Is SSPX a cult?


I was looking SSPX up b/c I didn’t know what the initials stood for.:o I came across a lot of sites talking about court cases with SSPX, and one site specifically called it a cult and told you how to “deprogram” someone in this group? Is it true that SSPX don’t believe the current Pope is valid? Do they have their own Pope? Is that even possible in the RC?:confused:



No, no, and no.

The SSPX have filial devtion to our pope, they are RC. Here are the FAQ’s for futher help

From their front page:

The Society of Saint Pius X professes filial devotion and loyalty to Pope Benedict XVI, the Successor of Saint Peter and the Vicar of Christ.



There’s such a lot of anti-SSPX propaganda out there!

There may well be court cases. But the “mainstream” Church is hardly in the clear on that score itself!

The SSPX do recognise the Pope (Benedict XVI, Joseph Ratzinger for the avoidance of any doubt as to which Pope they recognise! :smiley: ).

They name Pope Benedict and the diocesan ordinary in the Canon of Mass, of whichever diocese they are in.

Their own Pope is Benedict XVI!



Click here: Society of Saint Pius X (in the United States).

That would be greatly overblown. The SSPX doesn’t use brainwashing techniques, just simple indoctrination like everyone else. Adults are free to choose whether the follow the tenets of their beliefs or not.

Officially, no. There are a significant number of priests and laity within the SSPX who privately are sedevacantists, though.

No, they do not have their own pope. They recognize Pope Benedict XVI as a valid pope, but they have disagreements with him and the current Church government.

The Catholic Church would never recognize two popes being simultaneously valid. Throughout the history of the Church, sincere Catholics have from time to time had difficulties recognizing which contender or the other was the true pope, but the Church has always had only one pope at a time.

There have been many threads here at the Catholic Answers Forum about the SSPX that you might find using the search function.


I disagree with them but I would not call SSPX a cult. There is nothing secret about them and they teach the same doctrines that the Catholic Church teaches, the same way the Catholic Church teaches them. On the other side I heard the Catholic Church being accused of being a cult.:confused:


I hadn’t heard of this group between 1988 or so and coming across it here today. In 1988 I was in a contemplative monastery of Benedictine nuns (I was a novice). Archbishop Lefebvre had ordained a number of bishops against the approval of Pope John Paul ll and was excommunicated for it. Several nuns from this group came to visit our Abbey and would not attend mass or pray in our chapel because they said our Eucharist wasn’t the Eucharist at all. Didn’t leave the best impression on me.

Is it a cult? No. No more than the Rosary and Altar Society is a cult. It’s just a group of people following what they believe is the “true” Catholic Church. Do I agree with them? No. But they are not a cult.



Well, let’s look at the defintion of “cult.”

Main Entry: cult Pronunciation Guide
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): -s
Etymology: French & Latin; French *culte, *from Latin *cultus *care, cultivation, culture, adoration, from *cultus, *past participle of *colere *to till, cultivate, dwell, inhabit, worship – more at WHEEL
1 : religious practice : WORSHIP
2 : a system of beliefs and ritual connected with the worship of a deity, a spirit, or a group of deities or spirits <the cult of Apollo> <the earth cult>
3 a : the rites, ceremonies, and practices of a religion : the formal aspect of religious experience <dissent occurs in all three fields of expression of religious experience, in doctrine, in cult, and organization – Joachim Wach> b Roman Catholicism : reverence and ceremonial veneration paid to God or to the Virgin Mary or to the saints or to objects that symbolize or otherwise represent them (as the crucifix or a statue) – called also cultus; compare DULIA, HYPERDULIA, LATRIA
4 : a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious <the exuberant growth of fantastic cult**s>; also : a minority religious group holding beliefs regarded as unorthodox or spurious : SECT <provided a haven for persecuted cult**s>
5 : a system for the cure of disease based on the dogma, tenets, or principles set forth by its promulgator to the exclusion of scientific experience or demonstration
6 a : great or excessive devotion or dedication to some person, idea, or thing <the cult of success>; especially : such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad or fetish <the cult of art-for-art’s sake> b : the object of such devotion <square dancing has developed into something of a cult – R.L.Taylor> **c **(1) : a body of persons characterized by such devotion <America’s growing cult of home fixer uppers – Wall Street Journal> (2) : a usually small or narrow circle of persons united by devotion or allegiance to some artistic or intellectual program, tendency, or figure (as one of limited popular appeal) <the exclusive cult of those that profess to admire his esoteric verse>
synonym see RELIGION

