Sedevacantism? Sedevacantists? No, not a great idea.

Sedevacantism describes the situation when the See of Peter is vacant. This happens during the interregnum once one Pope dies (or abdicates) and another is elected.

There exists a minority of Catholics who are convinced (in varying degrees) that since some date (which also varies) in the past, Papal Succession has ceased and that the See of Peter is vacant.

Put like that, to some, it may seem laughable, but it is no laughing matter. These Catholics have often reasoned their positions out very thoroughly, and have become so convinced that this is the case, that it is almost impossible for them to recant.

There is a lengthy article on Sedevacantism on Wikipedia, which is a good (if not lengthy) read. Always bear in mind, that with Wikipedia, you don’t know who the author is, or his authority on the matter.

Suffice to say Sedevacantism is a problem, and it needs to be dealt with. The main problem is around the liturgical reforms of the 20th Century and Vatican II. Goes like this:

  1. The liturgy and Church teaching was changed
  2. The liturgy and Church teaching should not have changed
  3. The Church can’t err (see my post on the Indefectability of the Church)
  4. Therefore the current visible Church is not the real Church (or a variation which says the Pope who is responsible is to blame, therefore, he is a manifest heretic and therefore there is no Pope)

Simple, clear reasoning. But they have omitted one very important factor; human beings. We’re not machines, it’s not black or white. We live in a world of shades of grey. The Church can’t err, but she can certainly, in her human aspect, forget. Like forgetting, that if anyone violates the truce of God (making War on any other day than Mondays to Wednesdays during Summer and Autumn)  and after the third admonition does not make satisfaction, shall be anathematized (First Council of the Lateran)… well, so much for all the Catholics during every war that has ever happened since 1123…

Go ahead, look through the Ecumenical Councils that have been convoked, read their promulgations, see how much has been forgotten.

If a person forgets to leave his handbrake on and the car kills a child, the person will not be charged of murder. It is a terrible horrendous thing, but truthfully they are innocent (and likely to be their own judge, jury and punisher). To err, is to know one is doing something wrong, and to do it anyway. Just like any sin, it requires, matter, knowledge and forethought.

Some conspiracy theorists, posit that the Popes knew that messing around with the Liturgy was wrong and maliciously chose to do it with forethought. Well, if that was the case, there would be very serious implications for the person who occupies the office (not the office itself).

The problem, is that these conspiracy theorists are not psychic, they cannot prove the level of culpability of those they accuse (how much did they know, how much forethought was given, was there malicious intent? etc), and those that they accuse cannot defend themselves because they have gone to their Eternal Judgement. So based upon these two problems, we, as followers of Christ, we must adhere to “innocent until proven guilty” and de mortuis nil nisi bonum (“speak well of the dead or not at all”). Then we must wait until our lives are over to see who’s in heaven and who’s not. Only then will we know with certainty (bar the case of Miracles – more in another post another time).

Which means that the only position a Catholic can take in good conscience is that the See of Peter is occupied. Sure the Liturgical demolition and the loopy liberalisation which followed in “the spirit of the Vatican Council” were horrendous. And anyone who disagrees with that is suffering from some serious…

…to the facts. It’s been a disaster, of almost Protestant Reformation scale. But while it is an ontological tragedy, it is a very human disaster, deriving from very human mistakes.

Someone pointed out something which I believe is very insightful;
The majority of modern Popes have been treating their Pontificate like temporal despots, they can do as they will, create this, do that, go here, go there. They have lost the understanding that the Pontificate is a Stewardship, that they are charged to keep things, to look after them and not to act in a self-willed manner, for they are the steward of something which is not theirs. And not ours either, for that matter.

Consider the Papacy in the light of this Parable:

A certain man planted a vineyard and made a hedge about it, and dug a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it to husbandmen; and went into a far country.

The Holy Gospel according to St Mark (12:1-5)

Now imagine the Man comes home, and finds that the husbandmen have dug up the hedge, destroyed the winevat, taken down the tower, and made the vineyard into a dairy farm. It might be a great dairy farm, the lead Steward may be very proud of his work, “look how great a dairy farm I have made for you”. But the Man says “But I wanted a vineyard…”.

This is the world we live in, where people, ordinary human beings, no greater, no less, than you or I, think they know best. They are often unaware of the subtle voice which says “choose your own way” which I mentioned in the post Habemus Papam – Pope Francis – Gift of the Holy Ghost? is not the voice of God. Christ constantly calls us to be Stewards, to “observe all things whatsoever I have commanded” (Mt 28:19-20).

The Liturgy is part of Sacred Tradition, not the Magesterium, the Magesterium is not called to innovate, discard, or lay waste to Sacred Tradition, the Magesterium is called to be a Steward of Sacred Tradition, and therefore also the Sacred Liturgy.

But just because the human occupants of the Magesterium of the Church, forget this mandate, and start doing things which they probably shouldn’t, it is not justification for accusing that the See of Peter is vacant.

Sedevacantism is bunk. Get back in the Ark and start helping to repair the holes, bail out the water and moor the Ark to the Blessed Sacrament and Our Lady.

