27 April 2021

Ask Father: What Does SSPX Stand For?

As usual, Father Zed has a reasoned statement about a topic that often starts flame wars.

From Fr Z's Blog

From a reader…


What does SSPX stand for?

That question can be taken in more than one way.

Firstly, what are the initials, the acronym?

As you know, most members of religious orders, societies and institutes, put the initials of their organization after their name, to identity who they are.  For example, O.F.M. Cap. comes after the name of one of the flavors of Franciscans, founded by St. Francis of Assisi, the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. O.P would mean Ordo Praedicatorum, the Order of Preachers founded by St. Dominic, otherwise known as Dominicans. SJ after a name… well…

SSPX is an abbreviated acronym for FSSPX, which means Fraternitas Sacerdotalis Sancti Pii X (Decimi), the “Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X”. Hence, this is a fraternity or society of priests, not lay people. Lay people don’t belong to the SSPX.

That’s what SSPX stands for.

What does THE SSPX stand for?   You can read their own words about themselves at their site HERE, under “Mission” and “Key concerns”.  What it boils down to is a curt statement: ““The purpose of the Society is the priesthood and all that pertains to it and nothing but what concerns it.”

The Society stood for and stands for the formation of priests in line with the Church’s perennial teachings. Members of the SSPX are concerned that there are strong currents in the Church out of harmony with the Church’s Tradition. They are concerned to hand on the Church’s Tradition.

That’s what SSPX stands for and what the SSPX stands for.

The SSPX has an anomalous canonical status. I have written about that.   Some of Francis’ moves toward and about the SSPX has made their canonical situation both clearer and more complicated, but – ironically – in a positive way.

Here is more reading…

ASK FATHER: What’s the truth about the SSPX?

More about the SSPX and the heart

ASK FATHER: Does the SSPX “exercise legitimate ministries” or not?

A final point.  In 1988, when the founder of the SSPX, Archbp. Marcel Lefebvre, consecrated four bishops without the permission of Pope John Paul II, some of their priests formed their own group called the “Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter” or FSSP.  They have strong roots in the spirituality of the late Archbishop.  Therefore their mission is similar to that of the SSPX: “The mission of the Fraternity is two-fold: first, the formation and sanctification of priests in the cadre of the traditional liturgy, commonly called the Extraordinary Form of the Roman rite, and secondly, the care of souls and pastoral activities in the service of the Church.”

It could be said that the SSPX and the FSSP are in “competition”.  The fact is that the present landscape of the Church is extremely complicated and large.  Each group is clearly trying to preserve the Church’s Tradition and to form solid priests.  In that they are on the same page.  A major difference between the FSSP and the SSPX is that FSSP is formally recognized by the Church and the SSPX is not.  That doesn’t mean that the SSPX has no status whatsoever.  It means that their status is not as formalized and clear as that of the FSSP (and other traditional groups).

Our constant hope and prayer is that, soon, all these complexities will fall away as so much chaff in the wind and that we will all harmoniously cooperate together.

Please, Lord Jesus, High Priest… please, Mary, Queen of the Clergy… make it so.

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