A Frequently Asked Question


People ask me from time to time whether it is permissible to go to confession to a validly ordained Novus Ordo priest.

There are some traditionalist priests, although sedevacantists, who give an affirmative answer to this question. They allow it in case of necessity. They argue that since the Novus Ordo priest is not excommunicated, and does not belong to a declared non- Catholic sect, Canon Law admits that he could be approached for sacraments.

The position of the clergy of Most Holy Trinity Seminary is that one cannot approach validly ordained Novus Ordo priests for confessions except in danger of death.

The reasons are multiple. The most important is that it would give credence to the Novus Ordo, which, as I have pointed out many times, is a new religion which is substantially different from the Catholic Faith. The fact that the Novus Ordo priest is not officially excommunicated has nothing to do with it. For, as I said in my last newsletter, we live in a time in which the normal processes of the prosecution of heresy have completely broken down. The poison of Modernism has infected the hierarchy from the top down, and consequently it is Catholicism which is prosecuted as a crime by the Modernists, and it is heresy which is protected.

For this reason, in the practical order we treat the Novus Ordo as a non-Catholic religion. We treat the adherents of the Novus Ordo religion as persons belonging to a non-Catholic religion. This is true even if they are in good conscience about their adherence to it. For there are many Novus Ordites who truly hate the Vatican II reforms, but continue to adhere to them because they perceive these reforms as coming down from the Catholic hierarchy. They then invoke the truly Catholic principle that the Catholic hierarchy cannot teach false doctrines or enact laws which are sinful to observe. They conclude that they are obliged, like it or not, to accept in obedience all that has been done since Vatican II. They nonetheless live in agony, since they see, day in and day out, the perpetual contradictions which exist between pre-Vatican II Catholicism and the reforms of Vatican II.

A Novus Ordite, therefore, who wants to return to the Catholic Faith must first repudiate Vatican II and its reforms before he can receive sacraments from us. This is true even though there is no excommunication to lift. For Vatican II has never been officially condemned, nor the New Mass, nor the new sacraments, nor the new disciplines. It is true that these constitute a substantial departure from the traditional doctrine, Mass, sacraments, and disciplines, but they have never been condemned as such.

One cannot cite the fact that the Novus Ordo priest has never been censured as the reason why we can approach him for sacraments. For in such a case, we would logically have to accept the entire Novus Ordo religion because it has not been officially censured or condemned.

The Novus Ordo has all of the trappings of a non-Catholic sect. It is an organized religion with its own doctrines, its own liturgy, its own laws and its own disciplines. The only thing they have not done is to separate from Catholic institutions.

They have hijacked these institutions and are using them for an evil purpose. (1)

The Novus Ordo conservative sees only the continuity of the institution — the succession of “popes” and “bishops” to places previously held by the Catholic hierarchy — and for that reason assumes that there must be continuity of religion in this institution. There is not.

I conclude, therefore, that a Catholic cannot approach a Novus Ordite priest, however validly ordained, for confession or any other sacrament, for the reason that it gives approval of and credence to a non-Catholic religion. It is against the First Commandment of God.

What about confessing to a priest of the Society of Saint Pius X?

The same principle applies. While the SSPX is not the same thing as the Novus Ordo, it is nonetheless an organization which espouses non-Catholic ideas and principles.

• First, they aspire and hope to be rejoined to the Novus Ordo religion, and for the past forty years have taken active steps to do this very thing. They furthermore profess to be in communion with the Modernist hierarchy.

• Second, they do not repudiate Vatican II, but are willing to accept it according to their own interpretation, which is not that of the person whom they consider to be the pope.

• Third, they profess a heretical notion of the universal ordinary magisterium of the Church, saying that it is not infallible unless it is ratified by the lay people as being in accordance with tradition. (2)

• Fourth, they conduct an apostolate which is a systematic and worldwide disobedience to the person they say is the pope, thereby falling into a spirit of schism. (3) (4)

• Fifth, they claim to have a marriage tribunal, with the authority to annul marriages, and this even though they have been suppressed by the person they say is the pope.

For these and other reasons, one may not approach them for sacraments, since

• it is to give approval of and credence to an organization which professes communion with the Modernist hierarchy and at the same time is loaded with the spirit of schism owing to the recognize and resist position — that is, recognize Bergoglio as pope but act as if he does not exist. Such a position is not Catholic.

