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Why are the SSPX viewed as a greater threat than protestants? September 11, 2014

Posted by Tantumblogo in abdication of duty, Basics, Ecumenism, episcopate, error, foolishness, General Catholic, persecution, sadness, scandals, secularism, SSPX, the return.

Reader D provided a link to a most interesting article at The Remnant, which raises most important questions.  The main one being, why are so many bishops, even relatively good ones, ever ready to be lovey dovey and ecumenical with protestants, even to the point of indifference or at least tacitly accepting, even promoting, protestant errors, while their attitude towards the Society of Saint Pius X is that they are a dangerous group of heretics that Catholics must avoid at all costs.  Really?

Bishop David Zubik is a good man, reportedly one of the better bishops in the country in fact. He has been an outspoken opponent of homosexual “marriage”; he has prayed the rosary in front of abortion clinics; he’s even gone on the record opposing Common Core.

Because he’s a good man we’re confident he must be concerned when members of the Catholic faithful become confused and scandalized by something his chancery office has done.

A bit of background: Last week we reported that Bishop Zubik of the Diocese of Pittsburgh encouraged the Catholic faithful of Pittsburgh to join him in joining hands with Billy Graham’s son, Franklin, for the recent 3-day praise and song festival in Pittsburgh—the Three Rivers Festival of Hope at which “altar calls” and “forgiveness of sins” by Protestant ministers were reportedly part of the program.

We posted video of the Bishop in attendance at the gathering and in fact praying with the Protestant attendees (though electing not to make the Sign of the Cross onstage), asking God to bless them but saying nothing about any need for them to convert to the Catholic Church. [This is what I mean by at least tacitly accepting, even promoting, error.  To pray with them, to endorse their erroneous acts (one time altar calls resulting in “salvation,” rejection of the Sacraments….the list is long) is to give at least visible, tacit approval to those errors.  Now, there could be reasons to participate in such acts, but such should always be accompanied with a clear explanation as to why such participation might have been seen as necessary, as well as a repudiation of any errors present at the ecumenical function.  But that clarification/rejection virtually never happens anymore]

We also reported that a few days later Bishop Zubik’s office released a sternly-worded letter of warning against any association on the part of Pittsburgh’s faithful with the Society of St. Pius X, which had recently purchased an old Catholic church in downtown Pittsburgh with the intention of restoring it and reopening it for use by Catholics rather than Muslims, for a change.

Bishop Zubik let it be known that he was not happy that the old church had been spared the wrecking ball or worse in this manner, and instead determined to admonish the faithful to stay away from the SSPX and their recently acquired building because the Society is “separated from the Catholic Church.” [Which, in and of itself, is certainly within his prerogative and many would consider both prudent and just.  But why the difference?  Why are protestants given approving participation and great doses of mercy, while the SSPX is always given the iron fist of harsh discipline?  It’s the double standard that grates so.  You want to defend Church unity?  Great!  But then why don’t you publicly lament the far vaster disunity, division, pain, and suffering caused by the protestant heresies?  Even if you assume the SSPX really is completely outside the Church, to which group does the Church lose far, far more souls – the SSPX, or protestants?  So why are the SSPX almost universally treated as the greater threat?]

Conspicuous by their absence from the diocesan letter of warning, however, were any expressions of love, hoped for reconciliation, willingness to dialogue, or words of kindness or solidarity with the souls attached to the SSPX. Nothing! Just: “SSPX, BAD! Stay away!”  [Because the “right” has none? Is this not a parallel to the radically harsh treatment being meted out to the Franciscans of the Immaculate, in comparison to the constant mercy and endless generosity extended to radical women religious who left the Church decades ago in all but name?]

And this is part of a bizarre pattern on the part of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. In an earlier “official statement” regarding the status of the SSPX’s Our Lady of Fatima Chapel in Collier Township, the faithful were informed that the SSPX Masses do not fulfill Sunday obligation (a contention that contradicts several statements from the Vatican, including not a few issued by the Vatican’s Ecclesia Dei Commission), that participation at Our Lady of Fatima Chapel implies “separation from the Catholic Church” and results in “ex-communication from the Catholic Church” and the “subsequent denial of Christian burial from the Catholic Church.”  [That’s a very harsh stand.  And one that has been specifically repudiated by the Vatican in the past. The Bishop of Honolulu some 20 odd years ago, an active and unrepentant sodomite, it turned out, claimed faithful who had been confirmed at an SSPX chapel had incurred excommunication.  The faithful appealed to the Vatican and that judgment was overturned.  The Vatican has repeatedly confirmed that participation in SSPX Masses and other Sacraments is not cause for excommunication.  The Masses are valid, but not licit.  Confession is much trickier, but that’s not the point of this post.]

—————-End Quote—————

Even if one assumes that the SSPX is 100% in the wrong, there is still an inexplicably harsh attitude towards that group, as opposed to virtually any other religious body in the world, from most of the hierarchy in the Church, even “relatively” good bishops.  There is a huge double standard, because the only true remaining heresy in the Church today seems to be being too old fashioned, too traditional, too orthodox.  So long as you aren’t that, you can attack marriage, the Blessed Sacrament, even the Divinity of Christ, and you can have a tenured faculty position or lead an international religious order.  But if you start to drift…….heaven’s to Betsy, call out the Inquisition!  Crush them!

