The SSPX rule forbids priests and brothers to watch any television. But the “new” SSPX now turns a blind eye to violations of that part of its rule and many priests and brothers now watch TV.

The “old” SSPX told all Catholics—without exception—to never watch TV, not even religious films and that no Catholic should have a TV in his home. Id.

The SSPX Third Order rule requires all members “to abstain from television”. sspx.org/en/sspx-third-order-rule. Because of this prohibition, the “old” SSPX used to promote the fact that joining the SSPX Third Order was a great help to Catholics to gain the strength to do what all Catholics should do, viz., abstain from TV. Here is what the (“old”) SSPX used to say:

This elimination of the television from the homes of Third Order members is in fact an illustration of the great value of the Society’s Third Order. ... May there be many generous families willing to rid their homes of the television, grave impediment to their spiritual life as it is, in order to live the supernatural life of grace more profoundly.


The “new” SSPX no longer even pretends to follow this rule prohibiting Third Order members from watching TV. Fr. Adam Purdy (the current SSPX Third Order chaplain) recently explained: Archbishop Lefebvre said we are to abstain from television. June-July 2016 Regina Coeli Report, page 4.

But Fr. Purdy prefaced that statement with the phrase It is true that ... because Fr. Purdy went on to say that the Third Order now allows television/movie watching. Here is the question and answer:

Regina Coeli Report: Does this mean the occasional film violates the spirit of the Tertiaries?

Fr. Adam Purdy: I would simply answer no! This is particularly the case if the film is a good presentation of some virtue, nobility or character, or religious theme. Purely mundane or vulgar themes would definitely violate the spirit of the founder. They are deconstructive in nature. Someone will surely question what is meant by occasional. If it is more than once a week, I believe it is too much.


Notice the interviewer did not ask if watching television violates the Third Order rule. Plainly it does—i.e., watching TV is not abstaining from TV. Thus, the above question takes the rule violation for granted and instead pertains to the nebulous “spirit” of the rule. In his answer, Fr. Purdy incoherently says that watching movies does not violate the spirit of the Third Order rule which commands abstinence from them.

So Fr. Purdy is saying that the SSPX’s Third Order rule “abstain from television”, now means don’t watch vulgar TV and only once per week.

Notice also that there is no limiting principle to his current laxity. The Third Order’s chaplain opened the floodgate by saying television watching is fine but his current belief is that it should be no more than once per week. Does anyone doubt that this permissiveness will continually expand over time?

Like the rest of the “new” SSPX’s continual liberal slide, the SSPX has gone from clear, absolute standards to squishy, subjective standards. The “old” SSPX used to say “no TV”. Now, the N-SSPX tells its trusting and weakening faithful—even its Third Order!—to watch only movies that they (nebulously and subjectively) consider to be not “vulgar”. Fr. Purdy tells his Third Order that, if you watch “non-vulgar” movies, then you have the “blessing” of the Third Order.

But how could Fr. Purdy uphold the Third Order rule when that would require him to forbid the movies that the SSPX now itself promotes? Assuming Fr. Purdy even wanted to forbid movies, he would have to cooperate with God’s Grace and suffer expulsion for standing against the “new” SSPX’s liberalism. Let us pray for and pity this poor priest!

A hallmark of any Third Order, is self-sacrifice and generosity to Our Lord. How can this movie-watching N-SSPX Third Order be considered a serious Third Order? Well, actually, the N-SSPX now legalistically says that its Third Order is not a real Third Order.

After first talking about the third orders founded by the Benedictines, Franciscans and Dominicans, Fr. Purdy states:

It is the old religious orders that have third orders. No religious organization can add to itself a Third Order, but the privilege granted to some Orders remains. ... [T]he Society of St. Pius X ... is a clerical institute and not a religious order. ... Only religious orders (and the old ones!) have Third Orders and no religious congregations, still less a clerical institute, can just make up its own Third Order.

Quoted from the SSPX Third Order publication, Sursum Corda, Autumn 2013, p.5 (emphasis added).

The Big Picture

The N-SSPX publishes and calls its followers’ attention to this legalism (immediately above) to stress the need to be recognized by modernist Rome to “correct” a (supposed) legal problem with the N-SSPX’s Third Order.

Fr. Purdy says that he waits and hopes for the moment in which Rome will provide a canonical framework for this large association of faithful [viz., the SSPX Third Order] which has been called a Third Order. Sursum Corda, Autumn 2013, p.5 (emphasis added).

The rule against starting new Third Orders (noted above) is good in the normal circumstances for which that rule was designed. But because of the crisis in the Church”s human element after Vatican II (including in all then-existing Third Orders) there were no Third Orders available to help save souls.

So Archbishop Lefebvre founded a real Third Order, as part of his necessary work saving souls during the abnormal times we live in. Of course, modernist Rome would never give permission for this work. But Archbishop Lefebvre went ahead without being troubled by such legalism because souls were at stake. As he explained in 1975:

In the Church, law and jurisdiction are at the service of the Faith, the primary reason for the Church. There is no law, no jurisdiction which can impose on us a lessening of our Faith.

Apologia Pro Marcel Lefebvre, by Michael Davies, vol. 1, p.151, quoting the 9-3-75 Letter to friends and benefactors #9.