Friday, February 1, 2013

Clarifying a Clarification: The SSPX are NOT Schismatic

Greetings one and all.  I know it has been quite some time since I've had a chance to post here, but something has just come across my desk, that I think deserves a comment.  Recently, here in this very diocese, the Superior of the Society of St. Pius X, made a comment that "the Jews" are the "enemies of the Church".  This is obviously not in keeping with the teaching of the Catholic Church, and is rather a disturbing comment, particularly from the head of a group that has been trying to distance itself from accuasations of anti-semitism.  The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has rightly condemned the comment, making the following statement:
Questions and concerns have been raised following recent media reports about a statement that had been made in Canada by the Superior of the Society of Saint Pius X that “the Jews” are the "enemies of the Church". The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops notes that such remarks are not in accordance with the teaching of the Catholic Church. As the spokesperson for the Holy See, Father Federico Lombardi, S.J., has said when commenting on the statement, “It is absolutely unacceptable, impossible, to define the Jews as enemies of the Church.”
The Second Vatican Council taught in Nostra Aetate, its Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions (no. 4): “God holds the Jews most dear for the sake of their Fathers; he does not repent of the gifts he makes or of the calls he issues – such is the witness of the Apostle [Paul].... [T]he Church, mindful of the patrimony she shares with the Jews and moved not by political reasons but by the Gospel's spiritual love, decries hatred, persecutions, displays of anti-Semitism, directed against Jews at any time and by anyone." This teaching has been reiterated time and time again by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI.
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops denounces all forms of anti-Semitism, and rejects assertions such as those reported to have been made by the Superior of the Society of Saint Pius X, which is a schismatic group not in communion with the Catholic Church.
Today the Diocese of Hamilton reiterated this statement with a few modifications:
During a talk on December 28, 2012 at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Academy in New Hamburg, Ontario, Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X, made a statement that “the Jews” are“enemies of the Church.” The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops notes that such remarks are not in accordance with the teaching of the Catholic Church. As the spokesperson for the Holy See, Father Federico Lombardi, S.J., has said when commenting on the statement, “It is absolutely unacceptable, impossible, to define the Jews as enemies of the Church.” The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops denounces all forms of anti-Semitism, and rejects assertions such as those reported to have been made by the Superior of the Society of Saint Pius X.
Please note that the Society of St. Pius X is a schismatic group not in communion with the Catholic Church. Therefore, with the exception of Baptism, all Sacraments celebrated by Priests of the Society of St. Pius X at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Academy in New Hamburg are not valid.
Pastors may wish to include the above information in their parish bulletins for the purpose of clarifying the status of the community which celebrates Mass and the sacraments at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Academy in New Hamburg.
The Canadian Bishops have rightly condemned the very inappropriate comment made by Bishop Fellay, unfortunately the commentary did not stop there.  The statement made by the CCCB indicated that the SSPX is a schismatic group, and the statment published here in Hamilton also stated that other than Baptism, all of their sacraments are invalid.  Here is where the problem lies, and here is where the clarification is needed.  The SSPX is not now, nor has it ever been a schismatic group, as it does not meet the canonical requirements for such a definition.  This matter was clarified by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in a matter known as the "Case of the Hawaii Six", and further clarified by the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, which stated that while Archbishop Lefebvre's actions were schismatic, the SSPX itself never went into schism.  Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos stated this explicitly when he said:
The Bishops, Priests and Faithful of the Society of St Pius X are not schismatics. It is Archbishop Lefebrve who has undertaken an illicit Episcopal consecration and therefore performed a schismatic act. It is for this reason that the Bishops consecrated by him have been suspended and excommunicated. The priests and faithful of the Society have not been excommunicated. They are not heretics.  (see the full text here)
To state that the SSPX and all of its memebers are in schism, is to accuse them of a canonical crime of which they are not guilty, to damage their reputations, and to mislead others as to their canonical status.  As to the second charge, that only the Sacrament of Baptism is valid, it must be remembered that while priests in the SSPX do not exercise a legitimate ministry, as they do not fall under legitimate Church authority, nevertheless, they are validly ordained priests.  Thus, any Mass celebrated by a priest of the SSPX is illicit, but VALID.  Again, to state otherwise is to mislead.  Now it must be stated, that even though an SSPX Mass is valid, Catholics should not approach any SSPX chapel to receive Sacraments as they would be doing so illicitly.  Furthermore, as the Sacraments of Confession and Marriage require that the priest have proper faculties from a legitimate authority, something priests of the SSPX do not possess, these Sacraments would be INVALID.

