How come some people do not hesitate to call SSPXers schismatics, all the while they wouldn’t ever use the term for the Orthodox schismatics nor ever use the term heretics for the Protestants?
Political correctness has gone too far even in Holy Church, according to me, and I’m not a SSPXer.

Could they still be termed heretics and schismatics and also our separated brothers?

Your sentiments are noble. I suspect a difference is that the Orthodox and Anglicans, and other Protestants, do not confuse others by trying to make them think that they represent the Catholic faith, even if they see themselves as a part of the Body of Christ. SSPXers do all they can to take the position that they are right in their actions, and that those actions are loyal to the TRUE Magisterium (as defined by them). What excommunication? I didn’t see an excommunication!

Could they still be termed heretics and schismatics and also our separated brothers?

This last question is reffering to Protestants and Orthodox.

Definitely. Heretics are still heretics, though Vatican II and post-Vatican II may have been too lenient with or more sympathetic towards them.

Who’s schismatic these days is a matter of opinion, it seems.

As far as “separated brothers” goes, what exactly does this mean?

It all involves a certain amount of “name-calling” and “ad hominem” attacks and I guess I’m just as guilty as anyone else on these boards in engaging in this sin.

The Church distinguishes between material heresy and formal heresy. In the CCC, it is clearly taught that we do not charge with “the sin of seperation” those who are born into ecclesial communities which resulted from schism (the Reformation, etc.). The SSPX are different because they knew better than to break communion with the Church (and we don’t call them heretics, of course, but schismatics). On these forums, we tend to be plain-spoken because people come on and say,“The SSPX is not in schism” or “the excommunication isn’t valid” or any number of objectively false observations (there’s a document promulgated by a pope that says otherwise). We probably aren’t as plain spoken with Protestant questioners who have inquiries, unless they have an axe to grind with Catholicism. They get told the plain truth as well.

I don’t think it’s terribly sugar coated. Domine Jesus clarified that the Church’s position was that these other ecclessial communities were gravely deficient. That’s pretty clear.

Here’s a laboured analogy–suppose that a fellow had a son out of wedlock. If this son didn’t insist on acting like a full family member, then referring to him with terms like “illegitimate” and “bastard,” however strictly accurate, would be utterly gratuitous–something that no one would imagine necessary who wasn’t full of malice and spoiling for a fight. However, if he showed up at the reading of his father’s will and insisted on being treated as legitimate, then his status might have to be firmly, though charitably, pointed out. Now replace “illegitimate” with “heretical.”

For better or worse, Protestants make no bones about being separated from the Catholic Church, and even the highest Church of England “Anglo-Catholics” don’t pretend to be in full communion with Rome. We know the score, and calling us “heretics” can have little purpose other than providing a vent for the speaker’s ill-will. The SSPXers and sedevacantists, by all report, are a whole other story. When in denial about one’s status, one naturally has to have it explained a bit more pointedly.

Exactly. Eastern Orthodox, and most especially Protestants, don’t hide the fact, and in fact insist that they are separate from Rome. The SSPX and allied groups on the other hand, insist that they are loyal to and in communion with the Pope and the magisterium, which often confuses or exasperates other Catholics, especially converts from Protestantism and even those who are cradle Catholics.

We do not refer to the SSPX as schismatic because the Church does not refer to them that way. And none of us would put ourselves above the Church, now would we? That would be gravely sinful.

Protestants and their fellow travellers, on the other hand, have a long and glorious history of being referred to as heretics. It is what it is.

Protestants = Heretics
Dissenting/Cafeteria ‘Catholics’ = Heretics

Orthodox = Seperated Brethren
SSPX = Seperated Brethren


Technically, Orthodox are only material schismatics (for the most part) as they have been separated for so long that ignorance can come into play. Not the case with the SSPX schismatics. Protestants actually would be infidels or non beleivers, (Take your pick :thumbsup: ).

As others have already explained it, those who are Protestants because they were born and raised as Protestants by Protestant parents and grandparents are not really guilty of schism in this case. They were born into that condition through no fault of their own. But those who willingly separate themselves from communion under various pretexts are guilty of schism as such.

Cardinal Gantin and the congregation of Bishops does not obviously agree with you:

From the Office of the Congregation for Bishops, 1 July 1988

Monsignor Marcel Lefebvre, Archbishop-Bishop Emeritus of Tulle, notwithstanding the formal canonical warning of 17 June last and the repeated appeals to desist from his intention, has performed a scismatical act by the episcopal consecration of four priests, without pontifical mandate and contrary to the will of the Supreme Pontiff, and has therefore incurred the penalty envisaged by Canon 1364, paragraph 1, and Canon 1382 of the Code of Canon Law.

Having taken account of all the juridical effects, I declare that the above-mentioned Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, and Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson and Alfonso de Galarreta have incurred ipso facto excommunication latae sententiae reserved to the Apostolic See.

