Thursday, January 29, 2009

Lifting of the SSPX excommunications

There has been much comment on the lifting of the excommunication of the four bishops of the Society of St. Pius X. They got excommunicated by co-operating in their episcopal ordination by Archbishop Lefevre. Since this was against the will of the Holy Father and in defiance of him the automatic penalty was excommunication. The present Holy Father's act is not an approval of their actions but a response to their expressed wish for reconciliation and the Holy Father's own desire to heal the rift and restore the seamlessness of Christ's tunic (see Jn 19:23-24). There remains a lot to be done. Others have said this better than I (see here and here) My only observation is a statement of hope: that this society will now seek to have true dialogue with the Church's teaching as it has unfolded over the last forty years and that it will have the courage to turn away from understandings (e.g. as regards the Jewish faith) which can seem to be little more than thin intellectual camouflage for racism. Many changes wrought after the Council can be legitimately questioned but if the authority of a Council can be so easily set aside where will the Church end up? When a seamless garment has been torn who can restore its seamlessness?


Mark said...

I wonder whether, in looking at ways of bringing the Traditional Anglican Communion and the SSPX into the Catholic fold, Pope Benedict is also sending a message to the Orthodox churches - the message that Rome is open to exploring ecclesiological structures which afford a level of freedom and autonomy to ecclesial bodies who wish to preserve their authentic traditions and customs in communion with the Bishop of Rome?

Anonymous said...

It's important to understand that contrary to media reports the Pope has not "rehabilitated" Williamson but has merely lifted the excommunication that Williamson inter alia incurred lata sententiae for illicitly receiving episcopal orders without a papal mandate. The SSPX is still without canonical recognition, as it was suppressed in 1975. Bishop Williamson is still suspended a divinis. He has no jurisdiction, and never will. He is not even permitted to celebrate Mass! And bishops who received their episcopal orders illicitly are invariably forbidden from ever exercising jurisdiction, even when reconciled to the Church.

His statements have been repudiated by the SSPX and the General Superior of the organization has imposed a ban on him from speaking on secular topics: (

And the media's imputation to the SSPX of Nazism is calumnious. Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre (the founder of the SSPX) lost his father in a concentration camp, having worked as a spy for British Intelligence and the French Resistance and was responsible for helping smuggle out ex-prisoners in concentration camps

Tom said...

Mark: It is different I think with the Orthodox. They were never a part of the Latin or Roman rite and have always had their own tradition and jurisdictions. That said, perhaps the message to them is that Rome is serious about reconciliation and more importantly for the Orthodox that Rome is serious about recovering the fullness of her tradition. The Orthodox would not countenance a union with Rome, even after the issue of the Petrine Ministry is clarified, if Rome were not faithful to her roots. As I saw in Greece they have a slogan: 'Orthodoxy or death'.

Tom said...

Aodh: While "bishops who received their episcopal orders illicitly are invariably forbidden from ever exercising jurisdiction, even when reconciled to the Church" is true there are those hoping for a change and that SSPX will be granted a personal prelature.
As regards the charges of Nazism against the group they are unfair but their statement on their website leave them open to charges of anti-semitism. That Archbishop Lefevre's family suffered for their opposition to the Nazis I have heard elsewhere but (and I am NOT saying he was a Nazi or a racist) that does not automatically prove one is not a fascist. There were fascists who resisted the Nazis even to the point of hiding Jews (I have read of a Dutch Fascist anti-semite who did so - he hated the Germans more!). But this is off the point. The SSPX wants to come back into the fold and they should be welcomed but not without making sure they do not harbour beliefs incompatible with the faith - the same applies to us all I suppose!

Phineas Angus Rody said...

An Australian-based "denomination" with a URL and claims of 400,000 members when in Victoria (the most populous state) they have one congregation that meets in a nursing home, is probably not to be taken too seriously!

Furthermore they have stolen our acronym.

++P A Rody


Related Posts with Thumbnails