Leaving the SSPX Over Abuse Scandals

News: Commentary
by Former SSPX Donor  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  November 17, 2022   

'A bright shining gaslight on the road to Hell'

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A former lay member of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) is pulling his $10,000 donation after expressing disgust with leadership's mishandling of sex abuse. 

"I regret to inform you that considering the scandals that continue to surround the Society of St. Pius X … I can no longer support the Immaculata project in good conscience," he wrote, referring to the chapel building project in St. Mary's, KS.

"The latest allegation, which involves incest, is especially heinous," he continues. 

"As a victim of sexual assault at the hands of a priest myself, I strongly urge the SSPX leadership to consider using its monies to compensate victims," he pleads.

"Additionally, I urge these ordained men of God to pledge transparency and release a list of those who have been accused, cooperate with respective investigators, and fund an independent investigation into the ever-mounting allegations against their priests,” he adds.

He makes a final plea that leadership crack down on laity who enable abuse.

"[T]he SSPX should firmly condemn those members of the laity who have taken to the public with messages and retaliatory attacks that condone these perpetrators and their disgusting and demonic crimes."

Below are the donor's comments expanding on why he wrote the letter.


I came to the SSPX in 2020. Like many Catholics, I had grown tired of irreverent Novus Ordo Masses. The Church had just witnessed the October 2019 Amazon Synod, and there were a trickle of rumors out of Rome that the Holy Father was planning to implement the synodal report for the Amazon into the broader Church.

Image

Bp. Bernard Fellay, SSPX, former superior general.

He's accused of shuffling predator priests, who abused again.

For me, that was an indication that holding out hope for reverent Novus Ordo liturgies was going to be difficult. Knowing enough Latin and having experience with the Latin Mass, I was fine with attending a Traditional Latin Mass. However, I also knew that Pope Francis had dissolved the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei in January of 2019, so for me, the writing was on the wall that the Holy Father was not entirely fond of tradition. His progression led me to believe that soon enough, the SSPX would be the only viable option for Catholics who longed for something that didn't resemble the Pachamama fiasco. 

The transition to the SSPX wasn't insurmountable, though it wasn't easy, either. From the beginning I could see that newcomers weren't welcomed. There were some friendly faces, though by and large, the communities were mostly compromised of tight-knit cliques that would chastise you for sitting in "their pew," and constantly wonder why you were coming to Mass at "their chapel." If you managed to stick around long enough, eventually they would talk to you — but only to ensure you were adequately informed of how to do things "their way." 

The most recent report of sex abuse at the hands of an SSPX priest left me seething with anger. 

There were kind priests who were very welcoming, but there were also priests who stood at the pulpit Sunday after Sunday fueling an "Us vs. Them" mentality, going so far as to say that "newcomers were becoming an inconvenience for those who had been around since the beginning." 

But again, when you've listened to all the armchair theologians on social media who are telling you that the Francis Church is an "Ape Church," you feel like you're left with no other choice. So, regardless of the fact that you're treated like a disease by the faith community, you suck it up and hope things change after you've been around for a while.

I remember observing the spirit of unwelcome in the chapels and online and expressing my concern to leadership. I didn't get a response from anybody but one bishop, who adamantly said that there was absolutely no issue with unwelcome in chapels. That comment really blew me away. I mean, sure, he has a red carpet wherever he goes, but was he really so disconnected from reality that he believed the communities to be these vibrant examples of happiness and hospitality? Surely nobody could be so dense. It had to be denial.

Still, I persisted with the SSPX. 

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The Immaculata project, located in St. Mary's, KS, boasts

construction of the biggest SSPX chapel in the world.

It's budgeted to cost more than $42 million.

I learned about the Immaculata project in Kansas and was impressed with the design and scope of the project. For me, the project implied that there were some SSPX communities that were, in fact, thriving. These places must be welcoming and safe. Clearly, if a small town like St. Mary's, Kansas was building such a massive temple, the SSPX was doing something right. Thus, I decided to sign on as a guild donor member. I wanted to be part of that effort. I wanted to support something that would be what I thought was good and admirable. 

Then came July 2021 and Traditionis Custodes. In my mind, that actually validated the concerns that led me to the SSPX in the first place, so regardless of the stories that were surfacing about clergy abuse, I figured that soon enough, the SSPX would be the last bastion of tradition in the Church. 

