Time to see the elephant in the living room…

Anything but Sedevacantism!
Analysis of a curious Phenomenon

We have said a number of times on this blog that in the world of the semi-traditionalists, the blind are leading the blind. This is not just rhetoric, it simply describes reality. Whether it be people arguing that there is no point to having the correct diagnosis of a problem if one does not have the cure — as though a correct diagnosis were not at least the indispensable starting point for any remedial action; whether it be Christopher Ferrara promoting the idea of an “Anti-Catholic Pope”; whether it be one blogger’s argument that the Pope need not be submitted to “if he’s an idiot”; or whether it be “Bp.” Athanasius Schneider’s bizarre thesis that while being in union with the Pope one could nevertheless be in schism with Christ: No thesis is too absurd or anti-Catholic for adherents of the recognize-and-resist position not to entertain it as a possible explanation for the current state of the Church, as long as that thesis does not require them to hold the position that the Vatican II Church is not the true Catholic Church and its head is not a valid Catholic Pope (commonly known as “Sedevacantism”).

On July 10, 2016, we published a post entitled, “The Trouble with Jorge: Semi-Trads at the Breaking Point”. Since then, things have only gotten worse — lots worse — for people who try to be good and faithful Catholics but nevertheless accept the world’s worst apostate as the Vicar of Christ and remain inside an ostensibly Catholic establishment which, however, opposes Catholic Faith, morals, and piety at every turn.

Why is it that so many people are bending over backwards to avoid the sedevacantist position?

In early 2015, Fr. Anthony Cekada spoke of an unreasonable fear of Sedevacantism in the semi-traditionalist camp, which was, of course, immediately denied by people of that persuasion. But this veritable phobia of Sedevacantism — we may want to term it “sedevacantophobia” — is anything but illusory. Even if we do not want to term it a phobia, it is nevertheless, quite objectively, an unreasonable systematic and compulsive refusal to consider Sedevacantism as even so much as a possibility to explain the situation in the Catholic Church today. Anything but that! appears to be the battle cry of the semi-traditionalists in this respect.

The Latest Idea: Practical Sedevacantism

Anything indeed, as we already saw above, and as exemplified in the recent post “Stand Fast. The Storm Will Break”, found on the One Peter Five web site. It was written by Steve Skojec, who argues for a practical (but not theoretical!) Sedevacantism as the right position to take.

It is this post we will now examine. That is, we will touch upon those parts of Skojec’s article that are particularly troublesome and are virtually “begging”, as it were, for a sedevacantist reply.

The first such part is a comment written by a One Peter Five reader who identifies himself as “Theodosius“. Skojec quotes it at length and quite approvingly:

I think really for all intents and purposes we must be practical sedevacantists. I myself am not one formally, but the daily business of working out our salvation and picking up the pieces of faith and moving on is one which must decidedly exclude any place for Francis in our lives, other than the nod that he is the one in Peter’s see.

With John Paul II I could spin most of what he said as orthodox. Much the same with Benedict XVI. But this guy…I got nothing. And so all I can do is render him nothing in my life. For me, the see is empty practically speaking because it is devoid of what ought to be there – orthodox catholic leadership. It really is up to us finding good priests on our own, if possible, and God bless the small remnant who can find a Catholic Bishop in America who stands by tradition. There are a few, but not in my life.

The See may be possessed physically, but my heart is vacant, devoid of any earthly shepherd and must rely on the one true shepherd and bishop of our souls.

I don’t know whether to thank God that I have lived to see such times or to curse the darkness for the confusion it rains upon millions who want to be of goodwill. I don’t know whether I will ever see the Church restored to her former glory, or if I am doomed to watch the bishops all topple like bowling pins, the fall of each spinning and knocking over his fellows.

When did we imagine that we would look upon a Pope and wish that God would take him from our lives? When did we imagine that we would cringe to hear the voice of Peter, knowing it was Judas, fearing to say it aloud.

This is what it must have been like to be gathered around the campfire in the courtyard on that dark night, knowing Peter, waiting for him to defend his master, and to hear him not once, not twice but three times deny the man he swore he would die for.

“Get behind me Satan, for you are an obstacle to me.”

Get behind me Francis. You are an obstacle to me. Your thoughts are not his thoughts neither are your ways his ways. I want to be Catholic and you want me to sing the praises of Luther, I want to be Catholic and you would hand me over to the Greeks, I want to be Catholic and you will not genuflect before the eucharist, I want to be Catholic and you curse the Roman Rite, you mock the faithful, you call us heretics, you open the doors of heaven to unrepentant Jews and grant the grace of baptism to those who have separated themselves from Holy Mother Church.

What have I to do with you? And what can you be to me? How can I help but be tempted to declare the see vacant when you have vacated Christ? What is there in you or the exercise of your office that would inspire the faithful to greater fidelity?

But sweetest Christ, though you hang dead upon the cross, lifeless in the arms of your mother I believe, I believe, I believe and confess that there is no flesh but this flesh that will grant us life, that there is no body but this which will be our salvation and that only in the tear stained face of your Immaculate Mother will my tears find their purpose.

(Comment of “Theodosius” at One Peter Five, Apr. 2, 2017)

Rarely has the absurdity of the recognize-and-resist position been manifested more vividly than in this comment. We are not concerned here with the commenter himself, who is no doubt a good-willed, pious man who is completely lost in the confusion engendered by the Vatican II Sect on the one hand, and the propaganda of the false opposition (such as the SSPX) on the other. But personal culpability considerations of the commenter aside, the position he lays out must be exposed for the utter anti-Catholic nonsense it is, especially because a lot of non-sedevacantists think, or at least act, in much the same fashion.

First, it is relieving to see that someone is finally willing to admit what Fr. Anthony Cekada has been saying for a long time: The recognize-and-resist people are sedevacantists in practice. Indeed they are. The problem is, however, that to be a sedevacantist in practice while verbally acknowledging Francis as Pope, does grave violence to the Catholic teaching on the Papacy, precisely because “Pope” is not simply an honorary title with no substantial meaning (as in Theodosius’ mere “nod that he is the one in Peter’s see”), as though nothing of consequence followed from holding the papal office. Indeed, to ascribe the Papacy to someone is to affirm of him all that Catholic doctrine affirms of the Papacy — and that is a lot more than simply the charism of infallibility when making ex cathedra statements, as we will see shortly. So, beware, Theodosius: Your “nod” has consequences!

Secondly, if, as the commenter notes, the Holy See “is devoid of what ought to be there – orthodox catholic leadership”, then he must conclude that the Holy See is vacant. He must conclude this because it follows with strict logical necessity from what the Church teaches about the Papacy and his own admitted premise that there is currently no Catholic leadership there.

It seems that people often do not realize how serious these matters are. They act as though they could just play around with Catholic doctrine and simply “do their own thing”, as it were, as long as they pay lipservice to the belief that Francis is the Vicar of Christ. And where does this carefree attitude come from? It comes from their totally unreasonable but nevertheless firmly-held first premise, which is always that Sedevacantism cannot be admitted.

And there we see it in action: that veritable phobia of Sedevacantism. Reducing the Papacy to meaninglessness? Not a problem! Saying that Jorge Bergoglio isn’t the Vicar of Christ? Perish the thought! And yet, which of these two alternatives is incompatible with Catholic teaching? Does Theodosius really think that Catholic teaching on the Papacy consists, essentially, in nothing more than a “nod” of verbal affirmation that a particular man is Pope? Was Pope Boniface VIII talking about a mere nod when he proclaimed that submission to the Pope is necessary for salvation? “Furthermore, we declare, say, define, and proclaim to every human creature that they by necessity for salvation are entirely subject to the Roman Pontiff” (Bull Unam Sanctam; Denz. 469).

Resistance Clergy to the Rescue

The commenter then proceeds to state: “It really is up to us finding good priests on our own, if possible….” Of course, what constitutes a good priest is ultimately left to each self-styled “traditionalist” to decide. Which is not to say that an arbitrary or self-serving standard would be used; but no matter what standard is chosen, it will certainly not be the traditional Catholic standard, namely, that the priest be in submission to and good standing with the Holy See:

For any man to be able to prove his Catholic faith and affirm that he is truly a Catholic, he must be able to convince the Apostolic See of this. For this See is predominant and with it the faithful of the whole Church should agree. And the man who abandons the See of Peter can only be falsely confident that he is in the Church. As a result, that man is already a schismatic and a sinner who establishes a see in opposition to the unique See of the blessed Peter from which the rights of sacred communion derive for all men.

