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Wikipedia says that formal schismatics are those who:

knowing the true nature of the Church, have personally and deliberately committed the sin of schism.

But if formal schismatics have to truly know the true nature of the Church, is it ever actually a category that can apply to people?

For example, Protestants reject the authority of the Catholic Church and the Pope, and so would not be said, I would think, to know the true nature of the Church.

Likewise, are the SSPX truly formal schismatics if, in their rejection of Vatican II, they believe the true nature of the church is other than that of the Catholic Church after Vatican II?

If you have to know and truly believe in the true nature of the Church in order for your rejection of it to be "formal", then it seems to be that this is a largely academic category, and that there would be exceedingly few actual cases of formal schismatics.

  • The SSPX are not a schismatic group: they don't reject the nature of the Church (validiity of the Pope, his being a true pope etc.). Nor do they deny any aspect of the Faith. You also give too much credit to heretics. – Sola Gratia Nov 27 '18 at 12:37
  • Useful according to whom? It seems your question is soliciting opinions. – Geremia Nov 27 '18 at 14:41
  • @Geremia Useful according to the Catholic Church in actually categorising people. – curiousdannii Nov 27 '18 at 15:09
  • Actually, formal schismatics are those against whom a formal declaration of schism is made, as opposed to material schismatics who are in schism for all intents and purposes. There have been several groups in the past against whom such declarations have been made, like Henry VIII, for instance. It's not done much nowadays because modern men just double down on their position when a formal schism is declared. – Wtrmute Nov 27 '18 at 23:14

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