The 1989 Profession of Faith: More Errors and Dishonesty from the SSPX


The 1989 Profession of Faith:
More Errors and Dishonesty from the SSPX

John F. Salza, Esq.
April A.D. 2023


            For the average Catholic who reads the material of the Society of St. Pius X, it is often very difficult to discern the Society’s many theological errors. This is because one error is generally based upon another error, or multiple errors, resulting in a tangled web of interdependent errors that can only be untangled by systematically addressing each error, one at a time (not to mention having the theological knowledge to do so). We see how complex this web of errors can be, by just looking at the Society’s treatment of the Church’s Profession of Faith, promulgated by Pope John Paul II in 1989.

The Profession of Faith contains the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed followed by three propositions which describe the truths of the Catholic Faith: (1) we believe with divine and Catholic faith the truths which the Church proposes as divinely revealed; (2) we firmly accept and hold (also with divine faith) everything definitively proposed by the Church on faith and morals; (3) we adhere with submission of intellect and will (not divine faith) to the teachings of the authentic Magisterium, even if not proclaimed by definitive act.

Archbishop Lefebvre rejected the 1989 Profession of Faith, and hence the Society he founded continues to do so to this day (after all, Lefebvre is the Society’s practical rule of faith). In its rejection of the Catholic Church’s Profession of Faith, Lefebvre and the Society make, inter alia, the following interrelated errors, creating that proverbial tangled web:   

·         The SSPX claims that all of the teachings of Vatican II fall into at least the third category of truths, but the Church has said no such thing. In fact, Church has not even said whether “ecumenism,” or “interreligious dialogue” or statements on “non-Christian religions,” for example, constitute a “teaching” or “doctrine” on “faith or morals” at all, which is required for category 3 truths.    

·         The SSPX claims that all of the teachings of Vatican II are binding upon Catholics, but the Church has said no such thing. In fact, Abp. Pozzo (the Vatican point-man for the SSPX), among others, said certain conciliar documents contain statements which are not binding on Catholics, such as  Nostra Aetate, Unitatis Redintegratio and Dignitatis Humanae.  

·         The SSPX interprets certain statements of Vatican II to be erroneous (and assumes they are “teachings”), when the Church has either not given a definitive interpretation of the statement, or has rejected the SSPX’s interpretation as being the correct interpretation (e.g., the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has issued multiple clarifications on Lumen Gentium’s subsistit which rejects the Society’s interpretation that subsistit means the Church of Christ may be present in other Christian churches). 

·         The SSPX concedes that the third category of truths (teachings of the authentic Magisterium) does not require the unconditional assent of faith but only the conditional assent of intellect and will, but then contradicts itself by claiming that the third category requires Catholics to “accept unthinkably every statement of the authentic Magisterium” in reference to Vatican II). 

·         The SSPX claims to accept the first and second categories of truths of the Profession (those truths to be believed with divine faith) but not the third category, but fails to recognize that the third proposition itself must be believed with divine faith (the proposition according to which we are to give religious deference to the authentic Magisterium) because it is a truth contained within the Profession of Faith (hence, contradicting itself). 

·         The SSPX claims that the third category of truths is a novelty, created by the “Conciliar Church” to force acceptance of Vatican II, even though the proposition was taught at the time of the First Vatican Council (e.g., Cardinal Franzelin) and in the many theology manuals that were written up to the time of Vatican II. 

As you can see, the Society’s rejection of the Church’s Profession of Faith is based on one error after another (and these are just a few of their errors), which makes it difficult for the average Catholic to discern the truth from their many falsehoods. Unless one has significant knowledge in a variety of technical areas (e.g., theology, papal teaching, history) and critical distinctions within those areas (e.g., teachings vs. statements of fact; definitive vs. non-definitive), he can be easily fooled by the Society’s arguments, which often have a prima facie appearance of orthodoxy. After all, Society priests wear cassocks and celebrate the 1962 Missal, and this veneer of “traditional Catholicism,” unfortunately, dupes many into falling into their web of errors. 

The SSPX’s Latest Disaster of a Defense

Having set forth these basic errors, let us now address the SSPX’s latest effort to defend its rejection of the Profession of Faith. On March 23, 2023, the Society of St. Pius X released an article called “Why Didn’t Archbishop Lefebvre Sign the Vatican’s Profession of Faith in 1989?” to justify its position. In my critique of this article, I will amplify a number of the errors already cited above, as well as address a few more.