(Pope Pius IX, Encyclical Quartus Supra, n. 8)

In the same encyclical, Pope Pius IX adds that in order to be considered an orthodox Catholic, a man must “hasten to satisfy the Roman See before all others. For when this See has been satisfied, all men everywhere will join in declaring him pious and orthodox” for the simple reason that only “the Apostolic See has been granted the command, authority and power of binding and loosing for all God’s holy churches in the entire world” (St. Maximus; qtd. by Pius IX, Encyclical Quartus Supra, n. 9). And if this applies to any Catholic, how much more does it apply to priests!

The recognize-and-resist camp has plenty of its own alternate “approved clergy”, if you will, and it is to them that people submit rather than to what they verbally affirm to be the Pope and the Holy See. Thus, for example, we have the SSPX-affiliated Fr. Albert Kallio, O.P., who is apparently now the go-to priest to give theological direction to followers of the Fatima Center and is part of their advisory council of priests (see p. 29 here). Currently replacing the late “Fr.” Nicholas Gruner in his “Ask Father” role, Fr. Albert answers questions about the usual recognize-and-resist topics, such as what to think of Novus Ordo annulments or whether SSPX sacraments are valid and licit. Of course, people are expected to prefer Fr. Albert’s judgment over that of the “Pope” (remember, diabolical disorientation!).

Because they affirm that Francis is Pope, they think they are not judging the Pope! Yet, the contrary is true: They are subjectively guilty precisely of judging the Pope because they adhere to their own judgment and dismiss the one of the man they insist is a true and legitimate Pope! However, the First Vatican Council taught: “…the judgment of the Apostolic See, whose authority is not surpassed, is to be disclaimed by no one, nor is anyone permitted to pass judgment on its judgment” (Denz. 1830). So it is actually they who are “judging the Pope”, not sedevacantists. (A detailed treatment of this whole “judging the Pope issue” can be found here.)

On the other hand, if the “Holy See” happens to agree with their position on something, it is invoked as an authority to be followed. This charade has the tail wagging the dog!

St. Peter or Judas? The Difference it makes

Returning to the commenter Theodosius, we observe that he proceeds to utter — unwittingly, no doubt, but no less egregiously — an incredible blasphemy, asking rhetorically: “When did we imagine that we would cringe to hear the voice of Peter, knowing it was Judas, fearing to say it aloud?”

Such a scenario is entirely at odds with the traditional Catholic teaching on the Papacy, which we must now quote at some length:

This chair [of Peter] is the center of Catholic truth and unity, that is, the head, mother, and teacher of all the Churches to which all honor and obedience must be offered. Every church must agree with it because of its greater preeminence — that is, those people who are in all respects faithful….

Now you know well that the most deadly foes of the Catholic religion have always waged a fierce war, but without success, against this Chair; they are by no means ignorant of the fact that religion itself can never totter and fall while this Chair remains intact, the Chair which rests on the rock which the proud gates of hell cannot overthrow and in which there is the whole and perfect solidity of the Christian religion. Therefore, because of your special faith in the Church and special piety toward the same Chair of Peter, We exhort you to direct your constant efforts so that the faithful people of France may avoid the crafty deceptions and errors of these plotters and develop a more filial affection and obedience to this Apostolic See. Be vigilant in act and word, so that the faithful may grow in love for this Holy See, venerate it, and accept it with complete obedience; they should execute whatever the See itself teaches, determines, and decrees.

(Pope Pius IX, Encyclical Inter Multiplices, nn. 1,7; underlining added.)


In the Catholic Church Christianity is incarnate. It identifies itself with that perfect, spiritual, and, in its own order, sovereign society, which is the mystical body of Jesus Christ and which has for its visible head the Roman Pontiff, successor of the Prince of the Apostles. It is the continuation of the mission of the Saviour, the daughter and the heiress of His redemption. It has preached the Gospel, and has defended it at the price of its blood, and strong in the Divine assistance, and of that immortality which have been promised it, it makes no terms with error, but remains faithful to the commands which it has received to carry the doctrine of Jesus Christ to the uttermost limits of the world and to the end of time and to protect it in its inviolable integrity.

(Pope Leo XIII, Apostolic Letter Annum Ingressi; underlining added.)


For the fathers of the fourth council of Constantinople, adhering to the ways of the former ones, published this solemn profession: “Our first salvation is to guard the rule of right faith [. . .]. And since the sentiment of our Lord Jesus Christ cannot be passed over when He says: ‘Thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church’ [Matt. 16:18], these words which were spoken are proven true by actual results, since in the Apostolic See the Catholic religion has always been preserved untainted, and holy doctrine celebrated. Desiring, then, least of all to be separated from the faith and teaching of this [Apostolic See], We hope that We may deserve to be in the one communion which the Apostolic See proclaims, in which the solidarity of the Christian religion is whole and true”….

To satisfy this pastoral duty, our predecessors always gave tireless attention that the saving doctrine of Christ be spread among all the peoples of the earth, and with equal care they watched that, wherever it was received, it was preserved sound and pure. Therefore, the bishops of the whole world, now individually, now gathered in Synods, following a long custom of the churches and the formula of the ancient rule, referred to this Holy See those dangers particularly which emerged in the affairs of faith, that there especially the damages to faith might be repaired where faith cannot experience a failure. The Roman Pontiffs, moreover, according as the condition of the times and affairs advised, sometimes by calling ecumenical Councils or by examining the opinion of the Church spread throughout the world; sometimes by particular synods, sometimes by employing other helps which divine Providence supplied, have defined that those matters must be held which with God’s help they have recognized as in agreement with Sacred Scripture and apostolic tradition. For, the Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter that by His revelation they might disclose new doctrine, but that by His help they might guard sacredly the revelation transmitted through the apostles and the deposit of faith, and might faithfully set it forth. Indeed, all the venerable fathers have embraced their apostolic doctrine, and the holy orthodox Doctors have venerated and followed it, knowing full well that the See of St. Peter always remains unimpaired by any error, according to the divine promise of our Lord the Savior made to the chief of His disciples: “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren” [Luke 22:32].

So, this gift of truth and a never failing faith was divinely conferred upon Peter and his successors in this chair, that they might administer their high duty for the salvation of all; that the entire flock of Christ, turned away by them from the poisonous food of error, might be nourished on the sustenance of heavenly doctrine, that with the occasion of schism removed the whole Church might be saved as one, and relying on her foundation might stay firm against the gates of hell.

(First Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus; Denz. 1833, 1836-37; underlining added.)

No, the Chair of St. Peter cannot turn into the Chair of Judas. The Bride of Christ cannot become unfaithful to her Divine Spouse. That is the whole reason why Christ instituted the Papacy: so that His Church would always be “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15); so that people would always be able to rely entirely on her and not “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Eph 4:14).

To this end, our Lord founded the Church on the rock of St. Peter and not on Judas. The See of St. Peter cannot fail because “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not” (Lk 22:32), and Christ’s prayer is infallibly effective. Thus God Himself guarantees that the Catholic Church will always stand firm against the gates of hell. A betrayal like that of Judas — or of the Vatican II “popes” — is out of the question.

What is not out of the question, however, is the emergence of false shepherds, whose voice the sheep do not recognize: “But a stranger they follow not, but fly from him, because they know not the voice of strangers” (Jn 10:5). Our Blessed Lord specifically warned us about those “who say they are apostles, and are not” (Apoc 2:2), and St. Paul pronounced a clear anathema against them: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema” (Gal 1:8).

Nor will it do, as the One Peter Five commenter proceeds to do, to invoke the “St. Peter denied Christ three times and was still Pope” argument. He says: “This is what it must have been like to be gathered around the campfire in the courtyard on that dark night, knowing Peter, waiting for him to defend his master, and to hear him not once, not twice but three times deny the man he swore he would die for.”

Quite simply, the truth is that when St. Peter denied Christ, the Papacy had not yet been conferred upon him; it had only been promised to him (“upon this rock I will build My church” [Mt. 16:18]). The Papacy was actually conferred on St. Peter after the Resurrection when our Lord gave him the charge with the words, “Feed my lambs”: “And upon Simon Peter alone Jesus after His resurrection conferred the jurisdiction of the highest pastor and rector over his entire fold, saying: ‘Feed my lambs,’ ‘Feed my sheep’ [Jn 21:15ff.]” (Vatican I, Pastor Aeternus; Denz. 1822; underlining added).

