The SSPX Debate -
Calling Out Kennedy’s Colossal Confusion
on Canonical Mission
John F. Salza, Esq.
January A.D. 2022
Recently, a person named Kenney Hall wrote a reply to my article “The SSPX is Transgressing Divine Law.” In my article, I demonstrated that the ministry of the Society of St. Pius X is illegitimate due to lack of a canonical mission, according to divine law and the teaching of the Church. As with my first opponent (Nishant Xavier), Mr. Hall’s approach was to give a general apologia for the SSPX and the “salvation of souls,” without directly addressing any of my arguments (which are actually the de fide teachings of the Catholic Church). In fact, Mr. Hall concedes that he has no rebuttal to my arguments on the grounds that they are just “too sophisticated” and “all too boring” for him (could a more ridiculous justification be imagined?). Indeed, Mr. Hall is unable to rebut the truth that clergy must be part of, and sent by, the Roman Catholic Church to be lawful Catholic ministers, and that’s because it is a truth of the Catholic Faith.
While Mr. Hall’s hit piece was not (in my opinion) worthy of publication, it actually furthers the debate (and solidifies the truth) by demonstrating that the Society’s lay apologists have no arguments that even remotely serve to exonerate their client’s operating without a juridical mission. Would the Society’s priests fare better? Perhaps we shall see (but unlikely, if their Crisis series of podcasts is any indication). In any event, this development is of critical importance, at this particular time, when Catholics are being tempted to, and in fact are, leaving the Roman Catholic Church for “independent” (non-Catholic) chapels and illicit Masses. Thus, they are reacting to the illicit acts of Modernist bishops who are suppressing the Old Mass, with their own illicit participation in unlawful Masses, as if two wrongs make a right (or, “as if one sin justifies another”). But they do not, according to the perennial teaching of the Church.
So as to avoid being accused of taking Mr. Hall out of context, I will include the entirety of his piece and respond to his statements throughout.
Hall: Much ink has been spilled over the topic of the Society of Saint Pius X, and I do not pretend to offer any novel theological argument in this essay. You see, I cannot pretend to have any sophisticated letters to add at the end of my name, as can such an esteemed Catholic apologist and lawyer as Mr. Salza, Esq. In fact, the only abbreviation that can be added to my name is the mundane application of “Mr.”
Salza: Dear reader, brace yourselves for Mr. Hall’s phony humility throughout his piece. This is an effeminate way of demeaning his opponent while pretending to aggrandize him, and also for the purpose of appealing to the emotions of his readers, and not to any theology that would support his own arguments. Most readers will actually see right through Mr. Hall’s bitter sarcasm, which puts a spotlight on the sheer nullity of his case.
In fact, Hall gives an up-front disclaimer that he won’t advance any “theological arguments” in his effort to rebut my theological arguments! Well, then, how is that a rebuttal? Frankly, Hall’s entire piece is an embarrassment, and I question how he could possibly think he is contributing to this debate. He cannot be taken seriously, and certainly didn’t do the Society any favors; rather, he just confirmed for everyone that there is, in fact, an elephant in the room (and the Church calls it “juridical mission”).
Hall: I did complete the law school entrance exam as an undergraduate, although I would imagine that Mr. Salza, Esq. fared better than I did – in fact I am certain of it. I also do not boast any theological training that could compare to the catalogue of masterpieces that he has contributed to the Catholic faith. Praised be to God that he has done such good work to keep so many unwitting souls away from Masonry and Sedevacantism.
Salza: More humility from my humble opponent, but not relevant to whether the SSPX has a canonical or extraordinary mission in the Church. And while I appreciate his commendation, if sincere, for my book on Sedevacantism, if he actually read that book and learned its contents, he would have concluded that the SSPX is in nearly the same canonical situation as the Sedevacantist clergy – that is, they are both without a canonical status or mission in the Church, and hence, their ministries are considered unlawful. Unfortunately, Mr. Hall’s article reveals that he does not have even a rudimentary understanding of the concepts of canonical mission and jurisdiction, and so this exchange will be a letdown for those who were hoping for a better “fight,” if you will.
Hall: My academic background is in what they call the Romance Languages, which is a term that I believe I understand differently than a more serious scholar might. I believe I was drawn to the Romance Languages because I am at heart a Latin. Anglo-Saxon surname notwithstanding, I hail from a line of Tuscan peasants at root, thus I am a romantic by nature. I learned the Catholic faith from two distinct moments in my life. First, I watched my Nonno, buon anima, cross himself with his gold-chained crucifix when he believed he was alone. He proceeded to kiss the emblem of Christ Crucified, pointed towards heaven, and shed a single tear down his weathered cheek. The other moment that taught me the rest of what I know was during time spent in Mexico City. Our Lady of Guadalupe taught me in her sacred shrine about all those things for which I was searching my whole life. It was as if she saturated the marble flooring with supernatural faith, and my knees were like conduits for heavenly things. I of course could not prove this miracle to anyone, as extraordinary as it is, but I can assure that I am writing this article because of that moment.
Salza: Personal experiences like those Mr. Hall describes are certainly spiritually edifying, but whatever Mr. Hall “learned [about] the Catholic faith” in these experiences certainly did not include the basics concerning the Church’s nature and juridical mission. As I will demonstrate, Mr. Hall embraces a Protestant understanding of the Roman Catholic Church, meaning in his view, one does not have to be united to the juridical structure of the Church, and subject to her authorities (one in government), to be Catholic.
Hall: So I do not see the Catholic faith in the same way that I believe great apologists like Mr. Salza and his confreres attempt to present to curious readers. Surely there is a place for the immense knowledge of dogmatic technicalities that men like my esteemed interlocutor display, but I must say – without coming off as a bit uncharitable – I do find this sort of thing all too boring. This is not to say that there is not something impressive about Mr. Salza’s work, there certainly is, but it is lost on me.