It’s not the actions themselves.  It’s the dichotomy, the double standard, that is jarring, even scandalous. I know most bishops cannot stand having the SSPX in their diocese for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that the Society both exists outside their control (while being in their jurisdiction) and also serves as a sort of living rebuke to, ahem, “spirit” abroad in almost all dioceses. But it’s a bit much to have the SSPX  be the only group get labeled schismatic, excommunicate, and even to be denied Christian burial, when protestants, wiccans, muslims, you name! it are all our brothers, and shouldn’t we have unlimited mercy towards them?

In reality, I fear this all comes down to the fact that there really is a sense among many in the Church, and especially the leadership, that there was a new church started in December 1965 and that the bad old Church just has to die.  The SSPX are seen as being that bad old Church, and so they must be crushed.

I that an unfair appraisal?


1. TG - September 11, 2014

In answer to your question – because they’re too Catholic. (Good post.)

2. TG - September 11, 2014

I read somewhere that if you attend such a Mass for the beauty of hearing the Latin Mass, it’s ok but if you go to defy the church by attending as a protest to the NO Mass, then’s it’s a sin. I can’t remember where I read that.

Tantumblogo - September 11, 2014

That gets to one’s individual intent. Most people assist at the SSPX, at least initially, because they are fleeing some error or abuse.

3. maggycast - September 11, 2014

There is a really good comment posted on the Remnant Article that posts an interview with an SSPX bishop who nails it. The SSPX is not outside the Church…it is ROME that is…for Rome is modernist and has been since V2. SSPX is the heart of the Church…for where the true faith is preached is where the Church actually is…and boy is the truth preached at the SSPX. Heck, I’m not even SSPX and I can see they are the only public bulwark against the insanity in Rome and the institutional hierarchy of our time.

It comes down to this: if you lived during the Arian heresy when St. Athanasius was excommunicated who would you receive the sacraments from? St. Athanasius or one of the hoard of Aryan heretics who denied the divinity of Christ?

God bless the SSPX…they have been persecuted for many years for fighting for the truth about what went wrong at V2 and the modernist insanity in Rome. The TRUE Church are those who follow Our Lord and the deposit of faith…in all it’s entirety…and other than the SSPX and a few FSSP/ICK or diocesan priests like Fr. Rodriguez…the rest are lost in modernism/V2 schtick.

God bless Michael Matt for pointing out the insanity that accompanies the V2 clergy and my prayer is that this bishop will have his eyes opened and welcome the SSPX with open arms:+)

God bless~

Michael - September 11, 2014

Well said, Maggycast. You are absolutely correct.

The Society possesses communion with Eternal Rome. Not the Rome of Assisi. If that makes them “irregular,” so be it.

The Society is not *the* Church, but it is God’s humble instrument during this age of apostasy.

The JTCs of the world have perfected the art of besmirching the SSPX. And they do their job well.

How surprised they will be, in heaven or on earth, when they realize that their eloquent conclusions were, in fact, erroneous and that the history books 50 years from now will praise the Society’s fortitude and courage in the face of such prolonged isolation and abuse.

4. JTC - September 11, 2014

Yes, agreed, the SSPX should be treated at least as well as Protestants and everyone else who isn’t Catholic. There IS a double standard, but it’s not as hard to understand as you suggest.

Protestants don’t claim to be Catholic, so praying with them, or engaging with them in “dialog,” would never give the impression to anyone that such activities suggest that they are Catholic.

The SSPX, on the other hand, claims to be Catholic even though they have been judged, by the Church, to have no canonical status and no legitimate ministry in the Church. They are nowhere to be found within the divinely ordained hierarchical structure of the Church. Their priests are submissive to bishops who are not submissive to the hierarchical authority of the Pope. Therefore, for a bishop, or a diocese, to acknowledge them in any way DOES give the impression that they may have a definable canonical status within the Church, which they do not.

Consider this as a parallel example: Michael Voris, and ChurchMilitant.TV, cannot get the Archdiocese of Detroit to give them what should be a rather standard letter of “Catholic in good standing” which is now required routinely if anyone is to speak within a diocese on diocesan property. They also cannot get permission from the diocese to reserve the Blessed Sacrament in their chapel. Why? Because reservation of the Blessed Sacrament implies something very Catholic about the location, and nothing can be allowed to suggest to anyone that Michael Voris or ChurchMilitant.TV should be perceived as Catholic.

Unlike the SSPX, however, neither Michael Voris nor ChurchMilitant.TV have been judged by the Church to be disobedient, heretical or anything else that would earn the the title “Not a Catholic in good standing.” There is no letter of censure, no interdict, nothing whatsoever that would indicate that he and his apostolate are anything but “Catholics in good standing.” But we all know what the issue is, and it has nothing to do either with orthodoxy or obedience.

