Society of Saint Pius X
Society of Saint Pius X (Latin: Fraternitas Sacerdotalis Sancti
Pii X; also known as the SSPX or the FSSPX) is an international
priestly fraternity founded in 1970 by the French Roman Catholic
Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. The Society is known for rejecting many of
the ecclesiastical reforms both influenced or institutionalized by the
Second Vatican Council
Second Vatican Council while maintaining
Traditional Latin Mass
Traditional Latin Mass among
its followers. The present
Superior General of the Society is Bishop
Tensions between the society and the
Holy See reached their height in
Archbishop Lefebvre consecrated four bishops without the
Apostolic Mandate, resulting in
Rome issuing a declaration of
excommunication against the bishops who consecrated or were
consecrated. Though, the priestly Fraternity never believed any
penalty was incurred, claiming Canon Law as their defense. However,
the declaration of excommunication was removed in January 2009 with
a hope expressed that all members of the society would quickly return
to full communion.
In recent years, the Society has seen a growing recognition of its
sacramental and pastoral activities by the Holy See. The Holy See
extended, on 20 November 2016, permanent canonical recognition to
confessions heard by Society priests (Misericordia et Misera, 12)
and later, on 4 April 2017, also recognized marriages witnessed by
priests of the Society. The significance of these recognitions is
that, unique among the sacraments of the Catholic Church, both
confession and marriage require canonical jurisdiction for their
validity (it was a long-standing contention by the Society's critics
that neither of these sacraments could be received by a Society
priest, due to defect-of-form). In addition, the Vatican named
Bishop Fellay judge in a canonical trial against one of the Society's
1 History of the SSPX
1.1 Foundation of the Society
1.2 Canonical Visitation of Seminary
1.3 Growing Tensions
1.5 Discussions with the Holy See
2 Canonical situation
2.3 Ordination and Holy Orders
3 SSPX today
3.1 Allies and Supporters
3.2 Notable groups that have split from the SSPX
4.2 Alleged Abuse
5 See also
7 External links
History of the SSPX
Lefebvre, the society's founder, celebrating Tridentine Mass
Traditionalist Catholic movement in general, the SSPX was
born out of opposition to changes in the Catholic Church that followed
Second Vatican Council
Second Vatican Council (1962–1965). The founder and central
figure of the society was the French prelate
Lefebvre, who had previously served the Catholic Church as apostolic
delegate to French-speaking Africa,
Archbishop of Dakar, and superior
general of the Holy Ghost Fathers, a missionary order of priests.
Foundation of the Society
In May 1970, shortly after his retirement as Vicar General of the Holy
Ghost Fathers, Lefebvre was approached by 11
French seminarians in
Rome, who were criticized for their adherence to the traditional
doctrines of the Catholic Church. They sought Lefebvre's advice on a
conservative seminary where they could complete their studies. He
directed them to the still conservative
University of Fribourg, in
Switzerland. But soon, the
University had become as liberal as
In late 1970, at age 65, urged by the
Abbot of the Abbey of Hauterive
and Dominican theologian Father Marie-Dominique Philippe to teach the
seminarians personally, Lefebvre, feeling too old to undertake such a
large project, told them he would visit François Charrière, Bishop
Geneva and Fribourg, with a request to set up a religious
society. He told them, if he said to go through with it, he would see
in it a sign of Divine Providence. Charrière granted Lefebvre's
request and, with a document predated by six days to 1 November 1970,
he established the Society of St. Pius X as a pia unio (Latin, for
"pious, or holy, union") on a provisional (ad experimentum) basis for
six years. Pia unio status was the first stage through which a
Catholic organisation passed prior to gaining official recognition as
a religious institute or society of apostolic life. (Since 1983, the
term "association of the faithful" has replaced "pia unio".) The
Society of Saint Pius X
Society of Saint Pius X was formally founded, adhering to all
canonical norms, and receiving the episcopal blessing and
encouragement of the local ordinary. Some Swiss laymen offered the
seminary at Ecône to the newly formed group, and in 1971 the first 24
candidates entered, followed by a further 32 in October 1972.
Normally, after a suitable period of experience and consultation with
the Holy See, a bishop would raise a pia unio to official status at
diocesan level. Lefebvre attempted to bypass this stage, and contacted
three different Vatican departments in order to secure early
recognition for his society. He succeeded in obtaining a letter of
encouragement from Cardinal John Joseph Wright,
Prefect of the Sacred
Congregation for the Clergy, but there was no approval from the
Vatican congregation responsible for raising an association to the
level desired by Lefebvre. Cardinal Wright's letter, dated 18 February
1971, said with regard to the field of competence of Cardinal Wright's
own Congregation, that the association "will be able to contribute
much to accomplishing the plan drawn up by this Congregation for
worldwide sharing of clergy". Cardinal Wright was still recommending
prospective seminarians to apply to
Écône as late as 1973.
