There Really ARE People Around Who Still Think the SSPX is in Schism… Seriously? Gimme a Break!editor
From Catholic World Report…
Bishop Athanasius Schneider has recently thrown down the glove in an interview with LifeSiteNews, claiming that those of us who believe the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) is still in schism have “a very narrow, legalistic view of the reality of the Church” and we are “putting the letter of the Canon Law above the importance, the primary importance of the fullness of the Catholic faith and of the traditional liturgy.”
Is this a fair and accurate assessment? Should we trust the auxiliary bishop of Astana when he praises Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre as “a prophet of our time” and tells priests they can “go to the SSPX” if they are forbidden to use the 1962 Missal? Should the laity be prompted by his encouragement to attend SSPX Masses and financially support them?
At the beginning of last year, I wrote an open letter, published by CWR, to a Polish priest who left the Dominican Order to adhere to the SSPX. This was a testimony of my experiences with this fractious and splintering religious group in the traditional Catholic movement, and of my decision to leave its boundaries and embrace the unity of Rome. Since my letter was published, I have publicly debated a pro-SSPX apologist, engaged in many discussions with both former and current supporters of Msgr. Lefebvre’s movement, and created the “Contra Traddom” YouTube and podcast series with John Salza and Dom Dalmasso at The Logos Project.
Our collaborative investigation into the confusing and controversial situation of the SSPX has brought some key issues into focus, and I will present some of them in this article as a more thorough counterpart to my personal testimony. While not exhaustive, it will suffice to show the shoddy scholarship and even outright dishonesty of the SSPX and its apologists. Continue reading here…
While there are certainly priests and people within the SSPX who have the schismatic spirit denounced by Archbishop Lefebvre, just as there are priests and people in parishes who are in de facto schism from the traditional Catholic Faith, I am amazed that there are still
numpties people around who – despite the liturgical and moral chaos reigning in the Church at the present time – still think that the SSPX per se is in schism. Read the Catholic World Report article and assess the commentary – makes interesting reading. Then check out the other side: click here for a (rather lengthy) “deep dive” into what the SSPX is all about, before sharing your thoughts…
Among Andrew Bartel’s numerous incorrect assertions, this one is perhaps one of the worst: “They have even erected their own marriage tribunals and annulment process, during which they require their adherents to swear on the Holy Gospels to have nothing to do with the bishops’ tribunals!” Really? “Swearing on the Holy Gospels?” Almost sounds Masonic, with secret oaths and rituals . . . What a charlatan!
It is true that the SSPX has its own marriage tribunals, something Mrs. Marinaio and I have often disagreed with in principle; however, there have been numerous instances that I know of when the person seeking an annulment from the SSPX was sent to the diocesan tribunal. I even know of a case when the SSPX prior contacted the diocesan tribunal to discuss a case that was ultimately sent to the diocese. And then there are the countless annulments from dioceses that can only be described as questionable at best. Anyway, this allegation of a Society-wide requisite oath against “the bishops’ tribunals” is slanderous. This, and other comments made by Andrew Bartel, show that he is not a man of good will.
In fact, I have one question for this smug, self-righteous character (the same question I have for any FSSP priest who insists that the SSPX is in schism): where the heck were you in the 80s and 90s, when we were trying to find a place to provide the Sacraments for our children and instead were being persecuted by our bishops? It’s so easy, isn’t it, for people like Bartel and Salza to beat their breasts and cry “Schismatic!” today, with all the Traditional Masses that are available to them, thanks to Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and his SSPX priests.
I, too, know someone who goes to the SSPX Masses and enquired about an annulment. She was told to contact the diocese. That is essential in order to trace the wedding etc details. I do think there are Society priests who would not be comfortable conducting a wedding for someone who has been granted an annulment but there’s always one, as the saying goes, LOL! I think most of the SSPX clergy are balanced and sensible. There are oddballs everywhere.
Fideles please don’t think that I am in Schism as regards Annulments but remember the greatest Annulment that never took place Henry 8th of course.
