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sspx These Last Days News - June 16, 2022
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Is the Society of the St. Pius X (SSPX) in Schism?

"We hear all names coming forward to Our ears of churches being born anew, called the Traditional Roman Catholic Church. My child and My children, We need no more Traditionalists running around and creating new churches. We have to remain steadfast and firm in our convictions that with enough prayer, and also the firm example of holiness among many, this will not happen. We do not condemn those who make these side churches, the Traditional Roman Catholic churches; they mean well, but they are being led astray. There will be eventually an American Catholic Church if this continues. This is not approved by Heaven.... It is most urgent that this breaking away stop now before it evolves into a major schism." - Jesus, September 14, 1985

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Originally published on January 23, 2014:

by John Paul Wohlscheid

In December, Archbishop (soon to be Cardinal) Mueller told an Italian newspaper that the leaders of the Society of St. Pius X were in schism. As you might expect, many SSPX supporters quickly jumped to the Society’s defense. Since I have talked about this organization many times before, I decided I would cover this question and study it based on canon law. I am not an expert in canon law, but I will be quoting relevant canons from the Code of Canon Law of 1917. I will be using the 1917 Pio-Benedictine Code of Canon Law from Ignatius Press. (Interestingly, it is called Pio-Benedictine because the project to compile canon law was started by Pope St. Pius X and finished by Pope Benedict XV).

Definition of Schism

Before we examine the actions of those involved, let’s define our term. The 1917 Code of Canon Law Canon defines schism in canon 1325 paragraph 2:

If finally he refuses to be under the Supreme Pontiff or refuses communion with the members of the Church subject to him, he is a schismatic.

What is the penalty for schism? That can be answered with canon 2314, paragraph 1:

All apostates from the Christian faith and each and every heretic or schismatic:

  1. Incur by that fact excommunication;

  2. Unless they respect warnings, they are deprived of benefice, dignity, pension, office, or other duty that they have in the Church, they are declared infamous, and if clerics, with the warning being repeated, they are deposed;

  3. If they give their names to non-Catholic sects or publicly adhere to them, they are by that fact infamous, and with due regard for the prescription of Canon 188, n 4, clerics, the previous warning having been useless, are degraded.

Essentially, anyone who refuses to obey the Pope, is in schism. By extension, anyone who is in schism is excommunicated. That seems simple enough. Now let’s move on to the events surrounding the 1988.

What Happened

After its foundation in 1970, the Society of St. Pius X was constantly in conflict with Holy Mother Church. Archbishop Lefebvre, the founder of the SSPX, was the main source of ordinations for the society. In 1987, when Lefebvre was in his 80s, he announced his decision to consecrate a new bishop to take his place. However, he was prepared to do so without papal approval, which is against canon law.

Canon 332, paragraph 1 states:

Whoever is to be promoted to the episcopate, even if he is elected, presented, or designated even by a civil Government, needs canonical provision or institution by which the Bishop is constituted in a vacant diocese, which only the Roman Pontiff can give.

Canon 953 adds:

The consecration of a Bishop is reserved to the Roman Pontiff so that it is not permitted to any Bishop to consecrate another as Bishop without first having gotten a pontifical mandate.

After talks, Lefebvre signed an agreement with the Vatican that would make his organization canonically recognized and allow him to consecrate one bishop. Upon returning to Switzerland, Lefebvre changed his mind and announced he would consecrate four bishops, without papal approval. Pope John Paul II even sent Lefebvre a personal letter asking him to reconsider and reminding him of the penalties he was about to incur. The consecrations took place on June 30, 1988. The Vatican replied by issuing a decree stating that those who took part in the consecrations were excommunicated. Canon 2370 covers this issue.

A Bishop consecrating another Bishop, and the assisting Bishops or, in the place of Bishops, priests, and those who receive consecration without an apostolic mandate against the prescription of Canon 953 are by the law suspended until the Apostolic See dispenses them.

After examining the pertinent portions of canon law, I think it is safe to say that SSPX is in schism.


Most SSPX supporters try to get around the penalties of canon law by claiming a state of emergency within the Church. They claim that if Lefebvre had not consecrated the four bishops, there would have been no one to ordain new traditionalist priests. This falls flat for two reasons. First, the Vatican had given Lefebvre permission to consecrate one bishop to replace him. This would have kept the Church supplied for years. Second, there would have been “outside” bishops. For example, the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter and the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest both depend on bishops from outside the organizations for ordination. These bishops include Archbishop Sample, Cardinal Burke, Cardinal Hoyos and others.