Towards the end of his comment, Theodosius lists some of Francis’ heresies, blasphemies, and other outrages and then asks rhetorically:

What have I to do with you [Francis]? And what can you be to me? How can I help but be tempted to declare the see vacant when you have vacated Christ? What is there in you or the exercise of your office that would inspire the faithful to greater fidelity?

To which we must respond:

Indeed, Sir, what has Francis to do with you? Nothing! And why, then, do you have anything to do with him? Anathema to Francis! (cf. Gal 1:8-9) What is it that keeps you from accepting that a public apostate cannot at the same time be the Vicar of Christ, who guarantees the true Faith and the unity of the Church? Why are you more willing to deny the Papacy than to deny that Bergoglio possesses it? Why do you recognize in Francis the voice of a hireling and still consider him your true and legitimate shepherd?

Thus far our analysis of the comment by Theodosius quoted approvingly by Steve Skojec in the One Peter Five post, “Stand Fast. The Storm Will Break”.

Practical vs. Real Sedevacantism

We will now turn to some of the observations Skojec himself offers, beginning with his clarification of the term “practical sedevacantist”, since he naturally has to make absolutely clear to his readers that he would never countenance being an actual or real sedevacantist:

Note the important qualifier, “practical.” We are not sedevacantists. Not sedeprivationists. These things would be easier. It is a far less traumatic thing to believe that the reason a pope is doing these things is because he is not really a pope at all than to believe that somehow he can be the legitimate successor of Peter but take on the mantle of Judas. We are instead forced to accept that there is an emptiness in the See of Peter that the formal reality of papal legitimacy cannot wipe away.

(Steve Skojec, “Stand Fast. The Storm Will Break”, One Peter Five, Apr. 3, 2017)

Ah yes, the “Sedevacantism is too easy” argument. It is very popular these days, especially among those who prefer to go by emotion rather than reason or Faith, or who desperately look for anything at all to justify not being a sedevacantist (there we go again!).

In response, the first question one must ask is: What does easy or difficult have to do with any of this? The only concern we should have is not whether Sedevacantism is easy or difficult but whether it is true: “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Jn 8:32). Since when is the level of difficulty an indicator of truth? One might say that the equation 1+1=2 is “easy”, but is it not true nonetheless?

Secondly, we have shown again and again, and also in this post, that Sedevacantism is based upon Catholic doctrine (unlike that merely Practical Sedevacantism). We have not at all appealed to anything emotional, much less told people to choose the “easier” path. It is not the easy path you must choose, but the one that is compatible with Catholic teaching; whether this be easy or difficult for you is, frankly, irrelevant. So, while Skojec may pride himself on courageously accepting the “difficult” idea that the Ark of Salvation can turn into an Ark of Damnation, we must reject it nonetheless because the “easy” truth is that such a scenario is excluded by the divine promises.

Thirdly, if we want to talk about what’s easier, isn’t it simply easier to affirm the Vatican II Sect is the Catholic Church (hey, you get a complete and very visible hierarchy!) and Francis the Pope (none of those pesky problems the sedevacantists have!)? You get to accept countless ordinations as valid (if you want — depends on you!), and you also get to pick and choose what teaching and directives from the Vatican you will accept (Drive-thru annulments? No way! Sins against ecumenism? Forget about it! Francisco Marto declared a Saint? Awesome! Valid SSPX confessions? Love it!). Chances are your closest “traditional Mass” is just around the corner, and it’s a lot easier to explain your religion to your co-workers, who won’t look down on you as being one of those wacky sedevacantists!

So, it is clear that both sides can play this silly game of “easy vs. difficult”, because something can be easy in one respect but difficult in another.

Ultimately, this whole objection of “it can’t be true because it would be too easy” must be dismissed as an irrelevant non sequitur.

Walking by Faith, not by Sight

Later on in his post, Skojec states:

I wish I had wisdom to offer you. I wish I had answers. I wish I could tell you what is next. But the fog of war has grown so thick that we are stumbling forward in total darkness. We are being forced to “walk by faith, and not by sight.” (2 Cor. 5:7)

This candid assessment is very well put; but it is puzzling to see why Skojec will not accept this same answer from sedevacantists. Somehow, sedevacantists are expected to have all the answers, else their position “must” be rejected as false (and even if we did have all the answers, we would still be lambasted precisely for claiming to have all the answers and, especially, such easy answers!).

We are criticized for not having a clear answer on how a new Pope would be elected or chosen. We are criticized for not being able to point to a living Magisterium today. We are criticized for not being able to explain exactly how such a situation of near-total defection in the Church could come about in the first place. We are criticized for struggling to explain the existence of ordinary jurisdiction in the Church.

And yet, the recognize-and-resisters will not permit us to simply say, “I don’t know.”

But “I don’t know” is an acceptable answer if you really do not know and if you do not need to know. And we do not need to know, strictly speaking. We are like the disciples waiting and wailing at the tomb on Holy Saturday. We do not know how God will resolve the situation, but we know that He can and that He will.

As Cardinal Henry Edward Manning explained in a lecture given in 1861:

As the wicked did not prevail against Him [our Lord Jesus Christ] even when they bound Him with cords, dragged Him to the judgment, blindfolded His eyes, mocked Him as a false King, smote Him on the head as a false Prophet, led Him away, crucified Him, and in the mastery of their power seemed to have absolute dominion over Him, so that He lay ground down and almost annihilated under their feet; and as, at that very time when He was dead and buried out of their sight, He was conqueror over all, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven, and was crowned, glorified, and invested with His royalty, and reigns supreme, King of kings and Lord of lords,— even so shall it be with His Church: though for a time persecuted, and, to the eyes of man, overthrown and trampled on, dethroned, despoiled, mocked, and crushed, yet in that high time of triumph the gates of hell shall not prevail. There is in store for the Church of God a resurrection and an ascension, a royalty and a dominion, a recompense of glory for all it has endured. Like Jesus, it needs must suffer on the way to its crown; yet crowned it shall be with Him eternally.

(Excerpted in “The Pope and the Antichrist: The Great Apostasy Foretold”, Novus Ordo Wire, Apr. 23, 2015; underlining added.)

“Practical Sedevacantism” is simply trying to have your cake and eating it too. It is a best-of-both-worlds position that harvests all the pleasant fruits from Sedevacantism (you get to dump all the Novus Ordo junk!) while rejecting its bitter chalice (where is the hierarchy? where to go to Mass? how will we get a Pope back? how do we settle disagreements?). It adds the pleasant sedevacantist fruits to everything positive it decides to retain from the Novus Ordo Sect (validity of Novus Ordo ordinations! my marriage annulment! convenient Mass locations! dinner with the bishop!). The result is perhaps a most interesting fruit salad but certainly not Catholicism.

Engendering Cognitive Dissonance

Thus, while “practical sedevacantists” may very well think of themselves as retaining the traditional Catholic faith, the truth is that they have long rejected it — keeping in mind that rejecting even one dogma rejects the Faith entirely, since the Faith exists only as a whole and not in parts or degrees. This has frightening consequences, because, as Pope Leo XIII taught, we “hold as outside Catholic communion, and alien to the Church, whoever would recede in the least degree from any point of doctrine proposed by her authoritative Magisterium” (Encyclical Satis Cognitum, n. 9).

Certainly, the “practical sedevacantist” may perhaps pay lipservice to the traditional Catholic teaching while contradicting it in practice, but such a course of action would not only be dishonest and hypocritical, it would also amount to cognitive dissonance, a state in which one’s actions deny — or at least do not match — one’s thoughts or stated beliefs. Such a state cannot last long for a sane human being. The discrepancy between one’s thoughts and one’s actions will quickly resolve itself into either changing one’s actions to align with the thoughts, or changing one’s thoughts to correspond with the actions.

Since he refuses to abandon the belief that Francis is a true Pope, no matter the consequences, the “practical sedevacantist” thus forces himself to either submit to Francis and become Novus Ordo, or else deny the traditional Catholic teaching on the Papacy. We are reminded of these words of St. Jerome: “…every schism fabricates a heresy for itself to justify its withdrawal from the Church” (qtd. by Pope Pius IX, Encylical Quartus Supra, n. 13).

And so it is.