Salza: It is “lost” on Mr. Hall because he “does not see the Catholic faith in the same way” that Jesus Christ revealed it, and the Roman Catholic Church teaches it. He sees the Church in the same way Protestants see it, which is a greater spiritual reality that extends beyond her juridical structure, to include all those who “profess the true faith” regardless of whether they are actually legal members of the juridical body of the Church (and, for clergy, whether or not they have a juridical mission from the Church), or belong to sects that are not united to her governing structure – which is precisely the ecumenical ecclesiology that Pius XI condemned in Mortalium Animos.
And it’s not that the subject matter is “all too boring” for Mr. Hall, for if that were the case, he wouldn’t have written his long-winded reply against me. That is a cop-out. Indeed, the subject matter is quite simple: The divine law requires that clergy must be sent by lawful authority with canonical mission in order to be legitimate Catholic ministers, and the Church anathematizes anyone who says the contrary. The SSPX is not part of the Roman Catholic Church – it has no juridical status in the Church, and hence their clergy are not legitimate Catholic ministers, according to the divine law and the teaching of the Church. That is my thesis, which any high school student can understand, and Mr. Hall does not even pretend that he is taking it on.
Since it is impossible for Mr. Hall to rebut the requirements of the divine law, he attempts to trivialize the subject matter by calling it “boring,” as if that somehow gives him a pass on actually confronting his opponent’s arguments. This is quite easy to see, and he is only exposing the weakness of his own case (he has no case) by doing so.
Hall: I am afraid I find it a bit too sophisticated – that is to say, high minded – for my taste. Sometimes I wonder if in our epoch of Modernism that we have lost our way in trying to crush the synthesis of all heresies. It may seem a daunting task to defeat such a formidably devilish system of error as the scourge that Pope Saint Pius X so valiantly attacked; but I would ask the reader to consider my unsophisticated and terribly ordinary proposition as to how we can easily defeat the heresy that stands at the crossroads of two millennia.
Salza: My “argument” - which is Church’s teaching – that clergy cannot legitimately minister in the Church without a canonical mission is not a “sophisticated” proposition at all. Rather, it is a most fundamental doctrine of the Church and a matter of faith, one that any adolescent can understand, and to hold otherwise is anathema, according to the Council of Trent which declares:
“If anyone saith that bishops…who have neither been rightly ordained, nor sent by ecclesiastical and canonical power, but come from elsewhere, are lawful ministers of the word and of the sacraments; let him be anathema.” To hold such bishops as lawful ministers, as Mr. Hall does, is anathema because the necessity of mission (being sent by lawful authority) is a requirement of divine law and a matter of faith.
Hall: As Modernism is the synthesis of all heresies, it seems to me – in my admittedly ordinary understanding of Catholic theology – that we should combat it with the synthesis of all truth. If it is the synthesis of all heresies we are up against, then perhaps we should see the Church and her mission through the synthesis of all her laws and doctrines: salus animarum suprema lex. It is the salvation of souls that is the supreme law of the Church, and every act of her extraordinary mission in this vale of tears must be guided by that principle.
Salza: Salvation of souls? There is no salvation outside of the Roman Catholic Church, and “the Society of St. Pius X is,” to quote Cardinal Burke, “not part of the Roman Catholic Church.” Evidently, Mr. Hall believes there is salvation outside the Roman Catholic Church.
Was the Council of Trent not “seeing the Church and her mission through the synthesis of all her laws and doctrines: salus animarum suprema lex”? That would certainly be news to the Tridentine Fathers, and to all the Popes who taught about juridical mission before and after the Council. No, it is Mr. Hall who does not see the Church and her mission through the synthesis of all her laws and doctrines, and that is because Mr. Hall does not understand what the Roman Catholic Church is.
Also, Hall’s use of the term “extraordinary mission” is one of many statements he makes which shows that Mr. Hall is extremely confused about the relevant terminology and concepts of this debate. As my two articles have made clear, the term “extraordinary mission” describes a particular mission (not received from ecclesiastical authority) that Christ, in exceedingly rare cases (e.g., St. Ferrer in the Great Western Schism), personally and directly confers upon saintly individuals (and never upon illicitly consecrated schismatic bishops or vagus priests). And when He does so, he always provides the divine testimony, in the form of miracles, to prove it, since that is what His Church demands.
This is to be distinguished from canonical or juridical mission received from Church authority. However, Mr. Hall uses the term “extraordinary mission” to describe the Church’s ordinary mission of saving souls, which the Church carries out through her lawful ministers (those who have been sent by the Church, which means Mr. Hall doesn’t even understand the substance (meaning) of the words used in this debate.
Hall: Mr. Salza endeavors in his second article (“Reply to Xavier”) to make canonical technicalities to be of “divine law,” yet fails to emphasize this supreme law of souls, which is indisputably the divine law above every other law contained in canon law.
Salza: Mr. Hall is quite mistaken. The necessity for clergy to have mission, in order to be lawful Catholic ministers, is not a “canonical technicality” (as Nishant Xavier also imagines), but is a requirement of divine positive law, and to even say otherwise is anathema. The supreme law of the Church is certainly the salvation of souls, but the mission to save souls is carried out by Catholic ministers – those who are part of the Roman Catholic Church, and have been sent by the Roman Catholic Church.
Hall: Mr. Salza, Esq. believes that Father Loop – a priest who I had a delightful conversation with this summer – errs in his statement that the SSPX has an extraordinary mission in the Church. I must say, for a man of such a giant intellect and acumen, I am surprised Mr. Salza, Esq. has taken such a line of argumentation.
Salza: Again (after one gets by his sarcastic and bogus praise), this statement demonstrates that Mr. Hall either didn’t carefully read my article, or doesn’t understand the concepts he is pretending to address (or both). And it does not take a “giant intellect and acumen” to read my article or watch Fr. Loop’s podcast to understand what was actually said. After all, isn’t Mr. Hall an expert in languages? That’s hard to believe, when he fails to ascertain both the meaning of words and what words were actually spoken and written. Perhaps expertise in Romance languages does not include Germanic languages such as English. Or perhaps Hall is just plain sloppy. But this debate has no place for sloppiness.
