ERO gives big tick to Whanganui SSPX traditionalist schools

When the Education Review Office (ERO) visited the Society of St Pius X (SSPX) schools in Whanganui the children behaved so beautifully, the inspectors were sure the schools had been tipped off.

Deciding then to catch the schools out by visiting again when they were least expected, they found the children equally as good.

The Education Review Office has always given the schools good reviews, Principal Andrew Cranshaw said in the Wanganui Chronicle.

Cranshaw is also the superior of The Society of St Pius X in New Zealand.

Whanganui’s St Anthony’s Parish is made up of families from the Society of St Pius X.

It has two schools on its Alma Rd site. St Anthony Catholic Primary is for children in Years 1-6. St Dominic College is for girls in Years 7-13 and St Augustine College is for boys the same age. The two senior schools are together for convenience as St Dominic College.

There are 130 pupils in total.

Seventy of them are in the senior schools, including 10 girls from out of town who board with the traditionalist Dominican Sisters of Wanganui on the site.

The precise status of the SSPX is not clear. It isn’t officially schismatic.

But on the other hand SSPX priests do not have faculties to exercise priestly ministry.

The Society of St. Pius X was founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1970 to form priests, as a response to what he described as errors that had crept into the Church following the Second Vatican Council.

In 1988 when Lefebvre consecrated four new bishops without papal mandate the four men and Lefebvre himself were excommunicated by John Paul II.

This excommunication applied only to these individual men, and not to the SSPX as a whole.

Pope Benedict lifted the excommunications of the four bishops.

But this did not bring with it a reconciliation between the Catholic Church and the whole institute of the SSPX, which remains a separate issue.

A distinction has to be made between the Pope’s concern for the spiritual wellbeing of the four men who had been under excommunication, and who had respectfully petitioned the Pope to return to full communion with the Church; and the canonical status of the entire SSPX, which still has never been recognised by Rome.

Pope Benedict said “As long as the Society [of Saint Pius X] does not have a canonical status in the Church, its ministers do not exercise legitimate ministries in the Church….”

The Vatican and the SSPX have continued to talked to each other with a view to resolving dogmatic differences.

But the Vatican (most notably the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Gerhard Mueller) has obliquely indicated that a reconciliation is not likely to come soon.

This stance has been echoed by some in the SSPX as well, who do not appear to be in a hurry to regularise their status in the Church.

In his letter for the beginning of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis established that those who approach the priests of the SSPX for the Sacrament of Reconciliation “shall validly and licitly receive the absolution of their sins” during the Holy Year.


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