The establishment of the SSPX was unwelcome to a number of churchmen,
most notably to the French bishops, whose theological outlook was
quite different from that of Lefebvre and who had important
connections with the Vatican Cardinal Secretary of State, Jean-Marie
Villot. Much of the tension between Lefebvre and his critics must be
seen in the context of long-term theological, cultural and political
divisions between opposing elements of French society. According to
Michael Davies, a defender of Lefebvre, at the meeting of the French
episcopal conference at Lourdes in 1972, the seminary at Écône
acquired the nickname "le séminaire sauvage" – the "wildcat
seminary", and by November 1974 the French episcopate had indicated
that they would not incardinate any of Lefebvre's priests in their
dioceses. They also publicly criticised Catholics who remained
attached to the Tridentine Mass. By this time, the SSPX had opened
additional seminaries in Armada, Michigan, (1973) and in
The Society's first seminary, in Écône, Switzerland
Canonical Visitation of Seminary
The first sign of intervention by curial authorities was a meeting
held in the Vatican on 26 March 1974. By June 1974, a commission of
cardinals had been formed to inquire into the SSPX. The cardinals
decided that a canonical visitation of the seminary should be
undertaken and, from 11–13 November 1974, two Belgian priests
carried out a visitation. Franz Schmidberger, later superior general
of the Society in 1990, said that their report was favourable.
However, the seminarians and staff at
Écône judged some theological
opinions that the two priests expressed there to be excessively
liberal and greatly shocking. In what he later described as a mood of
"doubtlessly excessive indignation", Lefebvre wrote a "Declaration" in
which he strongly attacked what he considered to be liberal trends
apparent in the contemporary Church, which (he said) were "clearly
evident" in the Council and in the reforms that had followed. This
document was leaked and published in January 1975, in the French
Traditionalist Catholic journal Itinéraires.
By now, Lefebvre was in serious difficulties. In January 1975,
Monsignor Pierre Mamie, the Bishop of Fribourg, wrote to
his intention to withdraw the pia unio status that his predecessor had
granted. In the same month, Lefebvre was asked by the cardinals to
come to the Vatican. He met with them twice, on 13 February and 3
March. To Lefebvre's declared surprise, the meetings were hostile in
tone: at one point a French cardinal, Gabriel-Marie Garrone,
reportedly called him a "fool".
On 6 May 1975, with the approval of the cardinals, Bishop Mamie
withdrew the SSPX's pia unio status. Lefebvre instructed his lawyer to
lodge appeals and he ultimately petitioned the Apostolic Signatura,
the highest court of the Catholic Church, which turned down the
complaint. From this point onwards, the SSPX was no longer recognised
as a canonical organization.
An SSPX Priest and altar server. Pictured are a red-veiled
tabernacle and the priest's black biretta, features of the
pre-1965 pious devotional practice for hundreds of years.
Lefebvre and the leadership of the society have always maintained that
he was treated unfairly by the Roman Curia, that the suppression of
the SSPX was unjust and also that the procedures followed in its
suppression violated the provisions of the Code of Canon Law.
The SSPX continued to operate in spite of its dissolution. In the
consistory of 24 May 1976,
Pope Paul VI
Pope Paul VI rebuked
Archbishop Lefebvre by
name – reportedly the first time in 200 years that a pope had
publicly reprimanded a Catholic bishop – and appealed to him
and his followers to change their minds.
Lefebvre announced that he intended to confer ordination on some of
his students at the end of June 1976. On 12 June 1976, the Nuncio in
Switzerland was given instructions to inform Lefebvre that, by special
order of Pope Paul VI, he was forbidden to do so. On 25 June
Archbishop Giovanni Benelli, the deputy Secretary of State,
wrote directly to Lefebvre, confirming, by special mandate of the
Pope, the prohibition to administer the holy orders, and warning him
of the canonical penalties for Lefebvre himself and those whom he
would ordain. Lefebvre ignored the warnings, and went ahead
with the ordinations on 29 June 1976.
In the sermon that he delivered on that occasion, Lefebvre explicitly
recognized the possibility that he himself would be struck with
suspension and the new priests with an irregularity that should
theoretically prevent them from saying Mass. On the next day, 1
July 1976, the Press Office of the
Holy See declared that in
accordance with canon 2373 of the then Code of Canon Law, Lefebvre was
automatically suspended for one year from conferring ordination, and
that those whom he had ordained were automatically suspended from the
exercise of the order received. It was also announced that the Holy
See was examining Lefebvre's disobedience to the orders of the Pope
that were communicated by the above-mentioned letters of the
Secretariat of State dated 12 and 15 June 1976.
