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 and Executive Director 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 seven children.