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Dear father Angelo,

I would like to ask you for both spiritual and technical advice. I feel the desire to participate in a Vetus Ordo Mass and to go to Confession. Unfortunately, where I live there are no Catholic parishes that celebrate in the Vetus Ordo form. 

Here’s my question: is it possible for me to participate in a Vetus Ordo Mass celebrated by priests of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X, and to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation? Should the Communion and Confession be considered valid or invalid? Are these acts licit and valid, or are they illicit?

A few Catholic priests told me these acts were to be considered valid since pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunication and pope Francis for the Jubilee of Mercy gave to the priests of the Fraternity of Saint Pius X the faculty to confess. However, I ask you this very question because I consider you a considerably reliable source by virtue of the Dominican charisma: defending the sound doctrine throughout Church history.

Waiting for your answer, I thank you in advance and give you a warm greeting.



Dear Alessandro,

1. If you had asked me this question in 2015 I would have said no, namely it is neither licit to participate in a Mass celebrated by the Fraternity of Saint Pius X nor to receive their absolution.

Surely I would have distinguished between  Confession and  celebration of the Mass. 

Concerning the celebration of the Mass, there is no doubt: the celebration was to be considered valid, even though -before the ex-communications were lifted- it was illicit.

For the Confession, the absolution was not only illicit but also invalid because they had no power of jurisdiction. Unless the penitent was in danger of death: in this case all priests, even if they’re in apostasy or excommunicated, can give a valid absolution.

2. However, now things have changed and not only because the ex-communications were lifted, but also because there has been another intervention by pope Francis. In fact, in the apostolic letter Misericordia et misera, dated to the twentieth of November 2016 for the conclusion of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, he allowed lefebvrian priests to give valid absolutions.

Here’s the text: “For the Jubilee Year I had also granted that those faithful who, for various reasons, attend churches officiated by the priests of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X, can validly and licitly receive the sacramental absolution of their sins. For the pastoral benefit of these faithful, and trusting in the good will of their priests to strive with God’s help for the recovery of full communion in the Catholic Church, I have personally decided to extend this faculty beyond the Jubilee Year, until further provisions are made, lest anyone ever be deprived of the sacramental sign of reconciliation through the Church’s pardon” (n.12).

3. In this letter Pope Francis doesn’t explicitly talk about participation in the Mass. However, by referring to the faithful who “for various reasons attend churches officiated by the priests of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X”, it could be argued that the participation in the mass constitutes one of those reasons. 

It is true that lefebvrian priests aren’t in communion with the pope; however, “to strive with God’s help for the recovery of full communion in the Catholic Church” the pope seems to permit the participation in the Eucharist.

4. Nonetheless, I advise you to live the Sacraments in full communion with the Pope. Charity, i.e. full communion, is above all to be desired.

It is better to appear in front of God in this unimpaired garment.

I wish you all good, bless you and assure you of remembrance to the Lord.

Father Angelo