Why is Orthodox Confession Valid but not SSPX


#1

I ask this question with tremendous seriousness but also needing to understand the reasons why Orthodox Confession is valid but not SSPX. I am well aware that for confession to be valid a Priest needs to have jurisdiction. Since the SSPX doesn’t have that then that is why their confession is invalid. What I would like to know is if jurisdiction is something that is granted solely at the Diocesan level. Could an Archbishop of a diocese unilaterally decide to not grant jurisdiction to the Orthodox? Why would the Church grant jurisdiction to the Orthodox Church which is outside the Faith (they have doctrinal issues)?

Just to be clear since I am new here I am not trying to argue in favor of the SSPX.


#2

The Eastern Orthodox churches have valid episcopacy and holy orders so have valid sacraments. A Catholic might licitly and validly receive Communion from them provided it is physically or morally impossible for the Catholic to approach a Catholic minister. Their executive power of governance is from the Eastern Orthodox Church.

For SSPX see: forums.catholic.com/showpost.php?p=11660557&postcount=29

For SSPX, in some cases “invalid absolution is essentially sanated by the Church” for the good of the souls, without actually granting executive power of governance.


#3

The SSPX claims to be loyal to Rome yet Rome has told them that they exercise no legitimate ministry within the church. Despite this, as you and I both know, they continue to give confession and other sacraments. This alone should answer the question. The nature of the Orthodox schism is different and so the validity of their confessions is unrelated.


#4

Simply because the Orthodox Churches are in full schism claiming their own jurisdiction outside that of the Roman Catholic Church; the SSPX does not make these claims, and therefore is subject to the laws of the Catholic Church. The Orthodox Churches have their own claims and laws that are binding on them. Basically, if the SPPX decided one day to claim their own jurisdiction over priests, the Catholic Church would recognize their absolutions as valid, but they’d be in full schism with the Catholic Church.

You cannot. however, receive a valid absolution from an Orthodox priest outside of a dire circumstance, however; it’s only valid for Orthodox Christians. Catholics cannot receive confession and absolution from a non-Catholic priest, except in extremis, in which case, the SSPX priest would have faculties to the Catholic’s confession as well.

Benedicat Deus,
Latinitas


#5

That doesn’t answer the question, because saintjohnxxiii’s questions were about the Orthodox.

[quote=saintjohnxxiii]What I would like to know is if jurisdiction is something that is granted solely at the Diocesan level. Could an Archbishop of a diocese unilaterally decide to not grant jurisdiction to the Orthodox? Why would the Church grant jurisdiction to the Orthodox Church which is outside the Faith (they have doctrinal issues)?
[/quote]

Vico has already explained why the Church has recognized Orthodox sacraments. The ability to celebrate the sacraments of penance and matrimony is referred to in canon law as faculties, and these can be granted or not to those under the jurisdiction of the bishop. However, this jurisdiction is generally just within the bishop’s own church. So for instance, the Archbishop of St Louis would not have jurisdiction over Maronite priests in his territory, who would instead be granted their faculties by the Maronite eparch. The same would apply to the non-Catholic churches, such as the various Orthodox churches.

While a bishop himself cannot withhold faculties from Orthodox clerics, since this power is not granted to him under canon law, I think the Church could do so if it chose. In the past in times of schism the Church has declared invalid sacraments of the schismatic Orthodox. Similarly, the Church apparently retains authority over all Christians, at least according to Edward Peters.

Second, Protestants can unquestionably receive the sacrament of Confession validly and licitly under certain circumstances (e.g., c. 844), a fact that illustrates the Church’s radical, if rarely exercised, authority over all the baptized (not just Catholics)

So while most Orthodox would probably ignore such a move, it seems to me that the Church could renounce all faculties held by clerics not in communion with Rome.