With the SSPX, for all their doctrinal orthodoxy, they are in a state of explicit disobedience to an explicit order from the Pope on a matter within the jurisdiction of the Pope. If the SSPX is Catholic, then the separated Orthodox Church must also be judged Catholic at the level of doctrinal orthodoxy. The SSPX claims to recognize the Pope as the Vicar of Christ but, in practice, are not submissive to him. Their words say one thing and their deeds another. At least the Orthodox are consistent: they accept the Catholic Faith whole and entire but reject the jurisdiction of the Pope. Even the explicit sedevacantists are consistent in their theory and practice. The SSPX accept the Catholic Faith whole and entire but, in practice, are neither submissive to nor in communion with the Pope.

So, yes, it would be great to treat the SSPX at least as well as Protestants. But it would be misleading to do so while they are living the lie that they are Catholic, which endorsing or encouraging their illegitimate ministries would do. And, yes, it also misleading to give the impression that Protestants don’t really need to convert, but at least Protestants aren’t pretending to be Catholic like the SSPX.

Michael Voris can’t have the Blessed Sacrament reserved in their chapel for reasons similar but less substantial than the reason that the SSPX cannot be allowed to be viewed as Catholic by the hierarchy. For a bishop to treat them like Catholics, it would only reinforce the deception that they are. And this cannot be judged a true act of charity.

There is absolutely no way that the SSPX can be defended as being in communion with the Church. They are “Catholic” in belief (except for the belief that ubi Petrus ibi ecclesia is true). In practice, they are just “Catholic Protestants.” There’s no difference, at the level of belief, between the FSSP and the SSPX. But the FSSP are in communion with the Church. That the SSPX are not makes ALL the difference.

5. Michael - September 11, 2014

The enemies within the Church know where the real threat lies.

If persecution is the 5th Mark, then the SSPX is on the right road.

6. PeterB - September 11, 2014

The SSPX tries to find some kind of legitimacy by reaching back into the History of the Church in order to find a precedent for their “unique situation.” They claim to find it in the life of St. Athanasius, a figure that plays a huge role in their mythology.

The SSPX story alleges that the Arian Emperor Contansius seized pope Liberius and had him tortured into condemning Athanasius. St. Athanasius reportedly rejected the excommunication of Pope Liberius based on the fact that Liberius was being tortured by the Arians and was under duress.

The SSPX draw a parallel between the Arianism of centuries past and the Modernism of today. They claim that the post-councilor popes are like pope Liberius, and that Lefebrve was like Athanasius. And so Lefebvre’s excommunication, just like the excommunication of Athanasius, is null.

However, there are some problems that immediately arise when you try to make that comparison.

First of all, it’s not even certain Liberius actually excommunicated Athanasius. Pope Liberius was lauded by Pope St Anatasius I as a man “who would die rather than blaspheme Christ.” This was mere decades after Liberius died. St Jerome, living very close to the time period, listed Liberius as a Saint as well.

The 1910 Catholic Encyclopedia records a defiant pope Liberius, dragged in front of Emperor Constantius, and told to condemn Athanasius. Liberius refused. The enraged emperor shouted: “Who are you to stand up for Athanasius against the world?” To that, Liberius compared the Emperor to Nebuchadnezzar, and was banished to Dalmatia for his trouble.

The SSPX version has Liberius signing bogus documents under pressure and torture from the Arianism. The guilt or innocence of Liberius depends on several hotly contested letters which many claim were Arian forgeries.

However his actions before and after his exile indicate that he was a man willing to face great persecution for Orthodoxy. When he returned from exile he made no recantations and none were asked for. He was embraced by the people of Rome as if nothing had happened. Liberius then initiated a crackdown on the Arians, a crackdown so brutal that even Semi-Arian Bishops were sacked.

Ironically, even the SSPX’s Sources of Catholic Dogma lists Pope Liberius as a Saint.

But this is merely a side note. Lefebrve’s case bears little resemblance to Athanasius’s in ANY regard.

Arianism was imposed top-down in a very forceful and violent way. And by violence, we mean VIOLENCE. The times we live in are dark indeed, but the pope does not have a literal gun to his head.
John Paul II was not under duress, and in any case Lefebvre wasn’t excommunicated by the pope, but was excommunicated automatically, or latae sententiae.

John Paul II merely upheld the validity of the excommunication that Lefebvre incurred on himself.

There is also no evidence that Athanasius continued to publically administer sacraments after he was excommunicated…if he ever truly was excommunicated. It’s every bit as likely that Athanasius would have withdrawn from public ministry in obedience to the pope.

MOST importantly, Athanasius never set up a parallel church. He fought the Arians were the lived: in the dioceses and parishes where they spread their filth.

The SSPX have already tarnished St. Pius Xth reputation. Don’t let them take St. Athanasius too.

Tantumblogo - September 11, 2014

It’s not just the Society that claims that Liberius, old, enfeebled, and under tremendous threat, signed a cleverly worded document that seemed to support Arianism. Good Catholic historians like Warren Carroll have claimed the same. It’s getting to be the predominant opinion. I don’t think it’s just SSPX mythologizing.

Nevertheless, Athanasius was, if not quite alone, horribly outnumbered.

Dismas - September 11, 2014

Let us assume that your creative analysis of history bears resemblance to truth. We’ll allow you that for the sake of discussion.

But exactly what has this all to do with the question posed by Mr. Matt and Tantum? If you wish to change the topic under discussion, maybe the blogmaster will bring this topic up under a separate heading and we can discuss it there.