I am quite certain that these statement were made in an effort to protect the good of the faithful, and to educate on the status of the SSPX, and I sincerely hope that the accusation of schism and of the invalidity of Sacraments were simply made in error.  Nonetheless, there is an error of fact, which does, I think, need to be clarified.  We continue to pray that one day soon the members of the SSPX may be brought fully back into communion with the Church, that all may be one (cf. John 21:17).


  1. Good to know; I think much of this present confusion, though, stems from the reasonable desire to have a name for the clearly irregular conditions of these bishops, the priests adhering to them, and the laity frequenting those priests. That, and "irregular" simply isn't descriptive enough, and neither is "disobedient". Perhaps "in rebellion"? So, is there a good word? If there isn't a standard one, can you suggest an alternative?


    1. The SSPX seems to currently be in a unique position. They seem to be heading in the direction of schism, unless some agreement is made with Rome. Given the unique situation, I don't know if there is a term to apply here. Rome has said that the ministry exercised by the priests of the SSPX is "illegitimate".

  2. How about describing them as illegal? That's what the word "illicit" means. Much of the fudging around with terminology is to soften the reality of participating in an activity which is illegal under canon law.

  3. I wasn't present at the talk given by Bishop Fellay at New Hamburg, Ontario, but I was at the conference given by him the very next day, December 29th, 2012, at the SSPX chapel in Toronto. His speech primarily concerned the status of the doctrinal discussions with Rome. During the course of his talk he made only one very brief, and to my mind unremarkable, mention of the Jews. He identified four "enemies" of the Church: the Jews, the Free Masons, the Socialists, and the Modernists. His point was that their defense of the Second Vatican Council proves that it is "their thing". Now it seems to me the problem here is with the indiscriminate use of the definite article "the". It is one thing to say that "SOME" Jews are enemies of the Church, quite another to say that "THE" Jews are enemies of the Church. To speak of "The Jews" implies that all Jews everywhere at all times are enemies to the Church. Now I have no problem speaking of The Free Masons, The Socialists, and The Modernists as enemies, as it strikes me as merely axiomatic. However, to speak of "The Jews", and their attitude towards the Church, strikes me as excessive since that is too broad a category of persons. We simply cannot know the mind of every Jew and his attitude toward the Church, which may be one of hostility, indifference, approbation, or whatever. To make such broad generalizations about an ethnic group can be interpreted as evidence of a bigoted attitude. And so we must be cautious when speaking of such things so as not to be misunderstood.

    At the same time though I must say that it is equally wrong to suggest that one can never be critical of the statements of "Some" Jews or Jewish organizations. Or that that all Jews everywhere can never be regarded as enemies of the Church under any circumstances. Let's remember that when Pope Benedict lifted the excommunications of the four SSPX Bishops some of the most vociferous criticisms of his action came from some Jewish organizations. For the CCCB and Father Federico Lombardi (one need not take any notice of a rinky-dink outfit like the Diocese of Hamilton) to imply that any criticism of "The Jews" can only be regarded as evidence of antisemitism is simply unjust. And if the essential teaching of the Vatican Council's Pastoral Document "Nostra Aetate" is that Catholics can never criticize the actions or statements of Jews hostile to the Church, then I say the hell with it. As I said before, the major part of Bishops Fellay's speech concerned the relations of the SSPX with the Roman authorities and the negotiations around the doctrinal discussions with the CDF. The mention of "The Jews" was very brief and, in my opinion, not sufficient to draw any conclusions about Bishop Fellay's supposed antisemitism one way or another. For the CCCB and Father Lombardi to focus on this tiny portion of the Bishop's talk and accuse him of antisemitism suggests to me a certain hostile attitude towards the SSPX and its theological positions. As the old saying goes any stick is good enough to beat a dog. Or perhaps we should say any stigma is good enough to beat a dogma.