#6

First, just a slight clarification on vocabulary. It’s not that a priest needs jurisdiction to absolve; instead he needs faculties. There’s a difference. Jurisdiction means the power of governance for a specific location or group of people. Faculties to absolve sometimes come from jurisdiction. So, for example, a pastor (by virtue of the fact that the bishop has appointed him pastor) automatically (by the law itself) has faculties to absolve. But there are times when a priest has no jurisdiction at all, but might have faculties–an easy example of this is a priest who is working on an advanced degree and that’s his “full time” assignment. That priest has no jurisdiction because he has no office of jurisdiction; however the bishop still grants him faculties to absolve because he’s still in perfectly good standing as a minister of the Church. So that priest has no jurisdiction; yet he can validly and licitly absolve.

As far as the Orthodox are concerned, the short answer is that the Orthodox priests have always had the faculties to absolve (historically speaking) and those faculties were never rescinded by the Church, ergo they continue.

To answer your question: no, a local bishop could not decide to withdraw the faculties of an Orthodox priest to absolve because the local bishop did not give those faculties. The Church (as a whole) gives them their faculties and then their individual Orthodox bishops give faculties to individual priests. Technically, the Supreme Pontiff could decide to withdraw faculties to absolve from the Orthodox, but that’s a technicality, and not practical because it would have disastrous consequences.

The reason why the Church has never withdrawn the faculties for the Orthodox to absolve (again, because you asked) is simply because that would not be “for the good of souls.” It would cause far more harm than it would solve anything.

The SSPX, on the other hand are individual priests (ie validly ordained) who either started as priests who had “the clerical state” (meaning that they were ministers of the Church), but then lost that clerical state OR they were ordained illicitly and never had the clerical state from the start. Regardless of which category applies, all SSPX priests are in the same situation: they simply do not have the “the clerical state” as they are not ministers of the Church. Note that “the clerical state” is not the same as “valid ordination.” The clerical state essentially means that they have the status of clerics within the Church, or that they are ministers of the Church.

The SSPX priests have no ministry in the Church. None. Absolutely none whatsoever. They don’t have jurisdiction, and they don’t have any supplied faculties.

The one exception to the above is that “in danger of death” the Church grants faculties to any validly ordained priest to absolve a penitent. It’s important to keep in mind that the Church grants those faculties; the SSPX priest cannot simply claim it, but it must be given.

The SSPX often try (in vain) to claim that they have “supplied” jurisdiction by canon 209 of the abrogated 1917 Code of Canon Law (which corresponds to the current canon 144). However, that does not apply to them because canon 144 only applies to ministers of the Church or to laypersons who have some office of governance in the Church (like a lay chancellor). Since the SSPX have no ministry in the Church, canon 144 simply does not apply to them—it’s irrelevant, but that doesn’t stop them from attempting to claim it.

To illustrate why canon 144 does not apply to the SSPX, let’s look at a similar example. Let’s say that a layman, John Doe, breaks into the diocesan chancery after hours and writes a letter on the chancellor’s letterhead exercising some office of governance. Mr Doe even uses the official seal. His actions have no power of governance. He cannot claim that he has “supplied jurisdiction” under canon 144 because he has no potential for that governance in the first place. He holds no office that might make his actions legitimate. I think we can all see how obvious this is—since he has no potential for governance, canon 144 does not even figure into the scenario. Now, if he’s the vice-chancellor and he acts beyond his own competence but there’s some doubt of law or of fact, then the Church might supply that power of governance (let’s not take the story too far). But if he has no office from the start, and no potential of acting in the name of the chancellor, then his actions are null and void and there’s no recourse to canon 144. It’s the same with the SSPX. Since they have “no ministry in the Church” they cannot have the potential for ministry or governance required to invoke canon 144. It’s a non-issue.


#7

The Church (as a whole) gives them their faculties and then their individual Orthodox bishops give faculties to individual priests.

Fr. David, would you explain the above more? When you say “the Church”, what do you mean? And how did the Church give these faculties to the Orthodox for all time?

Thank you.


#8

OK. I’ll try, but with the qualification that I’m going to have to be brief (this could very well be a topic for a doctoral thesis, but I’ll spare the readers my ramblings) so if something seems “missing” that’s for the sake of brevity. I can come back to a specific point if need be.

