Prelate bars SSPX priests from exercising ministry in archdiocese

November 16, 2011 1:12 am 

MANILA, Nov. 15 — A ranking Catholic church official has forbidden a group of priests belonging to a schismatic community to exercise their ministry in his ecclesiastical territory.

Davao Archbishop Fernando Capalla prohibited the priests of the Society of St. Pius X from exercising their ministry in the archdiocese, saying they lack the canonical status to do so.

In an open letter to the SSPX local superior Fr. Francois Laisney, Capalla said that SSPX priests cannot exercise their ministry in the archdiocese “without genuine authorization or approval from [him] as archbishop and local ordinary.”

"You cannot exercise legitimately your priestly right to minister in our Church territory or Diocese. And the reason – which perhaps you failed to explain to our people – is the grave error in doctrine committed by your Society against the authority of the Pope and the Vatican Council, a serious offense and crime against the unity of the Church, our unfortunate schism,” Capalla said.

The SSPX was organized by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1969.

It has rejected the ordinary form of the Mass as approved by the Second Vatican Council and continued to celebrate the liturgy in the traditional form.

Capalla’s letter was in response to an earlier open letter sent by the SSPX and published by a local daily criticizing the prelate for forbidding the priests from exercising their priestly ministry in the archdiocese.

“No amount of reasoning, like the perceived necessity, the appeal to the people, the 'salvation of souls,' the Good Samaritan metaphor, can confer ordinary jurisdiction or grant authorization to you except the local bishop. And you cannot apply one canonical provision and violate another in your argumentation,” Capalla’s letter further said.

Capalla said the SSPX priests have been administering baptisms and solemnizing marriages without permission.

He said he was also told that some of the faithful, who have attended the Mass celebrated by the SSPX , were confused and asked why the priest was not facing the people.

Capalla told Laisney that their illegitimate ministry was misleading the local community.

Capalla said the archdiocese was doing its best to correct them.

“We are not ignoring them. They make us humble and conscious of God’s mercy and forgiveness, and encourage us to struggle for authenticity and credibility,” he said. (PNA) RMA/jmc/utb

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