Moreover, I declare that Monsignor Antonio de Castro Mayer, Bishop emeritus of Campos, since he took part directly in the liturgical celebration as co-consecrator and adhered publicly to the schismatical act, has incurred excommunication latae sentientae as envisaged by Canon 1364, paragraph 1.

The priests and faithful are warned not to support the schism of Archbishop Lefebvre, otherwise they shall incur ipso facto the very grave penalty of excommunication.

From the Office of the Congregation for Bishops, 1 July 1988.


Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops

And so does John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter of July 2, 1988

  1. The root of this **schismatic act **can be discerned in an incomplete and contradictory notion of tradition. Incomplete, because it does not take sufficiently into account the living character of tradition, which, as the Second Vatican Council clearly taught, “comes from the apostles and progresses in the Church with the help of the Holy Spirit. There is a growth in insight into the realities and words that are being passed on. This comes about in various ways. It comes through the contemplation and study of believers, who ponder these things in their hearts. It comes from the intimate sense of spiritual realities which they experience. And it comes from the preaching of those who have received, along with their right of succession in the episcopate, the sure charism of truth.” [Vatican Council II, “Dei Verbum,” 8; cf. Vatican Council I, “Dei Filius,” Ch. 4; DS 3020.]

Well, in any case this is already off topic.

Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos, President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, does not obviously agree with you:

Unfortunately Monsignor Lefebvre went ahead with the consecration and hence the situation of separation came about, even if it was not a formal schism.


And it would appear that Rev. Msgr. Camille Perl, Secretary of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, does not obviously agree with you as well:

'On the argument presented (that you regularly attend Sunday Mass at a chapel of the Fraternity Saint Pius X) one cannot say but this: the faithful who attend the Masses of the aforesaid Fraternity are not excommunicates, and the priests who celebrate them are not, either – the latter are, in fact, suspended. Which is why it would be difficult to explain this exclusion by this sole motive, at a time in which the reintegration of this Fraternity to the full communion of the Church is sought.'

Imperfect communion is not schism. People need to stop taking upon themselves a power reserved to the Church, namely declaring a group of people in schism. The eagerness some have to separate certain folks from the Mystical Body is unseemly at best and sinful at worst.

Those born into schismatical or heretical groups are not in the same situation as those who actually commit the sin of separation. For example, both the Chinese state church and the SSPX are called schismatical (both groups ordinations of bishops without approval of the Holy See were deemed acts of schism). If the SSPX and the Chinese state church are still separated a couple centuries from now, they will be treated the same way as other communitites that have their roots in more ancient schisms.

This is true–the unauthorized ordination of bishops is the objective act of schism. The people who attend Chinese state Masses or SSPX Masses have not necessarily separated themselves.

The implication is, of course, that they are valid priests. And the ones that ordained them, valid bishops.

But then again, what’s valid isn’t necessarily the most optimal.

I didn’t say the protestants are schismatic , though techincally under the Church’s definition they could be considered materially schismatic, rather though the correct (non politically correct term) would be infidels or some synonym of that.

They would be material heretics, not infidels. Infidels are those that do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord even if they believe in the one tru God (other than Jews who are classified as “Jews.”). Here are some good definitions from the Catechism of St. Pius X:

12 Q. Who are infidels?

A. Infidels are those who have not been baptised and do not believe in Jesus Christ, because they either believe in and worship false gods as idolaters do, or though admitting one true God, they do not believe in the Messiah, neither as already come in the Person of Jesus Christ, nor as to come; for instance, Mohammedans and the like.

13 Q. Who are the Jews?

A. The Jews are those who profess the Law of Moses; have not received baptism; and do not believe in Jesus Christ.

14 Q. Who are heretics?

A. Heretics are those of the baptised who obstinately refuse to believe some truth revealed by God and taught as an article of faith by the Catholic Church; for example, the Arians, the Nestorians and the various sects of Protestants.

15 Q. Who are apostates?

A. Apostates are those who abjure, or by some external act, deny the Catholic faith which they previously professed.

16 Q. Who are schismatics?

A. Schismatics are those Christians who, while not explicitly denying any dogma, yet voluntarily separate themselves from the Church of Jesus Christ, that is, from their lawful pastors.

Oh Ok, thanks for the heads up there :thumbsup:

The laity may or may not be in schism (they are warned against it by the late Holy Father of happy memory, Pope John Paul II), but the bishops are excommunicated and the priests are suspended *ad divinis, *utterly without faculties. The faithful are warned against “imbibing” a spirit of schism by participating in their services. No one is taking upon themselves a power reserved to the Church. They’re simply repeating what that authoritative Church has said.

And one Pope trumps an entire handful of cardinals. *Ecclesia Dei *is still in effect.

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