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Op-Ed: Significant Growth of The Society of Saint Pius X?

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St. Peter at the Vatican
Low angle view of the statue of St. Peter in St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City, with the façade of the Basilica in the background. File photo: pxl.store, Shutter Stock, licensed.

LAKE GENEVA, WI –  From a Jan. 18 e-letter written by Dr. Robert Moynihan, founder and editor-in-chief of Inside the Vatican magazine, in which he quotes an anonymous in-the-know priest who Moynihan regards as credible:

As we both know, there are no real ‘secrets’ in Rome. So without revealing the identity, I can tell you, that an archbishop in the States has seen this document about which rumors abound, and confirmed to a priest friend of mine (who is a person of true integrity and would not casually spread rumor), that it does indeed contain what some have guessed at—a further suppression of the TLM [Traditional Latin Mass], with an exception for religious orders who solely celebrate privately (no parish churches), and some possible further clarifications for the [Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter].

It was ‘found necessary’ to issue this second letter, because of the lack of implementation of Pope Francis’ motu proprio by a good number of bishops around the world (by using Canon 87, etc.) It is scheduled for release sometime in April or May, and would carry the ‘weight’ of an [Apostolic Constitution] (to match that of St Paul VI formally establishing the New Rite).

It would, effectively, take away from the bishops, any further say or exceptions in the matter. If issued, I believe, it will push the TLM ‘underground’ and further add to the ranks of the Pius X Society (which has already grown by three times since the issuance of the motu proprio by Pope Francis). This will not end well.

What caught my eye was the claim by the anonymous priest-source that the Society of St. Pius X “has already grown by three times since the issuance of the motu proprio by Pope Francis.” The motu proprio the priest-source is referring to is, of course, Traditionis Custodes.

Wow. That’s highly significant if true, I thought. I can imagine there has indeed been growth of the SSPX since the release of TC, but by three times?! I was a bit skeptical, so I sought comment (via email) from SSPX spokesman James Vogel on Moynihan’s e-letter.

Vogel, director of communications for the U.S. district of the SSPX, responded as follows:

While the SSPX has continued to grow, including after TC, it would be inaccurate to say we have tripled. By way of clarification, the only members of the SSPX are the priests, seminarians, Brothers, and Oblates, not the faithful who assist at SSPX chapels.

As for the rumor of another Vatican document further restricting the TLM, Vogel wrote:

Without entering into any speculation about future documents, the SSPX will remain, God willing, faithful in any event to its charism, given to it by the Church, of forming and helping priests and everything that flows from that: the defense of the traditional Mass, the traditional doctrinal and moral teachings of the Church, and the restoration of all things in Christ. We will continue to pass on what we have received.

Interestingly, despite Pope Francis’ apparent dislike of the TLM and his enthusiastic promotion of Vatican II, he doesn’t seem to have an antagonistic relationship with the SSPX.

In 2015, the pope announced “that the faithful would be able to validly and licitly receive absolution from priests of the SSPX during the Jubilee Year of Mercy. This ability was later extended indefinitely by Francis in his apostolic letter Misericordia et Misera, published Nov. 20, 2016,” according to the National Catholic Register.

And in 2017, Francis “approved a way for the Church to recognize marriages celebrated by priests of the Society of St. Pius X, which before [then] were not considered valid by Church authorities.”

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