Analyzing a mental block…
Why do so many Traditionalists Fear Sedevacantism?
Holy Scripture teaches us that when Almighty God created the first man, He created him, and thus also his progeny, in His own image and likeness: “And he said: Let us make man to our image and likeness…” (Gen 1:26; cf. Gen 2:7). By “image and likeness” are meant our intellect and will, the possession of which distinguishes us from brute animals (cf. Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Exeunte Iam Anno, n. 14). Our intellect and will belong to our rational soul, which God infuses into our bodies. The function of our intellect is to know, and the function of our will is to love. But what ought we to know and to love? Our intellect was given us to know what is true, and our will was given us to love what is good. Thus the true and the good are the proper objects of our intellect and our will, respectively.
On this web site, a lot of content deals with the debate about the nature of the crisis in the Catholic Church, specifically with regard to the Roman Pontificate (papacy). All arguments, by their very nature, pertain to the intellect, inasmuch as they belong to the operation of the intellect called discursive reasoning. That is to say, the purpose of argumentation is to enlighten the intellect, and this enlightened intellect can then move the will — but only insofar as we do not place an obstacle in the will to prevent or interfere with it.
For a lot of people, alas, the intellect has long been enlightened with sufficient evidence, but they are not willing to concede that the Chair of St. Peter is vacant (or, at any rate, that it is not validly occupied by Francis or Benedict XVI, although it is possible, at least in theory, that there be a valid Pope who, for whatever reason, is impeded in the manifestation of his existence). For such people, all further argumentation is useless, because, as we said, all argumentation pertains to the intellect, whereas their obstacle is not found in the intellect but in the will.
Such a stubborn and recalcitrant will is displayed in popular protestations such as, “I will never be a sedevacantist”, or, “You will never convince me that Sedevacantism is true”. People who say such things are demonstrating that they have decided that their position is not ruled by evidence but rather by their desire to hold it — the truth be damned, if need be. In other words, they are not Sedevacantists, not because the evidence for it is lacking, but because they have decided not to allow any evidence to move their will. Such people cannot be convinced with rational argumentation, because they have already made up their minds, a priori, that they will not let any argumentation make a difference to what they believe. It is their will that needs to be moved, by grace, and for this there exists a different remedy than sound reasoning: “This kind can go out by nothing, but by prayer and fasting” (Mk 9:28).
The motives that typically move the will are numerous, and they can be good or bad: love of truth, passion, fear, anger, pleasure, cowardice, human respect, money, etc. We are not going to try to accuse anyone of any particular ulterior motive but simply wish to plead with all our readers who are not yet sedevacantists to please enter into themselves to see if it isn’t perhaps the case that they simply do not want sedevacantism to be true. In a way, we really cannot blame anyone for not wanting to be sedevacantist; it isn’t fun and it isn’t pretty not to have a Pope and oftentimes not to have even a church nearby. But we better not hold any position because we find it appealing (will) — we must hold it because it is convincing (intellect). And so we are sedevacantists not because we do or don’t like the position, but because our Faith and our reason tell us it is the only correct position to hold, no matter the consequences. If it helps any: All of us at Novus Ordo Watch are converts.
In a brand-new video, sedevacantist priest Fr. Anthony Cekada asks the long-overdue question: “Why this irrational fear of Sedevacantism?” Yes, irrational it is indeed, for even just going by common sense, it is preposterous to treat the idea that perhaps a manifest blaspheming apostate who slyly undermines Catholic doctrine on every occasion just might not be the Pope of the Catholic Church, as though it were the most damnable and dangerous error on the planet. In this new video, Fr. Cekada does not merely ask the question why there is so much fear of Sedevacantism out there, he also answers it, based on the early history of the traditionalist movement, theological principles, and his own observations on the practical considerations that often cause traditionalists to shy away from the sedevacantist conclusion.
Here is the video that puts things in perspective — please be sure to share it:
We are but a few days away — or so we have been told — from the publication of a 700-page book called True or False Pope? A Refutation of Sedevacantism and other Modern Errors by John Salza and Robert Siscoe (watch for our page dedicated to disproving it, here: TrueOrFalsePopes.com). Considering the extreme length of this work, one thing is obvious: The recognize-and-resist camp, especially the Society of St. Pius X (which is the publisher), is feeling the heat. Sedevacantism has put a huge dent into their position, else they would not see the need to spend this much time, effort, and energy to attempting to refute it. It is amusingly ironic that now that Francis is destroying the last vestiges of even the appearance of Catholicism in the Vatican, the SSPX is closer to union with Rome than ever before. None of the Vatican II antipopes has been more obvious of a fraud than Jorge Bergoglio — his latest outrageous claim is that our Lord “probably had to beg forgiveness” of Mary and Joseph for staying in the Temple — and yet the “last bastion of tradition” cannot wait to be accepted by him into his one-world church of luv, and now John Salza and Robert Siscoe are doing their best to make sure you’ll be a part of it when it happens.
