Wednesday, June 19, 2013


On another post, Militia Immaculata said that a suspended priest cannot hear valid confessions (although the Church supplies what is lacking when a penitent who doesn't know this, goes to a suspended priest (such as all SSPX priests) for the sacrament of Penance.

I had not thought about this before and yes, Militia Immaculata is correct. Not all priests, even those in good standing, have the "faculties" to hear confession. It must be granted to them by their bishop and it can be removed by their bishop too although they would be able to do other sacramental work, such as all the other sacraments.

Sometimes priest's faculties to hear confession are removed because the priest simply isn't a good confessor or is scandalized by what he hears in confession if he has a sensitive conscience. And yes, if he were to intentionally hear confessions after having his faculties removed, it would be an invalid confession, except in the case of an emergency! Again, an unsuspecting penitent is protected by the "church supplies" doctrine in these matters. For example, all the Masses an invalidly ordained priest celebrates are valid through the same principle. Of course once this is discovered, for example, the bishop forgot to lay hands on the head of the one being ordained, then it must be rectified by either validly ordaining the priest or removing him from the parish.

The Sacrament of Marriage is another issue altogether. The validity of the sacrament is completely juridical and canonical. If a priest came into my parish boundaries, even though he is a priest of my diocese, and performs a wedding without my delegation, this wedding is invalid pure and simple.

So, this brings us to all of the priests and bishops of the SSPX. They are all suspended in the highest form of suspension (ad divinis) and thus do not have faculties to hear valid confessions. Nor do they have delegation to perform any weddings. This is a fact of Catholic doctrine.

So a Catholic who becomes aware of his ignorance concerning these things, and in his arrogance persists in going to confession to a suspended priest or bishop and seeks to be married by one is committing a mortal sin and also a sacrilege in terms of participating in the "feigning of a sacrament" such as the person who goes to a mock ordination of a female and participates in that liturgy!

What constitutes a mortal sin? Coloring book Catholics, even those who have an affinity for SSPX, might not know this:

1. Serious Matter (feigning a sacrament and going to a priest who is suspended would qualify!)

2. One knows it is serious matter (after reading this, all those SSPX sympathizers will now know this if their coloring book Catholicism didn't teach them this!)

3. Commits the act with full consent of the will. (From comments I have read here, this seems to be the case with some SSPX sympathizers here).

Thus these persons are in a state of mortal sin and must go and make a valid confession, repent, beg pardon and absolution from the priest and be reconciled to the full communion of the Church and to God.



Irv Schlotz said...

Wait a minute. We've been told repeatedly that in a Catholic marriage, the priest or deacon merely WITNESSES the marriage and that the bride and groom marry themselves by their vows. If that is the case, how can an SSPX wedding be invalid, since it does not depend upon the priest? And in an earlier post, you told us that the Church recognizes Protestant marriages and therefore requires an annulment from any previous Protestant marriage before a former divorced Protestant can marry in the Church. If the Church recognizes Protestant marriages, how, in heaven's name can it deny an SSPX-performed marriage, since, again, it was the couple who supposedly married themselves?

This is very confusing. Could you please explain?

Marc said...

It isn't quite so simple as that, though. The ignorance might not be subjective ignorance on the part of particular penitents, but ignorance in general about the state of the priests' faculties. So, for example, if there is a general error or ignorance, the Absolution given to a penitent who knows the priest has no jurisdiction might still be valid because of supplied jurisdiction.

I don't say this to renew the discussion but to highlight how complex these things are and that none of us here are qualified to make a determination. They are, even despite what might be clear wording in the canons, complicated and subject to interpretation, as with the civil law that sometimes appears clear on its face but requires lawyers and courts to sort out.

For my part, I went to confession yesterday with my parish priest, he absolved me and gave very good spiritual advice. I understand being attached to the EF Mass (since I'd love to have it nearby) and going out of the way for it (since I do that on occasion), but I don't understand cherry picking confessors unless one is going out of the way to their spiritual director or something. I don't think confession with an SSPX priest is necessarily "better" than any other priest (excepting those wacky priests who think that nothing is a sin, and I've only encountered one of those once - at a monastery I had traveled to get to!).

