Two contradictory documents from the secretary of the

Source: FSSPX News


Answers from the Secretary of the Ecclesia Dei Commission. Quoted in Tu es Petrus n° 82

- May a Catholic attend a Mass celebrated by a SSPX priest or a priest from a community close to this Society and receive Holy Communion on a Sunday ?

No. Holy Mass must be offered in communion with the Church, the Pope and the local Bishop. Attendance at Masses offered by priests who are not in union with the Church is allowed only in extraordinary circumstances, when access to a Mass offered in union with the Church is impossible. Now, the priests of the Society of St. Pius X are not in union with the Church because of their adhesion to the schism that Archbishop Lefebvre created when consecrating bishops against the will of the Pope, who called this act, accomplished on June 30, 1988, a schismatic act. (Motu Proprio "Ecclesia Dei" of July 2, 1988, n° 3-4)

- Does the absence of an Indult Mass in one’s diocese allow a Catholic to attend Mass in the chapels of the Society of St. Pius X ?

No. For in every Catholic diocese are offered Masses in union with the Church. The rite as such is not a decisive factor in this matter. Where, for instance, there are only Masses offered by Catholic priests in the Byzantine-Ukrainian rite, the Catholic must prefer these Masses to the schismatic Latin rite Masses.

- May we lean upon canon 844 to justify participation in the sacraments in the chapels and houses of the Society St. Pius X, considering that the lack of an Indult Mass in the vicinity constitutes a "case of spiritual necessity" and a "moral impossibility to have recourse to a Catholic minister?"

No. The canon referred to speaks of "the physical and moral impossibility to have recourse to a Catholic minister" and not of the absence of a Mass in one rite rather than in another. There is no absolute right to a determined rite.

- If for a serious reason one must attend a SSPX Mass (wedding, funerals, school feast day…) must one abstain from receiving Holy Communion ?

Yes. For Eucharistic Communion is also a communion with the Catholic Church ("The Church makes the Eucharist and the Eucharist makes the Church"), from which those priests are separated.

- Is it a sin to depart from the discipline of the Church regarding the Sunday obligation and the manner of fulfilling it ?

Yes. The obligation is clearly defined and explained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, n° 2180-2183.

Rome, April 15, 2002

Signed by Mgr Perl, Secretary

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 Mariæ,

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 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