"ADVENT EMBER SATURDAY" Traditional Latin Mass in the Archdiocese of Toronto

Friday, 4 September 2015

The Pope's words on the SSPX confessions were not "magic" and the two little words that are looming on the horizon - all in the name of "mercy"

This writer has no authority to pronounce on the SSPX. The point of this blogpost is to relieve frustration and point out the ridiculousness of the whole situation. The whole affair is a circus and Rome is as much at fault, maybe more, than the SSPX itself.  


Whenever I got into a discussion about the Sacrament of Penance and the Society of St. Pius X, my brain would always hurt. On one hand, we have the obvious canonical jurisdictional issues of the local Ordinary and "Faculties" and on the other hand we had the consistent position of the SSPX on the supplied jurisdiction by the Church due to an emergency. Ultimately, one has to consider the "mercy" of God the Father to the humility and contriteness of the Penitent, confessing. That emergency clearly existed at the time that Archbishop Lefebvre consecrated the four bishops, it surely declined after Pope Benedict XVI efforts, particularly with Summorum Pontificum; though, I should think, it is may be raising its head again.

The Pope's acknowledging of the validity of the penitent's confession is a recognition that their Sacraments were valid all along for the very reason the SSPX has always claimed. There is no "magic" with the Pope's announcement, either they are valid or they are not. There is no magic about the date that they become "valid" of December 8 and nothing magic a year later when they theoretically do not. No, they are valid after December 8, 2015 and they will be valid in 2017 for the same reason and they are valid today just as they were valid last week and twenty years ago. Some people whom I love and respect take a different position. I do not agree with them. I do not attend or chant at the Chapel of the SSPX in Toronto. I did in the past. I received Holy Communion. I did not go to Confession because I had a Confessor elsewhere. I did not doubt the sincerity of the good people there who did go. They were living a life an apparent grace due to it and who was I to judge? 

If the Pope has validated their Confessions, then logic would follow that their marriages must be valid as are their Confirmations, Baptisms would have always been, regardless. Further, the Mass at the SSPX, while always valid, must now also be licit! Logic would presume it. If a person goes to Confession to an SSPX priest, one would presume they would go to Mass too in their chapels. One plus one is indeed two and the Pope knows that and now so does everyone else interested in this issue. The Mass at the Society of St. Pius X chapels is not only valid, it is licit because if there Confessions are, how can the Holy Mass not be. It is illogical to think otherwise.

What the Pope has done by this masterstroke is undermine his episcopal brethren by removing their ability to use the jurisdictional argument on their local levels. The recent Bishop of Madison's letter is now moot. He also affirms, though unwittingly, that the Church is in disaster mode and has been. Everything the SSPX has ever argued on is right and correct. They have not changed one iota of the Catholic faith of my young childhood or that of my parents or my ancestors.

The Pope has used the same canonical juridical provision for his decision as the SSPX have always claimed. They were right all along and he knows it.

The Pope has acknowledged what is a fact; the SSPX is not in schism. If they were in schism, then the issues relating to them would be under Christian Unity and ecumenical offices with the Curia. They are not, they are in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for the very reason that they are Catholics and not in schism. One plus one is two. Logic friends, logic. After all, the Church long ago validated that the Sacraments of actual schismatics, the Orthodox are valid. The local juridical argument against the SSPX priests never held any water and Francis has confirmed it.

So, good for Francis, Bishop of Rome. The Pope has thrown a bone, so to speak. to more traditional Catholics. He has, most likely unwittingly, revealed what has been spouted by the hierarchy for fifty years has been a house of cards and a fraud.

But don't be fooled friend.

This is only a bone to get everyone distracted off the real agenda.

It is coming in 30 days and it is about two words that are not so little.

Two. Very. Big. Words.

Over. My. Dead. Body.

19 comments:

S. Armaticus said...

Beautifully written and logically solid.

With respect to magic and the "two words", they are "INTRINSICALLY DISORDERED" and the magic will entail the heretics trying to magically purge them from the Code of Canon Law and the Catholic Catechism.

But our side, paraphrasing Churchill:

"shall defend our Faith, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.

Anil Wang said...

