Vatican Reminder: SSPX ordinations are illegitimate

July 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Patrick's Blog

This tidbit was posted on the Vatican Radio website in early May, but I did not see it till recently:

The recent priestly ordinations celebrated by the Fraternity of Saint Pius X are to be considered “illegitimate”, confirmed Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican Press Office Director, responding to journalists’ questions on Tuesday.  Father Lombardi repeated what was affirmed by Pope Benedict XVI in his Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church of March 10, 2009:

“As long as the Society [of Saint Pius X] does not have a canonical status in the Church, its ministers do not exercise legitimate ministries in the Church (…). Until the doctrinal questions are clarified, the Society has no canonical status in the Church, and its ministers (…) do not legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church.”

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31 Responses to “Vatican Reminder: SSPX ordinations are illegitimate”
  1. JOSE says:

    If the “Church” accepts protestant marriages who are a false religion why not the marrieages of the validly ordained priests of the SSPX. It looks to me that the SSPX gets attacked a lot more than the protestant heretics. The “Church” is more leaniant to the Heretics than the SSPX that hold to the Catholic Faith.

  2. Dan Hunter says:

    What does “illegitimate” in this context actually mean?
    It is old news and so ambiguous.

    Here is what Christopher Ferrara has to say about this matter, if you are interested:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8MabMm_3q-w

  3. Steve says:

    http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/mershon/080711

    Q: Do lay Catholics who frequent Society of St. Pius X chapels, either more less frequently, incur any sin or canonical delict by doing so, if done solely out of devotion to the Church’s Latin liturgical tradition and not to separate one’s self from communion with one’s diocesan Ordinary or local pastor?

    PCED: “Catholics who frequent the chapels of the Society of St. Pius X do not incur any sin or canonical delict by doing so. However, we further refer you to what we have already stated in #4 above.”

    A: What level of authority do your answers to this private correspondence hold?

    PCED: “As we already stated to you in our letter of 4 July 2007: “This Pontifical Commission does its best to transmit responses which are in full accord with the magisterium and the present canonical practices of the Catholic Church. One should accept them with docility and can act upon them with moral certainty.” We would further add that no dicastery of the Holy See will give other responses than those which we have given here.”

  4. Steve says:

    Mouse,

    The PCED was very clear in a letter to Brian Mershon in 2008. Note they are speaking generally and not to a specific circumstance.

    http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/mershon/080711

    “Q: Do lay Catholics who frequent Society of St. Pius X chapels, either more less frequently, incur any sin or canonical delict by doing so, if done solely out of devotion to the Church’s Latin liturgical tradition and not to separate one’s self from communion with one’s diocesan Ordinary or local pastor?

    PCED: “Catholics who frequent the chapels of the Society of St. Pius X do not incur any sin or canonical delict by doing so. However, we further refer you to what we have already stated in #4 above.”

    A: What level of authority do your answers to this private correspondence hold?

    PCED: “As we already stated to you in our letter of 4 July 2007: “This Pontifical Commission does its best to transmit responses which are in full accord with the magisterium and the present canonical practices of the Catholic Church. One should accept them with docility and can act upon them with moral certainty.” We would further add that no dicastery of the Holy See will give other responses than those which we have given here.”

  5. honoria glennon says:

    if it was not for the sspx the latin Mass would have died out. this mass was valid for 1500 years, why then was it supressed for the last forty years, can anyone explain this ??? as far as i am concerned it is the mass of all time and none of the services which pass as mass today can compare to it.

  6. The SSPX is definitely the “red-headed stepchild” of the Church. No other individual or organization has been condemned so often. Such repeated castigation is only directed against those who faithfully practice the Catholic faith as it was practiced prior to Vatican II and not against those who openly deny the tenets of the faith or who openly advocate practices against the teaching of the Church. After many years of investigating this matter my conclusion is that the SSPX pricks the conscience of the hierarchy and the modernists. Those who have and who do compromise the faith hate the fact that the SSPX proves that the Catholic faith can be lived in the modern world without compromise. But, is that not the teaching of the Christ of the Gospels?

  7. Corbnb says:

    I agree, obedience is essential but essential only if it does not violate one’s concience, allows a person to live and practice The Faith according to, and in protection of, Church dogma and leads a person towards greater Christian perfection.

    The arguement can also be made that the SSPX exists today out of obedience. Obedience to Church tradition and Christ’s command to be perfect like Him. If the developments resulting in the church from Vatican II actually helped one to achieve a greater Christian perfection and glorified God in a more profound and reverent manner, then the SSPX would not exist as there would be no need for it to exist.