Thoughts of a Former Member of SSPX

During an interview with the Wanderer newspaper, former SSPX member Fr. John Emerson FSSP said the following about SSPX and schism:

Q. We can get off on some of these other groups and associations later. Right now, you raised an interesting point en passant. You spoke of the consecration of the four bishops [by Archbishop Lefebvre] as not being a ‘necessary disobedience.’ I wonder If you would speak to the difference between disobedience and schism.
A. Yes, well, for example, the priests that Monsignor Lefebvre ordained, including myself, I never believed, and it was entirely clear from their attitude that Rome never seriously thought, this was in any way a schismatic act. It was purely disobedient. It was a disobedience which many of us were willing to go ahead and commit because we believed it was absolutely essential for the life: of the Church, for the health of the Church, that traditional liturgy continue and not simply disappear, and it seemed at the time that was the only way it was going to continue. Now, that can be argued, but in conscience we felt fully able to go ahead and do that without sin, without any kind of real suspension.
The consecration of bishops, on the other hand, is a clear act of schism, of breaking with the head of the Church, of setting up a parallel hierarchy, setting up an independent church. Of course, that is exactly what schism is. It is not to be a heretic, which is to say, no, the Pope is, not head of the Church. It is to say, yes, he is, but we are simply going to ignore that and go ahead on our own.
Another part of schism, interestingly, is this: Even if one continues to say, yes, we are under the Pope, we obey the Pope, but it is then to break entirely with those who also are under the Pope, and that the Society of St. Pius X also has done very clearly since the break by considering utterly traditional groups like us, like the Abbey at La Barrou in France, to be now part of the Modernist conspiracy, if you like. In truth, we are in every way traditional, but we accept the Pope, and we obey him. Therefore, we are outside the pale. That, too, is classically the schismatic mentality.
It’s clear the Society [of St. Pius X] has accepted the dangers of a real schism and is just plowing ahead.

You can read the rest of the interview here.

Current Situation

Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunication for the four bishop in 2009, but that does not change things. Just because an excommunication is lifted, it does not mean that the person who was excommunicated is automatically returned to full communion with the Church. For example, when the Great Schism (or East-West Schism) took place, the Pope and the patriarch excommunicated each other. Those orders of excommunication were lifted in 1995 by Pope John Paul II and Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople. Even though the excommunication is lifted, the Orthodox Church is still separated from the Roman Catholic Church.

Pope Benedict XVI made the situation clear in 2009.

The fact that the Society of Saint Pius X does not possess a canonical status in the Church is not, in the end, based on disciplinary but on doctrinal reasons. As long as the Society does not have a canonical status in the Church, its ministers do not exercise legitimate ministries in the Church. There needs to be a distinction, then, between the disciplinary level, which deals with individuals as such, and the doctrinal level, at which ministry and institution are involved. In order to make this clear once again: until the doctrinal questions are clarified, the Society has no canonical status in the Church, and its ministers – even though they have been freed of the ecclesiastical penalty – do not legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church. – Pope Benedict XVI, March 10, 2009

Final Thoughts

I agree with SSPX on several points. I agree that Vatican II was a major rupture with the past. Likewise, I also agree that the Latin Mass is the premier form of worship and that the pre-Vatican II sacraments are more powerful. However, I do not agree with Lefebvre’s actions. Nor do I agree that the English Mass invalid, it is watered down, but it is still valid. There are good people in the SSPX, but they are misled by men who like leading their own church. Please keep SSPX in your prayers. Pray that they will return to communion with the Holy See.

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“The way to Heaven has been written in the Book of life, your Bible. We do not expect you to change it to please man, for man must change his ways that offend his God to please his God; for man must strive to be as perfect as God the Father to enter—in order to enter the Kingdom of God the Father. Therefore, you will not change the doctrines or go about with itching ears listening to theologians who have become now bloated with pride and arrogance and now seek to make man a god in his own world. But remember: every man, woman, and child upon earth will leave his body sooner or later, for he must die and pass over the veil for judgment." - Jesus, August 4, 1979

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"We will not tolerate division in My Church. Satan knows to divide is to conquer. The captains always remain upon the ship, even when it is sinking. The strong, those with faith, shall bail it out, the ship, keep it afloat until help arrives from Heaven." - Jesus, March 18, 1978