Why hop in the sack with those who openly and publicly for centuries have repudiated the Catholic Church while at the same time anathematizing a group which, even if misguided, defends the Catholic Church and Its perennial teaching more strongly than just about anyone you can name? Why the inconsistency?

7. Lorra - September 11, 2014

While I agree with the responses of PeterB and JTC, I can’t help but think how the churchmen have two sets of rule books. One for the traditionals (whether in or out of the Church) and another one for their cronies.

8. Lorra - September 11, 2014

Let’s face facts.

There is no greater crime in the Church today than being traditional.

You can preach the greatest heresies during sermons with absolutely no fear of punishment. But stand up there and quote from the Catechism of the Council of Trent, and you will either be sent to a reeducation facility or out to pasture. Or both.

Dismas - September 11, 2014

Well said.

Tantumblogo - September 11, 2014

And that’s really the point, which I didn’t explicitly make in the post. It’s not just the SSPX. It is those adhering to the traditional Faith in general that receive such treatment. We have already seen in the FI’s what occurs if some body in the Church becomes perceived – even if it the perception is false – as being too much like the SSPX. They are crushed, mercilessly. Now, there are other groups that are quite traditional and enjoy, for the moment, perhaps, episcopal approval – but the FI scandal shows their existence hangs by a thread, and could be extinguished at any moment. That is a powerful incentive never to rock the boat, and priests of traditional orders have to be exceedingly careful what they say, and what gets attributed to them. Michael Voris is persona non grata in the post-conciliar Church, precisely because he promotes the traditional Faith and excoriates the neo-paganism rampant in the Church today. He is a layman, and so not much of a target, but were he religious or a priest, you can be sure he would have been censured and exiled, if not excommunicated, long ago. Witness Father Rodriguez.

Again, that’s the broader point, which is why I said, even if everything said about the SSPX is true, the double standard remains. It’s not just towards the SSPX, it’s towards everything that smacks of the “bad old days” prior to 1962. The SSPX is just the most visible target, and probably absorbs a lot of attention and abuse that might be directed at the groups that are canonically regular if they didn’t exist. None of that is to excuse the acts of 1988, it’s just to put them in perspective.

9. Lorra - September 11, 2014

Almost forgot…..

This happened twice before in the nineties – sometime after 1995 and before 1999 – and was in The Remnant as well. I might still have the issue it appeared in, but I am sure Michael Matt would certainly remember it.

Tantumblogo - September 11, 2014

What happened twice before? Excommunication for being in the SSPX? It happened in Honolulu in 1991, but the excommunications were lifted in 93.

Lorra - September 12, 2014

No. Folks being denied a traditional Requiem and burial.

Tantumblogo - September 11, 2014

Actually, the excommunications were not lifted, but declared false, null and void of any effect.

David - September 14, 2014


I read that the excommunications being declared “null and void” were ruled by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, who later became Pope Benedict XVI.

As for the Diocese of Honolulu, Bishop Ferrario was a “known sodomite” (like Bishop Sullivan of Richmond, Bishop Clark of Rochester, Hubbard in Albany, and a few others) and it’s no surprise that Ferrario was a Jadot appointment when he was appointed an auxiliary bishop in 1977. Ferrario’s successor, Bishop DiLorenzo, worked pretty hard to “undo” several things Ferrario began (I don’t know how much success he had, but between the 1970’s and 1980’s, Honolulu was a safe haven for homosexuals) . DiLorenzo inherited the Diocese of Richmond when Sullivan turned 75, and began cleaning up some messes there too (Richmond was pretty bad that many good Catholics would drive an hour to go to Mass in a neighboring diocese), much like Matano is working on currently in Rochester. Within a short time, DiLorenzo got rid of a few liberal sisters who worked as parish administrators.

10. Pseudodionysius - September 11, 2014

As Rod Dreher said “Is the Traditional Latin Mass worse than child rape?” For many, many people the answer is yes.


11. Steve - September 11, 2014

We live during a time when Popes, Cardinals, bishops and priests enjoy public friendships with Eastern Orthodox, protestants, Jews, Moslems and even atheists.

Our Churchmen even co-author books with non-Catholics.

However, it would never occur to our Churchmen to cultivate similar relationships with Catholics who favor the Traditional Roman Mass and Holy Tradition.

Forget about the SSPX.

Catholics who favor Holy Tradition and are in “full communion” with the Church can only dream of close relationships with our Churchmen who, in turn, dine and hang around with non-Catholics.

Seriously, in many instances within the Church, atheists and pro-abortion “Catholics” receive superior treatment than Catholics who are attached to Holy Tradition.


12. Steve - September 11, 2014

Now, to be fair to the Apostolic See in regard to the Society of Saint Pius X…

Rome, time and again, has extended great mercy to the Society.

The Society has received from Rome a “Rolls Royce” (Bishop Fellay’s words) offer to place the Society within a structure that would allow the Society to serve Holy Mother Church.

Unlike, for example, the FSSP, the SSPX has refused to agree to Rome’s terms for peace between the Church and Society.

The Society’s suspended a divinis status could end today…pray for peace between the Church and the Society.

