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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Voris: SSPX Mass Fulfills Sunday Obligation “Literally, Technically, and Canonically” Featured

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Voris: SSPX Mass Fulfills Sunday Obligation “Literally, Technically, and Canonically”
No, the title of this piece is not a misprint. In yet another tirade against the SSPX, this one entitled “SSPX Sunday Mass,” Michael Voris explores whether assisting at an SSPX Mass fulfills the Sunday obligation. In doing so, he shockingly admits the following:

“It is frequently stated by the SSPX and its supporters that you can fulfill your Sunday and Holy Day Mass obligations at SSPX Masses….It is true literally, technically and canonically…”

Boom! End of story. Next question? …..Wait, what? There’s more? What’s left to say?

Puzzlingly, Voris continues. This is similar to Voris’ previous piece where he shockingly admits “to date, there has been no formal declaration that the Society is in schism…”, before going on to explain to you why they are in schism. It seems that in attempting to attack the Society, Voris is willing to set aside the principle of non-contradiction.

Michael goes on referring to SSPX supporters:

For example, they often refer to the January 2003 statement from Msgr. Camille Perl of the Pontifical Council Ecclesia Dei (PCED) where he says: "In the strict sense you may fulfill your Sunday obligation by attending a Mass celebrated by a priest of the Society of St. Pius X."

Again, this should be end of story. Case closed. So far Voris is like a kid in basketball who gets turned around and starts scoring points for the other team by shooting on his own basket. Yet he continues:

But what they conveniently leave unsaid by Msgr. Perl is the following: "We have already told you that we cannot recommend your attendance at such a Mass and have explained the reason why."

The reason why, according to Msgr. Perl, is as follows:

A celebration of Holy Mass should be done in communion with the Church and with the Pope, and with the bishop of the place. The celebration of the Mass should be done by a priest who is in union with the Church. ...

Obviously the normal situation in the Church is that one should fulfil the Sunday obligation at a Mass said by a priest in a “regular” canonical situation. And if you can find a Traditional Mass said with piety and reverence and no heresy from the pulpit nearby, said by a priest in a regularized status, then good for you.

Sadly, however, this is not the case in many, many places in the US, hence our current crisis. This spiritual void is precisely what the Society has been trying to fill. The Society, as a matter of course over the years, has only set up chapels where a stable group of faithful has petitioned and asked them to. Thus, the SSPX Chapels in the US were originally established because of a dire need for them by Catholics in various spiritual and liturgical wastelands in the United States. My own opinion is that the PCED, like Pope Benedict, recognized the deplorable state of liturgy in vast areas of the Church and decided it was not going to deny good devoted Catholics a reverent Mass on Sunday, thereby forcing them to assist at the various liturgical circuses being conducted in their dioceses.

PCED: SSPX Mass Fulfills Sunday Obligation, Not a Sin, Can Even Donate Money

Curiously, Voris leaves out the following sentences, stated by Msgr. Perl in his January 2003 response:

"2. We have already told you that we cannot recommend your attendance at such a Mass and have explained the reason why. If your primary reason for attending were to manifest your desire to separate yourself from communion with the Roman Pontiff and those in communion with him, it would be a sin. If your intention is simply to participate in a Mass according to the 1962 Missal for the sake of devotion, this would not be a sin."    His third question was: "Is it a sin for me to contribute to the Sunday collection at a Pius X Mass" to which we responded:    "3. It would seem that a modest contribution to the collection at Mass could be justified."

As regards point two, John Vennari had an excellent response:

It must be noted that this last point addresses a problem that does not really exist. I have been attending the Traditional Mass in independent and SSPX chapels for more than 23 years, and I never once met anyone in these chapels, priest or layman, who "intends to separate himself from the Roman Pontiff". The prime motivation for myself, my family, and others who attend these chapels is to adhere to the Latin Tridentine Mass, and to adhere to the traditional teaching and practice of the Catholic Church throughout the centuries -- at a time when our Church leaders are giving us stones instead of bread..

