Stories of sexual abuse and the protection of sexual abusers by the Society of St. Pius (SSPX) have recently been given a certain amount of publicity due to the hard journalistic work of Church Militant’s Christine Niles. The episodes that have come to light are horrifying and are documented by unimpeachable evidence — court judgments, credible eye-witness accounts and the statements and documents of the SSPX leadership. They demand explanation, and it may be helpful for a person like myself, who has some knowledge of the history of the SSPX and some familiarity with SSPX milieux, to attempt such an explanation.
I will state at the outset that I agree in substance with the doctrinal and liturgical positions of Abp. Marcel Lefebvre, I think that he was correct to found the SSPX in order to carry on these positions; I think he was correct to persist with the SSPX when Rome tried to suppress it; and I think he was correct to consecrate bishops in defiance of the Holy See in order to carry on his religious society.*
Indeed I have publicly defended the theological positions of the SSPX in the past; I have been a regular attendee at SSPX Masses; and two of my daughters were baptized at SSPX chapels. I make these statements about Abp. Lefebvre in order to rule out any claims that my position on sexual abuse in the SSPX is motivated by theological animus against the Society. The question of their truth or falsity is quite independent of the question of the nature, extent and causes of sexual abuse in the SSPX, so I will not pursue them further.
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