    Vatican II sadly was much like a parent telling their older child after many years of praying their five decades of the rosary each day devoutly on their knees that they now must only pray two decades of the rosary sitting down or be punished. It’s quite clear in this situation the child would have no obligation to obey their parents if in fact the parents request was impeding the child’s ability to offer a more perfect prayerand greater reference to God and the Blessed mother by saying the five decade rosary kneeling.

    • Maria says:

      No, the child would have the obligation to obey the parent since the parent is not asking them to sin. Praying two decades of the rosary sitting is not a sin. Obedience, Obedience, Obedience always comes before sacrfices and holocausts that are of our own choosing. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was, above all, an act of obedience. “Not my will, but your will.”

      • Dan Hunter says:

        Obedience is essential Maria, we are not denying that, but exactly, precisely, how has the SSPX disobeyed the Deposit of the Faith or the Holy Father?

        • “Precisely how,” you ask? It’s remarkable that you don’t know the answer to this question or to the one you asked above (“What does “illegitimate” in this context actually mean?”).

          Blessed Pope John Paul II explained both issues quite clearly in Ecclesia Dei Adflicta. I respectfully suggest you read the whole document slowly and prayerfully, especially section 3.

          http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/motu_proprio/documents/hf_jp-ii_motu-proprio_02071988_ecclesia-dei_en.html

          • Dan Hunter says:

            Mr Madrid,

            Respectfully,

            “Ecclesis Dei Adflicta” deals with the wrongful ordinations of the 4 bishops in 1988 without Papal Mandate.

            Since all juridical effect of this act has been lifted with the lifting of the excommunications by the Holy Father in 2009, then we are back in law to the time before the consecrations.
            The Society gives it assent to all aspects of the Deposit of the Faith and the Extraordinary and Ordinary Magisterium of the Church and the Holy Father, and offers Catholic sacraments to many who are attched to the Traditional Sacraments, but do not have access to an FSSP or other Ecclesia Dei group.

            Many of us would go to these canonically regular groups or to diocesan TLM’s but cannot because they are not offered in our dioceses even though we have addressed the proper channels of priest, bishop and the PCED, and have recieved no help in years from them.
            But the SSPX is accessible and we who are attached to the TLM do have at least the occasinal ability to repair to their Masses and sacraments.

  8. Bob Kovacs says:

    And tell me what is wrong with this ministry. Tell me! Please!.
    http://youtu.be/GMGccYgxqzw

    • Michael B. says:

      The SSPX may actually do something to keep Mexico Catholic – this is much better than letting it go downhill while being nominally Catholic, but spiritually a corpse. There is no gain for a corpse in being in the barque of Peter. There can be too high a price for being in union with Rome, and nothing will change until Rome faces this issue.

  9. Bob Kovacs says:

    And this is legitimate!. Thanks Rome!.
    http://gloria.tv/?media=173046

  10. Bob Kovacs says:

    What about the ridiculas Masses with liturgical dancing and incense bowls. How about all those progressive Masses in Austria. are they to illegitimate?. What is being done with those German clergy who are promoting womens ordination, and gay clerics. will we have such a profound statement regarding them, and their illegitimacy!!. .Until the Pope himself makes a statement, in his handwriting. I’ll take this with a grain of salt.

  11. Larry Coty says:

    Deacon Charles is way wrong; Catechist Kevin is right. These SSPX men are priests, but they are not yet in union with Rome.

    • Dan Hunter says:

      Larry
      The SSPX priests and bishops are not ex-communicated so they are “communicated” to the Church.
      It is impossible to be excommunicated and communicated with the Church at the same time.
      One is either in communion with the Church, or not in communion with the Church.
      The only ones who are not in communion with the Church are those who are excommunicated, or non-Catholics
      The SSPX are Catholic.
      Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos has stated this.
      The SSPX offer the sacraments in a Catholic Rite and according to canon law they are Catholic.

      You might be confusing “communion” with “canonically regular” which the SSPX are still not, as the Transalpine Redemptorists are not.
      We pray that the Holy Father corrects this situation soon.

  12. Mouse says:

    Not to be too scrupulous and hog the combox, but I regret saying below that the average parish Mass makes me want to cry. I just mean, it bothers me a lot when one can’t perceive reverence for the Lord. But even so I praise God for any Mass, and for every priest. There may be a day when we don’t have free access to the Mass…and some places they can’t even have daily Mass. Some people had to live for decades with no priests and no Mass. Mea culpa. Thank you to every faithful Catholic priest!

  13. Mouse says:

    May I just add: We should pray for the return of all of these SSPX members (some of them already have come back, which is where the FSSP came from), just like we pray for those descendents of schisms from other ages. All of these folks could contribute a lot if they were back in the fold, not to mention that we should care about their salvation!!

