The SSPX is not schismatic; do not hesitate to flee to them… and a word from St. Cajetan on the rights of laity who hold the “pope” in suspicion

By Father David Nix

Although canonically-irregular, the SSPX (Society of Pope St. Pius X) founded by Archbishop Lefebvre (above picture) in the 1970s, is not schismatic.  In traditional papal encyclicals, a “schismatic community” is a Christian community adhering to valid sacraments but without recognizing the primacy of place of Rome or the importance of the papacy.  An example of this would be the Eastern Orthodox:  The Eastern Orthodox have valid sacraments, but many do not realize the primacy of place of Rome (or believe it was transferred due to error a thousand years ago.)  In any case, the SSPX has always recognized the papacy and the primacy of Rome.  The reciprocal is also true, namely, that every Pope since foundation of the SSPX in the 1970s has recognized the validity of their sacraments.  Thus, they do not fit the classic definition of “schism.”  Not even by a long shot.

Then why is there so much confusion?

Although Pope John Paul II putatively excommunicated Archbishop Lefebvre and the bishops he consecrated in 1988, this ex-communication of SSPX bishops was lifted by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009.  (I write putatively excommunicated because I think it can be seen from the 1983 Code of Canon Law that consecration of bishops without papal approval must be proved to be ex-dolo—that is, out of malice.  Malice is something the missionary to Africa, Archbishop Lefebvre, clearly did not have for the Church.  In fact, the new code of canon law heavily puts the emphasis on conscience.  Lefebvre was clearly following his conscience in consecrating bishops without the approval of Rome.)

But even if the excommunications in 1988 by Pope John Paul II were valid, the Vatican website now shows the lifting of the excommunications of the SSPX bishops in 2009.  Approved by Pope Benedict XVI and written by Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, the Vatican website still has the following from 2009:


In a letter of 15 December 2008 addressed to Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, President of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”, Mons. Bernard Fellay writing also in the name of the other three Bishops consecrated on 30 June 1988 requested once again the removal of the excommunication latae sententiae formally declared by a Decree of the Prefect of this Congregation for Bishops on 1 July 1988. In his letter, Mons. Fellay stated, among other things, that “we continue firmly resolute in our desire to remain Catholics and to put all our strength at the service of the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is the Roman Catholic Church. We accept her teachings in a filial spirit. We firmly believe in the primacy of Peter and in his prerogatives, and for this reason the current situation causes us much suffering”.

His Holiness Benedict XVI in his paternal concern for the spiritual distress which the parties concerned have voiced as a result of the excommunication, and trusting in their commitment, expressed in the aforementioned letter, to spare no effort in exploring as yet unresolved questions through requisite discussions with the authorities of the Holy See in order to reach a prompt, full and satisfactory solution to the original problem has decided to reconsider the canonical situation of Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson and Alfonso de Galarreta, resulting from their episcopal consecration.

This act signifies a desire to strengthen reciprocal relations of trust, and to deepen and stabilize the relationship of the Society of St Pius X with this Apostolic See. This gift of peace, coming at the end of the Christmas celebrations, is also meant to be a sign which promotes the Universal Church’s unity in charity, and removes the scandal of division.

It is hoped that this step will be followed by the prompt attainment of full communion with the Church on the part of the whole Society of St Pius X, which will thus bear witness to its genuine fidelity and genuine recognition of the Magisterium and authority of the Pope by the proof of visible unity.

On the basis of the powers expressly granted to me by the Holy Father Benedict XVI, by virtue of the present Decree I remit the penalty of excommunication latae sententiae incurred by Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson and Alfonso de Galarreta, and declared by this Congregation on 1 July 1988. At the same time I declare that, as of today’s date, the Decree issued at that time no longer has juridical effect.

Notice also that more recent Vatican documents on the SSPX have become only more lenient towards the SSPX since 2009 when the above document was released from the Congregation for Bishops.

