I find the Society of St. Pius X utterly fascinating, in a car crash sort of way. I know the SSPX is flawed (as in, schismatic), but I want to investigate it. What gets me about the SSPX is that they don't believe they are in the wrong. Then again, neither does Hans Kung.
We're not in schism, they say, because we are loyal to the Magesterium prior to the Second Vatican Council. I doubt that St. Pius X would advocate breaking with the validly elected pope over a validly called council promulgated by a validly elected pope. Nor would he advocate a bishop illicitly oradining other priests and bishops. In his ordination, a priest vows obedience to his bishop and his successors. A bishop likewise vows obedience to the Holy Father and his Succesors. I don't think that the rite includes a vow to popes gone to their glory to the exclusion of the Vicar of Christ currently on earth. And, since Archbishop LeFebvre ordained men to be bishops and priests without the authority of the pope and in fact defying a direct order from the pope, the Archbishop and the men he ordained were excommunicated. And any men those men ordained were excommunicated. And so on. On EWTN's website, you can find a document which spells out the Vatican's clear standing on this issue. The Vatican has declared the SSPX to be in schism. Unauthorized ordinations, an abuse of episcopal authority, incurs atuomatic excommunication. Just as the women who were ordained in the middle of Lake Ontario were automatically excommunicated, so too are the priests who were ordained invalidly by Archbishop LeFebvre. I'm sorry if you don't believe it because you haven't seen the memo. There is no need for a memeo. It's in Canon Law. That's one of the things that DIDN'T change with Vatican II.
We disagree with the changes made to the Church after Vatican II, they say. The Council has watered down the faith. There should not be outreach to the Protestants the way we think the council says to. Well, this could be cleared up if the folks I have communicated with from the SSPX had actually READ any of the documents from the Second Vatican Council-in Latin or in their vernacular. In no place does it suggest changing the essential truths of the faith to suit the desires of any Protestant denomination. The Real Presence must be accepted by all. The authority of the successor to Peter must be accepted by all (one of the big stumbling blocks toward reconciling the rift with the Eastern Orthodox). Did Jesus not pray that we may all be one as He and His Father are one? How is this to be accomplished if we do not talk to other Chriatians? We cnnot live our baptismal call to make disciples of all nations if we do not go out and meet the nations.
I would like to state that I think that we as a Church should place greater emphasis on reaching out to folks in the SSPX and bring them back before we reach out to, say, the Lutherans. The Lutherans might be easier to convince, though.
The definition of a Catfeteria Catholic is a person who picks and chooses Church Teaching. I think you could say the same for the SSPX.
In the Society's webpage is a page of FAQs. The FAQs basically suggest that the supression of the society was invalid. It also states:
BUT EVEN IF THESE CENSURES WERE UNJUST, SHOULDN'T THEY BE OBSERVED?
If only the one incurring them were to suffer, then YES, that is the more perfect way to act.
If however there is a question of depriving innumerable souls of the graces they need for salvation, then NO, one cannot
So, since the SSPX feels that its role is a vital one, by providing the Tridentine Mass in its chapels, it must continue, essentially, for the greater good.
But the Tridentine Mass is available by indult from the local bishop. If there is a demand for it, the local bishop ought to grant the indult (and if he doesn't, the laity have the right and responsibility to take it up with that bishop and if they have no other recourse to take it to Rome, where one would hope that more reasonable men would prevail upon the local bishop). This basically means that the Novus Ordo, as promulgated by Pope Paul VI is the officail rite of the Roman Church. The Tridentine Rite is certainly valid, but as it is no longer the ordinary rite, there must be special permission to offer it. Some people who attend SSPX chapels have said that Pope Paul VI didn't have the right to declare the Novus Ordo to be the offical rite to the exclusion of the Tridentine Rite. They point to the promulgation of the Tridentine Rite which states, in effect, that no one should be prevented from saying this Mass. Therefore the priests do not have to ask permission to say the Tridentine Mass.
Doesn't it all boil down to pride, though?
UPDATE 2: Rocco From Whispers in the Loggia posts this about the SSPX's Bishop Williamson Answering 10 questions from an online media outlet as only Rocco can.