Is the SSPX schismatic?

I am sure this topic has been thoroughly beaten about, but I am bringing it up here again, mostly to avoid hijacking another thread.

Now, I didn’t come here to defend the SSPX and have never been in one of their chapels, but much of what is said about them just does not make sense.

So, at the risk of forever being labeled a “Lefebvreist” here goes.

The heart of the controversy seems to boil down to to the Apostolic letter "ECCLESIA DEI" of Pope John Paul II given on July 2, 1988. It can be found here: vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_commissions/ecclsdei/documents/hf_jp-ii_motu-proprio_02071988_ecclesia-dei_en.html%between% Oddly enough, I could find no link to this lettter on the “Apostolic Letters” page for John Paul II. In any case, this is the sticking point:

Hence such disobedience - which implies in practice the rejection of the Roman primacy - constitutes a schismatic act

It all seems very straight forward but I ask you to look a little deeper. In order to believe that the Society of St. Pius X is a schismatic sect, you must also believe all of the following:

  1. Consecration of bishops without Pontifical approval is a “schismatic act”.
    1a To believe 1 above, you must believe that the disobedience ( which is bad in itself) is an offense against Faith and Unity
  2. Everyone who performs a schismatic act is, by definition, schismatic.
  3. An individual (or, four individuals in this case) can taint ( infect?) any organization to which they belong. - Guilt by association, I suppose.
  4. Schism is an entity that persists after the individual believed to be schismatic has died.

Again, I do not want to be known as a “Defender of the SSPX” (although I would be in good company when you remember Michael Davies), but would be interested in continuing a discussion. In my opinion, this touches on subjects far beyond the specifics of this particular issue.

  1. Schism is an entity that persists after the individual believed to be schismatic has died.

Wel, Duh. If this were the case, then Orthodox and Protestants (and nearly every other non-Catholic body) wouldn’t be considered schismatic.

  1. An individual (or, four individuals in this case) can taint ( infect?) any organization to which they belong. - Guilt by association, I suppose.

Oh come on! Ths is not just a matter of them “belonging” to just any organization, and you know it! What you propose we must beleive is preposterous.

The Society of Saint Pius X was dissolved by Pope Paul VI. The seminarians refused to go along with this, and so they were suspended, then excommunicated, along with their leaders. (Or, if you would, adhering to a schismatic, unlawful priestly society as, in effect, a repudiation of the Catholic faith, thereby making one schismatic.)

If these guys were members of a Modernist group, and have pulled the shenanigans they have, there’d be no doubt in anyone’s mind what their status was.

Ask yourself this question: Is “Rent-A-Priest” a schismatic organization? And what about all the (hundreds?) of independent Modernist priestly societies affiliated with “Call to Action”?

[quote=Munda cor meum]It all seems very straight forward but I ask you to look a little deeper. In order to believe that the Society of St. Pius X is a schismatic sect, you must also believe all of the following:

  1. Consecration of bishops without Pontifical approval is a “schismatic act”.
    1a To believe 1 above, you must believe that the disobedience ( which is bad in itself) is an offense against Faith and Unity
  2. Everyone who performs a schismatic act is, by definition, schismatic.
  3. An individual (or, four individuals in this case) can taint ( infect?) any organization to which they belong. - Guilt by association, I suppose.
  4. Schism is an entity that persists after the individual believed to be schismatic has died.
    [/quote]

I’d say that about sums it up. To answer your question, yes, the SSPX is schismatic, although on a good note, there have been some ongoing talks between the society and the Holy See to bring them back in union with Rome. As someone who loves the Tridentine Mass (I attend the indult Mass as celebrated by the FSSP), I would love to see the SSPX reunited with the Catholic Church. I pray that it happens soon.

God bless,
Tom

According to EWTN’s Q&A section, they are schismatic according to one lay person or priest. I forgot who replied to the question. But the Anglicans, Lutherans, etc. of today aren’t schismatic. Which goes to show how people have been selective over the years.

