The Recusant

An unofficial SSPX newsletter, fighting a guerilla war for the soul of Tradition!

Letter concerning the Roman Marriage Proposal



Translated from the original French available at:

7th May, 2017

Dear Faithful,

Last 4th April, the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei published a letter from its president, Cardinal Muller, relating to marriages celebrated by priests of the SSPX. Explicitly approved by the Pope who ordered its publication, this document intends to regulate marriages celebrated within Catholic Tradition.

Following this letter, a vast campaign of communication, coming from very different sources, would have us believe that by this gesture, the Pope recognised the marriages which we celebrate purely and simply, which is to say, that he recognised the validity of all the marriages which we have celebrated thus far. The reality is, alas, quite different.

Because this question touches you more nearly, because it concerns your home, your children of marriageable age, your future, we must make clear to you the real import of this Roman document on our attitude.

The Obvious Validity of Our Marriages

You know that for forty years now, the Roman authorities have refused to recognise the validity of the marriages which we celebrate, in spite of the law of the Church.

Certainly, this law foresees the sacrament of marriage being celebrated before the parish priest or his representative, and in front of two witnesses[1]. That is what one calls the canonical form of marriage, necessary for its validity. However, as the priests of the Society of St. Pius X are neither parish priests nor their representatives, some people maintain that the marriages which they celebrate are invalid by lack of canonical form. On these grounds, both Roman and diocesan marriage tribunals have no hesitation in declaring these marriages null and void. In doing this however, they are going against the most fundamental law of the Church.[2]

In effect, this same canon law[3] foresees cases where, “it is not possible without grave inconvenience to go and find an assistant who is competent under the law.” In cases where such a situation is going to last longer than thirty days, Church law recognises the betrothed couple’s right to exchange their vows validly and licitly before only lay witnesses; thus without a parish priest, nor a priest who is his representative. And yet, for the liceity of the act, the couple must if possible have recourse to any priest. A marriage thus celebrated is done so according to a form called extraordinary. It is under this form that, for forty years, we have been receiving exchanges of vows validly and licitly, without any doubt being possible.

The State of Necessity

For you know, there exists alas no doubt about the extraordinary and dramatic situation which the Church is in[4]. She suffers ever more today from what Archbishop Lefebvre called “Satan’s masterstroke”: “Spreading revolutionary principles using the authority of the Church herself.[5]” We see in effect the Church authorities, from the see of Peter down to the parish priest, adversely affecting the Catholic Faith through a delinquent humanism which, elevating the cult of conscience on high, dethrones especially Our Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, the Kingship of Christ over human societies is simply ignored or even fought against and the Church is seized by this liberal spirit which manifests itself especially in Religious Liberty, Ecumenism and Collegiality. Through this spirit, it is the very nature of the Redemption brought about by Christ which is called into question, it is the Catholic Church, the unique ark of salvation, which is denied in fact. Catholic morality itself, already shaken to its foundations, is overturned by Pope Francis, for example when he explicitly opened the way to communion for “remarried” divorcees living in sin.

This dramatic attitude of the Church’s authorities, without doubt, brings about a state of necessity for the faithful. In effect, there is not only a grave inconvenience, but the even more real danger of putting the salvation of his soul into the hands of pastors imbued with this “adulterous”[6] spirit, a spirit which is as destructive for the Faith as it is for morals. We have no other choice but to protect ourselves from such authorities, because they are “in a situation of permanent incoherence and contradiction” and because “as long as this ambiguity is not resolved, disasters will multiply within the Church.”[7] We are living in circumstances where true obedience requires us to disobey, [8] for “it is better to obey God than men.” (Acts 5, 29).

As long as this ambiguity on the part of the Church’s authorities is not resolved, the grave inconvenience foreseen in canon 1098 will also persist, and therefore the celebration of marriages in the extraordinary form will be justified.

What’s more, as marriage, like every sacrament, implies a profession of Faith, we cannot deny the right the faithful have to the sacraments by imposing on them a minister who habitually orients his ministry in the adulterous direction made official at Vatican II, whereas they have the possibility of having recourse to a priest who is free from this transgression against the Faith.

