The History of the SSPX: Episode 5.2

Learn more about the SSPX's history in part 2 of this FAQ video.

In this second FAQ video about the "History of the Society of St. Pius X" we continue from where we left off in the first, with the 1974 Apostolic Visit to the Econe seminary which resulted in Archbishop Lefebvre's famous Declaration.

In spite of the positive report of the Apostolic Visitors, Archbishop Lefebvre was summoned to Rome where he was subjected to an impromptu interrogation by three cardinals. A few weeks later, the new bishop of Fribourg (the diocese where the SSPX originated), Bishop Pierre Maime, declared on May 6, 1975 that the Society of St. Pius X was suppressed. Because of the illegality of Bishop Maime's act, Archbishop Lefebvre appeals to Rome, but it is ignored.

During the "Hot Summer of 1975", the archbishop manifests his attachment to the Holy See by leading the Credo Pilgrimage to Rome accompanied by his priests and seminarians. While Rome continues in its silence concerning the SSPX's status, Archbishop Lefebvre is convinced that as the suppression of the priestly society was illegal, he must continue in forming priests. In 1976, he proceeds with the scheduled ordination of 13 priests and Rome responds by suspending Archbishop Lefebvre "a divinis", a declaration he regards as illegitimate.

Despite these black marks put upon the SSPX, it nevertheless continues to flourish rapidly throughout the world with new seminaries opened in Germany, the United States, Argentina and Australia. Its numbers also continue to grow with new priests, religious and third order members.

In 1987, the SSPX had spread to every continent on the globe, and in consideration of the priestly society's extensive apostolate and the necessity of a completely traditional bishop due to the post-conciliar crisis, Archbishop Lefebvre undertook discussion with Rome. Unfortunately in the end these talks were fruitless, for though the Holy See had agreed the SSPX could obtain a bishop, the Roman authorities continued to stall over the name and date for episcopal consecration.

Convinced of his duty as a Catholic bishop to ensure the transmission of the Faith and salvation of souls, as well as to ensure the continuance of the SSPX, Archbishop Lefebvre consecrated four bishops on June 30, 1988. It was subsequently declared that the archbishop and his newly-consecrated bishops had automatically incurred excommunication. However, this decree did not deter Archbishop Lefebvre in continuing his faithful work for the Catholic Church during his last remaining three years. Archbishop Lefebvre went to his eternal reward on March 25, 1991.

The SSPX continues faithfully in its mission for the Church and under the leadership of its Superior General, Bishop Bernard Fellay, the priestly society made a pilgrimage to Rome during the Jubilee Year of 2000 to manifest its respect and filial devotion to the Holy Father. In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI published Summorum Pontificum which affirmed that the traditional Roman Mass had never been abolished. This positive act for Catholic Tradition was followed up in 2009 with the lifting of the "excommunications" of the SSPX's bishops.

Today, the Society of St. Pius X numbers around 600 priests and close to half a million faithful spread throughout the world and successfully continues its apostolic work.

Watch all our FAQ videos>