13. Lynne - September 12, 2014

Abp Lefebvre started the SSPX in 1970, thereby saving the TLM. During the discussions between Abp Fellay and Pope Benedict XVI, one of the conditions for an agreement between them was that the TLM would be freed to be said by any and all priests throughout the world. Summorum Pontificum was issued. We have *two* times the SSPX saved the TLM.

14. Michael Jarman - September 12, 2014

My friend Steve:

#1 – The SSPX don’t CLAIM to be Catholic, by any objective measure they ARE Catholic. Look at their theology, practice, etc. Virtually indistinguishable from a regular Catholic parish from the early 20th century. The SSPX has not changed. THAT, my friend, is the problem, because….

#2 – The post-Conciliar church must continue to PRETEND that it has not changed the Holy Faith, in concept, while in practice it tries to change, subvert, rationalize, distinguish and compromise EVERYTHING (viz. the latest act of “prudence” in the Archdiocese of NY). When a bishop is confronted with something that appears MORE Catholic than his parishes, well it’s an affront to HIM, PERSONALLY. Protestants don’t pose the same threat, so your average bishop is just fine with them. In fact, most American bishops are convinced that “sincere” Protestants go to heaven AS PROTESTANTS. (See item #3 below.)

#3 – “Rome,” in whatever flavor of the moment, has “offered” terms to the SSPX that the SSPX has clearly and consistently said were non-starters: particularly full-throated affirmation of VII and the panoply of distortions thereof, specifically Lumen Gentuim interpreted as quasi-religious indifferentism.

I am not an “SSPX supporter,” and I rarely attend a TLM (by the local FFSP priests). I’m a simple pewsitter in my local parish. I’m staying put, because I AM Catholic (albeit a terrible sinner) and I will not cede the visible edifices of our Catholic heritage to anyone. If the guy on his second wife can sit in the pew next to me, I can’t be so bad (wicked as I am) as to be denied a place next to him. But history is history, and truth is truth. The SSPX have the better of the historical argument, period. The post-VII Roman See is fully within its right to declare various groups within and without the Church, and that declaration has full juridical weight. But law, even Roman law, does not change fact. “Rome” can no more make SSPX non-Catholic than the Supreme Court can make something a “marriage” that is not.


JTC - September 12, 2014

“The post-VII Roman See is fully within its right to declare various groups within and without the Church, and that declaration has full juridical weight. But law, even Roman law, does not change fact.”

Yes it does. Our Lord gave His Church the authority to define juridical fact. “What you bind on earth etc.” “He who hears you hears me etc.” Communion with the visible Church under the authority of the visible Vicar of Christ is constitutive of Catholicism. The SSPX claims to be Catholic without submission to the jurisdictional authority of the Pope. They can’t do that, no matter how much else of Catholic doctrine they embrace. They lack the right and jurisdiction to define what it is to be Catholic. Ubi Petrus, ibi ecclesia.

Note: faithful Catholics who look for Catholic life and nourishment in SSPX settings are, indeed, Catholic. They are just misguided in their quest to find it in a non-Catholic setting. SSPX clergy, however, are, in fact, juridically separated from the Church through absence of faculties and illicit (not invalid) ordinations. Faithful Catholics in SSPX settings are being fed and poisoned with illicit liturgies and invalid sacraments (e.g., Confessions). It’s a stroke of diabolical genius to set up an alternative to the Catholic Church that purports to be Catholic and, thus, lead even the most committed and faithful Catholics away from the Church.

This is truly serious stuff. It’s actually far more serious than misguided attempts to dialog with Protestants with vague or even no expectations of conversion to the One True Faith. The SSPX are deceived Catholics who don’t see any need for conversion even though they, too, are not in communion with the Church, just like Protestants. No need to convert when you don’t see a need.

SSPX bishops and priests are feeding poison to faithful Catholics starving for lack of authentic Catholic life. If it is true that “outside the Church there is no salvation,” how diabolically clever it is to serve up “Catholicism” that is “outside the Church”! Why not just invite Satan in to say Mass and hear confessions and be up front about it?

The only reason these SSPX discussions find no “resolution” is because the SSPX supporters appeal to emotion and ignore the facts. The Church has said, unambiguously, that the SSPX has “no canonical status” and “no legitimate ministry” in the Church. Trying to argue that this means something other than what it obviously means is sophistry and a culpable desire to ignore the truth.

I’m no less upset with the state of the Church, or the almost daily embarrassments from Pope Francis, as anyone in the SSPX. But the Church is the Church, Pope Francis is the Pope, and the SSPX are not part of the Church nor submissive to Pope Francis. Abandoning the Church can never be the answer. The Ship of Peter has no lifeboats. Pursuing a good end by a bad means is never morally justifiable.

So, no, the SSPX is not Catholic. No amount of emotional rhetoric, no slandering of St. Athanasius as the exemplar of principled and justified disobedience, no appeals to what supposedly could never have happened without the committed disobedience of Lefebvre and his followers can change the juridical and, therefore, ontological facts. They are not in communion with the Church and the Vicar of Christ and don’t become so merely by praying for him at Mass.

And THAT is why the Bishop of Pittsburgh was RIGHT in issuing the statement that he did about the SSPX. To have done anything else would have allowed Catholics to be deceived into believing that the SSPX is “acceptably Catholic,” a far more serious consequence than praying with Protestants generates. When the SSPX returns to communion with the Church, then and only then will it be acceptable to call themselves Catholics.

