True Obedience: The Mark of A Faithful Catholic Part G: The SSPX and Conclusion


SSPX Conflict with Rome (1974)

The SSPX conflict with Rome has its roots in the events of 1974 with the visitation and the Declaration.

The key phrase may be:
It is impossible to modify profoundly the lex orandi without modifying the lex credendi. To the Novus Ordo Missae correspond a new catechism, a new priesthood, new seminaries, a charismatic Pentecostal Church—all things opposed to orthodoxy and the perennial teaching of the Church.
This Reformation, born of Liberalism and Modernism, is poisoned through and through; it derives from heresy and ends in heresy, even if all its acts are not formally heretical. It is therefore impossible for any conscientious and faithful Catholic to espouse this Reformation or to submit to it in any way whatsoever.
This seems to be the root of the mantra that the SSPX accept the council and the new mass.

Now with 42 years of hindsight we can asked the key question: Was Archbishop Lefebvre correct?

Has the change in lex orandi resulted in a change in lex credendi?

Well at least someone believed it created the devastation that we see now:
The liturgical reform, in its concrete realization, has distanced itself even more from its origin. The result has not been a reanimation, but devastation. In place of the liturgy, fruit of a continual development, they have placed a fabricated liturgy. They have deserted a vital process of growth and becoming in order to substitute a fabrication. They did not want to continue the development, the organic maturing of something living through the centuries, and they replaced it, in the manner of technical production, by a fabrication, a banal product of the moment. (Ratzinger in Revue Theologisches, Vol. 20, Feb. 1990, pgs. 103-104) (Latin Mass Society)

So let's proceed with the assumption that accepting the Four Points and the New Mass represent a proximate occasion of sin because while they are not explicitly heretical, they open the door to it due to their ambiguities.  In short the principles embodied in the documents and Novus Ordo led to the crisis we see in Doctrine and Liturgy.
  • Question: Is it within the superior's sphere of authority replace the received rites of the Church with a banal on the spot fabrication?
    • Answer: Some theologian's believe it is not, but let's assume that it is.
  • Question: Do the documents of V2 in the "Four Points" represent ambiguous or even a rupture with prior doctrine???
    • Answer: Looking at the Four Points and the original doctrine, it is reasonable to conclude (even without the benefit of hindsight) that yes they are either ambiguous or rupture with prior doctrine

Given the confusion, it seems quite reasonable to conclude that even if it were within the Pope's power to change Dogma and Doctrine at a whim as well as the Liturgy - it does represent a proximate occasion of sin (danger to the faith) to accept these principles.

Therefore, the Church had an obligation to disregard the order to accept the protestantized liturgy and doctrine reworded to be acceptable to protestants.

The Regularization of the SSPX

While the 1974 declaration may seem like ancient history, the possible regularization of the SSPX is not.  
  • Question: Is it within the sphere of authority of the Pope to order the SSPX to accept a particular canonical structure?
    • Answer: Yes, the Pope has universal jurisdiction. 
  • Question: Does accepting a no-compromise regularization (meaning the SSPX could continue to function exactly as it does now with the ordinary jurisdiction) constitute an immediate or occasion of sin?
    • Answer: Obviously, there is no immediate sin as a true no-compromise canonical form allows the SSPX the freedom to continue its work unimpeded without relying upon the state of necessity.
  • Question: Is it likely that the SSPX will compromise on Dogma, Doctrine or Liturgy in a True no-compromise regularization?  In short is it a proximate occasion of sin?
    • Answer: Assuming that it truly is a no-compromise regularization and the SSPX examines the arrangement thoroughly and concludes with all prudence that the offer is legitimate and there are no proximate requirements (explicitly or implied) in the proffered agreement.   This would have to be manifested in some manner such that the leadership of the SSPX is convinced that there is no proximate occasion of sin.
Therefore, in this theoretical case, we can conclude that the conditions for obedience would be present.  
I want to emphasize that this is not a question of whether the inferior subjectively trusts the superior.

It is a question of determining as far as humanly possible whether or not the order falls within the sphere of authority of the superior and if it involved immediate or proximate sin.  If the conclusion is that there is an absence of both immediate and proximate sin (knowing all the circumstances, conditions etc) then, following St. Thomas, the leadership would have to place their trust in God and submit.

Before someone runs off calling Tradical an 'Accordista', I would like to point out that these are theoretical conditions that have yet to be met. In reality, the mantra of "Accept the Council and New Mass" and other conditions are still being demanded of the SSPX.

In short:
  1. Rome is not ready to accept the SSPX as 'we are'.
  2. SSPX is not going to compromise.
  3. This isn't even the beginning of the end of the beginning of this crisis!
So, what action could Rome (ie The Pope) take to remove the concern of a proximate occasion of sin (obviously after removing any immediate occasion)?

One theologian mentioned to me that a declaration by the Pope that the Founder of the SSPX, Archbishop Lefebvre, acted well and prudently in the formation of the SSPX and its mission has official approbation by the Holy See.  

Such a declaration would go a long way to demonstrating that the Pope is truly going to support the SSPX when the going gets rough ... as it would when the SSPX is regularized!


The degree of virtue attached to obedience depends upon the nature of the order. It is not virtuous to obey a order that is sinful, as God must be obeyed in all things. It is virtuous to obey an order that is not sinful and falls within the superior's sphere of authority. There is greater virtue in obeying an sinless order that falls outside the superior's sphere of authority.

Dealing with explicitly sinful or sinless orders is simple. Dealing with orders that may be proximately sinful is more difficult as it requires us to practice the virtue of prudence in order to rightly determine whether or not to obey.

Obedience is a virtue that must be practiced prudently!


Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas :

Letter of St. Ignatious to the Portugese Jesuits:


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