On 11 July 1976, Lefebvre signed a certificate of receipt of a letter
from Cardinal Sebastiano Baggio,
Prefect of the Congregation for
Bishops, intimating to him a canonical warning that further penalties
would be inflicted on him in accordance with canon 2331 §1 of the
Code of Canon Law
Code of Canon Law concerning obstinate disobedience to legitimate
precepts or prohibitions of the Roman Pontiff, unless within ten days
of receipt of the letter he took steps "to repair the scandal caused".
In a letter of 17 July to Pope Paul VI, Lefebvre declared that he
judged his action of 29 June to be legitimate. The Pope considered
this response inadequate and on his instructions the Congregation for
Bishops, on 22 July 1976, suspended Lefebvre for an indefinite time
from all exercise of holy orders- he could not confer any of the
Sacraments, save Reconciliation or Baptism in a dire emergency
(suspension "a divinis").
A central controversy surrounding the SSPX concerns the consecration
Archbishop Lefebvre and Brazilian bishop Antônio de Castro Mayer
of four SSPX priests as bishops in 1988 in violation of the orders of
Pope John Paul II.
Archbishop Lefebvre was 81. At that point, if Lefebvre had
died, the SSPX would have become dependent upon non-SSPX bishops to
ordain future priests – and Lefebvre did not regard them as
properly reliable and orthodox. In June 1987, Lefebvre announced his
intention to consecrate a successor to the episcopacy. He implied that
he intended to do this with or without the approval of the Holy
See. Under canons 1013 and 1382 of the Catholic Code of Canon Law,
the consecration of a bishop requires papal approval.
bishops without papal approval had been condemned by
Pope Pius XII
Pope Pius XII in
his encyclical Ad Apostolorum principis, which described the
sacramental activity of bishops who had been consecrated without such
approval as "gravely illicit, that is, criminal and sacrilegious".
The Roman authorities were unhappy with Lefebvre's plan, but they
began discussions with him and the SSPX which led to the signing on 5
May 1988, of a skeleton agreement between Lefebvre and Cardinal Joseph
Ratzinger, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the
Faith and the future Pope Benedict XVI.
On Pope John Paul II's instructions, Cardinal Ratzinger replied to
Lefebvre on 30 May, insisting on observance of the agreement of 5 May
and adding that, if Lefebvre carried out unauthorized consecrations on
30 June, the promised authorization for the ordination to the
episcopacy would not be granted.
On 3 June, Lefebvre wrote from Écône, stating that he intended to
proceed. On 9 June, the Pope replied with a personal letter, appealing
to him not to proceed with a design that "would be seen as nothing
other than a schismatic act, the theological and canonical
consequences of which are known to you". Lefebvre did not reply and
the letter was made public on 16 June. For the first time the Holy See
stated publicly that Lefebvre was in danger of being excommunicated.
On 30 June 1988,
Archbishop Lefebvre proceeded to ordain to the
episcopate four priests of the SSPX. Monsignor Antônio de Castro
Mayer, the retired Bishop of Campos dos Goytacazes, Brazil, assisted
in the ceremony. Those consecrated as Bishops were: Bernard Fellay,
Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Alfonso de Galarreta, and Richard
The following day, the
Congregation for Bishops issued a decree
Archbishop Lefebvre and the four newly ordained bishops
had incurred the automatic canonical penalty of excommunication
reserved to the Holy See. On the following day, 2 July, Pope John
Paul II issued an apostolic letter known as
Ecclesia Dei in which he
condemned the Archbishop's action. The Pope stated that, since
schism is defined in the
Code of Canon Law
Code of Canon Law as "withdrawal of
submission to the Supreme Pontiff or from communion with the members
of the Church subject to him" (canon 751), the consecration
"constitute[d] a schismatic act", and that, by virtue of canon 1382 of
the Code, it entailed ipso facto excommunication for all the
Lefebvre argued that his actions had been necessary because the
traditional form of the Catholic faith and sacraments would become
extinct without traditionalist clergy to pass them on to the next
generation. He called the ordinations "opération survie" ("Operation
Survival"), citing in his defense canons 1323 and 1324 of the Code of
Canon Law, the first of which says that "a person who acted coerced by
grave fear, even if only relatively grave, or due to necessity or
grave inconvenience unless the act is intrinsically evil or tends to
the harm of souls" is not subject to penalty for violating a law or
precept, while the other says "the perpetrator of a violation is not
exempt from a penalty, but the penalty established by law or precept
must be tempered or a penance employed in its place if the delict was
committed ... by a person who thought in culpable error that one of
the circumstances mentioned in can. 1323, nn. 4 or 5 was present".
