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Powerful & Incisive

The Catholic Church and the “Conciliar” Church: Two Churches in One?

Bp. Donald Sanborn dismantles a Linchpin Doctrine of Recognize-and-Resist Theology

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In his June 2014 newsletter, Bp. Donald Sanborn, rector of the sedevacantist Most Holy Trinity Seminary in Brooksville, Florida, provides an insightful perspective on the ontological status of what we like to call the “Novus Ordo Sect”, “Vatican II Church” or “Conciliar Church” and the panacean role this concept, in modified form, plays in the ever-convenient but thoroughly erroneous “recognize-and-resist” position, which acknowledges Francis as Pope but rejects his teachings, disciplines, and canonizations. The recognize-and-resisters effectively believe that there are two churches in one — the true one and a false one — and it is their task to figure out when the true Church is speaking and when the false one rears its ugly head. Most “resistance” traditionalists hold this position in some form or other, though its most notable proponents deserving special mention include Bp. Richard Williamson, Fr. Peter Scott (SSPX), John Vennari, John Salza, Atila Sinke Guimaraes, and Marian Horvat.

Throughout his monograph, Bp. Sanborn hits the nail on the head:

Archbishop Benelli, back in the 1970’s, an awful man, coined the word “Conciliar Church” in the presence of Archbishop Lefebvre to describe the post-Vatican II condition of the Catholic Church.

Archbishop Lefebvre seized upon the phrase, since it fit his theological model perfectly. He held, and the Society of Saint Pius X continues to hold, that there are two churches, the Catholic Church and the Conciliar Church, and that the “Pope,” in this case Francis, is the head of both churches. When he says or does orthodox things, he is acting as the head of the Catholic Church. When he says or does unorthodox things, he is acting as the head of the Conciliar Church.

Archbishop Lefebvre said that we have to “sift” the acts of the magisterium from Rome in order to determine from which church they proceed.

The Conciliar Church theory suits perfectly the ideas of Archbishop Lefebvre and the Society of Saint Pius X, since they desire to have the approval of the Modernist authorities but at the same [time] to repudiate any doctrine or practice which they find to be contrary to Catholic tradition.

Whatever they deem acceptable, then, they assign to the “Catholic Church” and whatever they deem unacceptable, they assign to the “Conciliar Church.” They then convince their people that they are “under the Pope” and are humbly obedient to the “Holy Father” — unlike those evil sedevacantists — but at the same time are free to reject whatever comes from the Conciliar Church, and have free rein to do whatever they please.

This is pure hokum and horsefeathers, but unfortunately most traditional Catholics have fallen for it, as readily as most Catholics fell for the Novus Ordo.

Yet this [is] proposed to us by the [recognize-and-resist] “Conciliar Church” theorists: a single legitimate Catholic hierarchy which now speaks like Christ and which now speaks like the devil.

This theory involves the Church in an essential defection from its God-given purpose: faithfully to communicate and teach Catholic doctrine, to establish disciplines which are consistent with Catholic doctrine, and to distribute true and valid Catholic sacraments, which are surrounded by sacred rites and ceremonies illustrative of Catholic doctrine. The Holy Ghost protects the Church from deviating from this purpose.

To read the remainder of this theological analysis and commentary, download the June 2014 newsletter here:

People must finally come to grips with the fact that the Novus Ordo is a new religion and, as such, cannot be part of the Catholic Church. If Francis is the head of the Novus Ordo religion, which he undoubtedly is, he cannot also be the head or the proponent of the Catholic religion. “[I]n the Apostolic See the Catholic religion has always been preserved untainted, and holy doctrine celebrated” (First Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Pastor AeternusDenz. 1833).

His Excellency concludes by shedding some light on the mystery of how it is that God would permit such great a defection from the Faith by so many in our time (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:7-11).