At a time when LifeSiteNews is reporting on parishioners “flocking” to the the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) following the cancelation of a diocesan Latin Mass in Corpus Christi, Texas, and Bishops Joseph Strickland and Athanasius Schneider are praising the SSPX for their alleged adherence to the Catholic faith, the society may seem appealing to some outsiders looking for a community more rigorous in its approach to Catholicism.
In recent years a growing number of former adherents to the controversial traditionalist group have come forward to speak about their experiences in the SSPX. These individuals have described a culture that is far different from what former traditionalist Andrew Bartel has described as “the favorable facade which this priestly fraternity and its associates present to the world.” Various former members have shared their testimonies of cult-like activity, brainwashing, and even abuse.
One of the major debates surrounding the SSPX is over their status in the Catholic Church — specifically whether the Society is in a state of schism. Dom Dalmasso, who grew up in the SSPX community in France, has launched a YouTube channel and a blog responding to the claims of radical traditionalism. He and Andrew Bartel, as well as former SSPX adherent John Salza, have done extensive research into the status of the SSPX and their conclusions are far different from what the Society will have you believe.
Recently he posted an in-depth article by Noah and Wesley Weidig, also former Lefebvrists, on the canonical status of the SSPX. I share his prologue here with his permission, and encourage you to read the full analysis at his blog:
In “SSPX: Indefensible,” Noah and Wesley Weidig, both former SSPX adherents, offer us a tour de force which thoroughly and conclusively demonstrates what the Magisterium’s position on the SSPX actually is. Drawing from our work (“True or False Pope” and “The Logos Project“) and several other sources, they present the inevitable conclusion that the Society of Saint Pius X’s position is indefensible. The goal of this text, however, is not to “bring down” some “bad guy group,” or to win an irrelevant argument. Rather, the membership to (and communion with) the Catholic Church of many Catholics is what is at stake.
A few observations need to be made: The Eastern Orthodox are separated churches which are attached to Apostolic Sees that are still profoundly connected to the undivided Church of the Fathers of the first millennium. Striving for unity with these churches is a Christian duty. The Protestants are denominational communities that do not identify as Catholic and are not, for the most part, sacramental communities (Lutherans and some others are a different case, one which could benefit from the Confessio Augustana): Unity is much more difficult in this case and will require a gradual change in Protestant confessions toward a more sacramental understanding of ecclesiology (although healing the East-West schism would be a powerful and effective witness to our Protestant friends). As for the Church of England, much of what has already been said can also be applied.
But with the SSPX, the situation is of a completely different order. That unity is desired is of course a given, but in this case, we are dealing with four Roman Rite bishops (three, depending on how one counts them) and the priests they’ve ordained (scattered throughout the world) which claim to offer true Catholicity (true Roman Catholicity) to our fellow Roman Catholic brothers and sisters. And they do so in the same territories where the Catholic community lives. In other words – and intentions are irrelevant at this point – this acephalous organization of vagus priests is preying on the Catholic community’s ecclesial and sacramental unity in an incredibly detrimental way.
Our goal is not only to warn the Catholic community, but to help those who have already bought into this group to come back to the unity of bishop and sacrament, a unity which has always been understood to be the core of Catholicity. And we warn these faithful precisely because they are Catholic.
In 29 pages (reproduced here) Noah and Wesley put to shame what can only be described as the dishonest 250 pages of Kennedy Hall’s recent book “SSPX: The Defence.” If you, a loved one, or an acquaintance has questions about the SSPX, this is an excellent place to start.