Asked Questions About the Society of Saint Pius X
15: What of the sedevacantists?
In the face of the scandal of a Pope
who can sign Dignitatis Humanae, radically change the liturgy
of the Mass, codify a new ecclesiology, or make himself the protagonist
for an aberrant ecumenism, etc., some have concluded that
the last Popes cannot have been true Popes, or else that they have
lost the pontificate because of such scandals. They refer to the
discussions of the great counter-Reformation theologians on the
loss of the pontificate (through abdication, insanity, heresy, etc.)and
- He who is
not a member of the Church can't be its head.
- but a heretic
is not a member of the Church,
- now, Pope
John XXIII, Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul I and Pope John Paul
II are heretics,
they are neither members nor head of the Church,
- and so all
their acts are to be completely ignored.
then again, the argument continues, the same scandals are true of
all the world s diocesan bishops, who are also consequently non-members
without authority; and the Catholic Church must be identified only
with those who have not compromised the Faith and who refuse communion
with these Popes" or "Bishops." A minority of these
will elect their own "Pope."1
argument s strength is in the real scandal of the conciliar authorities'
impetus given to the Church's "new direction"; its weakness
is in not being able to prove that any of these authorities are
- You are a
"material" heretic without knowing it if you objectively
contradict what God has said but through no fault of your own;
- you are a
"formal" heretic if you do pertinaciously contradict
what God has said, i.e., knowing that you're denying what
God has said and wanting to do this anyway.
the ordinary way for the Church to ascertain pertinacity and enforce
the consequences of one's heresy by either excommunication and/or
loss of office, is through authoritative monitions2
to the delinquent which he spurns (1983 Code of Canon Law, canon
2314, §1). But nobody can authoritatively admonish the Pope (canon
1556), and the Bishops can only be admonished by their superior,
the Pope (canon 1557), who has not done so.
pertinacity, and so formal heresy, cannot be proven.
could pertinacity not be presumed from the insistence of these Popes
on the new ways, and this in the face of all tradition and its present-day
witnesses? Perhaps; but not socially i.e., as regards loss
of office, etc., which must not be presumed but proven, otherwise
societies would collapse.
argument does not prove its point, and becomes less probable when
you consider that there are other explanations for the "material
heretic" Pope [a)—see below], and it becomes quite improbable
when you consider its dangers b) or consequences c).
The liberal mind-set of a Pope Paul VI or a Pope John Paul II can
be an explanation of their wanting to be Catholics and their simultaneous
betrayal in practice of Catholicism. They accept contradictions;
with a subjective and evolutive mentality, this is to be expected.3
But such a frame of mind can be convinced of heresy only by way
The Church is indefectible (Principle 3) not only in
her faith and means of sanctification, but also in her monarchical
constitution (Principle 4), comprising governing power i.e.,
jurisdiction, hence Vatican Is profession that Peter will have
we can understand a break in the line of Popes from the death of
one to the election of the next, and that it may drag on.
is indefectibility preserved if there is no Pope since 1962 or if
there is no one with ordinary jurisdiction whom the sedevacantists
can point out as such?
Church is visible (Principle 3) and not just a society composed
of those who are joined by interior bonds (state of grace, same
faith,...). A society is recognized and maintained as such by its
authority (its efficient cause).
If the Church has not had a Pope since the days of Vatican II, then
there are no more Cardinals legitimately created. But then how is
the Church to get a Pope again, as the current discipline grants
only to Cardinals the power to elect a Pope?
Church could have ordained that non-Cardinal "electors of the
Pope" be capable of doing it, but we cannot go by any other
way than the current discipline which ordains that Cardinals elect
few sedevacantists hold that he has been or will be directly designated
by private revelation from heaven. There are spiritual consequences
is a theological opinion, and not a certitude. To treat it as
a certitude leads to condemning with temerity traditional Catholics
who disagree; and invariably it leads to one's recognizing no
spiritual superiors on earth. Each becomes, in practice, his own
little "pope," the rule of faith and orthodoxy, the
judge of the validity of sacraments.4
being so, we ought not to associate with, or, receive the sacraments
from them, most especially if they set up sedevacantism as a certitude
which all have to accept.
communities at Palmar de Troya, Spain, or St. Jovite, Canada.
To have canonical force, they must come from one's superior (cf.,
canon 2233). The point is not only the crime but also its imputability
must be notorious (canon 2195; 2197).
A little example: "At the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic
Church committed herself irrevocably to following the path of the
ecumenical venture, thus heeding the Spirit of the Lord, who teaches
people to interpret carefully the 'signs of the times'" (Ut
Unum Sint, §3). If it is because of the "signs of the times"
that the conciliar Church has launched herself into ecumenism, how
are we to know that the venture will be irrevocable? What does a
Pope John Paul II mean by such absolute terms?
Consider the arguments from "Bishop" Vezelis, the Schuckardt
movement, etc.: It is said that Cardinal Lienart, who ordained
Archbishop Lefebvre a priest and consecrated him a Bishop, was a
Freemason, and so all his ordinations were invalid; and so we must
consider invalid all the sacraments of those he ordained, and of
those they ordained....In fact, whereas that Lienart was a Freemason
is only an unproven allegation of one writer; and Church teaching
is that we must accept as valid his sacraments anyway, if he used
the correct external rite (unless he revealed a contrary internal
intention, which he didn't). Moreover, Archbishop Lefebvre was consecrated
by three Bishops in 1947, which sacrament was surely therefore valid.
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