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A brief response to “Contra Cekadam”…

Resistance vs. Sedevacantism: Fr. Cekada answers Fr. Chazal

Fr. Francois Chazal and Fr. Anthony Cekada

Fr. Francois Chazal is a priest who holds the recognize-and-resist position of Abp. Marcel Lefebvre: Recognize as valid the “Popes” since Vatican II while resisting anything they teach or legislate that appears to conflict with Church teaching or practice before Vatican II. At this point, Fr. Chazal is a part of the so-called “Marian Corps” or “Strict Observance” faction of the Lefebvrist Society of St. Pius X, which broke away from the “official” SSPX in response to Bp. Fellay’s conciliatory course with regard to the Vatican Modernists.

Unlike Sedevacantism, the recognize-and-resist position is extremely popular among traditionalists because it offers a best-of-both-worlds approach to the Vatican II Sect: You get to resist and refuse everything that is Modernist or otherwise objectionable, even to the point of having a de facto parallel church on the side; while at the same time you don’t have to deal with any of the pesky problems that arise from Sedevacantism. Plus, you get to retain anything from the Novus Ordo Church that you may need or desire in your personal life (validity of certain sacraments and annulments, certain canonized saints, permissibility to attend the “New Mass”, etc.).

The only problem with this rather convenient position is that it is not at all reconcilable with Catholic teaching on the Papacy, the Magisterium, and the Church, as we have demonstrated on this web site time and again, including in a direct response to Fr. Chazal a few years ago. This is ironic because it means that people like Fr. Chazal effectively believe that they can uphold and defend traditional Catholic teaching by denying the same — which makes about as much sense as trying to borrow one’s way out of debt.

Recently, Fr. Chazal came out with a lengthy monograph entitled Contra Cekadam, which is meant to rebut a number of arguments for Sedevacantism put forth by Fr. Anthony Cekada in his widely-circulated booklet Traditionalists, Infallibility and the Pope (2nd ed., 2006). The first part of Contra Cekadam has been published online in French here.

Responding to an inquiry by a third party, Fr. Cekada has provided a succinct rejoinder to Fr. Chazal, which we are happy to publish below. Readers interested in a more in-depth discussion of the topic are encouraged to check our topical page on Sedevacantism here.

Response to Contra Cekadam

by Fr. Anthony Cekada

Thanks for sending along the Chazal document. It is hardly, as Fr. Chazal seems to think, a point-by-point refutation of my argument in Traditionalists, Infallibility and the Pope.

Fr. Chazal’s Contra Cekadam doesn’t even state the argument of the “Cekadam” in question, still less refute it. Here, for the record, is the argument I made in the booklet:

  1. Officially-sanctioned Vatican II and post-Vatican II teachings and laws embody errors and/or promote evil.
  2. Because the Church is indefectible, her teaching cannot change, and because she is infallible, her laws cannot give evil.
  3. It is therefore impossible that the errors and evils officially sanctioned in Vatican II and post-Vatican II teachings and laws could have proceeded from the authority of the Church.
  4. Those who promulgate such errors and evils must somehow lack real authority in the Church.
  5. Canonists and theologians teach that defection from the faith, once it becomes manifest, brings with it automatic loss of ecclesiastical office (authority). They apply this principle even to a pope who, in his personal capacity, somehow becomes a heretic.
  6. Canonists and theologians also teach that a public heretic, by divine law, is incapable of being validly elected pope or obtaining papal authority.
  7. Even popes have acknowledged the possibility that a heretic could one day end up on the throne of Peter. In 1559 Pope Paul IV decreed that the election of a heretic to the papacy would be invalid, and that the man elected would lack all authority.
  8. Since the Church cannot defect, the best explanation for the post-Vatican II errors and evils we repeatedly encounter is that they proceed from individuals who, despite their occupation of the Vatican and of various diocesan cathedrals, publicly defected from the faith, and therefore do not objectively possess canonical authority.

If Fr. Chazal agrees with the statements in points 1 (the changes are evil) and 2 (and the Church, by Christ’s promise, cannot give evil/error), but he nevertheless still insists the Vatican II popes are true popes possessing authority from Christ, he maintains in effect that the Church of Christ has defected and that Christ’s promises are void.

As for the rest, Fr. Chazal simply:

  1. recycles opinions on a heretical pope that were eventually abandoned after St. Robert Bellarmine,
  2. attempts to apply criteria pertaining to ecclesiastical crimes when sedevacantists maintain that the public sin of heresy, not the crime, is what prevents a heretical pope from obtaining or retaining the papacy,
  3. refloats the phony Adrian VI quote,
  4. repeats the Paul-vs-Peter canard [see Appendix at end of post here] on fraternal correction for a moral fault, which does not solve the problem of the Church defecting wholesale by promulgating theological errors and evil universal laws,
  5. in his treatment of Scripture as a “refutation” of sedevacantism, ignores St. Paul’s own assertion that he could in fact, “preach another Gospel,” for which even he himself would become “anathema.”
  6. recycles supposed incidents from history to demonstrate that there have been heretic popes before, but which incidents (a) are part of the standard arguments of protestants who reject papal infallibility, and (b) have been repeatedly refuted by Catholic dogmatic theologians.

Fr. Chazal’s arguments on each of these points still does not get him out of the theological pickle that points 1 and 2 of my original argument put him in — the Chazalian equation that works out to:

  • Evil changes + true popes = defected Church.

Good luck getting out of that one, Father Chazal!