Servants of the Holy Family and the SSPX

Are the Servants of the Holy Family (in Colorado Springs, CO) in a comparable canonical situation to the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX)? How are their situations similar, how are they different? Thank you, God bless.

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Well, so… not my area of expertise by a long shot, but I’ll take a stab before this thread becomes too interesting.

The SSPX, depending upon who you ask, are in a quasi-schismatic state — the Church actually doesn’t say that but uses the term “irregular”. They’re operating outside of the Church but some concessions have been made (you may go to confession with one of their priests and sometimes marriages are OK), so the bottom line is that an effort is being made on both sides. It’s like we’re separated but in marriage counseling.

The SotHF, on the other hand, aren’t even close. They don’t “see” us and we don’t “see” them on the ecclesiastical streets. They’ve gone off on their own (off the rails, really, in some ways) and don’t care what the Church says/thinks about it, and for the Church’s part, aside from praying for them, we just keep an eye on them and try to help people know the truth. Schismatic might be too kind, in my opinion.


The SSPX is an organized and relatively large/ widespread group that’s been around a long time. The Popes have tried to some extent to build bridges with them. Also, while I myself prefer to avoid them due to their irregular status, they seem to be a relatively normal organization apart from being very traditionalist.

There have been other small breakaway groups in irregular status that operated more like cults, trying to keep people from contacting their relatives outside the group, that sort of thing. A couple of such groups have gotten in trouble with the law for allegedly holding people against their will, or aggressive street preaching, etc. Usually they are not part of any larger organization. In the worst cases they are run by priests who were laicized by the Church for good reason (for example one group was run by a priest who was laicized for having sexual relations with teenagers).


FYI @Jfsteck and @carmelitequotes is this the same group discussed few days ago?

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The very same group. The Servants of the Holy Family are a dangerous group, @h0j0. Here’s the summary from the 31 July 2013 Declaration by the Most Rev. Bishop Michael J. Sheridan, Bishop of Colorado Springs:

Therefore, expecting no further developments toward a better relationship with the Universal and Diocesan Church, even more so after the letter of June 6, 2013, signed by all the members of the above mentioned community, in which they accuse me and my predecessor of lack of obedience to the Church and its hierarchy, and to resolve this schismatic attitude, and in order to avoid confusion, error, and scandal among the faithful of the diocese entrusted to me and, for that matter, all the Reverend Ordinaries that may have interest, and among all who can be misled by this confusing reality, and in accordance with canons 1331, 1364, and 1365 of the Code of Canon Law, and having consulted with the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei,”

I declare that the priests Anthony Ward, Michael J. McMahon, Mark R. Violette, Kevin D. Simons, and Allan R. Kucera, are not in good standing with the Diocesan or the Universal Catholic Church.

And that:

  • The celebration of the Holy Eucharist is illicit and a grave moral offence in accordance with canon 900, § 2.

  • The absolutions given within the Sacrament of Penance (confessions) are invalid in accordance with canon 966.

  • Any celebration of the Sacrament of Matrimony for those bound to the canonical form of marriage in accordance with canon 1108 (all Baptized Catholics or those received into the communion of the Church), and all the maniages previously celebrated are invalid due to their lack of jurisdiction.

  • Their administration of the Sacrament of Baptism is illicit in accordance with canons 861 and 862;

  • They may not celebrate any other public acts of worship according to canon 1331 §1, n.1. They may not celebrate Sacraments or Sacramentals nor receive them.

  • Therefore, it will be an act of spiritual danger for Catholics who would attend these celebrations and they could be penalized in accordance with canon 1365.

  • Contrary to what they claim, they are not qualified to train candidates for holy orders since they do not meet the conditions specified in canons 232-264.

All faithful of the Diocese are encouraged to pray for the conversion and reconciliation with the Church of the Servants of the Holy Family.

While I invoke the Holy Spirit to move the hearts of this community to better and obedient relationship with the Diocesan and Universal Church, I want to prevent the faithful of the diocese entrusted to me, and for that matter, all Catholics from being confused by any other information they may obtain.

Given at the Diocesan See […]
DECLARATION Bishop Michael J Sheridan, re: Servants of the Holy Family 31 July 2013


On their Wikipedia page, it is mentioned how in various years an “unnamed Catholic bishop” visited them for confirmations and ordinations.

It’s sad to see a Community that likely began with the best of intentions as a means towards preserving “Traditional Catholicism”. Eventually it appears that the means - one particular means - became the end in itself.

This is likely the inevitable result of separation from the current, living magisterium.


You cannot be a Traditional Catholic without addressing fundamental problems of insubordination… Tradition does not exist outside of the Church. Both groups suffer from this and must submit to their superiors.


As the saying goes: Names or it didn’t happen.

I also note that their Wikipedia page has a giant flag at the top for overreliance on primary sources, which is shorthand for saying “looks like it was taken straight from the organization’s website.”