    1. Well, it really doesn't take much to be labelled anti-semitic these days. And they receive the majority of the grease that lubes the squeaky wheel. But IMO, i think when sspx says that they are our enemies and many times in the past the RCC has said so in much stronger language, it is because the jews do not accept Christ as a savior and would do anything to change that, even if it means wiping out the RCC off the face of the earth. Read some of the talmud if you doubt me.


  4. The non-clarified version appeared in many parish bulletins today. In some of these churches there are enough liturgical abuses to cause suspicion as to the validity of their Mass. If an SSPX Mass is illicit then what about liturgical dance, group hugs at the Sign of Peace, ad libbing the Canon, etc, in 'regular' parishes?

  5. Someone needs to write the Chancery to see where they stand, doctrinally, on the sacraments when offered by Orthodox priests.

  6. February 13, 2013


  7. Both sides, the Vatican and the SSPX, need to clarify their postion on the SSPX

    Tuesday, April 2, 2013

    The Grand Secret : Vatican Council II says all Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, Protestants etc are lost

    Vatican Council II says all Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Muslims and Protestants are lost but this is a secret in the Church and no one is talking about it.

    Ad Gentes 7 says all need faith and baptism for salvation. We cannot name any one saved in invincible ignorance (LG 16) tc for them to be known exceptions to Ad Gentes 7.

    If you keep the text of Ad Gentes 7 and Lumen Gentium 14 before you Vatican Council II is saying all need to convert into the Catholic Church.All need to be formal, visible members of the Catholic Church.Visible Catholic Faith and the baptism of water is needed.Outside the Church there is no salvation.

    Vatican Council II is traditional on other religions and salvation.It is in agreement with the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus.

    It is in agreement with the Society of St.Pius X (SSPX), the St.Benedict Centers,USA,the popes, Church Councils,saints and the Catechism of the Catholic Church (846,845,1257).

    While those saved in invincible ignorance and a good conscience (LG 16) are only possibilities which we accept, these cases are not exceptions to AG 7 and LG 14. They are not exceptions since they are known only to God.They are not known to us in 2013.We cannot see these persons who are now in Heaven.

    We cannot name anyone saved with the baptism of desire or elements of sanctification (LG 8).We personally do not know any exceptions, since those who are dead are not visible to us.

    Yet for many Catholics, those saved in imperfect communion with the Church (UR), seeds of the Word etc are visible and known.So Vatican Council II for them is a break with the past.

    No where in Nostra Aetate is it said that non Catholics do not have to convert in their religion or that they are saved in general in their religion.We cannot name any 'good and holy '(NA) non Catholic, who is saved and is an exception to all needing 'faith and baptism' in 2013 to go to Heaven and avoid the fires of Hell.

    Vatican Council II is traditional. This is a grand secret.
    -Lionel Andrades

  8. I would be interested to know whether any of those posting above have read Denzinger's Sources of Catholic Dogma, or Ludwig Ott's Fundamental of Catholic Dogma.

    I would also be interested to hear why they feel the Apostolic Constitution of Pope St. Pius V, Quo Primum, is no longer in force.

  9. Dear Fr. McGrath,
    First I would like to thank your honesty for clarifying that the SSPX is not in schism. This is more than most diocesan priests or laity are willing to concede.
    That being said, you state that His Excellency Bishop Fellay's comments as not in continuity with Catholic teaching and cite Fr. Lombardi, “It is absolutely unacceptable, impossible, to define the Jews as enemies of the Church.”

