Bishop Athanasius Schneider shared these opinions on the SSPX in an interview he gave me on Jan. 11. The rest of the interview can be read here:
What are your views on the Society of St. Pius X? Do you have sympathy for their position?
Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis on various occasions spoke with understanding towards the SSPX. It was particularly at his time, as Cardinal of Buenos Aires, that Pope Francis helped the SSPX in some administrative issues. Pope Benedict XVI once said about Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre: “He was a great bishop of the Catholic Church.” Pope Francis considers the SSPX as Catholic, and has expressed this publicly several times. Therefore, he seeks a pastoral solution, and he made the generous pastoral provisions of granting to the priests of the SSPX the ordinary faculty to hear confessions and conditional faculties to celebrate canonically marriage. The more the doctrinal, moral and liturgical confusion grows in the life of the Church, the more one will understand the prophetic mission of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in an extraordinary dark time of a generalized crisis of the Church.
Maybe one day History will apply the following words of Saint Augustine to him: “Often, too, divine providence permits even good men to be driven from the congregation of Christ by the turbulent seditions of carnal men. When for the sake of the peace of the Church they patiently endure that insult or injury, and attempt no novelties in the way of heresy or schism, they will teach men how God is to be served with a true disposition and with great and sincere charity. The intention of such men is to return when the tumult has subsided. But if that is not permitted because the storm continues or because a fiercer one might be stirred up by their return, they hold fast to their purpose to look to the good even of those responsible for the tumults and commotions that drove them out. They form no separate conventicles of their own, but defend to the death and assist by their testimony the faith which they know is preached in the Catholic Church” (De vera religione 6, 11).