The Papacy has Consequences

That people in the recognize-and-resist camp have long given up belief in the Catholic teachings on the Papacy is made evident again and again. One of the most candid displays of this was John Vennari’s declaration in 2013: “I would never allow Pope Francis to teach religion to my children”!

Of course the sentiment is entirely justified: Jorge Bergoglio should never be allowed to teach religion to anyone’s children. As soon as we give that “nod” of the Papacy to the man, however, a conundrum arises because the Pope enjoys the divine right to teach all Catholics:

“The Holy Apostolic See and the Roman Pontiff have primacy in the entire world. The Roman Pontiff is the Successor of Blessed Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, true Vicar of Christ, Head of the whole Church, Father and Teacher of all Christians.”

(Pope Benedict XIV, Apostolic Constitution Etsi Pastoralis, May 26, 1742; excerpted in Papal Teachings: The Church, p. 32; underlining added.)


“If anyone thus speaks, that the Roman Pontiff has only the office of inspection or direction, but not the full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the universal Church, not only in things which pertain to faith and morals, but also in those which pertain to the discipline and government of the Church spread over the whole world; or, that he possesses only the more important parts, but not the whole plenitude of this supreme power; or that this power of his is not ordinary and immediate, or over the churches altogether and individually, and over the pastors and the faithful altogether and individually: let him be anathema.”

(First Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus, Chp. 3; Denzinger 1831; underlining added.)

Yes, the Papacy has consequences!

Like Christ, the Church must suffer

Tragically, the recognize-and-resisters will never be able to restore traditional Catholicism because they themselves do not adhere to it. It is sheer folly to think that one can restore real Catholicism by advancing a corrupted version of it. It is simply not possible to keep the Faith by denying it — one might as well try to borrow one’s way out of debt.

This is not to say that there are no difficulties with the sedevacantist position, and we have already touched upon them. There are unanswered questions, there is mystery, and there is confusion and disagreement about some matters; but there are no impossibilities and there are no genuine contradictions, unlike what we see in resistance land. Having no answers is better than having wrong answers, and we know that the answers given by the recognize-and-resist position are wrong because they cannot be reconciled with Catholic doctrine.

We must accept the fact that we live in a period of Church history in which Almighty God has seen fit to eclipse the Church and to keep hidden from us the answers we so much desire. This, however, is no excuse for us not to keep the Faith. In fact, it is part of Sacred Tradition that before Christ returns, there will be an apparent “death” of the Church and an “operation of error” to make us “believe lying” (2 Thess 2:10). Let us once again turn to Cardinal Manning for an explanation:

The history of the Church, and the history of our Lord on earth, run as it were in parallel. For three-and-thirty years the Son of God incarnate was in the world, and no man could lay hand upon Him. No man could take Him, because His “hour was not yet come.” There was an hour foreordained when the Son of God would be delivered into the hand of sinners. He foreknew it; He foretold it. He held it in his own hand, for He surrounded His person with a circle of His own Divine power. No man could break through that circle of omnipotence until the hour came, when by His own will He opened the way for the powers of evil….

In like manner with His Church. Until the hour is come when the barrier [=a valid Pope] shall, by the Divine will, be taken out of the way, no one has power to lay a hand upon it. The gates of hell may war against it; they may strive and wrestle, as they struggle now with the Vicar of our Lord; but no one has the power to move Him one step, until the hour shall come when the Son of God shall permit, for a time, the powers of evil to prevail. That He will permit it for a time stands in the book of prophecy….

We have need, then, to be upon our guard. It shall happen once more with some, as it did when the Son of God was in His Passion — they saw Him betrayed, bound, carried away, buffeted, blindfolded, and scourged; they saw Him carrying His Cross to Calvary, then nailed upon it, and lifted up to the scorn of the world; and they said, “If he be the king of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him” [Mt 27:42]. So in like manner they say now, “See this Catholic Church, this Church of God, feeble and weak, rejected even by the very nations called Catholic. There is Catholic France, and Catholic Germany, and Catholic Sicily, and Catholic Italy, giving up this exploded figment of the temporal power of the Vicar of Jesus Christ.” And so, because the Church seems weak, and the Vicar of the Son of God is renewing the Passion of his Master upon earth, therefore we are scandalised, therefore we turn our faces from him. When then, is our faith? But the Son of God foretold these things when He said, “And now I have told you before it come to pass; that when it shall come to pass, you may believe” [Jn 14:29].

(Excerpted in “The Pope and the Antichrist: The Great Apostasy Foretold”, Novus Ordo Wire, Apr. 23, 2015; underlining added.)

His Eminence wrote these words in 1861. What was still in the future for him, has since come to pass: The Pope was taken out of the way in 1958, when Pius XII died and a false pope — John XXIII, the first in a series of charlatans — was installed during a turbulent conclave that possibly first elected and then suppressed a true successor of Pius XII.

The Novus Ordo “popes” are thus successors of John XXIII, not successors of St. Peter. Francis is simply the latest in this series of pseudo-papal charlatans. How much longer the succession of false popes will go on, we do not know. But we do know that it will end.

For more information on the Church’s traditional teaching regarding the eclipsing of the Church and the Great Apostasy, we have made available a riveting talk in audio and as a transcript. It is entitled “The Papacy and the Passion of the Church” and can be accessed here.

With regard to this Mystical Passion of the Church, we must never cease to point out, as Cardinal Manning does, that “the Vicar of the Son of God is renewing the Passion of his Master upon earth”. Whether this refers to a possible true Pope who is impeded from the exercise of his office, or whether it is in reference to a future Pope, we do not know.  But it is certainly yet another clue that the Vatican II “popes” are not true Popes, because they did not suffer from this apostasy but imposed it. The Great Apostasy is an apostasy from the Vicar of Christ, not of the Vicar of Christ!

Our Lady of Fatima, which practically all recognize-and-resisters are devoted to, said to Sr. Lucy: “The Holy Father will have much to suffer.” It is a line they love to repeat, apparently forgetting that the Novus Ordo “popes” did not have much to suffer but caused much suffering. Let us not confuse the victim with the perpetrator.

Concluding Thoughts

It is tragic to see so many good-willed people eschew Sedevacantism for no sufficient reason. They have been deceived into rejecting it even as a possibility. Decades of SSPX/resistance propaganda has taught them to put greater importance on having someone to fill the papal office than even the very meaning of the papal office itself.

Thus we now have hundreds of thousands — perhaps millions — of “traditional Catholics” who would rather reduce the Papacy to utter meaninglessness and have its divinely-guaranteed purpose of ensuring the orthodoxy of the entire Church overturned, rather than maintain that the Papacy is indeed the bulwark “which the proud gates of hell cannot overthrow and in which there is the whole and perfect solidity of the Christian religion” but currently unoccupied! Such people have sacrificed the Papacy for the sake of having a “Pope”. Oh, the irony!

But it does not stop there. Semi-Traditionalists have no problem speaking of a fake Church, a fake Mass, fake sacraments, fake theology, fake saints, even an altogether fake religion — but it never occurs to them that perhaps all of this is possible only because there’s a fake Pope. No, this could not be! And so they are forced to attribute to a true Church with a true Vicar of Christ a false religion, false theology, false sacraments, and so forth, all as part of a forlorn attempt to make sense of a situation whose true nature they have excluded a priori as being even a possibility.

We have seen that the Papacy has consequences. So does a denial of the Papacy.

The cognitive dissonance of a “practical sedevacantism” will be coming home to roost.

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51 Responses to “Anything but Sedevacantism! Analysis of a curious Phenomenon”

    • Michael S

      Garbage site… the whole nonsensical premise is that its OK to go to the “mass” of Eastern Rite non-sedevacantists who are in union with apostate Rome.

      They’re very similar to the SSPX “resistance” but worse in many ways because they don’t even pretend to resist.

      Emotionalism from the owner & well researched sophistry from the moderator.
      Don’t waste your time.

