Wednesday, November 29, 2006

What is the SSPX?

Question from a Catholic discerning the priesthood: "what is SSPX? I have a prayer from a SSPX website. Is it ok to pray it?"
The SSPX are not in full communion with the Catholic Church. Their priests are non-incardinated and their superior is excommunicated. Thus, they publicly celebrate the sacraments illicitly, and in some cases invalidly.

See more here ... please forgive me if I've misspelled anything ; ) ...

How are the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) in error? -View

For a rather clever satire of the SSPX position (not authored by me), see here:

Society of St. Pius I... the REAL remnant! - View

"Is it ok to pray it?"

Probably. So long as it avoids that which is contrary to Catholic doctrine and approved ecclesiastical discipline. You are also in my prayers.

Excerpts from a reply by a Lefebvre apologist: " is always interesting to read Blogs, especially when the Blogger doesn't know how to spell. This always brings me to the conclusion that they possibly do not know what they are talking about..."
Hmmmm...many knowledgeable people have been known to misspell a word from time to time. ;)
Lefebvre apologist: "... the true Magesterium of the Faith...... the entire Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Acquinas..."

Ironically, you misspelled "magisterium" and "Aquinas." :eeeek:

Lefebvre apologist: "Read the Imitation of Christ or the Following of Christ by St. Thomas A Kempis"

Moreover, Thomas a' Kempis, while a holy monk to be sure, has never been canonized a saint.

A wonderful book on the topic is: More Catholic Than the Pope: An Inside Look At Extreme Traditionalism by Patrick Madrid and Pete Vere.

Question: "How would you respond to Lefebvre apologists who compare the Lefebvre movement to the defense against Arianism?"

I've responded in the past by asking what they think the comparison to Arianism is?

With Arianism, despite persecution Pope Liberius upheld and staunchly supported the teachings of the ecumencial council and that of Athanasius. So, Athanasius, unlike Msgr. Lefebvre, never dissented with the authentic teachings of the pope or papally-approved ecumencial council. Never. Thus their attempt at comparison is weak.

Lefebvre apologists often like to discuss how Liberius "excommunicated" Athanasius. However, they pin their hopes upon dubious history. In fact, their claims against the orthodoxy of Pope Liberius are contrary to the writings of other ancient popes. Observe...

Pope St. Anastasius on “The Orthodoxy of Pope Liberius”:

The heretical African faction [of the Arian heresy] was not able by any deception to introduce its baseness because, as we believe, our God provided that that holy and untarnished faith be not contaminated through any vicious blasphemy of slanderous men — that faith which had been discussed and defended at the meeting of the synod of Nicea by the holy men and bishops now placed in the resting place of the saints.... For this faith those who were then esteemed as holy bishops gladly endured exile, that is . . . Liberius, bishop of the Roman Church.” (Pope St. Anastasius, Dat mihi plurimum, from art. 93 of the thirtieth edition of Denzinger's, cited by Pete Vere, "My Journey out of the Lefebvre Schism - All Tradition Leads to Rome", Envoy Magazine, Vol. 4.6)

Moreover, the Greek perspective of Liberius' orthodoxy according to the Greek Menologium (liturgical text of the Greek church):

[At the 27th September] The blessed Liberius, defender of the truth, was Bishop of Rome during the reign of Constantius. His zeal . . . . made him undertake the defence of the great Athanasius Then Liberius, who fought with his whole strength against the malice of the heretics, was exiled to Beræa in Thrace. But the Romans, who loved and honored him, remained faithful to him, and besought the Emperor to restore him. Liberius returned to Rome, where he died after wisely governing his flock." [cited by P.J. Harrold, "The Alleged Fall of Pope Liberius," American Catholic Quarterly Review, v.8, 1883, pp.529-49]

Lefebvrism has no comparison to the persecution endured by BOTH Pope Liberius and St. Athanasius from the Roman Emporer because of their steadfast faithfulness to an ecumenical council--the Nicene Council. They both held that the judgment of the Ecumenical Council was the final word on the matter. In fact, those that hold fast to Ecumencial Council of Vatican II have more similarity to that position than do Lefebvrists.

Some Catholic scholars assert that Liberius indeed excommunicated Athanasius, but did so under duress. That this was an invalid excommunication is readily understood because once the source of duress was removed, neither Liberius nor Athanasius treated the excommunication as valid. So even if the dubious nature of this excommunication was true, how has this any comparison to Lefebvre's excommunciation?

Lefebvre was forewarned of his excommunication beforehand. Pope John Paul II always held that Lefebvre was validly excommunicated. Furthermore, Pope John Paul II declared the excommunication of Lefebvre and the illicitly ordained bishops of his movement voluntarily, after giving them warning after warning. In essence, Lefebvre's disobedience demanded the just censure voluntarily decreed by the lawful Vicar of Christ, Pope John Paul II.

This is from Pope John Paul II sent to Msgr Lefebvre just weeks prior to his unlawful ordination of Bishops:

In the letter you sent me you appear to reject all that was agreed on in the previous conversations, since you clearly manifest your intention to "provide the means yourself to continue your work," particularly by proceeding shortly and without apostolic mandate to one or several episcopal ordinations, and this in flagrant contradiction not only with the norms of Canon Law, but also with the Protocol signed on May 5th and the directions relevant to this problem contained in the letter which Cardinal Ratzinger wrote to you on my instructions on May 30th. (Letter to Lefebvre by Pope John Paul II, June 9, 1988)

Lefebvre was clearly forewarned by the Pope that he lacked the necessary pontifical mandate to proceed with his episcopal consecrations. Despite this forewarning by the Pope, on June 15, 1988, Lefebvre held a press conference announcing his intentions to consecrate four bishops on 30 Jun 1988. Having been forewarned by both Cardinal Ratzinger and the Pope that the mandate necessary to proceed with the episcopal consecrations was lacking, and in light of this press conference announcing the four candidates, on behalf of the Congregation for Bishops, Cardinal Gantin issued the following monition on June 17, 1988:

Since on June 15th, 1988 you stated that you intended to ordain four priests to the episcopate without having obtained the mandate of the Supreme Pontiff as required by canon 1013 of the Code of Canon Law, I myself convey to you this public canonical warning, confirming that if you should carry out your intention as stated above, you yourself and also the bishops ordained by you shall incur ipso facto excommunication latae sententiae reserved to the Apostolic See in accordance with canon 1382.

Despite the above clear warnings, Lefebvre proceeded with the ordinations. By doing so, it is clear that he was in fact ASKING to be excommunicated by ignoring the AUTHORITY of the Pope. How can any objective person draw any comparison to Athanasius' supposed excommunication, which if indeed signed by Liberius, was clearly under duress and nugatory in the minds of Liberius and Athanasius? How can any objective person believe Lefebvre's excommunication was not valid? To do so would be to deny the Pope's power to judge, to excommunicate, to legislate, thereby denying the authority of the Pope.

St. Thomas Aquinas taught (cf. Summa Theologica, IIb, 104, 5) there is only two reasons why one can licitly disobey his superior: 1) His superior is demanding something of the subordinate that is contrary to higher authority, and 2) His superior is demanding something outside the scope of his authority. Neither of these conditions are met in the case of Lefebvre. Thus, Lefebvre's disobedience was illicit and by no means traditional in the Catholic sense.

God bless,


"Lord, in my zeal for the love of truth, let me not forget the truth about love"-- St. Thomas Aquinas