Today in a very unexpected and I think great move Pope Francis has decided to specifically include the SSPX in the Year of Mercy. He has decided to explicitly state that during the upcoming Year of Mercy all SSPX confessions will be considered valid. You can read about it here: http://wdtprs.com/blog/2015/09/pope...grants-that-sspx-priests-can-validly-absolve/ The SSPX has replied generously in turn: To clarify the position: All parties, I think its fair to say, recognise SSPX priests as being validly ordained and that SSPX masses are valid and for the faithful they fulfill the Sunday obligation. But about some of the other sacraments there are question marks. This is because some of those sacraments, like confession, can only be performed, to a degree at least, by priests who are legally installed in dioceses etc (called 'incarnated') and can not be performed otherwise except in emergency situations. The SSPX say that we are in an emergency situation but some find the theology behind that to be a little thin and hence there are question over SSPX confessions etc. Well now this completely unexpected move by Pope Francis has, at least with respect to the Year of Mercy which starts this December, wonderfully clarified things and has guaranteed the validity of these confessions. Of course this is a tremendous moment in SSPX/Vatican relations and hopefully will be the first step in a process where the two will get together completely and heal the rift that began in earnest in 1988. Currently the SSPX (Society of Saint Pius X) has been described as half in and half out of the Catholic Church and for those who don't know it I thought I would include a very short history here: History of the SSPX The French Archbishop Marcel Lefebrve - who as the head of the Holy Ghost congregation had many connections to Ireland, Eamonn de Valera even worked as his altar boy once - set up the Society during the somewhat chaotic post Vat-II years as a priestly society dedicated to retaining the Latin mass and traditional Church practices. From that point, 1970, until 1988 he was operating, more or less, within the Church structures but in the latter year he decided to consecrate four new bishops for his order in direct breach of instructions from Rome. The latter responded by excommunicating him and those four bishops and in this state of separation from Rome the Society existed until 2009 when, in a gesture widely perceived as leading to a healing of the rupture, the excommunications were lifted. This of course was also combined with Pope Benedict's overall reaching out to the Traditional movement, with his Moto Proprio garanteeing the right of Catholics to attend the Latin mass etc. From that time until now there have been many discussions with the Vatican and currently the impasse rests on a wish from Rome that the Society would sign a document explicitly welcoming Vatican II into the magisterium of the Church, among other matters of course. Whatever about at the Roman level these meetings have had a huge impact on the SSPX itself. Many priests, and Bishop Williamson, have left or being kicked out of the SSPX usually in a spirit of opposition and suspicion of what Rome and Menzingen (the SSPX HQ in Switzerland) are cooking up. Even in Ireland this year two priests, Rev. Edward F. MacDonald and Rev. Giacomo Ballini, the former recently stationed in Athlone and the latter based in Cork, left the SSPX in opposition to these talks. Probably because of this turmoil in the SSPX at the last meeting of the Society with Cardinal Muller, the head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, it was agreed to have more widespread meetings between the Society and Church officials rather than just these meetings with the head of the Order. As part of this policy Bishop Athanasius Schneider - as a member of the German community in Russia he fled the former USSR and is currently an auxiliary bishop in Astrana in Kasakhstan - visited two of their seminaries recently, in France and in Winona in the US, and has commented on the results of his visits here: http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2015/08/bishop-athanasius-schneider-there-are.html . There he is very positive about the SSPX, and thinks that the Vatican should just recognise them as they are, without a special document on Vatican II, and it may be under his influence that this extraordinary and beautiful step has been taken. So anyway I just hope that people on this board might like to pray for the SSPX and their congregations so that may come more properly under the sacred, if at times difficult, umbrella of obedience to Rome.