Many Catholics have heard stories about a group called the “SSPX” (The Priestly Society of St. Pius X) without ever really knowing much about their story, the context of their situation, or the complexities and nuances involved. They have become almost a Catholic version of the bogeyman, their name used as a short-hand description of any schismatic mentality that tends toward the older way of doing things within the Church or in various degrees rejects the authority of the sitting pope or his recent predecessors.
In reality, their situation is far less outrageous than many would have us believe, though it is still unfortunate. I have attempted recently to outline the confusing statements from Rome over the past few decades concerning their irregular status – a situation which became more complex following the lifting of the excommunications against their four bishops by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
I think it is also beneficial to see something about who they are and what it is they do. In today’s feature, I wrote about the rise of the demonic in the world, most specifically manifested through the various public events in which individuals have been worshiping Satan. The most recent of these, held in Oklahoma City this past weekend, was met with protest and prayer from Catholics around the world. Yesterday, the SSPX released a video of their own response to the Satanic Mass in Oklahoma. It’s a beautiful and moving testament to the faith of the SSPX and its members in the power of the Church, of her sacraments, and of Mary.
If you didn’t know who the group was that produced this video, would you have any reason to believe — any reason at all — that they weren’t fully Catholic?
I think it’s important for us in situations of such delicacy to humanize rather than demonize. To understand the situation as well as we can, and in this case, to see how much more we have in common than we have things that set us apart.
We should all pray that the SSPX and Rome can find a way to reconcile that compromises nothing of authentic Catholicism. The Church needs their clear understanding of our faith, their doctrinal and liturgical orthodoxy, and their devotion; the SSPX needs the fullness of perfect communion with the Church, sacramental jurisdiction and structural regularization, and acceptance from their fellow Catholics. Because that’s what they truly are: fellow Catholics.
This is a wound that needs healing. In a time of darkness, with forces tearing apart at the very fabric of the Church, we can’t afford to have true soldiers for Christ outside the garrison.
Please, Lord. Bring us into unity with each other.
UPDATE: I did not realize that the meeting between between Bishop Fellay of the SSPX and Cardinal Müller of the CDF happened today. This has been an intractable situation for many years, and we can reasonably expect it to continue to be one. Still, probability aside, please offer your rosary today for the tentative progress reported to result in a positive outcome.
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Crisis Magazine, EWTN, Huffington Post Live, The Fox News Channel, Foreign Policy, and the BBC. Steve and his wife Jamie have eight children. You can find more of his writing at his Substack, The Skojec File.
From a trad forum, some items which many may not know about the SSPX;
There are so many uplifting and great things within the Society of St. Pius X. It gets its criticism, but the purpose of this thread is for myself, and hopefully others, to share uplifting and positive things they have experienced from the SSPX, or that they know secondhand.
1. The Archbishop’s sister founded the Sisters of the Society of St. Pius X. Their mother was a stigmatist. Her confessor published a book about how he believed she was a saint.
2. The Archbishop who founded the Society had extraordinary supernatural and even preternatural gifts. He was a very simple and humble man, almost dull at times, but it was because of his charity, orthodoxy, prudence, and tremendous insight on all things practical that drew people to him, whereby he ran and founded seminaries, engineered countless church structures, built up the missions in Africa, organized the International Coalition of Council Fathers (the most traditional bishops at Vatican II), founded the SSPX, etc, etc.
3. The wife of the president of the Philippines has attended Mass at the SSPX priory in Manila, where she consecrated the Philippines to the Immaculate Heart.
4. The Society encompasses not just the priests, but the sisters, brothers, and oblates around the world.
5. Two brothers (ie siblings, not religious brothers) rode their mountain bikes completely around the world, raising money for an SSPX orphanage in India.
6. The Angelus Press is one of the top publishers in the world of traditional Catholic books.
7. There are SSPX priests who teach the TLM in NO seminaries.
8. There are dioceses that have a positive working relationship with the local SSPX.
9. All the rosary bouquets presented to the Holy Father over the years.
10. The 2000 pilgrimage to Rome. Hundreds of priests and the Society bishops walked 2 by 2 into St Peters square to manifest their attachment to Rome.
11. The many SSPX retreat centers. An SSPX retreat, based on the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius, has helped many people grow in holiness, discern their state in life, prepare for marriage/confirmation/etc, etc.