I noticed at the SSPX chapel I've been to (same for FSSP) that pretty much everyone goes to confession before Mass each week. In that regard, they have a lot to teach the diocesan priests - parishes really need confessions directly before Mass on Sundays. But, we've discussed that issue quite a bit here, and it seems like even the priests are beginning to agree! My parish has a priest shortage, so I don't think we will see it here anytime soon, but they hear confessions everyday before Mass too.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Yes, this is true, but the "official" whether a priest, deacon or a delegated minister from another communion or a lay person if no clergy are available, must have delegation to canonically witness a Catholic marriage--if this delegation is not present, the marriage as a Sacrament is invalid.

Templar said...

The Society of St Pius X is a religious institute affiliated with the Catholic Church because it has been canonically erected according to the laws of the Catholic Church and approved by Rome. It was legally erected in the diocese of Geneva - Lausanne & Fribourg by His Lordship Bishop François Charrière on November 1 1970. It was approved for 6 years ad experimentum. However: "A congregation founded by a Bishop is and remains a diocesan congregation... until such time as it receives pontifical approbation, or at least the decree of praise (can. 492 # 2)"

This is precisely what happened. On February 18 1971 a "decree of praise" from His Eminence John Cardinal Wright gave the SSPX Roman approval thus removing the SSPX from the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Geneva - Lausanne & Fribourg. Further proof of Roman approbation is the fact that in 1972, the Vatican allowed 3 members of religious orders having pronounced their perpetual vows to be transferred from their orders into the SSPX. Thus de facto Rome recognised and approved the existence of the SSPX. A Dominican religious who, even after the said suspensio a divinis of 1976, asked and obtained from Rome permission to leave the Dominican Order to join the SSPX. If the SSPX was really suppressed why would Rome allow a Dominican religious to leave the Dominicans to join a suppressed Society?

It is said that the approval given to the Society was retracted by Mgr Mamie, successor of Mgr Charrière, by a decree of May 1975. That may be so but once a religious order has been approved by a Bishop it can only be suppressed by the Holy See (can. 493 in 1917 code applicable at the time of the Mgr Mamie and can. 584 in the code of 1983). Further it is clear from Mgr Mamie's letter that his decree came because of the Archbishop's refusal of the orientations of Vatican II and the new liturgy. The SSPX was therefore illegally suppressed by Mgr Mamie, successor of Mgr Charrière, not by the Holy See.

Templar said...


A suspension like an excommunication is a medicinal pain inflicted on someone who has committed a crime in order to bring him to repentance. Where there is no crime there is no need for repentance and punishment is unjust.

It is very simple to see why the suspension pronounced against the Archbishop in 1976 was null and void. Archbishop Lefebvre committed the following "crimes": 1) he categorically refused the new liturgy and more important; 2) he made a clear declaration of Faith November 21 1974 following the scandalous visit of the two Roman apostolic visitors who publicly denied articles of Faith:
"We hold firmly with all our heart and with our mind to Catholic Rome, Guardian of the Catholic Faith and of the traditions necessary to the maintenance of this Faith... We refuse... and have always refused to follow the Rome of Neo-Modernist and Neo-Protestant tendencies which became clearly manifested during the Second Vatican Council and after the Council, in the reforms which issued from it...".

These two things very much irritated and could not be tolerated by modernist Rome. These are what brought about the persecution against him and his Society and the subsequent orders to close the seminary, not ordain priests and the illegal suppression by Mgr Mamie, and the suspensio a divinis. Appeals to the decisions were unjustly denied through the influence of Cardinal Villot and pressure from the French bishops. If he would have adopted the new liturgy the Archbishop could have continued his seminary with the approval of Rome.
In the case of the refusal of the new liturgy and adherence to the Traditional Mass the suspension and any canonical pain are invalid in virtue of the Bull Quo Primum of St Pius V which give to all priest the perpetual right to celebrate the Mass of "St Pius V" and declares null and void any censures against a priest who celebrates this Mass". This Bull was never abolished therefore it remains in full force. As to #2 obviously one cannot be suspended or excommunicated for professing and keeping the Faith. This is why the Archbishop paid no attention to this censures. Since the censure against the Archbishop was null and void so was the censure against his priests. Even the Pope has to respect the virtue of justice.

Subsequent statements and prounouncements are all based in the end on the unlawful decrees. Until a competent authority rules on the issue, and in this case the only competent authority is The Pope himself, opinions by Priests, Bloggers, Canon Lawyers, and Laity are merely that, OPINIONS. No Pope has ever addressed the matter, therefore it remains open to interpretation and debate, and doubt.

Gene said...

Wow, Templar...thanks. I just got educated.

Militia Immaculata said...

I don't have time to address every point, but Templar, several of the points you made are addressed by the following article:

Templar said...