The Old Catholic Church interest me for same reason. They objected to Vatican I and split and now ordain women priests etc. I think it’s fair to say that the original people who split would not have been in favour of that.


Every group that breaks off denies they are starting something new, but rather restoring/preserving authentic Catholic Tradition, omitting recent abberations.

Luther’s early followers called themselves “Catholics” fully claiming Catholic Tradition. The Old Catholics rejected what they called the non Traditional innovations of V1.

The early Lutherans likely prayed for the pope, some Old Catholics still do.
Old Catholic websites use the word “Catholic” over and over. However Old Catholic groups take positions wildly different from their founders, and wildly different from other OC groups in 2020. They reject the current Magisterium in the name of Tradition, regardless of whether they are liberal or conservative.

But it seems most of their energy goes towards maintaining their particular organization, at all costs.


Yes. They have a YouTube video objectively defending their group and an IT person confirmed the video was created and cane from their own server


Thanks for researching that.

Like we said in high school… QED.

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Except that they seek to preserve the traditional Latin rites of the Church, and traditional Catholic faith and spirituality, it’s apples and oranges. The SSPX was legitimately founded within the Church and, as far as I know, they have never been dissolved. Suspended, yes, various other sanctions, yes, but unless I am missing something, they remain a canonical entity within the Catholic Church. I believe I am correct in saying that, in the eyes of the Church, they have a canonical-legal personality.

The Servants of the Holy Family have no such standing. So far as I am aware, they were founded and exist totally outside of Church jurisdiction. Unless they are willing to become subject to the local bishop (or even immediately subject to the Holy See, assuming they could do so), they have no status whatsoever, and no faculties. They could always subject themselves to the local bishop, as Christ the King Abbey did in Alabama, but they have not done this.


Except for Ecclesiology

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I hear you, we were discussing the “SSPX Resistance” a few days ago and you raised the same point.

Without defending them in toto, none of these dissident traditionalist groups are trying to found a “new church”, nor are they challenging the divinely instituted character of the Church. In their eyes, the post-Vatican II Church has fallen into various kinds of error and bad judgment, and the sedevacantists (who neither the SSPX Resistance nor the Servants of the Holy Family are, though various SSPX Resistance priests might have their own thoughts) go so far as to say that the papal chair is occupied by a pretender. In short, they are trying to preserve the Catholic Faith, and to retain and preserve whatever essential ecclesiastical functions are needed for the sanctification of souls — bishops, priests, sacraments, proto-parishes, and so on. If, for instance, civil government went totally to rot (assuming it hasn’t already…), citizens organizing themselves into local posses, and banding together to ensure essential public services, would not be a challenge to the Constitution, nor to the concept of a properly functioning government — it would just be a grassroots response to a crisis and a vacuum of order and authority.

Again, not saying these groups are right, just understanding why they do what they do, trying to look at it from their perspective.

  • Temporary “means to an end” have a way of becoming permanent.

  • " Means to an end" have a way of becoming ends in themselves. This causes gradual, imperceptible changes in perspective.

  • After a couple generations it’s a somewhat different perspective. You adjust the theory (ecclesiology) to fit our current practice, whatever our group is.

  • FYI. I appreciate the TLM, fought catechetical and liturgical abuses, and other diocesan abuses.

[quote=“commenter, post:16, topic:617734, full:true”]

I don’t disagree with a word you say. We are now 50 years into the changes to which various dissident traditionalist groups object. This can’t go on forever, without it becoming schism. Some would say they are already there.

To this very day, the Old Catholics of Utrecht will tell you that they operate according to a special indult that some pope, way back when, gave to the bishop of Utrecht to function more or less autonomously without papal oversight (I’m sure I’m oversimplifying that). I have a very real concern that all of these groups to the “right” of the SSPX herself, for lack of a better way to put it, are going to morph into the “Old Catholics of the 20th and 21st century”.

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Every group who leaves believes they have the ‘true’ faith and are preserving it. It is not the church they are preserving it is their idea of the church that they are really preserving. It just tells me that they never really knew what the Catholic Church was to begin with.

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The problem is not so much those who explicitly leave. The bigger problem is those who say “I haven’t left” but they reject the authority of their pastor/bishop/pope. Their real “bishop” is the websites that are defying their own local bishop, implying they are Catholic.

Strictly speaking, the National Catholic Reporter, and similar ilk, are Traditionalist. They defend their positions as Restoring the Traditional, more open, egalitarian view of the much earlier Church, before recent innovations like Trent.

They aren’t that different from other Tradition Restorationists, those on the Right. They supposedly are Restoring different traditions. None are obedient to the current Magisterium.

It’s a sit-in schism. Every
Dissenter is a Tradition Restorationist.

yep, and without obedience you lose the protection from falling into error.

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