  1. John Hixson

    The R&R crowd cannot accept the sede position because it would require tough choices and suffering on their part. Sedevacantism is not easy but very hard! If a priest from the FSSP came out and said he was now a sedevacantist he would be removed. Same with the SSPX! If the Remnant even dare suggest the possibility that we could be in a period of sedevacantism they would lose half their subscribers. Sedevantist are the ones that make the tough choices and suffer. We really don’t suffer like the early Christians did though. Our suffering is sissy suffering. Yet the so called trad leaders won’t even go that far. That is why we are not growing and having more of a mollifying effect on the rampant modernism in the church. The majority of Latin mass goers are simply “smells & bells” groupies. As long as they have their latin mass they are happy and you better not dare bother them with any uncomfortable theology. Just shut up and leave them alone.The modernist false church of VII knows this all too well. Give these people the old time church and mass and they will be compliant and controllable. If they dare speak up, then we will threaten to take it away. Soon we will have married priests with female deacons and divorced-remarried Catholics at the communion rail and STILL not a peep will be heard except how horrible those weird sedevacantist are.

    • Simon Moon

      I’m a new Catholic, attending mass through the SSPX.

      I’m wondering how to reconcile what you say with the catechism:

      1324 The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.”136

      It cannot be expected of every layman to understand the intense and complicated theological and canonical implications of the sedevacantist perspective without exalting one’s self to the position of an arbiter of doctrine, who’s interpretation rests in the hands of Church and Clergy.

      I meet regularly with a sedevacantist priest, an SSPX priest, and mainstream priest.

      They each tell me not to listen to the others!

      What a horrible state of confusion to put the laity in!

      Considering this awful state of confusion (of which I cannot believe God is the author of) what harm is there in the laity adhering to the Source of Christian life itself: The Liturgy?

      Rather would adherence to Liturgy not make sense for those who would not, through inflation of ego and intellect, presume to answer such questions and thereby exalt themselves to a position beyond their station?

      Rather instead to adhere to that Source of Life and Salvation that is in the Liturgy, trusting in God’s Providence to guide the Church rather than their own feeble and fallible intellect?

      Let God judge between each of us who is in schism and who is not.

  2. Junior Ribeiro

    When we see blogs of semitrads accusing true popes of near heresy and even of Masons, we see how neurotic a semitrad can be who believes that a manifest and persistent heretic can be pope, the vicar of Christ himself.

    • corvinus

      Yeah, they conflate real Popes with these recent fake popes. Plus, the common refrain of “the Church has survived bad Popes before”… ignoring the fact that the “bad Popes” were always Catholics and never heretics, unlike these past six guys.

  3. Michael S

    Your definition of “traditional” is upside-down and WRONG. Mr. Guido Marini is a Modernist heretic just like his buddy Frankenstein. Read Paschendi and pull your head out of the sand.

    • Deb

      True, and that’s what I meant when I said “not accept His demands.” I also think that Catholics tend to see the pope more as a brand of politician or CEO than someone who truly is supposed to be protected from teaching heresy. Just about every politician they know is corrupt to some degree – why is the pope any different? Maybe so many people have just accepted that every institution has corruption, so they can’t truly believe in an unblemished Bride of Christ. They believe they just have to make the best of yet another tainted institution. That’s what V2 tells them, after all, that the Church can change even on matters of doctrine.

      • Eric H

        >>> They believe they just have to make the best of yet another tainted institution.

        Yes. A semi-conservative lady who attends the Novus Ordo actually told me that it’s the best thing available. This was in response to a few items such as the new policy that adulterers may receive Holy Communion, which she admitted was very wrong. I wonder if there is any depth of evil that these people won’t eventually go along with, as long as it’s introduced gradually. It seems that what really matters is fitting in with the group.

        • Deb

          Part of it is go along to get along I think the other part, though, is that most Catholics don’t understand the sacraments have been tampered with so as to put them in grave doubt. They think as long as they themselves are trying to do the right thing (go to mass and confession, follow the 10 commandments) it doesn’t really touch them personally if the hierarchy or church teaching go awry. As long as they can get that wafer and don’t personally do the bad things, they think they’re okay. ‘The Mass is still the Mass’ they say. They need to know that wafer is just bread, and that their priests and bishops most likely aren’t true priests and bishops. Then they wouldn’t be able to make the argument ‘it’s the best thing available.’

  4. Pascendi

    IMHO the fear of sedevacantism has its foundation in an unreasonable, that is, excessive fear of schism. Certainly a good Catholic should fear to be in schism. But one should not allow that fear to become so great that it causes the very thing it was intended to avoid.
    They see the same buildings that were there prior to 1958. They saw the same clergy for the most part occupying the buildings after 1958, then through and beyond 1964. They saw then and still see roughly the same organizational structure as before. This for them is what constitutes the Catholic Church and they are afraid to take a closer look at what the doctrines say for fear of being cast out of the Church. And the sad irony is that they have already embraced schism by refusing to adhere to the papacy, and thereby separated themselves from the very Catholic Church of which they so feared being separated.

  5. Simon Moon

    So I am new to the Catholic faith and have been digesting the various literature both for and against sedevacantism and have been attending Latin Mass at an SSPX chapel. While I cannot be an expert in anyway of theology or canon law I have been taking the prophecy of the Venerable Bartholomew Holzhauser as a guide on my approach to the subject.

    According to this prophecy the letters to the 7 churches in Asia represent 7 ages of the Church until the end. As I understand the prophecy, we are in the age typified by the church of Sardis. According to the exegesis I have read on this section of St. John’s Apocalypse the church in Sardis was typified by being inwardly dead while outwardly alive. Having shaken hands with the pagan culture around them they exemplified an inoffensive Christianity that was wealthy and prosperous but removed inwardly from Christ. Sounds like Vatican 2 to me!

    If this prophecy is true then there is a sure guide for how one should relate oneself to the church:

    “Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent.” Revelations 3:2-3

    This seems to be a clear reference to the liturgy does it not? We are clearly given instructions to strengthen and preserve what remains of the pre Vatican 2 church. As far as I can tell that remnant is the Latin Liturgy. I also find no instructions in to rebel against the Church, to separate from it, or to go around teaching people intellectual schism via sedevacantism. But rather repentance and preservation is required.

    Furthermore doesn’t the providence of God overshadow the papacy such that any error promulgated would be turned to the advantage of the Church?

    It seems to me that the Vatican 2 segment of the church would necessarily have to be dealt with by God and not men, lest schism be promoted, and that as they divorce themselves and their adherents from the salvific power of the true liturgy they would also cut themselves off from the power of God?

    Much like how abortionists are weeding themselves out of the gene pool by practicing abortion.

    It is error that contains within itself the seed of it’s own destruction. So then what would be required of those faithful that remain would be preservation of the liturgy and patience while the Vatican 2 structure destroys itself?

    • Pascendi

      Simon, I’m glad you’re making some attempt to be a Catholic. As you’re new to this it’s expected that you are only beginning to learn. With time you will learn more. You should understand that it isn’t necessary for you to be an expert in theology or cannon law. Leave that to the clergy. It’s only necessary that you understand what is relevant to your salvation, to the general circumstances of the time, and to your particular circumstances.
      You are nevertheless relying on private revelation and your own interpretation of one verse in St. John’s Apocalypse in order to determine your theology. I for one don’t share your interpretation of that verse.
      Holy Mother Church alone has the authority to interpret doctrine and to teach us. That is the only thing we should rely on. And the Church teaches us that She cannot contradict Herself and that anyone who manifestly contradicts even a single dogma separates himself from the Church. He is no longer a member and cannot hold office. Let us not make it any more complicated than it needs to be.

      • Simon Moon

        Then according to your position my concern as a Catholic should be adherence to the True Liturgy. As I cannot be an expert in law or theology why would I concern myself with judgement of who is and is not in schism? Rather it would seem to me that the schismatics are those propagating a false liturgy, an error whose elimination lies only in the hand of God?

        Otherwise were I to take a position of sedevacantism I would be assuming knowledge beyond my station and proportion.

        My concern is salvation.

        It follows from there that the Church is the Liturgy, and that it is only within my station to seek adherence to that Liturgy which was passed down and preserved by the church throughout the ages. And from there may God judge between each of us who is in schism and who is not.

        • Pascendi

          Where ever did you get the idea that the Liturgy is the totality of the Church? The Liturgy is one aspect of the Church but it is not the Church whole and entire.
          Further, if you are incapable of judging a true doctrine from a false one, then by your own standard you are not qualified to determine the difference between a true Liturgy and a false one, or between a holy Liturgy pleasing to God and an unholy liturgy that’s offensive to God.

          • Simon Moon

            From the catechism:

            1324 The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.”136

            I thank you for the condescension of your response, It tells me all I need to know about the egotism required for your position. I would pose the same question to you, and advise you to tread carefully and humbly in your walk before God.