In addition, point number three makes the CMTV position on this issue look almost comical. If we are to believe CMTV, Society priests are some sort of schismatic monsters who commit mortal sin every time they say Holy Mass. But then how does CMTV explain Msgr. Perl’s words that “a modest contribution to the collection at Mass could be justified?” If you believe CMTV, apparently the Church is permitting Catholics to give money to support the apostolates of mortally sinning priests who are deceiving souls to Hell. Quite the picture!

As for recommendations, many liberal priests and bishops do not recommend Catholics fulfill their Sunday obligation at a Traditional Mass at all because it is such an archaic and ossified relic where people cannot “actively participate” and feel “in community.” Other conservative priests would not recommend Catholics go to a “fully approved” teen rock mass to fulfil their Sunday obligation for obvious reasons. Thus recommendations from priests, including Msgr. Perl, are not always in the best interests of Catholics depending on their situation or knowledge of the Faith.

Regardless, the bottom line of the 2003 Perl letter, and why it is quoted by Traditionalists, is not to somehow deceptively mislead Catholics, but to show them that even the PCED itself concedes that we may fulfill our Sunday obligation by attending a Mass celebrated by a priest of the Society of St. Pius X. Notice, that despite whatever recommendation Msgr. Perl gives, he never revokes or contradicts his previous statement. And this statement is the bottom line regarding the question of SSPX Masses fulfilling the Sunday obligation.

The Mysterious Roaming “Schism”

Voris (unfortunately) goes on:

The PCED responded in 2008 with the exact same cautions:

While it is true that participation in the Mass at chapels of the Society of St. Pius X does not of itself constitute 'formal adherence to the schism' (cf. Ecclesia Dei 5, c), such adherence [to a schism] can come about over a period of time as one slowly imbibes a schismatic mentality which separates itself from the teaching of the Supreme Pontiff and the entire Catholic Church.

Another comical element is that certain documents refer to some sort of “schism” that no Church authority really defines or tells us who is a part of. For all we know, it really exists, but no human being is necessarily involved in it at all. It’s sort of like Bishop Robert Barron’s idea of Hell. It is also has the characteristics of a smoke monster. It mysteriously roams around the Church inadvertently appearing and sucking souls into its schsmatic void. It disappears only until it’s again needed to serve as a scarecrow by Church authorities, or in this case, an obsessed Neo-Catholic anchor-man who imitates Bill O’Reilly. In fact, could the smoke monster be the true inspiration behind “The Vortex?” We may never know.

a smoke monster

What we do know is that the PCED, even before the remitting of the excommunications in 2009, did not necessarily consider the Society priests themselves to be in schism, much less the faithful. In yet another portion of the 2003 letter Voris does not quote, Msgr. Perl, speaking of the SSPX priests, states:

To the extent that they adhere to the schism of the late Archbishop Lefebvre, they are also excommunicated.

So, it seems, that, as of 2003 unless Society priests intended to separate themselves from the Pope (they are not sedevacantists and recognize the Pope’s authority as head of the Catholic Church) they did not “adhere” to the mysterious “schism” still floating around in 2003. The Society website quotes an important principle in this regard that Neo-Catholics should memorize by heart:

As Rev. Fr. Heribert Jone, O.F.M. Cap. wrote in his Moral Theology, no. 432.1 (The Newman Bookshop, Westminster, MD, 1945):

A schismatic is someone who, as a matter of principle, does not want to be subject to the pope..., but someone who simply refuses to obey the pope is not schismatic, even if it is for a long time.

As the PCED stated, anyone who is guilty of adhering to this “schism” is excommunicated. Yet Pope Benedict lifted the excommunications from the SSPX bishops in 2009. Thus, any “schism” these bishops were in, necessarily evaporated at that point. For if they were true schismatics their excommunications could never have been lifted. Thus, the mysterious floating and roaming “schism” created in 1988 still exists only as a bogey man that all self-respecting Neo-Catholics, including Karl Keating, Tim Staples, and Jimmy Akin gave up on long ago.

Vortex: Another Canon Law Fail

 Voris then goes on to cite from a mysterious PCED response to a “private inquiry” that he has obtained. We are not told how the original question was worded, who at the PCED responded, nor are we given the surrounding context of the answer on the webpage the quite appears on.

