ASK FATHER: Diocese cancelled all Masses. Would it be wrong to go to the SSPX?

From a reader…


As our diocese has cancelled all Masses until further notice which includes our TLM parish would it be disobedient and/or sinful to attend the local SSPX Mass which goes against both our local ordinary and our city which has forbidden all public gatherings?

Provided you follow local civil laws,… NO.

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  1. Fr_Andrew says:

    I just got in my e-mail the letter from the SSPX district superior (as I’m on the mailing list) about the SSPX and the Coronavirus. In it he writes that the SSPX will follow all legitimate local laws about public gatherings. So, while the diocese might have forbidden public Mass, if the local government also forbid large public gatherings, the SSPX is supposed to be complying.

    Maybe the chapel is not within the city? [There may be laws at the level of the county or state.] Maybe it’s not an SSPX chapel, but some offshoot? [Those chapels should be roundly and soundly ignored.] Maybe that decision was only recently communicated to the priests, and so you have a weekend of lag before all are on the same page?

  2. rhig090v says:

    My understanding is that it’s never a sin to go to any service of the SSPX. Unless of course one does it with schismatic intentions.

    There are many, many good, holy SSPX priests and even more good, faithful who attend those chapels. I pray for regularization very soon.

  3. veritas vincit says:

    The SSPX should certainly comply with the orders of civil authorities, like any other religious group.

    And on this issue (in terms of offering public Mass), I would hope the SSPX would comply with the directives of the local bishop. This does not touch on any issue the SSPX has with Vatican II or the liturgy.

    That said, I don’t look forward to banning any public Masses. But it may well come to that.

  4. PaulusFranciscus says:

    How about a Maronite service? [Catholics can freely attend all Catholic services, Easter or Western. Dioceses and Eparchies (Eastern “dioceses”) can overlap. However, they might have different policies about Masses in this time of increasing lockdown.]

  5. Bthompson says:

    They are just as Catholic as we are, so go ahead! [I’ll remind you that this is under ASK FATHER… right?]

  6. JesusFreak84 says:

    Here’s the letter from the SSPX superior, for reference. It’s dated for this past Friday, but today’s the first I saw it on their website. (Granted I didn’t check much over the weekend.)

    I would also recommend [I’ll remind you that this is filed under ASK FATHER….] people who can check with Eastern Catholic Eparchies. The Byzantine Catholic Eparchy hasn’t cancelled Liturgy, nor has the UGCC Eparchy of Chicago. Both are just saying to stay home if you’re sick, and consider yourself dispensed if you can’t go. (Again, local laws still apply.)

  7. surritter says:

    Father — could you clarify your answer? The question stated that the city has forbidden all public gatherings. Thus, that’s a local civil law (albeit temporary). But you wrote that it’s OK to go to an SSPX Mass, as long as one follows all local civic laws.
    So putting the two together, I read that one shouldn’t attend an SSPX (in that city) since to do do would be to violate the local civic law.

    [This is not hard. If the civil authorities have suspended public gatherings, obey the law. However, if there can be gatherings of, say, 50 or less, and there is an SSPX Mass available, whereas the local diocese has suspended all Masses, then one can go to the SSPX Mass. However, obey the civil laws about the numbers of people.]

  8. Matheus Alpoin says:

    Sorry if I seem to be too off topic, but isn’t it weird to say that local civil laws should be obeyed, when it’s clear that the SSPX is disobeying ecclesiastical law?

    [Not if you think for a moment, no.]

  9. tho says:

    Father, If the current Pope can abrogate centuries of Catholic teaching without an explanation, why should we be bound to obey any of his edicts. I am really frustrated by this ad hoc papacy, and I am just looking for a quiet place to contemplate my spiritual well being. If I were close to an SSPX chapel, or any order that says a dignified TLM, I would consider myself fortunate.

    [I don’t know what the papacy has to do with this, when this is a matter of the legislation of your local bishop. If you don’t like Francis, fine. But he has little or nothing to do with your present situation. I suggest you ignore him for now.]

  10. James C says:

    In countries like France and Ireland, the government has set a LIMIT on the amount of people permitted at public gatherings. The SSPX in these countries has responded by EXPANDING their mass schedules so fewer people go to each mass, thus complying with the law. At the same time they are ENCOURAGING distancing and hygienic practices at mass, REMINDING the faithful that their obligation has been lifted by the local bishop, and DISCOURAGING the old and vulnerable from attending the masses.

    All very sensible and pastoral.

    [This is precisely what I suggested in an earlier post! Good for them.]

  11. The current crowd size limit here in Oregon is 25. A quick guestimate, based on the local website’s number of regular parishioners, is that the SSPX church would have to have at least 8 to 10 Masses on a Sunday in order to observe the letter of the current ’emergency’ regime. I don’t believe that will be happening but will keep my eyes open, chiefly to be able to attend at Holy Week and Easter. Spes contra spem.

  12. scholastica says:

    Would you explain a little more Father? My understanding is that the SSPX recognizes the authority of the local Bishop and the Pope, though they are not under ordinary jurisdiction of the local Bishop. They are clear about their disagreements with some of the Vatican 2 directives, the Novus Ordo Mass, and anything else contrary to the Traditional practice of the Faith. However, if they recognize the authority of the local Bishop, it seems in a matter such as this which is reasonable, they would need to comply. If they agree to comply with the suppression of Masses (gatherings) by civil law, why not by ecclesial law? I do attend a SSPX chapel frequently and can ask the priests there, but would like a more neutral position. I would be very happy to hear it justified, but am having trouble doing so.

  13. Uxixu says:

    scholastica said: “My understanding is that the SSPX recognizes the authority of the local Bishop and the Pope, though they are not under ordinary jurisdiction of the local Bishop.”

    Ha, if they recognized his authority they would probably wouldn’t be intruding in his diocese without invitation. Have any Ordinaries ever invited them?

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