By Peter O'Dwyer
MADISON, Wis., August 7, 2015 (ChurchMilitant.com) - Bishop Robert C. Morlino of the diocese of Madison, Wisconsin, has issued a warning about the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX).
In his statement, Bishop Morlino takes a measured stance, acknowledging the complexities of the situation and clarifying that the SSPX is not "in schism, in the strict sense" — meaning the Church has not formally declared the group to be in schism. He goes on to lay out reasons, however, why the group remains in material schism.
He cites pope Benedict's 2009 motu proprio, which states that the SSPX "does not possess a canonical status in the Church" and its ministers "do not legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church."
His Excellency notes that while several of the sacraments offered by the SSPX are valid, all of them are illegally celebrated, and so "Catholics should not frequent SSPX chapels or seek sacraments from the priests of the SSPX."
Two of the sacraments offered by the SSPX on the other hand, are both invalid and illicit. Marriage and Confession require jurisdiction, which the SSPX does not possess. The SSPX claims that there is a state of emergency, and thus it can offer these sacraments. But Bp. Morlino was quick to point out two errors with this reasoning:
1) the Legislator (the Pope) and the bishops with him don't think there is a state of emergency, and 2) the sacraments offered by the SSPX are already widely available at legitimate parishes and chapels, i.e., no one is being denied the sacraments.
Bishop Morlino ends his message with some practical advice:
In closing, I want to stress that the need for a reform of the reform is real, and it is underway in our diocese. If you see that the Church needs fixing, work with your bishop, your pastors, and your fellow lay faithful to fix it. Share your needs and your concerns. Leaving is the last thing to do; leaving just doesn’t make sense! Communion with the Church is something to be cherished, safeguarded, and nourished.
Always looking at our Blessed Mother’s fidelity to Her Son, let us turn in prayer to Mary, Mother of the Church and Mother of our faith.
Read the bishop's full statement here.
For a list of diocesan-approved Traditional Latin Masses, go here.