Cardinal Burke: SSPX and the Year of Mercy

From Fr. John Zuhlsdorf’s Blog:

Fr. Zuhlsdorf’s commentary is in red.

At the Deus Ex Machina Blog there is a video of a presentation given by Card. Burke (bow low here) on the occasion of the publication of his book Divine Love Made Flesh in Polish.

Included at the blog is some Q&A, which the writer says is translated well-enough to be trusted. In any event, Card. Burke’s answers are in Italian, so that’s not a problem.

One of the questions concerns frequenting the SSPX for sacraments during the Year of Mercy and after the close of the Year of Mercy. As you know, Pope Francis – effectively, though I am not sure how – conceded faculties to the suspended priests of the SSPX so that they can validly absolve penitents.


Fourth question. 44:10 Minute Mark

Layman: The SSPX question. I have a question as a faithful Catholic, can we as Catholics, without fear, take advantage of the ministry of the Fraternal Society of St. Pius X? And after the Year of Mercy, the jurisdiction granted by the Apostolic See, will it simply disappear and everything will revert back to a state preceding the Year of Mercy?  [Unless Francis decides otherwise, and makes it known, yes, that’s my take.  The faculty is withdrawn on the day the Year of Mercy ends.]

Answer: (Ed. note: With a very large grin on his face, the Great Cardinal states:) A very beautify [sic] question, a very good question. With regards to the Fraternity of St. Pius X, they find themselves in an irregular situation from a canonical point of view.[Here is the important part…]If there does not exist an absolute necessity to go to the Society of St. Pius X to obtain the Sacraments, then people should not leave their churches and their priests. [Get that?  “Absolute necessity” doesn’t mean “I don’t like the music.”] With respect to the elevation to the jurisdiction for the Sacrament of Penance that the Holy Father offered, granted to the clerics of the Society of St.Pius X during the Year of Mercy, it is hard to clearly define, or describe from a canonical point of view. Bishop Fellay himself, and so the superior of the Society of Pius X recognized that this is an unique gift from the Holy Father. Therefore, this would imply that this (jurisdiction) would have its end with the end of the Year of Mercy. I express my sincere intentions, sincere wish that the Fraternity of St. Pius X could be able to unite with the Church. [Me too.] The Holy Father, Francis gave indications to Cardinal Muller, the Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, with respect to the re-opening of discussions with the Fraternity of St. Pius X, whose aim would be to enter into a “full communion” with the Catholic Church.  [Do I hear an “Amen!”?]

Thus, Card. Burke.

Being mad at the priest… not liking the modern building… hating the music… these are not reasons to leave your parish and go to the SSPX.

Card. Burke says, “absolute necessity” which narrows it down quite a bit.


What did Pope Francis grant the Society of St. Pius X during the Year of Mercy?  That’s a good question.

The Holy Father wrote: “A final consideration concerns those faithful who for various reasons choose to attend churches officiated by priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X. This Jubilee Year of Mercy excludes no one. From various quarters, several Brother Bishops have told me of their good faith and sacramental practice, combined however with an uneasy situation from the pastoral standpoint. I trust that in the near future solutions may be found to recover full communion with the priests and superiors of the Fraternity. In the meantime, motivated by the need to respond to the good of these faithful, through my own disposition, I establish that those who during the Holy Year of Mercy approach these priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation shall validly and licitly receive the absolution of their sins.”


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4 comments to Cardinal Burke: SSPX and the Year of Mercy

  • MaryAnn Vasquez

    I am sorry but i do NOT see francis as a pope at all…i am a faithful traditional catholic and was raised under pre-vatican II beliefs and sacraments. As soon as i see francis’ name on these “catholic” websites…i am immediately turned off by them…i cannot express how horrible i feel about the state of the Church in these dark times. I am so relieved that my mother isn’t alive to see this..ugh

  • Jim Albert

    If someone of the stature of Cdl. Burke is willing to state “absolute necessity” without defining what that means, then it means whatever you consider “absolute necessity”. If you as a parent think your priest, the music, the church building, or any combination of these things cause such a scandal and de-sacralization to you, your spouse, or your children, that it would be deemed dangerous and confusing to their souls; that would be reason enough for a parent to decide “absolute necessity”. Unless he is willing to offer a very specific set of circumstances that define “absolute necessity” then nothing reasonable that could be deemed by a parent dangerous to one of their family members soul is off the table.

    You can’t just say “well that narrows it down” and good luck figuring out what that means folks

    a soul in danger of being exposed to any grave de-sacralizations and further deprived of the very essense and Object of the Holy Mass definitely qualifies as “absolute necessity” and nothing other than a specific definition by the good Cardinal should change that.

  • Alan Sexton

    The article from Deus Ex Machina Blog dates back to February 2016. At the close of the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis extended indefinitely faculties to the priests of the SSPX.

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