By Sarah Mac Donald - 04 November, 2014
The secretary of Pope Francis’ advisory council of nine cardinals has warned the faithful that attending Masses celebrated by the Society of St Pius X will incur excommunication.
Bishop Marcello Semeraro of Albano told the priests in his diocese that Catholics receiving sacraments from SSPX priests would be automatically excommunicated because the society has no canonical status.
Bishop Semeraro outlined to his priests that because the bishops and priests of the traditionalist SSPX are suspended from priestly ministry, Catholics who receive the sacraments from them “break communion with the Catholic Church.”
Catholics who are excommunicated may be received back into the Church only after a penitential process, the Bishop of Albano said.
Explaining his comments, the Bishop said it was in line with the policy established by his predecessor, Bishop Dante Bernini, who retired in 1999.
Though Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI lifted the excommunication of the SSPX bishops in 1999, according to Bishop Semeraro their suspension from ministry remains in place.
Responding to Bishop Semeraro’s comment the SSPX’s Italian district questioned why the Bishop “should intervene in this way when he has made himself the champion of ecumenism in his diocese”.
The group then lashed out at the Pope’s advisor noting that in 2009, “he granted the Church of San Francesco in Genzano, which was built with the labors and sacrifices of our ancestors for Catholic worship, to schismatics and heretics.”
The SSPX also criticised Bishop Semeraro’s participation in an ecumenical vigil in the diocesan cathedral in January “to pray with persons who are certainly not in communion with the Catholic Church, such as an Evangelical Lutheran pastor and an Orthodox bishop.”
The statement continued, “In the month of November alone, three [ecumenical] meetings are scheduled in the diocese, and the bishop will preside at one of them, thus supporting religions that deny truths of the Faith that have been defined by the Church and spreading the false doctrine of indifferentism, which says that every religion is helpful for salvation.”
“He does not seem to care that this openly contradicts the teaching of the perennial Magisterium of the Church, in particular of Pope Pius XI in his encyclical, Mortalium animos.”