The power to absolve comes ultimately from the fact that Christ gave to Peter the “power of the Keys” when He said “I give you the keys…whatever you bind…” That’s the power to bind-and-loose. It’s related-to but somewhat distinct from the power to forgive which He gave to the Apostles after the Resurrection “whose sins you forgive…”

In reconciliation, we are both forgiven and absolved (together as 2 sides of a single coin). The absolution itself is a juridic act of the Church based on the Keys.

Christ gave the Keys to Peter alone (this is an important point). Only to Peter, and by extension, to Peter’s successors. Now, for many different reasons (some spiritual, some practical), the Power of the Keys “must” be given to other priests. In the grand scheme of things, in terms of the entire economy of salvation, ultimately all power to absolve comes from the Successor to Peter. Aside: Since that was misunderstood in a recent post, let me explain that I’m speaking in very general terms here. I am NOT saying that a diocesan bishop needs a letter from the Pope granting him faculties to absolve. I’m saying that as a matter of principle, all faculties to absolve come from the Successor to Peter.

The Sacrament of Confession pre-dates all canon law, even the earliest canons. The Orthodox (as a whole here) have always had the power to absolve sinners; even before we had the distinction between Catholic and Orthodox. As part of the One Church, the Eastern priests always had the ability to absolve sinners. When we move ahead chronologically to the unfortunate events that caused Catholics and Orthodox to be separated from each other the Orthodox have retained the power to absolve because no pope ever specifically rescinded it (yes, unfortunately there were excommunications of individuals on both sides, but that’s not the point here). The point is that no pope ever permanently withdrew the delegated Power of the Keys from the entire Orthodox community. As I wrote earlier, in theory a pope could do so, but that would be disastrous.

As a direct answer to your question, I’m not saying that “the Church gave these faculties to the Orthodox for all time?” Instead, I’m saying that those faculties (which were present before 1054 AD, or whatever other date we use) have never been withdrawn. That’s the difference.

I must admit that I’m uncomfortable writing about the subject because this is a very sensitive topic and it could easily be misconstrued in a way that offends the Orthodox. That’s not my intention. I’m only writing this to explain the difference between the status of the Orthodox priests and that of the SSPX.


#9

Thank you for taking the time to write such a thorough response.

Just to make sure I am thinking right - the only time a Catholic could make use of an Orthodox priest in at the time of death? I mean, I couldn’t decide some Saturday afternoon to mosey on over to the local Orthodox Church and go to confession instead of going to one of our priests? Is this correct?


#10

=saintjohnxxiii;11682562]I ask this question with tremendous seriousness but also needing to understand the reasons why Orthodox Confession is valid but not SSPX. I am well aware that for confession to be valid a Priest needs to have jurisdiction. Since the SSPX doesn’t have that then that is why their confession is invalid. What I would like to know is if jurisdiction is something that is granted solely at the Diocesan level. Could an Archbishop of a diocese unilaterally decide to not grant jurisdiction to the Orthodox? Why would the Church grant jurisdiction to the Orthodox Church which is outside the Faith (they have doctrinal issues)?

Just to be clear since I am new here I am not trying to argue in favor of the SSPX.

Direct Apostolic Succession:thumbsup:


#11

Again, with the Orthodox it’s different.

If you cannot approach a Catholic priest, but there is an Orthodox priest available, you can go to Confession, and the Church (effectively) grants that priest faculties in canon 844.2.

There’s an important qualification in canon 844.2 that the non-Catholic must be a priest “in whose Churches these sacraments are valid.” So valid ordination of the individual is not enough—he must be a priest of a Church (not ecclesial community) with valid Apostolic Succession.

In danger of death, certainly yes, a Catholic can confess to an Orthodox priest, but it doesn’t have to be that severe a situation.


#12

My own understanding is quite basic, but the difference is that the Orthodox bishops are true bishops with territorial sees (and therefore faithful) over which they have jurisdiction. This is how they (not Rome) can grant faculties to priests. This has been the case from apostolic times and has persisted through the schism.

