15 November 2015

Sedevacantism yet again

As a Man of Mercy, I do feel compassionate towards those Catholics who express to me anxiety that our present Holy Father may not be the lawful occupant of the See of S Peter. But I re-reiterate: no Catholic can with a good conscience decide for himself/herself that the See of Rome has become vacant through heresy. The Church, in some formal and corporate way, would need either to depose a heretical pope (thus, S Cajetan; John of S Thomas) or to declare that he had himself through heresy already forfeited the See (thus, S Bellarmine, Turrecremata). DIY is no good. All traditional theologians over the centuries who have considered the question (yes, there's nothing unCatholic in considering the question) are agreed about this. Forget it.

The practical aspects confirm the absurdity of Sedevacantism. Our Lord promised that his Church was indefectible. And the papacy is by Divine Institution a pretty central institution in the Church Militant. But, according to the Sedevacantists, the See of S Peter has been vacant for a very long time. I'm not quite sure for how long, because they disagree among themselves about when the vacancy began. If since the death of Ven Pius XII, 9 October 1958, then the See has been vacant now for more than 57 years! There is nothing remotely like that in Church History. What is the longest that the First See has ever been vacant? All Catholic sources except one would tell you that the record Interregnum came after the death of Clement IV in 1268, when the papacy was vacant for two years, nine months, and two days. (The Archdiocesan Church of Westminster, which curiously regards the Pisan Antipope Alexander V as a lawful pope and the next lawful pope after him as being Martin V, believes in an Interregnum of 7 years, from 1410 to 1417.)

But fifty seven years? Fifty seven years and counting?? You gotta be joking! And who would elect a pope now? There are no cardinals left from the reign of Pius XII; and how could an Ecumenical Council do so, since a Council cannot lawfully be convoked except by ... a Pope!

Francis is Pope and we need to be in Communion with him and that's the end of the matter. You may feel that there are problems in the Church of Today, and you may even be right to feel that (who am I to judge?), but this particular anti-traditional short-cut out of such problems is not an answer.

21 comments:

tradgardmastare said...

Final paragraph says it all, Father!

Novian said...

I am troubled, Father, when you imply that after the college of cardinals, the next body able to elect a pope would be an ecumenical council. An ecumenical council has absolutely no power to elect a pope. The Catholic Encyclopedia ("Conclave") states that Julius II, Paul III, Pius IV, and Pius IX all affirmed this.

If the college of cardinals expired, the responsibility of electing a pope would fall to the rest of the Roman clergy. After them, I suppose, the Roman laity - the old "popular acclamation".

philipjohnson said...

Good post Fr !Their is alot wrong with this Bishop of Rome but -for the moment-he is a bad,but legitimate Pope.Pray for him.God Bless.

Liam Ronan said...

Dear Father,

Can. 335 declares that when the Roman See is vacant or entirely impeded (i.e., the Pope has become sui non compos), nothing is to be altered in the governance of the universal Church; the special laws issued for these circumstances, however, are to be observed."

Now I am not certain what passes for an 'impeded' See in virtue of 'sui non compos' these days, but it seems at first blush that 'sui non compos' (while it may go to physical or mental fitness, or perhaps, just perhaps, moral fitness) is a thing distinguishable from a 'vacant' See. I suppose therefore that a disorder may impede a particular pope from the exercise of his office either permanently or temporarily.

Your own logic:

"And who would elect a pope now? There are no cardinals left from the reign of Pius XII; and how could an Ecumenical Council do so, since a Council cannot lawfully be convoked except by ... a Pope!" is impeccable.

Just some thoughts.

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

The Novus Ordo Watch/ Bishop Sanborn/Fr Cekada/Christ or Chaos Nexus is one whose Creed is that there has been no Pope since Pius XII (1958) and that there have been no Masses since the imposition of The Pauline Rite and that there are no valid sacraments in the Catholic Church and so their existence and their Creed represents the latter day revelation of Jesus's secret plan to eliminate the entirety of the Catholic Church except for a handful of men who were excommunicated from a schism along with the few who succor them and all of whom were chosen from the foundation of the world to announce the bad news in our time.

So, there's that to consider; that Jesus established His Church as universal but He always had this double secret plan to reduce it to a few Americans living in the 21st century.

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Dear Novian

Yes, I accept your point. My mind was illogically lingering on the rather knotty question "What would be a competent body to depose a Pope or declare him deposed?"; and remembering the precedents of the fifteenth cetury.

John Hunwicke

Jacobi said...

Francis is Pope. Any other idea is just daft. And yes Father, Popes can be at fault. You mention Bellarmine . I have also looked at Suarez, and others, Wahlund and of course Michael Davies. A recent paper by Benedict Constable on 1 Peter5 is interesting.

One thing I am glad about right now is that I don't have Francis' job to do!

kiwiinamerica said...

