Written by Christopher A. Ferrara
With Pope Bergoglio’s approval, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has issued a letter respecting “regularization” of the marriages between adherents of the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX). In pertinent part the letter provides that:
“to reassure the conscience of the faithful, despite the objective persistence of the canonical irregularity in which for the time being the Society of St Pius X finds itself;
“the Holy Father… has decided to authorize Local Ordinaries the possibility to grant faculties for the celebration of marriages of [SSPX] faithful…;
“the Local Ordinary is to grant the delegation to assist at the marriage to a priest of the Diocese (or in any event, to a fully regular priest), such that the priest may receive the consent of the parties during the marriage rite;
“followed, in keeping with the liturgy of the Vetus ordo, by the celebration of Mass, which may be celebrated by a priest of the Society;
“Where the above is not possible, or if there are no priests in the Diocese able to receive the consent of the parties, the Ordinary may grant the necessary faculties to the priest of the Society who is also to celebrate the Holy Mass…”
Let us consider briefly the—one must say it—absurdity of these provisions. If the Pope is truly concerned about “reassuring the conscience of the faithful, despite the objective persistence of the canonical irregularity” in SSPX marriages, he could simply decree a radical sanation of every marriage performed by an SSPX priest to date, thus correcting any defect of form arising from lack of delegation by a local ordinary.
Then, going forward, he could simply grant a universal faculty to SSPX priests to assist at all future weddings of SSPX laity, just as he has already conceded a universal faculty to hear confessions validly even without faculties from a local ordinary. Instead, however, Pope Bergoglio requires a diocesan or other “fully regular” priest to receive the wedding vows while authorizing the SSPX in attendance only to offer the nuptial Mass. The local ordinary is merely granted the discretion, but not given the obligation, to allow an SSPX priest to witness the vows as well if a diocesan or “fully regular” priest is not available. Hence the absurdity of the provisions, which mean the following given the previous grant of the universal faculty to hear confessions:
– SSPX priests can validly and licitly offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at a wedding, but cannot validly or licitly witness the wedding vows.
– SSPX priests can validly and licitly hear the confessions of the bride and groom at any time or place in the world, even in the very church where they are to be married, but cannot validly or licitly witness their vows in that same church on their wedding day.
– SSPX can offer Masses licitly only immediately following an exchange of wedding vows; otherwise all their Masses are illicit.
– SSPX can be present to hear the wedding vows of SSPX adherents, but cannot witness those vows.
– People may confess validly and licitly to an SSPX priest every week, but may not licitly attend their Masses—except at a wedding.
– SSPX priests act regularly when they hear confessions and offer nuptial Masses, but immediately lapse into irregularity whenever they witness marriage vows or offer a Mass other than a nuptial Mass.
What we have here, from the Pope who never ceases to condemn the imaginary Pharisaical legalism and casuistry of orthodox Catholics, is an example of legalism and casuistry that would make even the Pharisees blush. The power of the priesthood is sliced like salami and SSPX priests are given some of the slices while others are held back. The sum total of these provisions boils down to a declaration by Pope Bergoglio that henceforth no SSPX marriage may be conducted validly or licitly except within the framework he has just erected. He has not regularized SXPX marriages but rather submitted them to diocesan control.
Meanwhile, Bergoglio labors ceaselessly to insure that public adulterers living in “second marriages” receive Holy Communion, having just praised the “guidelines” of the Maltese bishops pursuant to Amoris Laetitia, which mandate that sacrilegious Communion be allowed to any public adulterer who deems himself to be “at peace with God.” But there must be no marriages for SSPX adherents who feel at peace with God in having recourse to SSPX clergy unless a designated “regular” priest is physically present to witness the vows. Those who fail to follow the letter of canon law must not be allowed any such peace of mind! Peace of mind is for public adulterers only!
That squeaking sound you hear is Pope Bergoglio turning the faucet of his boundless mercy just enough to allow a drop or two to trickle onto the parched precincts of the SSPX. The canonical Chinese water torture of these faithful Catholics continues. Meanwhile, public adulterers around the world are marching up to receive Holy Communion and thereby give the appearance of validity to “marriages” that are nothing more than “disgraceful and death-bringing concubinage,” to quote Pope Pius XI.