even speak of their faith at all. There are pockets of the remnant but for the most part it’s dying.
    In a generation or two, it will be fertile ground and the SSPX, FSSP and the Dominicans will be leading the evangelization.
    Please don’t lose faith in Knock Shrine, or the Irish, for Our Lady is there and she will have her victory.
    Our Lady, Queen of Ireland, pray for us.

  16. pelerin says:

    Last week I had an interesting conversation with a young (35ish) Irishman who told me that he was the only one out of all his peers who still attended Mass. MacCheese’s comment about the disintegration of Catholic culture in Ireland seems to be a reality. To think that Ireland once ‘exported’ priests in great numbers to English parishes.

  17. Fallibilissimo says:

    Well I don’t understand very well. When they say the SSPX can’t celebrate Mass in the shrine, they mean one celebrated by a SSPX priest? Isn’t that illicit in the first place? Why would it ever be allowed?

    Unless I’m missing something, this sounds more than appropriate to me. As Fr William Most used to say “obedience is the substance of the sacrifice [of the Mass]”. How could they be permitted to celebrate the Mass in disobedience to the Church?

    As for the banning of devotions and prayers…that doesn’t sound very welcoming. I thought we were supposed to be accompanying people and making them feel at home, as much as possible, by meeting them where they are. How can we ever have an encounter with people if we can’t even pray a rosary together?

  18. pelerin says:

    And I am sure I have read that the SSPX are welcomed to celebrate Mass in Lourdes too.

  19. Tony Phillips says:

    Some of you people obviously don’t understand the meaning of inclusiveness. Some people get included in, and others get included out. Simple.

  20. TrueDevotions says:

    There is an update to this on the Knock Shrine website
    It says:
    “As the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) has an irregular canonical relationship with the Catholic Church, they are not allowed to celebrate Mass publicly at the Shrine or on Shrine grounds. They are most welcome to pray the Rosary, Stations of the Cross and other prayers

    On Saturday 16th September last, Shrine security was informed that the society were about to set up marquees to celebrate Mass at 11am in the North carpark on Shrine grounds, without Shrine permission. They were informed they could not do so.

    While the society is most welcome to pray at the Shrine, we would ask them to respect our situation and conditions. It is up to the SSPX to resolve any canonical and doctrinal issues with the Holy See.”

  21. rlvankirk says:

    I just sent this email: Choice Christian Greetings, Father Gibbons. May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    With great sadness I write to you, blessed Father, seeking correction and understanding. I read recently that you denied access to the Sacred and Holy Shrine of Our Lady of Knock to devout men and women who have taken the teachings of our Holy Mother Church to the very depths of their hearts. I have read that you have allowed Muslims, who do not believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity to enter the Shrine, as well as Protestants, whose main goal is to see the Holy Roman Catholic Church brought to dust and ashes.

    Is this true, good Father? Could you have turned away a people dedicated to our Faith while allowing those whose mission it is to destroy Roman Catholicism to darken the Holy Shrine of Our Lady of Knock?

    I do not believe you would allow such a thing to happen, and I fear I have been misinformed. I pray that I have been misinformed. Because if I was not, and what was written is true, you should fall on your knees before all of the Society of Saint Piux X and beg forgiveness.

    Please dear Father, do not fall into the most grievous error that destroys the foundations of our Faith. If you embrace our grievous enemies, should you not also embrace your brothers and sisters?

    Did you really deny them the right to recite the Holy Rosary before the sacred ground of Our Lady’s Apparition? May God forbid!

  22. pink chasuble says:

    Confused… St. Peter’s permits what? They allow SSPX to pray at their own (St. Peter’s) basilica, or they permit local shrines to refuse entry to groups?

  23. Mike says:

    Ham-fisted idiocy such as that practiced by the guardians of Knock is why SSPX chapels don’t need to buy advertising.

  24. Joseph Mendes says:

    It’s always interesting to see people be far more “welcoming” to Protestants and Jews than to the SSPX, who are actually Catholic.

  25. Gabriel Syme says:


    Isn’t that illicit in the first place? Why would it ever be allowed?

    A good question: a mass said by a priest without faculties is indeed illicit (but is valid), but the SSPX always argued that, because the Church is in a state of emergency* then canon law grants them emergency faculties.