Personally, I don’t attend their chapels so don’t think I’m an operative. I keep up-to-date with what’s going on with them though.

[quote=EddieArent]According to EWTN’s Q&A section, they are schismatic according to one lay person or priest. I forgot who replied to the question. But the Anglicans, Lutherans, etc. of today aren’t schismatic. Which goes to show how people have been selective over the years.

Personally, I don’t attend their chapels so don’t think I’m an operative. I keep up-to-date with what’s going on with them though.
[/quote]

One of the reasons the Anglicans and Lutherrans, as well as other groups today, are not considered schismatics is that one can not be born into schism.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church…

Wounds to unity

817 In fact, “in this one and only Church of God from its very beginnings there arose certain rifts, which the Apostle strongly censures as damnable. But in subsequent centuries much more serious dissensions appeared and large communities became separated from full communion with the Catholic Church - for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame.” The ruptures that wound the unity of Christ’s Body - here we must distinguish heresy, apostasy, and schism - do not occur without human sin:

Where there are sins, there are also divisions, schisms, heresies, and disputes. Where there is virtue, however, there also are harmony and unity, from which arise the one heart and one soul of all believers.

818 “However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities [that resulted from such separation] and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers . . . . All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church.”

819 “Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth” are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: “the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements.” Christ’s Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ and lead to him, and are in themselves calls to “Catholic unity.”

Paragraph 818 references the Decree on Ecumenism (Unitatis Redintegratio) 3 § 1, follow the link if you want more.

One of the reasons the Anglicans and Lutherrans, as well as other groups today, are not considered schismatics is that one can not be born into schism.

Yes and no.

The Church distinguishes between two types of sin: material sin and formal sin.

Formal sin is a sinful act which is both wrong in itself and known by the person committing it to be wrong. Material sin is an action which, though in itself contrary to Divine law, is not culpable, because the agent acts either in ignorance or uner constraint.

And this distinction applies also to heresy/schism/apostasy.

So a non-Catholic Christian, who was never a Catholic to begin with, is a material schismatic. Ex-Catholic Christians are formal schismatics.

In my humble opinion, it was irresponsible for the EWTN “Expert” to asnwer as he did, without making these distinctions. H ehsould have known the kind of scandal it might cause, as well as the misrepresentation this causes among Catholics.

However, properly understood, the “Expert” was correct.

This is why I will gladly attend, say, an Episcopallian service or an Orthodox Liturgy (and not Communicate), but I won’t attend a “Traditionalist” chapel, even as an observer. The former are materially schismatic, the latter formally.

[quote=DominvsVobiscvm].

The Society of Saint Pius X was dissolved by Pope Paul VI. The seminarians refused to go along with this, and so they were suspended, then excommunicated, along with their leaders. (Or, if you would, adhering to a schismatic, unlawful priestly society as, in effect, a repudiation of the Catholic faith, thereby making one schismatic.)

[/quote]

Please point me to some proof of this assertion. I have searched but cannot find it. While you are at it, please define who “they” are.

On a related note, I also forgot:
5. Once a schismatic, always a schismatic. Repentence is not possible. No public swearing of fealty to the Pontiff or public acknowledgement of his supremacy is sufficient to overcome disobedience.

[quote=larsont7] To answer your question, yes, the SSPX is schismatic
[/quote]

If that is the case, why did Cardinal Ratzinger affirm that attending an SSPX Mass fulfils one’s Sunday obligation?

According to NewAdvent:

To communicate in sacris with schismatics, e. g., to receive the sacraments at the hands of their ministers, to assist at Divine Offices in their temples, is strictly forbidden to the faithful.

newadvent.org/cathen/13529a.htm

[quote=Munda cor meum]On a related note, I also forgot:
5. Once a schismatic, always a schismatic. Repentence is not possible. No public swearing of fealty to the Pontiff or public acknowledgement of his supremacy is sufficient to overcome disobedience.
[/quote]

Eh?