The SSPX bishops, while they have the proper degree of Holy Orders, are not functional bishops in the sense that they have territories and faithful over which they have jurisdiction. Their priests and the faithful who assist them are subject to the jurisdiction of the local Latin bishop (just as the FSSP and diocesan priests are), and faculties have to come from that bishop. With their clerics under declared suspension, faculties are clearly not granted, and hence absolution from them is invalid.


#13

Yes, the Orthodox bishops grant faculties to their own priests in the immediate sense, but the ultimate source of absolution is the Power of the Keys given to Peter and his successors, and so all faculties to absolve come ultimately from the Successor to Peter. Theoretically, a pope could actually withdraw the faculties to absolve from any or all Orthodox priests.

The SSPX bishops, while they have the proper degree of Holy Orders, are not functional bishops in the sense that they have territories and faithful over which they have jurisdiction. Their priests and the faithful who assist them are subject to the jurisdiction of the local Latin bishop (just as the FSSP and diocesan priests are), and faculties have to come from that bishop. With their clerics under declared suspension, faculties are clearly not granted, and hence absolution from them is invalid.

It’s not about territory as such. My concern here is that the distinction you (might be) making is that if one has “territory” that makes it legitimate, whereas lack of territory means illegitimate. It’s not that simple. It isn’t about territory, it’s about having legitimate ministry. This is the point: if the SSPX bishops actually did have some kind of defined territory, that would not make their ministry any more legitimate than it is now (which is nothing).


#14

The Orthodox have recognized sui juris Churches. Unlike the Eastern Catholic Churches, they are not in communion with Rome, but they ARE valid Churches.

As such, their Patriarchs, like the Pope, have jurisdiction and can grant faculties.

The SSPX is NOT a sui juris Church of it’s own, therefore, they must rely on the Holy See to grant jurisdiction to it’s bishops and through them, faculties to the priests of the SSPX.

That has not happened.


#15

Yes, but all faculties to absolve still come ultimately from the Successor to Peter. This is a critical piece that we cannot overlook.


#16

FrDavid96;11685076]Again, with the Orthodox it’s different.

If you cannot approach a Catholic priest, but there is an Orthodox priest available, you can go to Confession, and the Church (effectively) grants that priest faculties in canon 844.2.

There’s an important qualification in canon 844.2 that the non-Catholic must be a priest “in whose Churches these sacraments are valid.” So valid ordination of the individual is not enough—he must be a priest of a Church (not ecclesial community) with valid Apostolic Succession.

In danger of death, certainly yes, a Catholic can confess to an Orthodox priest, but it doesn’t have to be that severe a situation.

Thanks Father:thumbsup:
Patrick


#17

CIC 844 §2. Whenever necessity requires it or true spiritual advantage suggests it, and provided that danger of error or of indifferentism is avoided, the Christian faithful for whom it is physically or morally impossible to approach a Catholic minister are permitted to receive the sacraments of penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick from non-Catholic ministers in whose Churches these sacraments are valid.

CCEO 671.2. If necessity requires it or genuine spiritual advantage suggests it and provided that the danger of error or indifferentism is avoided, it is permitted for Catholic Christian faithful, for whom it is physically or morally impossible to approach a Catholic minister, to receive the sacraments of penance, the Eucharist and anointing of the sick from non-Catholic ministers, in whose Churches these sacraments are valid.


#18

I see what you’re saying, but this is also the part that I’m not entirely convinced of as I lean towards the opinion that faculties come from bishops by virtue of their being bishops over their flock, not communion with Rome.


#19

Yes and no. Please read.

In the immediate sense, they exercise their ministry because of 2 things: Apostolic Succession (ie valid ordination as bishops) and their Communion with the other bishops, including especially the Successor of Peter.

A few references, and I’ll underline some parts.

Lumen Gentium #21
But Episcopal consecration, together with the office of sanctifying, also confers the office of teaching and of governing, which, however, of its very nature, can be exercised only in hierarchical communion with the head and the members of the college.
Catechism:
1559 "One is constituted a member of the episcopal body in virtue of the sacramental consecration and by the hierarchical communion with the head and members of the college…
Canon Law:
Can. 375 §1. Bishops, who by divine institution succeed to the place of the Apostles through the Holy Spirit who has been given to them, are constituted pastors in the Church, so that they are teachers of doctrine, priests of sacred worship, and ministers of governance.
§2. Through episcopal consecration itself, bishops receive with the function of sanctifying also the functions of teaching and governing; by their nature, however, these can only be exercised in hierarchical communion with the head and members of the college.

