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Saturday, April 25, 2020

The SSPX Revisited

Archbishop Lefebvre -- Hero or Villain?

Before I get into the subject of the post, I want to address Church Militant's (CM) April 22nd exposé about the SSPX. Yes I watched the Vortex and read the report. It's horrifying if true, just like the horrifying information about bishops and priests all over the country (and world) that we've been steeped in for years. 

Am I ready to throw all the SSPX priests under the bus because of it? No! First of all, we don't know the truth of the matter yet. An accusation is not a conviction. One thing that struck me as I read the report was the lack of backup evidence and the lack of dates. When did these things occur? Was any action taken by the SSPX? How many cases are there? Were they investigated? Were any of them related to Bishop Richard Williamson and the thirty priests expelled from the Society in 2012? The allegations are serious but unproven. Many questions remain unanswered. 

The U.S. District of the SSPX responded the next day acknowledging past abuse cases and addressing the CM accusations saying:
The SSPX is committed to full transparency in all of these cases. We will be releasing detailed responses to every allegation. (my emphasis)
I would have expected CM's response to be, "Good, we look forward to your response" and ask when they can expect to see it. Then hold their feet to the fire. Instead CM doubled down with another attack about their lack of transparency. Really? Do they not deserve more than 24 hours to respond?  

While CM talks about openness and transparency and points the finger over corruption in the SSPX, remember their own sins. Simon Rafe, Chief of Staff at CM, who authored a vile video game called Castle Dracula using the pseudonym Darknight, continues to be a leading light in their organization. His behavior for a grown man was egregious. I don't remember any investigation by CM or any action taken to discipline Rafe. A quick apology then down the memory hole. Here's what LifeSiteNews reported at the time about Rafe's pornographic game (August 2011):
the work contains a paragraph vividly describing a sexual encounter (my emphasis) with “a beautiful Elven woman” revealed to be “Asrel, the goddess of love, life, health, healing, beauty and sex.” 
Rafe gives the player a series of options in the scenario: “If you would like strength and vitality, turn to 70. If you would like health and life, turn to 383. If you would like true love, turn to 467. If you would like sex appeal, turn to 203. If you would like sexual potency, turn to 366. If you would like to make love to the goddess (even if you are female - Asrel is an equal-opportunity lover!), turn to 11.
Is this someone you would trust with your children even after he apologized? How many of his "game-players" committed mortal sins of lust? Does he still engage in fantasy games like this, just hidden offline? Of course, the video game disappeared after Rafe was exposed, but engaging in pornography is addictive. Clerics aren't the only ones who can hide behind orthodoxy. 

What would caution dictate? Would you let Michael Voris, a twenty-year active homosexual babysit for your adolescent boys or any of your children for that matter? I presume these men have repented, and pray for them as I hope you do, but prudence dictates that some situations might be an occasion of sin for them. Most of us have serious sins to repent and have no right to throw stones at others, but common sense would suggest caution!

Now -- back to the subject of this blog post. 

One result of the COVID 19 crisis is clear. It has focused the attention of many faithful on the SSPX because of their commitment to feeding the flock during the lockdown following strict precautions to protect health.

Taylor Marshall's video below raises some compelling questions about the SSPX and their position in the Church:
  • Can we envision any situation where it is necessary to disobey the pope?
  • Does the pope have absolute power? 
  • Can the pope go beyond his authority? Or are there parameters that limit him?
  • Would priests be obliged to obey the pope if he asked all the priests of Brazil, for example, to put a Pachamama idol on top of the tabernacle?
  • If a bishop disobeyed the pope and the Vatican threatened to suspend his faculties, would he be obliged to obey?
  • Are there "situations where the pope can overstep his authority."  And if yes, when does a bishop or priest have the duty to disobey?
  • What is the dogmatic authority of a Council designated by the pope to be non-dogmatic and pastoral?
  • Was the SSPX justified when Archbishop Lefebvre refused to throw the Mass of his ordination and most of his priestly life on the trash heap of history in obedience to a non-dogmatic, pastoral council? 
These are questions that need to be answered and here are some resources to help you if, like me, you want clarification!


And for more on the entire SSPX question I suggest these articles by Fr. Z:
SSPX Superior Fr. Pagliarani interview: “we have to have souls ready for all sorts of sacrifices” 
What's Up with the SSPX?
 Can I Fulfill my Mass Obligation at an SSPX Chapel?
 What's the Truth about the SSPX?
The SSPX is not a "Small Fringe Group!" 
More about the SSPX and the Heart
Theologian, Peter Kwasniewski also has an interesting article about the SSPX.
Is It Ever Okay to Take Shelter in an SSPX Mass?

And canon lawyer, Cathy Caridi says this:
Can I Attend an SSPX Church since my Parish is closed?
 There are others, but that's enough for anyone who wants to do some research.

Now, let me emphasize some important points:
The SSPX is NOT in schism! They are NOT excommunicated or under interdiction. 
Their Masses and other sacraments ARE VALID!
They are NOT sedevacantist. They pray for the pope and long for regularization in the Church and continue to seek reunification with Rome.
If you consider Gamaliel's advice to the Sanhedrin, there is no reason to dismiss the SSPX out of hand. Watch and pray. 

Have there been problems in the SSPX? Of course! The order is populated by humans, not angels. Have there been some sex abusers among SSPX priests? Yes! Orthodoxy is a good place for evil men to hide. You probably live with some orthodoxy-promoting homosexual priests right now in your own diocese. Do any of them write lovely, orthodox articles in their bulletins and the diocesan papers and then go immerse themselves in pornography? 

Parents need to be vigilant at all times and in all places and watch for dangerous signs of abuse of their children. If anyone (priest or otherwise) shows too much interest in your kids and wants to spend time with them alone, be cautious. I once attended a boys' Confirmation retreat (I was working in the kitchen) with a priest who engaged in inappropriate horseplay with the boys. He was a trusted friend. We knew him very well. He even took our son and his friend to a ball game once. I was stupid and didn't connect the dots at the time. Fortunately, he never made any advances to our son. I hope he didn't go after his friend who, as a fatherless teen, fit the profile of many vulnerable and abused boys. Later that priest left the priesthood and embraced the homosexual lifestyle to the hilt! I still pray for him. 

Having said all that, I will not throw the SSPX under the bus any more than I will leave the Church because of hundreds of priests and dozens (or hundreds?) of bishops who have committed or covered up sex abuse and pederasty in their own dioceses. I do not believe we would have the Traditional Latin Mass (or even the Novus Ordo in Latin) without Archbishop Lefebvre. I thank God for him.

I will close with one last thought and the trailer from a wonderful documentary about Archbishop Lefebvre that I heartily recommend. You can watch the full documentary here.

St. Paul's description of love in 1 Corinthians 13 should be a motto for all of us bloggers. Sometimes we need to expose evil things in order to stop them, but do we glory in using evil to attack those with whom we disagree?

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.