            Peace be with you.

          • Pascendi

            I assure you that I didn’t intend any condescension and I think it’s an unjust accusation.
            The quote you posted looks like it came from the Novus Ordo catechism which contains heresy.
            I’d like to present something else to consider. By your logic the eastern schismatics, more commonly known as the East Orthodox, are members of the Catholic Church. They have a valid liturgy that is of apostolic origin and they even have validly ordained clergy to celebrate it, something the Vatican II church can no longer claim. But they are not members of the Catholic Church. They’re schismatics and heretics.

          • Simon Moon

            I understand sir, that you are a doctor of the the law. I could only hope to one day study enough to decipher the snares laid in your question to me. I assure you that it was not an accusation but an assessment.

            If I must take faith on your word or another’s? Who should decide between them?

            Should I not take faith in God’s Providence?

            Take this proposition:

            If I, an ignorant layman, cannot understand the complexities of the matter, there must still be salvation for me, if I earnestly seek as to believe as best I am able to be taught by the Church. Of course limited by the scope of my diminished intellect.

            Now if there be technicalities in the law, which render this or that invalid, each man then who is also ignorant of the complexity of law would be placed in the horrible position of having to choose between the arguments of this or that cleric.

            So, rather than place faith in your words, or on this or that cleric – As you so deftly put aside the Venerable Bartholomew Holzhauser – would I not be better suited, being ignorant, in believing as an innocent child believes?

            Trusting and submitting to that belief that upon Peter was lain the power to bind on Earth and in Heaven?

            If God could make such a Promise, that what ever Peter bound on Earth Christ would bind in Heaven, – the Power upon which rests the the Eucharist itself: namely, Christ – how then could the Church be placed in such deadly error as sedevacantism presumes? With no lawful Pastor over the Church?

            An empty chair is an empty promise. A frightening state to put the innocent and ignorant into.

            But, Is not God promising Peter, through Christ, that his Divine Providence will overshadow Peter’s office? How could I, a layman, not submit myself to the promise of God?

            So if as a layman, I perceive that there is some conflict made by some cleric or the other or even by the Pope himself, should I not trust in that which overshadows the Pope? God’s Providence?

            If the sedevacantist perspective is to be believed, then the gates of hell have prevailed, because divorced from submission to Christ,
            The Church has been lead into hopeless error, where there is no more lawful authority.

            Without a lawful authority then who is to be believed but this, that or the other cleric? Hopeless!

            How could one then proceed? to helplessly seek out websites, trusting in the words of some unknown peoples who string together complex axioms, to discern what is or is not valid, and to make slander against the Pope, and still end up at an invalid Eucharist?

            What foolishness is this?

            I would rather trust that God’s Providence overshadows the Church, with the understanding that God also chastises those whom he loves.

            Forgive my weakness in speech.

            An empty chair is an empty promise.

          • Pascendi

            You try to hide behind the mask of an ignorant layman, but you reveal yourself as a cunning sophisticate. On the one hand you accuse Novus Ordo watch of stringing “together complex axioms” and of “slander”. But like all too many decievers you are guilty of the very things you accuse others.
            You derisively call me a doctor of the law. You then accuse me of laying snares that somehow need to be decifered when in fact my meaning is plain for all to see and the facts are easily verifiable.
            While claiming to be unqualified to grasp simple doctrines, you suddenly present yourself as fully comprehending Our Lord’s promise in Matthew 16:18-19, an interpretation which is wrong and has been thoroughly discredited. That’s also quite a complex argument for the consequences of Matt. 16:19 for such a simple person as yourself.
            “An empty chair is an empty promise” is not only error, it’s nothing more than clever sloganeering. Very clever once again for someone who claims to be so simple.
            God will not judge the inculpably ignorant. But you are not inculpably ignorant because it’s clear that you have the means and the ability to know and understand the truth. You simply refuse to do so. You are the very embodiment of the title for this article- “Anything But Sedevacantism.”

          • Simon Moon

            Thoroughly discredited by whom sir?

            Please, go on and tell me the damnation that awaits me for denying you and choosing instead the Papacy.

            Tell me that there is no Lawful Pastor and Father of the Church and hence connection to the power of Heaven is shut off, even that the Eucharist is invalid and null? And then tell me on who’s authority you claim these things? That I may learn for myself and cease from being ignorant.

            If according to you, I am not ignorant,then you must be doctor of the law to make such pronouncements and attest them to me as fact. I of course take you at your word then that you are a doctor of the law, and that you rest your argument upon some infallible truth? I wonder where then is God’s promise to empty the seat?

            Do you say these things on your own authority?

          • Pascendi

            First of all I never said I’m a doctor of the law. I’m not. Do you understand that the term is not something used in a generic sense, but that it refers to a person with officially recognized credentials?
            Do you not see that you are claiming on your own authority that Jesus promised the See of Peter would never be vacant? If not, then by whose authority do you claim that interpretation?
            I interpret only according to what the Church has taught on the question. The teaching of the Church is that “…the gates of hell will not prevail…” means that the Sovereign Pontiff can never teach heresy. The Church has never decreed that the See will always have a valid occupant. Every time a pope dies the See is empty. There was a period of three and a half years in the Middle Ages when there was no pope. A recognized theologian said that although there was always a true pope during the forty years of the Great Western Schism, it would not have been impossible for the See to have been empty the entire time. There have been numerous false popes. There have been numerous antipopes. There have been periods when there was no pope. It is not impossible for there to be an extended time when it would appear to nearly all that there is a true Vicar of Christ in Rome when in fact there never was.

          • Simon Moon

            You’ll have to again excuse my ignorance. I assumed based on the presumed authority in your pronouncements that you held some kind of accreditation that allowed you to condemn the Pope as a heretic, and pronounce the catechism as heresy, and emphatically state that the idea that God’s Providence overshadows the Church and papacy as “discredited”.

            As you have pointed out, you have no such authority, either within yourself or owing to any accreditation.

            So according to you the catechism cannot be trusted, the papacy cannot be trusted and even scriptures are not a guide.

            You tell me that interpretation rests upon the Church, but then state that the Church is empty of Authority.

            In between the ad hominem attacks upon me, calling me in turn a sophisticate and then ignorant as is convenient for your argument, you fail to address the principle question I have proposed to you.

            For someone such as myself, who is admittedly ignorant to the complexity of arguments presented, both for and against sedevacantism, and is struggling to make sense of such arguments, upon whom should one trust?

            Well you say trust the Church to interpret, yet if there is no Lawful authority then whom do I trust? How can I know for myself, without presuming knowledge beyond my station, that such and such arguments or counter arguments are correct?

            I do not deny the possibility of sedevacantism, but the possibility of the the vacancy of Authority in the Church is not the same thing as “Actual” vacancy. In trying to determine if such a situation is in actuality occurring whom can I depend upon for guidance and clarification?

            It seems to me that there are a throng of laity, backed by some sedevacantist priests, who propose this thesis, but that they proclaim this upon their own authority. As the Church certainly does not teach this position and has condemned it.

            So if I cannot trust that the Liturgy is the fount and summit of Christian life, as you tell me such is heresy, nor can I trust any prophecy or doctrine that compels me to trust in God’s Providence, those all being discredited according to you, then what am I left with to trust but the words of this that or the other person who presumes such definitive authority for themselves.

            How could I as a layman seeking communion with the Church know where to turn? I would be placed in the awful position of suspecting all priests of heresy, or of being unlawful, and having to ascertain wether any priest I speak with is lawfully ordained to his position.

            Then I would become a detective of heresy with all whom I meet, a position I am ill equipped to occupy. And rather than concern myself with the salvation of my own soul I would become focused and scandalized by the presumed sins of others, all while never knowing the truth of the matter.

            Furthermore if the proposition of sedevacantism is assumed then Pope Francis is a false Pope, ordaining false bishops and the church then is invisible, hidden behind a false facade.

            This sounds to me like a dangerous position to take as it can only sow doubt and mistrust.

            Leaving aside that it is in fact slanderous to accuse the Pope of such, would that not place me in the burdensome position of being unable to trust the very church I am striving to communion with?

            Rather than engage in ad hominem, do you have any compassion for the untenable position sedevacantism places a layperson in?

            And again I would ask: by what authority do you proclaim the Pope a heretic? Or the catechism heresy? Twice also you have told me that my understanding of Scripture is incorrect without providing a correction or a source for your declaration that such and such is discredited.

