So without hesitation, he celebrates the wedding on August 31. Their priests have no proper faculties for those sacraments. This means simply that they are doing something that they shouldn’t be doing! He assumes he has the faculty to celebrate the wedding. Private discussions have continued intermittently, as the Vatican has tried to induce the leaders of the SSPX to return to Rome. Under canon 144, the answer is yes. This is not because the Church doesn’t mean what it says! [This is a change from my previously stated position.] And precisely on this score, the Novus Ordo Missae (NOM) is most defective as was attested at the time of its promulgation by no less than Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci: The legal aspect here does not address so much the question of the suppression of the Old Mass, since its continuous e… Thus the confirmations administered by SSPX bishops, who routinely travel all over the world to administer this sacrament, are indeed valid. Matrimony and regular confession are not valid among the SSPX. Q: What’s the canonical status of priests ordained by SSPX bishops, and what’s the canonical status of the sacraments they administer? Can I Attend an SSPX Church, Since My Parish is Closed? Conveniently missing from these sorts of analyses is any acknowledgement of the fact that the Holy Father himself reasserted just a few years ago (as seen in Part I) that the SSPX clergy have no canonical status in the Church, and thus do not legitimately exercise any ministry. Penance. In other words, and as was discussed more thoroughly in “Can All Priests Always Hear Confessions?” priests have to be given an additional, specific authorization before they can validly hear confessions. Readers who find this classic statement (often referred to simply by its first two words in Latin, Ecclesia supplet) completely mystifying aren’t alone. All rights reserved. (There is far more flexibility for salad than for sacraments.) That’s why a thorough discussion of canon 144 is simply impossible in this space. Louie should be focusing on the validity of Francis’ “priesthood” and “episcopal consecration”….both of the New Rite of Paul VI. A law is legitimate only when it is duly promulgated by the lawfully constituted authority. But let’s say that in his haste, the pastor worded his written delegation very poorly, stating that the retired priest “is delegated to assist at all weddings in St. Elizabeth’s parish for the next couple of weeks.”  Of course the pastor meant the entire time of his vacation, which would include August 31; but if he dated the delegation August 16, it certainly isn’t clear whether August 31 should technically be included or not! Therefore, the seven Sacraments administered by SSPX bishops and priests, though usually administered illicitly, are valid, as long as the essential requirements for validity are met. Can a Bishop Forbid a Priest to Say Mass? Consequently, it is forbidden to accept a likely or probably valid ordination for the subsequent conferring of sacraments. Note that it doesn’t specify that it must be the diocesan bishop, in whose territory the confirmation takes place, because any bishop can validly confirm. This example fits the situation of all the clergy of the SSPX. That naturally includes SSPX priests as well. As we saw in Part I, SSPX priests are able to celebrate validly the sacraments of Baptism, Holy Eucharist (because they can celebrate a valid Mass), and Anointing of the Sick. Nonetheless, Catholics should never abuse the Church’s generosity by pushing it to the limits: if possible, receiving sacraments at SSPX churches is to be avoided. At first glance, it may appear that merely being a priest is enough for the valid administration of this sacrament, since  canon 965 asserts simply that only a priest can administer the sacrament of penance. (It should be pointed out that under the current Code of Canon Law, under certain circumstances a parish priest can administer this sacrament too. I though SSPX masses were not valid and therefore attendance does not fulfill Sunday obligation. He may have decided, in a huff, to disregard the bishop’s declaration and hear confessions anyway! If he doesn’t, the marriage is invalid. If you are interested in these topics, please read on! On Sunday mornings it can be hard to turn one’s back on an SSPX church in the neighborhood, complete with beautiful liturgical rites celebrated by an obviously devout priest and attended by an equally devout congregation—especially if the alternative Mass, at one’s Catholic parish, involves none of those things! The fact is, Ecclesia supplet does not validate any marriages celebrated by SSPX clergy, period. If he had been an imposter who had gained access to the confessional, canon 144 wouldn’t have helped. Put simply, they don’t. Cathy Caridi, J.C.L., is an American canon lawyer who practices law and teaches in Rome. Confirmation. In the current Code of Canon Law it is found in canon 144. She founded this website to provide clear answers to canonical questions asked by ordinary Catholics, without employing all the mysterious legalese that canon lawyers know and love. None of the content of this website may be reproduced, either in whole or in part, without the advance written permission of the author. SSPX sacraments are problematic. In the past Cathy has published articles both in scholarly journals and on various popular Catholic websites, including Real Presence Communications and Catholic Exchange. 