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

Simple explanation of Catholic Doctrine 4

Part Four – The Incarnation of God the Son

Respecting this great mystery, Catholics believe that the Holy Trinity, out of infinite mercy, decreed to provide for us a Redeemer who could suffer, and suffer as an individual of the human race, and at the same time, be in Himself so exalted as to be able to give infinite value to His sufferings; because sin, being an offence against the infinite majesty of God, could only be atoned for by an expiation of infinite value.

To accomplish this end, God the Son, the second Person of the Holy Trinity, the Eternal Word, chose the Blessed Virgin Mary of Nazareth to become His Mother, and on receiving her consent, He, by the supernatural agency of the Holy Spirit, took human flesh from her, and thus became man, and His Holy Name is JESUS CHRIST.

By becoming man the Eternal Word did not law aside His Divine Nature, but remaining what He had ever been from all eternity, took upon Himself human nature without a human personality, so that from the first moment of His Incarnation there was in Him, and there ever will be, not one only but two natures, the Divine and the human, united in His Divine Personality, the Person of God the Son.

The Divine nature of Jesus is one and the same as that of the Eternal Father and of the Holy Spirit, and His human nature is in all things like ours, sin and tendency to sin excepted. He is equal to the Father as to His Godhead, and less than the Father as to His Manhood.

Our Lord Jesus Christ suffered and died in His human nature on Mount Calvary, and thereby effectually interposed His atonement between His Eternal Father and man, and thus made a plentiful expiation and paid a full ransom to the Eternal Justice for the sins of the whole world.


SIMPLE EXPLANATION OF CATHOLIC DOCTRINE

Part 3 – Original Sin
Part 2 – The Most Holy Trinity
Part 1 – God and His Perfections

Simple explanation of Catholic Doctrine 3

Part 3 – Original Sin

Original sin is distinguished from actual, or personal sin, because actual or personal sin is the sin which we personally with our own free will commit, whilst original sin is that sin which our human nature has committed with the will of Adam, in whom all our nature is united as a branch to a root, as a child to a parent, as men who partake with Adam the same nature which we have derived from him, and as members of the same human family of which Adam was the head. The difference that exists between original and personal sin is, that the latter is committed with the will physically our own, whilst original sin is committed with a will physically of another, and only morally our own, because it forms with that other (Adam), who is our head, one moral body.

If our hand strike a fellow-creature unjustly, though the hand has itself no will, yet it is considered guilty, not indeed as viewed separately by itself, but inasmuch as it is united to the rest of the body, and to the soul, forming one human being therewith, and thus sharing in the will of the soul with which is it connect.

Also the sin committed inwardly by the hum will, by a bad desire, belongs to the whole human being.

Of the original sin in which we are born we are not personally guilty with our personal will, but our nature is guilty of it by the will of Adam our head with whom we form one moral body through the human nature which we derive from him.

It is a point of Catholic faith that original sin does not consist in what we call concupiscence, which is a propensity to evil of the inferior part of the human soul.

Sin of any kind in order to be a sin, in the strict sense of the word, must be within the sphere of morality, that is, it must depend upon free-will; and hence the noted principle in moral philosophy and theology, that there is no sin where there is no will.

Concupiscence, there, which is not will, but a blind involuntary inclination of our lower nature (and therefore an irresponsible tendency to evil), is not of itself sinful unless it be consented to by the human will, or rendered strong by bad and not retracted habit.

Concupiscence is indeed sometimes called sin in holy Scripture (Romans vii. 7, Galatians v. 24), but it is called so, as the holy Council of Trent explains, not in a strict sense, but in a wide sense, that is, inasmuch as it is a consequence of original sin, and an incentive to actual sin.

This concupiscence, or inclination to evil, in fact, still remains in those in whom the guilt and stain of original sin has been entirely washed away by the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. Moreover, strictly speaking, no one is regarded as a sinner merely because he feels tempted to sin. This miserable propensity to evil excited the compassion of God rather than His anger. God said to Noe: ‘I will no more curse the earth for the sake of man; for the imagination and thought of man’s heart are prone to evil from his youth’. (Genesis viii. 21).

The Catholic Church teaches that Adam by his sin has not only cause harm to himself, but to the whole human race; that by it he lost the supernatural justice and holiness which he received gratuitously from God, and lost it, not only for himself, but also for all of us; and that he, having stained himself with the sin of disobedience, has transmitted not only death and other bodily pains and infirmities to the whole human race, but also sin, which is the death of the soul.

The teaching of the Council of Trent (Session V) is confirmed by these words of St. Paul: ‘Wherefore as by one man sin entered into this world, and by win death; and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned’ (Rom. v. 12).

The Royal Psalmist in Psalm L (li) 7, says: ‘For behold I was conceived in iniquities, an in sins did my mother conceive me’. (In the Hebrew text it is in singular, i.e. conceived me in sin).