            If you are not a doctor of the law, as you admit, why would I not just take what you say as an opinion and trust instead to what the Church teaches, which is not sedevacantism.

  6. CumExApostolatus

    The buildings (and the people inside of them who wear the costumes and promote things heterodox and heretical) don’t make the Catholic Church. Vatican Council II WAS (and IS) the schism. The fifth column formed their new schismatic religion, using the trappings of the Catholic Church and V2 was their coming out party.

    • Simon Moon

      I don’t disagree, and have said as much in my posts. The question, for me then becomes: if the Church is not buildings, costumes (or the people wearing them), bureaucracies etc. what then IS the Church? What is left but the Liturgy?

  7. J Nelson

    The whole issue in a nuthshell: “Why are you more willing to deny the Papacy than to deny that Bergoglio possesses it? “. Brilliant, as always.

  8. corvinus

    Several factors I’ve been able to tease out:

    1) The “bad popes” argument. They also try to get around the rejoinder that the past six fake popes are heretics by trying to point out that Honorius and Liberius committed heresy too (which they didn’t), and therefore they figure that popes will always be liable to commit heresy under the right conditions, such as with liberalism being considered the default human belief system nowadays. This is the most common argument I’ve run into: I run my spiel, and get brushed off with “but the Church has survived bad Popes before”, without even considering anything I say beyond that.

    2) If you go against 99.99%+ of the human race by declaring these last six guys fakes, then you’re a wacky “conspiracy theorist” no different than a flat-earther. A bit of snobbery going on here. One thing I’ve noticed is that for the vast majority of people, being seen as weird or wacky by others is considered one of the worst possible things that can happen to you.

    3) I have run into a couple of idiots demanding to know by what “authority” I declare these fakes to be heretics. Oh, I dunno, my lying eyes and God-given reason?

    4) The social factor. People would end up cut off from their Novus Ordo friends and relations. It’s not nearly as strong as what keeps people imprisoned in, say, Islam, but it’s definitely there.

    5) Identity politics. Making a belief system part of your identity, which is absurd but has somehow become the dominant attitude nowadays. If you’re Polish, or Italian, or French Canadian, or Mexican, you have to be Novus Ordo, since it’s your people’s ethnic legacy. Sort of like how if you’re English you “have to” be Anglican, or if Swedish you “have to” be Lutheran, or if Russian you “have to” be Orthodox. This attitude definitely isn’t helped by the Novus Ordo’s ban on “proselytization”, since by attempting to convert someone else, you’re allegedly attacking their very identity.

      • Not That Guy

        I continue to be amazed by the likes of Skojec. They will periodically shoot their mouths off on Twitter and mock sedevacantism which, by their own comments, reveal that they do not understand it, and presume at the same time to have some mission to save the Church – from the putative Pope. I find it astonishing. I shake my head and wonder what is causing the blindness every time I see it. They’re dead-set against it but truly have no reason to be. They cannot defeat the idea, so they have to accuse the proponents of cowardice.

        Skojec, some time back, was referenced in a negative light in an article on Patheos, I believe, and he responded almost immediately. But here is a matter of serious debate where he is referenced and…nothing? Really? Where in the world is he?

  9. Susan Shelko

    Thank you for this article. Should I “thank you” or should I “curse you.” You speak a hard message. Your writing is clear and articulate. The cognitive dissonance is becoming nearly unbearable for me — very, very painful. This man (Francis/ Just Call Me Jorge) cannot be pope. If he is pope, then the papacy has no meaning.

    I have taken the approach of: Francis has the office and title of pope (but even that isn’t certain because we have Pope and Pope Emeritus). I respect the office and I ignore everything else. I pay him no heed whatsoever, lest I risk my soul and my eternity with this simpleton’s “make a mess theology” and “god of surprises”.

    It is becoming harder and harder to ignore the elephant in the middle of St. Paul’s Basilica. I guess for all intents and purposes, I am a “practical” sedevacantist. I am acting as if the Chair of Peter is empty. I am not a traditionalist; I attend a regular Catholic Church. “Practical” or “real” — at this point, what difference would it make?

    Very few of my Catholic friends “get it”. And if there be any irony, it has been the good folks at One Peter Five who have gotten me this far in my questioning with the articles, writings and contributions on that website. The difference: I am willing to go wherever the truth takes me and the folks at 1P5 insist upon “anything but …”

      • Susan Shelko

        I “get” that the Pope is supposed to be the visible unity of the Catholic Church and that he is supposed to safeguard and protect the historic dogma, doctrine, disciplines, and worship of the Church (i.e., the Deposit of Faith, Tradition, Councils, etc.). I “get” that every Catholic around the world is supposed to be in communion/ fellowship and submission to the Pope as the Vicar of Christ. I “get” that there is supposed to be unity.

        I should feel love, reverence and respect for the Pope. If he speaks or teaches — whether stamped with “infallible” or not — I should welcome and embrace all that he has to say. He is supposed to be the good shepherd; the sheep hear his voice and follow him as if he were Christ or as if he were Peter. I am not indifferent to Francis. He speaks (another day, another heresy); I feel nothing but dread and loathing, shame and embarrassment.

        What is supposed to happen isn’t what is happening. I would not allow Francis to teach a third grade catechism class. Even atheist philosophers, secular journalists and non-Catholic politicians get that something is seriously wrong with Francis and seriously wrong with the Catholic Church and its hierarchy/ leadership. It isn’t just one single non-consequential issue. It is from A to Z and it is crystal clear for anyone with eyes to see.

        So what happens? With sedevacantism, everything comes to a screeching halt in 1958 with the death of Pope Pius XII? Everything prior to that date is Catholic and nothing after that date means anything? With sedevacantism, how do you have priests and bishops (i.e., ordination) and how is their lineage traced back to Christ and the apostles? There is no living magisterium from 1958 to today? How are disputes resolved?

        I guess what I am asking is what about the day to day practicalities. How does a church function without some sort of structure, organization, hierarchy, leadership, etc.?

        • Eric H

          Hi Susan, it is encouraging to read your comments. I think our chief duty is to tell the truth about the Vatican II revolution to ourselves and others. Now that it’s evident that the whole thing is false and evil, we should denounce and reject it all instead of dancing around trying to keep the good and cut out the bad. If we can hold on to faith, charity, and sanity we are doing well indeed. To explain how it all happened and what steps to take besides denouncing it is not easy and people are bound to disagree, but that’s just the way things are. I think we are near the End, or at least near the point at which God Himself will intervene.

          • Susan Shelko

            I have been dancing around trying to keep the good and cut out the bad. I think the end result of that approach is a Catholic version of Protestantism. (And insanity isn’t far behind.) I have been working to sift and sort through Catholic teaching — trying to figure out what the Church has always and everywhere taught. It is Madness.

            So I have access to the notes of Father John Hardon re: his commentary/ critique and recommendations for the 1994 Catholic Catechism. What am I supposed to do as a layperson: compare his notes with the final publication and try to figure out where the official Catechism is wrong? (Because it is wrong … very wrong in certain places).

            And why would I choose Father Hardon’s notes over some other scholar, priest or theologian? Because of his stellar reputation and academic credentials? Because I trust him? And am I going to do this on an entire series of Catholic doctrine and teachings? What does that make me?

            I think it makes me my own private magisterium. The entire point of a Church is for it to be the pillar and foundation of truth. If the Church needs a minder or an editor or a fact-checker, then there is no point to having a Church. Not only that, but what happens if other laypeople make the same review but come up with totally different conclusions.

            Now we are in the land of: what is true for you may not be true for me. All truth is truth and non-contradiction matters not at all. Truth can go against itself. Truth can change. I have my truth and you have your truth. And we are united in our different truths because it really doesn’t matter what we believe. That is Protestantism. That isn’t Catholicism.

          • Novus Ordo Watch

            Susan, I think this is addressed sufficiently in the links and other information I gave you in the post below.

            You are entirely correct that if the Church needs a minder, editor, or fact-checker, then there’s no point to having a Church. And this right there refutes the recognize-and-resist position (the position that says the Vatican II ‘popes’ are valid but we cannot go along with them), because that is essentially what they believe. The Pope declares, and then each individual believer decides whether it’s in accordance with Tradition and the right thing to do or believe. What folly!

