Society of Saint Pius X

How can this be?

Is it not the Divine Gift to the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church to bind and loose? Is such not expressed within the Canon Law of that One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church?

How can there validly be ‘two’ binding and loosing? This seems absurd.

All right, let’s evaluate this nice and easy…

The Orthodox Church is in schism. Why is the Orthodox Church in Schism? Because they do not recognize the authority of the Pope over them. SINCE they do not recognize the Pope, what should they care about seeking Papal permission to consecrate bishops?

Likewise, the SSPX is ALSO in schism. They are in schism, not because of what they teach but because (listen closely now, this is important) they wanted to consecreate three new Bishops. Rome gave them permission to consecrate ONE bishop. They consecrated three anyway, they willfully disobeyed the Vatican.

What is the difference between SSPX and the Orthodox?

Simple, the SSPX disobeyed an order from the Vatican WHILE under the Pope. The Orthodox are NOT under the Pope (they have their own hierarchy) and so they disobey, but were already separate from Rome.

This isn’t a double standard. Both groups are outside the church.

Your first post asked this seemingly honest question:

“What is the position of this organization?”

Your subsequent posts seem to “imply” :rolleyes: that you already knew the answer to the question AND that you had an opinion about it.

So why post the question?

Because the work of binding and loosing is not in juridical matters but rather in doctrinal matters. Juridical statements can be illicit even if proclaimed by the Sacred Rota or the Holy Father himself. However, in these cases only a subsequent Holy Father can lift the juridical statement or judgment.

Some items of the Sacra Doctrina are discussed in the Code of Canon Law but usually only in their juridical implication and not in their doctrinal implication. The work associated with Catholic Doctrine is done through the Documents of the Church and by proxy the work of the Curia. The law spells out how we are to live out that Catholic Doctrine in the life of the Church.

Between my first post and subsequent posts I found more info on the ‘web’. People ‘can’ read you know.

The bishops in the SSPX are excomunicated. The priests of the society do not have the faculties to provide any of the sacraments. The laity who attend upon SSPX Masses (valid, but illicit) are seriously misguided and warned against doing so by the old Holy Father, Pope John Paul of happy memory.

If the priests have no faculties, then the masses are not valid (whether licit or not). My understanding is they have 5 sacraments, but lack the faculties for confession and marriage, which require the faculties of the local ordinary.

Mark Wyatt


No, you are wrong.

They have no faculties, meaning they do not have permission from a Bishop in communion with Rome to administer the sacraments. Since they have valid Holy Orders, however, the sacraments are valid but illicit.

Does that just apply to those SSPX priests who were ordained by the validly consecrated SSPX bishops though, and not those bishops who were consecrated without permission from Rome? :hmm:

The Bishops who were not consecrated with permission from Rome were still validly consecrated. All right, I know this whole thing gets confusing, I’ll break it up a bit.

There is a difference between valid and licit. To be VALID (for a priest) a priest must be ordained by a Bishop who was consecrated and maintains complete, unbroken Apostolic Succession. For a Bishop, the Bishop is consecrated by three Bishops of Valid Apostolic Succession.

These conditions were and are still being met by SSPX. Their Bishops (though consecrated without permission) were still validly consecrated, HOWEVER…

Though a priest has valid orders, he requires faculties from the Bishop. Such faculties include confession, but go beyond that, as a local ordinary can forbid a priest from celebrating mass publicly, presenting himself as a priest or publicly administering any sacrament.

Likewise, Archbishops (like Lefavbre) require permission to consecrate Bishops from Rome. So if an Archbishop consecrates a bishop without permission, that person is still a Bishop, but he was consecrated in defiance of Rome.

All of the SPPX Bishops and Priests are VALID but they are illicit because 1) three Bishops were consecrated in direct defiance of Rome (who authorized one be consecrated) 2) Despite being warned that such actions could result in punishment from the Vatican, they persisted.

SSPX Priests and Bishops are just that, they are priests and Bishops. If they were ever to return to Rome, they would be received, they would not be re-ordained and would not be re-consecrated (as would be required for an Episcopal, Anglican Priest/Bishop or a Lutheran Pastor/Bishop). The orders are valid but illicit for the whole society.

To add to the above post:

The reason why Matrimony and Penance are invalid if conducted by a priest is that they do not have any ties to a Bishop that can grant them the faculties to perform those two sacraments because the SSPX Bishops are not Ordinaries. This means that they do not have a teritorial jurisdiction which is necessary for a Bishop to excercise authroity.

The reson of the sacraments celebrated by them are valid but illicit.

Much of this is tied to unity with a Patriarch. Each Patriarch in the world hold full jurisdiction over his suri juri Church. The Holy Father while being a Patriarch in his own right is also the Supreme Pontiff and thus has full and immedeate jurisdiction over every See in the Catholic Church. However, there is a difference in seperation that is made when one seperates from their own Patriarch then the Holy Father. It is hard for us to see in the West because our Patriarch (for most of the West) is the Holy Father.

