Marriage by SSPX priests - valid or invalid?

I hope to start a discussion with all the Traditionalists and others interested in issues dealing with that movement on the problem surrounding marriages as celebrated in chapels staffed by priests of the Society of St. Pius X. In short: do you think these marriages are valid? why or why not?

I suppose I should make my opinion clear from the start: I believe them to be invalid due to defect in canonical form. I am not a supporter of the SSPX (though I do support many of their goals and sympathize a great deal with the faithful who receive the Sacraments from their priests).

For those unfamiliar with the arguments presented by the Society, a defense of their position can be found here: sspx.org/miscellaneous/validity_of_confessions_1.htm

I haven’t seen many responses to this argument that are as detailed, but one good (though short) source for the opposing view is: home.earthlink.net/~grossklas/matrimony.htm

As I understand it, the SSPX priests have no jurisdiction to grant valid Confession or Marriage.

I believe them to be invalid due to defect in canonical form.

But if SSPX’ers aren’t Catholic, they wouldn’t be subject to canonical form anymore than a Baptist is.

On the other hand, if they are Catholic, consider Canon 1116

Can. 1116 §1 If one who, in accordance with the law, is competent to assist, cannot be present or be approached without grave inconvenience, those who intend to enter a true marriage can validly and lawfully contract in the presence of witnesses only:

1° in danger of death;

2° apart from danger of death, provided it is prudently foreseen that this state of affairs will continue for a month.

Does the SSPX status of the parties contracting the marriage present a grave inconvenience to the parties approaching a diocesan priest? If so, the marriage would still be valid.

As far as precedent, from my understanding (although I could be wrong), a Brazilian breakaway diocese of the same stripe as the SSPX re: Latin masses, was reunited to the church a few years back. All of their marriages were approved as valid without further action on the part of the spouses.

I’m not a canon lawyer, but it would appear that , yes, SSPX marriages are generally valid.

[quote=Kielbasi]But if SSPX’ers aren’t Catholic, they wouldn’t be subject to canonical form anymore than a Baptist is.

[/quote]

True but the couple getting married may be Cathollics and are bound by Catholic Teaching.

So to marry in an SSPX Chapel they would need a dispensation from their Bishop, without it the marrige could be said to suffer from a defect of form.

On the other hand, if they are Catholic, consider Canon 1116

[quote]
Can. 1116 §1 If one who, in accordance with the law, is competent to assist, cannot be present or be approached without grave inconvenience, those who intend to enter a true marriage can validly and lawfully contract in the presence of witnesses only:

1° in danger of death;

2° apart from danger of death, provided it is prudently foreseen that this state of affairs will continue for a month.

[/quote]

I do not think this Canon can apply as I can see no instance where a marriage must take place because of “danger of death” and number 2 doesn’t fit either.

Does the SSPX status of the parties contracting the marriage present a grave inconvenience to the parties approaching a diocesan priest? If so, the marriage would still be valid.

What? If the couple is Catholic then they are under the jurisdiction of the local Bishop, period. Doesn’t matter what kind of “inconvenience” there is.

As far as precedent, from my understanding (although I could be wrong), a Brazilian breakaway diocese of the same stripe as the SSPX re: Latin masses, was reunited to the church a few years back. All of their marriages were approved as valid without further action on the part of the spouses.

I’m not a canon lawyer, but it would appear that , yes, SSPX marriages are generally valid.

Yes and that precedent shows that SSPX marriages are invalid as the Church made all of them valid after the Brazilian group reunited. If they were valid to begin with then the Church would not have had to issue a statement saying that they are now valid.

[quote=Kielbasi]But if SSPX’ers aren’t Catholic, they wouldn’t be subject to canonical form anymore than a Baptist is.

On the other hand, if they are Catholic, consider Canon 1116

Does the SSPX status of the parties contracting the marriage present a grave inconvenience to the parties approaching a diocesan priest? If so, the marriage would still be valid.

As far as precedent, from my understanding (although I could be wrong), a Brazilian breakaway diocese of the same stripe as the SSPX re: Latin masses, was reunited to the church a few years back. All of their marriages were approved as valid without further action on the part of the spouses.

