ASK FATHER: If Francis isn’t the real Pope, then do the priests of the SSPX still lack faculties to absolve sins?

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.


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  1. Bob says:

    Phew! I’m glad that was clarified. I was starting to wonder if we were still Catholic!

  2. Not says:

    OR….. What if is finally revealed that Barack Obama was born in Kenya as the jacket of his book said. Would everything he did as an Illegitimate president be overturned? How about if the truth finally is recognized that Donald J. Trump is President and Biden is Illegitimate?
    Pope Francis is Pope because the Holy Ghost would not allow otherwise. We may not like it. He has not made any Excathedra statements and if he did they would not be heretical because once again the Holy Ghost would not allow it.

  3. Ariseyedead says:

    Can both Fakepopes be played by Rowan Atkinson? Oh please, oh please, oh please?? Oh pretty please, with sugar on top!

  4. WVC says:

    I don’t know, I see Rowan Atkinson as Edgar, but maybe John Cleese for Derek.

  5. InFormationDiakonia says:

    Ariseyedead – Yes but only if he is known as John Blackadder I. Of course we could also combine the Metaverses and have the Monty Python Spanish Inquisition fill in as the Curia!

  6. Fr. Reader says:

    We can ask Michael O’Brien to write a novel with this background.

  7. Dave P. says:

    If we were to have Rowan Atkinson play Pope Edgar, I’d have Hugh Laurie as Antipope Derek and Stephen Fry as his manipulative advisor.. Cardinal Nigel, maybe?

  8. redneckpride4ever says:

    If Pope Francis were to expire tomorrow, would his jurisdiction for SSPX confessions expire with him? Or would his decree still have force until a future Pontiff revoked it?

    Is it safe to assume that my needing to even ask this question would mean many a confessions by the SSPX would fall under common error in the future?

  9. redneck: would his jurisdiction for SSPX confessions expire

    If Francis is a Realpope, and not a Fakepope like Edgar or Derek in the post, then his decrees would be like the decrees of all Realpopes: they would last stand a future Realpope abrogated them or issued something to alter them in some way, unless the original Realpope included some sort of sunset provision.

  10. DaveP said: “If we were to have Rowan Atkinson play Pope Edgar, I’d have Hugh Laurie as Antipope Derek and Stephen Fry as his manipulative advisor.. Cardinal Nigel, maybe?”

    James May as archbishop/MC for papal liturgies? Need a real pedant there to make sure the black gets said and the red gets done precisely.

  11. The Masked Chicken says:

    “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.”

    The 1917 Code of Canon Law actually said that newly discovered territories fell under the auspices of the diocese from which the expedition originated, but I am pretty sure that Apollo 11 didn’t discover the moon. The first probe to impact the moon wasn’t American, anyways. It was the Russian, Luna 2, in 1959. Just because Armstrong put his foot on the moon does not mean that he discovered it. Nowadays, with the advent of remote telemetry, the discoverer of an exoplanet could be sitting in an air conditioned office. Canon Law has to be refined, from time to time, to take into account the developments in technology. Otherwise, I am pretty sure that wherever the Garden of Eden was/is, the discovery of the moon belongs to that diocese, when Adam first looked up at the stars. He is the first person to have discovered the moon. Just because the first expedition took 6000+ years later, that was just a little trip to a rather exotic vacation spot, not a discovery.

    The Chicken

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