            But since the errors of Vatican II and the post-conciliar magisterium are evident and cannot reasonably explained away, there is only one possible conclusion at which to arrive: the putative authority which imposed the council and the magisterium that followed is not the genuine Roman Catholic Church.

            I know this raises a lot of other questions, but the conclusion is inescapable. Hence it is important that we understand that from the beginning there has been a persecution of the Church – first Christ Himself, then the Apostles and disciples, and then the Pope in particular. But since the Papacy cannot defect, the only for the forces of Antichrist to subdue the Church for a short while is to install a *false* pope.

            This is not making stuff up. This is rooted in the Tradition and teaching of the Church, as the links I gave you demonstrate. God bless!

        • Novus Ordo Watch

          Dear Susan,

          Thank you for your comment. You bring up excellent points. Let’s see if I can help you a bit sort things out.

          First, we must accept the fact that we are dealing here with mystery. It is for good reason that St. Paul speaks of the “mystery of iniquity” in 2 Thess 2:7. Mystery as such, however, should not pose a problem for a Catholic. Our faith is full of mystery. The Most Holy Trinity is a mystery. Creation is a mystery. Transubstantiation is a mystery. The Resurrection is a mystery. The Catholic Church is a mystery. The “operation of error” (2 Thess 2:11) and the great deception (see Mt 24:24) are part of the mystery of the Antichrist.

          Second, we must keep in mind that everything that happens is a matter of Divine Providence. What has happened since 1958 was actually anticipated by the Church, in an obscure way. Please allow me to refer you to some other posts on this web site because we have published various things on that, from all sorts of pre-Vatican II sources:

          Cardinal Manning summarizes and illustrates Church teaching on the Great Apostasy (1861):

          The Papacy and the Passion of the Church (Lecture):

          Fr. Sylvester Berry on the Persecution of the Church in the Last Days (Part 1):

          Ditto, Part 2:

          Fr. Bernard Kramer’s Prediction of a Hindered Papal Election (1956) as the Fulfilment of Apocalypse 12:

          A lot of your questions are answered in our post, “Now What?”, in which we also refer you to various other resources, including sedevacantist churches (yes, there are priests and bishops — long story!):

          How are disputes resolved? They’re not. At least, not authoritatively, because they cannot be. This is part of the exile we have to endure. If the Church could function just as well without a Pope as she does with one, there would be no point to the Papacy.

          I don’t want to overwhelm you with information and links, so I’ll end here, but please feel free to write back at any time. God bless you.

          • Susan Shelko

            It is a lot to sort through and process. Mentally, emotionally, spiritually. (And some of the material you have referenced is literally entire books.) I have a lot to read. There has been an experiential aspect to the journey as well.

            I’ve listened to Bishop Sanborn’s five part series on Vatican II. His talks explain much of why I have been confused. The catechist for the catechists at my parish explained pre- and post Vatican II as having continuity and consistency. It is pastoral. It contains no anathemas. It is not binding like other councils. BUT yet it has been implemented as if it is the law of the land and quoted and treated as a 5th gospel. AND it seems to contradict earlier Church history and teaching. (It “seems to” because it does.) To soothe things over and try to reconcile and minimize the differences before and after Vatican II doesn’t work and for good reason it doesn’t work. After the Bishop’s talks, I see pre and post Vatican II as a night and day difference in practice and doctrine!

            My very first Latin mass (High Mass) was beautiful but it lasted 2 1/2 hours (it was a special anniversary celebration). I left thinking, “thank God we don’t do this every week.” My second Latin mass (Low Mass) two weeks ago was very reverent and respectful and I had an epiphany. “Oh my, the mass is a sacrifice, the priest acts on our behalf and we are witnessing him approach the holy of holies.” “The Catholic faith is a continuation of the Jewish faith that has accepted Jesus Christ as the Messiah.” and “This is so totally different from the regular mass as to be nearly unrecognizable. These are not the same.”

            Actually I have discovered the priests at St. Gertrude’s in West Chester. I sent Fr. Cekeda an e-mail and he graciously responded. I have also discovered a lovely little home chapel (about an hour away) and another mission across town but in the same city where I live (about 45 minutes away). One of the priest from St. Gertrude listened to an earful from me along the lines of “How does this honor the Lord?” and “Is this acceptable behavior on the part of a pastor? (The good Lord is gracing me to NOT become an atheist or NOT become a Protestant.)

            There is something I really, really want to ask the priests, but I think it would be downright rude to do so. Maybe you can help me out: How do I know that these men are real priests with real ordination and real authority and real priestly orders and real “venue” (not sure that’s the word for it) and real succession? How are they “in communion” with a bishop? And who ordained the bishop? How do you have apostolic succession in a remnant church that has been cut off/ separated from the larger Catholic Church?

            Thanks in advance for your response. I figure if you don’t know the answer, you can find it out for me. Susan

          • Novus Ordo Watch

            Dear Susan,

            Yes, it is a difficult journey. I am gladdened to hear that you are so bravely working your way through all these issues! Please persevere! This is the most important thing you will ever do in your life.

            With regard to the legitimacy of clergy, it is an important issue you bring up, and you need not be embarrassed to ask it. First, we need to distinguish two things: (a) the validity of the ordinations; and (b) the positions of authority which they hold.

            Entire books could be written about both, but let me just outline the basics very quickly:

            As regards (a), all ordinations can ultimately be traced back to a Catholic bishop who was ordained/consecrated before Vatican II.

            As regards (b), most sedevacantist clergy do not claim to hold any offices in the proper canonical sense (such as diocesan bishop, pastor, etc.). Neither do they claim to have jurisdiction, which can only come by appointment from the Pope. For this reason, some sedevacantists hold that we cannot have any churches with Mass and the other sacraments at all, whereas most hold that we need to continue with sacramental administration just as before, insofar as possible.

            Since there is no true Pope to settle disputed questions, the whole thing is pretty messy, but that’s the nature of the situation we find ourselves in. It is imperative that we implore God to put an end to the vacancy of the Holy See. In what precise manner this would happen, I have no idea, but the God who can turn rocks into the children of Abraham (see Mt 3:9) can certainly give us a true Pope again any time He wishes. Go to prayforapope.com to sign up for a monthly Rosary for this intention.

            Let me also recommend to you to sign up with TrueRestoration.org to get so many of your questions answered. They do great work and produce lots of audio and video content.

  10. pjm

    Is the authority of a real pope not “truly episcopal” as defined in Pastor aeternus? And cannot a true bishop’s authority be compared to parental authority? So a child must submit to his parents. He could not be saved if he knowingly and deliberately disobeyed his parents in a grave matter and died in that state. But if his parents gave him an unjust command, he may not carry it out. The requirements for and of obedience are set out in classical, pre-modernist moral theology. So has it been dogmatically defined that, is it the constant and very firm teaching of the Church, that a pope could never give an unjust command?

    • Novus Ordo Watch

      Parental authority is dominative whereas episcopal authority is jurisdictional:
      “There are two kinds of power that confer moral authority to impose a command—the power of jurisdiction and dominative power. (a) The power of jurisdiction is had by one who rules in a perfect society (Church or State), which has supreme authority and the right to impose laws. (b) Dominative power is had by one who rules in an imperfect society, which has dependent authority and the right to impose precepts only. This power arises either from the very nature of society as a body composed of superior and subjects (e.g., in the family the children are necessarily subject to the father), or from agreement between the parties concerned (e.g., the wife by marrying becomes subject to her husband, the servant by taking employment becomes subject to the employer, the religious by entering a community or by vowing obedience becomes subject to the superior).” (McHugh/Callan, “Moral Theology”, vol. 2, n. 2356)

      The whole issue at stake is not obedience or disobedience to individual commands. We are talking about submission to the Pope, that is, adherence to his Magisterium and submission to his laws.

      • pjm

        So what theological note is to be attached to the assertion that it is absolutely impossible for a true pope to impose an unjust law on the universal Church? How do we arrive at this note?

        • Novus Ordo Watch

          Let me quote from Fr. Joachim Salaverri’s “On the Church of Christ”, n. 713: “Theological note. The doctrine of the thesis [regarding the infallibility of the Church in imposing universal disciplinary laws] is at least theologically certain and proximate to a definition from … Vatican Council I.”

          If you want to see all the background that explains how we arrive at this note, you’ll want to get the book and look it up yourself because it is a lot of stuff and I can’t just type it all out. It’s all laid out on pp. 259-280. You can get a copy of the book here:

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