Some members of the SSPX disassociated themselves from the Society as
a result of Lefebvre's actions and, with the approval of the Holy See,
formed a separate society called the Priestly Fraternity of Saint
Discussions with the Holy See
Main article: Dialogue between the Society of St. Pius X and the Holy
Bishop Bernard Fellay,
Superior General of the SSPX
Discussions between the
Holy See and the Society of St. Pius X towards
an eventual reconciliation have been ongoing. For years after the 1988
consecrations, there was little if any dialogue between the SSPX and
the Holy See. This state of affairs ended when the Society led a large
Rome for the Jubilee in the year 2000.
Nine years later, on January 21, 2009 the
Holy See remitted the
excommunications of the Society's bishops that it had declared at the
time of the 1988 consecrations and expressed the hope that all members
of the society would follow this up by speedily returning to full
communion with the Church.
Discussions since then have been complex, stemming from the Society's
insistence that the teachings of the
Second Vatican Council
Second Vatican Council on
ecumenism, religious liberty, and collegiality are inconsistent with
Catholic teaching and doctrine, a claim that the
Holy See views as
unacceptable, but recent discussions have indicated the possibility of
an understanding. In an interview on 4 March 2017 with DICI, the
official news organ of the Society, Bishop
Bernard Fellay stated
"Whether it is a question of religious liberty, collegiality,
ecumenism, the new Mass, or even the new rites of the sacraments….
all of a sudden, on these points that have been stumbling blocks, the
Rome tell us that they are open questions." In the
same month of March 2017,
Archbishop Guido Pozzo, the prelate in
charge of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, the Roman Curia's
organ for traditionalist societies, stated that the
Holy See and the
Society were close to an agreement regularizing the Society's
status. And in a letter of the same month it was announced that
Pope Francis authorized diocesan bishops to grant to SSPX priests
faculties to officiate at a marriage valid in the Catholic Church in
cases where no priest in good standing could do so.
In July 2017 Bishop Fellay signed a document along with a number of
other clergy and academics labeled as a "Fraternal Correction" of Pope
Francis. The twenty-five page document, which was made public in
September after receiving no reply from the Holy See, criticized the
Pope for allegedly promoting heresy through various words, actions and
omissions during his pontificate.
Main article: Canonical situation of the Society of St. Pius X
The canonical situation of the SSPX and of its clergy has been the
subject of controversy since the 1988
Écône consecrations. While the
Society is not listed in Annuario Pontificio as a recognized society
of apostolic life, it has nonetheless benefited from many significant
allowances normally granted only to recognized orders and societies.
In the November–December 2017 addition of The Angelus, Fr. Francois
Knittel, SSPX, wrote "The Church authorities have gradually recognized
the liceity and the validity of the ministry performed by the priests
of the SSPX."
On 27 March 2017, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
communicated that Pope Francis had decided to grant local ordinaries
the right to give to a priest in good standing the faculty to preside
at the marriage of followers of the Society, immediately after which
they will participate in a Mass celebrated by an SSPX priest, or, if
no priest in good standing can receive the consent of the couple, to
give the faculty instead to an SSPX priest. Previously, in 2008, the
Ecclesia Dei had stated "The priests of the
Society of St. Pius X are... prohibited from exercising their priestly
functions," going on to conclude that, in the case of matrimony,
"these sacraments are invalid," since a suspended priest lacks the
proper delegation from the bishop.
On 20 November, 2016, Pope Francis personally extended an allowance he
created during the Holy Year of 2015, whereby penitents confessing to
priests affiliated with the SSPX "shall validly and licitly receive
the absolution of their sins."
Ordination and Holy Orders
During an interview with TV Libertes on 29 January, 2017, Bishop
Fellay announced that theological discussions with the Vatican had led
to permission for the Society to licitly ordain priests: "This summer
it was confirmed that the
Superior General can freely ordain the
priests of the Society without having to ask permission from the local
In 2011, Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy and dean of
theology at the Regina Apostolorum university in Rome, said that, for
Catholics, assistance at Mass celebrated by priests of the Society is
not necessarily a sin: "It would only become so if a person attended
this Mass with the deliberate intention of separating himself from
communion with the Pope and those in communion with him." However, he
concluded: "Only if there is objectively no alternative should one
attend the Mass celebrated by a priest from the Society of St. Pius X.