Thanks MI, you've proved my point. There's plenty of interpretations on this from both sides and therefore it's open to "DOUBT".

I concede there is no doubt concerning ordinary jurisdiction. But who can say the priests of the Society do not receive it from the law itself as stated in Canon 966? The doubt is not the doubt found in the minds of the people but in the mind of the priest. The case of common error does not involve doubt but error, the priest poses an action capable of leading the faithful into error. In the case of positive and probable doubt it is the priest, not the faithful, who doubts whether in this particular case he has jurisdiction to absolve validly and licitly.

But wait there is even better. According to can. 1335 of the New Code of 1983: "If a censure prohibits the celebration of the sacraments or sacramentals or the placing of an act of governance (needing jurisdiction), the prohibition is suspended whenever it is necessary to take care of the faithful who are in danger of death; and if an automatic censure (latae sententiae) is not a declared one, the prohibition is also suspended whenever a member of the faithful requests a sacrament, a sacramental, or an act of governance; this request can be made for any just cause whatsoever." The New Code of 1983 is even more generous than canon 2261 of the Code of 1917.

Let us suppose, for arguments sake, that the SSPX priests are suspended or even excommunicated, since the censure has not been declared the faithful can still "for any just cause whatsoever," ask the sacraments from them, even those requiring jurisdiction!

So there is at least a doubt. For the priest there is a strong presumption in favor of supplied jurisdiction.

The cases of common error and positive and probable doubt of law or fact are not inventions of the SSPX but are Catholic exceptions to the normal disciplinary rule which have existed long before the SSPX because the supreme aim of the Church is the salvation of souls.
Important to note that the case of common error and positive and probable doubt do not require the case of necessity nor danger of death. Nor does canon 1335 which outside the case of someone who has been nominally excommunicated, requires only "any just cause whatsoever". But even here the canon is not as clear as can. 2261 in the old code.

In dubio Ecclesia supplet!

Marc said...

Those of us in the business call what Templar just did a "Law burn!" You just got "lawyered!"


But, seriously, can we end this discussion now? No side can prove other is wrong. (And that very fact itself proves Templar right, by the way)

Hammer of Fascists said...

Templar shoots . . . he SCORES! The crowd goes wild!

That is a really impressive analysis.

Unknown said...

All of this confusion with the SSPX reminds me of the split between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Old Believers...

Which, coincidentally started when Patriarch Nikon began to change the liturgy, excommunicating and silencing those who disagreed...

Nope, nothing like VII and its aftermath lol...

Anonymous said...

Both sides here, the Holy See and the SSPX, cannot both be right. They are not diametrically opposed, but the SSPX exists in a tenuous, irregular situation as regards the authority of the Holy See. (Most serious disagreements among Catholics and between Christian denominations ultimately come down to the question of how the authority given to the Church functions, but that's another thread...)

The irregularity of the SSPX's situation is directly traceable to Archbishop Lefebvre's act of ordaining bishops without the approval of the Holy See. This was an act of extreme disobedience, a rejection of the legitimate authority of the Pope and the Holy See, and warranted latae sententiae excommunication. (since lifted) The SSPX's claim that this disobedience was necessitated by a "danger to the faith" that exists in the Novus Ordo mass is a further rejection of the legitimate authority of the Holy See and a thinly veiled rejection of the authority of the Second Vatican Council.

SSPX rejects aspects of the teaching of Vatican Two (ecumenism, religious liberty, the Church, collegiality), because SSPX theologians believe these teaching cannot be reconciled with previous statements of the authoritative magisterial office of the Church. SSPX thereby claims, it seems to me, to be the true seat of the charism of infallibility and the possessor of the right to interpret the Tradition of the Church.

Anonymous said...

When issuing the decrees that the Order of the mass should be revised, the Second Vatican Council ruled, among other things, that certain rites were to be restored to the vigor which they had in the days of the Holy Fathers. These are the very words used by St. Pius V in his Apostolic Constitution Quo Primum whereby he promulgated the Tridentine Missal of 1570. The employment of the very same words indicates that the two Missals, though separated in time by four centuries, are nevertheless inspired by and embody one and the same tradition. Reflection on the basic content of this tradition will show that the new Missal is a considerable improvement on the old one.

In those troubled days St Pius V was unwilling to make any changes in the rites except minor ones; he was intent on preserving (NOTE:) more recent tradition, because at that time attacks were being made on the doctrine that the Mass is a sacrifice, that its ministers are priests, and that Christ is really and abidingly present under the eucharistic species.

