Easy to follow, airtight reasoning

An Introduction to Sedevacantism

Part I: Vatican II’s New Doctrine on the Church

We have begun making a series of videos that is meant to introduce newcomers to Sedevacantism in a way that is easy to follow, provides airtight argumentation, and does not overwhelm.

The first part of the series puts before the viewer the Second Vatican Council’s new doctrine on the Church (ecclesiology), according to which the Church of Jesus Christ no longer is the Catholic Church, as taught by Pope Pius XII and all of his predecessors, but instead now “subsists in” it. This bizarre new teaching is typically known as communio ecclesiology, elements ecclesiology, “Frankenchurch”, or — our preferred term — patchwork ecclesiology, because it holds that the Church of Jesus Christ exists in elements: The Catholic Church has all of them, but various other religions also have some of them and hence there exists a “partial communion” between them and the “Catholic” (i.e. Novus Ordo) Church.

Our video shows that the authentic and authoritative post-conciliar interpretation of the “subsists in” clause confirms that the doctrine has indeed changed and that the novel teaching is, by implication, heretical, for it creates a real distinction between the Church founded by Christ and the Catholic Church, whereas the truth is that the two are absolutely identical.

Here is the video:

In 1868, when convoking the First Vatican Council, Pope Pius IX was blissfully unaware of the “partial communion” Protestants supposedly enjoy with the Catholic Church:

Now, whoever will carefully examine and reflect upon the condition of the various religious societies, divided among themselves, and separated from the Catholic Church, which, from the days of our Lord Jesus Christ and his Apostles has never ceased to exercise, by its lawful pastors, and still continues to exercise, the divine power committed to it by this same Lord; cannot fail to satisfy himself that neither any one of these societies by itself, nor all of them together, can in any manner constitute and be that One Catholic Church which Christ our Lord built, and established, and willed should continue; and that they cannot in any way be said to be branches or parts of that Church, since they are visibly cut off from Catholic unity. For, whereas such societies are destitute of that living authority established by God, which especially teaches men what is of Faith, and what the rule of morals, and directs and guides them in all those things which pertain to eternal salvation, so they have continually varied in their doctrines, and this change and variation is ceaselessly going on among them. Every one must perfectly understand, and clearly and evidently see, that such a state of things is directly opposed to the nature of the Church instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ; for in that Church truth must always continue firm and ever inaccessible to all change, as a deposit given to that Church to be guarded in its integrity, for the guardianship of which the presence and aid of the Holy Ghost have been promised to the Church for ever.

(Pope Pius IX, Apostolic Letter Iam Vos Omnes; underlining added.)

Here we can see that in no way could the Vatican II teaching be considered a “development” of doctrine because no authentic development can contradict prior teaching — it can only make it more clear. But it doesn’t get any more clear than saying that the Catholic Church is the Church established by our Lord Jesus Christ. Funny, but somehow everyone understands what the term “is” means in this context, whereas most people have trouble with “subsists in”. This is also evident from daily life: If you say that this woman is your mother-in-law, everyone understands what you are saying. But try telling your friends that your mother-in-law subsists in this woman, and see if they think you’ve made anything more clear. Good luck.

When analyzing Vatican II’s new ecclesiology, it is also helpful to look at the motive for changing the straightforward “is” into “subsists in”. The reason why the true Catholic doctrine was changed at Vatican II can be summed up in one word: ecumenism. As Bp. Donald Sanborn has pointed out multiple times, one cannot practice Vatican II ecumenism while insisting that the Catholic Church alone is true Church of Jesus Christ and all other “churches” are heretical sects that have no right to exist. Hence the teaching had to be muddied, and the perfect way to do that was to pretend that the new subsistit in formulation was somehow making the teaching of Pius XII “more precise”. Of course it did no such thing, and the ultimate proof of this is that all the heretical “Christian” sects that practice ecumenism with the Novus Ordo Church would be absolutely horrified if the Vatican all of a sudden told them now that the Catholic Church alone is the true Church Jesus Christ, that their own “churches” are bogus, and that they must convert to Catholicism if they wish to be saved.

In 1977, about a year before he became “Pope” John Paul II, the Polish “cardinal” Karol Wojtyla stated explicitly that the Second Vatican Council’s teaching had changed the very nature of the Church: “The Church … succeeded, during the second Vatican Council, in re-defining her own nature” (Wojtyla, Sign of Contradiction, p. 17). To see a scan of the page where this quote appears in the book, CLICK HERE. Think about what Wojtyla is saying here: that the council defined a new church into existence, that the church of and after Vatican II is not the same church as the one prior. That’s what redefining the nature of the church means, for the nature makes a thing what it is.

In 2004, Bp. Donald Sanborn had a fiery debate with Novus Ordo theologian Dr. Robert Fastiggi on precisely this partial-communion ecclesiology of Vatican II. You can watch the video for free at the following link:

We hope that our first video in the Introduction to Sedevacantism series will be helpful to many. Be sure to share it with friends and family, co-workers and fellow-parishioners. Ask them for their opinion of the video — that’s always a good conversation starter.

For those who are interested in “more”, we recommend the following videos:

This series continues in the next installment:

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5 Responses to “Intro to Sedevacantism I: Vatican II’s Ecclesiology”

  1. Matthew Rand

    This is the one issue that I don’t understand. It seems that “subsists in” is a logical consequence of the fact that Catholics recognize the sacraments of other churches as valid. If, for example, Catholics accept Protestant baptisms, (given they use the Trinitarian formula), then somehow those Protestants form a part of the church in some form or fashion. Even more so, if we accept the Orthodox Communion as valid and thus transubstantiation occurs, then if Schismatics can receive the Body and Blood of Christ, how are they not part of the Church in some form?

    If in fact the Catholic Church is absolutely and restrictively the True Church, then why accept the sacraments performed by heretics and schismatics as valid? Is there any pre-Vatican II teaching that addresses this objection?

    • Novus Ordo Watch


      Basically, the answer to your objection is that the valid administration of a sacrament does not mean that the priest who confects it nor the recipient who receives it are members of the true Church. It does not “make the Church present” in a heretical sect. That is the error.

      What I just said needs some qualification, but that’s the gist of it. For example, if someone who is unbaptized pertinaciously denies Catholic dogma and nevertheless receives baptism, the baptism would indeed be valid (it would confer an indelible mark on the recipient and could not be repeated), but it would not be fruitful (it would not forgive original or actual sin). If this person were later to repent, he would have to go to confession, and his first absolution would forgive both his original and his actual sins.

      Yes, your objection was addressed before Vatican II, in essence. For example, Fr. Sylvester Berry writes in “The Church of Christ” (imprimatur 1955): “The spiritual character imprinted upon the soul in Baptism does not make one a member of the Church; it is rather a sign of badge showing that he has received the rites of initiation, but it does not prove that he retains membership. This may be illustrated by the case of a person receiving a tattoo mark as a sign of initiation into a society that uses such marking. If the person afterward leave the society, he would cease to be a member, though he still bore the indelible sign of his initiation” (p. 129; 1955 edition).

      Although this answer does not address the precise objection you’re making, I think it is easy to glean from this what the answer is: Valid sacraments CAN be conferred outside the Church, and the possession of a valid, non-repeatable sacrament alone does not make one a member of the Church, nor does it make the Church present in a non-Catholic sect.

      • Matthew Rand

        Maybe this all boils down to invalid vs. illicit. The Church recognizes the validity of sacraments outside of the Church, but would not say that licit sacraments can be normally conferred outside the Church. And as only the Catholic Church has the power to bind and loose in heaven, only she is the True Church.

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