Vox,

Of course they aren't in schism. You can only lift the excommunications of Catholics. And the SSPX priests and bishops do have the abilities to perform the sacraments.

The key issue is that their canonical status is irregular and we don't have a word to describe their current situation so each person has to make up words and concepts to fill in the gaps.

For me, the best description of the status of the SSPX is that it is a lay society (since it isn't part of the hierarchy) run by laicized priests that are in discussions to regain their faculties. As such, the Pope can grant or revoke the faculties of their priests at his whim.


But getting to your other points. Marriages of the SSPX would not be valid unless they are part of the Catholic hierarchy. Since the Council of Trent, Catholics are bound by canonical form. So it doesn't matter if a Catholic is married by an Orthodox priest or a laicized priest or Pastor Bob of the Loonie Baptist Church of Elvis. All that counts is that the Catholic has a dispensation from a bishop of the Catholic hierarchy and a priest of that bishop is present at the ceremony. IMO, his is one area of pastoral practise the Council of Trent did is inconsistent with doctrine and needs to be revoked, as does canon lawyer Ed Peters. But that's another story.

But even before the Council of Trent, such *outside the hierarchy* marriages were treated as a mortal sin that required confession to regularize the marriage.

TLM said...

I think the pronouncement about the SSPX is more than just about simple 'distraction'. It's about broadening the Pope's base, just in time for the intrinsically disordered decision from Rome. If the Pope is so merciful as to bring the SSPX back into the fold, who can complain that he is also just as merciful as to bringing gay unions into full communion in the Church of Christ? His 'one big tent' approach. Trads have no reason to complain when the Church is 'merciful' to EVERYONE. If this wasn't just a 'political' move to put EVERYONE in the same sinister trap, I will EAT MY HAT. Pretty clever if you think about it.

Roveet said...

I'm afraid I don't follow your argument at all, Vox.

You're right, this isn't about "magic" it is a matter of "logic" and the way we work this out is through the framework of Canon Law, which is the embodiment of the power of the Roman Pontiff to "bind and loosen." These questions cannot be considered without reference to particular law.

Canon 966 of the Code of Canon Law states:
"The valid absolution of sins requires that the minister have, in addition to the power of orders, the faculty of exercising it for the faithful to whom he imparts absolution."

Faculties are granted by the "competent authority" (i.e. the local bishop); The Code explicitly states, however, that Bishops can hear confessions anywhere, provided they have not been specifically deprived of the faculty to do so by the diocesan bishop. The Pope or Cardinals can hear confessions anywhere, regardless.

The Pope, as supreme legislator, has in effect, extended the priests of the society the faculties to hear confession for one year.

As Fr. Zuhlsdorf has pointed out, the Pope's act of mercy in affording the SSPX priests the faculty to hear confessions is an gesture of goodwill towards those affiliated with the SSPX. However, a competent authority (i.e., the Pope) can revoke faculties just as easily as he grants them. The Pope's actions in no way concern or validate the Society's arguments that there is an "emergency" situation which supplies the bishops of the SSPX jurisdiction to grant SSPX priests faculties to hear confession and preside over marriages.


As for the questions of whether there is an "emergency" and whether the priests of the Society possess "supplied jurisdiction", my view (for what it's worth) is that except in some cases where bishops are manifest heretics and one is unable to find a local priest whom one can be reasonably sure has the correct sacramental intent, there is no emergency. What matters is that one is able to access the sacrament, and even if Fr. Polyester down the street has altar girls and folk music and pink banners all over the church, if he says those words "I absolve you" and has the intent of doing so, then your sins are are forgiven, and to hold otherwise verges on Donatism. Even if you suspect Fr. Polyester is a heretic (and I don't think suspicion is enough), in a big diocese like Toronto, there are plenty of priests whom you can be sure are orthodox.

Sandpiper said...

My brain is full! Thanks VC for sharing your analysis. You and the misters Armaticus and Mundabor have helped bring things into clear focus. Of course "intrinsically disordered" must be expunged from the catechism! The pope, in his ambition, is quite transparent. Mr. Armaticus has written of some unseemly facets having to do with the filthy lucre of the German church as well in this shameful charade of a Synod. Fascinating reading, to be sure! Hang onto your hats, folks for we are in for a wild ride. Holy Mary and Good St Joseph, pray for us!