Vision of St John Bosco of the Church


RELATED ARTICLES

Habemus Papam – Pope Francis – Gift of the Holy Ghost?
Indefectibility of the Church

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Simple explanation of Catholic Doctrine 5

Part Five

Jesus Our Only Mediator Of Redemption

Catholics believe that our Lord Jesus Christ is alone the great Centre of the Christian Religion, the Fountain of all grace, virtue, and merit, as in the natural world, if the comparison may be allowed) the sun is the centre and enlivening created source of light, heat, and growth.

This grand truth they believe to be the vital, essential part of Christianity, ‘For other foundation no man can lay but that which is laid; which CHRIST JESUS’. (1 Corinthians iii. 11).

They hold that to be united to JESUS CHRIST is the highest and noblest aim of man, and that only the Holy Catholic Church supplies the means for the closest union with JESUS CHRIST; and they are convinced that the yearning to possess this closer communion with Christ has, by Divine attraction, drawn thousands of earnest minds to seek in the Catholic Church this the highest happiness to be enjoyed on earth.

They believe that Jesus Christ is our Redeemer, because He has redeemed us from the bondage of Satan, with the ransom of His most Precious Blood; that He alone is our Saviour because He saves us from the stain, the guilty, and the curse of sin; that He is our only Mediator of Redemption and Salvation, because He alone, by His own merits, has efficiently interposed between God and man, to obtain the full pardon of our sins through the sacrifice of Himself: ‘There is one God, and one mediator of God and men, the man Christ JESUS; Who gave himself a redemption for all’. (1 St. Timothy ii. 5, 6). ‘Neither is there salvation in any other. For there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved’. (Acts iv. 12).

They believe that Jesus died on the Cross to purchase mercy, grace, and salvation for all men-‘Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth’. (1 St. Timothy ii. 4). And that since Adam’s fall, mercy, grace, and salvation can be obtained by man only through the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ.

Believing that Jesus Christ is truly God, they hold that the homage of supreme adoration is due to Him, the God-man, as well as to God the Father, and to God the Holy Spirit.


Simple explanation of catholic doctrine

Part 4 – The Incarnation of God the Son
Part 3 – Original Sin
Part 2 – The Most Holy Trinity
Part 1 – God and His Perfections

An apology for the coldness of some Traditional Catholics

Dear Friend in Christ,

Thank you for letting me know. It is with sadness that I read your email about how you left the Catholic Church because of the lack of any warmth, welcome or charity that you perceived in the laity at that Traditional Latin Mass. I am very sorry to hear that you experienced what you did, and if I may, I would like to share with you some of my own thoughts. I am not trying to change your mind, but perhaps I may be able to answer “why?”.

Prior to the Second Vatican Council there was a strong sense of Ultramontanism in Catholic clergy and laity. Ultramontanism is summed up by “if the Pope says it, then do it”. There was no sense of questioning something. So when the changes started occurring (not only to the liturgical life of the Church) in the early 1960s, clergy and laity to the vast majority just went along with it. Ultramontanism gave carte blanche to reformers. Now there were some people who were not so Ultramontanist, some of these people persevered for the Traditional way of doing things.

What you have to understand is that these people, who said to themselves “this doesn’t feel right”, found themselves completely isolated from the vast majority who simply said “the Council said so, so do it”. Their Parish life was destroyed. What these people went through was terrible suffering. This remnant had to fend for themselves in a very hostile environment, scratching a secret Mass here or there. As Michael Davies very correctly pointed out, the situation was very similar to what happened at the beginning of the Protestant Reformation in England.

The mentality of the remnant was very much “circle the wagons”. Now, the Church has admitted that the Mass was never abrogated and our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI has opened the Mass to all and sundry. But it takes time, it takes time to heal the hurts that these people have been through, some of the hurts are disgraceful, but the worst part was they were done by other Catholics. It takes time to change mentalities, to trust again. The Church is our Mother, but these people perceived that they had been struck by their very own Mother, and only now were being slowly re-accepted. But it takes time to trust. There is a lot of wariness towards the current Magesterium, and despite the brave words of many priests, Bishops and Cardinals, the wariness remains, because actions speak louder than words.

This remnant, were and often still, are a shunned people, and they, to a large extent, have lost the sense of Parish and are more used to being liturgical nomads and having to fend for themselves, not because they have abandoned their former Parishes, but rather because the Parishes they knew and loved have been taken away from them.

Sadly I don’t have the time or resources available to teach attendees of Traditional Latin Masses, the maxims of Christ-like love for ones neighbour, though I try my best to live them myself. I have come to learn that those associated with the Traditional Rite, just like those associated with any rite, or religion, are a mixed bunch, saints and sinners. C’est la vie. I am sorry that you came across brothers and sisters who were suffering so, that they had forgotten simple Christian Charity to ones neighbour.

I hope that you will come to have compassion on those who you perceived as cold and unwelcoming, that you will pray for them and forgive them. That perhaps you will one day come to love them and help them to rediscover the sense of Parish and welcome. Remember for the Traditional remnant, the persecution continues, all you have to do is look at the Mass listings for Christmas in England and Wales, in three Dioceses there are no Masses on Christmas day.

May God bless you and keep you, always.

G