What is going on here? Is this still reasonable? No, it is clearly not.
To add insult to injury, one of the two authors of True or False Pope? says he is a former 32nd-degree Freemason, in other words a man who, by his own admission, was heavily involved in a Satanic sect whose goal is the destruction and elimination of Catholicism, a secret society that was condemned and warned against by numerous popes in the past and results in automatic excommunication (see Canon 2335). Surely one will be permitted to wonder whether Mr. Salza had a genuine conversion from Freemasonry to Catholicism or whether he was perhaps simply put on a new assignment by the Lodge — now starring as a “former” Freemason — to attempt to snuff out the last few remaining true Catholics left in the world, the Sedevacantists.
But be that as it may, the fact is quite simply that a large number of people refuse to embrace or even consider Sedevacantism, not because they are convinced, in good faith, that the evidence for it is lacking (most people have not nearly studied the issue sufficiently), but because they do not want it to be true. This is so either because it would require them to admit they have been wrong all this time (pride), or because they are afraid of what others might say or think (human respect), or because it might have undesirable consequences in their family or work life or because it would cause them grave inconvenience or displeasure (cowardice/effeminacy), or because they do not really care about the matter (tepidity/sloth). Of course there could also be a host of other reasons, some of them quite legitimatein terms of a desire that sedevacantism not be true (for example, fear of scandalizing recent converts or those weak in faith) — but nevertheless still insufficient to dispense one from the obligation of embracing it anyway.
After this much effort by Messrs. Salza and Siscoe to oppose the idea that a blathering apostate who approves of every false religion under the sun, blasphemes our Lord and our Lady, and openly declares his teaching to be ‘possibly heretical’, cannot be the head of the Catholic Church because he is not even a member, one must ask, Where is their 700-page book against Modernism? Even if one were to admit the absurd idea that Sedevacantism is just as dangerous of an error as Modernism, are there not countless more Modernists than there are Sedevacantists? It’s funny that the very people who but two years ago mocked the alleged infinitesimal number of adherents to the sedevacantist position as “those six-and-a-half sedevacantists in Sheboygan” (words of Christopher Ferrara in a Remnant Forum episode), have since curiously moved to endorse (as though they had any serious credentials to do so) a mammoth of a book that many people will not buy anyway, and even fewer will actually read. (For our critical review of some of the people who have given their formal endorsement of True or False Pope?, listen to our fun and informative podcast episode, TRADCAST 010.)
As we have pointed out before on this web site, Sedevacantism is not dangerous but entirely safe. Why? Because by adhering to it, you cannot be led into heresy, nor into schism, if you are faithful to Catholic teaching. Even supposing, for the sake of argument, that the position were false, where would be the danger? What could you be accused of? The worst that could be said of you is that you were wrong about who the Pope was. You believed, in good faith, that there was no Pope when in fact there was one — but you acted consistently and in accordance with Catholic teaching, to the best of your ability and in peace with your conscience. You could be accused of having made a sincere mistake, nothing more; a mistake regarding the identity of the true Pope, as many others did before in Church history, and quite innocently if you have tried your best to figure it out. This is the worst that could be said of you. You could not be accused of adhering to or spreading false doctrine (heresy), nor of refusing to be subject to the man you acknowledged to be the Pope (schism).
The recognize-and-resist proponents, on the other hand, have continually twisted traditional Catholic teaching on the papacy in order to squeeze Jorge Bergoglio into it. But the square peg of Bergoglio will not fit into the round hole of the papacy. The resisters’ solution? Start adjusting and modifying the hole until the peg will eventually fit through. As Fr. Cekada says in his video, they are destroying the papacy in order to “save” it. It will not work. In order to “have their Pope and beat him too”, they have long denied, ignored, minimized, relativized, reinterpreted, or otherwise neutralized Catholic teaching on papal and magisterial authority.
