From a reader…
If the SSPX, until 2015, lacked faculties for confession, then, in the event that Benedict is still the pope and not Francis, does that mean the SSPX actually still lack faculties and sins are not being absolved? Or would the Church supply in that case?
I’ve been going to SSPX Masses for about 2 months now, confession too, and this only occurred after reading your 2013 post about SSPX confessions not being valid at that time.
Background. During the Year of Mercy, in a round about way Francis gave faculties to the priests of the SSPX to hear confessions and validly absolve, thus giving them broader faculties than regularized priests! Irony, much? Francis extended that at the end of the Year of Mercy.
Of course the priests of the Society of St. Pius X would be unconcerned about whether or not a Pope gave them faculties. They will say that they have faculties anyway.
For the sake of the question, however, we can look at this as a mind exercise.
If Benedict is still THE POPE, that changes a lot of things.
So, imagine. Benedict is still pope, but he let’s another pretend that he is pope. One could argue that, especially with something as important to the salvation of souls as Confession, if Realpope Benedict permitted Fakepope… let’s call him Edgar, Fakepope Edgar to permit Catholics to receive valid absolution from priests of the SSPX, then such permission would implicitly have the approval of Realpope Benedict. Decrees should be in writing, but one can imagine a scenario where Realpope Benedict doesn’t want anyone to know he’s really The Pope. To avoid a paper trail, Realpope Benedict just verbal consent to the decree of Fakepope Edgar. This should be a movie!
Another scenario. Realpope Benedict remains The Pope. He is being held against his will and excluded from acting as The Pope. In this scenario, Fakepope – let’s call this one Derek, Fakepope Derek is an evil mastermind, pretending to be pope while he holds the Realpope Benedict captive. In this case, every act of Fakepope Derek would be invalid. One can then wonder…. would the faithful, deceived by Fakepope Derek, be sent to the bowels of hell with unabsolved sins on their souls because the priests of the SSPX lacked faculties? Here, the Church gives us can. 144: common error. Common error is the sort of error that would arise if the entire Church were to have been deceived and the man acknowledged by the Cardinals and even, apparently, The Real Pope as being the pope – attempted to provide the governance required for valid absolution.
Now, as long as we’re at it, if the NASA really didn’t land men on the moon in 1969, then the validity of the Diocese of Orlando’s claim to jurisdiction over the moon would be questionable. BUT! Should a priest from Orlando officiate at a wedding on the moon, common error would provide the jurisdiction for that act as well.