2.) In short, the cleric who officiates at a marriage involving at least one Catholic doesn’t merely need to be ordained; he must be either the bishop or the pastor of the parish, or have delegation from one of them. Period. Re-post: Can We Receive Holy Communion Twice on Christmas Day? The Virus and the Bishops: Twisting a Vatican Document to Further an Agenda. A fuller discussion of the distinction between validity and liceity can be found in “Are they Really Catholic? He goes in, confesses his sins, and receives absolution from the priest there. If one can donate to the SSPX, then one can donate to the Greek Orthodox or any schismatic group or the Indult priests which have valid sacraments. Baptism. Note that the other elements of canonical form in this scenario were clearly met: the couple was married in the parish church, there were at least two witnesses, and the retired priest is definitely a priest! Additionally, SSPX bishops can validly administer Confirmation and Holy Orders. Most of them just think I am a stupid "meathead" (which is kinda true). Sanctions, Part III,” the status of the SSPX from its very inception was canonically questionable, as its founder, the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, had established it in 1970 without the following the procedures and obtaining the approbations that were required at the time. One might think that this is the end of the story—but there’s a longstanding canonical twist. SSPX priests don’t have this faculty, because they don’t have any competent ecclesiastical authority who can give it to them. Click here for more information. Marriages CAN be valid now IF the local bishop works with the SSPX to make sure they are; I don’t think this happens in most dioceses. But there are two other sacraments which haven’t been addressed yet. Marriage tribunals rarely encounter such clear-cut invalidity as this. We thus know that, at least in these limited cases, the Vatican has acknowledged certain absolutions granted by SSPX priests are valid. Obviously that priest-confessor himself has a lot to answer for, canonically speaking; but the penitent who honestly erred in entering his confessional should rest easy. Just seems like we … 1.) A priest who says Mass in your diocese, and administers the sacraments to the Catholics of your diocese, does so licitly only if he has the permission (which, in the case of visiting priests, is normally tacit) of the diocesan bishop. A distinction has to be made between the Pope’s concern for the spiritual wellbeing of the four men who had been under excommunication, and who had respectfully petitioned the Pope to return to full communion with the Church; and the canonical status of the entire SSPX, which still has never been recognized by Rome. But this did not automatically bring with it a reconciliation between the Catholic Church and the whole institute of the SSPX, which remains a separate issue. This was discussed more fully in “Can a Priest Administer the Sacrament of Confirmation?”  In the case of the SSPX, however, it is largely irrelevant because they leave it to their bishops to administer the sacrament of confirmation.). c. 368), and these in turn are split into parishes, with precise boundaries. Since these talks are private, there naturally are no official reports of what is discussed, and no descriptions of what progress (if any) has been made—but in the past year or so some in the Vatican (most notably the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Gerhard Mueller) have obliquely indicated that a reconciliation should not be considered imminent. Personally, I do not have good experience with "trads" in general. Things changed dramatically in 1988, however, when Lefebvre consecrated four new bishops without papal mandate, an act which caused the four men and Lefebvre himself to be declared excommunicated by John Paul II. In many concrete situations, even canonists can quickly find themselves scratching their heads! SSPX Marriages are Incontestable - District of Canada In other words, SSPX clergy may celebrate a beautiful and edifying Mass, but since their status in the Church has not yet been regularized, what they’re doing is illicit. But did this retired priest really have the necessary delegated faculty to assist at a wedding in St. Elizabeth’s parish on August 31? So if a couple gets married in an SSPX ceremony, they will then be living in fornication and won't