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Always evil.

February 6, 2023  0


When the sacraments are administered, they must be both valid and licit (meaning legal). Valid is easy — the form and matter must both be present and correct, and the minister must do what the Church intends. Validity is a really low bar. It should be, so grace can be conferred. If the priest says, "I absolve you" with his blessing and is doing what the Church intends, your absolution is valid. It's not that complicated.

However, the question of a sacrament being licit or illicit is another case. A priest or bishop can validly perform a sacrament, but doing so without permission or jurisdiction makes it illicit, which means he didn't have the authority to do so.

When a priest is ordained (receives the sacrament of Holy Orders), he is a valid priest — period. But if the bishop who administered the sacrament validly did not have the authority to do so, then the question of the sacrament being licit comes up. This is what happened in the scandalous case of the schismatic bishops of the Society of Saint Pius X going on to ordain priests for the breakaway group.

The men they have ordained are validly ordained (again, a pretty low bar). But they are forbidden from offering Mass because they do not have the authority to do so because the Church has removed that authority, which She alone grants.

Every time an SSPX priest or bishop offers Mass, he is doing so in disobedience.

Ten years after the SSPX bishops were excommunicated under John Paul, a commission he set up to address the schism and find a way to reunite them (which has still not happened) wrote a letter worth revisiting because of its massive implications. In that letter, which was an answer to a letter to them from a concerned Catholic in Australia, they said the following with regard to the ongoing priestly ordinations in the SSPX:

While the priests of the Society of St. Pius X are validly ordained, they are also suspended a divinis, that is they are forbidden by the Church from celebrating the Mass and the sacraments because of their illicit (or illegal) ordination to the diaconate and the priesthood without proper incardination (cf. canon 265).

Pay special attention to that phrase: They (SSPX priests) are forbidden by the Church from celebrating the Mass. That means every single time an SSPX priest or bishop offers Mass, he is doing so in disobedience. A priest may not assume to himself his own authority to dispense the sacraments or offer Mass. They do not belong to him. The sacraments belong to the Church, not to the priest.

He administers the sacraments, meaning he has been given the authority to do so by the Church. But the Church also has the right, even duty, to remove that authority when It determines it is necessary. And yes, that remains true even if the bishop or pope does so unjustly in an abuse of that authority. Ask Padre Pio about that.

The power does not suddenly go away strictly because the authority abuses that power. So an SSPX priest offers Mass in total disobedience whenever he offers Mass. He is in the same boat as Theodore McCarrick or any priest reduced to the lay state for sex abuse or whatever other reason.

If McCarrick was or is privately offering Mass in his secluded room, the Mass is valid because he remains a priest for ever according to the order of Melchizedek. But, since he does not enjoy the authority of the Church to offer the Mass, he commits a sin in doing so. It's valid but illicit. And given the nature or seriousness of the act — offering Mass, calling Jesus down from Heaven — it's a safe bet that sin rises to the level of mortal sin, at least objectively.

When a priest stands at the altar, he is there in persona Christi (in the person of Christ), Who became obedient even to the point of death. So an SSPX priest or any other priest who is forbidden from exercising his priestly powers and does so anyway, offers the supreme sacrifice of obedience in disobedience.

That is a mockery of the priesthood of Jesus Christ, Who offered the sacrifice of Himself — which is what the Mass is — in complete obedience to the Father. And no, it does not matter that there are many heretical priests who do not believe, who are also in sin, offering Mass. Their sin does not excuse or exclude the sin of the SSPX priests. One is a sin of heresy, the other of schism. Both lead to Hell if not repented of.

When a priest spouts heresy during Mass, the authentically faithful are scandalized, angry, dispirited; and they absolutely should be. To not feel an eruption of outrage within oneself at heresy means you've got something wrong in your soul. But other Catholics, likely of goodwill, feel no such outrage when a priest offers Mass in disobedience and promotion of schism.

This evil is excused simply because the Mass is being offered in Latin. That's crazy. Martin Luther didn't offer the Novus Ordo Mass. It was valid when he offered it. We can go back even further here. When Judas was walking around along with the other Apostles — curing people, raising them from the dead, driving out demons — he was doing that through the power and authority of Christ.

At some point along the way, he stopped believing in Our Lord and that authority — he broke away in his mind and heart — but until Our Lord was to remove that power, Judas still retained it. Any power exercised by a priest must be done in and under obedience to Christ, or the priest places his soul in danger of damnation.

Does the lay Catholic, normally speaking, receive a valid sacrament? Sure. But that is, again, a very low bar. The priest, however, commits a grave sin because he is taking what Christ handed to him by the Church and using it without the necessary permission to do so. Just like heresy, schism creates its own world of spin-off sins and corrupted mindsets.

Stay on board the Barque of St. Peter. Do not fall off either side, heresy or schism. It's absolutely true that the Church is a dumpster fire right now for a huge number of reasons. But no Catholic worth his weight in salt gets to abandon Her, even if the temptation is there. The duty — moral obligation — is to stay within Her and fight, not go off and make up your own "church." That's what Protestants do.

Do not attend an illicit Mass.

Martin Luther looked at the horrors of the Church in his day, which were absolutely the case, and concluded correctly that this was immoral, sinful, horrible, wicked and so forth. On his diagnosis, he was spot-on. It was his "remedy" where he went wrong: He started his own church.

And today, as a result, hundreds of millions (likely billions over the centuries) follow the thoughts of an excommunicated priest who was validly ordained. While schism and heresy are two different things, there is also a lot of overlap.

Do not attend an illicit Mass and support the priest in his disobedience. Somewhere in your soul, a line is being crossed — a mentality that you know more than the Church and assume to yourself the authority to grant lawfulness to a sacrament being administered against the law. So-called traditional Catholic media who refuse to talk about this schism and allow you to endanger your souls are a disgrace.

Just like Luther and Judas, they don't get to decide something that is the sole prerogative of the Church, which, remember, exercises Her authority given by Christ — unless they hold the personal opinion that the Church is wrong and in error. And if they really do think that, wouldn't you (the viewers and readers) want to know that before listening to them and supporting them?

The very same reason faithful Catholics reject the modernism of so many in the hierarchy is at play here as well. It's the exact same principle at play.

Heretics reject the authority of the Church in Her teachings. Schismatics reject the authority of the Church in Her jurisdiction. Martin Luther led Catholics out of the Church through the Scriptures. The SSPX (supported by many Catholic media types) are leading people out of the Church by the sacraments. Stay in the Church. Fight like crazy, yes — but stay.

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