And as recently as June 18, 2015, the PCED responded in writing to a private inquiry which Church Militant has:

In relation to the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation, its fulfillment at Masses celebrated by priests of the SSPX is justified only in the case of physical impediment, there being no other reasonable way of fulfilling the obligation.

Interesting mystery quote with no personal attribution or context. In fairness, however, I must give CMTV some credit as at least this time they named the PCED as the author. This is an improvement from presenting a portion of a priest’s sermon as their own work, before acknowledging it was not, but I digress.

a voris plagiarism
Regardless of the quote’s authenticity, its author is incorrect. Notice Msgr. Perl made no such limitation of circumstances in any of his previous statements. Why? Because unlike the author of the above statement he was aware of and understood the relevant canon law that applied and still applies. For the Society only uses the Perl letters from the PCED as supporting evidence that Catholics may fulfill their Sunday obligation at their Masses. After all, the PCED letters are private correspondence and not an official binding universal statement from Rome. Canon law, however, is binding and universal.

Thus, this matter is easily solved by simply referring to the 1983 Code’s liberalized canon on the Sunday obligation. Instead of including detailed restrictions on what Masses did and did not fulfill the Sunday obligation, as the 1917 Code did, this new merciful code of the new springtime, which wanted to throw off the fetters of condemnation and negativity and open new windows to the vistas of brotherhood, only states the following:

Can. 1248 §1 The obligation of assisting at Mass is satisfied wherever Mass is celebrated in a catholic rite either on a holyday itself or on the evening of the previous day.

Boom. Case closed. There it is in all of its glory. The 1983 drafters opened the doors up wider than Francis welcoming Imams to pray at St. Peter’s. Still not convinced, my stubborn Neo-Catholic friend? I sure wish there was a way I could go back in time, before the excommunications were even remitted so I could write a letter to a high ranking Cardinal, maybe even the President for the Sacred Congregation for the Clergy, and ask him point blank whether SSPX Masses fulfill the Sunday obligation so we could settle this dispute once and for all. Oh wait. Somebody already did!

Cardinal Silvio Oddi President for the Sacred Congregation for the Clergy March 17, 1984

This reply was made to a inquiry made by a family about whether attending Mass at an SSPX chapel would serve to fulfilled their Sunday Obligation:

According to the New Code of Canon Law, “The obligation of assisting at Mass is satisfied wherever Mass is celebrated in a Catholic rite....” I hope that settles your doubts."

Boom! Case closed (yet again). But that’s not all.

Canon Law and Schismatic Masses

The liberalized 1983 Code of Canon law, in canon 844 even allows assisting at the Masses of the truly schismatic Orthodox under certain conditions.

Whenever necessity requires or a genuine spiritual advantage commends it, and provided the danger of error or indifferentism is avoided, Christ's faithful for whom it is physically or morally impossible to approach a catholic minister, may lawfully receive the sacraments of penance, the Eucharist and anointing of the sick from non-catholic ministers in whose Churches these sacraments are valid.

And in case you were wondering, “moral impossibility” includes not being able to assist at your regular diocesan Masses without entering into the near occasion of sin from any variety of abuses, heresy, irreverence, immodestly dressed congregants, etc. In this case, the Code even allows a Catholic to go receive the Eucharist in one of those evil schismatic churches where the pastor commits mortal sin each time he says Mass. Apparently the Vatican is not too concerned. Beyond that, Rome even envisions a situation where a Catholic can gain spiritual advantage(!) from assisting at a schismatic Orthodox Mass rather than assist at their local parish’s dog and pony show. Truly, this is how low the state of the liturgy has sunk in the Catholic Church. Now certainly I’m not condoning Catholics assisting at Orthodox Masses. But I’d like to point out this is how desperate John Paul II was, recognizing the deplorable state of the liturgy and even apologizing for it in the early 80’s, to give the faithful trapped in these situations some sort of liturgical alternative.