receive the graces of the sacrament? Let’s say, for example, that a Catholic couple want to marry in their parish, St. Elizabeth’s, on August 31. It seems reasonable to surmise that by allowing the Latin Mass to be celebrated by all Catholic priests everywhere, the motu proprio caused many of the lay-faithful to stop attending SSPX Masses, and to return to regular Mass-attendance at their proper Catholic parishes instead. Confessions have only been valid since 2015. It’s not uncommon to find a diocesan bishop requesting help from (say) a retired bishop, when the diocese has so many parishes that its bishop is physically unable to travel to all of them and confirm everyone by himself! The bishops who ordained these priests were/are true bishops, with the sacramental power to ordain true priests. The validity of the marriage depends on it! These sacraments are valid, but illicit. All rights reserved. Part II,” but in a nutshell, it’s possible sometimes that a sacrament is truly conferred (meaning that it’s valid), but it shouldn’t have been conferred (meaning it’s illicit). This is because the marriages aren’t being celebrated in the parish church by a properly delegated cleric—so they are invalid for lack of canonical form. The faith comes before the Mass. While most engaged Catholics have no idea how serious the need for this delegation really is, priests do. Since they have no faculties to hear confessions, SSPX clergy cannot validly absolve penitents in the confessional. How Many Masses Can a Priest Say on Sundays? But to this condition must be added another of supreme importance and essential to make it a law: it must be for the common good. The Sacraments that the Society distribute/ confer are most certainly valid for those of us who are Confessing, receiving Communion, marrying, receiving Baptism, Confirmation, or Holy Orders. Pope Francis has fully regularized the Society of St Pius X (SSPX), James Bogle, the ex-president of Una Voce International, told Gloria.tv (video HERE). The diocesan bishop, in whose territory SSPX priests may reside, is responsible for the spiritual well-being of the Catholic faithful entrusted to his care (cf cc. Anointing of the Sick. What many may not know: The Lefebvrist Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) considers the Paul VI rite of episcopal consecration to be valid (for proof, see their Angelus article on the matter here, but be aware that it has been refuted in the articles we link above). VATICAN (ChurchMilitant.com) - Pope Francis is extending special permissions he granted last year to the Priest Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) regarding the sacrament of … They may put a sign out front saying, “Saint Andrew’s Roman Catholic Church,” or suchlike, but canonically, it is not a parish church, which can only be constituted by the diocesan bishop (c. 515). Are They Excommunicated? How Many Masses Can a Priest Say on Sundays? Valid means, yes they work, but illicit means current Catholic authorities say you shouldn’t … Sanctions, Part III, addressed this issue himself back in 2009. Sadly, however, this is not the case! This article was originally published in 2013, and the law regarding the validity of confessions heard by members of the SSPX was changed in 2016. If the information on this website has helped you, please consider making a contribution so that it can continue to help others. Still, it’s crucial to keep in mind that while aesthetics are undeniably important, they are not everything. Benedict XVI addressed this issue himself back in 2009: As long as the Society [of Saint Pius X] does not have a canonical status in the Church, its ministers do not exercise legitimate ministries in the Church…. The founder of the SSPX, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. Why is Google hiding the posts on this website in its search results? Neal Webster consecrated Fr. Can a Priest Administer the Sacrament of Confirmation? So how do SSPX priests fit into this equation? The Society is also allowed to ordain to the priesthood… I think they never showed their hands on this issue. Let’s say that a Catholic enters St. Margaret’s Church and sees a light on in the confessional. Which Mass Fulfills My Sunday Obligation? However, please allow me to emphasize that the SSPX is in a state of formal heresy and formal schism. Orthodox sacraments are valid, and provide some unity. OTHER ARTICLES AND FILES RELEVANT TO THE SSPX: The Catholic Teaching that a heretic cannot be a valid pope [PDF file] You don’t need to be a priest, or a Catholic, or even a Christian to baptize someone! Their sacramental ministry is illicit, or illegal. Refusing First Holy Communion to Children Who Are Ill-Prepared, Ecclesia Supplet: Making Invalid Sacraments Valid, Invalid Baptisms and Unaccountable Clergy. [email protected] The only way to have moral certitude of valid sacraments is to assist at the traditional rite of Mass. As has been discussed in