No doubt this latest article from the SSPX was a response to my recent articles and podcasts demonstrating their blatant and scandalous rejection of the Professio. The Society’s article is yet another knee-jerk reaction to control the damage. But each time the Society and its apologists attempt damage control, they only expose their errors and dishonesty even more. Their latest article is no exception.

            Let’s start with their title of the article. Even the title is misleading. The “Profession of Faith” in question is not “the Vatican’s Profession of Faith” as the SSPX falsely labels it (later in the same article, Fellay is quoted as disingenuously calling it “the profession of Ratzinger”), but rather the universal Profession of Faith of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, required by all Catholics, East and West, to maintain communion with the Church. As noted above, the Profession contains the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed followed by three propositions which describe the very truths of the Catholic Faith. Further, Catholics who hold office in the Church promise before God to adhere to the Profession on the Holy Gospels.

Also, the Profession was not simply “written in February of 1989” as the SSPX claims (even claiming it was written “by the Vatican” to coerce the Society into “accepting the Second Vatican Council”). Rather, the Profession was universally promulgated by the supreme authority of the Church, Pope John Paul II, to be binding on all Catholics, East and West, in order to maintain communion with the Church. Theologians teach that the Church’s Professions (or Symbols) of Faith are equivalent to dogmas.

Not only does the Society, right out of the gate, mislead the faithful about the nature and authority of the Profession, but also falsely equates accepting the Profession of Faith with accepting the “consequences that harmed the Faith” which, according to Abp. Lefebvre (the Society’s rule of Faith), means Vatican II and its reforms. In the Society’s introductory remarks, we read:   

“The Archbishop went on to say that at that time he did not see the possibility of regular contacts with Rome, because Rome was demanding that, for any concessions to be made, the SSPX sign a new profession of Faith written in February of 1989. He equated making that profession with the explicit acceptance of the Second Vatican Council and its consequences that harmed the Faith.”[1] 

            Thus, to justify its rejection of the Profession of Faith, the SSPX equates accepting the harmful consequences of the post-conciliar reforms with accepting the Profession of Faith itself, just like it wrongly attributes liturgical abuses to the Novus Ordo Missal itself, and heretical interpretations of the council to the Vatican II documents themselves, rather than to those Modernists who foster these abuses.

            Of course, anyone with a modicum of intelligence can see the causal fallacy of the Society’s position. The fallacy leads to the proverbial “throwing the baby out with the bath water” (that is, attributing positive errors to the Profession of 1989, the texts of Vatican II and the 1969 Missal), which is then used as the basis for rejecting them outright). But, in this case, throwing out the baby means rejecting the Faith of the Roman Catholic Church, for the Profession of Faith promulgated by John Paul II, as we noted, is required by all Catholics to maintain “full communion with the Church.”[2]

            What makes the Society’s position even more absurd is that it both misunderstands and misapplies the doctrinal truths of the very Profession it chooses to reject, thereby revealing its own inability to even adequately comprehend the Profession. First, the Society actually incorrectly defines the Profession’s first proposition of doctrinal truths (thus, erring in its understanding of the Profession). As we will see, the Society claims that the first proposition of truths “is everything proposed by the Church’s Magisterium.” This claim is so obviously erroneous, we wonder who proofreads the Society’s material (surely a second-year seminarian would not make such a blunder). What this shows us is that not only are there no real theologians within the SSPX (at least none who reviewed the latest article), but also that the Society rejects a Profession of Faith that it has manifestly failed to understand, at the most basic level.

Second, as noted above, the Society initially explains the level of assent required for the third proposition of truths correctly (requiring conditional submission of intellect and will), but then flatly contradicts itself by concluding that the third proposition requires one “to accept unthinkingly every statement of the authentic Magisterium” (thus, erring in its application of the Profession to the documents of Vatican II). Finally, and most unfortunately, the Society simply lies to its followers when it claims that it is no longer required to accept the 1989 Profession as a condition for communion with the Roman Catholic Church. We now look at these errors and misrepresentations in more detail. 

