Sacraments of SSPX


Of course, Cathy Caridi also mentioned that statement of Pope Benedict XVI. I’m not convinced that you understand what she wrote.



I’d not go as far as you do in the former comment but agree with the latter.



Whether you’re convinced or not, the fact is that I do understand it.

Canon 144 applies only to ministers of the Church.

She is in error to say that the Church supplies the faculties, because she is attempting to say that the same canon 144 applies to a priest-in-good-standing as to a priest who has no ministry at all. That is not what the canon is addressing.

In her example, the Church supplies to the Grace to an unwitting penitent, but the Church does not supply jurisdiction or faculties to one who has no ministry in the Church, and no juridic act (in this case, absolution) occurs.



In a situation where canon 144 applies, there is the lack of the executive power of governance. For absolving sins the priest must have both holy orders and faculty either by the law itself, or by competent ecclesiastical authority (Cf. CIC, cann. 844; 967-969; 972; CCEO, can. 722 §§ 3-4). One example of by law is in the danger of death situations (Cf. CIC, can. 976; CCEO, can. 725).

So Pope Benedict XVI has said that there ministry is not licit which means the SSPX priest lacks the executive power of governance. That is the situation that canon 144 pertains to. So she is saying that since valid orders exist, that the executive power of governance can be supplied in the situation she describes.



No, it cannot.

You are missing the entire point that canon 144 only pertains to ministers of the Church.

He did not say that their ministry is “not licit” he said that they exercise no ministry. There is a huge difference.

You are changing the words that Pope Benedict used. He said clearly that they exercise no ministry in the Church.

Canon 144 does not exist to “supply” the power of governance to those who exercise no ministry in the Church. Why do you not see this?

There is no way, none whatsoever, that canon 144 can be used to justify what the SSPX do.



Can. 292 A cleric who loses the clerical state according to the norm of law loses with it the rights proper to the clerical state and is no longer bound by any obligations of the clerical state, without prejudice to the prescript of can. 291 [clerical celibacy]. He is prohibited from exercising the power of orders, without prejudice to the prescript of can. 976. By the loss of the clerical state, he is deprived of all offices, functions, and any delegated power.

Note that the only exception to this is canon 976 (in which the Church gives to any priest the faculties to absolve in danger of death).

The canon does not say “without prejudice to canon 144.”

Since he is “prohibited from exercising the power of order” he is prohibited from exercising the power of orders. It’s that simple.

It stands to reason that one who was ordained completely outside of the discipline of the Church would not be in a better position than one who was ordained as such, but later lost the clerical state. Therefore, any priest of the SSPX, regardless of when he was ordained has no ministry in the Church. None.



With refrence to canon 292, even laicized priests can still validly administer sacraments, although illicitly, in most circumstances. * Validity *of the sacrament prudes although celebration is unlawful.

See: Canon Law: A Comparative Study with Anglo-American Legal Theory, p… 90, By John J. Coughlin, O.F.M., J.C.D., J.C.L, J.D. (Harvard), Th.M. (Princeton), M.A. (Columbia), Professor of Law and Concurrent Professor of Theology.



Part II

I did find this opinion in Empowerment for Ministry: A Complete Manual on Diocesan Faculties for Priests, Deacons, and Lay Ministers , by John M. Huels, J.C.D. (2003, Paulist Press), p. 61.Canon 144 is a legal remedy that works only in some kinds of cases but not in all. By no means is it an excuse for ministers to ignore canon law and assume Ecclesia supplet, that the Church always supplies a missing faculty. Some cases when the Church does not supply the faculty are:

  • a minister who is excommunicated or suspended when the censure has been imposed or declared;
  • a minister not in communion with the Catholic Church (e.g., a priest of the Society of St. Pius X);
  • a minister whose faculty was revoked and a new one not given;
  • a personal pastor who assists at a marriage in his parish when neither party is in his personal jurisdiction;
  • a Latin Catholic pastor who assists at the marriage of a Catholic parishioner and a Protestant, but the Catholic is an Eastern Catholic;
  • a cardinal or papal nuncio who assists at a marriage without delegation;
  • a diocesan bishop who assists at marriage outside his diocese without delegation;
  • a pastor who assists at the marriage of his parishioners in a parish oratory, but the oratory is outside his parish boundaries;
  • when special delegation was not given expressly, whether explicitly or implicitly, to a specified person or persons;
  • when the special delegation was not given for a specified marriage or marriages;
  • when the subdelegation for a marriage was granted without the authorization of the one delegating.


Part III - Here we see that the power of governance is not actually obtained by the priest with Ecclesia supplet.

CCEO cc. 994 and 995 (CIC d. 144)There are two additional cases in which the absolution of sins is by a priest who lacks the faculty are valid: (1) cases of common error (2) cases of doubt of law or fact. Both cases flow from the understanding of the faculty as an exercise of the power of governance. Specifically, the faculty to absolve is generally regarded as an exercise of the executive power of governance as opposed to the legislative or judicial powers of governance. (… judicial power of governance is exercised only in the external forum.) …
As a mater of fact both codes explicitly acknowledge that the norms on executive power of governance do apply, inter alia, to the faculty to hear confessions (… CIC c. 144.2 which specifically lists the faculty mentioned in CIC. 966, i.e., the faculty to hear confessions obtained either* ipso iure* or by special grant (CIC c. 966.2).) There are two well-recognized cases in which the Church supplies (Ecclesia supplet) executive power of governance; namely in cases of common error of fact or law and in cases of positive and probable doubt of law or fact. The Legislator recognized that both situations can arise in connection with the absolution of sins because both codes expressly state that in such situations the executive power of governance is supplied in both the internal forum as well as the external forum. Therefore, if these situations do in fact arise in confession, the Church supplies the missing power of governance in order to protect a penitent who confessed in good faith.

From the standpoint of the penitent, the result of the Church supplying the power of governance under these circumstances is the same as any priest having the faculty to absolve in the danger of death, e.g., the penitent is validly absolved. However, in regard to the priest, it is very different in that he does not in fact ever obtain the faculty in these cases. Instead, his invalid absolution is essentially sanated by the Church. (Some commentators characterize this an an* ipso facto* release of the power of orders for the good of souls. See Cuschieri, at pp. 226-227.)
The Sacramental Mysteries of Healing by The Very Reverend Francis J. Marini J.D., J.C.O.D. in Comparative Sacramental Discipline In The CCEO and CIC, Canon Law Society of America, 2003, pp. 120-122.


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