Bishop Henry

Calgary Catholics warned about SSPX parish

By 
  • January 1, 2013

Calgary Bishop Fred Henry has warned Catholics in his diocese not to attend a church purchased by the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X (SSPX).

In the diocesan newsletter The Carillon, Henry pointed out SSPX had bought the building formerly occupied by St. Michael’s Catholic Church, which has relocated.

The confusion lies in the name of the new SSPX parish: St. Dennis Catholic Church. Henry stressed, “St. Dennis is not a Catholic church and the fact that they are identifying themselves as a Catholic church is problematic and confusing for many people.”

“St. Dennis Church does not have canonical status within the Roman Catholic diocese of Calgary,” Henry said, noting Catholics should not attend this parish or receive sacraments from any SSPX priest “unless in dire emergency or danger of death.”

The bishop lays out the history of SSPX and its founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. Since the founding of the society, there have been illicit ordinations of priests and bishops, resulting in excommunications. Though the excommunications of the four bishops who succeeded Lefebvre have since been lifted, it did not change the juridical status of SSPX, “which presently does not enjoy any canonical recognition by the Catholic Church, Henry said.

As for Lefebvre, “He did not reject Vatican II, or even the reform of the Mass (he voted for the Council document that called for it) but he did reject the current rites, promulgated in 1969, though he did not argue they were invalid,” Henry writes.

Henry noted that there were a number of seminarians and priests at the Swiss seminary Lefebvre founded in Encône, Switzerland, who did not wish to go into schism with the Holy See and sought another solution. Their efforts led to the erection of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) which have had the celebration of the Tridentine rite as part of their charism. The bishop noted their “loyalty and faithfulness,” as well as devotion to the Traditional Latin Mass.

“On the other hand, the SSPX has gotten more strident over time, harboring sedevacantists and others with positions more extreme than Archbishop Lefebvre would have tolerated,” he said.

For those in Calgary who wish to attend a Tridentine Mass, Henry directs them to St. Anthony’s parish, run by the FSSP.

The National Post ran a Dec. 13 story on the issue, treating it as a dispute among Catholic factions. It quotes Fr. Jurgen Wegner, SSPX’s Canadian district superior, as being “surprised” by the bishop’s letter. He told the Post there are about 600 SSPX members in Calgary and they needed a larger location to worship.

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