Pope grants SSPX power to absolve sins in Year of Mercy
  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,437
    This fascinating development has launched a chain of speculation in my mind at least, as I'm sure it has for many others. I can't help but rejoice at this phrase in particular in the Holy Father's letter released yesterday: I trust that in the near future solutions may be found to recover full communion with the priests and superiors of the Fraternity.

    Being very fond of the liturgical praxis of SSPX France in particular, of which I've spoken ad infinitum on the forum, I can't help but wonder about the wide-ranging implications for Catholic liturgy and sacred music if, si Deus vult, our separated SSPX friends are received back into full communion with the Holy Father.

    Praying that this may happen soon, ad laudem et glóriam nóminis sui, ad utilitátem quoque nostram totiúsque Ecclésiæ suæ sanctæ.
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,114
    I was, to say the least, shocked when I saw it this morning.

    I'm very fascinated to see where this goes over the course of this year, and beyond.
  • I read the other part of the story, and I'm not sure how I feel about it...

    Anyway this isn't the place to discuss it, so maybe someone can enlighten me on the SSPX? I don't know much about it other than what I've read here on the forum sometimes. Why are they different/what did they do to distance themselves?
  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,437
    Here's a thumbnail sketch: Archbishop Marcel Lefebrve, a French missionary bishop, the head of the Holy Ghost Fathers and in charge of all French-speaking Africa and a Council Father, had retired and was living in Rome in the early 70's and had settled in a quiet life as the chaplain for a French convent when he was approached by a number of young traditional French seminarians in Rome who begged him to start a seminary and order of priests since they were scandalized and frustrated by their experience in their seminary which, as they reported to Arbp. Lefebrve at the time, was, among other outrageous activities, even flying a Communist flag.

    Archbp. Lefebrve reluctantly agreed and obtained permission from a bishop in Fribourg, Switzerland, I believe, to found a traditional seminary and priestly fraternity which exclusively celebrated the Mass and sacraments according to the 1962 Missale Romanum. He had ecclesiastical approval for some time until tensions arose between his order and inspectors from Rome. In 1976 he ordained priests without approval and was suspended. He had better relations with Pope John Paul II, if I'm not mistaken, but in 1988, after much back and forth dialogue, he consecrated four bishops without Pope John Paul II's approval and he and the four bishops were excommunicated.

    However, at that time, some priests from the SSPX defected and reconciled with Rome and founded another traditional order, the Fraternity of St. Peter, which has full ecclesiastical approval. There have been a number of other approved traditional orders as well.

    Pope Benedict lifted the excommunication and attempts were made at reconciliation, but unfortunately came to nothing due mostly, from what I understand, to doctrinal questions from the SSPX over their difficulties with certain key passages in the Vatican II texts. During Pope Francis' pontificate, relations have improved even more, and it was revealed not long ago that due to Pope Francis' intervention in Argentina, the SSPX was granted full ecclesiastical status in Argentina.

    This current development, however, is the closest things have come officially between Rome and the SSPX in many decades.
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,084
    I am truly amazed. Perhaps Archbishop Schneider has had some good effect on Francis of late.
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  • tomjaw
    Posts: 1,528
    I note that many people read Canon Law, decide what the situation the SSPX are in, and then publish their views on the their blog or newspaper. Michael Voris et al. have made their views well known, do they have any weight? NO! Fr. Z also has a view, does it carry any weight? NO. Canon Lawyers have also published their views, well I would pay bit more attention to what they say, but they usually post the disclaimer that it is only a view point that needs to be decided by legitimate authority.

    Well what has Rome (the only Authority on this question) said...

    1. We can go to their Masses and contribute to the collection. (I think this came from +Ratzinger or +Hoyos)
    2. They are in a irregular situation (I do not know what this means, but I do understand about binding and loosing...)
    3. In Argentina they are part of the Catholic Church (what about faculties? I do not know?)
    4. In the latest bit of news it seems that FRANCIS understands that their Confessions are generally invalid, but will give them Faculties during the year of mercy.