12. SSPX priories/schools. Most priories have a school. Plus daily Mass, chanted Offices, strong parish communities. If you are looking to live near a traditional Catholic community with a school and daily Mass, and are willing to relocate, there are many to choose from.
13. One is St Mary’s, Kansas. 2000 + parishioners/town residents, daily Masses, chanted Offices, many priests, brothers, and sisters. K-12 school. Not coed. 4 year college. Classical liberal arts curriculum.
14. Many pilgrimages around the world. A big one in Bohol, Philippines, and Chartres, France. In US, annual pilgrimages in Missouri, New York, etc.
15. The priests are generally excellent confessors and spiritual directors.
16. The SSPX operates several nursing homes.
17. For many years there had been an an annual Young Adult Gathering in Denver, through which many marriages have come about.
18. There are countless examples of the priests having positive relationships with priests and laity of the FSSP, diocese, etc.
19. Bishop Manat of Thailand, and Bishop Lazo of the Philippines, gave great support to the SSPX, themselves returning to the TLM in part because of the SSPX.
20. http://www.sspxsingles.com Not officially affiliated with the Society. My wife and I initially met on this free website.
Don’t forget the many lay tertiaries (SSPX Third Order) in the U.S. and abroad.
In our diocese, the bishop sends our SSPX chapel all of the correspondence and requests for prayers, disciplines, etc which he sends to the other parishes of our diocese (Syracuse, NY).
We celebrate the date of Sept 25th, the dedication of our diocesan Cathedral, as a First Class Feast with a Solemn high Mass.
When I read that, as a missionary in Gabon, Fr. Lefebvre was a great mechanic, fixing generators and vehicles, I started to ask for his intercession when I came upon a perplexing engineering problem. My prayers have always been answered.
21. In France, surprisingly the general populace has been hugely supportive of Archbishop Lefebvre and the Society of St. Pius X.
22. There are many monasteries, convents, and traditional orders around the world attached to the SSPX.
23. There are not a small number of prelates in the Vatican supportive of the SSPX, as well as many bishops around the world. The Society has a good relationship with many of these prelates.
24. Some of the greatest missionary activity in the world, in particular in third world countries, is from the SSPX.
25. This is especially evident throughout the Asian district, especially in the Philippines.
26. A wonderful SSPX organization is ACIM, which organizes medical missions.
27. There are five SSPX seminaries in the world in Switzerland, Germany, France, the US, and Argentina.
28. The Society runs two universities, one in St Mary’s, Kansas, US, the other in Australia.
29. There are many selfless priests around the world who serve parishes, who are not members but are formally affiliated with the Society.
30. Annual Christ the King festival in St Mary’s in late October. Special Mass, procession, activities. On all four sides of the school/parish outdoor square, dozens of tables line up featuring food, arts and crafts, costumes, etc from a different Catholic country.
31. The Society has always emphasized the importance of traditional Catholic schools, founding many throughout the world. Classical curriculum. Only the traditional Catholic religion. Homeschooling is supported, but a clear and consistent message is the teaching of the Church on the necessity of Catholic schools.
32. Adventurous, traveling priests. Every weekend hundreds of Society priests are traveling Mass circuits around the world, showing extraordinary stamina and self-sacrifice.
33. Extraordinary attachment to Eternal Rome and the papacy.
34. Silver City monastery in New Mexico, affiliated with the Society. The monks built their monastery themselves, which is very beautiful and set in an idealic setting. Arguably the most faithful Benedictine monastery to the Rule of St. Benedict.
35. Our Lady of La Salette Academy for boys in Illinois. Half of graduates enter the seminary.
36. SSPX priests are greatly united on the doctrinal positions and overall mission of their Society.
37. Many SSPX families with many children.
38. Promotion of the Social Kingship of Christ, officially Catholic nations, principles of monarchy and aristocracy, the Old Order of Christian Europe, distributism, etc.
39. Several scouting organizations, summer camps, summer visits of monasteries and convents, and many other youth-oriented activities.
40. Another sister of Archbishop Lefebvre refounded several Carmelite convents loyal to Tradition.
I honestly love the SSPX and I hope they can enter the Church soon. They would provide such a beautiful quality to the Church that we have lost in the last fifty years.