Yet the door that Peter himself has thrown wide open to the faithful, through both the canon allowing Sunday obligation to be fulfilled by a Mass said “in any Catholic rite” and the canon even allowing assistance at schismatic Orthodox Masses, Mr. Voris would shut, by his own authority, even stating that those who claim that one can fulfill one's Sunday and Holy Day obligation at SSPX Masses “are being the most treacherous and deceitful one could be” and that “keeping the full truth from people in such a grave area is worthy of damnation." He says, "The sheep are being deliberately tricked.”

Oh the sheep are being tricked Mr. Voris, but not by the SSPX.

Misquoting Bishop Morlino?

Voris then goes on to misquote Bp. Robert Morlino. As we all know, he recently made a public apology to the SSPX and clarified that he never meant for the following sentence to be published and asked that it be stricken from any future publication of the letter. Yet, CMTV inexplicably kept the sentence in Bp. Morlino’s quote:

“All is not well with the SSPX, and my advice, my plea to the traditionally­-minded faithful of the diocese is to have nothing to do with them.”

I would advise Mr. Voris to please watch the following video (if he hasn’t already) and then please follow Bishop Morlino’s example in apologizing for repeating it.

The rest of Voris’ latest piece is filled with more inaccuracies, mostly regarding jurisdiction for SSPX confessions and marriages. I have already written at length regarding jurisdiction as applied to SSPX confessions twice and I urge you to read these if interested:

Are the SSPX Confessions Valid?

A Response to Father Z and Jeff Mirus

Voris acts as if the SSPX is making up supplied jurisdiction out of thin air, when in fact Catholic canonists in “full communion” with Rome as well as canon law commentaries that pre-date the Society’s existence have supported the Society's position. If you don't believe me, see for yourself in the links above. Ironically, Voris, as Fr. Z and Jeff Mirus before him, acts as if he has the last word on this issue when in reality he has zero authority to tell any Catholic their confession or marriage is invalid. In doing so he presumptuously usurps the role of the Pope.

It is also rich that Mr. Voris is showing so much concern regarding the invalidation of Society marriages while he was and is completely silent after the Pope struck a devastating blow to all Catholic marriages with his recent tragic motu proprios on annulments.

Vatican II Says Be Nice to Schismatics!

In conclusion, assuming the SSPX is in schism as Voris says, he should be careful about his very nasty attitude and invectives against them; speaking of “disobedient” “schismatic” priests committing “mortal sin” by saying Mass without permission and diabolically confecting the Eucharist. For in doing so, Voris is seriously violating Vatican II, an ecumenical council of the Catholic Church! As for Voris’ friend, Fr. Paul Nicholson, calling a schismatic Mass worse than a Black Mass ... I don’t even want to think of the consequences!

Mr. Voris and Fr. Paul should both be reminded to keep their behavior in check by meditating on Vatican II’s Unitatis redintegratio, n. 15 which gives quite a different view of schismatic Masses:

Everyone also knows with what great love the Christians of the East celebrate the sacred liturgy, especially the eucharistic celebration, source of the Church’s life and pledge of future glory.… Hence, through the celebration of the Holy Eucharist in each of these churches, the Church of God is built up and grows in stature and through concelebration, their communion with one another is made manifest….

These Churches, although separated from us, yet possess true sacraments and above all, by apostolic succession, the priesthood and the Eucharist, whereby they are linked with us in closest intimacy. Therefore some worship in common (communicatio in sacris), given suitable circumstances and the approval of Church authority, is not only possible but to be encouraged.…

Thus, both Voris and Fr. Paul should find their nearest Society priest and give him a big hug! For they now know that their neighborhood SSPX priest celebrates the sacred liturgy with great love and that the Church of God is built up and grows in stature through it. The SSPX is also linked with the Church in the closest intimacy and worship in common with Society priests and faithful should be encouraged. 

a Patriarch blesses Pope 620x350
UPDATE: Church Militant has just issued another article called SSPX Poachers" which tells a one sided tale of the SSPX acquiring a church building in Pittsburgh. For the real story click on the following:

Bishop Zubik Can Bow to Bishop Fellay and Ask His Blessing

Relation of title to picture above is totally coincidental, yet poignant.

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Last modified on Thursday, September 17, 2015