On a completely and totally different topic from the above, this is also a definition you should know:  A sedevacantist is a traditional Catholic who believes there have been no valid Popes since 1958.  I am not a sedevacantist.  However, I do not believe sedevacantists are schismatic either.  This is also seen in the writings of St. Cajetan who puts an unusual emphasis on conscience for a 16th c. writer:

If someone, for a reasonable motive, holds the person of the Pope in suspicion and refuses his presence, even his jurisdiction, he does not commit the delect of schism nor any other whatsoever, provided that he be ready to accept the Pope were he not held in suspicion. It goes without saying that one has the right to avoid what is harmful and to ward off dangers. In fact, it may happen that the Pope could govern tyrannically and that is all the easier as he is the more powerful and does not fear any punishment from anyone on earth.—St. Cardinal Thomas Cajetan

(No, I am not going to join either of the two above groups.  I simply desire to clear up widespread confusion about them.)

11 thoughts on “The SSPX is not schismatic; do not hesitate to flee to them… and a word from St. Cajetan on the rights of laity who hold the “pope” in suspicion”

  1. I am so sick and tired of the gullible, stupidity, ignorant, and confusion among the Catholic groups. Let me pretend with a delusional fairy tale story here a minute. Let’s pretend that I am a TRUE POPE, a real Catholic, and be elected validly as a Pope of the Holy Catholic Church. (Just pretend it for a minute here for the sake of the question).
    What should I do? I will immediately order all the conclave (bishops) and do not leave until I say so… Why? Everybody kneel down and do the consecration with me to the Immaculate Heart. “Russia” was ignored, mocked, insulted, and delayed for over 105 years (to this day) already. Every bishop who is attending the conclave to elect me to be the Pope must obey my order. I am now the HOLY FATHER of the true Holy Catholic Church. I order all bishops at this conclave together with me to do the consecration of Russia, right here, right then.
    And then what? I will issue a “warrant”, a mandatory order to all worldwide bishops of the Holy Catholic Church to come to meet me at (location) to be publicly and solemnly do the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart (let all the satanic media, the cabals of the NWO…etc) know it… There is no more being “nice” to the enemies. I will let them know whosoever does not obey this order, automatically cut himself off from the church and no longer be a bishop of the Holy Catholic Church. That’s just one issue that must be dealt with immediately. Whosoever could not make it must do so in his own Cathedral, Diocese… at his local.
    The second primordial is I will order and set up hardcore theologians who are 100% familiar with Canon Law and the Catholic Teachings that handled down for 2000 years intact to form a panel. To do what? To expose all the heresies of the Sadistic Vatican II, all NWO-Luciferians/Freemasons, and all the Talmudic Jews who faked their conversion into the Catholic Church but inwardly they are the seeds of the Synagogue of Satan that influential with all the Popes, Cardinals, Bishops, Priests, Brothers, Nuns… who are pseudo-Catholics with a tactic to destroy the church from within. I will let the panel expose all of these traitors from within. And I will EXCOMMUNICATE THEM, denounce them, and send them back to their Synagogue of Satan. I will eradicate all their fake saints, fake liturgy, fake mass, fake doctrines, and I will condemn their sins of abortions, human trafficking, porn industry, bioweapons industry, fake monetary of the Jewish Banker Cartel… etc, etc, etc.
    And I will hand them over to the Justice, a true Justice for they are all committed the crimes against the flesh (sins of sodomites and pedophiles against innocent children and naive/stupid women who fell into their traps)… I also order the TRUE MASS THAT St. POPE PIUS V HAD CODIFIED TO BE APPLIED TO ALL ROMAN RITE. I will order all the fake sacraments of the Satanists in Vatican II to be eradicated, reverted, and reordained. I will order all Catholics to go back to the confession booths and begin to wash off their stupidity and their sins and be a real Catholic in body and soul. No more monkey business, no more wishy-washy delusional apostasy in the Catholic Church. Period. Everybody must do penance and make reparation to Both Hearts and devotion to the great Saint, Saint JOSEPH the foster father of the church and all families.
    The third primordial, I will destroy their power in all shapes and forms. I will set up a true banking system, a true currency that is based on gold, silver, and true value… and commodities that can be verified, to be used for the Catholic Church, and allow only Catholics to deposit their wealth and receive loans from this holy banking system. Not the money made out of the thin air of the wicked Satanist Jews for thousands of years (The moneychangers that Christ whooped become the Rothschild Vampire to the whole world for thousands of years…) All nations who want to use the Catholic Banking System must be registered and be under the Catholic Law and Order (Divine Law and Order is the only Justice and Truth and forever will be).
    I pray for the next true Holy Father will be a holy saintly person, a true shepherd. And he must rule the world with an iron rod.