If one has to do so, then I would say that one may go in good
When told by a journalist of InfoVaticana, a provider of religious
information founded in Madrid in October 2013, that what Pope
Francis had decided in March 2017 was instead that, "from now on, the
weddings celebrated by the priests from the FSSPX are going to be
recognized", Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, who had not seen the actual
document, remarked: "That is a very significant action of the Holy
Father, and it also indicates that in some way there must be a
reconciliation of the FSSPX because basically what the Pope is saying
is that the priests in this society, when they witness marriages, are
exercising jurisdiction in the
Roman Catholic Church." In reality,
it is local ordinaries, not the Society, that in the document are
authorized, if they wish, to delegate jurisdiction to SSPX priests to
assist canonically at some marriages.
The Society's view is that, before Pope Francis's authorizations,
their priests held "supplied" jurisdiction (power of governance) for
confessions and marriages. They received this supplied jurisdiction by
law and not "by delegation or by mandate of the Sovereign Pontiff or
the diocesan bishops or of regularly appointed parish
Since the grants by Pope Francis, the Society says, its priests have
or can have ordinary jurisdiction for the sacraments of confession and
marriage. It adds that, in cases where a diocesan bishop refuses to
grant delegation for a marriage, SSPX priests can still use
As of 1 January 2018, the Society has 637 priests present in 37
countries and active in 35 more, 772 Mass centers, 167 priories, 117
religious brothers, 195 religious sisters, 79 oblates, 204 seminarians
in six seminaries, 56 pre-seminarians, more than 100 schools, 7
nursing homes, 4 Carmelite convents, 19 Missionary Sisters of Kenya,
and 2 university-level institutes.
The Society is divided into two classes of territorial units called
districts and autonomous houses, each headed by a superior. An
autonomous house may become a district after three priories have been
established within its jurisdiction. The most recent
organizational addition of the Society is the Autonomous House of
Central America and the Caribbean, formed from territory taken from
the District of Mexico, erected on 1 October, 2017. Over 120 (>20%)
of the Society's priests are stationed in the District of France.
Currently, the Society is sub-divided into 14 districts, and 5
District or Autonomous House
District of Africa
District of Asia
District of Australia
District of Austria
District of Belgium-Netherlands
District of Canada
District of France
District of Germany
District of Great Britain
District of Italy
District of Mexico-Guatemala
District of South America
District of Switzerland
District of United States
Autonomous House of Brazil
Autonomous House of Eastern Europe
District of Ireland
Autonomous House of Spain and Portugal
Autonomous House of Central
America and the Caribbean
The first seminary founded by the Society (St. Pius X Seminary) is
located in Écône, Switzerland. Its largest, however, is located
in the United States (St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary: Buckingham County,
Virginia). The seminary, having outgrown its previous facilities,
recently relocated from Winona, Minnesota; the former seminary complex
continues to house the novitiate of the religious brothers. Other
seminaries are located in
France (Flavigny-sur-Ozerain), Germany
(Zaitzkofen), Australia (Goulburn), and Argentina (La Reja). The
Society also runs pre-seminaries for prospective priestly vocations in
Italy (Albano Laziale), and the Philippines (Santa Barbara).
If the Society's canonical situation were to be regularized, it would
be the Church's 4th largest society of apostolic life (similar to a
religious order, but without vows), according to the three criteria
published annually in Annuario Pontificio: Number of erected houses
(median 31; SSPX 167), number of members in the society (median 229;
SSPX 971), and number of priests in the society (median 149; SSPX
Allies and Supporters
The SSPX has received explicit support from the following diocesan
Salvador Lazo Lazo, Bishop of San Fernando de La Unión, Philippines
John Bosco Manat Chuabsamai, Bishop of Ratchaburi, Thailand (born
(1935-10-31) 31 October 1935 (age 82) resigned on 24 July 2003)
Antônio de Castro Mayer, bishop of the
Roman Catholic Diocese of
Bishop Mayer resigned canonically on 20 August 1981; he later
participated in the 1988
Écône consecrations, declaring "my presence
here at this ceremony is a matter of conscience: It is the duty of a
profession of the Catholic Faith before the entire Church." After
his retirement, Bishop Mayer founded the Priestly Union of St
Jean-Marie Vianney, which remained closely associated with the
SSPX until 2001, when it reconciled with the Holy See.
The Society now has close links with the Priestly Society of Saint
Josaphat, led by Father Basil Kovpak, a priest formerly of the
Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, who was definitively excommunicated
from the Catholic Church in November 2007 after having Bishop
Richard Williamson, then of the SSPX but expelled from the Society
five years later, illicitly ordain two priests and seven deacons
for his society in violation of canons 1015 §1 and 1017 of the Code
of Canon Law.
Several religious institutes, mostly based in France, are associated
with the Society. A specific article, SSPX-affiliated religious
orders, is devoted to them.
Notable groups that have split from the SSPX
There have been two major kinds of splits from the SSPX. Two notable
splits of the first kind involved priests who viewed the SSPX as too
liberal and who use the form that the Mass had before Pope John XXIII.
