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Pope Francis: SSPX priests will licitly and validly absolve sins during Jubilee of Mercy

September 01, 2015

Pope Francis has declared that priests of the Society of St. Pius X, founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, will validly and licitly absolve sins during the upcoming Jubilee Year of Mercy, which begins on December 8.

The Pope has also ruled that during the Jubilee Year, all priests will have the authority to absolve penitents of the sin of abortion. Under current canon law, abortion is not only a grave sin but also can be grounds for excommunication, and can be lifted only by the diocesan bishop or priests to whom the bishop delegates that authority. (In some American dioceses, bishops have delegated the authority to all their priests.)

“A final consideration concerns those faithful who for various reasons choose to attend churches officiated by priests of the Fraternity of St. Pius X,” the Pontiff said at the conclusion of a September 1 letter to the President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization. “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,” he continued. “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.”

In the letter, the Pope also discussed the jubilee indulgence and the works of mercy and said he has decided, “notwithstanding anything to the contrary, to concede to all priests for the Jubilee Year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it.”

 
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  • Posted by: Bernadette - Sep. 01, 2015 8:16 PM ET USA

    Clarity is weak. Not consistency. On the one hand, they say SSPX confessions are invalid; on the other hand, the Vatican upholds the priests' reports of serious sins. Doesn't make sense! Either their Confessions are valid or not. And now the Pope is giving them permission to absolve the grave sin of abortion? Very confusing. I don't think the SSPX will go for this as they don't think they are doing anything wrong anyway. Accepting this mercy would be tantamount to admitting being wrong.

  • Posted by: Jim.K - Sep. 01, 2015 7:25 PM ET USA

    I wonder if the next "concession to Mercy" might have to do with marriage. Since Moses allowed divorce in the Old Testament, might not Pope Francis allow it in the New Testament "due to the hardness of (modern day) hearts? Then, of course, the Kasper proposal would be a moot point. Remember, "whatever you shall bind (or loose) on earth will be bound (or loosened) in Heaven." I think this is much more likely than allowing those in serious sin to receive the Eucharist. What do you think?

  • Posted by: feedback - Sep. 01, 2015 9:23 AM ET USA

    Wonderful news! But I imagine how this is likely to confuse the so-called "conservative" bashers of Pope Francis, as well as the so-called "liberals."

  • Posted by: koinonia - Sep. 01, 2015 8:26 AM ET USA

    Bishop Fellay has repeatedly emphasized the SSPX priests have always complied with reporting those serious sins heard in confessions that required notification of the Holy See. In every case diligently reported to Rome the question of validity never came up as the authorities either confirmed the penance given or provided additional recommendations. The validity was never questioned in those responses even though SSPX priests were clearly involved. The news is good but consistency is weak.