By Fr. C. Daniels
Replies from the Secretary of the "Ecclesia Dei" Commission on some questions:
May a Catholic, on a Sunday, assist and communicate at a Mass celebrated by a priest of the Society of St. Pius X or by one of their friends?
No. The celebration of Mass must be in communion with the Church, with the Pope and with the Bishop of the place. Participation at Masses celebrated by these priests which are therefore not in union with the Church, is not permitted excepting in extraordinary situations where a Mass celebrated in union with the Church cannot be had. Now, the priests of the Society of St. Pius X are not in union with the Church because of their adhearance to the schism which Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre provoked when he consecrated bishops against the will of the Pope The Pope declared this accomplished act of the 30th of June 1988 as an act of schism. (Moto Proprio "Ecclesia Dei" 2 July 1988, nos 3 - 4)
If there is no Indult Mass in his diocese, may a Catholic then frequent a chapel of the Society of St. Pius X?
No, because in every Catholic diocese there are Masses celebrated in union with the Church. Such or such a rite in itself is not a decisive question in this matter. There where there are, for example, only Masses offered by Catholic priests of the Byzantine - Ukranian rite, a Catholic must prefere these to Masses of the latin schismatics.
May we make use of canon 844 in order to justify are participation in the Sacaraments administered in the chapels and houses of the Society of St. Pius X, when we consider that an abscence of the indult Mass, close by, constitutes for us a "case of spiritual necessity" and a "moral impossibility to have recourse to a Catholic minister"?
No. The canon to which reference is made, speaks of a "physical and moral impossibility to have recourse to a Catholic minister" and not of the absence of one rite as opposed to another. There is no such thing as an absolute right to a determined rite.
If for a grave reason, we are obliged to assist at a Mass of the Society of St. Pius X (marriage, funeral, …) must we abstain from Holy Communion?
Yes, because Eucharistic Communion is also the communion with the Church ("The Church makes the Eucharist and the Eucharist makes the Church"), from which these priests are separated.
Does one commit a sin when one separates himself from the discipline of the Church concerning the Sunday precept and the way it is to be fulfilled?
Yes. The obligation is clearly expressed and explained by the Catechism of the Catholic Church in nos: 2180 - 2183
15 April 2002
In reply to this letter, another letter was written by someone. On the 27th of September 2002, Msgr. Perl again wrote a letter. (We do not have the contents of this letter, but, as can be seen, it makes no real difference). To this letter, another contraversy arose. Mgr. Perl replied on the 18 January 2003. (published in the website of the Una Voce America; www.unavoce.org):
Letter by Msgr. Camille Perl Regarding Society of St. Pius X Masses
Una Voce America has received a communication from the Pontifical Ecclesia Dei Commission, concerning an article which appeared in The Remnant newspaper and various websites. At the request of the Commission, we (Una Voce - Ed.) are publishing it below.
Pontificia Commissio "Ecclesia Dei" January 18, 2003
Unfortunately, as you will understand, we have no way of controlling what is done with our letters by their recipients. Our letter of 27 September 2002, which was evidently cited in The Remnant and on various websites, was intended as a private communication dealing with the specific circumstances of the person who wrote to us. What was presented in the public forum is an abbreviated version of that letter which omits much of our pastoral counsel. Since a truncated form of this letter has now become public, we judge it appropriate to present the larger context of our response.
In a previous letter to the same correspondent we had already indicated the canonical status of the Society of St. Pius X which we will summarize briefly here.
1.) The priests of the Society of St. Pius X are validly ordained, but they are suspended from exercising their priestly functions. To the extent that they adhere to the schism of the late Archbishop Lefebvre, they are also excommunicated.
2.) Concretely this means that the Masses offered by these priests are valid, but illicit i.e., contrary to the law of the Church.
Points 1 and 3 in our letter of 27 September 2002 to this correspondent are accurately reported. His first question was "Can I fulfill my Sunday obligation by attending a Pius X Mass" and our response was:
"1. In the strict sense you may fulfill your Sunday obligation by attending a Mass celebrated by a priest of the Society of St. Pius X."
His second question was "Is it a sin for me to attend a Pius X Mass" and we responded stating:
"2. We have already told you that we cannot recommend your attendance at such a Mass and have explained the reason why. If your primary reason for attending were to manifest your desire to separate yourself from communion with the Roman Pontiff and those in communion with him, it would be a sin. If your intention is simply to participate in a Mass according to the 1962 Missal for the sake of devotion, this would not be a sin."
His third question was: "Is it a sin for me to contribute to the Sunday collection a Pius X Mass" to which we responded:
"3. It would seem that a modest contribution to the collection at Mass could be justified."
Further, the correspondent took the Commission to task for not doing its job properly and we responded thus:
"This Pontifical Commission does not have the authority to coerce Bishops to provide for the celebration of the Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal. Nonetheless, we are frequently in contact with Bishops and do all that we can to see that this provision is made. However, this provision also depends on the number of people who desire the 'traditional' Mass, their motives and the availability of priests who can celebrate it.
"You also state in your letter that the Holy Father has given you a 'right' to the Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal. This is not correct. It is true that he has asked his brother Bishops to be generous in providing for the celebration of this Mass, but he has not stated that it is a 'right'. Presently it constitutes an exception to the Church's law and may be granted when the local Bishop judges it to be a valid pastoral service and when he has the priests who are available to celebrate it. Every Catholic has a right to the sacraments (cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 843), but he does not have a right to them according to the rite of his choice."
We hope that this puts in a clearer light the letter about which you asked us.
With prayerful best wishes for this New Year of Our Lord 2003, I remain
yours in Christ,
Note, Msgr. Perl ends his letter by writing: "We hope that this puts in a clearer light the letter about which you asked us." For modern and "conservative" Catholics this must be a nauseous merry-go-round. At first it is no no no. No one cannot assist, no one cannot make use of canon 844, no … Then suddenly, yes you can assist without sin, yes, you can even financially support the Society …!
But now, consistancy cannot be found among the modernists. Their very belief is based upon a "truth" in continual evolution. St. Pius X wrote in his encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis (against modernism); "in their books you find some things which might well be expressed by a Catholic, but in the next page you find other things which might have been dictated by a rationalist." (ch. 2, §4)
1. What is the "Ecclesia Dei" Commission … Who is the Fraternity of St. Peter?
Short and sweetly said, both the Commission and the Fraternity of St. Peter were born on the occasion of the consecration of bishops by Archbishop Lefebvre in 1988, as instruments directed against the Society of St. Pius X. The Commission was established in Rome under a Cardinal Prefect (who has been changed many a time). The person who does most of it's work is Msgr. Perl, who may well be called a second Bugnini. Officially it is a Commission set up for the "benefit" of the indult Mass (for which they themselves have no love), but in reality it is nothing other than a organ to counteract the Society of St. Pius X. The Fraternity of St. Peter was begun by some disident priests of the Society of St. Pius X, who did not agree with Archbishop Lefebvre, and who chose rather to believe in modernist Rome, a price, for which they have already paid a number of times.