When we see priests openly saying that the Eucharist isn't the Real Presence of Christ, when we hear theological teachers in seminaries teach that Jesus can't be both Savior and Messiah for women one can understandably wonder what happened to the Church. When we attend Mass and hear how it's a communal celebratory meal and that the laity consecrate 'with' the priest since we're all called to the priesthood of Christ (a very Lutheran attitude), then it's no wonder people will go where they feel they can get back to what the Church is supposed to be. But just as there is abuse and enticements away from the truth on left, or liberal side, there is abuse and enticements on the right, or conservative side.
On the one hand, we have to try and understand how easy it is to be drawn in.
"The Society of Saint Pius X is a priestly society of common life without vows, founded by Archbishop Lefebvre, established in the Roman Catholic Church with Canonical approval on November 1st, 1970 and honored by a Decree of Praise by the Sacred Congregation for the Clergy on February 18th, 1971. …. The priests of the Society of Saint Pius X celebrate only the Traditional Latin Mass and actively oppose the liberal changes which have been undermining and destroying the Catholic Church since the Second Vatican Council….."We hold fast, with all our heart and with all our soul, to Catholic Rome, Guardian of the Catholic Faith and of the traditions necessary to preserve this faith, to Eternal Rome, Mistress of wisdom and truth. We refuse, on the other hand, and have always refused, to follow the Rome of neo-modernist and neo-protestant tendencies which were clearly evident in the Second Vatican Council, and after the Council, in all the reforms which issued from it..." (from the Society of Pius X website)
Doesn't sound too bad does it? Not many may know that it was Pope Pius X who condemned the heresy of modernism, which permeates the 'spirit' of Vatican II crowd, and the abuses in the Mass, etc. It appears to have the approval of Rome. "….established in the Roman Catholic Church with Canonical approval on November 1st, 1970 and honored by a Decree of Praise by the Sacred Congregation for the Clergy on February 18th, 1971." Seems safe enough. But there is something which should send warning signals through one as they read it.
"We refuse, on the other hand, and have always refused, to follow the Rome of neo-modernist and neo-protestant tendencies which were clearly evident in the Second Vatican Council " In essence, they're calling Vatican II an invalid council of the Church.
Patrick Madrid, editor of Envoy Magazine and author of "Pope Fiction" was interviewed regarding this. Following is the dialogue.
"Question: Since there is so much dissent, even at official levels, there are many Catholics who ask why they shouldn't join the Society of St. Pius X, where one finds sound liturgy, sound doctrine, sound sacramental and catechetical practice, instead of continuing to go to corrupt Catholic parishes where heterodoxy and liturgical abuses abound. How do you answer those Catholics?
Madrid: I'd start by saying you don't solve one error by committing another. It is an error, it is wrong, to go into the Society of St. Pius X. To do so is to go into schism. You're exchanging one abuse for another." (Ibid)
Those who belong to and support the Society of Pius X, interestingly enough, use the same logic as the liberals in regard to the Pope. They say, "Non-submission to the Pope is only schismatic/heretical if one refuses to submit to him on a point of DOGMA." Then, of course, we get into what is dogma, is it infallible, by whose definition. For example, in his recent teaching reserving the priesthood to men, it was asked of Cardinal Ratzinger (Head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith; CDF) if it was infallible. When he said yes, they immediately said that a) it was only his opinion and b) Cardinal Ratzinger isn't infallible.
The point is, it boils down to disobedience plain and simple.
Apparently, the Society says that the notion of sedevacantism is false (the idea that the Chair of Peter is vacant) but say it's okay to believe that if it's expressed only as an opinion. Well, either John Paul II is the successor of Peter or he isn't, and if he isn't, then the Chair is empty. If he is, then why do they so virolently oppose him? (Much in the same vein that Call To Action and other dissident groups opposed him).
"Hence the absurdity of your suspicions of the Novus Ordo Mass, Vatican II, some of the pope's decrees and actions, etc. This is the whole point. SSPX has lost all or at least some of its faith in the infallibility and indefectibility of the Church. The same thing typifies the anti-Catholic varieties of Eastern Orthodox and Protestants as well." (Critique of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), "Traditionalism," and the "Schismatic Spirit", author unknown)
Msgr Camille Perl of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, wrote to an Australian concerning the Society in 1998;
"While the priests of the Society of St. Pius X are validly ordained, they are also suspended a divinis, that is they are forbidden by the Church from celebrating the Mass and the sacraments because of their illicit (or illegal) ordination to the diaconate and the priesthood without proper incardination (cf. canon 265). In the strict sense there are no "lay members" of the Society of St. Pius X, only those who frequent their Masses and receive the sacraments from them.
" While it is true that participation in the Mass at the chapels of the Society of St. Pius X does not of itself constitute 'formal adherence to the schism', such adherence can come about over a period of time as one slowly imbibes a schismatic mentality which separates itself from the teaching of the Supreme Pontiff and the entire Catholic Church classically exemplified in A Rome and Econe Handbook which states in response to question 14 that the SSPX defends the traditional catechisms and therefore the Old Mass, and so attacks the Novus Ordo, the Second Vatican Council and the New Catechism, all of which more or less undermine our unchangeable Catholic faith.
" It is precisely because of this schismatic mentality that this Pontifical Commission has consistently discouraged the faithful from attending Masses celebrated under the aegis of the Society of St. Pius X."
Essentially, all priests and bishops with Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre at the time of their disobedience are still valid priests. But they may not ordain any one else. So any priest ordained by them is not a priest, so their Masses may be invalid.
Can one attend one of their Masses? Msgr Camille Perl answered that one as well.
"The Masses they celebrate are also valid, but it is considered morally illicit for the faithful to participate in these Masses unless they are physically or morally impeded from participating in a Mass celebrated by a Catholic priest in good standing (cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 844.2). The fact of not being able to assist at the celebration of the so-called "Tridentine" Mass is not considered a sufficient motive for attending such Masses."
The Society of Pius X appears to many to be the last refugee from the abuses and modernism plaguing the Church today. But replacing one error with another is no real answer. It can't even be called choosing a lesser of two evils.
The words of St. Cyprian ring as true in this as always.
"If a man does not hold fast to this oneness of Peter, does he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he deserts the Chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, has he still confidence that he is in the Church?" (St. Cyprian of Carthage; "On the Unity of the Catholic Church")
Bishop Bruskewitz included the Society on his list of organizations in danger of excommunication.
"The Diocese of Lincoln has received thousands of letters expressing support and gratitude for Bishop Bruskewitz's action and only an insignificant number criticizing him, so I am not surprised that our readers would react as they did. Even so, there is one category of criticism received by the Diocese of Lincoln and the Foundation which deserves a response. I am referring to the members and sympathizers of the Society of St. Pius X (hereafter the Society or SSPX) who objected to the Society's being named at all and its being lumped together with such groups as Call To Action, Catholics for a Free Choice, Planned Parenthood and the Freemasons.
"For an organization to be included in Bishop Bruskewitz's legislation three conditions must be present: (1) It must have members in the Diocese of Lincoln; (2) membership therein is deemed by the bishop to be perilous to or incompatible with the Catholic faith; (3) it asserts falsely that membership does not contradict membership in the Catholic Church. Let me state my position right off the bat. There is no doubt in my mind that conditions (1) and (3) apply to the Society and there is persuasive evidence that condition (2) also applies." (from an article in "Christifidelis" August 22, 1996)
They may be more appealing wolves, but they're still wolves in sheep clothing. In essence, they deny the Church and her teachings in no less a manner than the liberal dissidents.