"You will maintain the papacy in Rome. I tell you anew that 666 now is in Rome. Do not judge My Son's Church by His pastors. In their human nature they can err..." - Our Lady, June 10, 1978

"Do not leave My Son's Church though, My children, because they have taken this language [Latin] from among you. You must wait and persevere and weep with My Son for this defilement by man." - Our Lady, April 10, 1976

"There must be a complete cleansing of My Son's Church. What do you do, My children, when your house has been infested by rodents or vermin? You clean out your house. You do not abandon it, for it has taken much love and much labor to build the walls. You do not abandon it, but you work and pray, and use every means to clean out My Son's House, His Church." - Our Lady, November 20, 1979

"You must, My children, tell your brothers and sisters that they must not at this time separate themselves from your ruling bodies within your Church. Satan has set upon the world much confusion and error." - Our Lady, March 18, 1976

"Yes, My child, Jesus is always present in His House. The Holy Sacrifice of His Mass is always valid when performed by a duly ordained priest, no matter what his human character is. At the time of the Consecration the Father sends the Holy Spirit down to use this human being known as your high priest, to bring to you the Body and the Blood, spiritual and physical, of My Son to you.... It is satan's plan to drive you from My Son's House by creating a fallacy and the outright lie, My children, that the Mass is no longer valid and My Son not present!" - Our Lady, October 6, 1973

"My heart, My Son's heart has been grieved, as We go about the world and see the carnage taking place within His Church. We can see a division bordering on schism. My children, I have asked you in the past—We cannot have this division, for it is promoted by satan. The adage of old remains forever true: United you will stand but divided you will fall.
     "Do not judge My Son's House, His Church, by the man. Though he is a representative—legal, a legal representative of My Son in His House, he is but a human in his nature. But during the time that My Son comes to you, this man will be used through the Holy Spirit, regardless of the state of his human nature, be it sin or a saint—be it a sinner or one who has led even those astray—at the time that My Son comes in the Consecration, He shall not turn aside from you, My Son. Therefore, you cannot say the Mass is invalid. This has brought great sorrow to Our hearts, for many have left the fold on this matter." - Our Lady, August 14, 1981

"We do not want a separation within My Son's House, the Roman Catholic Church under Peter and now Pope Paul VI. We do not want a separation within My Son's House. The United States of America heads fast to a schism. Fight, My children; do not give in to the forces of evil. Fight the enemy with prayer." - Our Lady, May 29, 1976

"We ask you from Heaven not to leave, not to create a schism from your main body in Rome. You must remain within My Son's Church and pray a constant vigilance of prayer. Satan and his agents have entered in full battle upon My Son's Church. Satan has entered into the highest ranks within My Son's Church and the world. He will manipulate powers, provincials, until he brings about a great chastisement, because man will not listen and mend his ways." - Our Lady, February 10, 1977

"Peter was My first Pope and your first Pope, and as all others who followed him, they must be accepted. Be they weak or noble, be they with sanctity or unholiness, they must be accepted and followed....
     "I ask you not to judge another. You may counsel, you may give your viewpoints, but no violence must be used. And I do not want schism. I do not want any interference from separated brethren in My Church. They must be brought back. Convert the unbeliever! You must remain united with Rome.
     "The gates of hell shall not prevail against My Church, for a cleansing will come about and all that is rotten will fall! And My Church shall be restored to its former glory!" - Jesus, June 9, 1979

"The Eternal Father in Heaven is watching as mankind is setting himself fast upon a path of schism. There will be much strife within the Eternal City, My child. You must keep a constant vigilance of prayer." - Our Lady, April 10, 1976

"I have wandered throughout the world crying to My children, and My tears fall upon you, for as I have cried for obedience to your Eternal Father in Heaven, and also to Our Pope, Our poor Vicar, who suffers much at the hands of the enemies of your God.
     "You must pray for your bishops, you must pray for all the clergy, and especially you must stand behind your Vicar, Pope John Paul II, because there will be another attempt upon his life." - Our Lady, March 18, 1983

"You must not compromise your Faith, My children, by bringing in those who have separated themselves from your true Church. This Church was founded by My Son, and He set a leader, a Pope, among you.
     "Peter and his descendants shall rule. There shall not be set up a governing body of hierarchy!" - Our Lady, November 20, 1975

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