As we all know, any man who receives episcopal ordination from a validly ordained bishop becomes a validly ordained bishop himself (there’s no doubt about it). But ordination itself does not make that valid bishop a legitimate bishop. In order to legitimately exercise the office to which he was ordained, he must be in communion with the “head and members of the college”–meaning the pope and the other bishops.

I’ll also ask that you read what I wrote earlier in this thread, and I’ll quote it:
Christ gave the Keys to Peter alone (this is an important point). Only to Peter, and by extension, to Peter’s successors. Now, for many different reasons (some spiritual, some practical), the Power of the Keys “must” be given to other priests. In the grand scheme of things, in terms of the entire economy of salvation, ultimately all power to absolve comes from the Successor to Peter. Aside: Since that was misunderstood in a recent post, let me explain that I’m speaking in very general terms here. I am NOT saying that a diocesan bishop needs a letter from the Pope granting him faculties to absolve. I’m saying that as a matter of principle, all faculties to absolve come from the Successor to Peter.

Now, I’ve taken the liberty of underlining the point I made earlier.

Keep in mind that what I’m saying in that post, (and repeating here) is that I’m talking about the fact that in terms of Christian Salvation as a whole (the whole, big picture) the ultimate source of absolution is first Christ Himself, then secondly that Christ gave the Power of the Keys to Peter (and Peter alone).

Now, in this context, I am not addressing the specific question of faculties as such. I’m not talking about canon law, therefore I’m not proposing that a bishop needs a letter of faculties from the Pope to absolve. There’s a reason why I put “NOT” in all-caps the first time. That’s a critical explanation for me to make: I’m talking about the entire “economy of salvation.” I’m talking about Confession as a Sacrament between the 2 Comings of Christ. Big picture. Broad brush—as broad as it gets.

Switching from the “big picture” to a more narrow point of discussion:

Now, in more practical terms, we all know that a pope can excommunicate a bishop (sad, but true that it happens sometimes). While we might sometimes disagree (yes, even with the pope) in an individual case, I think it’s safe to say that we can all agree that the pope has legitimate authority to excommunicate a bishop. Right? Part of excommunication means that the bishop no longer has any ability to absolve (save danger of death). So in a case like this, the pope does indeed withdraw from that validly ordained bishop the faculties to absolve. Now, if need be, I can show the relevant canons, but I don’t see the point. I do believe it’s safe to say that if the pope excommunicates a bishop, that bishop loses his faculties to absolve. I doubt that anyone disagrees with this.
When we look at it that way, it’s clear that the pope can take away the faculties to absolve.

However, if we say that the faculties come only (and exclusively) from valid ordination and a flock (which could, theoretically be even just enough people to fill a small room) then that would mean that the pope cannot withdraw the faculties from a bishop. But we know that’s not the case because we know that popes can, and indeed do, actually do this.

What say you?


#20

Dearest Father David, bless,

I agree with everything you’ve written, but I have heavy reservations about this:

Is it not more correct to say that Christ gave the keys to PRIMARILY to St. Peter, and THROUGH Peter to the other Apostles (i.e., Peter shared the keys, as Christ intended)? And, naturally, that the keys could not be used by the other Apostles apart from St. Peter.

That the other Apostles and bishops also possessed/possess the keys is a sure Tradition of the Church. This was the teaching of Pope St. Leo the Great, and explicitly affirmed by Lateran IV. Even the Traditional Rite of consecration for a bishop had an explicit request for the bishop to be granted the keys.

My concern (coming from an Orthodox background) is that if the bishops also do not possess the keys (albeit through Peter and always in communion with his successor), then their relationship to the Pope is nothing more than the relationship of a priest to his bishop.

Humbly,
Marduk


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