Upon this text St. Augustine says: ‘David was not born in adultery, for he was born from Jesse, a just man, and his wife. Why does he say that he was conceived in iniquity unless because iniquity is derived from Adam?

Since the early Christians believed in original sin, as it can be gathered from what St. Augustine said to Pelagius, opposing him on the matter. ‘I did not invent original sin, which Catholic faith holds from ancient time; but thou, who deniest it, thou, without doubt, art a new heretic’. (De nuptiis, lib. Xi c. 12).

It may be said that this belief is as old as the human race, for traces of this ancient tradition are spread in all nations, insomuch that Voltaire had to confess that ‘The fall of man is the base of the theology of nearly all ancient people’. (Philosophie de l’histoire, chapitre xvii).

Besides the guilt of original sin, which is that habitual states of sinfulness in which we are born (because our human nature is justly considered to have consented in Adam to the rejection of original justice), there is also in man the stain of original sin, entailing the privation in the human soul of that supernatural lustre, which, had we been born in the state of original justice, we all should have had.*

As neither Adam nor any of his offspring could repair the evil done by his sin, we should ever have remained in the state of original sin and degradation in which we were born, and we should have been for ever shut out from the Beatific Vision of God in Heaven, had not God, in His infinite mercy, provided for us a Redeemer.


SIMPLE EXPLANATION OF CATHOLIC DOCTRINE

Part 2 – The Most Holy Trinity
Part 1 – God and His Perfections

Simple explanation of Catholic Doctrine 2

Part 2 – The Most Holy Trinity

This is a profound mystery, revealed to us by God. The Catholic Church teaches that in one God there are three Persons; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; really distinct one from the other, and equal in eternity, power, immensity, and all other perfections; because all the three Persons have only one and the same Divine nature or essence.

It would be a contradiction to assert that there are three Gods and one God; or that there are three Persons and one Person; but it is no contradiction to affirm that God is one in essence and three in personality. A thing can be one in one respect, and three in another respect. Thus the human soul, though one, is threefold in its powers; namely, the understanding, the memory and the will. Likewise a man is one human being, and three fold in his rational, animal and vegetative life.

Comparisons, however, are necessarily imperfect upon such a subject as the Blessed Trinity. It is a great mystery, surpassing all understanding, to be adoringly believed on earth, and to be understood only in heaven.

We are not able to understand how each of the three Persons can be God, and yet that there is but One God. It should be borne in mind that many things exist also in nature which we cannot explain, or even comprehend, and yet know to be facts. Among such may be noted the nature of latent substance of bodies, the cause of gravitation, the attraction of the magnet, and the amazing power and swiftness of the electric current. Human reason cannot of itself discover or demonstrate that there are three Persons in God, yet this revealed truth far from repugnant to reason can be shown to agree with it,. For God as an intelligent being of infinite Perfection must naturally know Himself, and in Himself know all things. To this end He must form to Himself an inward word through which the comprehension of Himself is effected.

When we understand a thing, the interior word or image which our intellect forms within itself in order to comprehend a thing is not a thing subsisting in itself, but in God in whom reason shows that there can be no accident of any kind, this eternal self-comprehension, or word, is not an accidental, transient thing, but a thing identified with divine nature, and at the same time, perfectly distinct from the Father, who is that intellectual supreme Being, who by comprehending Himself generates this His Word, and therefore He is a distinct subsistence or Person, because, although identified with the same nature of the Father, yet inasmuch as it is generated by the Father, it is perfectly distinct from Him, who is generator, and forms in Himself an individual, distinct and incommunicable subsistence, which is everything that is required for being truly a Divine Person, called in Holy Scripture the Word, and the Son of God; for by person it is understood an intellectual individual substance.

Likewise God loves Himself in the Son, and is beloved in return by the Son, and in Himself He loves all other things, and this eternal permanent act of mutual love is also, not a thing accidental and transient, as an act of love is in us, but is a thing identified with divine nature, eternal, permanent, subsisting, singular, incommunicable, perfectly distinct from the Father and the So, from both of whom this divine act proceeds, and is also therefore a distinct person called in Holy Scripture the Holy Ghost.

Therefore, to say that in one God there are three Persons, is no more repugnant to reason than saying that one God must of necessity be considered under three different respects:- 1st, as a God who knows Himself, that is, as a subject; 2nd, as a God who is known by Himself, that is, as an object of knowledge; and 3rd. As a God who is loving Himself and is beloved by Himself, as knowing and as known, that is, an object of mutual love. These remarkable self-subsistent eternal differences or relations are what constitute the three really distinct Persons in the one God.

Simple explanation of Catholic Doctrine 1

Part one – God and His Perfections

There is but one God, the Creator of heaven and earth, that Supreme, incorporeal, uncreated Being, who exists of Himself, and is infinite in all His attributes and perfections, such as Holiness, Goodness, Power, Wisdom, Justice, Mercy and Truth.

He always was, He is, and He always will be. He is everywhere present, knowing and seeing all things, even our most secret thoughts. From Him all creatures have and hold existence.