Schism is the Unpardonable Sin? I doubt this is correctly understood.

[quote=flameburns623]Eh?

Schism is the Unpardonable Sin? I doubt this is correctly understood.
[/quote]

Flame,

I almost posted the same comment and then went back and tried to make some sense of it. I couldn’t - but I think that this is some type of hyperbolic statement with which MCM is trying to make a point - lost on me :confused: , I must admit.

Many years,

Neil

[quote=Munda cor meum]If that is the case, why did Cardinal Ratzinger affirm that attending an SSPX Mass fulfils one’s Sunday obligation?

According to NewAdvent:

newadvent.org/cathen/13529a.htm
[/quote]

I haven’t read Cardinal Ratzinger’s comments regarding the SSPX Mass, but as far as I know (and I will be the first to admit I am no expert), one may fulfill his Sunday obligation by attending the SSPX Mass but may NOT receive the Sacraments (which would answer your NewAdvent question).

The question would then be, if one cannot receive the Sacraments, why attend the SSPX? The only answers I can think of would be 1) there is no other Catholic Mass in the area; or 2) the individual is so distracted by ‘what he perceives’ to be abuses in the Novus Ordo, his conscious will only let him go to the SSPX. To some, liturgy is the driving force of their faith, and any deviance from their “norm” in unacceptable and not conducive to growing in their faith.

On a side note, for me personally, I love the Tridentine Mass and attend regularly. However, I also realize the Church’s stand on the issue and that liturgy is a matter of discipline, not dogma. I also acknowledge that no Pope can bind future popes on matters of discipline (such as the other thread that asks whether “ex cathedra” statements can be changed, and the papal bull that is under question).

I have attended numerous Novus Ordo parishes that I thought had beautiful Masses, and I believe that transubstantiation takes place there just as in the Tridentine Mass. Though I may prefer the Old Mass, the Novus Ordo has all the essentials of a Catholic Mass, and I support the Holy See in this matter. I just wish that more, if not all the bishops would offer indults to priests who wish to say the Tridentine Mass across our country. I think the SSPX would come back in full communion with the Church and there would be no division amongst the faithful. Just my two cents.

[quote=Munda cor meum]If that is the case, why did Cardinal Ratzinger affirm that attending an SSPX Mass fulfils one’s Sunday obligation?

[/quote]

I do not think Cardinal Ratzinger ever said such a thing, can you provide proof that he did?

Now saying that, the head of the Ecclesia Dei committee, Msgr Perl, wrote a letter to a single individual telling this person that attending Mass at an SSPX Chapel would fulfill his obligation. Many Trads try to use this as proof of your claim but it is not such as it is a letter written to a single individual.

[quote=EddieArent]According to EWTN’s Q&A section, they are schismatic according to one lay person or priest. I forgot who replied to the question. But the Anglicans, Lutherans, etc. of today aren’t schismatic. Which goes to show how people have been selective over the years.

Personally, I don’t attend their chapels so don’t think I’m an operative. I keep up-to-date with what’s going on with them though.
[/quote]

They also had a good answer to the Anglican, Lutheran, schismatic thing here… I don’t know if you read that. It explains it very well.

ewtn.com/vexperts/showresult.asp?RecNum=421674&Forums=0&Experts=0&Days=90&Author=&Keyword=SSPX&pgnu=1&groupnum=0

On a related note, I also forgot:
5. Once a schismatic, always a schismatic. Repentence is not possible. No public swearing of fealty to the Pontiff or public acknowledgement of his supremacy is sufficient to overcome disobedience.

One cannot give lip-service to the dogmas of papal primacy and infallibility, and then at the same time refuse to obey a lawful directive of the Pope. Why is this so hard to understand?

Now saying that, the head of the Ecclesia Dei committee, Msgr Perl, wrote a letter to a single individual telling this person that attending Mass at an SSPX Chapel would fulfill his obligation. Many Trads try to use this as proof of your claim but it is not such as it is a letter written to a single individual.