I’m not a canon lawyer, but it would appear that , yes, SSPX marriages are generally valid.
[/quote]

I hesitate to say that SSPXers are not Catholic. Many who attend their chapels were baptized by priests in full communion with Rome, well before the schism of Archbishop Lefebvre. Even if they were baptized by an excommunicated SSPX priest I think they would still be Catholic. At any rate, they all certainly profess to be Catholic - so as I understand it they are bound by Catholic form (i.e. canonical form).

As far as grave inconvenience, I don’t see it. They argue it is “gravely inconvenient” to approach a “Novus Ordo” Catholic priest because of diluted doctine, confusing the ends of marriage, having the wedding take place in the context of the current (“Novus Ordo”) Mass, etc. If there is such a grave problem in the Church that a couple could not in good conscience approach your average Latin Rite priest, then what is preventing them from being marired by a solid Eastern Rite priest? Then there is the issue of who is to determine what constitutes “grave inconvenience.” Putting this in the hands of the laity (or the SSPX priests) as opposed to a Local Ordinary seems dangerous to me.

As far as Campos (the diocese in Brazil) I have heard that Rome granted Radical Sanations to rectify the problem (though I have seen nothing official to confirm this). This (granting radical sanations) was also a part of the protocol agreement Archbishop Lefebvre signed before the schismatic Episcopal consecrations.

There are arguements here and there about this topic. No, the SSPX doesn’t have in the majority of cases, jurisdiction from the local bishop. SSPX marraiges and confessions are argued by the Society as being valid by the case of supplied jurisdiction.

Below are some interesting articles from the Society and bishop standpoint;

sspx.org/miscellaneous/validity_of_confessions_1.htm
sspx.ca/Angelus/2002_July/Bishop_Lori.htm

RE I hesitate to say that SSPXers are not Catholic. I think only the SSPX clergy have been excommunicated. Further even if one is excommunicated one is still Catholic and subject to Church Law.

I don’t think their dislike of nonSSPX clergy is a reason to refuse to go to them for the sacraments.

Isn’t there a definitive answer on this,[size=2] and not just from an apologist, but from marriage tribunals?[/size]

The church is sufficiently large that there had to be at least some cases where individuals were married in SSPX chapels and at least one party sought annulment from diocesan marriage tribunals.

If a tribunal can grant an annulment on improper form, they certainly would, the question is whether they did when the issue was put to them?

I don’t know the answer, but its out there, definitively.

[quote=Kielbasi]Isn’t there a definitive answer on this,

I can agree with this statement.

And seeing that this is the case (or it is how it appears to this layman) then we must err on the side of caution.

I believe that we must view them as illicit and possiblly invalid and we should incourage all to follow the proper forms.

Stay away from the SSPX expecially for confession, marriage, and annulments as they do not have jurisdiction and in the case of annulments they are always invalid.
[/quote]

[quote=Kielbasi]Isn’t there a definitive answer on this,
[/quote]

If you there trying to say, “There isn’t a definitive answer on this”, then I can agree with this statement.

And seeing that this is the case (or it is how it appears to this layman) then we must err on the side of caution.

I believe that we must view them as illicit and possiblly invalid and we should incourage all to follow the proper forms.

Stay away from the SSPX expecially for confession, marriage, and annulments as they do not have jurisdiction and in the case of annulments they are always invalid.

[quote=ByzCath]If you there trying to say, “There isn’t a definitive answer on this”, then I can agree with this statement.

And seeing that this is the case (or it is how it appears to this layman) then we must err on the side of caution.

I believe that we must view them as illicit and possiblly invalid and we should incourage all to follow the proper forms.

[/quote]

I definately agree, and this is where I cannot understand approaching Society priests for those sacraments. Some Catholics, no doubt, are ignorant of the particulars of sacramental theology and simply think that any priest whatsoever can validly administer the sacraments.

But those who know there is a problem with jurisdiction - I don’t know how it is that their conscience does not prick them constantly when approaching Society priests for penance and matrimony. I would think that they could at least have a Society priest as a spiritual director, but confess to a priest with proper faculties, and be married by such a priest. It seems too risky to me to simply gamble and take the chance that they do have supplied jurisdiction.

There HAS to be a definitive , yes or no, answer to this topic.


