|Archbishop Lefebvre was not excommunicated for being in schism. |
He was excommunicate for ordaining four bishops without papal approval.
The Vatican never said that the Society was schismatic. They are not!
I'm tired of hearing ad nauseum the accusation that the SSPX is in schism. THEY ARE NOT! And as the pope cracks down on the TLM (traditional Latin Mass), the flock may, with clear consciences, attend the Masses offered by the Society.
So let's take a closer look.
This comes from the Fatima Center and is from part 1 of a series on the SSPX:
Admittedly, the Internet is loaded with a range of dissenting opinions. Even if you ask your average parish priest, or even priests who offer the Traditional Latin Mass, you will encounter an array of answers. I have personally heard from various priests everything from: “They are like the Lutherans,” “They are schismatic like the Orthodox,” “Their Masses are fine, but I wouldn’t recommend them,” “It is no issue; in fact, [Archbishop] Lefebvre was probably a Saint,” “Yes, I encourage you to attend there,” and everything in-between. Some have called the SSPX a “cult,” others have accused them of acting like the only ark of salvation, and others have said they don’t accept any popes since St. Pius X. Many of these claims are outright calumnies. Clearly, it is impossible for all these claims – some actually conflicting with others – to be true all at the same time; therefore, clarity is needed.
Absolutely! But don't expect to get it without doing the work, i.e. discern through studying the issue and looking to wise guides.
So is the SSPX in schism? NO! NO! and NO! They have NEVER been in schism:
This is an easy and clear-cut answer. Those who respond otherwise are grossly misinformed. In fact, even if the excommunication of their four bishops in 1988 (more on that later) were taken at face value, they have now been authoritatively made null and void. Moreover, those excommunications never applied to the hundreds of priests in the Society or to the faithful who receive the sacraments or pastoral care from them.
So what is schism?
Being in schism is a formal term. In essence, it means one rejects the truth that the pope has universal authority over the Church (or that a bishop has authority over his diocese). Practically, this means a schismatic group sets up or adheres to their own authorities, denying the ecclesial jurisdiction and even canonical law of the Catholic Church. Liturgically, it means they will not pray for the pope or the local bishop in the Roman Canon. The SSPX is not guilty of these schismatic acts....
Can we finally lay this one to rest? The SSPX is NOT in schism:
Being in schism is a binary matter – you either are in schism or you are not. There is no in-between. Our Lord tells us, “But let your speech be yea, yea: no, no: and that which is over and above these, is of evil” (Matthew 5:37). Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos did affirm, “To say the SSPX is in schism is incorrect.” Any other answer is a foggy attempt to present what is in reality an imperfect and difficult situation as something other than it is.
Furthermore, even Pope Benedict, when he was Cardinal Ratzinger, admonished a bishop in Hawaii in 1991 for wrongly excommunicating families from his diocese who had their children confirmed by the SSPX. Benedict made it clear that there was no schism.
You claim to adhere to Peter? Then listen to his successor, Benedict. The SSPX are not, and never have been, in schism. I regret that I once accepted this error, but I'm long past that! The situation of the SSPX is, as many Vatican sources have said, difficult and irregular, but it is in NO WAY schismatic!
So stop already!
St. Athanasius, Father of Orthodoxy, pray for us.