Plus, how many times have we found ourselves in a new town and needing to go to Mass, we of course, being good Catholics, have attended the closest parish to us. However, with all the clapping and liturgical abuses, we come out of Church with a headache and we feel worse than before? God Willing, if the SSPX, enter the Church, we can have more option for our Sunday obligation.
Also, it will annoy the Modernists and that is always a good thing!
You come out of those happy clappy Masses with a headache or a *heart*ache?
The SSPX is in the Church. Please understand this. I am not a member of the SSPX but I do know this. Why else would Pope Benedict XVI have referred to the Rome/SSPX discussion having to do with healing at the “heart of the Church”? Even the most recent Comminique from the Vatican spoke of “imperfect reconciliation” and not “imperfect or non-communion”. Words and how we use them matter, and even though we may have good intentions we must realize that we need to be careful in how we state things because our words may present reality as being different than it is.
I was really hoping that under Pope Benedict’s reign, the SSPX would be fully reconciled and regularized. They have so much to offer. I’ve no hope that they will be welcomed under the current pontiff.
I personally avoid their masses, as their local chapter is filled with total nutters, and the irregular canonical status gives me pause, but I’d have no issue with marching in a procession like this if they organized it.
Personally, I believe it was not God’s will that they became fully reconciled during Pope Benedict’s pontificate. If they had been, they would have been ordered to cease and desist under the current pope. In God’s time…
I would be very amused if they reconciled under Pope Francis, just to see the reactions it would get from both sides. I would love for it to happen, but in a way that allows them to continue to offer the Extraordinary Form only.
Ask the Franciscans of the Immaculate how “amusing” the destruction of their order by Pope Francis is… The SSPX has nothing to gain right now by regularization, and everything to lose.
I worry about the current apostolic visitation that was just completed for the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. I fear that the pontifical right may be revoked, and additional changes may be made.
I also can see nothing to be gained at this time for the Society to be reconciled to the church. I think that how the ICKSP and the FSSP are treated will the next step in the suppression of the TLM. The Franciscan Friars of the Immaculata were accused of being “crypto Lebrevrests” what do you think he would do with actual “Lebrevrests”?
Also, the local ordinaries would have a field day closing down chapels and churches because that would be part of the deal of reconciling with Rome; submission to the local ordinaries. The diocese can shut down the chapels and churches claiming first that there are not enough people attending to justify the expense and number two that the chapels will be sold to pay for the sodomite priests problem.
What of the seminaries that the Society built? Cardinal Muller gave an interview in which he stated that they would be shut down and the seminarian sent home. Vocations are booming and if they were subjected to sodomite seminaries they would be destroyed.
I’m not an SSPXer but I can’t blame them for being “nutters”. They are practicing the faith as their Grams and Gramps did but THEY are on the outs? I think that would make me nutty too.
Oh, I certainly feel sorry for them, and what they had to go through. The changes in the late 60’s completely destroyed my mother’s faith. But the story of mine and their respective parishes is a bit… problematic.
My parish started in the late 90’s when a so-called “independent” priest formed it against the orders of the diocese, calling it St. Anthony of Padua Chapel. I understand his and his followers’ grievances; they were completely legitimate. Upon this priest’s death, the lay board voted to reconcile with the diocese, who assigned them a priest to exclusively say the mass according to the 1962 missal. The parish had problems with this priest, so they assigned another. They had issues with that priest, so the diocese gave permission to bring in either the FSSP or ICRSP. The board selected the ICRSP, who provided us with a good priest. About half of the parish left, because they thought the ICRSP were sell-outs, and the only organization they thought would suffice was the SSPX.
So, not being satisfied with the diocese giving them any of his priests they wanted, bringing in a TLM-only order to run the place, maintaining ownership of the church and granting it oratory status, providing bishops to perform confirmations in the 1962 rites, and even tolerating negotiations with a lay board until the ICRSP finally dissolved it 3 years later, that wasn’t enough. They wanted to be out of communion with Archbishop Meyers, who had been really generous in giving in to all of their demands. They wanted schism. So they bought an old protestant church 3 miles away, called it St. Anthony of Padua Chapel, and brought in the SSPX.
I’ve also met numerous SSPXers online and offline that think that the only organization that has any legitimate expression of the faith is the SSPX. My wife has had a few suggest she disobey her husband and take our children to an SSPX chapel, because going to an Institute parish puts their souls in danger. I can’t tolerate this sort of behavior around my children, the hostility towards other groups that they really ought to be allied with.
