Questions have been raised by parishioners who wish to attend Mass at a church under the direction of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX). Is it legitimate to go to Mass there? May we receive Holy Communion at their Mass? In short, the answer to these two questions is ‘no’.
SSPX is a group which broke away from the Catholic Church in 1988 when Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre illicitly ordained four men as bishops without approval of the Holy Father at the time, St. John Paul II. The schism, essentially doctrinal in nature, was over questions mostly about the legitimacy of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and its directives. In 2009, Pope Emeritus Benedict stated that the Society has “no canonical status in the Church and its ministers cannot legitimately exercise any ministry.”
While SSPX has much in common with Catholic teaching, SSPX itself is not in communion with the Holy Father or the local Catholic bishops. A conscientious Catholic should not knowingly attend a Mass celebrated by a priest of SSPX since the priest is not in good standing with the Church. If no other celebrations of the Eucharist are available (including those of the Eastern Catholic Church), Roman Catholics might visit a Mass of the SSPX but not take part in any of the sacraments celebrated there.
Fr. Thom Blondin