Lots of opinions here about the SSPX being in “schism” from lay-people with no authority whatsoever.

Although repeating the old adage about what “opinions” are like would not be appropriate for a Catholic board, those who recall it are welcome to privately refer to it.

As Catholics, when it comes to “opinions” of which we are not certain, it’s best to refer to the highest authority available. In this case, the highest authority available is a curia cardinal who happens to be the head of the Ecclesia Dei.

His opinion matters and carries a great of weight. The opinions of the posters on this thread don’t matter and carry no weight.

“We are not dealing with a case of heresy. One cannot say in correct and exact terms that there is a schism. There is in the act of ordaining Bishops without Papal approval a schismatic attitude. They are (The Society of St. Pius X) within the confines of the Church. The problem is just that there is a lack of a full, a more perfect – and as it was said during the meeting with Msgr. Fellay (with the Pope and Cardinal Hoyos on 29th August 2005)– a more full communion, because communion does exist.” - Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos on Canal 5 TV, November 13, 2005

It would appear that our Holy Father saw fit to allow SSPX to enter into their own Society:

Former followers of Lefebvre return to Church and found approved Institute Vatican City, Sep. 11, 2006 (CNA) - A group of six French priests and several seminarians who were formerly members of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X have reestablished full communion with the Catholic Church and begun the “Institute of the Good Shepherd,” with the blessing of Pope Benedict XVI.

Members of the new pontifically-approved Society of Apostolic Life, established in Rome on September 8th, the Feast of the Birth of Mary, can celebrate the Tridentine Mass in Latin. The statutes of the Institute allow its members to “exclusively use the Gregorian liturgy,” the rite found in the liturgical books used prior to the liturgical reform in 1962, the Roman Missal, the Roman Breviary, the Roman Pontifical, and the Roman Ritual.

The Archbishop of Bordeaux and President of the Episcopal Conference of France, Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, noted in a communication that the clergy who belong to the Institute, desire “to practice their priesthood in the doctrinal and liturgical traditions of the Holy Roman Catholic Church.”

The French prelate explained that the Holy Father, “adopted the decision to build this new institute.” In this way, he continued, “they give their will to propose an experience of reconciliation and communion which will be deepened and made more solid with the facts.” The statutes of the Institute of the Good Shepherd have received experimental approval for a period of five years.

The archbishop also explained that the presence of the newly approved Society of Apostolic Life in the Archdiocese of Bordeaux will be regulated by an agreement signed by both parties.

According to the France Press agency, Fathers Paul Aulagnier, Guillaume de Tanouarn, and Philippe Laguérie are the priests being considered to be named Superior General of in the decree creating the new institute.

The seminarians, the agency continued, are to be ordained by Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, Prefect for the Congregation for the Clergy and President of the Commission “Ecclesia Dei” which was created to facilitate the return to full communion of those connected to the Fraternity founded by Lefebvre.

It would appear that our Holy Father saw fit to allow SSPX to enter into their own Society:

For clarity, the 5 founding priests of The Institute of Good Sheperd (given full force by the Vatican on Friday) are former SSPX priests who were very high up, most being with the Society for several decades. One was the district superior of France and second only under His Grace Archbishop Lefebvre for quite some time.

So while this does not compromise the SSPX as a whole, it would never have occured without them. It’s a good illustration of how traditionalism is gaining momentum and how the Society has played a critical role in such.

While I respect H.E. Cardinal Hoyos his opinion on the matter of schism also does not control the issue. Rightly so it is an important opinion however the controlling opinion was that officially made by H.H. John Paul II in the moto proprio Ecclesia Dei. In said document the Holy Father recognized the act as a Schismatic act and issued Excommunication accordingly. Thus, until they all re-unite with the Church those who are apart perpetuate in a state of Schism and are latae Sentiae excommunicated.

Which is not unheard of in any way. I know many SSPX priests that have come back into the fold. Also, the Diocese of Campos is a beautiful example of reconciliation. However, these actions serve to express that the SSPX is outside of the Church and in order to regularize they must come into the Church in some formal and public way.

While I do not deny that the Society has played a significant role in helping the Church reign in the problems that have happened post Vatican II. However, at the same time, their separation is a scandal to the faithful and it would have served better for them to have fought from within the Church through licit means as opposed to illicit means.

They assert a proposition condemned by the Pius VI.

See more here: How are the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) in error? -View

However, they are in schism because the pope affirmed that they are in schism.