[size=2]The church is just too big, the number of marriage tribunals out there too large, for the issue of whether SSPX chapel weddings meet proper form requirements NOT to have been adjudicated at one time or another.[/size]

Eddie Arent wrote:

SSPX marraiges and confessions are argued by the Society as being valid by the case of supplied jurisdiction

Which is as worthless an argument as is their contention that they are neither in schism nor excommunicated!

In Australia there are two authorities which need to be satisfied in respect of marriages: the Church and the State.

The Church needs to be certain as to the validity of marriages for a number of reasons, including the future upbringing in the Church of children.

The State also needs authorative verification of marriages for statictics, legitimacy of children to be born, social services, etc.

The State grants the right to perform marriages “for the State” to the local Diocesan Bishop, who nominates clergy (usually Parish Priests) to perform marriages both “for the State” and “for the Church.” As SSPX priests do not possess jurisdiction from the local Bishop - they have no jurisdiction “for the Church.”

The ONLY other way for them to perform marriages “for the State” is for them to become registered civil Marriage Celebrants.

Several years ago, Fr. Todd Angele performed (at least) two marriages in the SSPX Hampton Chapel. Of course, this did not satisfy the requirements “for the Church” - BUT, he also neglected to ensure that the couple go immediately to a State Registry Office (or civil Marriage Celebrant) for the civil ceremony.

Approx. nine months later one of the couples sought their expected Marriage Certificate from him at Hampton. Ooopps!

I CAN vouch for the fact that they have not been back to the SSPX.

[quote=Kielbasi]There HAS to be a definitive , yes or no, answer to this topic.

[size=2]The church is just too big, the number of marriage tribunals out there too large, for the issue of whether SSPX chapel weddings meet proper form requirements NOT to have been adjudicated at one time or another.[/size]
[/quote]

Interestingly enough, I just recently contacted the tribunal in the Diocese of Boise, Idaho (the SSPX have a large following in northern Idaho). The canonist I spoke with indicated that marriages between adherents of the SSPX celebrated by SSPX priests ARE considered valid. This is so because the diocese does not recognize the SSPX as being Catholic, therefore their adherents are not bound by canonical form. If, however, two Catholics were to marry in a SSPX chapel, that marriage would be invalid due to defect in canonical form. The same would be true if a Catholic married a SSPX adherent in a SSPX chapel without a dispensation from form - he/she (the Catholic) would need a convalidation.

I’m not sure what I was expecting to hear, but it certainly wasn’t that.

I guess I had always considered SSPXers to be disobedient Catholics, but Catholics nonetheless. This seems to indicate that, at the very least, those baptized by Society priests aren’t Catholics, but rather material schismatics.

This raises a question though - if they are not bound by canonical form, are their confessions therefore valid?

I keep hearing this term on this forum. There is no such think as a “material schismatic”. People who are part of the SSPX, who were baptized by them, who entered them and were never Catholics, are not in schism. One can not be born into schism, its right in the Catechism.

A Catholic who starts attending the SSPX Mass may be guilty of schism, I am not going to get into that discussion here, it has been done elsewhere.

This raises a question though - if they are not bound by canonical form, are their confessions therefore valid?

It hear confessions within a diocese outside of an emergency (like imminent death) the priest requires faculties to be granted by the bishop of that diocese. As the SSPX priests do not have these, and in the case of at least one diocese are excommunicated, I would say that they are not valid.

ByzCath wrote:

One can not be born into schism, its right in the Catechism.

Whether they know it or not, like it not, the child of a schismatic who is Baptized with the proper Form, Matter and Intention IS at that point of time a Catholic, and will remain in “full communion with the Catholic Church” until he/she willingly partakes in the schismatic “action” (adheres to the schism of the parents.)

[quote=Sean O L]ByzCath wrote:

Whether they know it or not, like it not, the child of a schismatic who is Baptized with the proper Form, Matter and Intention IS at that point of time a Catholic, and will remain in “full communion with the Catholic Church” until he/she willingly partakes in the schismatic “action” (adheres to the schism of the parents.)
[/quote]

That is not correct. While they are baptized into the Catholic Church with baptism, they are not members of the Catholic Church and are not bound by its laws. For example, they do not commit a mortal sin by missing Mass on Sundays as they are not bound by that law.

Guess I need to post the paragraph from the Catechism once again…

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.”