The other kind involved groups who have reconciled with the Holy See
and who, like the SSPX, use the 1962 edition of the Roman Missal.
Groups which broke with the SSPX and are not recognized by the Holy
Society of St. Pius V — In 1983, nine U.S. SSPX priests broke
with or were forced to leave the SSPX's Northeast USA District partly
because they were opposed to Lefebvre's instructions that Mass be
celebrated according to the 1962 edition of the Roman Missal issued by
Pope John XXIII. Those in SSPX circles refer to these priests as "the
nine". They began their organization by refusing to complete a
transaction of a church that the SSPX was attempting to purchase,
using one of the nine priests as the buyer. The founding priests took
the money intended for the purchase of the church and kept the church
for themselves. A number of the SSPV's priests and
the lay people who go to their Masses are openly sedevacantist, a
thesis rejected by the SSPX. Other issues occasioning the split were:
Lefebvre's order that Society priests must accept the decrees of
nullity handed down by diocesan marriage tribunals; the insistence
that all Society Masses be celebrated according to the 1962 edition of
the Roman Missal; the acceptance of new members into the group who had
been ordained to the priesthood according to the revised sacramental
rites of Pope Paul VI.
Istituto Mater Boni Consilii
Istituto Mater Boni Consilii — (English: "Institute of the Mother of
Good Counsel") is a traditionalist congregation of priests that
Sedeprivationist school of thought. The founders of the
institute seceded in 1985 from the Society of St. Pius X under the
leadership of Fr. Francesco Ricossa, onetime faculty member of the
seminary at Écône. In contrast to the North American-based SSPV,
this Institute is based in Europe.
SSPX Resistance — Concern that the discussions with the Holy See
that began in 2009 were leading the Society towards acceptance of the
Second Vatican Council
Second Vatican Council as the price of obtaining recognition led to
the defection not only of Bishop Williamson but also of several priest
members, in both North America and France. These referred to
themselves variously as "the Resistance", the Society of St. Pius X
Marian Corps (SSPX-MC), or l'Union Sacerdotale
Marcel Lefebvre (USML,
Groups which broke with the SSPX and reconciled with
Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter – The Priestly Fraternity of
St. Peter was established in 1988 after the Ecône consecrations.
Responding to the Holy See's declaration that these constituted a
schismatic act and that those involved were thereby automatically
excommunicated, twelve priests left the Society and established the
Fraternity, in full communion with the Holy See.
Institute of the Good Shepherd – The Institute of the Good
Shepherd (Institut du Bon-Pasteur, IBP) was established as a
papally-recognised society of apostolic life on 8 September 2006 for a
group of SSPX members who maintained it was time for the Society to
accept reconciliation with Pope Benedict XVI.
Main article: Controversies surrounding the Society of St. Pius X
Anti-Defamation League has accused the Society of being "mired in
anti-Semitism"; Bishop Williamson was later expelled from the
It was in an SSPX priory, where he had been granted asylum as "an act
of charity to a homeless man", that French
Nazi collaborator and
Paul Touvier was arrested. This was done without the
knowledge of the superiors of the priory. On his death, in 1996, a
priest of the society publicly offered a
Requiem Mass for his soul,
upon his request.
On 16 October 2013, the Society offered to perform a funeral for Nazi
war-criminal Erich Priebke, but the ceremony did not take place due to
protests by some 500 people outside the Society's Italian district
house in Albano, near Rome. The local authorities of the Catholic
Church had refused him a public funeral, citing a rule of canon law
that, unless they gave some signs of repentance before death, a public
funeral must be refused to manifest sinners to whom it cannot be
granted without public scandal of the faithful. The society
issued a statement on its website saying, "A Christian who was
baptized and received the sacraments of confession and the Eucharist,
no matter what his faults and sins were, to the extent that he dies
reconciled with God and the Church, has a right to the celebration of
the holy Mass and a funeral."
Wikinews has related news: Holocaust denial bishop apologizes
For its part, the Society does univocally condemn Nazism, confirming
the principles in Pope Pius XI's 1937 encyclical Mit brennender Sorge
which explicitly denounces the Nazis. The Society also points out that
Archbishop Lefebvre's own father, Renè Lefebvre, met his death in the
concentration camp at Sonnenburg in February, 1944, three years after
his arrest by the Gestapo; he died, "his rosary in hand, a victim of
Nazi insanity." Bishop Williamson, the subject of the complaint by
the Anti-Defamation League, was ordered by the
Superior General to
cease his holocaust denial, and was later expelled from the
On April 5, 2017, Uppdrag Granskning, a Swedish television program
focused on investigative journalism, alleged that four members of the
SSPX—three priests and a former seminarian—had molested at least a
dozen young people in several countries. The program also stated
that evidence of abuse was kept secret by the SSPX and that the
priests were allowed to continue in ministry.  Nonetheless,
three of the four had been expelled from the Society by the time that
the program was aired.