Gene said...

Anything that has caused as much division, dissension, and destruction in the Church can be neither good nor pleasing to God. I view the aftermath as God's judgement upon the Church. A brief reminder from Amos:
"I hate , I despise your feasts,
and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
Even though you offer me your
burnt offerings and cereal offerings,
I will not accept them, and the peace offerings
of your fatted beasts
I will not look upon.
Take away from me the noise of your songs;
to the melody of your harps I will not listen.
But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream."

The issue here was cultural and religious syncretism,
you know, what passed for "ecumenicism" in that day...just sayin'...

Gene said...

RE: Templar (Best Uncle Jed voice): "That boy, he don't say much, but when he does, whooeee!!"

Gene said...

Anonymous, please add some designation to your "anonymous" so we can distinguish you from all the other anonymi. This gets confusing.

Anonymous said...

Gene - Deal with what's posted - or not. Your choice.

John Nolan said...

Father, you post an image of a book by Dr Coomaraswamy. (Yes, he does sound a bit like an Indian restaurant). Have you read the book? And if so, do you agree with it?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

No, I haven't read it, just came across it in a google search of images and thought it fit my theme :)

Gene said...

Oh, so you are that Anonymous. Well, it is pretty difficult to take you seriously since you never responded to my post regarding the Fatherhood of God. No surprise only want to carp.

Templar said...

As much as I appreciate the "appreciation" I don't want anyone thinking I'm smarter than I am. Those aren't my own words, they are largely cut and pasted.

Although I consider myself fairly intelligent, I am not in the class of many others around here. I am not trained to have these discussions. But I can read and comprehend quite well, and that I have done, and shared for those with an open mind.

One final note: To Anon at 627PM. You state that the irregularity of the SSPX is directly related to the Ordination of Bishops, and that is not so. In fact it is the most clearly discussed part of the SSPX saga. The Archbishop and those he elevated were excommunicated in 1988 and Pope B16 lifted the excommunication. It is the one thing that has actually been addressed by competent authority. No the irregularity of the SSPX is traced back to my first post in this thread, where their order was illegally suppressed without the proper authority and everyone else in the Church acts as if it was valid. The Pope, anyone of them from Paul VI to Francis can resolve this by simply ruling on it as the competent authority in the matter of a Society, but yet none has. That alone leaves plenty of room for doubt.

Anonymous said...

Templar - The illicit ordination of bishops by Archbishop Lefebvre and the immediate excommunication of those involved is the fulcrum - it is the moment at which disagreement with the Holy See and the legitimate authority of the Vicar of Christ became an ACT of SCHISM.

It is the distillation of the unbridled arrogance of those who, with clear minds and a superabundance of self-righteousness, declared themselves to be the Church over and against -yes, against - the pope and the college of bishops in union with him.

It is the SSPX that has the ball now - they can continue to retreat from full unity, from filial obedience, and remain a source of scandal and division, pouring salt into the wounds they themselves have caused in the Body of Christ. Or they can accept the legitimate authority of the Holy See and eliminate their claims to know better than everyone else in the Catholic world.

Marc said...

Best to watch out for your own splinter there, Anonymous. For it is you who are speaking against the Holy See by pronouncing judgments that the Pipe has refused to make and that have been specifically rejected by the Pope; that is, the SSPX are not schismatic. For you to arrogantly claim otherwise despite the Holy Father's judgment to the contrary puts you, not them, in the disobedient camp.

How about addressing your concerns to those who seek to bring down the Church instead of those looking to build her back up...?

Templar said...

Anon: Thanks for the emotional response, but it doesn't change the fact that the specific event to which you refer is the one event in the SSPX saga that has been ruled upon and removed from discussion. Whatever the 1988 Ordinations were or weren't, they are no longer in play, so I will spare everyone the equally emotional response that I could put up in defense of what they did. The SSPX makes no such declarations that you attribute to them, and in fact repeatedly make declarations of filial obedience, those in the SSPX who could not do so left in 1983 to form the SSPV.

Anonymous said...

Marc - Ordaining bishops without the Holy See's approval is an act of schism. Schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.

The suggestion that the SSPX "committed schismatic acts but is not in schism" is laughable in the extreme. Can you imagine "he committed an act of extortion, but he is not an extortionist"? It is impossible.

Marc said...