Now am sure in these times that Henry would have gotten an Annulment ASAP
Now I know this Topic isn’t about Annulments and I ask the Eds forgiveness . As for anything being in Schism surely the worst now are The German Bishops over 90% Voting in favour of Homosexuality no matter how you look at it . As for the ordinary N.O. Catholic
( in my experience) most of them still Believe that The Latin Mass is still Schism never mind anything else.
Henry 8th “the greatest annulment that never was” – LOL! How true!
I think the Church in Germany has been in schism for years, actually, and it’s now coming right out into the open.
You are right – I followed the link to the page about SSPX tribunals and although there is a statement to sign which includes “swearing on the Holy Gospels” it is nothing to do with attacking the diocesan tribunals, just about being bound by the SSPX tribunal.
I think it’s a mistake to have those tribunals – I much prefer the attitude of taking the findings at face value, and assuming that the annulment was legitimately given. The SSPX needs to avoid all appearance of setting up parallel institutions. That’s a big mistake, IMHO.
I’m with you regarding the SSPX annulment tribunals – I think that should be left to the diocesan authorities.
I also suspect you are right about the author’s lack of good will. That was not exactly a Valentine’s Day card to the SSPX, was it, with animosity dripping out from every line.
Quickly glancing through another article by Andrew Bartel, it looks like he has a lot of spiritual baggage, and perhaps isn’t in the best place to be advising others through his writings. Having said that, he is just one man. The main outfit for spreading the ‘SSPX is in schism’ charge is Michael Voris and Church Militant. I’ve seen articles and comments on other sites claiming that the SSPX is in schism, but the source material more often than not links back to Church Militant.
I recall, years ago when I couldn’t get enough of this debate, seeing either a video or an article by Voris’ spiritual advisor, a Canadian priest I think, who claimed that the SSPX had the GERM of schism.
Perhaps he was trying to inculcate germaphobia among the “SSPX-schism” crowd….
I made the mistake of clicking on the link to watch the SSPX podcast/video at the end of the intro, before reading the CWR article and found what looked to be a very interesting conversation between a young lay man and an SSPX priest. The young lay man said that he would be asking the questions that were in his mind and that other people want answers to, and the priest then launched into a talk about the SSPX and over half an hour later he hasn’t stopped talking. The video is over 2 hours long so I can’t sit for that length of time listening to one voice giving a talk. The interview set up would have worked great. I will go back now and watch for another half hour but if there is no sign of the young man getting to ask questions, I’ll switch off.
I don’t think the SSPX are in schism but I’d have liked to hear the questions in the young man’s mind not this monologue. I won’t remember the half of what the priest says, although it’s all very good stuff.
I’ll read the CWR article later but I’m surprised at them for publishing an anti-SSPX article. I thought they were more clued in.
I know what you mean about the opening half hour of Fr Sherry’s talk, but I hope you persevered as it was very good – there was a Q & A for the majority of the time and it was really helpful to understanding the Society of St Pius X status in the Church at this time. I think the intro was to set the basis for the Q & A, and I found the whole podcast very helpful indeed. I know quite a few people who attend the SSPX so I’m always keen to learn more about them.
I agree – the podcast was great and Fr Sherry is always excellent. He can explain things very clearly and gives great anecdotes and examples to help the listener understand better. The fact that he was a novus ordo attender before going to the SSPX makes him very relatable, and quite balanced.
I agree that Fr Sherry is a very good speaker and his examples are very helpful to understanding things. However, he mentioned that Archbishop Lefebvre accepted the 1962 missal in place of the older missal because it didn’t do any harm to the faith. Yet, I know there was a debate on here after the Holy Week services last year because the UK SSPX priests used the older missal instead of the one authorised by the archbishop for the HW services. I don’t always comment but I keep a watchful eye, LOL! I hear talk of splits within the SSPX and am wondering if this is a sign of it. Can anyone say?
Full disclosure, I am not commenting as someone who attends the SSPX although I respect their mission to keep the old Mass alive. We wouldn’t have the FSSP Masses except for them, I’m aware of that.
We did debate the use of the older missal for the Holy Week Services last year, which seems to have taken place across the UK, although some have questioned whether it was only in Scotland. I don’t know.
It certainly did inspire a very heated debate in Scotland last year, but we won’t “go there” on this thread if you don’t mind.