Kevin Gerard Sloniker, the former seminarian and the only person
accused by name in the program, was expelled from the Society's St.
Thomas Aquinas Seminary in 2005, and began serving a life-sentence in
2015. The remaining three accusations regard priests whose
names have been withheld (referred to in the program as Fathers P, S,
and M); their accusers have likewise remained anonymous. Nonetheless,
P was the subject of a canonical trial presided over by Bishop Fellay,
authorized by the Vatican in 2013; he was found guilty, and
subsequently ordered to retire to a monastery. Crux reports "P refused
to go and, according to officials of the SSPX, joined [Bishop]
Williamson's Resistance." He along with "Father S" were expelled
from the Society, and are now affiliated with Williamson's group.
"Father M" is currently serving in France, though no criminal charges
have been brought against him and the Society denies that they are
aware of any credible accusations of abuse against the priest.
Controversies surrounding the Society of St. Pius X
Institute of consecrated life
Minaret controversy in Switzerland
Priestly Society of Saint Josaphat, a related group in the Ukrainian
Greek Catholic Church
Society of St Pius X in New Zealand
St. Mary's College, Kansas
St. Dominic's College, Wanganui
The International Seminary of Saint Pius X
^ "Office of
Congregation for Bishops - Excommunication". Retrieved 21
^ "Pope Benedict lifts excommunication of bishops ordained by
Lefebvre". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved 21 August 2015.
^ "Apostolic Letter Misericordia et misera (20 November 2016)
Francis". w2.vatican.va. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
^ "New pastoral provisions for Sacrament of Marriage for SSPX".
^ "Warning: An SSPX Priest Is Incapable of Absolving You from Sin".
www.catholicculture.org. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
^ "Vatican names Bishop Fellay to hear canonical charge against SSPX
priest, despite bishop's suspension : News Headlines".
www.catholicculture.org. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
^ The Wanderer Interviews Fr. Aulagnier, SSPX, Luc Gagnon, September
^ a b c "Short History Of The Society Of Saint Pius X". Archived from
the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 21 August 2015.
^ a b "SSPXAsia.com: Apologia pro Marcel Lefebvre: chp 2: A New
Apostolate". Retrieved 21 August 2015.
^ "SSPXAsia.com: Apologia pro Marcel Lefebvre: Chapter 4: The Campaign
Against Econe". Retrieved 21 August 2015.
Archbishop Lefebvre was told that this examination was very
positive and that he just had to come to
Rome and clarify some
questions."Conference of Father Franz Schmidberger, superior general
of the Society of St. Pius X at Rockdale, Sydney, Australia, October
16, 1990, by Father Gerard Hogan and Father François Laisney
^ The 1974 Declaration of
Archbishop Lefebvre，November 21, 1974
^ Herbermann, Charles George (1913). The Catholic Encyclopedia.
^ "In their quest to reform the liturgy, some Catholics hope to remake
the culture". 5 June 2015. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
^ "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Biretta". Retrieved 9 December 2016.
^ Nos igitur iterum adhortamur hos Nostros fratres ac filios, eosque
exoramus, ut conscii fiant gravium vulnerum quae secus Ecclesiae
illaturi sunt. Invitationem ipsis iteramus, ut secum recogitent gravia
Christi monita de Ecclesiae unitate (Cfr. Io. 17, 21 ss.) ac de
oboedientia erga legitimum Pastorem, ab Ipso universo gregi
praepositum, cum signum oboedientiae sit quae Patri ac Filio debetur
(Cfr. Luc. 10, 16). Nos eos aperto corde exspectamus apertisque
bracchiis ad eos prompte amplectendos: utinam humilitatis exemplum
praebentes, ad gaudium Populi Dei rursus viam unitatis et amoris
ingredi valeant! (Consistory for the creation of twenty new cardinals,
24 May 1976)
^ a b c The suspension ab ordinum collatione of
^ Text given in English translation in M. Davies, Apologia Pro Marcel
Lefebvre, p. 194
^ English translation in M. Davies, Apologia Pro Marcel Lefebvre, p.
^ "The Ordinations of 29 June 1976". Retrieved 21 August 2015.