• it is to give scandal to anyone who truly professes the Catholic Faith

• there is a danger of corruption inasmuch as those who frequent the SSPX priests for sacraments may be influenced by their ideas.

In good conscience. Despite these intrinsic problems with the SSPX, which are grave, it must be asserted that their adherents are in good conscience. They are in that group or frequent the Masses of that group because they find the changes of Vatican II abhorrent, and have been told, ultimately by Archbishop Lefebvre himself, that recognize and resist together with sifting the magisterium to find what is Catholic is the proper way in which to combat the Modernist heresy.


(1) For this reason, I reject the term “Novus Ordo Church,” since the Modernists have not organized themselves into a new church, but are attempting to use the structures of Catholicism to spread their errors.

(2) Pope Pius IX: Even when it is only a question of the submission owed to divine faith, this cannot be limited merely to points defined by the express decrees of the ecumenical councils, or of the Roman Pontiff’s and of this Apostolic See; this submission must also be extended to all that has been handed down as divinely revealed by the ordinary teaching authority of the entire Church spread over the whole world, and which, for this reason, Catholic theologians, with the universal and constant consent, regard as being of the faith. (Letter Tuas Libenter, December 21, 1863)

(3) The Vatican Council of 1870 under Pope Pius IX: Hence we teach and declare that by the appointment of our Lord the Roman Church possesses a sovereignty of ordinary power over all other Churches, and that this power of jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff which is truly episcopal, is immediate; to which all of whatsoever rite and dignity, both pastors and the faithful, both individually and collectively, are bound, by their duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, to submit, not only in matters which belong to faith and morals, but also in those that appertain to the discipline and government of the Church throughout the world; so that the Church of Christ may be one flock under one supreme pastor, through the preservation of unity, both of communion and of profession of the same faith, with the Roman Pontiff. This is the teaching of Catholic truth from which no one can deviate without loss of faith and of salvation. [Emphasis added]

(4) Pope Pius IX: For the Catholic Church has always considered schismatic all those who obstinately resist the authority of her legitimate prelates, and especially her supreme pastor, and anyone who refuses to execute their orders and even to recognize their authority. The members of the Armenian faction of Constantinople having followed this line of conduct, no one, under any pretext, can believe them innocent of the sin of schism, even if they had not been denounced as schismatic by apostolic authority. (Encyclical Quartus supra, January 6, 1873 to the Armenians) [Emphasis added]

7 thoughts on “A Frequently Asked Question

  1. Thank You,Bp.Sanborn. Perhaps this statement should be the opening sentence in any conversation a traditional Catholic would have with a Conciliar Catholic.
    “The poison of Modernism has infected the hierarchy from the top down, and consequently it is Catholicism which is prosecuted as a crime by the Modernists, and it is heresy which is protected.”


  2. Dear Bp. Sanborn, I hope you are well and looking after yourself. I understand what you are telling us, but does this include FSSP as well. Perhaps this is obvious to others, but I am not at all academic. Yet, I understand what’s happening and what you say. However, there is always a ,’but’ from people like myself. Are you including all who are not Sedevacantist in their beliefs?


  3. Pingback: UNA PREGUNTA FRECUENTE – Sapientiae Sedei Filii

  4. I must admit that I am very angry of being duped! According to this line of thinking everything that I had believed in with the Novus Odor and SSPX is just a lie. I now attend a Maronite and Melkite Church and I am still not sure… something does not seem right. A SSPX Priest coined the Novus Odor the “Nervous Disorder” religion because everyone including the Priests, laymen, clergy, etc. seem to have nervous disorders from this religion.
    These Priests, Bishops, clergy, etc. are no better than a used car salesmen trying to convince and sell me a product knowing it is a lemon deal. All of my Holy Water, Blessed rosaries, medals, statutes, even sacraments is not catholic. I live 4 hours away from your church. How would I be able to take my children for confession and sacraments? I would not be able to travel each week, What would be acceptable in the Catholic Church without breaking the third commandment. You have no idea how many Catholics like myself will become furious when they are awaken from this lie.


    • Marylou….I am just a layman but I feel compelled to mention a possibility…perhaps it is possible for you to drive to the Mass that is 4 hours away on the Saturday before,go to confession, stay at a motel and go to Mass the next day…or maybe confession on Sunday as well. Once a month this might be a possibility and it could be a nice memory for the kids in years to come.

      Liked by 1 person

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