The SSPX Errs in Describing the Truths of the Profession

             In its attempt to answer the question “What is the 1989 Profession of Faith?,” the SSPX starts out by describing the first category of truths.  It says: 

The first group of truths is everything proposed by the Church’s Magisterium. That includes both the Extraordinary Magisterium of the Church, its “solemn judgments” and the ordinary Magisterium, what has everywhere and always been taught but never solemnly defined.”[3] 

Compare the Society’s definition of the first proposition of truths with the actual definition from the Professio Fidei itself: 

“With firm faith, I also believe everything contained in the word of God, whether written or handed down in Tradition, which the Church, either by a solemn judgment or by the ordinary and universal Magisterium, sets forth to be believed as divinely revealed.”[4] 

            Obviously, the first category of truths is not “everything proposed by the Church’s Magisterium” as the SSPX alleges. Rather, it is everything contained within the Deposit of Faith, written or unwritten, which the Church “sets forth to be believed as divinely revealed.” Of course, not “everything proposed by the Church’s Magisterium” (again, in the words of the SSPX) is proposed as “divinely revealed,” which is why there are two additional categories of truths (taught by the Magisterium) after the first category.[5]

Nowhere in the Society’s definition of category 1 truths does it refer to “everything contained in the Word of God” (Scripture or Tradition) or “divinely revealed” truths, which is why the Society errs in describing the first proposition. Thus, the Society of St. Pius X rejects a Profession of Faith it doesn’t even understand (or, more strangely, accepts a false definition of category 1 truths, and rejects a true definition of category 3 truths, which it first defines correctly but then rejects through a false application). Again, a second-year seminary student wouldn’t make these errors - unless, of course, he was enrolled in one of the Society’s seminaries.           

The SSPX Perverts the Level of Assent Owed to the Authentic Magisterium 

            As we mentioned above, what makes the Society’s position even more strange is the fact that it correctly acknowledges the type of assent owed to category 3 truths (conditional assent of intellect and will, and not the unconditional assent of divine faith), but then falsely claims that the third category forces the SSPX to unconditionally accept all the teachings of Vatican II, thereby contradicting itself.

            In the article in question, the Society correctly describes the third proposition as follows: 

“Both Lumen Gentium and the Profession demand a religious obeisance of mind to the authentic Magisterium. That does not mean that the one making the profession is asked to accept it by the assent of an act of faith. Rather, the religious obeisance is a presumption of acceptance in favor of the superior. Authentic Magisterium refers to teaching made in a non-definitive way by someone who can teach magisterially.”[6] 

         So far so good.

The Society then goes on to address the question of whether religious obeisance is owed to those teachings which might contradict previously defined teaching. In its own words: 

“Since the authentic Magisterium is non-infallible and is only a presumption in the favor of a superior, we may well ask: what if the superior teaches something contrary to clearly defined teachings of the Church? In such a case, the faithful are obviously entitled to reject the new teaching.”[7] 

         In support of this position, the Society cites Dom Paul Nau who explained in his book Pope or Church? that assent to the authentic Magisterium is one “of inward assent, not as of faith, but as of prudence, the refusal of which could not escape the mark of temerityunless the doctrine rejected was an actual novelty or involved a manifest discordance between the pontifical affirmation and the doctrine which had hitherto been taught.”[8] Assuming, as Dom Nau states, that such a refusal is done with great prudence lest it be an act of temerity, the Society is correct to conclude that “a faithful Catholic can reject what is contrary to the constant teaching of the Church in Vatican II or post-conciliar teachings.”

            Again, so far so good.

            The problem is that the Society then goes on to falsely claim that Vatican II actually taught positive errors (problem #1), and then contradicts itself by claiming that the third proposition of the Profession of Faith would require it to embrace those errors (problem #2)! You read that correctly. After initially conceding that third proposition teachings require only a conditional assent of religious submission (and not the unconditional assent of divine faith), the Society then perverts the level of assent owed to the authentic Magisterium in the context of the teachings of Vatican II. Hence, its false application of the third proposition is driven by its false accusations against (and seeming hatred for) the Second Vatican Council.  