For example, in his encyclical Humani Generis, Pope Pius XII made clear that the Holy See’s teaching authority constitutes the proximate and universal norm of truth for the Catholic theologian: “…this sacred Office of Teacher in matters of faith and morals must be the proximate and universal criterion of truth for all theologians” (n. 18). At the end of the same paragraph, Pope Pius also condemned the idea, so popular among the resisters of today, that in non-infallible or non-definitive matters a Catholic can (much less must!) junk the present-day magisterium and go by Tradition instead: “The Popes, [some] assert, do not wish to pass judgment on what is a matter of dispute among theologians, so recourse must be had to the early sources, and the recent constitutions and decrees of the Teaching Church must be explained from the writings of the ancients. Although these things seem well said, still they are not free from error” (nn. 18-19). The same Pope then continued: “Nor must it be thought that what is expounded in Encyclical Letters does not of itself demand consent, since in writing such Letters the Popes do not exercise the supreme power of their Teaching Authority” (n. 20; italics added). And of course we all know how John Salza, Robert Siscoe, Chris Ferrara, John Vennari, and Michael Matt “consent” to what is taught in Vatican II and the post-conciliar magisterial documents (wink, wink)!
Still not convinced? Then watch this brief video below, showing what would follow, per Catholic teaching, if Francis were a true Pope:
To know what you are required to believe about Francis if you think he is a valid successor of St. Peter, just study the pre-Vatican II doctrine on the papacy and replace “Pope”, “successor of St. Peter”, etc., with “Francis” (or any of his fraudulent predecessors) each time and see how absurd it gets.
This is something we did in reverse a few years back when resistance rep John Vennari wrote an article about Francis, complaining that he would never allow the very man who supposedly keeps the gates of hell from prevailing against the entire Church, to teach religion to his children! Well then — since Vennari is insistent that Francis is the Vicar of Christ, we took him at his word and substituted the phrase “Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth” for every mention of “Francis” in his article. This is the hysterical result:
I’ve been following the Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth’s words and actions, and read the entire book On Heaven and Earth that he co-wrote with Rabbi Skorka.
The Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth seems to have a good heart and some good Catholic instincts, but theologically the Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth is a train wreck – remarkably sloppy.
Though this might shock some readers, I must say that I would never allow the Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth to teach religion to my children.
For example, the Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth recently claimed that all men, Catholics, non-Catholics and atheists, are all “first-class” children of God. There are 16-year-old traditional Catholics who know better than to make such a claim. Scripture and Catholic Tradition teach that we are adopted children of God only through Baptism and incorporation into the Church by means of Faith and Sanctifying grace. (Read Part I of Abbbot Marmion’s Christ the Life of the Soul that describes this truth with doctrinal clarity and immense beauty).
The Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth is thoroughly of the Vatican II orientation. The Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth was formed in the 1960s by the Jesuits, so we cannot expect much else. A man of the 70s, the Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth reminds me of some of the soft ‘social justice’ priests in high school (1972-1976) whom I found repulsive.
Anyone with a devotion to Our Lady can be rescued. I hope whatever devotion the Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth has to Her rescues him from himself.
The Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth’s co-author Rabbi Skorka just attended a huge interreligious Focolare meeting in Rome and praised the Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth to the skies, promising that the Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth will be a “Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth of change”.
National Catholic Reporter recently noted that the Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth is not so much a Lumen Gentium Catholic but a Gaudium et Spes Catholic. I think this assessment is correct.
The Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth admitted there is a gay lobby in the Vatican, but also said he is too disorganized to enact a reform, and will leave that to his committee of Cardinals.
While in Argentina, when [then-“Cardinal”] Bergoglio could not get permission for exorcisms from the Vatican, he would send the person who needed ‘exorcism’ to a Lutheran Pastor!
The Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth is ecumenical to the gills. It is pointless to pretend otherwise. As the Fatima Message says, “Pray a great deal for the Holy Father”.
I see the need to step up our resistance to the Vatican II chaos is greater than ever, since the Vicars of Jesus Christ on earth have more and more established the new orientation as the new norm. Too many of today’s Catholics believe the ‘spirit of Assisi’ and ecumenical gatherings constitute the true face of Catholicism.
That was in 2013. You know how much has happened since. And despite all, Mr. Vennari will still not admit that Francis cannot be a valid Pope.
Which brings us full-circle to our original thesis: For many, the rejection of Sedevacantism is a matter of the will, not the intellect. It’s not that the evidence isn’t there, it’s that they do not want it to be so. But reality does not care what we want. The people on the Titanic in 1912 found this out the hard way.
Just remember: People who tell you that they will never be Sedevacantists are not telling you anything about Sedevacantism — they are, however, telling you a lot about themselves.