    1. Dear Purple, I do not know who you are, but your words brought tears to my eyes. May your words come to pass. I hope you are a Cardinal of the Catholic Church and that you will be our next Holy Father. But if that is not the case, then I hope God will hear our prayers and grant us this petition. God bless you.

    2. Great ideas, but regarding the Consecration, I would also invite (though obviously could not compel) all Orthodox Bishops (and any others with true Apostolic succession) to join this Consecration and to attend in person or provide evidence that they had performed the Consecration with the appropriate ritual and words.
      I understand there is ambiguity on whether all Bishops should include the Orthodox Bishops (and any other non Catholic Bishops with true Apostolic succession) or not.
      I believe that very many Orthodox Bishops would be willing to do this with appropriate, Holy, leadership by the Roman Pontiff, though I do not claim such holiness!
      Indeed, it could be a first concrete step to healing the East-West Schism.

  2. Thank you, Fr. Dave Nix! I appreciate this priest very much. I will add that the SSPX priests are stretched very thin. Not only do I hope the laity come, but I hope the holy priests also come. We need them all!

  3. When I visit my family out of state, I unapologetically attend the SSPX chapel in the area. The only thing about the chapel I don’t like is the photo of Bergoglio in the vestibule.
    There’s something seriously wrong with people who obsessively hate on the SSPX and yes, I’m talking about the Voris and Niles show. While the diocesan churches folded like pansies during covidism, the SSPX kept the sacraments flowing, despite incredible hardship and intimidation from the authorities. May God Bless and protect the good priests of the SSPX.

  4. As I’ve mentioned here before, I have a sedevacantist Church within walking distance of my house. If/when it becomes impossible for me to get to the ICK parish for daily Mass in Detroit, I will attend the sede Church. I feel comfortable about it. I liken them to the Essences (sp?) before Christ came. They refused to offer sacrifices in the temple because it was defiled. And isn’t believed by some Church Fathers that both John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist were Essences?

  5. This makes so much sense. What is the literal definition of schismatic? Do the Sedes or SSPX fit into that definition? No? Then let’s all move on.
    It’s so hard when loved ones are 10000% convinced that the SSPX are schismatics and would have a sh*t fit if I went to mass there…sigh.

  6. This is a 24 minute video, produced by SSPX in 2019, explaining the history of St. Mary’s Parish and Academy, why it was purchased in 1978, what purpose it has served since then, and where it is going next. It was conceived to bring the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who leads the Faithful to her Son, to America. Schismatic? You decide. Listen to Arbp LeFebvre himself, and members of his Society of St. Pius X explain.
    This film demonstrates how the “spirit” of Vatican II left the Jesuit mission, founders of St. Mary’s mission in the 19th century, destitute and bereft of its core evangelistic mission in the 20th. But mostly it positively shows how God is now using the Society of St. Pius X to carry on the neverending (until the Eschaton) mission to bring the Gospel, through Tradition, to a world thirsting to hear it, and receive it, and be converted to life from death by it.
    The entire purpose of the Society is fidelity to Sacred Tradition and to carry it, to deliver it to a world that has been deprived of it. The charge of schism is absurd. The further NewChurch spins off into innovations,
    the clearer SSPX fidelity becomes.
    A peek inside the new Parish …
    The fruit of the tree is the proof of fidelity to Our Lord, Our Lady and the Catholic Church.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.