    This is now a moot point, because the Church Authorities (Ecclesia Dei in this case) ruled some years ago now that it was acceptable for lay people to attend SSPX masses. So the argument has since moved on from the issue of faculties.

    (As an aside, all Catholics require to fulfil their mass obligations is to attend a valid mass in a Catholic rite. Canon law doesn’t stipulate the mass has to be licit. This ties up with the Ecclesia Dei judgement mentioned above).

    *the grounds for stating there is a state of emergency is due to the collapse of all of Catholic morality, (see the James Martin SJ thread elsewhere), knowledge of and belief in the doctrines of the Church, mass attendance, vocations, you name it.

    This was foretold at Fatima, as was the ‘diabolical disorientation’ which prevents many (especially prelates) from recognising and acting on the situation.

    What, other than diabolical disorientation, could be responsible for a situation where members of heretic sects and false religions worship at knock, while faithful from one of the most orthodox and faithful bastions in the Church are chased away by security men?

  26. Gabriel Syme says:


    I am sure I have read that the SSPX are welcomed to celebrate Mass in Lourdes too.

    And at Fatima. The SSPX pilgrimages there are always the largest. Last month the Society took 10,000 faithful to Fatima, the largest pilgrimage in the 100 years since the Apparitions.

  27. Gabriel Syme says:

    Reading the statement from the Shrine, two things jump out at me:

    1) It mentioned the SSPX didn’t have permission. This may have been a misjudgement on the Society’s part, given things had run amicable for the prior 10 years – perhaps the priest who chased them is new and not aware of what had gone before?

    But ultimately pilgrimages and visiting priests etc should always ensure they have permission to say mass (or whatever), as a basic courtesy. I don’t know a single parish priest who would react well, if some strange priest he had never met waltzed into his Church and started saying mass without consulting him.

    2) The hardline anti-SSPX stance seems to have been dialled back a bit, granting that the faithful could say the rosary at the shrine and make the stations of the cross etc. Originally they claim even this was denied to them and so this is obviously a positive step.

    I am sure that, with prayer, the situation will be resolved and things will return to the amicable situation which had been reached before.

    It is very painful to see Bishops speak out to laud and defend the likes of Fr James Martin SJ – who publicly works to overturn Catholic morality – but a resounding silence from the hierarchy when faithful lay people are refused entry to a shrine and have to say their prayers in the street.

    Saint Athanasius comes to mind: “They have the buildings, we have the faith”.

  28. Tbraun says:

    I read elsewhere that the SSPX grouo was permitted to enter and pray the rosary and stations. But they were not permitted to celebrate mass on the grounds including in the car park.
    The point still stands about some of the other illicit celebrations that have happened as well as a double standard. But there is conflicting information about what was permitted or not as the case may be. I’m not sure which account is more reliable.

  29. Ylonila del Mar says:

    I’m sorry but I can’t feel any pity for the SSPX. While I deeply sympathize with Catholics persecuted for upholding tradition especially the Tridentine Mass, the SSPX go about this the wrong way. The fact that they’re not in full communion and were excommunicated in the past is quite telling.[Or it would be had “they” been excommunicated. “They” weren’t.] By acting independently of the papacy, they don’t really seem any better than those who rallied around Martin Luther’s revolt. [PUHLEEZ. Do note that their Masses are valid, you fulfill your obligation when attending them on Sundays, they can validly absolve your sins and, now with a little work with the local bishop, licitly witness your marriage.]

  30. Vincent says:


    I was there! But 10,000 may have been a little bit of an exaggeration! The consensus was c.7,000 for the Saturday; it may have been touching 8-9,000 on the Sunday when Bishop Fellay said Mass.

    That said, it was the same sad attitude as is shown at Knock. The sanctuary authorities wouldn’t allow the Society into the sanctuary at all. We were relegated to ‘Car Park 14’ which is about as far away as possible. Still, you could apparently hear the Credo from all over the town, so I suppose we ‘won’ eventually!

  31. Absit invidia says:

    Could you imagine if Lutherans were treated this way? Pope
    Francis himself would come riding in on his white horse to save them.

  32. Nan says:

    Also to the US. My archdiocese received many Irish priests, including the first Archbishop, John Ireland. There are many priests born in Ireland and buried in St Paul.

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