Fr. Loop did not say that he or the SSPX have an “extraordinary mission” (as Hall claims he did). Fr. Loop did not make this statement because Fr. Loop knows the SSPX does not have an extraordinary mission, according to the teaching of Popes Innocent III, Benedict XIV, saints and Doctors (because none of their clergy have miracles). Further, Fr. Loop admitted that the SSPX “does not have a regular, canonical mission” either. And thus, based on Fr. Loop’s own admissions, that means the ministry of the SSPX is “illicit” and “illegitimate,” as Archbishop Pozzo recently reiterated. Mr. Hall misunderstands terms, mispresents statements, and ultimately fails to confront the real issue.
Hall: It may seem simplistic, but I would argue every priest of Jesus Christ has an extraordinary mission in one way or another. Is there anything more extraordinary than absolving a man’s sins? Is there anything more extraordinary than whispering the words of consecration over the substance that truly becomes the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of the God-Man who acts through the mortal-man who ingests his Creator? All men who accept the call to the priesthood of Christ’s Church are extraordinary men; even those who do so for the wrong reasons – they are extraordinary devils.
Salza: This further proves that Mr. Hall does not understand the terminology, or else is purposely trying to convolute the issue by conflating extraordinary acts with extraordinary mission. Why the diversion tactic, Mr. Hall? Why say every priest has “extraordinary mission”? That, of course, is simply not true.
The reason why Mr. Hall attempts to redefine the meaning of “extraordinary mission” is because he knows none of the SSPX priests have one. Thus, his tactic is to condition the reader to understand “extraordinary mission” in a way that is different than how the Church understands and uses the term, just like the Modernists do, in order to peddle his erroneous theology.
As I have said, Hall’s root error is his faulty understanding of the Church. Mr. Hall believes that so long as a man is validly ordained, says the Traditional Mass and “rejects Vatican II and the New Mass,” he is a member of the Roman Catholic Church and a legitimate Catholic minister, even if he is not part of, nor sent by, the Church. For Mr. Hall, so long as he thinks the minister “professes the true Faith,” he considers him to be part of the “visible Catholic Church,” which is exactly what the early Protestants believed. Hall embraces a Protestant ecclesiology.
Also, sacramental absolution and transubstantiation are not miracles, and certainly not miracles which prove extraordinary mission, as Mr. Hall suggests. Hall’s entire piece is plagued with one error after another. And none of this is responsive to my article.
Hall: Now, I imagine that Mr. Salza, Esq., and others may complain that I am operating with a bit of a slight of hand technique here. Of course, when he uses the term “extraordinary mission” he is writing as a very serious theologian, and thus using a very technical term.
Salza: I am using the term the way the Popes, saints and Doctors have all used the term. Mr. Hall’s attempt to obfuscate the meaning of the term is an admission that the SSPX’s ministry does not meet the definition of the term as the Church uses it. But Hall is playing games by avoiding the real issue of the debate.
Hall: But I dare to say that Mr. Salza, Esq. has misunderstood the whole thing from the very beginning. In his first paragraph of his first article he writes: “…how the SSPX clergy can justify the exercise of their priestly ministry when they have no permission from the Church to do so.” I must say, I am shocked at such a misguided statement such as this from such a smart man.
Hall is “shocked” by the statement because he does not understand what the Roman
Catholic Church is, nor what a legitimate Catholic minister is. Again, Mr. Hall
imagines that so long as one is validly ordained, says the Traditional Mass,
and “rejects Vatican II and the New Mass,” he is a Catholic minister. This false
ecclesiology distorts the nature of the Church, by extending it beyond
her juridical structure, to include individual sects that are separated from
her, and from each other, in government. In an exact parallel to that of the
early Protestants, this ecclesiology maintains that the “visible Catholic
Church” consists of all the baptized who profess the true faith, and partake of
the true sacraments, regardless of whether they are united in government, and
subject to the legitimate authorities.
In this Protestant ecclesiology, the juridical reality is replaced by a greater
spiritual reality. This is Mr. Hall’s root error. Again, he embraces a
Hall: Perhaps we should go back to our Catechisms and begin with first principles. Mr. Salza, Esq. makes the audacious claim that the priests of the SSPX have “no permission from the Church.” Mr. Salza, Esq. what is the Church? Are you referring to that Divine Society which can be defined as the Mystical Body of Christ? Surely you must be, as, again, you are so highly trained.
Salza: I am glad Mr. Hall asked the question “What is the Church?” That is precisely the most relevant question in this debate! Indeed, a misunderstanding of the Church is the very problem I pointed out in my article on canonical mission; many traditionally-minded Catholics like Mr. Hall do not understand what the Roman Catholic Church is. It bears repeating: Mr. Hall fails to understand that the nature of the Church consists of a juridical structure which exists to carry out her juridical mission, according to the divine law of Jesus Christ.
Accordingly, it is absolutely necessary, as a matter of divine positive law, that clergy must be part of the juridical structure of the Church, with a juridical mission from the Church, in order to be legitimate Catholic ministers of the Church. This is because the juridical mission of the Church is concomitant with the juridical structure of the Church, according to that same divine law. The juridical structure of the Church exists to carry out the juridical mission of the Church, as willed by Christ. Mr. Hall rejects these truths in favor of the Protestant understanding of the Church. Once Mr. Hall comes to a correct understanding of the Church, he will see his own errors.
Hall: In the Catholic Church is contained the Church Suffering, Militant and Triumphant. Are we to believe that those poor souls in purgatory and those triumphant heroes singing hymns unending disapprove of the efforts of the priests of the SSPX?
Salza: Let us have Pope Pius XII answer Mr. Hall’s question:
“Acts requiring the power of Holy Orders which are performed by ecclesiastics of this kind, though they are valid as long as the consecration conferred on them was valid, are yet gravely illicit, that is, criminal and sacrilegious. To such conduct the warning words of the Divine Teacher fittingly apply: ‘He who enters not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbs up another way, is a thief and a robber.’