The Society articulates its witless error by stating: “The authentic Magisterium presented as it was in 1989 makes it possible to affirm one thing one century and then another in a subsequent century…” Thus, the Society would have us believe that the 1989 Profession of Faith requires us to accept unthinkingly every statement of the Magisterium unconditionally, even though it elsewhere concedes that the deference is only conditional and could be suspended!  Don’t believe me? In the SSPX’s own concluding words: 

What in practice would happen to a faithful Catholic if he were to accept unthinkingly every statement of the authentic Magisterium? For him, the Catholic religion would be the one true religion one decade, and the Church of Christ would subsist in the Catholic Church and therefore also be found elsewhere the next decade. Marriage would be for life and divorce forbidden at one time and communion given to the divorced and remarried at a later one. The unchanging Tradition of the Catholic Church conveyed by the Magisterium would be degraded by something that is called Magisterium![9] 

Yes, folks, this is a blatant contradiction in the Society’s position. And the contradiction is borne from the Society’s related error that Vatican II contains teachings which depart from the pre-conciliar Magisterium. The example the article provides of the alleged “manifest discordance” between Vatican II and previously defined teaching is Lumen Gentium’s phrase “the Church of Christ subsists (subsistit) in the Catholic Church.” As the article affirms, the Society interprets this phrase to mean the Church of Christ is not exclusively the Catholic Church, when it says: “The Church of Christ would be something subsisting in the Catholic Church as a subject, but not exclusively found there. The supernatural society founded by Christ for man’s salvation can also be found elsewhere. Therefore, the Catholic Church is not identical to the Church of Christ and so the Church of Christ can extend beyond it.”[10] In the same article, the SSPX also says: “The authentic Magisterium of Lumen Gentium is in opposition to the authentic Magisterium of the Syllabus of Errors.”[11]

However, the Magisterium has officially rejected the Society’s interpretation of “subsists” and affirmed the Church’s traditional teaching by issuing various clarifications over the years. For example, the CDF explicitly rejected the SSPX’s interpretation in a 1985 notification on a book by Fr. Leonardo Boff, when it said “he derives a thesis which is exactly the contrary to the authentic meaning of the Council text, for he affirms: 'In fact it (sc. the sole Church of Christ) may also be present in other Christian Churches' (p. 75).” And in an office responsa in 2007, which also rejects the SSPX’s interpretation, the CDF explained subsistit as follows: 

"In number 8 of the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium 'subsistence' means this perduring, historical continuity and the permanence of all the elements instituted by Christ in the Catholic Church, in which the Church of Christ is concretely found on this earth. [...] [T]he word 'subsists' can only be attributed to the Catholic Church alone precisely because it refers to the mark of unity that we profess in the symbols of the faith (I believe... in the 'one' Church); and this 'one' Church subsists in the Catholic Church.” 

As we can see, the Society imputes an error to a statement found in a document of Vatican II, by imposing a meaning upon the statement that the Magisterium has officially rejected! And if that isn’t erroneous (dishonest) enough, the Society then claims that because the Profession would require it to accept this alleged error (false!), it is justified in rejecting the Profession itself (also false)! In other words, the SSPX rejects the Profession of Faith, because it wrongly believes the Profession requires it to accept theological errors of Vatican II (error #1), which “errors” it merely asserts but does not prove (error #2), and the example it provides has actually been disproven by the Magisterium (error #3). As we said, the Society creates a tangled web of errors, since one error is related to another. We hope the reader can see just how ludicrous the Society’s position is – which, of course, began with Marcel Lefebvre. 

                                     The Misrepresentations of Bishop Fellay

 In addition to deferring to their practical rule of faith (Abp. Lefebvre) in its rejection of the Profession, the SSPX also refers to statements made by Bp. Fellay (who, of course, also defers to Lefebvre). In the article in question, there is a section which quotes from Fellay in a conference he gave in 2016 in Port-Marly, France, after having met with Archbishop Pozzo and other members of the Curia. In this conference, Fellay made the following misrepresentations.