    I am not surprised at this, I am sure that in the mind of FRANCIS the differences between Rome and the SSPX are irrelevant details.
  • This may be a heartening development. It makes me wonder, though: If a priest of the Society has not had valid faculties for absolving sins before this, is not his ordination in question? and if it is, does this pronouncement make that ordination suddenly valid? and if so, what does this mean for all the other questionably ordained priests (or -esses)? that ordination is not a matter of valid sacrament, but of papal fiat? To say nothing of the Society's point of view, that this changes nothing in practice for their priests, who were absolving validly before, and will continue absolving validly when the year is up. Sorry, but this all seems very ambivalent to me.
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  • Liam
    Posts: 3,804
    A validly ordained priest requires faculties to administer the sacrament of penance in most ordinary situations.

    SSPX has relied on ecclesia supplet. But it's not in a position to judge that on its eye. Pope Francis' action has the effect of a limited duration ecclesia supplet that benefits the faithful for a period of time but does not entirely resolve the faculties issue and, effectively, demonstrates that it's up to him to decide when the faithful are entitled to rely on ecclesia supplet, not the SSPX itself. It's an interesting jiu-jitsu-like move; I would not be surprised if Benedict XVI had advised him on this....
  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,437
    Very interesting, Liam, and the SSPX's response to the Pope's gesture is also interesting. I sometimes wonder if, rather than the SSPX coming of their own volition to a rapprochement with the Vatican, a Pope is just simply going to drape a corner of the big Catholic tent over them and officially declare them "in" whether they like it or not. : )
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  • stulte
    Posts: 252
    JulieColl, I've been waiting for a Pope to just go "POOF!! You're all now regularized!" That may be the easiest way to really go about this despite Bishop Fellay's previous insistence that a purely practical solution won't do (not that doctrinal issues wouldn't have to be dealt with in any event).
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,335
    I agree with what Liam has written.

    In response to @RichardR, the Catholic Church has never judged the ordinations of SSPX priests and even bishops as being invalid. However, for the validity of the sacraments of confirmation, penance, and matrimony a priest must have the requisite faculty. In the judgment of the Catholic Church, SSPX priests lack those faculties since their bishops do not have the jurisdiction to grant them.

    With regard to the faithful who associate themselves with the SSPX, the letter of Pope Francis states, "In the meantime, motivated by the need to respond to the good of these faithful, through my own disposition, I establish that those who during the Holy Year of Mercy approach these priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation shall validly and licitly receive the absolution of their sins." Pope Francis says nothing about supplying the SSPX priests with the faculty to validly hear confessions. Rather he is granting a privilege to the faithful themselves; in effect, the Catholic Church is supplying (Ecclesia supplet) for the faculty which SSPX priests continue to lack.
  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,437
    Well, Father, you may of course be correct. However, like the liberalization of the use of the 1962 Missale Romanum which began with a relatively small concession in 1984, and was expanded upon in 1988 and in 2007, this concession from the Holy Fsther may be the beginning of a similar normalization process for our friends in the Society of St. Pius X. It is certainly within the realm of possibility that at the end of this Year of Mercy, the Pope could choose to continue supplying this faculty and in fact could also expand upon it, and knowing his generous heart, I hope he'll do just that.
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  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,853

    1. We can go to their Masses and contribute to the collection. (I think this came from +Ratzinger or +Hoyos)
    2. They are in a irregular situation (I do not know what this means, but I do understand about binding and loosing...)
    3. In Argentina they are part of the Catholic Church (what about faculties? I do not know?)
    4. In the latest bit of news it seems that FRANCIS understands that their Confessions are generally invalid, but will give them Faculties during the year of mercy.


    On point #3: the SSPX is not really accepted as part of the Church in Argentina at present: that is, not in good standing. What happened is that the Archbishop of Buenos Aires told the government to please treat the SSPX as a Catholic religious order for legal purposes. This lets the SSPX own property and lets it get visas for officials. The SSPX was being hassled by the anti-Catholic government in these matters. It could have filed for its own status as a religious organization -- but only if it were to declare itself a separate church from the Catholic Church, which it did not want to do! So Pope Francis promised to help them with this and now the new Archbishop of Buenos Aires has provided legal cover to work around that problem.
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  • stulte
    Posts: 252
    Someone please correct me if I'm wrong. The Confirmations administered by the SSPX Bishops are valid. However, they lack the ability the grant this faculty to their priests due to lack of jurisdiction.Thus, if a SSPX priest were to attempt to administer Confirmation, it would be invalid.
  • Pope Francis says nothing about supplying the SSPX priests with the faculty to validly hear confessions. Rather he is granting a privilege to the faithful themselves; in effect, the Catholic Church is supplying (Ecclesia supplet) for the faculty which SSPX priests continue to lack.