Patty said...

@Roveet:

Fr. Z has positioned himself as not believing there is a crisis and he now has to continue to tow the line of that position. But there is a clear crisis within the Church as indicated by priests, bishops and faithful having to petition the Holy Father to speak clearly as regards marriage. The necessity of said petition is not something which evolved overnight, but the result of internal Church policies of ambiguity that have left the faithful with clergy who openly oppose and teach that which is not in union with immutable doctrine.

This is why many wisely opt to avoid the slow creep of heterodoxy that can and does happen within diocese across the country. (Who are we to judge those who seek orthodoxy because they know themselves to be weak, perhaps, and unable to withstand the onslaught of the constant abrasion of their Faith when forced to participate in that which scandalizes them? Or perhaps those wisely seeking orthodoxy in full are the truly prudent ones? Did not some of the Jews flee to the hills when that which was against God invaded Jerusalem? And did not those same Jews come down from the hills at the proscribed time to defend the Faith? Did those persecuted within the city walls decry them as traitors or deserters? No.)

Also, while the absolution you speak of would indeed be valid, I'm not about to entrust my children to Fr. Polyester to be absolved. Why? Because in too many cases the risk of being told sin is not sin exists and of bad advice of how to proceed in one's spiritual life represents a real and present danger to the Faith. The well is poisoned, friend, and the wary who have drank and become ill in the past have a duty to exercise extreme caution. Having been raised in a parish in San Jose CA wherein the pastor was a class-A pedophile who made great use of face-to-face 'reconciliation', I'm not about to even venture there. No way.

So the 'just cause' of seeking orthodoxy is justified. Hence the Church supplies. And thank God, She does. It is precisely because of this mercy of God that many, who would otherwise be lost, are practicing the Faith and learning daily to love Him more

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

That emergency clearly existed at the time that Archbishop Lefebvre consecrated the four bishops,..

Except it didn't as the Pope, via Bishop Gantin, told Mons Lefebvre prior to the consecrations.

The Pope is he who has authority to interpret Canon La, and he did, and lefevbre did what he did anyways.

Mr. Wang says the sspx are not in schism but Cardinal Mueller, Prefect of the CDF (and head of The PCED) recently said publicly they are a schism.

One will have to chose to follow those with authority or those who actualise their own will; it it ain;t complicated.

Franciscus has done a beautiful thing.

Michael Lofton said...

I'm trying to understand how the claim that the SSPX always had the ability to absolve sins logically follows from what the Holy Father wrote. I understand the state of emergency argument but my question is where does Pope Francis affirm they always had this ability in what he wrote?

Maudie N Mandeville said...

Yes, "a bone" or a quid pro quo for what is coming. How soon afterward does the Catechism get reworked so as to adulterate Mt 19:6 as they did with Gen 9:6.

Vox Cantoris said...

I believe it flows from the fact that he could only have granted it because Canon Law already provided it in the SSPX's fundamental argument that they always had it because the Church Herself supplies the jurisdiction in a state of emergency which in fact existed and may return with a vengeance.

Karl Rahner Jr. said...

"Valid" or "not valid." That's all Catholics care about, but the distinction is useless. The Orthodox are right about this preoccupation with legalisms.

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

Dear Vox. Well, of course a schism proposes that the Church axiomatically does what it desires it do even though the Pope, Pope Saint John Paul II, said it didn't.

The is not complicated.

The SSPX makes claims the highest possible authority on Earth in The One Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church says are unjust, illegal, and unsubstantiated claims; thus, there was no emergency as any sentient Catholic had the sacraments available to them anywhere in America or in any other jurisdiction the vagus bishos and priests of the sspx operated, and continue to operate illicitly.

When Joe the tax dodger claims the 16th amendment was not legally adopted (it wasn't) and he refuses to pay taxes, does the SCOTUS take him seriously and grant him standing to make the case? Does anyone think his authority in a constitutional dispute exists?

The sspx schism, of course, has always tried to justify its schism citing canon lawyers favorable to its cause but all of those canonist combined (and multiplied by a gazillion) are invisible against the divinely constituted universal authority and jurisdiction of the Pope.