The Scope of the Roman Document

In the light of these principles the real scope of the Roman document becomes apparent. Persisting along the dangerous line of Vatican II, the Roman authorities are simply denying you the extraordinary form of marriage, by denying the state of necessity. This document is therefore meant to make you have recourse to a diocesan priest for your marriage, leaving to the priests of the SSPX only the possibility of celebrating the nuptial Mass which follows. The Ecclesia Dei Commission foresees in effect that, “as far as possible, the delegation of the Ordinary to assist at the marriage [of the SSPX faithful] will be given to a priest of the diocese (or at least a priest who is fully regular) for receiving the consent of the parties […]; after which will follow the celebration of the nuptial Mass by a priest of the Society.”

It is only “in cases of impossibility where there does not exist a priest of the diocese who could receive the consent of the parties that the Ordinary will directly grant the necessary faculties to the priest of the Society.” In other words, it is only, only if there exists a case of necessity - the nature of which we don’t know, since we’re no longer talking here about the grave harm which the liberal spirit causes to the Catholic Faith – that the bishop could give delegation to a priest of the Society of St. Pius X. All other marriages celebrated by a priest of the SSPX without the explicit delegation of the Ordinary would continue to be considered invalid by the current holders of supreme authority.

Apart from the fact that such a decision is as unjust as it is null, it is a further breach of the spirit of law. The Ecclesia Dei Commission permits in effect something which even the new Code of Canon Law didn’t allow, namely putting the extraordinary form of marriage at the mercy of the local Ordinary, and this at the expense of the natural right to marriage too.[9]

Our Marriages, Quite Certainly Valid Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

So long as this dramatic state of the Church lasts, and the destructive equivocation in which the highest authorities of the Church live, we shall continue to use the extraordinary form of marriage without letting it be unduly dictated by the local Ordinary.

We shall continue therefore to celebrate our marriages validly and licitly in our churches and chapels, as we have always done thus far, referring to canons 1098 of the old code and 1116 in the new code, independently of any preliminary agreement of the local Ordinary.

To those who would object that such a practice would from now on be invalid since the Church’s authorities are offering a possibility of Ordinary delegation, we reply that the state of necessity which makes our way of acting legitimate is not canonical but dogmatic, that the impossibility of having recourse to the current authorities is not physical but moral. Quite simply, we do not want to abandon the souls who, driven into a corner by circumstance, entrust themselves to our ministry. They have not fled from delinquent authorities just so that we can impose them on them during one of the most important ceremonies of their life. Moreover, those who make such an objection show that they are very poorly acquainted with the law of the Church, which reasons differently. It allows the faithful in effect to place themselves in a state of necessity voluntarily so as to marry validly and licitly according to the extraordinary form, even if they have the possibility of doing otherwise.[10]

In the case where there are some faithful who obtain from the parish priest the possibility of having their wedding in the parish church, we will stick to our wise customs established over time. To the extent that the parish priest is habitually well disposed to the Tradition of the Church and allows us to preach, we don’t see any objection to letting him receive the vows according to the Traditional ritual whilst leaving the celebration of the Mass[11] to a priest of our Society. But we will refuse to celebrate the Mass if the required delegation were refused us in favour of, for example, an Ecclesia Dei priest.

For the good of the sacrament of marriage, for the good of your homes, for the good of your souls, we do not intend to submit the cause of your marriages to an ecclesiastical jurisdiction whose tribunals declare marriages which are certainly valid as null and void, on the false pretext of a lack of psychological maturity of the couple. We know in addition how much these same tribunals ratify a de facto Catholic divorce through the bias of the simplified procedure for annulling a marriage promulgated by Pope Francis. That’s why we will continue to recognise as the ultimate judge of these questions only the Saint Charles Borromeo commission which the Society of St. Pius X had to establish precisely due to these declarations of nullity which are certainly invalid.


Finally, let us express our great astonishment about this Roman decision and the echo which it received. The Personal Prelature which is being held out to the Society of St. Pius X was supposed to recognise us as we are and keep us independent of the local Ordinaries. And yet the first decisions taken consist of unjustly submitting our marriages to those Ordinaries, before making the opening of our new houses tomorrow dependent upon their approval. This just goes to show how much duplicity of language reigns, not only in the domain of the Faith and morals, but also in these canonical questions.

Furthermore, in this centenary year of the apparitions of Fatima, we invoke the Immaculate Heart of Mary not that she bring an end to our canonical situation which some judge to be irregular, but that the Church be liberated from modernist occupation and that her highest authorities find again the path followed by the Church until Vatican II. That is when our bishops will be able to put their episcopacy back into the hands of the Sovereign Pontiff[12].

