Can an SSPX follower be a spiritual director?

My dearest friend and spiritual director for the past 17 years has recently physically moved and joined an SSPX community, fully embracing that group’s tenets. She is also the godmother of four of our seven children.

Can she continue to be a source of spiritual direction for me and my family? Or does the relationship need to be severed?

While there is no need to sever entirely a relationship with a dear friend of seventeen-plus years – presuming, of course, that she does not use her position as a dear friend to proselytize your family into the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) – her new affiliation with the schismatic SSPX does need to be considered when assessing her involvement in your family’s spiritual growth and education. Pope John Paul II said this of Catholic involvement with the SSPX in his apostolic letter Ecclesia Dei:

In the present circumstances I wish especially to make an appeal both solemn and heartfelt, paternal and fraternal, to all those who until now have been linked in various ways to the movement of Archbishop [Marcel] Lefebvre, that they may fulfill the grave duty of remaining united to the Vicar of Christ in the unity of the Catholic Church, and of ceasing their support in any way for that movement. Everyone should be aware that formal adherence to the schism is a grave offense against God and carries the penalty of excommunication decreed by the Church’s law (ED 5c; emphasis added).

Given that your friend has affiliated herself in some manner with a schismatic society, it is difficult to imagine that her counsel on virtues such as obedience to the Church can be relied upon as orthodox. Therefore, I could not recommend continuing to seek her out for spiritual direction.

As an aside, although she cannot be replaced as a godparent to your children – because part of the duties of godparents is to witness the baptism – I recommend seeking out other Catholics whose spiritual maturity you trust to fulfill the role of spiritual mentor and Catholic educator for your children. Perhaps, in time, your children might choose their new mentors to be their confirmation sponsors. Of course, should your friend renounce her affiliation with the SSPX and become grounded again in her Catholic faith, you might ask her to again participate in your children’s religious upbringing.

**Recommended reading:

Ecclesia Dei** by Pope John Paul II

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