            First, Fellay referred to the 1989 Profession of Faith as “the profession of Ratzinger.”[12] As alluded to above, this is a total misrepresentation of reality, designed by Fellay to downplay the SSPX’s grave, Protestant rejection of the Church’s universal Professio Fidei, binding upon all Catholics throughout both the Latin and Eastern Rites, and which is solemnly professed before God on the Holy Gospels for those who are to hold offices in the Church. No, Bp. Fellay, this is not the ”profession of Ratzinger” as you dared to call it (even if Cd. Ratzinger did have a part in its drafting), but rather the Profession of Faith of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, promulgated by the supreme authority of that Church, the Roman Pontiff, whose jurisdiction you refuse to submit to. As far as “Ratzinger” is concerned, he wrote a doctrinal commentary on the concluding formula of the Profession in 1998, which was nine years after Pope John Paul II promulgated the Profession.

            Second, Fellay claimed that the Roman Catholic Church does not require the SSPX to accept the Church’s 1989 Profession of Faith, by making the following statements: “In effect, they (Vatican representatives) dropped some rather important things. They no longer ask us to recite the “profession of Cardinal Ratzinger”; and, “Well, as it turns out, they no longer demand it [the 1989 Profession of Faith] of us!” The article also repeats Fellay’s claim: “The very fact that Rome stopped demanding the 1989 Profession of Faith shows that at least what the SSPX objects to is open to some disagreement and that it is possible to question the authentic Magisterium.”[13]

     Now, Bp. Fellay’s claim that the SSPX is exempt from making the Catholic Profession of Faith is obviously absurd on its face. He would have us believe that for the Society priests to become Catholic, they don’t have to actually profess “the truths of her faith.”[14] But it’s worse than that, because Fellay’s claim is flatly contradicted by Abp. Pozzo, who said the Society’s acceptance of the 1989 Profession of Faith is non-negotiable.

In his interview with Famille Chretienne, Abp. Pozzo was asked: “What, then, is the non-negotiable point (with the SSPX)?” Pozzo replied: “What is essential, what we cannot give up, is the adherence to the Professio fidei, and to the principle that the Lord entrusted to the Church’s Magisterium alone the faculty to interpret authentically, that is, with the authority of Christ, the written and transmitted Word of God.”[15] Note well that Fellay made his outrageous claims after meeting with Abp. Pozzo, Cardinal Muller and other Vatican officials in 2014 and the Pozzo interview that same year, thereby explicitly contradicting the testimony of Pozzo himself.

If Bp. Fellay’s claim were true, then why has the SSPX not been regularized and brought into the Catholic Church? If, in Fellay’s words, the Church “no longer demands” the Society to accept the Profession of Faith, then why has the SSPX continued to willfully remain outside the Church? After all, the Profession would no longer be an obstacle to full communion, because the Society would not be required to given any deference to the teachings of Vatican II. If Bp. Fellay’s claim were true, the Society’s ongoing refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff (which is the definition of schism) would be even more egregious and without excuse. It follows that Bp. Fellay’s claim is false.

     Third, Bp. Fellay claimed that the Roman authorities created the third proposition of the Profession in order to force the Society into accepting Vatican II. Said Fellay: “Cardinal Ratzinger, at that time, had explained that with this addition [the third proposition] they were asking for religious submission to the documents of the authentic Magisterium, obliging Catholics to accept the Council.” As the article notes elsewhere, this was the position of Lefebvre, who “equated making that profession with the explicit acceptance of the Second Vatican Council and its consequences that harmed the Faith”; and, “As Archbishop Lefebvre said in his sermon, the 1989 Profession of Faith would mean accepting Vatican II and its consequences.”

The SSPX’s claim that the third proposition (religious submission to non-definitive teachings) was created to coerce the Society into accepting Vatican II, and was even a novelty of Vatican II itself (Lumen Gentium did teach the proposition), [16] is also completely false. The truth that we must “hear the Church” are the words of Christ Himself, revealed in Scripture (Mt 18:17), and was consistently taught in theology manuals long before Vatican II. Once again, what this shows us is that the Society does not have real theologians with any meaningful formation in pre-Vatican theology.