Michael - September 12, 2014

The errors in this post are too many to number. The author represents one of the innumerable Catholics who live by blind obedience.

The SSPX need not defend itself against accusatory, wagging fingers such as this. It has endured the same, tedious barrage of condemnations since 1970.

The JTCs of the world will come and go. But the principles of the Society—which are the principles of the Holy Catholic Church—will endure.

This is why the SSPX must be maligned and destroyed. The dichotomy between Old and New is highly unsettling to those in command.

Michael - September 12, 2014

Amen. Well said.

15. Steve - September 12, 2014

Michael Jarman…

My Brother in Christ, I agree that the Society of Saint Pius X is Catholic.

The Society’s priests are, unfortunately, suspended a divinis. They do not exercise legitimate ministries within Holy Mother Church.

The Society offers illicit but valid Masses at which a Catholic may fulfill his Sunday Obligation.

As to the supposed “non-starters” that Rome has offered to the SSPX…

As far back as 2000 A.D., Bishop Fellay declared that Rome had offered to the Society an Apostolic Administration, a “worldwide diocese”, that he described as a “Rolls Royce” structure.

Via its “worldwide diocese” — a “Rolls Royce” as described by Bishop Fellay — the Society, in perfect unity and peace with Rome, could have brought Holy Tradition to the Faithful.

Unfortunately, the Society has continued to turn its back upon Rome’s “Rolls Royce” of an offer.

16. Steve - September 12, 2014

As per usual, there are two extremes whenever the SSPX is the topic at hand.

One extreme paints the Society as an evil, non-Catholic schismatic/heretical group of Church-hating priests.

That is utter nonsense.

The other extreme paints the Society as a Garden of Eden…it’s all milk and honey within the Society…they are without fault…we have the Traditional Roman Mass thanks alone to the Society.

That is utter nonsense.

— The Society is Catholic.

— A Catholic may fulfill his Sunday Obligation at an SSPX chapel.

— The Society consists of a great many fine elements…many priests who love the Church.

— The Society’s priests are suspended a divinis.

— The Society offers illicit but valid Masses.

— The Society has it’s share of problems…disunity, discord.

— The Society is not a Garden of Eden as fierce resistance to Bishop Fellay’s supposed “liberal” plan to “sell out the Society to modernist Rome” has led to the separation from the Society of at least one Bishop as well as many priests and laymen.

The SSPX is as Pope Benedict XVI declared…a society of many fine elements…many Christ-loving elements…many bad elements…suspended a divinis.

The FSSP, Bishop Rifan, ICK…as examples…enjoy peace and unity with Rome and via their cooperation with God, Holy Tradition flourishes.

The Society of Saint Pius X could enjoy similar peace and unity with Rome.

In fact, as Bishop Fellay acknowledged years ago, unlike the FSSP and ICK, Rome’s “Rolls Royce” offer of a protective structure would avail to the Society an even greater opportunity to bring Holy Tradition to the Faithful worldwide.

JTC - September 12, 2014

I hope you are capable of recognizing that what you say here isn’t exactly an argument or rational defense of the SSPX.

Facts are facts. They have no canonical status and no legitimate ministry. Deal with THAT and not just emote that you don’t like the implications of THAT.

If they have no canonical status and no legitimate ministry, they are deliberately and consciously disobedient to the Church. Satan is the father of lies and disobedience. Always. By continuing their rebellion, there is no way that it can be said to be of God. Period. Full stop.

JTC - September 12, 2014

“The Society is Catholic.”

No, it is not. They have been invited to rediscover the path to full communion with the Church (which means they aren’t even on it). They have no canonical status. They have no legitimate ministry. In what sense are they Catholic? Anglicans are Catholic except they reject the authority of the Pope. SSPX are Catholic except they reject the authority of the Pope, i.e., they persist in “principled disobedience.” What’s the difference?

“A Catholic may fulfill his Sunday Obligation at an SSPX chapel.”

Also not true as any kind of blanket statement, and everything you can quote to that effect is always layered over with piles and piles of cautions and strong encouragement not to make this a regular practice. It’s intended to be something that, in exceptional circumstances, you can take advantage of (although why anyone would think they need to fulfill their Sunday obligation at an illicit liturgy escapes me).

“The Society consists of a great many fine elements…many priests who love the Church.”

Partially true, but it’s debatable whether SSPX priests “love the Church” if they can’t bring themselves to submit to Her authority. Even Jesus said “If you love me, keep my commandments.” If you love the Church, you are obedient to Her, not unconditionally in all things but AT LEAST in recognizing and submitting to Her legitimately exercised authority. If the SSPX priests truly “loved the Church,” the would return to communion with the Church and bring the faithful with them. Then they would look like the FSSP and be trusting in the Providence of God instead of viewing themselves as the human saviors of the Church.

The SSPX began with the best of intentions but, eventually, separated themselves from the Church. To support them for their original vision and intentions while ignoring the spiritual harm they bring to the faithful through their disobedience is shocking to me! Didn’t you listen to that sermon about “don’t follow the leader over the cliff” where the priest said, explicitly, that these people are following the leader to their doom? (Or was the reference to the SSPX too subtle for you?)

