The SSPX – COVID and religious quackery

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Quack science and fake news

Take the SSPX COVID-19 quiz now!

The Society of St Pius X (SSPX) in Cape Town seems to have adopted quack science and fake news as their foundation for dealing with the COVID epidemic.

That was reported/discussed here and here and here. From initial underground Mass games during lockdown, through clerical encouragement of singing because the devil doesn’t like their singing, to utter disregard for wearing masks and social distancing, the activities of the SSPX have more than convinced me that they are a cult willing to spread disease without regard whatsoever for the safety of other Capetonians.

Now I focus on whether their theology is similar in nature to their belief in quack science and fake news.

Giotto di Bondone - Birth of the Virgin
Giotto di Bondone – Birth of the Virgin

Are quacks theologically reliable?

If an individual, during a crisis, adopts fake news and quack science as their version of the truth, are they, in general, a reliable source of wisdom?

If an entire religious group, during a crisis, adopts fake news and quack science as their version of the truth, how trustworthy is their theology?

It is true that quacks and crackpots can believe true things in some aspects of their lives, and we can’t prove overall theological incompetence by demonstrating quackery in some aspects of their religious practice. But it is also true that cranks very often believe and preach a whole collection of lies. This is called crank magnetism – crank ideas attract other crank ideas. COVID denialism, Holocaust denialism, vaccine denialism, and conspiracy theories about various popes and about Vatican II are common amongst right wing traditionalist Catholic and semi-Catholic groups like the SSPX. When we join together the signs and symptoms, as pieces of the puzzle, the bigger picture is alarming.

SSPX quackery – COVID only or also theologically?

Archbishop Lefebvre illicitly saying Mass in 1981 while suspended a divinis
Archbishop Lefebvre illicitly saying Mass in 1981 while suspended a divinis

A key indicator of quackery in both theology and COVID practice is the presence of a cult mentality in both theology and COVID practice. And, for the SSPX, it seems to be there in both cases. They think that they are persecuted for their true faith (be it COVID faith or fundamentalist Catholic faith). They think that their knowledge and understanding is better than that of the authoritative experts, whether they be epidemiologists or the pope, and therefore reject sound logic. They think that the law – both church law and civil law – doesn’t apply to them.

That describes a cult that is based on quackery. That is what the SSPX, in various places during the COVID pandemic, seems to have devolved into.

If their theology didn’t have the same features as their COVID quackery has, it might have been a case of legitimate theology and COVID quackery. But those conspiratorial features, sense of persecution, having superior secret knowledge, and being above the law are shared between COVID and the theology that sets them apart from mainstream Catholicism.

To me, this means that both come from the same unhealthy source, and both can be rejected as quackery, COVID and religious. To me, this is pastoral malpractice, and the entire society should be suspended. Oh, sorry … they already are suspended, and they don’t care.

12th century German Nativity of Mary
12th century German Nativity of Mary

Stay away, for the sake of your mental and spiritual sanity, and for the sake of the loved ones you hold dear.

Not all people who fall for quack science and fake news are cultists or cults. It takes organisation and application of that quack science and fake news to achieve that, usually in the context of theological ideas with similar patterns. There are other Catholics out there, including priests, who are willing to let others die just to be able to sing at Mass. In the absence of a congregation that follows them in these cult-like ideas, there is not a cult. There very easily could be. Beware of toxic clergy, even if they are still a few steps away from running a cult.

Further reading

SSPX and COVID series:
Part 1 – The SSPX – when a church goes COVID cult
Part 2 – Update on SSPX sect’s evasion of lockdown
Part 3 – Is the SSPX in schism from the Catholic Church?
Part 4 – SSPX – the Dangers of a Cult Mentality
Part 5 – The SSPX – COVID and religious quackery – this post

Priest giving Communion to werewolves
Priest giving Communion to werewolves

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