Saturday, July 5, 2008

Q&A; with PCED about SSPX, schism and sacraments

By Brian Kopp

Fr. Z. has posted a very illuminating article by Brian Mershon:

PCED Confirms Officially: Society of St. Pius X within the Church, Not in Formal Schism; Catholics Commit No Sin nor Incur Any Canonical Penalty for Mass Attendance

Here's the money quotes from PCED:

Stating that the Society of St. Pius X “is not in formal schism” is to say that there has been no official declaration on the part of the Holy See that the Society of St. Pius X is in schism. Up to now, the Church has sought to show the maximum charity, courtesy and consideration to all those involved with the hope that such a declaration will not eventually be necessary.”

“The bishops of the Society of St. Pius X are excommunicated according to the prescription of canon 1382 of the Code of Canon Law which states that “A bishop who consecrates someone a bishop without pontifical mandate and the person who receives the consecration from him incur a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See.” Archbishop Lefebvre was duly reminded of this before his conferral of Episcopal ordination on 30 June 1988 and the Holy Father confirmed that this penalty had been incurred in his Apostolic Letter Ecclesia Dei, #3 [cf. AAS 80 (1988) 1495-1498; English translation in L’Osservatore Romano English edition of 11 July 1988, p. 1].

“The priests of the Society of St. Pius X are validly ordained, but suspended, that is prohibited from exercising their priestly functions because they are not properly incardinated in a diocese of religious institute in full communion with the Holy See (cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 265) and also because those ordained after the schismatic Episcopal ordinations were ordained by an excommunicated bishop.

“Concretely, this means that the Masses offered by the priests of the Society of St. Pius X are valid, but illicit, i.e., contrary to Canon Law. The Sacraments of Penance and Matrimony, however, require that the priest enjoys the faculties of the diocese or has proper delegation. Since that is not the case with these priests, these sacraments are invalid. It remains true, however, that, if the faithful are genuinely ignorant that the priests of the Society of St. Pius X do not have proper faculty to absolve, the Church supplies these faculties so that the sacrament is valid (cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 144)

“While it is true that participation in the Mass at chapels of the Society of St. Pius X does not of itself constitute “formal adherence to the schism” (cf. Ecclesia Dei 5, c), such adherence can come about over a period of time as one slowly imbibes a schismatic mentality which separates itself from the teaching of the Supreme Pontiff and the entire Catholic Church. While we hope and pray for a reconciliation with the Society of St. Pius X, the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” cannot recommend that members of the faithful frequent their chapels for the reasons which we have outlined above.

Can't get much clearer than that. This is the official position of the Church*: one can fulfill one's Sunday obligation at SSPX chapels, but their bishops are excommunicated, their priests are suspended, their masses are valid but illicit, and their sacraments of Penance and Marriage are definitively invalid.


This is the official position of the Church*

*Unless...the official position of the Church is further clarified soon, or this letter turns out to have been misrepresented, or it is simply nullified by a non-private document or statement from a higher/more competent Church authority...or, if it is made completely pointless by the lifting of the SSPX excommunications, for which I am praying and sacrificing daily.


Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Kopp:

You need to read these statements more carefully. The P.C.E.D. is not saying here that the S.S.P.X Masses fulfil the obligation to assist at Mass. The competence of the P.C.E.D. in these matters is also questionable. This is a matter for the P.C.L.T., not the P.C.E.D.


Anonymous said...

Brian Mershon and Fr. Zuhlsdorf are apparently too obtuse to ask and analyse the right question to the right authority. Unfortunately, this problem is NOT resolved. For example, here is one of the answers from the P.C.E.D.:

"Catholic laymen may attend Mass at a Society of St. Pius X chapel without committing any sin nor incurring any canonical penalty."

Well, duh!, that was never in doubt. The question is not whether one commits a sin by attending a Society Mass. Under the new Code, one can even attend a Protestant service. The question is if one commits a sin by attempting to fulfil the Sunday obligation at a Society Mass. Does such attendance fulfil the obligation? If it does not, and one knows that it does not, does one commit a sin?

Obviously, if one does not know the truth of the matter and one has been confused by statements from the P.C.E.D., there is no question of sin: one must know that the action or omission is a delict before it can become a sin.