It’s transparently obvious, when you study Protestant defenses of their existence in separation from Rome, that SSPX apologetics today are Protestant, too! Everyone always believes they are creating a more faithful version of the Church, and none of them have a visible Vicar of Christ to whom they are submissive. To continue to argue here as if the SSPX are nothing more than an “irregularity” within the Mystical Body of Christ is to be complicit in sin. They SHOULD be Catholic. It should be EASY for them to be Catholic. So why aren’t they? Significant disobedience is the ONLY explanation.

Come home to the Catholic Church instead of risking drowning in your imaginary lifeboats.

All your other bullet items are true, but you don’t seem to take them as seriously as they deserve to be taken. Illicit Masses, invalid Confessions, refusal to become part of the divinely ordained hierarchical structure of the Church … these aren’t just insignificant bullet items. Support the SSPX if you can also support nearby pious Protestant churches which are more reverent than too many Catholic parishes today. Could you justify joining a Protestant church because it would be a better environment in which to grow in the Faith with your family? It’s tempting to think so but, if the church of your choice goes away, is it really a solution to join forces with those who have elected to live their Catholic lives apart from the Church?

I’m not concerned with ad hominems and distortions of “blind obedience” and labels like “neo-Catholic.” If you go to Mater Dei, you are worshiping, essentially, at an SSPX chapel that is in communion with the Church. That’s where I go. It’s absolutely impossible to imagine Our Lady blessing the disobedience of the SSPX. She, too, wants the SSPX faithful to be part of the Mystical Body of Her Son. The “smoke of Satan” is no less thick in the SSPX than in the Church from which they have separated themselves. In fact, it might be more so.

Lorra - September 12, 2014

JTC is right in everything he has written. I spent almost a decade with the SSPX, but the day a priest told me it would be a sin for me to attend the novus ordo Mass (mortal or venial would depend on my motive for attending it – yes, that is the word he used – motive) I asked myself what right he or any priest member of the SSPX had to bind my conscience in such a manner? Furthermore, how could a priest who claimed to recognize (at the time) John Paul II as the pope tell me that the very Mass the Vicar of Christ celebrated was a sin to attend?

Within a year I was gone, but it has been hell for me staying put in the Church.

17. Steve - September 12, 2014

I simply adhere to and proclaim the Apostolic See’s teachings in regard to the Society.

Pope Benedict XVI has, for example, declared that the Society’s priests love Jesus Christ and “proclaim him, and the living God”.

Pope Benedict XVI has also noted that “unhealthy” elements exist with in the Society.

In 2009 A.D., The Congregation For Bishops noted that in 2008 A.D., Bishop Fellay expressed in a letter to the Holy See that the Society is determined to “remain in the Church”…he professed the Catholic Faith and belief in Holy Mother Church.

Said Congregation declared that in 2009 A.D., that Pope Benedict XVI, “trusting” in Bishop Fellay (and the SSPX’s) “commitment” to “remain in the Church” was sufficient for him (Pope Benedict XVI) to lift the censures against the SSPX bishops.

As a loyal Catholic, when it comes to the SSPX, I simply adhere to the Holy See’s teachings and declarations.

The Holy See treats the Society as Catholic.

The Holy See treats the Society as being “in the Church”.

The Holy See expressed its “trust” in Bishop Fellay’s (and the SSPX’s) profession of Faith and “commitment” to Holy Mother Church (confer the 2009 A.D. Letter from the Congregation For Bishops in regard to the SSPX).

The Society’s bishops and priests are suspended a divinis.

Again, I have simply adhered to and proclaimed all of the above, which I acquired from Holy See documents.


18. Steve - September 12, 2014

I don’t have any interest to join a protestant community.

I don’t have any need to assist at an SSPX chapel…never have.

Again, I simply adhere to the Holy See’s declarations in regard to the Society, which Rome has presented as a Catholic society of priests.

Said Catholic priests are, unfortunately, suspended a divinis.

JTC - September 13, 2014

Pope Benedict XVI, in the motu proprio Ecclesiae Unitatem, issued July 2, 2009:

In the same spirit and with the same commitment to encouraging the resolution of all fractures and divisions in the Church and to healing a wound in the ecclesial fabric that was more and more painfully felt, I wished to remit the excommunication of the four Bishops illicitly ordained by Archbishop Lefebvre. With this decision I intended to remove an impediment that might have jeopardized the opening of a door to dialogue and thereby to invite the Bishops and the “Society of St Pius X” to rediscover the path to full communion with the Church. As I explained in my Letter to the Catholic Bishops of last 10 March, the remission of the excommunication was a measure taken in the context of ecclesiastical discipline to free the individuals from the burden of conscience constituted by the most serious of ecclesiastical penalties. However, the doctrinal questions obviously remain and until they are clarified the Society has no canonical status in the Church and its ministers cannot legitimately exercise any ministry.

Note in the above:

1) The SSPX are “invited … to rediscover the path to full communion with the Church.” That means they are not on the path. They must rediscover it. If they are not on the path to full communion, then they are not in full communion.