  14. Mouse says:

    Sadly, some traditionalists and their websites have misled people. Whether they are doing this intentionally or sincerely only they know. But some of these sites claim one can go to SSPX Mass just because you want to, or because you don’t have a Tridentine Mass available and you prefer that Mass. This is NOT true, and the Magisterium has explicitly stated that this is not true.

    Certain websites quote letters from Rome out of context–letters sent to individuals who asked a personal, specific question–to try to make it look like it’s ok. It’s not. I have personally seen letters posted which, ultimately, tell the person that they need to remedy the situation promptly (ie, not go to those Masses), and then the traditionalist site uses the headline “CDF Approves Attendance at SSPX Masses!” just because they didn’t excommunicate the guy! And so on. This drives me nuts!!

    THERE IS NO SAFETY EXCEPT IN THE BARQUE OF PETER!! And if PETER says you are not in the boat, you’re not in it. End of story. Roma locuta est, causa finita est. (Rome has spoken, the matter is finished.)

    The SSPX makes the same mistake Luther made–they reject the authority of the Magisterium, then claim it is the Church that has failed, and that they are the “real” Church, or that the failures of the Church justify their disobedience, etc. No one should ever fall for this.

    The problem seems to be that some people love the Tridentine form of the Mass more than they love the Church herself. A person who loves the Church cannot bear the thought of going anywhere where a Mass is illicit.

    Personally I have sympathy with some of the SSPX’s points about the liturgy, and the average parish liturgy is enough to make me want to cry, having now experienced the Mass of the Ages. But that is no excuse to go even one teeny tiny step away from Rome, or to condone those who do!!!!

  15. Deacon Charles R. Daye, Jr. says:

    My problem is that people miss the word ‘illegitimate’. The ordinations are neither valid or licit. It is not to be compared with a marriage performed by a civil authority vs the Church(legal but not licit). If SSPX does not have Canonical status within the Church, then any sacrament performed by a priest ‘ordained’ by them is to be questioned; it is in effect illegal and illicit. Please understand, I do realize there are times when being ‘pastorally correct’ would be more prudent, more important than law, especially when it would concern a person’s final effort to make himself right with God.

    • Dan Hunter says:

      Deacon,
      The validity of a sacrament does not depend on its licity.

      St Athanasius was barred from many, many bishops from offering the sacraments in their respective dioceses, making these sacraments illicit, but they were still valid and Athanasius is an canonized saint.

  16. John Stevens says:

    Catechist Kevin has it correct. Their ordinations are valid but illicit. They would not need to be re-ordained when their canonical status was normalized.
    I have a problem with SSPX confessions. No priest may hear confessions in a diocese unless granted faculties by the local ordinary. To the best of my knowledge, no bishop has granted faculties to any SSPX priest. If the situation were so dire that it was extremely difficult, or impossible, to have a vaild confession heard in a diocese then the SSPX priest could hear confessions under what is called ‘supplied jurisdiction’. With the salvation of souls being of utmost importance ‘The Church’ will supply jurisdiction in emergency situations. Where danger of death exists – any priest can hear confessions and the Church supplies jurisdiction. Perhaps some areas of the world have an emergency situation which would validate SSPX confessions. However, where I live in Houston, TX there are many priests who faithfully hear confessions on a regular basis while being very orthodox in their approach to sin. I cannot believe that SSPX confessions would be valid in this area.

  17. Susan says:

    This is a very old 2009 statement. Anything new?? Also, they say their confessions are valid because they are operating under the “crisis” in the church mode. Any thoughts?

    • Dan Hunter says:

      Susan,

      Who is the “they” that you speak of?

      If you mean the SSPX then they have no ordinary jurisdiction to absolve sins in the diocese they minister too, since confession and absolution is an act of the judge and the ordinary judge in the diocese when it comes to matters of faith and morals is the Ordinary or diocesan Bishop.

      Since most, not all, Ordinaries do not give permission for the SSPX to absolve sins, they need outside jurisdiction and this is called extraordinary jurisdiction.
      Pope Benedict XVI has given permission for various sins to be forgiven by SSPX priests.
      We have to see if this applies to all SSPX Catholic absolutions.

      God bless.

  18. Catechist Kevin says:

    Miss Suzanne,

    I am no canon lawyer – but I believe the correct “Catholic phrasiology” is:

    Their ordinations are valid – though illicit.

    Is this correct, Patrick?

    God bless you both!
    Kev

  19. Suzanne says:

    I thought their ordinations were legitimate but illicit? I mean, if a priest ordained by the SSPX were to leave the SSPX and come into the fold, he would not to be “re-ordained,” would he?

  20. Tina In Ashburn says:

    So many are mislead about the true status of the SSPX. This description of the status of their ordinations bears repeating. This group has done a lot of good by preserving the trappings of Catholicism, but their traditions are hollow as nothing has real merit without obedience.

    SSPX marriages are also outside of the Church!

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