Hall: Again, I understand, I am speaking here as a romantic and a Latin, and not a theologian. But I cannot for the life of me understand how such a claim can be made that the priest of the SSPX “have no permission” to save souls.
Salza: No souls are saved by leaving the Roman Catholic Church, to be ministered to by clergy who are not part of the Roman Catholic Church. Pope Pius XII certainly understood what it means to save souls, and he would call Mr. Hall’s priests “thieves and robbers,” whose acts are “criminal and sacrilegious.” But Hall doesn’t dare claim that Pius XII was in error. And that speaks volumes.
Hall: Mr. Salza, Esq. is eloquent in his citation of numerous documents, but in his over 1000 words and over one dozen footnotes, he did not offer one mention of either salvation or souls! Now in fairness in the unabbreviated version, he made mention of Fr. Loops argument in this regard, but only to dismiss this first principle as “fallacious.” How can a man write about the mission of priests without framing his arguments in the context of why priests exist in the first place? In addition, what merit do the canons he offers have if they are not used in pursuit of the goals that the Church says are her most supreme? Salus animarum suprema lex.
Salza: This again reveals that Mr. Hall does not understand the nature of the Church. The entire purpose of my article on canonical mission was for the salvation of souls! The reason why Jesus Christ established the divine structure and juridical mission of the Church was to save souls! Those who exercise the priestly ministry outside of the structure of the Church, and without a canonical mission from the Church, are not saving souls. Rather, they are hindering their salvation, because they are drawing those souls outside the Church and into their “ecclesiastical communities” which are separated from the Church, outside of which there is no salvation. I correctly described Fr. Loop’s appeal to human law as “fallacious” because he cannot appeal to human law (canon law, canonical equity) to circumvent the divine law, which requires clergy to have canonical mission (more on this in an upcoming article).
Perhaps Mr. Hall can explain how the SSPX’s giving invalid absolutions in the confessional for decades helped to save souls? (I suppose my article demonstrating the SSPX did not have supplied jurisdiction for confessions was “all too boring” for Mr. Hall to address.) Perhaps Mr. Hall can explain how the SSPX’s witnessing invalid marriages for decades helped save souls? (Perhaps that issue is also “too sophisticated” for Mr. Hall to engage.) Or how the SSPX’s St. Charles Borromeo “canonical” tribunal – which usurps the authority of the local bishops and the Holy See by pretending to grant marriage annulments, dispense religious vows, and lift excommunications - saves souls? (Perhaps the erection of this schismatic tribunal is just a “canonical technicality” for Mr. Hall.) Or how the SSPX’s rejection of the Roman Catholic Church’s Profession of Faith is saving souls? It appears that none of these issues matters to Mr. Hall; after all, he only cares about the salvation of souls.
Hall: I gather from his article that Mr. Salza, Esq. is a man who is concerned with the ordinary authority that governs the extraordinary mission of priests. He says as much in his fifth footnote: “It must be noted that extraordinary mission always works together with the ordinary authority, not in opposition to it. Thus, on that basis alone, the SSPX could not have an extraordinary mission.”
Salza: “Ordinary authority” that governs the “extraordinary mission” of priests? Huh? I don’t know why Mr. Hall entered this debate when he does not understand the terminology or follow the argumentation. There is no need to reply here because my interlocutor’s statement is nonsensical and nonresponsive.
Hall: I must be mistaken – again I am not as educated or sophisticated as Mr. Salza, Esq.
Salza: There is more of that genuine humility! Actually, Mr. Hall’s blatant and unrelenting sarcasm depreciates his already grossly flawed article, and only reveals his lack of competence in the subject matter he thought he could address in a hit and run piece for OnePeter5. Informed readers won’t be fooled. But it is consistent with my former opponent’s article (Nishant Xavier), in that it is strong on emotion but devoid of any real theological merit. Mr. Hall has exposed himself while confirming the truth of my position (which is the teaching of the Church).
Hall: – but did Saint Athanasius work with the ordinary authority when on his extraordinary mission? Perhaps he acted as an extraordinary Saint with extraordinary authority, when he refused to accept an excommunication from an ordinary, semi-Arian pope. Yes, it will be said that Lefebvre and his protogés are not aptly compared to Athanasius and his battle Contra Mundum. I agree – Athanasius only had one heresy to worry about, not a synthesis of them all.
Salza: The Athanasius canard is quite stale, Mr. Hall. And your assertions are erroneous (but that is what happens when you limit your research to SSPX propaganda and do not perform actual, scholarly research). St. Athanasius never had or claimed to have an extraordinary mission (he didn’t need one, because he had a canonical mission). St. Athanasius submitted to his excommunication, however unjust. St. Athanasius did not usurp the authority of other bishops (or he wouldn’t be a saint). St. Athanasius remained in communion with the Pope.
Lefebvre did just the opposite. He withdrew submission from the Pope’s authority in 1975, carried on his illicit ministry for the rest of his life, and died outside the Church (and is responsible for most of the theological errors and schisms that plague the “traditional movement”). Quite different indeed. The case of St. Athanasius does nothing to support the SSPX’s claim that they can operate without a canonical (or extraordinary) mission.
Hall: Perhaps if Mr. Salza, Esq. is to state that the SSPX “could not have an extraordinary mission” because of their opposition to the ordinary authority in our age of extraordinary error, he could clarify the curious case of St. Eusebius of Samasote. At the time of the Arian crisis, he went throughout Syria, Phoenicia, and Palestine, ordaining and consecrating bishops, even though he had no jurisdiction to do so, ordinarily speaking. Once again, I know it is not an apples-to-apples comparison to compare the SSPX to the mission of another saint from a previous crisis in Church history – Lefebvre did not go nearly as far as to consecrate so many bishops in so many places and with so much jurisdiction. Again, like Athanasius, Eusebius only had one heresy to combat, not a synthesis.
Salza: At the risk of sounding uncharitable, my opponent is extremely unread on the matters he has chosen to publicly write about. But I don’t put all the blame on him; he has simply ingested the fallacious arguments of the SSPX without doing his own research. Thus, I will give him the benefit of the doubt, and assume he is ignorant, and not malicious. Maybe specialists in the Romance languages are not accustomed to doing in-depth research on topics they choose to publicly address. I have a Major in Italian, and I certainly had to do a lot of research to earn my degree.
Yes, Mr. Hall, I can certainly “clarify the curious case of St. Eusebius of Samasote” for you. St. Eusebius ordained priests in these territories by virtue of his universal jurisdiction as a bishop with canonical mission, not because of “supplied jurisdiction,” which the SSPX falsely claims (see Hall’s reference to Bishop Tissier’s book on Lefebvre, which makes this erroneous claim). When a bishop receives a canonical mission from the Pope (which the SSPX bishops do not have), he becomes part of the College of Bishops, which is a second subject of supreme authority (and universal jurisdiction) in the Church (while the Pope alone has the Primacy).
It is by virtue of this sharing in the supreme authority and universal jurisdiction that, in extraordinary circumstances, a bishop can ordain bishops outside of his diocese when there are no bishops ruling over the territory in question and he has no recourse to the Pope (universal jurisdiction also gives members of the College the ability to participate in an ecumenical council, where they sit as judges over the universal Church). While Christ gave St. Peter alone the keys in Matthew 16, he also gave the Apostles binding and loosing authority “on earth” in Matthew 18 (which is a collective share in the universal jurisdiction; this type of jurisdiction is separate and distinct from the ordinary jurisdiction that is attached to an office, or from supplied jurisdiction that is triggered in limited cases).
Thus, St. Eusebius ordained priests in these eastern territories by virtue of his universal jurisdiction (being a member of the College of Bishops), and not “supplied jurisdiction due to necessity” as Lefebvre and the SSPX falsely claim. St. Eusebius was able to lawfully exercise this authority because there were no Catholic bishops in these territories (so he wasn’t usurping the authority of other bishops), and he had no recourse to the Pope (but who was considered to have tacitly approved the ordinations). The necessary conditions were present to allow St. Eusebius to exercise the authority. None of this is relevant to Lefebvre, other than highlighting that Lefebvre’s case is just the opposite of St. Eusebius (Lefebvre was no longer part of the College of Bishops or in union with the Pope, had no mission, no jurisdiction, no canonical status, and was also subject to canonical censures, including the gravest censure of excommunication, for explicitly defying the will of the Pope, and after written warnings).
The reason why Mr. Hall does not know this information about St. Eusebius is because he has limited his “research” to SSPX propaganda. The problem with that approach, as applied here, is that the SSPX itself has failed to understand the St. Eusebius case, because it rejects the Church’s doctrine on the Episcopacy (i.e., Collegiality), which actually serves to explain how St. Eusebius could do what he did. And this rejection of the Church’s teaching on the Episcopacy is one of Archbishop Lefebvre’s many theological errors.
Specifically, the SSPX rejects the Church’s doctrine that the College of Bishops is a second subject of the supreme authority, and that members of the College collectively possess this authority (the authority St. Eusebius used to ordain priests outside of his diocese), even though this was taught in theology manuals long before Vatican II (which will soon be proven with Robert Siscoe’s upcoming article). So, no, St. Eusebius does nothing for Mr. Hall’s claim that the SSPX clergy can circumvent the divine law and operate without mission. To the contrary, the case proves that bishops must be members of the College (through canonical mission) and joined to the Pope to have any legitimate ministry in the Church. I thank Mr. Hall for bringing up the case of St. Eusebius and hope this clarifies matters for him.
Hall: Perhaps Lefebvre and his priests should eschew the examples of these great saints and instead work in an ordinary way with ordinary bishops who ordinarily peddle banal liturgy, and erroneous catechesis.
Salza: As demonstrated above, Lefebvre and his priests don’t follow the example of these great saints. They act contrary to them.
Hall: If it is ordinary authority that the SSPX need in order to act so extraordinarily – as Mr. Salza, Esq. suggests – I am afraid they will not find it from local ordinaries who often act as if the extraordinary exodus of souls from the Church is something that is so painfully ordinary. Salus animarum suprema lex.
Salza: The “extraordinary exodus of souls from the Church” includes those who are leaving the Church for the SSPX. And Mr. Hall demonstrates his confusion right to the very end. He quotes my footnote correctly, and then twists what it actually says. I would expect much more from an expert in languages, even if he doesn’t know much theology or canon law. My footnote reads: “It must be noted that extraordinary mission always works together with the ordinary authority, not in opposition to it. Thus, on that basis alone, the SSPX could not have an extraordinary mission.” This is the teaching of saint and Doctor Francis de Sales, among others.
From this statement, Mr. Hall claims that I say the SSPX needs “ordinary authority” to act “extraordinarily” – again, I say “huh?” Okay, I will repeat: according to divine positive law, each and every priest of the SSPX needs either a canonical mission (ordinary authority) or an extraordinary mission (from Christ, proven by miracles) in order to have a legitimate ministry in the Church. And if Christ ever would confer an extraordinary mission upon a cleric (which has rarely happened in Church history), that mission would never abolish the ordinary authority, for Christ does not make war on His Church by usurping the juridical mission of those His Church has sent! How did Mr. Hall miss this most basic point?
Hall: To round out my response to Mr. Salza, Esq., I will do what I do best, I will tell a story – something I do much better than pretending I can go toe to toe with my esteemed interlocutor.
Salza: I am glad my opponent’s phony and demeaning accolades are coming to an end (and I’m sure our readers are as well).
Hall: The year 2020 was an extraordinary year for ordinary people. It was the 50th anniversary of both the SSPX and the Novus Ordo. It began with promise and descended quickly into a veritable hell of public health superstition and pagan scientism. Rumors of a flu that would destroy mankind were released from the shores of China in the form of viral (pun intended) videos and social media posts. With Saint Patrick’s Day just around the corner, governments around the world shut down like department stores undergoing renovations. The world stopped, and our hearts stopped at the sight.
Were we all going to die? Would the Wuhan flu usher in the more serious bits of terrifying private revelations and Marian apparitions? In this chaos, the atheism of the modern world was on full display. The fear of catching a cold – even if a bad cold – was too much to bear. The race of modern man – so proud in his materialism and cowardice – would not stand for any life being lost before he had decided it was so!
It was too dangerous to go to restaurants, too dangerous to go to the gym, and too dangerous to go to Church. Now, you, like me, may have been confused at the time. If we were all to die, shouldn’t we all be at Church? If our next moment might be our last, shouldn’t we be confessing our sins and receiving what might be our viaticum?
A Catholic mind would think this way, a mind that started with salus animarum suprema lex, but we do not have the luxury of having Catholic-minded bishops in many places – most places it would seem. The princes of the Church went along with the dictates of the servants who serve the fallen prince of this world. Churches were shut for the “common good.” Weddings were off, and first reconciliations would have to wait.
Salza: In Mr. Hall’s dramatic account, he asks the question – “Were we all going to die?... If we were all to die, shouldn’t we all be at Church? If our next moment might be our last, shouldn’t we be confessing our sins and receiving what might be our viaticum?”
Now, if Mr. Hall knew his theology and canon law, he would understand that even an excommunicated priest could absolve him of his mortal sins, if he were “going to die,” as his “next moment might be his last” (see canon 976). So, if Hall is serious (although it’s hard to tell; one might conclude that he intended his hit piece to be more comedic than anything else), then the danger-of-death scenario he poses is irrelevant to the divine necessity for priests to have lawful mission to minister to those who are not in danger of death. If Mr. Hall is not serious, and his concocted scenario does not involve danger of death (that is, that Hall was just joking), then, again, it’s equally irrelevant to the juridical mission requirement of divine law. In either case, Hall’s dramatic narrative fails to address, much less rebut, my (the Church’s) position.
Hall: I remember reading a dictate from my local ordinary, that struck me to my core in a most extraordinary fashion. He had cancelled confessions… he had cancelled baptisms. I broke the news to my wife, who out of her love for the souls of infants began to cry. “What about the babies!” she cried, “what will happen to their souls if they cannot be baptised!” Salus animarum suprema lex. I called some priests from the diocese, asking them to do something about it! I begged them to go on their social media accounts and teach parents how to save their infants’ souls. However, my extraordinary zeal for the salvation of children was met by the very ordinary response from diocesan prelates who deferred to the will of the local ordinary. “I do not want to be disobedient” I was told more than once. The local ordinary had told the priests that the ordinary means of salvation would just have to wait! Now was no time to worry about the sacraments of infant souls. Salus animarum suprema lex.
At that very same time, a man who has since become a close friend welcomed a new child into the virus-venerating world. He was told by his diocesan priest that the local ordinary had cancelled the ordinary means of sanctifying the soul of his child. Fortunately, my friend believed in Catholicism – something that would be quite extraordinary if found at the chancery – and he did not risk his child’s eternal soul in order to maintain an ordinary relationship with the local ordinary.
I was already attending the SSPX in my region, and he sought out their pastoral care. Against the will of the government, and against the will of the local bishop, and against the will of Satan, a priest of the SSPX baptized his child into the Roman Catholic Church. No longer was this beautiful child marred with the stain of Adam’s disobedience. Ironically, it was by disobeying the local ordinary and the ordinary authority of the local government, that an ordinary priest of the SSPX was able to perform the extraordinary act of cleansing a soul. Salus animarum suprema lex. Now, I must apologize to Mr. Salza, Esq. as perhaps I am not sophisticated enough to understand the sophistry that “extraordinary mission always works together with the ordinary authority.”
Salza: That is correct, Mr. Hall, you are evidently not sophisticated enough to understand the basic distinction between ordinary and extraordinary mission, or that extraordinary mission never abrogates or abolishes the ordinary authority, or how the SSPX does not have extraordinary mission since they have no miracles to prove they were sent directly by Christ. Nor are you evidently aware that such a baptism by an SSPX priest would be justified if there was no recourse to legitimate Catholic ministers and the child was in danger of dying without baptism (even a non-cleric could have baptized the child). Mr. Hall’s emotionally charged example again fails to address the real issue of this debate, namely, how SSPX clergy can perform all acts of teaching, sanctifying and governing, without a canonical mission, as if they had one.
Hall: Damned to hell is what many souls in my area would be if the priests of the SSPX did not work against the positive will of the ordinary authority. I cannot speak for the extraordinary mission of the SSPX in other nations, but in my beloved and frozen homeland, Marcel Lefebvre’s spiritual sons stand like platonic forms of Petrine Fidelity.
Salza: According to Mr. Hall, those clerics who are not part of the juridical structure of the Church, and who do not have a juridical mission from the Church, and who reject the Roman Catholic Church’s Profession of Faith (and other doctrinal teachings) are “platonic forms of Petrine Fidelity” and can minister in the Church as they please. For Mr. Hall, the Church of Christ “subsists” in the SSPX and other “ecclesiastical communities” who are separated from the Roman Catholic Church in government. Again, that is because Mr. Hall embraces the Protestant understanding of the Church.
Hall: Currently, in a province of 14 million people, catechumens are effectively banned from entering the Church of Jesus Christ unless they concede to the injection of an abortion-tainted serum that they do not need, and that is against their will. The only way to enter into a church hall and attend an RCIA class – one that likely presents a synthesis of modernist errors – is to present proof of an abortion-tainted and experimental injection.
Salza: These actions are no doubt evil and God will be their judge. But two wrongs don’t make a right. The illicit actions of certain bishops don’t make the illicit actions of the SSPX licit. Priests without mission are not allowed to minister to Catholics outside of danger of death, since they would be misappropriating the spiritual goods of the Church which do not belong to them (and the sacraments are the property of Christ). This is why Pius XII calls such ministrations “criminal.” But Mr. Hall was destined to fail in his efforts to rebut this truth.
Hall: Of course, the local ordinaries are doing little if anything to combat this crime against God Almighty. Entrance into the Church will either have to come on the back of child sacrifice to the Moloch of Moderna, or it will just have to wait. Salus animarum suprema lex. There is of course another way for a soul to find his way to Rome in the land that the Lilly of the Mohawks once called home – but that would involve working with priests who do not work in harmony with ordinary authority.
Salza: That’s correct, Mr. Hall. Outside of ministering to someone in danger of death, clergy who “do not work in harmony with ordinary authority” (or, in the words of Fr. Loop, who work “contrary to the known intentions, the known will of those successors of the Apostles, the Princes of the Church”), are not lawful ministers of the Roman Catholic Church, and exercise their ministry illicitly. We can be thankful to God for those legitimate traditional priests, who have mission from the Church (such as those of the FSSP and ICK, as well as regular diocesan priests), and to whom countless Catholics have recourse, to receive the sacraments in the traditional rites. As I stated in my article, I pray that the SSPX will return to the Church and be granted a canonical mission, so they too can lawfully minister in the Church with Christ’s blessing. But this will require the SSPX to accept the Catholic Church’s Profession of Faith and renounce its other doctrinal errors (particularly on the Episcopacy, as Archbishop Pozzo has noted).
Hall: Praise be to God that there are priests who love souls enough to disregard the commentary of theologians who comment on the mission of extraordinary priests while failing to emphasize salus animarum suprema lex.
Salza: Unfortunately for Mr. Hall, the absolute necessity for Catholic ministers to have juridical mission does not come from some “commentary of theologians” who comment on the “mission of extraordinary priests” (whatever that means), but rather from the divine will of Jesus Christ, which is why Mr. Hall’s position has been anathematized by the Council of Trent as contrary to the Faith.
Hall: Praise be to God that the priests of the SSPX in my home and native land are more concerned with honouring the legacy of St. Jean de Brébeuf than playing nice with an episcopacy that encourages an experimental serum more than the Eucharistic Sacrament.
Christ said “by their fruits you shall know them.” It is a little known fact that it takes five decades to know the fruits of the vines you have planted. If you have ever cultivated grapes, as I have, you know that only after 50 years can you rely on a given variety of fruit to produce a consistent wine. If the plant does not produce after 50 years, it must be destroyed, as it will be sour forever, and no good wine will come from the bad fruit.
If Mr. Salza, Esq. does not see the extraordinary mission of the SSPX as it has played out in God’s providence 50 years into the life of the SSPX, then nothing will convince him of what is painfully obvious, especially as Rome has dropped now two bombs to destroy the extraordinary form. We have seen this before.
Salza: Sorry to sound like a broken record, but the priests of the SSPX do not have an “extraordinary mission,” as evidenced by the fact that their clergy don’t have the miracles to prove they were sent by Christ, nor do they even claim they were sent by Christ with extraordinary mission. Mr. Hall does not even pretend to confront that fact, which was the entire thesis of my article on extraordinary mission. In a court of law, I would now move for Summary Judgment, and my motion would be granted.
As far as the “fruits” of the SSPX are concerned, these fruits include decades of invalid confessions and marriages, illicit and sacrilegious Masses, countless canonical censures for illicit acts, the rejection of the Church’s Profession of Faith, the promotion of false doctrines , fallacious appeals to supplied jurisdiction, the erection of a schismatic canonical tribunal which usurps the authority of the bishops and the Holy See, and schisms (various sects within Sedevacantism and SSPX Resistance, Avrille Dominicans), not to mention the many canonical sanctions that its founder incurred, including the gravest penalty of excommunication. But these grave matters (I mean “fruits”) are “all too boring” for Mr. Hall to want to address. He sees only what he wants to see.
Unfortunately, it looks like Mr. Hall is setting himself up to be another victim of current crisis, who will be led by the devil right out of the Roman Catholic Church, as part of the Great Apostasy, so long as he can find a priest who says the Old Mass and rejects Vatican II, even if he is not a legitimate Catholic minister. Who cares if the Church has always taught that Masses offered by vagus priests are illicit and sacrilegious, and that those who assist at such Masses participate in the minister’s grave sin. “Damned to hell” those Popes and Doctors who taught such a thing, not to mention Christ Himself Who revealed it. Again, for Mr. Hall, the Roman Catholic Church is not a juridical institution with a juridical mission, but rather a greater spiritual reality that includes even those outside her visible structure, but who “profess the true faith,” in lock step with Protestant ecclesiology.
Evidently, Mr. Hall rejects Pope Boniface VIII’s ex cathedra teaching that “outside the Catholic Church there is neither salvation nor remission of sins.” Indeed, for Mr. Hall, the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using separated ecclesiastical communities, such as the SSPX, “to save souls” (although, ironically, Hall would presumably deny this teaching of the Second Vatican Council).
Hall: As I conclude, I must deal with Mr. Salza’s final paragraph.
“Neither Archbishop Lefebvre nor any of his bishops and priests have produced a single miracle to justify their ministry without a canonical mission, even though they claim we are suffering perhaps the greatest crisis in Church history.” This is easily debunked by a very obvious fact: the priests of the SSPX have on numerous occasions absolved me of my sins – something very miraculous indeed, as I am the worst of the lot.
Salza: Is my opponent serious? It would be more honest for him to simply concede he has no rebuttal to the necessity of juridical mission, than to advance such a ludicrous argument. Or does he find the salus animarum subject matter humorous? Honestly, I am at a loss for words. And again, we are so moved by my opponent’s humility, being a self-declared “worst of the lot” sinner and all. Again, I am baffled by this exchange. But I can say this – Mr. Hall’s defense of the SSPX’s lack of mission is, in fact, the worst of the lot that I have seen. I am quite sure even Society priests would be embarrassed by it.
Hall: In all seriousness, our very serious theologian ends his piece with: “That is because Christ did not send the bishops and priests of the SSPX. Rather, they have sent themselves, and thus, in the words of Fr. Angles (SSPX), ‘have been deceiving good traditional Catholic faithful.’”
Apparently, our Mr. Salza, Esq. is aware of the will of Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, to a degree wherein he is capable of discerning his Divine Will better than Archbishop Lefebvre.
Salza: Unfortunately for Mr. Hall, the “will of Jesus Christ” is that His ministers be part of the Roman Catholic Church, and be sent by the Roman Catholic Church, in order to lawfully minister in His Church. This is what Christ has revealed and His Church teaches as a matter of Faith, and to argue otherwise, as Mr. Hall has done, is anathema. It was Archbishop Lefebvre who thought he knew better than Jesus Christ and His Vicar, and his schism has caused deep and lasting wounds in the Mystical Body, with decades of invalid confessions and marriages, sacrilegious re-ordinations and re-confirmations, the usurpation of episcopal authority throughout the world, schisms that continue to multiply to this day, and doctrinal errors that are also promoted to this day (on sacramental intention, Collegiality, supplied jurisdiction, etc.). None of these calamities were “the will of Jesus Christ.”
Hall: Our litigator must also be a mystic, and he knows something about God’s Will and Providence that Lefebvre did not. Ordinarily, I do not fall for such extraordinary nonsense.
Salza: Actually, it is Mr. Hall who claims to be a mystic because, in the very next sentence, he claims (and reaffirms!) that he knows millions (yes, millions!) saved their souls under the guidance of Marcel Lefebvre. In other words, Mr. Hall believes that there is salvation outside the Roman Catholic Church. No, Mr. Hall, there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church, and if any of the people who were misled by Lefebvre saved their souls, they did so in spite of his errors and lack of mission, not because of them. You don’t need to be a “mystic,” Mr. Hall, to “hear the Church” (Mt. 18:17) as Christ commanded, which includes her divine doctrine on juridical mission (a doctrine that Lefebvre refused to “hear”).
Hall: Millions – yes, millions – of souls saved under the guidance of Marcel Lefebvre, both as an ordinary prelate in Africa and Europe, and while on his extraordinary mission globetrotting in a very extraordinary retirement. But of course, we should trust Mr. Salza, Esq. in his assessment of the mission of the priestly society that the good Archbishop founded, more than the saintly hero who founded it.
Salza: Mr. Hall shouldn’t take my word for it. He should take the word of the Council of Trent: “If anyone saith that bishops…who have neither been rightly ordained, nor sent by ecclesiastical and canonical power, but come from elsewhere, are lawful ministers of the word and of the sacraments; let him be anathema.”
Hall: I venture Mr. Salza, Esq. also knows more about Lefebvre and his mission than Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who seems to have uttered: “It is hard to see what the Church owes to Archbishop Lefebvre, not just for his ‘African period,’ but also later for the Church as a whole. … I consider him to be the most important bishop of the 20th century with regard to the universal Church.”
Salza: What about what Joseph Ratzinger said, when he was Pope, Mr. Hall? Let’s take a look. In the words of Pope Benedict XVI:
“As long as the Society does not have a canonical status in the Church, its ministers do not exercise legitimate ministries in the Church…In order to make this clear once again: until the doctrinal questions are clarified, the Society has no canonical status in the Church, and its ministers – even though they have been freed of the ecclesiastical penalty – do not legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church.”
Hall: Extraordinary comments from an extraordinary man who would become pope.
Salza: What about an official declaration on the canonical status of the SSPX itself, that he made, as Pope? Do you think the papal declaration on the status of the SSPX, which is the very topic of this debate, is a bit more relevant and carries a just a bit more weight, Mr. Hall?
Hall: Instead of asking the SSPX to prove their extraordinary mission by miracles that Mr. Salza, Esq. believes are provable by ordinary means – we should be asking what miracle vindicates Mr. Salza, Esq. with his extraordinary claims that are “deceiving good traditional Catholic faithful.”
Again, this is painful to untangle. I suspect even those SSPX clergy (some of
whom remain my friends) are cringing as they read Mr. Hall’s arguments. Proving
extraordinary mission by miracles that are provable by ordinary means? And now
Mr. Hall is putting the burden on me, a mere layman, to prove I have miracles?
Mr. Hall should direct his question to Fr. Angles, not me. It was Fr. Angles of the SSPX who said:
If they [the priests of the SSPX] have no faculties, all the priestly work they perform every day is illegitimate and therefore evil. If this is so, it would be a sin to receive their services, maybe even to ask for them. If such is the case, the Society is deceiving the good traditional Catholic faithful!
I agree with Fr. Angles. If the SSPX does not have a juridical (or extraordinary) mission, then “all their priestly work is illegitimate and therefore evil,” and they are “deceiving the good traditional Catholic faithful.” At the same time, I pray that the Society renounces its doctrinal errors and returns to the Roman Catholic Church and be granted a canonical mission, so they can do their work as lawful Catholic ministers, with the blessing of Christ and His Church.
To summarize, Mr. Hall has failed to
rebut the truths that (1) clergy must have a juridical (or extraordinary) mission
in order lawfully minister in the Church (outside of cases of danger of death
or delegated faculties), and (2) the SSPX clergy have neither a juridical mission
(from the Church) nor extraordinary mission (from Christ, proven by miracles).
Therefore, the SSPX “does not exercise any legitimate ministry in the Church”
(Pope Benedict XVI), “is not part of the one Roman Catholic Church throughout
the world” (Cardinal Burke), and has an “illicit and illegitimate” ministry
In the matter of Kennedy’s Colossal Confusion on Canonical Mission - case closed.
 Tissier de Mallerais, The Biography of Marcel Lefebvre (Angelus Press, 2004), 541. 325.
 Council of Trent, On the Sacrament of Orders, Session 23, Canon VI (July 15, 1563), emphasis mine.
Thank you for your work on this topic.
Regarding Mr. Hall's comment on the miracle of being forgiven of his sins by SSPX priests, I immediately thought of Michael Davies' comment that "...the new rites are undoubtedly valid and convey the same sacramental grace as those that they have replaced..."
Since Novus Ordo priests (and Eastern Orthodox priests) also validly absolve sins and confect the Eucharist, would Mr. Hall concede that they are also producing miracles that justify their ministry?
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