Byzcath wrote:

[quote]Whether they know it or not, like it not, the child of a schismatic who is Baptized with the proper Form, Matter and Intention IS at that point of time a Catholic, and will remain in “full communion with the Catholic Church” until he/she willingly partakes in the schismatic “action” (adheres to the schism of the parents.)

That is not correct. While they are baptized into the Catholic Church with baptism, they are not members of the Catholic Church
[/quote]

Hey, I am NOT denying any part of CCC #818. However, it appears that you are claiming that Baptism is NOT a Catholic Sacrament! I claim that ALL of the Sacraments are Catholic Sacraments and belong to the Catholic Church. That reception of the Catholic Sacrament of Baptism (which cannot be repeated) incorporated the receiver into the Catholic Church.

CCC # 818 does not prove the contrary.

As I understand it, the ministers of the Sacrament of Marriage are the bride and the groom.

1623 In the Latin Church, it is ordinarily understood that the spouses, as ministers of Christ’s grace, mutually confer upon each other the sacrament of Matrimony by expressing their consent before the Church. In the Eastern liturgies the minister of this sacrament (which is called “Crowning”) is the priest or bishop who, after receiving the mutual consent of the spouses, successively crowns the bridegroom and the bride as a sign of the marriage covenant.

That being said, it would seem that anyone who is worthy to be married may be married validly in the SSPX, though there may remain some question as to whether or not it was a sacramental marriage, i.e. the conferral of grace. The marriage, while valid, may not be truly sacramental.

Chapter XIX: THE MYSTICAL BODY OF CHRIST
Extract from §III:THE DOCTRINE EXPLAINED PP. 674-77

… St Thomas … sets forth the doctrine of the Redemption, and of the application of its fruits:

…]

“The head and members are as one mystic person; and therefore Christ’s satisfaction belongs to all the faithful as being his members. Also in so far as any two men are one in charity, the one can satisfy for the other, as shall be shown later." 1] “But the same reason does not hold good of confession and contrition, because the satisfaction consists of an outward action for which helps may be used, among which friends are to be computed.” 2]

" As stated above, 3] grace was bestowed upon Christ, not only as an individual, but inasmuch as he is the Head of the Church, so that it might overflow into his members; and therefore Christ’s works are referred to himself and to his members in the same way as the works of any other man in a state of grace are referred to himself. But it is evident that whosoever suffers for justice’ sake, provided that he be in a state of grace, merits his salvation thereby, according to Matt. v 10. Consequently Christ by his Passion merited salvation, not only for himself, but likewise for all his members." 4]

The fruits of the Redemption, therefore, are applied to individuals on Baptism Inasmuch as they are incorporated into the Mystical Body of Christ. Now the means which Christ has instituted for this incorporation are the sacraments, and in particular Baptism, the sacrament of regeneration. Hence in the teaching of St Thomas concerning this sacrament we are able to see again the far-reaching importance of the doctrine of the Mystical Body.

“Since Christ’s Passion,” he writes, 5] “preceded as a kind of universal cause of the forgiveness of sins, it needs to be applied to each individual for the cleansing of personal sins. Now this is done by Baptism and Penance and the other sacraments, which derive their power from Christ’s Passion.”

Even those who lived before the coming of Christ, and therefore before the institution of the sacrament of Baptism, needed, if they were to be saved, to become members of Christ’s Mystical Body. “At no time could men be saved, even before the coming of Christ, unless they became members of Christ: ‘for there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved.’[SUB] 6][/SUB] Before Christ’s coming men were incorporated into Christ by faith in his future coming, and the seal of that faith was circumcision.” 7]

Treating the question whether a man can be saved without Baptism, St Thomas allows that where actual Baptism is absent owing to accidental circumstances, the desire proceeding from “faith working through charity” will in God’s providence inwardly sanctify him. But where you have absence of actual Baptism and a culpable absence of the desire of Baptism, “those who are not baptised under such conditions cannot be saved, because neither sacramentally nor mentally are they incorporated in Christ, through whom alone comes salvation.” 8] He emphasises the same truth when speaking of men who are sinners in the sense that they will to sin and purpose to remain in sin. These, he says, are not properly disposed to receive Baptism: " ‘For all of you who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ’; now as long as a man has the will to sin, he cannot be united to Christ: ‘for what hath justness in common with lawlessness.’" 9]

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