Rorate Caeli

Should the SSPX be excommunicated? An Apostolic Nuncio's thoughts

As the possibility of an imminent regularization of the canonical status of the Society of St. Pius X seems increasingly remote, calls for their mass excommunication or for the formal acknowledgment of their alleged "schismatic" status once and for all, are again beginning to be heard. As if preparing for a tide of such comments, Archbishop Thomas Edward Gullickson, Apostolic Nuncio to Ukraine, published the following article on his blog a week ago:

The Clear and Distinct as Gift  
With a genuinely upright enthusiasm, I wish to thank RORATE CAELI for posting the YouTube video interview in German with Fr. Schmidberger. This priest has always distinguished himself for his clear and distinct ideas, for the noble and profound way he makes his analysis. This video is no exception.  

As much as it pains me to hear him step back from the path of full communion with the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, where only it is to be found, Ubi Petrus, Ibi Ecclesia, I can deal with and appreciate his level-headed-ness.  

As I was listening to the interview, however, it came to me that the possibility of renewing the excommunication and extending it to all who adhere to the brotherhood if they refuse the Holy Father's extended hand, ought perhaps to be excluded for another reason and that on ecumenical (within or without the Church) grounds. Excommunication, as an imposed penalty today, should be salutary in its intent and working. Excommunication should work for the Church today like it did in the words of St. Paul. I turn the man (cohabiting with his father's wife) over to Satan in hopes of saving his soul and in the meantime eliminating a cause of great scandal within the body of the Church. After so many years away from us, you would have to find arguments for convincing me that a renewed or extended excommunication would bring the brotherhood to its knees and home to Peter, or that the brotherhood's continued separate existence through scandal, by reason of our acquiescence to the separation, risks the kind of scandal among Catholics which could put the eternal salvation of members of the Catholic Church at risk.

Ecumenical, I say, because I doubt if the penalty of excommunication could be effectively used today to return anyone who is still separated from us to full communion. The question for me and I think for Fr. Schmidberger is always the same: What happens when that clear-headed elite of which he is the stellar example passes from the scene? Who will steer the course? Whence comes the indefectibility or infallibility?

We must redouble our prayers for the unity of Christ's Church cum et sub Petro.

The Archbishop explains his views in greater detail in the comments section to his original post.

Many thanks to Archbishop Gullickson for noting our post!