- John Paul II - Motu Proprio (2 July 1988)Ecclesia Dei

In the present circumstances I wish especially to make an appeal both solemn and heartfelt, paternal and fraternal, to all those who until now have been linked in various ways to the movement of Archbishop Lefebvre, that they may fulfil the grave duty of remaining united to the Vicar of Christ in the unity of the Catholic Church, and of ceasing their support in any way for that movement. Everyone should be aware that formal adherence to the schism is a grave offence against God and carries the penalty of excommunication decreed by the Church’s law. (par. 5c)

Without proper faculties, the Sacraments of Holy Matrimony and Penance are invalid, normatively speaking. See here:

From the **PONTIFICIA COMMISSIO “ECCLESIA DEI”, **Rome, 28th September 1999:
*"… The priests of the Society of St. Pius X are validly ordained, but suspended, that is prohibited from exercising their priestly functions because they are not properly incardinated in a diocese or religious institute in full communion with the Holy See and also because those ordained after the episcopal ordinations were ordained by an excommunicated bishop. They are also excommunicated if they adhere to the schism… Concretely this means that the Masses offered by the priests of the Society of St. Pius X are valid, but illicit i.e, contrary to Canon Law. *The Sacraments of Penance and Matrimony however, require that the priest enjoys the faculties of the diocese or has proper delegation. Since that is not the case with these priests, these sacraments are invalid. It remains true, however, that, if the faithful are genuinely ignorant that the priests of the Society of St. Pius X do not have the proper faculty to absolve, the Church supplied these faculties so that the sacrament was valid (cf. Code of Canon Law c.144). "

While I respect H.E. Cardinal Hoyos his opinion on the matter of schism also does not control the issue.

Claiming you respect his opinion, while publicly purporting that yours is more correct, accurate and wise is not respecting his opinion, it’s rejecting it. You’re claiming in essence - perhaps unintentionally - that His Eminence doesn’t know of what he speaks while you do. That your reading of Ecclesia Dei (the namesake of the office he heads) is better than his.

He has tremendous and specific authority, posters on the internet have absolutely none.

In said document the Holy Father recognized the act as a Schismatic act and issued Excommunication accordingly.

There is a tremendous difference between committing a schismatic act and existing in a state of schism. Also, John Paul did not “issue” any excommunication. He claimed there existed an automatic latae sentiae excommunication for the Archbishop and the Archbishop alone.

None of this translates to the Society priests existing in a state of schism, as some would like to have others believe.

I point you to the new institute formed by 5 priests formerly with the Society. There were no apoligies, no public corrections, no confessions or professions required or asked for.

IOW at no point were they ever excommed or in schism, despite the wishes of their detractors.

Also, John Paul did not “issue” any excommunication. He claimed there existed an automatic latae sentiae excommunication for the Archbishop and the Archbishop alone.

I’d like to correct my last post. Of course claimed the latae sentiae was for the Archbishop and the four bishops he consecrated.

My sincere apologies. I had the status of the Society priests stuck in my head while making the argument.

With respect to your correction in the post that followed this one you are still not quite correct on the issue. While it is true that the direct excommunication was for the late Archbishop and the Consecrated Bishops it is also clear that those how adhere to the schism are also subject to the same judicial act. Hence for this reason the Church has been clear in recent years that the Sacraments of Matrimony and Penance are not valid for the afore said reason.

Further, the position that I am holding on this issue is the position of the Holy Father himself on the issue as he expressed while a member of the Commission. Also, it is the position of the late Holy Father on the issue. What I am saying is that an opinion by anyone even if he be the Holy Father is subject to scrutiny (per St. Thomas).

Also, the complication that His Eminence is a real complication due to the fact that schism cannot be legislated but is rather an internal disposition. However, the manifestation of particular acts and statements can lead the the right judgement of the Church on the matter. The Church has spoken on the issue and it is really not a matter for debate but rather information. The fact is that all clergy of the Society are under the penalty of excommunication and until they cease to be in public separation that excommunication remains. Such excommunications are not necessary to be imposed but rather are imposted ipso facto.

I do not take offense at your impugning of my qualifications to speak on the topic because it is true that one poster from the next may or may not have qualification to speak on an issue. However, for what it is worth, I do possess enough qualifications to speak on the issue in an educated manner. Further reading on the subject at hand will only confirm my statements as not being my own but rather those of the Church concerning the matter. I am not interested in this becoming a heated argument as that profits none as it will serve only to have the thread closed rather I think it is important that such information is provided for the sake of those who seek the information.

Also, on the topic of the five as described who are in the new Religious Institute would have had to make a declaration of fidelity per the requirements of any entering into the Religious Life or Institute of Religious Living and the like. This is a basic canonical requirement for all entering community the the acceptance of private or public vows and acceptance of a rule of life or constitution of a community. Such declarations are made at a public or semi-public or private ceremony usually in the presence of the Ordinary or Superior.

If we would like to discuss the perpetuation of a schismatic disposition in the Society then I would be more than happy to oblige and the canonical nuances of the issue itself including the force of the mandate and grave necessity issues presented in the root issue with the Society and the late Archbishop Lefebvre and how complicence in this disposition effects the clergy of the Society.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit