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The SSPX Is Not in Schism

7/12/23: Guest Post: Spiritual Diocesan Malfeasance in the Diocese of Arlington?

6/3/2023: Of Graduation, the Christendom Chapel, and the SSPX

4/25/23: Play it again, Sam: The SSPX is not in Schism, says Swiss Bishop

4/02/23: Two Clear-Sighted Articles on AB Lefebvre and the SSPX Controversy 

3/20/23: Bishop Schneider Gets the Hobnailed Boot from Church Militant!

3/14/23: Who are the Legalists What Comes First -- the Faith or the Law?

2/10/23: Bishop Schneider: "The Holy See is Occupied."

2/10/23: St. Cyril had something in common with Archbishop Lefebvre

2/7/23: Fr. Z Weighs in Again saying SSPX is not in Schism

2/4/23: Cardinal Burke is Not Infallible. SSPX is not in schism!

1/25/23: Fr. Gregory Hesse Shows SSPX is NOT IN SCHISM

1/3/23: We Need the SSPX for More than the TLM

12/2/22: A Compelling Defense of the SSPX by Fr. Denzil Meuli

10/19/22: No, Church Militant! The SSPX is NOT in Schism!

7/7/21: The SSPX is NOT in Schism! Stop Already the Ignorant Accusations!


  1. Mary Ann,
    I attend to the SSPX often and started looking for definitive Vatican documents about the SSPX status.
    I’ve seen reference to a June 13, 2012 letter from Benedict XVI but cannot find it.
    There is this Vatican letter about the 4 excummincated presets from Benedict in 2009 that vaguely speaks of not confusing the excommunication of these four with the status of the SSPX
    There are these dated articles of leaked letters but they do not seem to help solidify an answer.
    SSPX’s own pages are not clear (I’ve started going through it now…. Much reading of their reference dos to do).

    Have you found the proverbial smoking gun to the question of their canonical status??

  2. I'm no authority, Pat, but I'll give my opinion based on my reading and study.

    I do not believe there is a single definitive document about the status of the SSPX. There are opinions and statements from various individuals (including JP II) calling them schismatic, but most of these men were/are not canon lawyers and equated schism with the disobedience of ordaining the bishops. That in itself, according to the canon lawyers I've read, was not a schismatic act. Cardinal Burke's letter saying they're in schism is in conflict with Cardinal Hoyos saying they were never in schism and a number of other canon lawyers who say their actions never rose to that level.

    I do not believe there is a "smoking gun" to support the OPINION that the SSPX is in schism. Canon 751 defines schism as, "the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him." The SSPX does not refuse submission on anything in the Church that is in continuity with Doctrine and Sacred Tradition. They refuse submission to error and those positions of the Supreme Pontiff that break with Doctrine and Sacred Tradition (as should all faithful Catholics).

    Pope Benedict decried the "hermeneutic of rupture." That is exactly what the SSPX holds as their position as far as I can see. I think things will get clearer going forward, because the crisis is only likely to get worse. Francis has already made it clear that past teaching on the indissolubility of marriage is outdated. That's a Martin Luther position! The Synod on Synodality is also likely to increase the rupture as they put women's ordination back on the table.

    The SSPX at this point is a lifeboat in my opinion. I have no reservations of conscience in attending their chapels. I find their priests to be the most well-formed I've ever met. And they are dedicated teachers. We have catechism twice a month after Sunday Mass. I have NEVER seen that in a Novus Ordo parish!

  3. Mary Ann,
    Thank you for your reply. I’m going to review the docs available for this (was reading the SSPX document on their website). I’ll let you know what I find. I would like something more than “Benedict said” or “they were never in schism”.
    What is clear so far is that in 1970 they were given a permission as some sort of experience t and in 1975 it was withdrawn.
    From there is concert of the withdraw and it seems Paul VI seems to affirm it’s existence (this is so clear) and substation discussions of what type of entity it is process (“pious union” is used).
    This is all found here:
    Continuing on writing ad-lib: Subsequent to this rocky start was the 1988 controversy of the ordination by Lefebvre of the 4 bishops (Williamson one of them) and that seems to be a point of argument of act of schism (see my previous post with Benedict’s letter).
    I need to read more…. When I get it all read and exhaust my patience with searching for more I’ll try to let you know what I dig up.

  4. A number of canon lawyers say that the ordination without permission is not necessarily an act of schism, particularly when AB Lefebvre did not given them "jurisdiction" but only the authority to convey the sacraments.

  5. Your lifeboat analogy: You may be right, I see the possible truth to that.
    I do see they strongly teach the tradition of Christianity (from Catholic doctrine), but so do the Orthodox (maybe even better??) but the Orthodox are indeed in schism (I think they will play a part in future remedy of the persecuted future).
    So we can’t go validating our acceptance of attendance with a group solely based upon strong teaching and traditional liturgy. They must have the true authority of Rome (of which the current ursuper does not have due to the mess of a resignation and now sede vacantist situation in wake of Benedicts death).
    Just as the Church is visible I would think all union with the Church must be. This is why this probably “underground” nature of the apocalypse persecuted church has me contemplating “underground” is the wrong direction. Above ground and visibly persecuted I would think is what our Lord would prefer our action to be.
    It was indeed the early Church’s need and spiritually guided direction to be underground in order to grow Christianity and to ensure its future.
    But why would we go underground now if we think this is the end times? This is our time to stand up and profess even stronger of Christ. We need to tell the world that the Church they see is a facade erected by the modernists and grand deceiver. We need to keep showing them the real Church visibly, not hiding it.

  6. I agree and that's exactly what the SSPX is doing. It's also growing like crazy. The faithful during the Arian heresy had no place to go. The faithful today have the SSPX. I have no reservations of conscience over attending the chapel and I think many at St. John the Baptist who criticize us now will end up there later.

    There's a nuptual Mass on Saturday. The entire chapel was invited. Matrimony in the traditional form is a sacrament completely BANNED in the NO parishes. So are the other sacraments. If people don't see a problem with that, their focus is too narrow. No traditional Baptisms, no traditional weddings, no traditional confirmations, no traditional extreme unction...and if your son wants to enter a seminary and celebrate the TLM, where is he to go?

    I think the situation is getting clearer and clearer. When the next bomb is launched from the Vatican which I think is coming soon, it may explode on the launchpad.