2) “Doctrinal questions remains and until they are clarified the Society has no canonical status in the Church and its ministers cannot legitimately exercise any ministry.” There are DOCTRINAL issues, something the SSPX categorically denies, saying they only believe what has always been believed. If you’d like, I can show you where they run afoul of the Council of Trent and, essentially, “anathematize” themselves by their stated beliefs about the Novus Ordo! No canonical status, no legitimate ministry, and doctrinal issues: WOW!

This is a motu proprio. From the Pope. Whatever you quoted above must be interpreted in this light.

And lastly… if all SSPX priests are suspended a divinis, i.e., they cannot say Mass or celebrate other sacraments licitly, how is it not the case that every Mass celebrated by a priest of the SSPX isn’t a mortal sin on the part of the priest? Priests are guilty of mortal sin just by violating the rubrics intentionally! How is it not a mortal sin to celebrate Mass disobediently? If Fr. Charles Curran at SMU has no faculties to celebrate Mass, how would his celebrating a Mass be any different from an SSPX priest celebrating Mass? If Fr. Curran decided to start his own Catholic faith community and minister all the sacraments, how would his community be any different from the SSPX? If Fr. Curran stated, publicly, that in spite of what his actions might suggest, he fully intends to remain in the Church, does that make it so? Would Fr. Curran’s declared intentions be any different from those of the SSPX? The SSPX have never accepted that they were not part of the Church so, of course, they would say they intend to remain in the Church. The Church is right to acknowledge those intentions and treat them as if sincere. But then there’s the little matter of actions, which contradict those stated intentions.

You may be quoting the Holy See, but I don’t think you are doing so with full, informed context.

Lorra - September 15, 2014

“2) ‘Doctrinal questions remains and until they are clarified the Society has no canonical status in the Church and its ministers cannot legitimately exercise any ministry.’ There are DOCTRINAL issues, something the SSPX categorically denies, saying they only believe what has always been believed. If you’d like, I can show you where they run afoul of the Council of Trent and, essentially, “anathematize” themselves by their stated beliefs about the Novus Ordo! No canonical status, no legitimate ministry, and doctrinal issues: WOW!”

JTC, I would like you to show me where they “run afoul of the Council of Trent”.

19. maggycast - September 12, 2014

At the end of the day, I will follow Christ and His Church…the Church that consists of the deposit of faith given to us by the apostles. The Aryans had “jurisdiction” too. Rome is corrupted…the hierarchy is utterly corrupted…and we are not compelled to follow corrupt clergy. Of course Modernist Rome want to crush the SSPX and all traditional Catholics…and the attempts to reconcile with Rome with the SSPX always came with a compromise to accept the lies of V2. Our Lord did not compromise with Satan during His temptation in the wilderness…and neither should the SSPX or us. We live in strange times but I’m grateful for the SSPX (and I’m not even a member) for they have fought the good fight for the restoration of the faith for many years. God bless them and I pray Rome wakes up and repents to them one day.

Michael - September 13, 2014

Amen to that.

20. Dismas - September 13, 2014

This is a time of great chaos in the Church. Chaos is the tool of the enemy, and is wielded so as to be able to tear down and reconstruct. Renewal!

It is notable that in this time of great chaos there are people who are just so sure of themselves that they can cherry-pick whatever evidence best supports the view they prefer, and then promulgate that to others as though it were unassailable truth.

This goes for the groups that villify the SSPX as well as those that villify the FSSP.

So in this time of great chaos, everyone is off base except for Tom, or Dick, or Harriet. Pass the Pepto-Bismol.

I say thank God for any priest who is willing to defend and promote authentic Catholicism, whether he be of a religious order, priestly fraternity or diocesan. I don’t have the details of all this figured out and it is beyond me to do so.

With all this silly infighting and pontificating among those who prefer Catholicism to the new religion, the modernists have nary an earthly concern.

rvb - September 15, 2014


21. Lorra - September 15, 2014

Every once in a while, Pope Francis will say something noteworthy.

This particular sermonette he gave recently gives one pause:

And it doesn’t matter what he himself does or doesn’t do. I am not going to have to answer for him when I die.

Tantumblogo - September 15, 2014

You may not. But many may be led astray by his example. This may even include our children, family, and loved ones. “Who am I go judge?” is becoming a significant force in the Church.

Lorra - September 15, 2014

What are you advocating then?

Did you even read the link? It spoke about Our Lady’s obedience at the foot of the Cross.

Tantumblogo - September 15, 2014

I’m advocating pointing out when actions/statements may have potential to lead people astray. If my cousin comes to me and says “I’ve always felt a certain attraction towards people of my sex, but I’ve never acted on it because the Church said it was wrong, but now I feel the Church has changed and I can act in a clear conscience now,” I must correct him, no?

No, I didn’t read it. My comment wasn’t responding to any particular statement by the Pope or comment in this thread, it was speaking more generally.

22. Lepanto - September 16, 2014

I was watching a Youtube video by Bishop Fellay recently in which he states that different people in the Vatican give different answers about the status of the Society so there appears to be a lot of confusion which ought to be clarified. He said that he and some Society priests were told, when in discussion with Vatican officials, that they could celebrate Mass in St. Peter’s. He says a lot more that is both interesting and disturbing about Vatican politics.

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