Vatican Admits Society of Saint Pius X Masses Fulfill Sunday Obligation
by John Vennari
On January 8, 2003, the Vatican's Ecclesia Dei Commission, in response to someone who asked about attending chapels of the Society of Saint Pius X founded by the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, wrote in a letter that:
1) Attending the Society of Saint Pius X chapels fulfills the Catholic's Sunday obligation,
2) That Catholics are permitted to make financial contributions to the Society of Saint Pius X.
In the letter (reproduced as a footnote  the Vatican office makes the proviso that they do not recommend Catholics to attend these chapels, but that there is no sin providing that the individual attending does not intend to separate himself from the Roman Pontiff.
It must be noted that this last point addresses a problem that does not really exist. I have been attending the Traditional Mass in independent and SSPX chapels for more than 23 years, and I never once met anyone in these chapels, priest or layman, who "intends to separate himself from the Roman Pontiff". The prime motivation for myself, my family, and others who attend these chapels is to adhere to the Latin Tridentine Mass, and to adhere to the traditional teaching and practice of the Catholic Church throughout the centuries -- at a time when our Church leaders are giving us stones instead of bread..
The Vatican also now admits, here and there, that the Society of Saint Pius X is not separated from the Catholic Church. Some one asked Cardinal Cassidy, who was Prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for Christian Unity, if his office should deal with the Society of Saint Pius X as a separate "church". Cardinal Cassidy commented in a letter of March 25, 1994, that the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity "is not concerned with the Society of St. Pius X. The situation of the members of this Society is an internal matter of the Catholic Church. The Society is not another Church or Ecclesial Community in the meaning used in the Directory." Thus the Vatican considers the Society of Saint Pius X to be an internal Church matter and not a group that is "outside of the Church".
Two Last Points:
1) To address the alleged "excommunication" of Archbishop Lefebvre, referred to in Msgr. Perl's letter, we suggest reading Is Tradition Excommunicated? Further, the Dean of Canon Law at the Catholic Institute of Paris, has stated that the Society of Saint Pius X, according to Canon Law, is not in schism.
2) Msgr. Perl claims that
Catholics do not have a "right" to the Latin Tridentine Mass.
This is not true. Cardinal Stickler has already admitted in May 1995
that he was part of a nine-Cardinal Vatican Commission that determined 1) The
Tridentine Mass has never been forbidden, 2) All priests have the right to
celebrate the Latin Tridentine Mass without asking permission of their bishop.
The Catholic, in virtue of his baptism, has the right to attend the Tridentine
Mass of the ages, the "lamb without blemish", the Mass of Popes and
Saints. All Catholics have this right and it is false to pretend otherwise.*
1. What follows was posted on an Una Voce webpage in Winter, 2003.
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 are publishing it below.
Pontificia Commissio Ecclesia Dei
January 18, 2003
Greetings in the Hearts of Jesus & Mary! There have been several inquiries about our letter of 27 September 2002. In order to clarify things, Msgr. Perl has made the following response.
Oremus pro invicem.
In cordibus Jesu et Marić,
Msgr. Arthur B. Calkins
Msgr. Camille Perl's response:
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 at 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
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Rev. Msgr. Camille Perl, Secretary
2. Is Tradition Excommunicated? available from CFN for $12.45US or $19.00CDN postpaid.
3. From the audio cassette "Is the Society of St. Pius X in Schism?" by Father Paul Kramer. Available for $6.00US post-paid from Oltyn Library Services, 2316 Delaware Avenue, PMB 325, Buffalo, NY 14216.
* For more click to Cardinal Stickler Confirms: Tridentine Mass Never Forbidden
from the July 2003 edition of
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