This is just more of the same, and from the wrong office. As a result of the confusion, many will be able to avoid sin. But we need to know the objective truth of the matter because we have a duty to seek the truth and hold fast in it.


Anonymous said...

This is just another example of what happens when an ignorant or careless questioner directs the wrong question to the wrong authority. A careful analysis of Msgr. Perl's answer shows that it does resolve the question which Fr. Zuhlsdorf, on his neo-conservative site, claims it resolves. The P.C.E.D. is NOT saying here that attendance at Society Masses can fulfil the obligation to assist at Mass. I am so frustrated at these nitwits. It is merely saying that attendence at a Society Mass does not, in itself, incur a penalty or imply a sin. But I may be attending on a Tuesday, or I may be attending on Sunday but then going on to attend antother Mass! How stupid are these people?

It is true that the P.C.E.D. has said, in the past, in a private letter which bears no general authority, and outside its competence, that attendance at a Society Mass does fulfil the Sunday obligation. But that is not adequate. This matter needs to be resolved NOW.

Peter Karl T. Perkins
Victoria, Canada

Brian Kopp said...

"which Fr. Zuhlsdorf, on his neo-conservative site"

What's this, PKTP, the night of the long knives?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Kopp:

I don't dislike Mr. Mershon or Fr. Zuhlsdorf but I am very frustrated with them right now. Mershon sent the wrong set of questions and Zuhlsdorf is now proclaiming that we may fulfil the obligation at Society Masses. His interpretation of the P.C.E.D. words is wrong. I don't mean that his conclusion is wrong, but that you can't reach that conclusion based on what Perl wrote. Believe me, I wish they were right!

But they are NOT right, or, rather, they may be right or perhaps not. The only important question has NOT been asked and we have not solved the problem at all.

I'm fed up with the incompetence of these people. So, today, I sent the right question to the right authority, Archbishop Francesco Cocopalmeria, President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts. I made it short: a single page with a question of one sentence. If he answers that the Society Masses do not fulfil the obligation, well, um, I just might not publish that fact. That way, the confusion caused by Mershon and Zuhlsdorf will still exempt many people from sin, since you can't sin if the act was mistaken or unintended. If he gives us the answer we are hoping for, well, then, provided permission is given by the Council, I will publish it. The letter is now in the mail. I posted it about half an hour ago.

Here is the CORRECT question: "Does attendance on Sundays and other holydays at Masses of the Society of St. Pius X fulfil the obligation to assist at Mass which is mentioned in Canon 1247 and in Canon 1248, § 1, provided that those attending have no schismatic intent?" Oui ou non?

It is irrelevant to ask if we sin or incur a penalty for mere attendance at a Society Mass. We have always known that the answer to that is 'no'. We can, under the new Code, even attend a Protestant service if we'd like: BUT NOT TO FULFIL THE SUNDAY OBLIGATION.

Peter Karl T. Perkins

Brian Kopp said...

Dear PKTP,
I understand your frustration.

By the way, please address me as "Brian."

(Or "Dr. Kopp." I'm just a foot surgeon, and my doctorate obviously has nothing to do with Catholicism, so I no longer make a point of it. But if you're going to go to the trouble of typing out "Mr. Kopp," how about changing the "M" to a "D."


Anonymous said...

Dear Dr. Kopp:

A note on titles. First of all, I absolutely refuse to use first names with people I do not know well. I don't like the way that mispractice has spread from the U.S.A. north into my country. I'm sure that the intention is good, but it feels all wrong; it makes me feel as if people are trying to elbow their way into my private life.

I prefer the traditional way we inherited from England. I'll stick with titles and reserve first names for spouses, sisters, and friends from yesteryear.

The other point is that, once you have a doctorate, you have the right to the title 'Dr.' but it is still perfectly correct to use 'Mr.', and, therefore, people are correct to use it for you if they don't know about your degree, or if you prefer the Mr. title. However, since you have signalled a preference for the doctoral title, I'll use it.


Canonist (for real) said...

Brian, Father Z. allows in his blog all ignorant criticism against the SSPX, but his latest post on the invalidity of marriages and confessions is truly malignant. He went to the extent of banning me -posting as Indignant Canonist- and if you still find there my comments you will know why. Shame on him.