Fr. David Aldalur, Dean of the deanery of Bordeaux

Fr. Xavier Beauvais, Dean of the deanery of Marseille

Fr. Francois-Xavier Camper, Dean of the deanery of Lyon

Fr. Bruno France, Dean of the deanery of Nantes

Fr. Thierry Gaudray, Dean of the deanery of Lille

Fr. Patrick de La Rocque, Dean of the Deanery of Paris

Fr. Thierry Legrand, Dean of the deanery of Saint-Malo

Also signatories to this letter:

Rev. Fr. Jean-Marie, Superior of the Fraternity of the Transfiguration

Rev. Fr. Placide, Benedictine prior of Bellaigue monastery

Rev. Fr. Antoine, Gaurdian of the Capuchin monastery of Morgon

[1] 1917 Code, canon 1094; 1983 Code, canon 1108

[2] These are in effect the fundamental axioms of law which are in question: ‘The Supreme law is the Salvation of Souls’ and ‘The Sacraments are for well disposed men.’

[3] 1917 Code, canon 1098; 1983 Code, canon 1116

[4] Even if there were a doubt as to the existence of this exceptional situation authorising the use of the extraordinary form of marriage, it must be emphasised that according to the law, the Church would supply the missing jurisdiction (1917 Code, canon 209; 1983 Code, canon 144), retaining in this way all the validity of the act.

[5] Abp. Lefebvre, “Satan’s Masterstroke” (French edition, “Le Coup de Maitre de Satan” St. Gabriel press, 1977, p.5-6)

[6] Abp. Lefebvre, ‘Declaration on the occasion of episcopal consecration of several SSPX priests’, in Fideliter, 29th & 30th June 1988

[7] Abp. Lefebvre, “Satan’s Masterstroke” (French edition, “Le Coup de Maitre de Satan” St. Gabriel press, 1977, p.5-6)

[8] Abp. Lefebvre, “Can Obedience Oblige us to Disobey?” note of 29/03/1988 in Fideliter 29th & 30th June, 1988.

[9] Cf. André Sale, La forma straodinaria e il ministro della celebrazione del matrimonio secondo il codice latino e orientale, éditions Pontificia Universita Gregoriana, Rome 2003, pp. 142 à 154 : on the eve of Vatican II, several bishops and cardinals demanded a modification of canon 1098 relating to the extraordinary form of marriage. To avoid abuse in the usage of this form, they proposed that it no longer be permitted to be used without the spouses having at least attempted to have recourse to the local Ordinary, and never against the wishes of the latter. Also, a draft modification of the said canon was proposed at the 4th session of the Council: “[Forma extraordinaria celebrationis matrimonii] Ad valide contrahendum matrimonium coram solis testibus extra periculum mortis, praeter conditiones praescriptas in can. 1098 CIC, requiritur : a) ut petitio Ordinario loci facienda, si fieri possit, omissa non fuerit, vel matrimonium non celebretur nisi post mensem ab interposita petitione sine responsione ; b) ut matrimonium non celebretur contra ordinarii vetitum (Conc. Vatic. II ; Periodus III, in AS 3, pars 8, 1075” ([The extraordinary form of marriage] in order to contract a marriage validly outside of danger of death and before witnesses only, and beyond the conditions prescribed in canon 1098, it is required: a) that the request to be made to the local ordinary not have been omitted, if possible, or that the marriage not be celebrated before a period of one month after the request has been sent without a reply having been received; b) that the marriage not be celebrated against the prohibition of the Ordinary.” 

During a difficult discussion, the Council Fathers decided by a majority to leave the decision in the hands of the Pope or of a Commission for the revision of canon law. This commission would return several times to this point (in 1970, 1975, 1977, 1978 and 1982), but the discussions were bitter. Finally, canon 1116 of the new code repeated substantially the old canon 1098, without introducing the slightest duty of having recourse to the ordinary in order to make use of the extraordinary form of marriage. The motive for this was that the natural right to marriage should be guaranteed in all circumstances.

[10] On 13th March 1910, the Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments declared as valid before only two witnesses a marriage of those who, to circumvent the law, travel to a place where common impossibility exists. Cf. Naz, Traité de Droit Canonique in canon 1098, T. II  n° 426 p.377 note 2.

[11] In doing this, we do not mean to endorse the manifest injustice of the new Roman decision, which renders a priest of the Society of St. Pius X incapable of receiving jurisdiction from a parish priest, and thwarts the latter of a power which is ordinary to him.

[12] Abp. Lefebvre, ‘Declaration on the occasion of episcopal consecration of several SSPX priests’, in Fideliter, 29th & 30th June 1988