Christ among the Doctors of the Law



Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Three points on the recent SSPX ordinations

There really isn't any "news" associated with the recent SSPX ordinations in Minnesota--and there is certainly nothing surprising about them--though three comments seem in order.

First, contrary to some reports, the Catholic Church does recognize these ordinations, by which we must understand, though, that 13 more men have taken the priesthood of Christ illegally from bishops acting in a schismatic manner. While there is no excommunication associated with such priestly ordinations per se (as there is for episcopal ordinations contrary to
1983 CIC 1382), objectively speaking, participation in these ceremonies was still gravely sinful.

Second, any comments that I might have offered concerning excommunication for (what seem clearly to be) new acts of schism under
1983 CIC 1364 seem pre-empted by Rome's gratuitous lifting of the excommunications against SSPX leadership last January. Indeed, I am hard-pressed to think of any canons that Rome appears willing to enforce against the SSPX.

But these two points suggest an ironic Third: the fewer sacramental acts that Rome defends against SSPX appropriation, the more the SSPX seems to resemble the Orthodox Churches and a few other groups--Rome recognizes the validity of their orders, too, but (per
1983 CIC 1) it does not attempt to impose canonical penalties on them for conferring those orders outside of its communion.

I thought lifting the SSPX excommunications was meant to bring them closer to Catholic unity; instead, it seems to confirm their drifting more distant.