For example, in his Sacrae Theologia Summa (1956), Salaverri taught: “An internal and religious assent of the mind is due to the doctrinal decrees of the Holy See which have been authentically approved by the Roman Pontiff.”[17] Fr. Nicolas Jung, in his classic book, Le Magistère de L’Église (1935), also addresses non-definitive teachings: 

He is not required to give the same assent to teaching imparted by the sovereign pontiff that is not imposed on the whole Christian body as a dogma of faith. In this case it suffices to give that inner and religious assent which we give to legitimate ecclesiastical authority. This is not an absolute assent, because such decrees are not infallible, but only a prudential and conditional assent, since in questions of faith and morals there is a presumption in favor of one’s superior...[18] 

In The Sources of Revelation (1961), Van Noort also teaches: “Granted the need for submission to the authentic Magisterium, it still remains true that just as a merely authentic proposal is by its very nature incomplete and provisory, so, too, is the religious assent due to it.”[19] In Wilhelm & Scannell’s Manual of Catholic Theology (1906), we also read: “Points of doctrine expressed, recommended and insisted upon in papal allocutions or encyclical letters, but not distinctly defined, may create the obligation of strict obedience and undoubting assent, or may exact merely external submission and approval.”[20] Even the “liberal” Commentary on the 1983 Code of Canon Law acknowledges that the Church leaves room for dissent on non-definitive teachings based on preponderant evidence, just like the pre-Vatican II theologians.[21] Indeed, the SSPX schizophrenically reserves for itself the right to “dissent from non-definitive teachings” of the Church, while also rejecting the Church’s Profession of Faith which accommodates this right to dissent![22]

In fact, in Wilhelm & Scannell’s manual we further read: “Modern Liberalism…is an attempt to conciliate Extreme Liberalism by giving up these various distinctions [assent of faith vs. intellect], and reducing all decisions either to formal definitions of Faith or to mere police regulations.”[23] This means the Society’s rejection of the third paragraph of the Profession of Faith is a liberal Modernist error. But the SSPX does embrace many of the liberal errors they condemn the Modernists for, such as the right to publicly propagate its theological errors, and its claim that they are part of (ironically, that they, according to their own definition, “subsist in”) the Catholic Church, without having any juridical status in the Church, and that the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using their illicit ministry as a means of salvation. Indeed, the errors on the Left are the errors on the Right. 

Closing Comments

 As we have seen, the Society’s rejection of the Roman Catholic Church’s Profession of Faith is based on a number of interrelated errors. The Society first assumes that all of the controversial statements of Vatican II are considered “teachings” or “doctrines” of the authentic Magisterium. The Society then assumes that certain of these “teachings” or “doctrines” are erroneous (even when the Church has officially rejected its interpretation). Finally, the Society claims that the third proposition of the Profession requires Catholics to unconditionally adhere with Faith to these erroneous teachings, even if non-definitive. This is why the Society falsely claims “a person is supposed to adhere with Faith to teachings that are not definitive.”[24]

This web of errors can be untangled as follows. First, not all statements of the authentic Magisterium, including those of Vatican II, are considered “doctrines” or “teachings.” Many of the controversial statements are considered “statements of fact,” such as the Church’s explanation of what non-Christian religions believe about themselves (and which could contain errors of fact). Statements of fact are distinguished from teachings or doctrines. In its haste to condemn the council, the SSPX never makes this most critical distinction.

Second, the Society imputes error to the controversial statements, even when the Church has officially rejected its interpretation. And if the Magisterium has not clarified the meaning of controversial or ambiguous statements, this does not give the SSPX the right to accuse the Church of error (and even heresy!), for the Church teaches that Whenever it becomes necessary to expose statements that disguise some suspected error or danger under the veil of ambiguity, one must denounce the perverse meaning under which the error opposed to Catholic truth is camouflaged.”[25]  The approach of the Society of St. Pius X is exactly the opposite of what the Church requires, and this has always been the approach of the Church’s enemies.

The other issue is addressing the Society’s substantive accusation of error. While critiquing the Society’s accusations of error against the Second Vatican Council is beyond the scope of this article, suffice it to say that the Society’s favorite whipping boy, Collegiality, is its gravest error against Holy Mother Church, for it has accused this teaching of Vatican II of being heretical. The Society falsely claims that Lumen Gentium teaches a bishop receives jurisdiction proper upon his episcopal consecration, even though LG teaches no such thing (it does not even use the term “jurisdiction” in the context of what the bishop receives, but rather munera, which is an ontological capacity to receive jurisdiction upon being given a canonical mission). The Society also claims that the Pope together with the College of Bishops is not a second subject of the Supreme Authority, and that is because it erroneously conflates the Primacy with Supreme Authority.