    with due respect, Fr Krisman, this does not make sense to me. The sacrament here is truly a sacrament because of the ordination of the priest and the faculties accorded him by the proper authority to exercise his ordination in the sacrament of reconciliation. THe need of the faithful is the Popes motive for granting the faculty to the priest, the validity of the sacrament does not depend on the need of the faithful but on the aforementioned conditions of valid ordination and faculties. Ex opera operato and all that...
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,335
    with due respect, Fr Krisman, this does not make sense to me.

    Bonnie, I grant you that is is very unusual, since the letter of Pope Francis says nothing about granting the faculty to hear confessions to SSPX priests. I would compare it to the radical sanation of a marriage. If a priest witnesses a marriage without the delegation of faculties from the bishop or from the pastor of the parish in which the marriage is celebrated, that marriage is invalid. When this fact becomes known, the marriage may be made valid without having to call in the couple to repeat their consent; this is done through the canonical institute of "sanatio." This sanation does not alter the fact that the priest who witnessed the marriage did so without the proper delegation of faculty.

    With regard to your question about SSPX bishops and the sacrament of confirmation, their confirmations are valid since bishops are the original and ordinary ministers of confirmation. Bishops confirm through the power of orders, not jurisdiction.
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  • Distinction without a difference. If the faculty travels with every penitent into every confessional, every priest effectively has the faculty.

    If at the end of the Year of Mercy, the SSPX privilege expires but the "abortion privilege" (for lack of a more concise term) is extended, can SSPX priests only hear confessions about abortions?

    To answer my own question, I think the letter will be interpreted to grant the abortion privilege only to those priests with faculties. Which brings us back to the beginning. If SSPX priests don't have faculties even during the Year of Mercy, are they unable to lift excommunications for abortions?
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,307
    image
  • Poor taste, Adam. Very poor taste.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,307
    Is this one better?

    image
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  • Funnier, but still in poor taste!
  • Wow! I had no idea that Oprah was SSPX. (Um, that is Oprah, right?)
  • matthewjmatthewj
    Posts: 2,610
    Oprah was SSPX


    Weirdest thing ever typed on the internet.
    Thanked by 2JulieColl Spriggo
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,335
    Distinction without a difference.

    Au contraire, @johnmann.

    The faculty to hear confessions does not "travel with every penitent" nor does "every priest effectively (have) the faculty." Faculties to validly celebrate certain sacraments are granted to priests by bishops who have the requisite jurisdiction.

    The requirement of the faculty to hear confessions validly is a matter of ecclesiastical law, not divine law. The Holy Father, the supreme legislator of the Church, certainly may grant to the lay faithful a privilege to allow a valid absolution by SSPX priests who lack the faculty to hear confessions.
    Thanked by 1dad29
  • I said there was a distinction. In what situations would there be any practical difference?

    The faculty to hear confessions does not "travel with every penitent"

    the supreme legislator of the Church, certainly may grant to the lay faithful a privilege to allow a valid absolution by SSPX priests who lack the faculty to hear confessions.

    If there's a distinction there at all it's extremely subtle and of absolutely no import as far as I can tell.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,085
    Scholasticism is apparently alive and well here! LOL. Why not just accept what Pope Francis said and go with it, or is that too easy?
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 1,084
    Clearly it is more fun to be scholastic around here.....yeesh.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,289
    All I can say is just Go!
  • Remember how I said only Nixon can go to China?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlJIqyS_Z30
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  • dad29
    Posts: 1,733
    I was, to say the least, shocked when I saw it this morning.


