Wednesday, August 8, 2007

To SSPX or Not to SSPX?

That is the question. This question arises from a letter sent to parishioners pre-motu by Fr. Jay Scott Newman in South Carolina in which he stated that it is sinful to attend a mass at an SSPX chapel. Brian Mershon has addressed the issues at length in a piece entitled "SSPX in schism? You can believe Fr. Newman... or you can believe the Church" Fr. Z has also now weighed in on the topic.

It makes for a very interesting topic. Give it a look.


David L Alexander said...

"That is the question."

It's a question that begs another one, which I have asked Father Z:

How can an illicit means (attendance at an SSPX chapel) be used to accomplish a licit end (fulfillment of one's Sunday obligation)?

We'll see how it goes.

Patrick Archbold said...

I think I come down on the side of caution. If I absolutely had no choice and I was convinced that my other choices were equally illicit, then ok. But if you have the option, best to avoid the issue for now.

David L Alexander said...

Yes, he came down on the side of caution. But not clearly. This is not a weighty issue like whether the Bomb should have been dropped on Japan. This is a common-sense Joe Sixpack issue, one that needs a nice simple yes-or-no answer.

Now I'VE gotta write something later this week and straighten everybody out. Like I don't have enough to do.

Brian Mershon said...

I would be interested to know why David thinks he needs to "straighten everyone out."

The PCED and Fr. Zuhlsdorf and Cardinal Castrillon have been very clear about this. Why does David think his authority is higher than theirs?

Just wondering...

David L Alexander said...


I was wondering about the nature of your "authority" myself, sir. If you follow the thread at Father Z's weblog, you will know why I make such presumptions. (Really, go read it.) Suffice it to say for now, that "So-and-so with such-and-such a title said this to so-and-so, so you'd better listen" is not necessarily a good example of exercising authority.

With any luck, you'll know why your attempts at "clarification," including the use of private responses without regard to their careful wording, have only made things more confusing.

Now, I'll be traveling for a few days, but I'll leave the light on for ya.

franklyn mcafee said...

What about this situation? Whereas some may dispute whether SSPX is in schism,it is certain that the Orthodox are.It is lawful for catholics to attend mass and receive communion at an orthodox church if there is no catholic parish within a reasonable distance (the Orthodox may not want you receiving communion).Is there not a common principle?

Anonymous said...

I frankly find Fr Z a bit too mean spirited (along with most of the Wanderer) although I identify as traditionalist (an Only an Orthodox can be) :)

Anonymous said...

an Orthodox priest (if he does not know you or if you do not make yourself known to him) will question you if you approach the Mysteries at Liturgy. An Antiochian MIGHT commune a Melkite but I have never seen or heard of a Greek or Russian Orthodox priest commune non-Orthodox Christians

David L Alexander said...

Fr McAfee:

While the SSPX has demonstrated tendencies that are common to those in schism -- remember the reference to the "Lefebvrite schism" in one of Ratzinger's interviews, and the reference in Ecclesia Dei to their "schismatic act," it is not a schism in the formal sense. Whatever their conduct, they at least claim to be with Rome, unlike the Orthodox. Further, my understanding of the ability to fulfill one's obligation at an Orthodox Divine Liturgy, in the absence of a Catholic Mass, differs from Father Z's understanding. He's obviously not the only source I have. Even if he were correct, one's attendance and participation there would not constitute false worship, as they have valid priesthood and sacraments.

Anon #1:

I've met Father Z, and have had the pleasure of serving Mass for him more than once. Rest assured he is not mean-spirited; he is simply very sure of himself.

Anon #2:

Some Orthodox jurisdictions are more strict than others regarding access to the sacraments. Some expect you to go to confession and even Vespers the night before, especially if you're from out of town. This in addition to fasting from midnight, as we used to do.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for your clarification about Father Z. However, some of his comments in his reviews of bishop's statements etc do give me pause sometimes.

Brian Mershon said...


I know two things. Cardinal Castrillon, the prefect for the PCED, with powers delegated by our current Supreme Pontiff, has repeatedly over the past several months, been interviewed in the secular media declaring the SSPX not to be in schism.

I also know that the PCED, in its official correspondence with more than one laymen, and publicly for Una Voce America, has said it is not a sin to attend SSPX chapels to fulfill one's Sunday obligation.

I also know from my own personal correspondence with the PCED that they refuse to engage in the discussion any more from what has already been said, other than to refer me to a priest of my choosing for further counsel.

Them's the facts. If you don't like 'em, I can't help it. It is clear to me.

As for the Orthodox, that is off topic.

David L Alexander said...


Your first submission was never in dispute. I have never claimed, at any time, or in any forum, that the SSPX were in a formal state of schism. That being said, the references I made are true, and I stand behind them.

Your second submission has been dealt with ad nauseum at the WDTPRS blog. My recognition of the authority of the Apostolic See in regulating the sacred liturgy is beyond question. I wish I could say the same for members of the SSPX.

The question of attendance at an Orthodox liturgy was germaine inasmuch as it concerned what constituted a "Catholic Rite." I have explained that matter in the other forum as well.

As to what constitutes "the facts," I tend not to be too dependent on others to chastise me concerning what they are. Especially when they appear to be rather selective in their use of them.