Responding to false accusations

Some answers and further reading suggestions in response to certain false allegations commonly-made about the SSPX.

It is not uncommon to hear the Society of St. Pius X accused of being "excommunicated" and "schismatic," or that its priests "lack faculties" to licitly administer the sacraments.

Such accusations are not only false, but fail to put into proper context the principles of Canon Law as they apply to the severe gravity of the post-conciliar crisis that has caused an unprecedented state of necessity. For example, the supreme law in the Church is the salvation of souls—it is upon this rule that the correct application of Canon Law depends.

Below we have assembled a list of common accusations levelled against the SSPX, with brief answers, followed by links offering more detailed information on the subject.

It cannot be emphasized enough that to properly understand the canonical arguments that apply to the SSPX's situation, one must recognized that the Catholic Church is suffering through a post-conciliar crisis of unprecedented magnitude. At the root of this crisis are the teachings and practice of the Catholic Faith as summed up in Tradition, and thus the salvation of souls.

Is there a state of necessity in the Church today?

The Second Vatican Council introduced Modernist errors into the Church leading to a grave post-conciliar crisis. It has been described as an "auto-demolition" by Pope Paul VI and a "silent apostasy" by Pope John Paul II, while Pope Benedict XVI described the Church "as ship taking in water on all sides." This grave situation has led to a state of necessity, which is the basis for the supplied jurisdiction that applies to the SSPX's priests in exercising their ministry for the salvation of souls.

Does the SSPX legally exist?

The Society of St. Pius X was founded in 1970 by Archbishop Lefebvre with the local bishop's approval and ratified by the Holy See. An illegal attempt motivated by liberal pressure was made in 1975 to suppress the SSPX. This injustice was compounded by an invalid suspension of Archbishop Lefebvre and again by the Apostolic Signature's rejection of his juridical appeal.

Do SSPX priests excerise a legitimate ministry in the Catholic Church?

With the SSPX's supposed suppression and the widening liberalization in the Church, the normal procedure for the Society's priests to administer the sacraments became impossible. But the faithful still needed true doctrine and sacraments to save their souls—was Archbishop Lefebvre and his priests suppose to ignore their legitimate pleas? Canon Law is clear that in a state of necessity (here provoked by the post-conciliar crisis) where the salvation of souls is at stake, the Church herself provides the necessary facilities.

Is the SSPX excommunicated, schismatic?

In 1988, driven by the necessity for a traditional bishop to continue the work of the SSPX as well as to guarantee the continuance of Catholic Tradition, Archbishop Lefebvre consecrated 4 bishops for the Society. For this action, the archbishop and his priestly society were declared excommunicated and accused of being in schism. However, both Canon Law and canonists show that these accusations lack any foundation and are completely invalid—a fact that was vindicated by the withdrawal of the excommunications in 2009.

Other occasional questions that arise

Will I be excommunicated or schismatic if I attend Mass at an SSPX chapel?

The answer is clearly no as exemplified by the Hawaii Six case and the quotes from various ecclesiastical authorities found in What is the canonical status of the SSPX?

Is the SSPX a cult?

We are simply Roman Catholics who are continuing to follow the unchanging Faith of 2000 years as expressed in Tradition. But more particularly, the Society of St. Pius X is merely a pious union of priests and religious that has the object to form priests. If the faithful who attend the Mass centers operated by the Society (because unfortunately the faithful cannot usually go to their own local parish due to the infection of Modernism and the dangers of the New Mass) adhere to the SSPX, it is because they recognize that the priests offer them the Church's true doctrine and sacraments without any compromise with Modernism.

Do I have to join the SSPX to attend Mass at their chapels?

As a priestly society, the members of the SSPX are just the clergy (priests and seminarians) and religious (brothers and sisters). The faithful who attend our chapels do not belong to the Society, just as those faithful who go to a Jesuit-run parish are not Jesuits. The Society of St. Pius X does have a third order open to anyone who wishes to more closely unite themselves to our apostolic work.

Can I receive Communion in a Society chapel?

Any practicing Catholic may receive Holy Communion in our chapels provided they have fulfilled the Church rules of being in a state of grace and having fasted at least one hour in advance.

Further reading suggestions