01 September 2015

God's Lifeline for Troubled Times Ahead?: Comparing SSPX faculties for Absolution and Summorum Pontificum

The news of the day is that the Pope has decreed that the faithful who approach priests of the Society of St. Pius X for confession during the upcoming Jubilee Year of Mercy will receive valid and licit absolution.

Praise God for this announcement; it is undeniable good news to all Catholics, regardless of one's previous view on the validity of SSPX absolutions.

I will not be the one to give vent to cynicism on the motives or timing of this announcement (though, understandably, the mind seeks to find the logical play in the move from all sides). It is good sometimes just to be grateful and leave it at that. The Pope deserves thanks, and I for one thank him.

And whatever is the motivation for this, and for that matter whatever the need for it, my take is similar to what I felt upon the promulgation of Summorum Pontificum. Though it is now known that the traditional Mass had never been abrogated, and that the faithful could always have assisted at it, many Catholics were, in good faith, ignorant of this, and were unable in conscience to go.

After Pope Benedict XVI issued the motu proprio, I believed that God was ensuring that all the faithful who wished to do so could now attend the Mass without any cloud of illegitimacy. Thus, no matter what calamities might befall, there was no hovering doubt to prevent access to the sacraments in the ancient rite.

In like manner, now (for the upcoming year at least) any Catholic can seek absolution in the traditional form from the Society. Why does this matter? Well, the reach and presence of the SSPX far exceeds the FSSP, ICRSS, and other priests. The Fraternity and the Institute are growing but are not yet present in the number of countries and dioceses as is the Society. It is a simple matter of availability.

Certainly, one can imagine a situation in the next year that persecution, schism or calamity could make it difficult to find a confessor. This act of the Holy Father, like that of his predecessor, removes doubt and widens access to the sacraments.*

God is good indeed. He has a plan more perfect than ours, and one that cannot be thwarted.

Let us all go forth with confidence to the throne of grace: that we may obtain mercy and find grace in seasonable aid. (Hebrews 4:16)

*As an aside, even sedevacantists acknowledge the apostolic succession and validity of SSPX orders, so I guess Pope Francis' mercy really does reach everyone.


Long Pants said...

"It is good sometimes just to be grateful and leave it at that. The Pope deserves thanks, and I for one thank him."

Is Sept. 1 the new April 1?

Lynne said...

This *is* wonderful news. I've been going to a SSPX chapel for a little over a year now and it is wonderful. I think it's going to get a lot more crowded. :-)

Long-Skirts said...

"Per Ip Sum, Et Cum Ip So, Et In Ip so"

Thank you, Holy Father!!

Curious Catholic said...

This post brings up something I've often wondered.

I understand people attending SSPX chapels if no other EF Mass is available in their area. What is the justification of those for whom a diocesan, FSSP, ICRSS, etc. EF Mass is readily available?

thetimman said...

Curious Catholic,

I think you would get different answers from Long Skirts and me, for instance.

I have written on this before, so what follows is devoid of much of the more minute argumentation I would supply in a lengthier forum.

But to me, I cannot myself justify going to Mass at the SSPX if I have easy access to the ICRSS, for instance. This assumes a post-Summorum Pontificum scenario, for reasons I won't go into.

Others would have no problem with either. Others would prefer the SSPX. Let them explain themselves.

It is a matter of my conscience, not because I greatly doubt the ability to attend Masses there, but because 1) (by far and away the greater reason) I strongly identify with the charism of the Institute, particularly its Salesian spirituality and the absolute beauty of its liturgical celebration; and 2)to the extent there is any doubt about the appropriateness or sinfulness of assisting at a Mass celebrated by a priest who is under probable suspension a divinis, I don't need to risk anything by avoiding it. In other words, it is a question of prudence.

I am not St. Thomas More, so please don't think I'm putting on airs if I try to draw this analogy: just as More refused to publicly refuse the oath until forced to as a matter of faith without room to equivocate, I just think it is too eager on my part to decline the options I have make a choice (even one that is probable) that may never need to be made.

I'm sure there are those who would think this cowardly, but I can only respond by saying truthfully that if I thought the SSPX were the only place that preserved the faith and access to the Mass to which every Catholic has a right to attend, I would go there. I know there are those who think so already. However, again, I would even there take issue with them in a post-Summorum Pontificum era.

There it is.

dulac90 said...

One of many reasons, but perhaps a simple differentiator...schools.

Lynne said...

I have 2 diocesan TLM within easy (less than 30 miles) driving distance. Two reasons I stopped going to them, 1) they still collect for CCHD which clearly does not follow Catholic teaching, along with their priests speaking favorably of Vatican II, religious liberty, ecumenism, etc and 2) we still have the TLM today (diocesan, FSSP, ICK, etc) because of the SSPX. If their priests no longer have laity to administer the sacraments to, their reason for existing disappears.

I guess those are both kind of 'political' statements but I have experienced a peace that I haven't felt since returning to the Church 10 years ago (yes, I had fallen away from the faith for 30 years).