    Your statement needs to be edited to say "not in keeping with the teaching of the Catholic Church since 1965."

    This is because it was absolutely the teaching of the Catholic Church that the Jews were enemies prior to Nostra Aetate and the startling 180 degree turn in the teaching about the Jewish religion.

    Prior to Vatican II, we prayed for "the faithless Jews."
    Today, we pray that their faith might be strengthened.
    Prior to Vatican II, we prayed for their conversion.
    Today, we pray that we can learn from our "elder brothers in the faith."
    Prior to Vatican II, Catholics (whether Jew, gentile, bond, free, male or female) were the chosen people of God.
    Today, supposedly Jews are still the chosen people (even though Romans 11 says they are cutoff from the tree of life due to unbelief).
    Prior to Vatican II, the Jewish covenant had been fulfilled by the coming of their Messiah. (Heb 8:13)
    Today, their covenant is [allegedly] still valid and irrevocable (most recently, Evangelii Gaudium).

    did our Lord Jesus Christ not say, "He who is with me is against me?" did not St. John write that "he who rejects Christ, he is the antichrist?"
    did not our Lord tell those unbelieving Jews that their father was Satan, a liar and murderer, and that they serve him well?

    do you believe today's Jews to be something different than the descendants of those very men who handed over our Lord to Pilate to be crucified?
    have you not read the passages in the Talmud which call our divine Savior a bastard who is boiling in hot excrement in hell, and our Lady a whore and a prostitute??

    Do these sound like words of truth of the people of God and elder brothers in the faith?

    Does not Hebrews say that without [the true] faith, it is impossible to please God? (Heb 11:6)

    Further to this, please consider the writings of the holy and influential popes and doctors of the Church prior to Second Vatican Council:

    Pope Benedict XIV, A Quo Primum, 1751
    "Doesn't the Church every day triumph more fully over the Jews in convicting or converting them than if once and for all she destroyed them with the edge of the sword: Surely it is not in vain that the Church has established the universal prayer which is offered up for the faithless Jews...that the Lord God may remove the veil from their hearts, that they may be rescued from their darkness into the light of truth." (Quoting St. Bernard of Clairvaux)

    Pope Benedict XIV, ibid
    "Because Jewish ways do not harmonize in any way with ours and they could easily turn the minds of the simple to their own superstitions and faithlessness through continual intercourse and unceasing acquaintance." (Quoting Alexander III)
    ...Another threat to Christians has been the influence of Jewish faithlessness; this influence was strong because Christians and Jews were living in the same cities and towns...In regard to the matter of the Jews We must express our concern...the number of Jews in that country has greatly increased. In fact, some cities and towns which had been predominantly Christian are now practically devoid of Christians.

    "I ask you, Hebrew leaders, you who have let yourselves be seduced by Satan, the enemy of humanity, would it not be better for you also to return sincerely to God?" - St. Maximillian Kolbe

  10. I would challenge you, if you disagree that there has been a fundamental change in the position of the Church, to prove as much by providing pre-conciliar sources to support as much.
    Otherwise, I would implore the same intellectual integrity that obliges you to admit the Society is not in schism to also admit that the words of His Excellency are in keeping with the teaching of at least 1900 years of the Catholic Church.

    For more:

    Pax et Bonum

  11. February 12, 2014


    The Society of St.Pius X (SSPX) concedes there are are factual errors in the books being sold by them.

  12. To say SSPX sacraments are invalid except for baptism betrays both the Diocese of Hamilton's ignorance of Canon Law and also the Catholic Faith. The Vatican II Church tickled everyone's ears with all kinds of gradations of "partial communion....not in full communion" for every kind of heretical protestant/schismatic group. Therefore it is the height of hypocrisy to state the SSPX is "not in communion", particularly after the excommunications were lifted in 2009 (a first in Church history for a "schismatic group"). Typical CCCB rubbish. There is either communion or no communion. Kinda like marriage, but wait they are trying to fudge those distinctions now too!