Being a self-proclaimed “Trad” Catholic, I am in absolute love with the Extra-ordinary Form of the Mass (The Latin Mass). The reverence, the veils, the altar boys, the capital C Catholic communities, the beautiful families, the Latin, the Real Catholic faith being lived out… all of it!
Though I dearly love the Society of Saint Pius the X (SSPX or also FSSPX), there are a few problems that keep me from completely supporting it. I will explain the story in its entirety, so that perhaps it will be easier to understand my position;
During the confusion in most places after Vatican II (thanks to some evil clergy who twisted and made things up as they went along, all in the name of the “Spirit of Vatican II”) Bishop Marcel Lefebvre began a society in 1970 that promoted the Latin Mass and the beautiful Catholic identity, imagery and such. Though unfortunately, the group was also known for its dislike of the Original Vatican II documents (which actually weren’t the problem, but rather evil clergy and confusion), and were already being watched closely by the Holy See. Finally, when Bishop Lefebvre wanted to consecrate 4 bishops, he was denied that right from Rome. He was not given permission to do so from the Bride of Christ, therefore he was not able to impart the Sacrament. But Bp. Lefebvre went ahead and consecrated 4 bishops without a Papal Mandate, in direct disobedience. This is what the Congregation of Bishops and St John Paul II declared to be a schismatic ACT and GROUNDS for “Excommunication Latae Sententiae”. The thing is, when you do not have the permission of the Church to ordain, it cannot happen. The ordination doesn’t take place, and the men are not priests. Therefore the Sacraments that are performed by these invalidly ordained men are not valid either UNLESS they were/are given permission to do so by the Church.
Bishop Lefebvre himself was excommunicated for this action, and so were the four bishops, though the excommunication was lifted in January 2009 with a hope expressed that all members of society would quickly return to full communion…. They did not. Unfortunately along with their disobedience to the Holy See in the first place, most, if not all, of Vatican II is presently ignored/not accepted as valid by the SSPX. Just the acceptance of its validity, not the LIKING of what occurred after Vatican II, is actually all that we are asked to do. It’s not that big of a deal to be perfectly honest.
Now, because the “ordained” bishops are the ones still giving the “Sacraments” and then “ordained” still more “priests” without the permission of the Holy See, and still in disobedience to Rome; the Sacraments are invalid and Catholics who attend their Masses/Confession/Marriage would not be attending actual Sacraments. This is precisely the reason why the Church forbids Catholics to attend the “Sacraments” performed by the SSPX in most circumstances.
- So if the “Priest” (if he is aware that Rome has not given him the permission to be ordained by his SSPX bishop, and he continues regardless) knowingly conducts the Mass without the permission of the Church, he is committing a Moral Sin!
- So every Marriage conducted by an SSPX “priest” is invalid. Though in March 2017 Pope Francis authorized diocesan bishops to grant SSPX priest facilities to officiate at a marriage, valid in the Catholic Church in cases where no priest in good standing could do so. The key point is that the Pope authorized it, and the bishops could grant facilities. (See; with permission is given by the Church, the Sacrament is valid).
- So every Confession, (if not given permission by Church) is invalid, and the absolution nil. As the person performing the Sacrament is in direct disobedience to the Church by performing the Sacrament without Her permission.
This is precisely why in the Year of Mercy 2016, Pope Francis gave the SSPX the Ecclesiastical right to give confession to the Faithful; sort of as if they are truly ordained and able to give absolution, but only then. The reason for this was for the Faithful; so Confession would be even more available to them! You see, because the Bride of Christ gave the SSPX the right to impart the Sacrament of Confession, it was done. God is so full of mercy isn’t He?
The FSSP (Fraternity of Saint Peter & Saint Paul) was actually started in 1988 by 12 men who broke away from the SSPX because of the four invalidly consecrated bishops by Bishop Lefebvre. They wanted to promote the same as what the SSPX promoted, but as a truly ordained priest! This would make the Masses, the Marriages, The Confession and all the sacraments they would be performing, valid. It is officially recognized by the Holy See, and is therefore perfectly legitimate/valid. To this day it is a beautiful example of Tradition and obedience; all the while being a good place to go for now instead of the SSPX, at least until (or, rather if) they finally accept the terms laid out by the Holy See for complete communion.
You can also see that it is not the Tradition, the Latin Mass, the modesty promotion, the beautiful Catholic imagery or the post Vatican II Catholic faith that is still legit (even though some believe it not to be) that makes the SSPX invalid. It is not because the women wear skirts to mass, or veils or that the families have tons of children and still read the Douay Rheims Bible, and love and prefer the Latin Mass. For as you can see, the FSSP also promote the beauty of Catholicism in its fullness! Along with quite a few other groups who are in full communion with Rome and faithful to the Magisterium. It seems that some Catholic’s like to use the Latin Mass and “alien” Catholic identity as the reason why the SSPX is “so bad”. Not true.
Now, the personal qualms of each person concerning the Pope, SSPX, FSSP, Modesty and other things in the Church when it comes to Traditional Catholics may differ; you may hear one “Traddy” being very crude and mean to another person because they wear pants; no matter the reasons the Trad may have concerning their feelings, this is never the right way to act. So when it comes to judging a society by its members… think of the Catholic Church and how many bad clergy she has; does this make her any less the Bride of Christ? Does this make it any LESS the Church that was founded by Jesus Christ? No. So, don’t judge a book by its readers; don’t judge the Traditional Catholic way of life by its members. For we are all humans with Original sin and we all have scruples and flaws. Especially when it comes to being “Traditional”, many people find it too difficult to accept some things as “Not sinful”, because of how THEY see things. But just because someone believes something is a certain way, it does not make it become as they see it. It stays as it is; whether they believe it or not.
Let’s say a group of people eat apples every Sunday. These apples are red. One of the group members may believe that it is blue, and find many reasons and “proofs” that the apple is BLUE. The person may very well attack and belittle anyone else in the group who believe in, or promote the idea that the apple is in the fact red. But does this change the truth? The apple is red. Period. Any person in the group who may feel confused about the arguing and drama because of the color of the apple must go ahead and look at the facts.
- 1. The apple is, indeed red.
- 2. Belittling and the like are never the proper or correct way to treat people whatever the situation.
And 3. The division that occurs because of the arguments and clashing ideas just creates a weaker group. (Together we stand, divided we fall!)
As Catholics, we are called to look deeper into our Faith and have such a strong bond with God and His Church, that we are able (with His grace) to make the correct decisions and judgements. Never, ever bring yourself down to the level of the “belittler” or the “snob”, always seek the truth, always love Christ (this includes Christ in our neighbors!), always, always do all things for the Greater Glory of God. After all, if we are indeed correct, there is no need to be upset; for if we pray for others and continue our way in charity and love of God, there is nothing else we can do! But God can do anything, and we must love Him enough to trust that He will do exactly what is right, at the right time. In the end, all will be well!
May we all be led by Christ from these evil times of division and confusion, into the light of His truth and beauty! May we keep ourselves from becoming so closed-minded that we forget what is really true and important, all for the sake of “being right”, “winning the debate” or “proving the other person wrong”.
I cannot, fully give my support to the SSPX because doing so would be supporting the invalid Sacraments performed by invalid “priests”; as much as I would adore supporting them and the work that they do, I cannot in good conscience do that.
Until the day the SSPX finally are given the permission to perform the Sacraments from the Church, I pray very hard! For their mission is truly a beautiful one, and they have so many jewels and beautiful information that the world could use!
Let us pray for a unified Church! For it is the Devil that is dividing us in so many ways; in every group, in every family, in every relationship.
Until next time, God bless & keep it Trad!