Citation format for this entry:
"cult." Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged. Merriam-Webster, 2002. ( 22 Jan. 2007).

Using that definition, at least 1, 2 or 3 (and maybe 4, 5 or 6) seems to me the answer is yes.


The SSPX is a Roman Catholic organization. They do believe that the current Pope is valid, although they seem to be having problems submitting to his authority. Many in the SSPX also make a distinction between Eternal Rome and post-Vatican II or “modern Rome”.



People in SSPX 50 years ago would’ve just been called very good Catholics…

I still call them very good Catholics. Better Catholics than the newspaper reading during Mass, ashes and palms Catholics that I know.

They aren’t a cult, they reject the innovations of the Nous Ordo which frankly I don’t blame them the more I look at how the new mass came about. They disagree as to the authority the Pope has in excommunication, but still pledge allegiance to Pope Benedict XVI as the Vicar of Christ. Whether right or wrong, they are our REAL seperated brethren not the protestants.


They disagree as to the authority the Pope has in excommunication, but still pledge allegiance to Pope Benedict XVI as the Vicar of Christ. Whether right or wrong, they are our REAL seperated brethren not the protestants.

Sounds rather convenient doesn’t it?


What are your definitions of cult? Do you agree or disagree that SSPX meets at least 1, 2 or 3 of the Webster’s definition (without regard to whether you agree with the definitions)?

I think many, including me until I looked it up, believe that “cult” has a pejorative denotation, in my case caused at least in part by repeated misuse of the word by many including the media.


According to your definition every religion fits 1, 2, and 3…

I think we mean to use the word “cult” more along the lines of definition 4, 5, and 6…


OK, I understand.

And, just to clarify, they are not my definitions, they are from
Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged.


the SSPX is not a cult. the SSPX does not have its own pope.:rolleyes: yes, they believe the current pope and all popes are valid. do not confuse them with the SSPV who are sede vacantists that do not believe that the current pope is valid.


The cult stuff seems to come a lot from former members, so make of that what you will. You must have stumbled on to this site:

Now they are schismatic and they follow excommunicated bishops. I think the strongest indictment of this comes from Fr. Murry who is often quoted and misquoted on their websites and in their literature as a neutral canonist supporting their position:

…Another important criticism I received concerns the question of the possible invalidity of the declaration of excommunication issued by the Congregation for Bishops. A couple of well-versed canonists pointed out something crucial which I neglected to include in my thesis, and which probably led to an incorrect inference on the part of many readers: once the competent authority in the Church, in this case the Congregation for Bishops, has publicly declared a latae sententiae (automatic) penalty to have been incurred, the persons named in that declaration are bound to submit to the public effects of the penalty.

They are not free to simply ignore the penalty, alleging reasons why it does not apply to them. They may be sincerely convinced that the penalty was not incurred automatically. They may be convinced that the declaration was invalid. They may even be able to prove their case. But they cannot simply assert this, and then act as though there had been no declaration of excommunication. They must prove their case in an administrative recourse. If they choose not to lodge a recourse, then the matter rests as established by the competent Church authority. They are excommunicated.

This presumption in favor of the validity of administrative and judicial acts of Church authority exists in order to guarantee the good order of the society which is the Church. The four bishops consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre are and must be considered as excommunicated until such time as Church authority withdraws the declaration of excommunication.

Best, :tiphat:



Now that the question has been answered, the thread will be closed. Thanks to all who participated in the discussion.

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