The Church says one thing, the sspx schism says another and you side with the schism against the on true authority.

So, why any longer pretend we need a church? Let's just canon lawyer-up and justify whatever it is we desire.

Nat Ons said...

'After all, the Church long ago validated that the Sacraments of actual schismatics, the Orthodox are valid.'

But, dear VC, they are not licit. The Catholic should not treat the Eastern Rite Offering as if going from the saecular clergy offering of the Holy Mass to a religious order's priest offering the same the Holy Sacrifice, or going to the nearest Anglican Ordinariate church, each with episcopal licence. In emergency, yes, of course, but an emergency does not make for a norm only an exception; and it this need of normalisation that is not completely altered even by the Sovereign Pontiff's extra-ordinary gift, in the cause of Mercy, and a Jubilee spirit.

It was far beyond my wildest dreams to hear of this blessing extended toward the SSPX, and of their (more or less joyful) acceptance of it. What we have, as you say, is a repudiation of the episcopal fig leaf in refusing to extend facilities to the SSPX as a matter of justice; natural enough though justifiable suspicion has been, until Rome finally sorts out its considered response to the Society's schismatic act, condemned by St John Paul II, and prompted by the 'emergency' that his unnecessary delays created in securing a thriving future for the Society. All this is exposed, not to judgement alone, important though this remains, but also to mercy, in an act that I, for one, had not thought Pope Francis would make (but prayed most earnestly that he should do so - or could - and now has done so); normalisation cannot not be easily rejected (all other things considered) merely further delayed .. not least at Rome but also by the activities of the Society's more motor-mouthed exponents.

May God Almighty pour many more graces on you and through you in your witness to the Faith, as He has done.

GBOP

Lynda said...

Thank you Vox. A voice of reason and common sense and Catholic sense. The grounds for the "grant" of validity given on the face of the document purporting to effect, or stating the intention to effect, the "grant" are such that they must have existed prior to the "Year of Peace". If the necessity exists during the arbitration period of the year of peace, then it existed from the date of removal of faculties to date.

Ma Tucker said...

Roveet
You have the right of it. It has been my experience that there is a refusal to look reality in the face and call it what it is. I know quite a few SSPX attendees who know full well the sspx priests have no faculties but claim the Church supplies in the case where you mistaking think the priest has the faculty. On this basis they go to SSPX priests for confession. They can't see the problem with this. They know he does not have the faculty but pretend they are the ficticious penitent who is unaware of this fact and are therefore covered by "the Church supplies". I suppose it is possible that they are convinced by this strange contortion and thus satisfy the criterion anyway but it hurts the brain trying to understand the hoops they throw their minds into in order to circumvent Church law.

Happy for the year Pope Francis has given them. Please God it will do them great good and we might look forward to future regularisation DV.

Ma Tucker said...

Roveet
You have the right of it. It has been my experience that there is a refusal to look reality in the face and call it what it is. I know quite a few SSPX attendees who know full well the sspx priests have no faculties but claim the Church supplies in the case where you mistakingly think the priest has the faculty. On this basis they go to SSPX priests for confession. They can't see the problem with this. They know he does not have the faculty but pretend they are the ficticious penitent who is unaware of this fact and are therefore covered by "the Church supplies". I suppose it is possible that they are convinced by this strange contortion and thus satisfy the criterion anyway but it hurts the brain trying to understand the hoops they throw their minds into in order to circumvent Church law.

Happy for the year Pope Francis has given them. Please God it will do them great good and we might look forward to future regularisation DV.

Barnum said...

Karl,

I am cherry picking here, but as a layman. as far as I know the issues are licity and validity. If the Orthodox are so carefree, why are they chafed when Catholics inhabit their jurisdictions and set up Catholic dioceses? And how comes it that JPII chafed them, at least the Russki Orthodox Church, the Pope who recognized the "two lungs?"

Aged parent said...

It was always Hamish Fraser's contention that Humanae Vitae was a bone thrown to Catholics prior to the suppressing of the Ancient Rite Mass. It was meant to build up papal support just before the the ax was to fall on that beautiful Rite.

Carla said...

My thinking exactly!