    Imagine how your Ordinary felt....
    Thanked by 1JulieColl
  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,437
    As enthralling as this discussion about sacraments is, I find the situation of the SSPX in Argentina that Chonak brought up also interesting. It was the question of the legal status of the SSPX in Argentina which brought then-Cardinal Bergoglio into contact with Fr. Christian Bouchacourt, then-District Superior of the SSPX in South America who asked Cardinal Bergoglio for help in obtaining the necessary recognition that the SSPX is Catholic and part of the Catholic Church, though not in full communion. As Cardinal Bergoglio told Fr. Bouchacourt: "No, no, you are Catholic, that is evident; I will help you;"

    I think that says a great deal about both of the actors in this situation: that the Cardinal was approachable and willing to help, and perceptive enough to recognize the positive and good aspects of the Society's work, and that he was generous enough to go the distance and help solve their difficulty with the government. Also, it shows that there must have been something very special about Fr. Bouchacourt which so impressed the Cardinal. Fr. Christian is now the District Superior of France and an active, fearless public advocate for traditional Catholic values. Incidentally, he was the celebrant in this iconic 7-part video series of the traditional Latin Mass at St. Nicolas du Chardonnet, Paris.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJlF2bfcu8E

    BTW, this is Fr. Bouchacourt's candid opinion of the newly elected Pope Francis. However much the two parties may disagree, I think what they have in common is a mutual respect and a recognition of saccerdotal character, that the other cares with all his heart and soul for the people of God. Cardinal Bergoglio was able to see that the SSPX priests don't stay locked up in their ivory towers but go out to the people and serve the people and "smell of the sheep" ---that unforgettable expression of Pope Francis, and Fr. Bouchacourt acknowledges the same, that Pope Francis is "a poor man among the poor"; "he is completely turned toward the people, the poor."

    The same can be said of the SSPX priests I have known---extraordinary zeal, unselfish, accessible, patient, kind and completely happy to be with the people. What is that called again? Yes, the pastoral strategy of accompaniment. (cf. Pope John Paul II, I believe.)
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  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,085
    The way westerners have nearly deified the occupant of that office, I would find it hard to believe any could say Pope Francis doesn't have the power he has exercised. He was within the powers of his office to extend the rights to forgive sin. It's his call - at least if you believe what westerners teach about the papacy. Easterners enjoy seeing westerners try to wriggle uncomfortably out of situations they have created. ROFL.
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 1,528
    On point #3: the SSPX is not really accepted as part of the Church in Argentina at present: that is, not in good standing. What happened is that the Archbishop of Buenos Aires told the government to please treat the SSPX as a Catholic religious order for legal purposes.


    @ chonak Thanks, that is another version that I had seen explaining the situation. I have not seen the original statement, or a translation... My interest is what exactly was said to the Argentinian Government on this legal matter. What has the government written in the paperwork?

    I know that the U.K. taxman (and I presume the U.S. Taxman) would not be happy with some waffle about irregular situations, they would want to know if they are part of the legal entity (Catholic Church) or not.

    I gather that the Argentinian Government is not very competent, and so may have excepted the irregular situations. But I suspect that the Argentinian Government believe that the SSPX are part of the Catholic Church, and that they would have had to be convinced by the Archbishop that this was the case. It would be very embarrassing, let alone the potential legal problems, if it turns out that the SSPX are not part of the Catholic Church after all.

    Anyway I find it very interesting that they can be considered a legal part of the Catholic Church under Argentinian Law, but not (yet) under Canon Law.
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 1,528
    Doctrinal Differences between the SSPX and "Rome" are an interesting subject, one that I think will fail to reach a conclusion, because the parties are speaking what are in effect different languages.

    From my understanding of Pope Francis his interest in these differences will be close to zero, and I cannot image him spending even a few seconds thinking about them. I can imagine Pope Francis writing another letter welcoming the SSPX with no strings attached, and leave some poor Official to sort out the mess.

    I would not like to be Archbishop Fisichella, who will have to draft what the Pope means into legal language so we can fully understand what the Pope has written in the latest letter on the year of mercy.
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  • @tomjaw -- I like to believe that if both parties approach the discussion in good faith (and there is no reason, I think, to suppose that anything else would happen) then, with hard work and charity on both sides, a genuine mutual understanding and accommodation could be reached. Maybe that's just naïveté on my part.

    I agree entirely with the second two paragraphs of what you say.
  • JulieCollJulieColl
    Posts: 2,437
    Papa Bergoglio, is, like all of us, an enigma and mix of many influences and experiences. He has offered so many beautiful and valuable theological, spiritual and psychological insights. However, not for nothing, but I can't help but think of that old rule, lex orandi statuat legem credendi when I compare the clear, concise, well-defined and consistent nature of some churchmen's remarks vs. the nebulous, transitory, misty, abstract content of others. Liturgical praxis does indeed shape one's thought patterns, mode of expression, way of life and world view, and I'm not assigning a value judgment to that, or at least not trying to anyway.
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  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,853
    I suspect the document didn't get very thorough review, because the section on abortion is not expressed clearly.