Thus, the Society’s second error is composed of several sub-errors (again, highlighting the tangled web): (1) it rejects the Church’s directive to denounce the perverse meaning of ambiguous statements; (2) it rejects the Church’s official interpretations of ambiguous or controversial statements; and, (3) it advances its own erroneous interpretation of Magisterial documents and then falsely accuses the Church of heresy for allegedly teaching it.

Third and finally, the religious submission of intellect and will to truths in the third category is required only for “doctrines” on faith or morals taught by the authentic Magisterium (see, for example, the CDF’s doctrinal commentary, no. 11). As noted above, not all of the ambiguous or controversial statements of Vatican II would qualify as “doctrines,” and hence would not even fall into the category of the third proposition. But even if such statements would fall within category 3, the Society would be permitted to suspend judgment where prudence demands, because the religious assent of intellect and will to these teachings is necessarily conditional.

And this is the biggest irony of all – the proposition that the Society rejects is the very proposition that would allow it to critique the council and suspend judgment where prudence would reasonably require it! In other words, the third proposition is the Society’s “out” in terms of withholding religious assent to the controversial statements of Vatican II, but its unwillingness to concede any deference to certain conciliar statements, leads the Society to “cut off its nose to spite its face” (a metaphor for a self-destructive overreaction to a problem). This overreaction is no doubt driven by an a priori rejection of the Second Vatican Council and the so-called “Conciliar Church” as a whole.  

Of course, like almost all of the Society’s errors, this error originated with Archbishop Lefebvre, who called the third proposition “very bad,” “dangerous,” “ridiculous” and “false.”[26]  By having refused to give proper deference to the teachings of the council (which no doubt shows a schismatic mentality), the SSPX ended by rejecting the Church’s Profession of Faith, which is required for belief in order to be Catholic. Indeed, the Church has always understood that divine faith in her Professions was necessary for salvation, and the Church’s traditional theology always classified as heretics those who rejected Catholic truths to be believed with divine faith, such as those in Creeds and Professions of Faith.

While the Society ends its article by claiming “to profess the Faith” and “the unchanging Tradition of the Catholic Church,” the rejection of a Profession (or Symbol) of Faith has always been considered a mortal sin against the faith that merits eternal punishment, according to the very “unchanging Tradition of the Catholic Church” that they claim to profess.


[2] Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Doctrinal Commentary on the Concluding Formula of the Professio Fidei,

[5] The Society’s incorrect explanation of the first proposition can also be read to mean solemn acts of the Extraordinary Magisterium are limited to category 1 truths. While this may not be intended, it should be stated that only those solemn judgments of the Extraordinary Magisterium which set forth truths as divinely revealed belong to the first category (e.g., the Incarnation; the Assumption). However, the “Extraordinary Magisterium” can also “solemnly define” doctrines when the Roman Pontiff speaks ex cathedra (CDF Commentary, No. 6). Even if that is not the Society’s position, its explication of the first proposition cited above is erroneous.

[6] “Why Didn’t Archbishop Lefebvre Sign the Vatican’s Profession of Faith in 1989?,” March 23, 2023,

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid., citing Pope or Church?, p. 29.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Pope John Paul II, Ad Tuendam Fidem, No. 1.

[15] “No Capitulation but what Unity? Pozzo Interview,

[16] “This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will.” No. 5.

[17] Quote taken from Fr. Fenton, “Infallibility in the Encyclicals,” AER (1953). Fenton taught the same as did Billot, Jung, Tanqueray, Nau and many others.

[18] Jung, Le Magistère de L’Èglise, 1935, pp. 153, 154; cited in Clear Ideas, On the Pope’s Infallible Magisterium, SiSiNoNo, January 2002, No. 44.

[19] Van Noort, The Sources of Revelation, p. 237, Reprint by Arouca Press (2019).

[21] John Beal, James Coriden, and Thomas Green, A New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law (New York: Paulist Press, 2000), p. 917.

[22] The very nature of the “submission of intellect and will” is a conditional assent, because the intellect could have a genuine conflict based on a preponderance of evidence (unlike the assent of divine faith, which is unconditional).

[23] Vol. 1. Third Edition, Revised, London, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., p. 101.

[25] Auctorem Fidei, August 28, 1794.

[26] Cor Jesu,