July 26, 2013

Attending SSPX Masses ‘not a legitimate option’ for Catholics, bishop says

Criterion Staff Report

In a letter published in the June 7 issue of the Messenger, the newspaper of the Diocese of Covington, Ky., Bishop Roger J. Foys informed Catholics in northern Kentucky that it is not a legitimate option to attend Masses and other liturgies celebrated at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Walton, Ky., which is operated by priests who are members of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX).

Bishop Foys is also concerned that Catholics in neighboring dioceses, including the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, might be confused about the canonical status of the SSPX church.

In his letter, Bishop Foys, quoting Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, noted that the SSPX continues to have “no canonical status in the Church,” that its priests are suspended and, as such they “cannot legitimately exercise any ministry.”

Therefore, Bishop Foys wrote, it is “morally illicit (unlawful)” for Catholics to participate in a Mass celebrated by an SSPX priest. He also noted that other sacraments, such as penance and matrimony, celebrated or witnessed by an SSPX priest are invalid.

Bishop Foys explained that the SSPX was founded by the late French Archbishop Marcel Lefebrve. In 1988, he consecrated four bishops for the society “against the direction and without the mandate of His Holiness Blessed John Paul II.” Because of this, Archbishop Lefebrve and the four bishops were excommunicated.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI later lifted those excommunications but reiterated at the same time that, because the society still had no canonical status in the Church, attending its liturgies was still not an option in ordinary circumstances for Catholics.

It is only a legitimate option, Bishop Foys stated, if a Catholic “is legitimately impeded from participating in a Mass celebrated by a priest in good standing in the Church.”

Bishop Foys noted that a desire to attend the traditional Latin Mass (also known as the Tridentine Mass), which SSPX priests celebrate, “is not considered a sufficient motive for attending” Masses celebrated by these priests.

According to Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin, the principles that Bishop Foys stated regarding attending liturgies celebrated in the SSPX church in Walton, Ky. also apply to St. Joseph Chapel in Greenwood, which is staffed by SSPX priests.

In the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, the traditional Latin Mass is celebrated every Sunday and frequently on weekdays at Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish, 520 Stevens St., in Indianapolis and at SS. Philomena and Cecilia Parish in Oak Forest, whose street address is 16194 St. Mary’s Road, Brookville. †

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