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Ginny Free wrote:

Hi, guys —

My question involves Canon 751 and something a woman I recently met said to me.

Canon 751 Heresy is the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.

In her own words, she stated that she would no longer attend any Novus Ordo Masses, and would only attend traditional Latin Masses.

  • If someone is breaking off communion with the Supreme Pontiff, not by an outward refusal of obedience to him, but by refusal of . . . communion with the members of the Church subject to him, as the last part of Canon 751 states, are they subject to the just penalties incurred?

My question is not to judge or point a finger at this woman. I think she is totally unaware of the gravity of the decision she has made to break communion with the rest of us who attend Novus Ordo Masses, etc. I think she is simply of good will and is likely under the influences of others who have bad intentions. Her reasons are due to liturgical abuses she has seen in the parish where she lives.

I met her at a legitimate (FSSP) Mass in the Extraordinary Form and would like to help her. I think she's just wounded and wants herself and her children safe from the very real scandals rocking the Church. I need a good answer. My first reading of this Canon says, yes, indeed, she has entered into schism for her clear rejection of communion with the rest of the Church's members subject to the Pope.

Please help me help her.

God bless.

Ginny Free

  { If someone will no longer attend a Novus Ordo Mass are they subject to these schismatic penalties? }

Eric replied:


I don't think her behavior rises to the level of schism.

Nothing obliges someone to attend the ordinary form (the so called, Novus Ordo) Mass so there is no refusal of submission involved.

That's not to say I don't think she's in a precarious position; I just I don't think it, strictly speaking, constitutes schism.


Mike replied:


I just wanted to add to Eric's answer.

The Church does not want us to politicize one liturgical rite over another (the Traditional/Latin form versus the Novus Ordo form.) Both are valid. Period!

I agree with Eric that she is in a precarious situation seeing that she refuses to attend a Novus Ordo Mass. Nevertheless, her desire is justified as Pope St. John Paul II alluded to in his Apostolic Letter Ecclesia Dei.

At the end of paragraph 5. it states:

To all those Catholic faithful who feel attached to some previous liturgical and disciplinary forms of the Latin tradition, I wish to manifest my will to facilitate their ecclesial communion by means of the necessary measures to guarantee respect for their rightful aspirations. In this matter, I ask for the support of the bishops and of all those engaged in the pastoral ministry in the Church.

Bishops also have to make the Extraordinary Form of the Mass available to the faithful in their diocese. So her desire is good but her attitude toward the Novus Ordo Mass is gravely concerning.

Having an attitude of never attending a validly celebrated Novus Ordo is something a cafeteria or dissenting Catholic would do : (


Paul replied:

Ginny —

There is no schism. She has a moral right to attend an Extraordinary form of the Mass every Sunday, if she can find one.

She has no moral right to miss Mass on Sunday due to no Extraordinary Masses celebrated in her area. Deliberately missing Sunday Mass (regardless of the form) when one is able to go, is the matter of mortal sin.


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