With the pandemic and the Latin Mass restrictions came more SSPX building projects and evangelization efforts. Like the Immaculata, I wanted to help in any way I was able. I gave both in-kind and financial donations wherever I could. If I learned that an individual priest had needs such as a new phone or something, I was happy to assist. 

There were more and more newcomers with each Sunday Mass. It seemed like there were times when it was standing room only. For me, it only seemed natural to support the SSPX, since it was obvious they would be working especially hard to handle the influx of newcomers.

Image

Jeff Cassman, a federal convict who fled the country as a fugitive,

is among the loudest SSPX mouthpieces on social media.

He routinely attacks abuse victims and whistleblowers.

One thing that was consistently concerning to me was the self-anointed "experts" on social media. To me, they presented the SSPX in an extremely poor light. They would create these videos and pontificate on some of the most extreme opinions I'd ever heard.

From what I observed, the priests by and large didn't share the views I was hearing from these ex-federal fugitive and former-salesman types who had turned into online theologians. I knew there were a lot of people like me who thought there was no other option for those of us who longed for tradition, and I feared that if Novus Ordo refugees like myself were subjected to these extreme videos, good Catholic families would decide to give up on the Faith, feeling as if they had no place to turn. 

More than once I implored leadership to intervene and stop the social media hijacking of the SSPX name and brand. My concerns were ignored. Even the public relations director always had an excuse for why he couldn't take any action. Usually he would say that the superior general wouldn't let him address the matter. Of course, he would give me the line that he agreed there was a problem but that his hands were tied.

With concern regarding the reports of abuse, I was a victim of sexual abuse myself. Over the years I had seen report after report of abuse from virtually every community and movement in the Catholic Church. I was convinced that it was just one of the things one had to accept: Evil exists and not even the Church is immune to it. 

There were times I would inquire, "Is the SSPX going to make any sort of statement about this latest case?" 

Image

US District Superior Fr. John Fullerton, SSPX,

accused of silencing whistleblowers and protecting predators

 

But I was always given an excuse. Generally the district superior [Fr. John Fullerton] was "waiting for Menzingen to give a response" or "waiting for the superior general [Fr. Davide Pagliarani] to advise how to proceed."  

Quite often I was told, "You don't understand the full extent of the history on that case because you're new. That person who is accusing has been a problem in the community for a while, so you can't really trust what they've said." 

Most of the reports of abuse I was reading were indeed long before my time with the SSPX, so I was able to justify in my mind that the matters were being handled behind the scenes, or that the matters had already been handled years prior to my arrival. Again, I had grown so used to seeing reports from all over the Church that I was of the opinion that wherever you went, there would be some form of abuse.

The biggest concern I had was that measures were being taken to ensure such problems didn't happen again. I was assured that over the years, protocols had been put in place, both for prevention and handling reports. I took them at their word that the SSPX took abuse reports very seriously. 

One of the things that frustrated me all along about the SSPX laity was the unsolicited attacks they would wage, especially online. You had an ex-con who was peddling his latest venture and wages debate wars with the Orthodox, the Novus Ordo and the so-called sedevacantist movement. He was also notorious for provoking the media or anybody who second-guessed the SSPX.


You had the spoiled children of influential families organizing protest marches against dioceses that didn't implement Latin Mass restrictions. You had SSPX clergy joining in those marches. You had laity attacking victims online. When it came to the secular world, especially on the  internet, the people acting out on behalf of the SSPX were some of the most vile ambassadors you could imagine. Again, I voiced my concern, and again it was ignored or met with more excuses.

At one point I was very matter of fact with leadership that they appeared spineless and seemed castrated when it came to taking a stand against anything. 

That's when I decided to ask the bishop why he never stepped in on these matters. He claimed that since he was not the superior general, it was not his place to get involved. I'll be quite honest; that didn't settle well with me. It seemed like an excuse to avoid confrontation.

A bishop is a bishop. As a bishop, he has a position of authority and respect by default. Just because he's not the superior general doesn't mean he lacks the ability to put a stop to some if not all of the garbage that was happening. I think it was in that moment I realized he was all lip service and just as spineless as the rest. I told him as much. He truly lost my respect when it became obvious to me that his ecclesial office was not going to be used to prevent further scandal. 

Image

Fr. Matthew Stafki admitted to molesting

his 9-year-old niece for three years

The most recent report of sex abuse at the hands of an SSPX priest left me seething with anger. 

