I read something familiar at LifeSite in a piece about Bp. Athanasius Schneider’s remarks about the SSPX.
I have often explained in these electronic pages that…
- There is no question that the Mass celebrated is in a Catholic Rite. The priests of the SSPX are Catholic priests and not some other kind of priests. Regardless of their unique and somewhat thorny canonical status, they are priests of the Catholic Church and not some other Church. They are even able to receive faculties from competent authority. They validly absolve sins even when there is no danger of death. They witness marriages and say the nuptial Masses.
- If they can receive faculties they are not suspended.
The LifeSite piece said …
Pope Francis already granted SSPX priests faculties to hear Confessions during the Year of Mercy and continued that permission when the year ended. He then gave local bishops the ability to allow Catholics to be married by SSPX priests, in what was seen at the time as a path toward possible closer links with the Vatican.
Bishop Schneider referenced these permissions, saying, “How can a pope give to priests who are outside the Church canonical ordinary faculties? How can a bishop grant such faculties to a priest who is outside the Church?”
Several other points in that piece can be underscored.
- First, the SSPX isn’t doing anything other than what was done before the Council.
- Next, “the society is not in “schism” nor is there an “excommunication” on members of the SSPX, he said, and thus “they are not outside the Church.”
- Next, “when there is an emergency of faith, the canonical legal aspect is secondary and the first [priority] is the faith, the truth, and the liturgy and all this which the Church always kept, as it was in the fourth century during the Arian crisis.”
The anomalous and slowly evolving SSPX situation is complicated. When things are really complicated in the Church, we are charity bound to cut people some slack and interpret restrictive laws as strictly as possible so as to give people maximum latitude.
I am convinced that the Enemy knows that he cannot win if we succeed in renewing the life of the Church through a recovery of our traditional liturgical rites. Therefore, the Devil is going to fuel feuds, create strife and prompt the hardening of hearts.
Moreover, Old Scratch and demons are the ultimate lawyers. If they can keep us quibbling and mired in the details, we are rendered ineffective.