I know what schism is, and so does the Pope. Since he judges these things, not you or me, your attempt to usurp his judgment puts you in the disobedient camp: you appear unwilling to submit to his judgment in this instance.

Further, you seem to have forgotten the excommunications were lifted... I guess you have also forgotten the forgiveness aspect of the Faith. Thankfully, unlike you again, the Pope has not.

You blathering on about schism is precisely the sort of internal disunity the Pope was addressing yesterday in his homily, is it not?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Marc, you are overreacting. When Archbishop Lefebrve was excommunicated along with the illicit bishops he had ordained, this was an act of schism on their part that incurred automatic excommunication. The bishops while they were in excommunication were schismatic bishops. I do not know the intricacies of how the schismatic bishops while in schism during their excommunication did not also include priests and the faithful of the SSPX, but it did not, perhaps an act of generosity on the part of Pope John Paul II to keep the faithful and the priests in an irregular situation but not in an excommunicated, schismatic one. This must have been because of a pastoral solicitude the Holy Father had for the priests and the faithful and to keep them within the boundaries of the Church, but make no mistake, during the time the bishops were excommunicated it was because of an act of schism with the See of Peter.

Marc said...

I agree with all that, Father, and I've never said otherwise. I disagree with those consecrations, but I understand the situation that led to it. Pope Benedict clearly understood it as well, which is why he lifted the excommunications.

What you're discussing, however, is not the issue in light of the lifted excommunications. The issue is whether they are schismatic NOW. They are not because the declaration of excommunication in this case is a power of the Pope. Unless you've been promoted or this Anonymous is the Holy Father, neither of you are competent to judge this issue. And by attempting to do so, you assign to yourselves the same power of judgment over Church issues as you criticize the SSPX for attempting to use with others in the Church. This is exactly the sort of thing the Pope talked about yesterday.

How is anything I've posted an overreaction?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

They are not now in schism and as a whole the SSPX never has been, only Archbishop Lebferve and the bishops he ordained and any others ordained while the ordaining bishops were excommunicated. That has been lifted, but the bishops and priests are still suspended ad divinis as a warning to the faithful, either those who are still associated with the SSPX or those tempted to associate with them, that they should not be and should find priests who are in regular situations especially for the valid celebration of the Sacrament of Penance and most certainly for the Sacrament of Marriage.

Marc said...

Right. Okay, yes, Father, I understand that is your position and we have discussed it ad nauseum now. I agree people should simply seek out priests who clearly have jurisdiction for Confession and Matrimony. And we must remember that the SSPX are a society of priests and have no lay members.

My beef is not with you, Father, but with Anonymous who is spreading false information about these Catholics.

Anonymous said...

Marc - In my post on 19 June at 6:27 I said, "... This was an act of extreme disobedience, a rejection of the legitimate authority of the Pope and the Holy See, and warranted latae sententiae excommunication. (since lifted)..."

See the last two words - Since Lifted? No, I have not overlooked this.

Marc said...

Yes, then you went on to describe how they are schismatic, using present tense verbs in so doing. You went so far as to advise these Catholics of "pouring salt in the wounds of the Body of Christ".

It is against these ridiculous and outlandish (not to mention self-evidently hypocritical) accusations that I am responding.

My defense of my fellow Catholics is anything but an overreaction given the substance of the insult.

Anyhow, that's enough of this discussion. I apologize for continuing to engage in it for as long as I have. You can have the last word.

Templar said...

Marc: The great thing about banging your head against the wall is it feels sooooooo good when you stop.

Unknown said...

You know, there are many good reasons that favour the hypothesis that the Novus Ordo 'Presbyterate' is not the Catholic Priesthood, not a sacrificing priesthood but merely an 'Elder' position to 'preside' over the assembly. If you argue the matter it from the viewpoint of the rite's intention it is plain that there is significant doubt. That said, where then with your questioning the FSSPX? Are you even Priests?

Pater Ignotus said...

Unknown - Since the Church tells us that NO priests are true priests, Catholics accept this as truth. Catholics do, but some who have steeped away from the Faith may think otherwise.

At mass, the priest BOTH offers sacrifice AND presides over the assembly. It's not either/or.

Meg said...

Sorry for jumping in so late. I'm just very surprised that the author of this article never replied to the evidence set forth by Templar concerning the validity if the marriages. So far I've never heard anyone refute the argument if canon 1335 and those who argue the doubt point only apply it to ordinary jurisdiction. They never address doubt as to the supplied jurisdiction. Is the author admitting he's wrong?