Exactly, as one apologist has explained here, this was a single letter to a single individual, whose circumstances we cannot know. This was not a mandate or an allowance for the mass of the Catholic faithful.

Please point me to some proof of this assertion.

What assertion? If you need to read a short history of the schism, go here.

[quote=DominvsVobiscvm]Wel, Duh. If this were the case, then Orthodox and Protestants (and nearly every other non-Catholic body) wouldn’t be considered schismatic.
[/quote]

You need to stop giving out erroneous information.

#1.) The Eastern Orthodox are no longer in schism. They aren’t in perfect communion with the Catholic Church, but they are certainly no longer in schism. This was mutually lifted in the 1960’s.

#2.) Protestants by definition are in a state of heresy, not schism.

#3.) Non-Christian groups like the Mormons and the JW’s are neither in schism or heresey. They are in a state of apostacy.

[quote=Franciscum]You need to stop giving out erroneous information.

#1.) The Eastern Orthodox are no longer in schism. They aren’t in perfect communion with the Catholic Church, but they are certainly no longer in schism. This was mutually lifted in the 1960’s.

#2.) Protestants by definition are in a state of heresy, not schism.

#3.) Non-Christian groups like the Mormons and the JW’s are neither in schism or heresey. They are in a state of apostacy.
[/quote]

Hang on, Franciscum, with respect. The ANATHEMAS were mutually lifted, but did the SCHISM formally end?

#1.) The Eastern Orthodox are no longer in schism. They aren’t in perfect communion with the Catholic Church, but they are certainly no longer in schism. This was mutually lifted in the 1960’s

  1. The liftings of the anathemas were only symbolic to begin with. The original anathemas were not even attached to Churches, but only to particular individuals (Saint Leo IX and Michael Ceralius). To be in an “imperfect communion with the Church” is to be in schism. Look up the word “schism” in the Catechism.

#2.) Protestants by definition are in a state of heresy, not schism.

The two terms are not mutually exclusive. Protestants are both heretics and schismatics.

And, as I’ve noted elsewhere, the Church recognizes that heresy and schism invariably go hand-in-hand. The Orthodox, too, are heretical, since at the very least they deny the doctrines of papal primacy of jurisdiction and infallibility.

And groups like the Lefebvrists are, at best, implicitly heretical, since by their schism they implicitly deny a whole bunch of Catholic doctrines concerning the papacy and papal perrogatives.

[quote=ByzCath]I do not think Cardinal Ratzinger ever said such a thing, can you provide proof that he did?

Now saying that, the head of the Ecclesia Dei committee, Msgr Perl, wrote a letter to a single individual telling this person that attending Mass at an SSPX Chapel would fulfill his obligation. Many Trads try to use this as proof of your claim but it is not such as it is a letter written to a single individual.
[/quote]

Actually, I can. I am referring to the “Hawaii Six”.

On May 1, 1991, Mrs. Patricia Morely and five others were excommunicated by Bishop Joseph Ferrario, Bishop of Honolulu. This in response to a previous letter of centure in which he said:

Whereas you performed a schismatic act, not only by procuring the services [of Bishop Williamson to perform Confirmations at Our Lady of Fatima Chapel] but also by that very association with the aforementioned bishop (you) incurred ipso facto the grave censure of excommunication."

Ultimately, on June 4 1993, Cardinal Ratzinger in a decree nullified this and stated:

This Congregation has examined carefully all of the available documentation and has ascertained that the activities engaged in by the Petitioner, though blameworthy on various accounts, are not sufficient to constitute the crime of schism.

As I am sure you will point out, this decree was also directed at a specific group of people. Are you truly suggesting that it does not apply to me? That what is judged “acceptable” behavior for one individual is not acceptable for another. If that is the case, I have no worries. Nobody ever told me - specifically - that I must attend a Novus Ordo Mass. On the other hand, nobody has ever told me - specifically - that I may not attent an SSPX Mass

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