    It authorizes priests to absolve from the sin of abortion. That's puzzling, because priests can do this already if they have faculties to hear confessions at all. If the document is read literally, it doesn't give priests any added authorization in cases related to abortion.

    Things were different under the 1917 Code of Canon Law, in which certain sins were reserved to the Ordinary to absolve: the document speaks as though that provision were still in place.

    So what did Pope Francis mean to do? He may have meant to give all priests the faculty to lift the canonical penalty of excommunication for abortion, in addition to absolving the sin. That would be a reasonable thing to grant. Normally, according to the law, priests would have to contact the Ordinary in order to lift an excommunication. In some dioceses (perhaps everywhere in the US), bishops routinely grant priests the faculty to handle such cases themselves, and maybe Pope Francis wanted to grant this faculty to all confessors everywhere in cases related to abortion. But the document doesn't say that. It doesn't mention lifting excommunication.

    So the section of the document dealing with abortion is confusingly worded, and it's hard for me to trust that its wording in regard to SSPX priests is 100% precise either. I hope another document will follow, to dot the i's and cross the t's.
  • TCJ
    Posts: 638
    I'm still waiting on a clear definition of partial communion. You're Catholic or you're not.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,085
    I believe one could go completely batty trying to make sense of anything this pope says or does. Pope Francis will not live forever, so hang on. Get a nice fountain, some bamboo plants, a wind chime, and mellow out. This forum could use some Zen.
  • This forum could use some Zen.


    How's about we hold hands and sing "Kum Ba Yah"? (Sorry...I just couldn't resist.)
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  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,085
    about we hold hands and sing "Kum Ba Yah"? (Sorry...I just couldn't resist.)


    Let's not get ridiculous. Zen is respectable, Kum ba Yah isn't. As for holding hands, my mother's advice was the best I have heard - "You don't know where he has been." LOL.
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,804
    Well, be sure you don't touch any door knobs or handles at church. They've been grabbed by almost everyone else....
  • Well, sorry I sent the discussion in this direction with a joke... For the record, if anybody grabs my hand and launches into Kum ba Yah, that person will receive a (non-injurious, but firm) dope slap. (And maybe then both of us will need to visit an SSPX priest...)
    Thanked by 1JulieColl
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,085
    Well, be sure you don't touch any door knobs or handles at church


    Do have to be careful with that. I am allergic to an ingredient in flu shots, so whatever little protection they actually offer, I can't receive. Winter is a time for gloves and lots of hand sanitizer.

    if anybody grabs my hand and launches into Kum ba Yah, that person will receive a (non-injurious, but firm) dope slap.


    I like the way this guy thinks. LOL. I would probably do the same. One of the advantages of being at the console in the loft, is that I am cut off from all the glad-handers. A bit of evil thinking follows, so you may want to hide your eyes and shield the children. Have you ever seen the most disreputable looking person in the congregation and thought, "God, don't let her come toward me." LOL.
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,804
    Just so you know...most hand sanitizers won't work on protein-shelled viruses like norovirus (the nurse's slang for which is "throw and go") - alcohol doesn't do squat on them. They need soap and friction. And most people don't realize that, if they've been afflicted with norovirus, they are MOST contagious for a few days AFTER their symptoms abate.

    Here endeth the PSA.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW CHGiffen
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,085
    Agreed on the soap and water.
  • One of the advantages of being at the console in the loft, is that I am cut off from all the glad-handers.


    I generally don't extend my hand to anyone during the sign of peace. If they approach me, I will gladly shake hands, but that's it. The only exception is my wife, who gets a hug whether she wants it or not.
  • Well, Clerget, if it's your wife, remember the words of the Apostle Paul: "Greet one another with a holy kiss . . . and forbid not the use of tongues."

    (Sorry, couldn't resist.)
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  • melofluentmelofluent
    Posts: 4,160
    Joo veel zeeng ziss und like it!
    Rowell out Zen Barrell, veel haff Zen Barrell uf funz.....


    Excuse me, I have to go find my fish kite for zuh pwosession.
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