It may have been an aberration, because Archbishop Lefebvre was very clear that his priests were to use only the 1962 missal; we won’t know until Holy Week this year whether there has been a break with that instruction, and so, as you indicate, a possible split within the Society. Thus, there’s little point in speculating.
I agree with you that but for the action of the Archbishop / SSPX, the TLM may not have been preserved, although Fr Sherry remarks in his talk above that God can, of course, use any instrument He chooses to achieve His aims, and there can be no doubt that preserving the ancient liturgy is one of God’s aims, so to speak! Through the brave actions of one instrument or another, then, we would still be able to attend the “old” Mass. The fact is, however, that Archbishop Lefebvre was the chief means by which the ancient liturgy has been preserved, despite the ongoing attempts to see if off once and for all.
You are right to highlight Fr Sherry’s talent for speaking and teaching. Excellent.
I think Lily is right when she says that the first session on the podcast was Fr Sherry laying the groundwork for the Questions to come, which he answered beautifully. He is a born teacher, and I always enjoy his videos. This one was no exception.
The CWR article, on the other hand, was incomplete/misleading on several levels, and as one priest commentator points out below the article, the author is not a theologian or in any way equipped to comment with authority on the SSPX.
I think we’ve noted in the past on this blog that CWR falls into the category of “conservative apologists for the French Revolution in the Church,” so it’s not surprising that they would publish such an amateurish screed. I am, however, surprised that John Salza is in on this questionable scholarship. Last I knew of him he had a favorable view of the SSPX.
John Salza seems to have suddenly changed course on the SSPX. Perhaps (I don’t know) due to a bad personal experience. It’s important to separate the individual clergy (among whom Fr Sherry admits will be “bad” priests as there are bad priests all over the place, sadly) from the issue of the status of the SSPX itself. Some people seem unable to do that, hence so many Catholics lapsed from the Faith due to having had to deal with a “bad” priest. Some of us would readily admit that if our faith relied on encountering only “good” or “sound” priests, we’d have lapsed long ago!
Yes, CWR is something of a mixed bag but, to give them due credit, they did, at least publish a comment from me on that thread, under my other username (which my parents, somewhat prophetically, you might say, gave me at my Baptism 😀 Patricia! )
I suppose that’s sort of a left-handed compliment, when we have to give a site credit for not censoring us when we post something truthful and accurate.
In any case, I found this comment, well above yours, very interesting:
Fr. Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R.
MARCH 15, 2023 AT 8:52 AM
Please note: the author is not a theologian or canon lawyer. He in no way speaks for the Church nor does he have the qualifications to do so. Publication of this article is irresponsible on the part of CWR.
I noticed that comment from the priest, as well. Good for him! The SSPX is the lifeboat God sent to see the faithful through this crisis and even if we are not always able to attend their chapels, we appreciate them.
Yes, I agree – we would say “back-handed” compliment although at the rate we are being Americanised, I dare say it won’t be long before “left-handed” is the order of the day. I note that Nigel Farage is informing us that his programme on GB News is on “Monday through Thursday”, whereas we have always said “from Monday to Thursday”. And one of my nephews remarked the other day that there are a lot of “thrift” shops where he lives. When I asked him what the heck is a “thrift” shop, turned out he meant “charity shops”.
So, yes, you are right – it IS a (cough) back-handed compliment to settle for CWR not censoring us when we submit comments that are true and accurate, as you put it. Which reminds me… I’m off to check if anyone has replied!
Dear Madame Editor,
I saw your post on CWR. Bravo !
A belated Happy Patronal Feast Day to you!
Margaret USA 🇺🇸
I know you don’t want any discussion of the Holy Week missal, but this year all SSPX chapels are using the 1962 missal during Holy Week.
Thank you, Petrus. That puts an end to any possible discussion and/or animosity.
That was a heck of a long video – I don’t think many will have seen it through to the end!
What I did see and hear was very useful, though, and the priest is a very good speaker, as others have said.
I hear mixed reviews about the SSPX these days. I’m really not sure what to think about them.
Anyone who would even suggest the SSPX are in schism is either a liar, a fool or someone speaking from a position of complete ignorance.
If you want to see what schism looks like, look at the apostate Church in Germany.