^ English translation of the statement in M. Davies, Apologia Pro
Marcel Lefebvre, pp. 215-216
^ The suspension a divinis of
^ "The situation is such, the work placed in our hands by the good
Lord is such, that faced with this darkness in Rome, faced with the
Roman authorities' pertinacity in error, faced with this refusal to
return to truth or tradition on the part of those who occupy the seats
of authority in Rome, faced with all these things, it seems to us that
the good Lord is asking for the Church to continue. This is why it is
likely that before I give account of my life to the good Lord, I shall
have to consecrate some bishops" (Sermon on 29 June 1987)
^ (Encyclical Ad Apostolorum Principis, 41)
^ "Decree of excommunication on Marcel Lefebvre". Retrieved 21 August
Ecclesia Dei Archived January 29, 2015, at the Wayback Machine.
^ Canon 751 Archived February 20, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
Code of Canon Law
Code of Canon Law - IntraText". Retrieved 9 December 2016.
^ Canon 1323 Archived December 24, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
^ "Interview with Bp. Bernard Fellay".
^ "Vatican official confirms: agreement with SSPX is close : News
Headlines". www.catholicculture.org. Retrieved 2017-03-29.
^ "New pastoral provisions for Sacrament of Marriage for SSPX".
^ "Conservative Theologians Accuse Pope of Spreading Heresy". New York
Times. Retrieved September 25, 2017.
^ Knittel, Francois (November–December 2017). "Canon Law and
Pastoral Theology of Marriage". The Angelus. 40: 77–82.
^ a b Father Edward McNamara, Mass with the Society of St Pius X
^ Pope Francis, Letter to
Archbishop Rino Fisichella, 1 September 2015
^ "SSPX Bishops Authorized to Ordain Priests Without Permission of
^ Business directory Infocif
^ "Burke: 'There is a very dangerous confusion and also with the
confusion come divisions'". Infovaticana. 2017-04-10. Retrieved
^ de Mallerais, Tissier. "Supplied jurisdiction & traditional
priests". Society of Saint Pius X, United States District. Retrieved
^ SSPX. "Do SSPX Priests Have Jurisdiction". Archived from the
original on 2014-07-14. Retrieved 2014-07-13.
^ Fr Ramon Angles. "Validity of SSPX Confessions and Marriages".
^ "SSPX Marriages are Incontestable - District of the USA". sspx.org.
^ FSSPX, District de France. "Fraternité Sacerdotale Saint-Pie X -
FSSPX - SSPX - La Porte Latine - Catholiques de Tradition - Mgr
Lefebvre - Mgr Fellay - Quelques statistiques au sujet de la
Fraternité Sacerdotale Saint-Pie X". laportelatine.org. Retrieved
^ "Autonomous Houses - General House". fsspx.org. Retrieved
^ Figure given by the SSPX's French District.
^ "The districts of the SSPX worldwide". Retrieved 21 August
^ Catholic, New. "RORATE CÆLI: SSPX Exclusive - Bp. Fellay speaks to
Rome negotiations as world's largest traditional seminary is
blessed in Virginia". RORATE CÆLI. Retrieved 2017-03-25.
^ "A New Future for Winona & Moving Day! - St. Thomas Aquinas
Seminary". stas.org. Retrieved 2017-03-25.
^ Annuario Pontificio, 2016. Libreria Editrice Vaticana. 2016.
^ Mayer, Castro (1993). "Declaration". Is Tradition Excommunicated?:
^ Nossa pequena história dentro da história da Igreja Archived July
16, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
^ "Catholic News". Retrieved 21 August 2015.
^ Cindy Wooden, "SSPX expels Bishop Williamson, who opposed talks with
Vatican" in Catholic News Service, 24 October 2012
^ Additional objections can be found at the "anti-Vatican II"
Traditional Mass Organisation's website
^ The Society of St. Pius X: Mired in Anti-Semitism Archived
2013-01-16 at the Wayback Machine., Anti-Defamation League, 26 January
^ AngelusOnline Page 831 Archived 2007-09-28 at the Wayback Machine.
^ "Vade retro Soutanas", ("Get Thee Behind me, Satan"), Libération,
11 October 2006
^ "Lefebvre movement: long, troubled history with Judaism", National
Catholic Reporter, 26 January 2009
Nazi war criminal's SSPX funeral stopped by protests" by Cindy
Wooden, Catholic News Service,16 October 2013,
Code of Canon Law
Code of Canon Law - IntraText". Retrieved 9 December 2016.
^ "Founder: Priest and Missionary".
^ "Bishop Fellay to Expel Bishop Williamson if He Denies Holocaust
^ "Bishop Williamson Ousted from SSPX".
^ a b
Seminarian for Anti-Semitic Church Charged with Sexual Abuse
of Boys". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 2017-04-08.
^ "Trucker who molested boys from his church will spend at least 35
years in prison". Spokesman.com. Retrieved 2017-04-08.
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