On the SSPX. They are a route you should never, never take. I have nothing but sympathy for these people, but they are doing something that is diametrically opposed to the nature of the Church. The Church is supposed to engage and convert the culture, not try to live as if the past 50 years have never happened. The Church should hold fast to their traditions and try to convert the culture.
I have a lot of sympathy for them too, since I used to be one of them!
The only reason I would say why one should not "become" involved with the SSPX, is only because I would never recommend someone become involved with anything save Orthodox Christianity.
From my experience (and visiting several SSPX chapels across N.America, including the SSPX seminary in Minnesota, and the SSPX church in St.Mary's KS, which hosts a growing population of RC traditionalists), there is some merit to the charge of "living in the past." That's hard to avoid, since some people (in viewing the current mess in the RCC as something that began in 1965 with the close of Vatican II) are going to view things in terms of "post '65 bad, pre '65 good" (thus creating a problem known in traditionalist RC circles as "fifties-ism".)
To be fair to the SSPX clergy, on the whole they speak out against this (and it's not present everywhere in the SSPX flock). For example, the firebrand (who I still respect for his courage to entertain iconoclastic views, and criticize the sacred cows of modern American culture) rector of the seminary in Minnesota, Bp. Richard Williamson, is extremely
critical of the "living in the past" mentality (and in fact may have coined the phrase, "fifties-ism").
Honestly, I think the folks in the SSPX are in a bad way. Their ultimate crime, for which I think they have next to no culpability, is believing the bogus claims of Rome about itself, and the heretical innovations introduced to the RCC because of this (and it's estrangement from the Orthodox Church.) It's a hard position these folks are in...
- on one hand, it's painfully obvious to anyone with a shred of sincerity and honesty, that the RCC is a different entity than it was pre-Vatican II (though the seeds for this ideological change at least go back to underground sub currents that date into the late 19th century). It's been a profound change not only in praxis (which cannot but affect faith), but in faith and mindset. Not everything in the pre-Vat mindset was good obviously (we Orthodox know that very well), but they were certainly closer to some kind of small 'o' "Orthodoxy" than they are now, particularly on the parish level (that is to say, not speaking about the affairs and politics of the Vatican or the heirarchy, but the goings on of simple parish priests, and in particular, the laity.)
- on the other hand, these folks still consider themselves to be Roman Catholics, and thus cannot but pay at least lip service to the alleged infallibility of the Popes and the supposed absolute need to remain in communion with him. I am convinced that had John Paul II espoused the ideas he does now during the reign of someone like Pius X, or even perhaps Pius XII, he'd at least have been silenced, if not put on trial (as an Orthodox Christian I don't find his ideas incredibly obnoxious, but from the p.o.v. of what the RCC believed only a century ago about itself, he would not have been in anyone's good books). Yet now JP II is a "conservative" compared to much of the RC heirarchy. It is only by the most strained mental gymnastics that these people can claim to be in "communion" with either the Pope or his more loyal followers.
However, I'm not to harsh on these folks as they're about the only real Roman Catholics left (in the sense of their Catholicism being something other than simply "whatever the Pope says").
I don't think any Orthodox Christian would say that the demolition of the Roman Catholic Church's liturgy, sacred architecture, music, etc., was a "good thing". These folks deserve our prayers and pity, since they've been doubly betrayed (if we view ordinary Roman Catholics as being "singly betrayed".)