After roughly two years of abuse reports within the SSPX making headlines, here we learned of a case that happened within the last year. To me, this was absolutely unacceptable. It's as though the SSPX learned nothing from the negative exposure — either that, or they simply didn't care. And why should they? The numbers in the pews were increasing. The building projects were exceeding fundraising goals. The seminaries were getting record enrollment. Let's be honest, they had everything going for them. 

Knowing that the case involved incest, I had a hunch the SSPX would have to make some sort of statement. This was heinous. We're talking about a new level of diabolic: incest sexual assault of a niece. 

Sure enough, there was a statement — if you could call it that. It lacked any sincerity or responsibility. For me, that's when it clicked: The silence was sinister. The denial was diabolical. 

The silence was sinister. The denial was diabolical. 

When it came to matters of abuse, I concluded that the SSPX was perhaps more vile than other areas of the Church because they wear sheep's clothing that is far more deceiving than most of the wolves. Just as their vestments are beautiful and elaborate, so is the wool they are pulling over the eyes of the faithful.

This, I concluded, is demonic. To not even issue so much as a public apology for all of the cases that have occurred over the years was now something I simply couldn't comprehend. How could anybody with a heart be so silent in the face of pain? Why would the SSPX not even release the names of the credibly accused? 

Again, I came back to the fact that the latest case wasn't something from the annals of history: This is recent. This meant that whatever measures had been put in place are clearly failing. It meant that the deranged deviant clergy felt comfortable committing these heinous crimes because they know the leadership will protect them.

Image

Donor: 'I've seen priests and bishops

being elevated to the levels of golden calves'

They know that the laity will invent excuses for their disgusting behavior. They know that the victims and those that speak out will be subject to attacks, ostracized by the communities and defamed on a grand scale. This isn't prevention; this is encouraging more of the same filth. 

I held out hope that the three bishops would issue a joint statement. These are the clergy who ordain the priests. These are the shepherds. Surely they knew it was their duty now more than ever to apologize. 

But they didn't. 

Witnessing what I had seen in just a few short years was enough for me to realize that the SSPX is a bright shining gaslight on the road to Hell. The souls of the laity are in jeopardy. Sadly, these people believe they are doing the work of God by defending the SSPX. They're not.

God would never desire that victims be attacked. He would never yearn for vicious, self-anointed hucksters to leverage social media as a means to promote an agenda of lies and hatred. God would never look favorably on laity who chastise and bully victims and their families. Anybody who believes these things to be the will of God has consumed a deadly poison that will do eternal damage to their souls. 

I pulled every one of my donations. For me, giving another dime to the SSPX and its efforts would be like handing Judas Iscariot a bag full of silver pieces. I'd seen enough to know that the SSPX has betrayed my Lord, and I had enough. 

What angers me more is that this certainly won't be the last case of demonic abuse at the hands of the SSPX. And, just like every other case, there will be excuses about the circumstances and there will be members of the laity who attack those who speak up. No, this is not an institution of God. In fact, this, this right here is the very definition of an "Ape Church." 

Mark my words, God will not allow these victims to have suffered in vain.

I've witnessed a lot of diabolical behavior being justified in a number of these rad-trad movements. I've seen so-called celebrity exorcists that completely defy everything I've ever known about exorcists spout off some of the most absurd propaganda I've ever heard in my life. I've seen armchair theologians broadcast some of the most ridiculous theological misinterpretations from their garage studios. I've seen priests and bishops being elevated to the levels of golden calves.

I think all of this idolatry exists within this movement because the cult of personality is prevalent within this movement. They have absolutely no idea the amount of Stockholm Syndrome from which they suffer. I really think their hearts are in the right place, but far too many sinister influencers have taken advantage of their innocence and naïveté and have created an absolute disaster. Until the Church gets a handle on the matter, you can be sure that we will read about more and more abuse cases being swept under the rug and justified in the rad-trad movement.

There's a reason sources prefer to remain anonymous. It's not because their story lacks credibility. On the contrary, it's because quite often they fear for their safety. They see others having their reputations dismantled online by former fugitives. They see the bullying and the glares that other victims receive in their small towns. They see how many people's lives are ruined by the act of abuse and the subsequent acts of retaliation. Nobody wants to experience that. They also know, however, that there is a spiritual obligation to report what has been experienced.

Right now, the SSPX may have an influx of newcomers and new money. But soon enough, the victims will have their vindication. And while the gaslighters and the delusional laity will fabricate all sorts of outlandish excuses and lies, God will eventually make the truth prevail. For now, the Devil may be having his day. But mark my words, God will not allow these victims to have suffered in vain.
 

 

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