great detail in “Can a Bishop Forbid a Priest to Say Mass?” a validly ordained priest always possesses the power to consecrate the Eucharist, and thus to celebrate a valid Mass. Bogle stressed that the SSPX and the sacraments administrated by them, including marriages and confessions, have been formally recognized by Francis. When a person is dying, any priest validly and licitly absolves him of sins, even if the priest has no faculties whatsoever, c. Neal Webster mangles the essential words necessary for validity Big news out of Boston, Kentucky: This past Wednesday, July 29, 2020, Bp. We’ll look at what the Code of Canon Law has to say about validly celebrating the sacraments of Penance and Marriage in the next column. (Note that the priest in the confessional was truly a priest! Part I – The SSPX Is Not in Schism With the recent coronavirus problem, many faithful Catholics are faced with a dilemma in their parish. So far, so good. This is a case of “common error,” as anybody walking into the church and seeing the priest in the confessional would reasonably assume that the priest can hear confessions. If they’re not valid, then every sacrament he performs is invalid regardless of his “intent”. As we saw in “Does a Catholic Wedding Have to be Held in a Catholic Church?” Catholics are required to observe canonical form when they marry. As has been seen before in “Do Converts Have to be Rebaptized?” and other columns that addressed this sacrament, baptism is the easiest sacrament to administer validly. This is, however, definitely not the case with the remaining two sacraments, which cannot always be celebrated validly by all clerics everywhere—far from it! They do not have authority to minister to the Catholic faithful, because such authority can only be given to them by lawful church superiors—and to this day, they still don’t have any lawful church superiors! The SSPX ignores this prohibition by continuing to claim a state of necessity, which the Society says requires that it offer the sacraments for the good of the Church and the salvation of souls. In the case of a priest hearing confessions without the faculty to do so, canon 144 can apply too. (Part I of this article on the SSPX was posted on August 1, 2013, and can be read here.). The very next canon, however, provides a qualification: for the valid absolution of sins, the minister must not only be an ordained priest—he must also have the faculty to exercise the power of order on the penitent (c. 966.1). In general, SSPX clergy certainly think so! As we saw in “Are They Excommunicated? Additionally, SSPX bishops can validly administer Confirmation and Holy Orders. And since this can constitute “common error,” the Church can supply the faculty under canon 144. The SSPX was founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and is dedicated to the formation of priests and in … But I have to say I disagree with Louie that Vatican always consider the Sacraments of SSPX are valid. Does a Catholic Wedding Have to be Held in a Catholic Church? Once again, however, Summorum pontificum did not bring with it a regularization of the status of the SSPX in the Church; in fact, the document doesn’t mention the SSPX at all. Such an unequivocal statement by the Vicar of Christ inherently carries with it the assumption that these canonically unrecognized, illegitimate ministers have no faculties! Consequently, as we saw in “Can a Bishop Forbid a Priest to Say Mass?” a bishop can order a priest who is visiting his diocese not to say Mass or administer the sacraments there. As we saw in Part I, SSPX priests are able to celebrate validly the sacraments of Baptism, Holy Eucharist (because they can celebrate a valid Mass), and Anointing of the Sick. We can see that while the Church enforces its rules, there are loopholes in certain specific circumstances, thanks to canon 144. At the same time, however, this doesn’t necessarily imply that the sacraments administered by clergy in the SSPX are invalid. Not necessarily. She founded this website to provide clear answers to canonical questions asked by ordinary Catholics, without employing all the mysterious legalese that canon lawyers know and love. Scholars have written thousands of pages analyzing the way that this generic assertion is—and isn’t—applicable in real life. Why is Google hiding the posts on this website in its search results? (The exception to this rule is in danger of death, as was discussed in the abovementioned column. The Church supplies, in both the internal and external forum, the executive power of governance in common error, in positive and probable doubt, whether of fact or of law. Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. As canon 1108.1 states clearly, for validity, a marriage must be celebrated in the presence of two witnesses, and also the local bishop, the pastor of the parish, or another priest (or deacon) delegated by either of them. Consequently, if a Catholic marries in a ceremony conducted by an SSPX priest, the marriage is invalid, for lack of canonical form. But according to canon 144, the couple in these circumstances (which constitute a “doubt of fact”) doesn’t need to worry, because even if the retired priest didn’t have the necessary faculty, it was supplied by the law itself. This general stance has been echoed by some in the SSPX as well, who do not appear overly anxious to regularize their status in the Church. Obviously, therefore, some significant SSPX-related events took place during the papacy of Benedict XVI—but even more have been going on behind the scenes. Doesn’t anyone find that weird though? With the rare exception of absolution in danger of death (discussed in “Can All Priests Always Hear Confessions?”), priests of the SSPX do not administer any of the sacraments licitly to the people who approach them. A: It would have been marvelous to be able to respond to John that the priests of the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) were now fully united to Rome, and thus had a status comparable to the members of any other religious institute in the Church. Ordination. An SSPX priest I really trust says that they are valid. Joseph Pfeiffer a bishop for the SSPX-resistance. Since that is not the case with these priests, these sacraments are invalid. Cathy Caridi, J.C.L., is an American canon lawyer who practices law and teaches in Rome. (As we saw in “Clergy and Summer Vacation,” that is his right!) Can All Priests Always Hear Confessions?”. The couple, and their family and friends who attend, all assume the same thing. The Church supplies the jurisdiction for those of us who have nowhere else to turn. Let’s say that the retired priest interprets the delegation the same way that the pastor did, namely, that it is valid until the pastor’s return on September 1. The SSPX priest is presumably a validly ordained cleric; but for the validity of a Catholic marriage, ordination is not sufficient. It asserts the right of all Catholic priests to celebrate the traditional Latin Mass, as well as the newer Novus Ordo Mass. Why is it the Orthodox are considered to have faculties (valid sacraments) while completely in schism and the SSPX who are “floating” do not have such faculties (some valid sacraments others not)? 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 … But that’s because in the case of the five sacraments just discussed, the priest (or bishop) doesn’t require anything other than the power conferred on him by his ordination (or episcopal consecration) in order to truly administer the sacrament. As a result, some of their sacraments would not be valid (particularly confession and marriage). Ordinations of priests/deacons and consecrations of bishops are illicit. With all that in mind, what is an ordinary lay-Catholic to do? Even while they were still under excommunication, these true bishops in turn could validly ordain priests. Canon 966.2 notes that this faculty is given to a priest either by the law itself, or by competent ecclesiastical authority. The SSPX have erected their own churches in countries all over the world, but they are not parish churches. The priest in this case didn’t have the faculty (and in this imaginary situation, the priest himself knew that, too)—but for the spiritual wellbeing of the penitent(s), the Church supplied it. It’s a nightmarish situation, isn’t it? One must have the greatest possible moral certitude, as … As a general rule, they reference Ecclesia supplet as the basic foundation for their argument. The Virus and the Bishops: Twisting a Vatican Document to Further an Agenda. Let’s look at the seven sacraments one by one, and see whether clergy of the SSPX are indeed able to confer them validly. It follows logically that the SSPX priest who maintains such a church is not the pastor of the territorial parish—and thus he has no authority to celebrate weddings as per canon 1108.1, mentioned above. Sacraments are like salad — within limits, you can add or leave out certain parts and still have a salad, or a sacrament. Consequently if an SSPX priest performs a baptism in the approved manner and with the proper intention, the person is really and truly baptized. In other words, since these clerics have been given no authorization by competent ecclesiastical authorities to minister to the faithful, their ministry is illegal. 986.2.). Maybe he is a former theology professor at the diocesan seminary, whose faculties were revoked by his bishop after he stubbornly persisted in teaching questionable moral theology to the seminarians. Why Would a Catholic Cleric Desecrate an Altar? Holy Eucharist. So did the Catholic who entered his confessional really receive absolution? If you search the internet you are bound to find very confident sounding answers to this question from various “experts.” These answers are typically couched in most impressive canonical terms. 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