People who want to learn about the history of the SSPX would do well to read the excellent article by Fr Francois Laisney in the latest edition of the UK districts publication “Ite Missa Est”:
Archbishop Lefebvre absolutely nailed the root of the problem in the Church today when he declared that “Satan’s masterstroke has been to sow disobedience through obedience.”
It has been this diabolical blindness, this inability of most Catholics to distinguish between true and false obedience to superiors which has led to the present crisis of faith.
How often have we heard people say “but the Pope said it so we must obey” or, “Father said it so we must obey”. No, this is not Catholic teaching. The Catholic teaching is that we are the free children of God in the Church, subject to obedience to superiors only insofar as they remain obedient to God.
Should the Pope or Father depart from obedience to God by altering the faith handed down, then we are obliged upon peril of our own soul to disobey. We are not slaves to the whims and pet projects of clerical superiors, however exalted in office they may be.
It is not schismatic to say no to a Protestantised liturgy or to ecumenism and inter-religious initiatives, or to Communion in the hand and a thousand other aberrations previously condemned by the Church, aberrations which have clearly destroyed the faith of millions these past 6 decades and brought the Church to her knees. On the contrary, it’s fidelity to Tradition and fidelity to God to reject such ecclesiastical pride and rebellion.
It was this clear sightedness that led Archbishop Lefebvre to reject the New Mass and all those other Modernist means of subverting the true religion. The Archbishop altered nothing of the faith handed down, yet he is the one they accuse of being schismatic. It’s very clever, even demonically so, to accuse the one who upholds the ancient faith at great personal cost of being the schismatic while all manner of theological, liturgical and sacramental outrages ravish the Church. It is truly a mystery of iniquity.
This FSSP priest who accuses the SSPX of being schismatic would do well to remind himself that he and others like him enjoy the fruits of Archbishop Lefebvre’s fidelity to the Mass and faith of our fathers. Had it not been for his brave stance against the Modernist heresy then these so-called “ecclesia Dei” organisations would not exist today.
Having said this, it would be quite wrong to imagine that the SSPX is the Church or that it is a perfect institution. It is not the Church and its superiors are not the Church hierarchy. Our Lord has ordained that the Pope and the Bishops are the true hierarchy despite their human failings. Hence, when these latter declare something which is not dangerous to faith and morals then we are obliged to obey. This was always the position of Archbishop Lefebvre and we would all do well to bear it in mind lest we really do fall into a schismatic mindset.
In the meantime, I would suggest that this FSSP priest and John Salza get down off their high horse and do some study on the distinction between obedience and subservience. It is the height of ingratitude to bite the episcopal hand that has fed you!
[the faithful are] subject to obedience to superiors only insofar as they remain obedient to God.
This is true, but it is important to also note that such obedience is limited to what concerns the Faith. If a priest or superior (whether SSPX or diocesan) seeks obedience from any member of the faithful outside of his pastoral responsibility, we are not obliged to obey. If, for example, your SSPX priest demands an apology to you for, say, smoking (even around the street where the church is situated) and requires that you stop smoking there, you are not obliged to obey. Even if he thinks you’re causing scandal by said smoking 😀 File under “Too bad” 😀
It’s worth clarifying this, because although I know that YOU know this, there may be readers who take your assertion literally. Just sayin’ 😀
I remember, some years ago, meeting a mother of a large family who was taking spiritual direction from a priest member of one of the Religious Orders. She expressed concerns to me that she was struggling to keep up to his standards, one of which was that she should make a holy hour every day. With a husband out working and a gaggle of children to care for, “steps and stairs” as they say (various ages, several small), she struggled to do this. I told her to forget it, that it was a ridiculous burden to add to her load and that she did NOT have to obey. Where people get this idea that the priest is infallible and they must obey his every whim, beats me. This is something we’ll look at during our Conference next Saturday.
You’re absolutely right to point out where obedience to the priest ends. In the scenario you describe, a priest asking for an apology would be a priest full of pride and consequently absent of the spirit of Our Lord, who said “learn of me for I am meek and humble of heart”. Sadly, clerical pride is the scourge of our age and the root of all the present troubles in the Church. Did Our Saviour demand an apology when they were crucufying Him? I think not.