Let us hope your experience is not indicative of the majority of the SSPX. I suspect not.
I suspect not, myself. In my experience with SSPX priests, you seem to get a range. Rather than having a specific spirituality or charism, like a religious order would, they seem to exist to preserve tradition and the old mass, but otherwise are very similar to diocesan priests. You get good ones and bad ones, intellectual ones and not, etc. I suspect that the communities that attend their individual apostolate are varied as well. All I can personally speak about, however, are the locals, as those are who I’ve met.
Still ‘palming’ the Eucharist and trampling the Crumbs of Christ under foot with all your faggot prelates who are desperately trying to Solemnize Sodomy there, ‘uh, Mr. Man? And what do you do when your finished? Grind Him into the carpet with the “souls” of your shoes only to be vacuumed up later and thrown out to devil’s swamp as some such garbage with the rest of societies refuse, the dung, the rats, and the dead babies too? Or maybe ya’ll just mop Him up and squeegee down the crapper.
Oh, and don’t forget to make sure you force your wife to follow your example big guy; wouldn’t want anybody to think that your a hen henpecked wimp or anything like that. A child will never respect a father that treats his wife like a dingbat.
Who is your little screed directed at, exactly?
Fr. Paul Nicholson has chimed in on this article…predictably using the occasion of the SSPX’s demonstration to criticize…you guessed it…the SSPX.
“There Is Something Worse Than A Black Mass” (Classy!)
Interesting how he calls SSPX “protestant” but doesn’t call for the usual “unity in diversity” approach to mending divisions but rather the outmoded theology of “return”. Free agent “trad” priests. You never know what they’ll say next!
Nice clear and charitable post. I am not a committed partisan in the matter of The Priestly Society of St. Pius X. I neither disapprove nor approve of them because I think it is beyond capacity to do so but the hatred they inspire on the “tolerant” Catholic Left has always perplexed me and mollified my opinion of them but not their ongoing disobedience.
If the Catholic Left that has wrought so much horrid damage in the Church goes insane about them it is curious reaction from a group that shoves every aberrant, abhorrent and bizarre cultural trend down our collective throat at every opportunity with the shriek of tolerance.
I pray for their return because they need us and we need them. Christ desires we all be one.
Paul with diploma,
Tried to dare
And even scare
And dads with sons
Carrying their cross
Not counting the loss
While Paul hid
In the shade.
Where he helps breed
The heretics’ screed,
To shoot us
But from the first
Christ showed us the worst –
There’ll always be
Don’t fool with a mother’s nature!!
Mr. Skojec – if you are praying for the SSPX to ‘reconcile’ with Rome, you are praying for its eventual dismantling. There is absolutely no reason to think and every and all indications are, that when this happens (I believe it already has happened but it simply hasn’t been announced yet because Bsp. Fellay needs to figure out HOW to go about that) the SSPX will go the way of all other groups that have gone back to Rome; they are no longer able to offer the Mass in the so-called Extraordinary Form (which is the only form permissible since Pope St. Pius V decreed it as such in Quo Primum) and then the inexorable slide of the SSPX into the bowels of so-called ‘modernism’ – which is actually something else altogether but much too lengthy for a comment box. The Recusant has available a booklet titled “Primary Sources for Studying the Crisis in the SSPX” if anyone is interested in reading pieces from the mouths of the individual horses.
It would appear fr. Nicholson has been given the task of bemoaning and bewailing everything having to do with the SSPX. We can only guess why. Considering the Society has so few people in it, comparative to the billion claimed by Rome, why should Nicholson carry on about them, really?
All should remember, the modus operandi of the enemies of the Church has always been, ‘two steps forward, one step back’. This is to more easily (albeit in a ‘gradualistic’ way) process and prepare the mind for ‘things to come’.
I am associated with an SSPX chapel. The level of charity, empathy and broad mindedness in these comments below is really consoling and is much appreciated, especially since many ‘SSPXers’ feel rejected by their brethren and have most often been treated with undue harshness.
Thank you for taking the time to say so. The situation is an absolute scandal. I hope that it will be reconciled soon.
Thank you. You have been very kind and balanced in your assessments of the FSSPX.