How can the See of Peter be vacant? We have two living Popes. If you don't like one, there's always the other.

Maybe God didn't accept BXVI's resignation. It happens, you know. Just because you submit your resignation doesn't mean it will be accepted. God usually calls "time" on a pontificate. I don't think it's a good idea to transfer that task to the Pope himself.

Stephen said...

Heavens, why all this fuss about a wayward ordinary? Such making a mountain out of a molehill leads the outside observer to conclude that Catholics are not mature enough to even have a sensus fidelium.

The Rad Trad said...

And then there is the absurd idea that John XXIII was the heretic while Pius XII was the last "true pope". He set up everything Roncalli and Montini eventuated.

Kathleen1031 said...

Father, what I know about these upper-level goings on could fit into that mustard seed we heard about yesterday, but I have often read comments pope francis has made that are contradictory to what I have read are basic Catholic teaching.
An upcoming Apostolic Exhortation does not even seem necessary. He seems to have taught heresy already.
How likely is it that such a charge will be leveled by Cardinals? And how many of them would that take?
Frankly, I can't see any of the current crop of Cardinals as one that would do such a thing, but the Holy Spirit may choose them nonetheless.

Opacus said...

Instead of deciding for oneself to be a Sedevacantist, one could rely on an authority. There are, however, more authorities to rely on than just the scriptures, the councils and the popes. There is also logic. Sedevacantism could, for instance, be based on an appeal to logical laws rather canon laws. Thus Catholics believe:

(a) If x is a pope and x is teaching from the chair of St. Peter then x will not be teaching error

but that proposition entails not only:

(b) if x is teaching error then either x is not teaching from the chair of St. Peter or x is not a pope

but also:

(c) if x is teaching error and x is teaching from the chair of St. Peter then x is not a pope.

A Catholic would have to conclude, therefore, about anyone at all who was found to be teaching error from the chair of St. Peter that he is not the pope.

Furthermore, while incredulity at a long vacancy might discourage people from believing that St. Peter's chair had been vacant since the death of Pius XII – though the usual Sedevacantists have responses to that - it is not likely to trouble those who believe that St. Peter's chair has been vacant since the resignation of Benedict XVI. Sedevacantists are agreed that heretics cannot become or be popes but if there may be disagreements about who are the heretics there will also be disagreements about what are the periods of vacancy. Nor does it seem unreasonable to think that there is a much better case that Jorge Bergolio is a heretic than that Giovanni Montini was so that the novel prospect of Novus Ordo Sedevacantism may well be upon us!

Opacus said...

Instead of deciding for oneself to be a Sedevacantist, one could rely on an authority. There are, however, more authorities to rely on than just the scriptures and the popes. There is also logic. Sedevacantism could be based on an appeal to logical laws rather canon laws. Thus Catholics believe:

(a) If x is a pope and x is teaching from the chair of St. Peter then x will not be teaching error

but that proposition entails not only:

(b) if x is teaching error then either x is not teaching from the chair of St. Peter or x is not a pope

but also:

(c) if x is teaching error and x is teaching from the chair of St. Peter then x is not a pope.

A Catholic would have to conclude, therefore, about anyone at all who was found to be teaching error from the chair of St. Peter that he is not the pope.

Furthermore, while incredulity at a long vacancy might discourage people from believing that St. Peter's chair had been vacant since the death of Pius XII – though the usual Sedevacantists have responses to that - it is not likely to trouble those who believe that St. Peter's chair has been vacant since the resignation of Benedict XVI. Sedevacantists are agreed that heretics cannot become or be popes but if there may be disagreements about who are the heretics there will also be disagreements about what are the periods of vacancy. Nor does it seem unreasonable to think that there is a much better case that Jorge Bergolio is a heretic than that Giovanni Montini was so that the novel prospect of Novus Ordo Sedevacantism may well be upon us!

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Dear Opacus

I note your phrase "from the chair", i.e. Ex Cathedra. This level of papal teaching involves an elaborate procedure only used in 1854 and 1950, involving the Pope in having previously secured the morally unanimous agreement of the world-wide episcopate. That Pope Francis would attempt or secure that consent seems, in the present circumstances, massively unlikey. Therefore, in practical terms, it is surely inapplicable.

Opacus said...

Agreed, so far! The phrase 'from the Chair', however, is intended to suggest not just 'ex Cathedra' definitions but any kind of teaching situation in which Catholics have traditionally thought that a pope could not get it wrong. There are strong arguments from previous teaching which conclude that popes cannot require religious submission to evil or error, consequently anyone who is requiring religious submission to evil or error cannot be a pope. Jorge Bergolio may be pouring forth a stream of error in his talks, interviews or sermons but he has probably not yet attempted to bind the whole Church to them, although he has stated that Laudato Si is 'added to the body of Catholic Social teaching' if I remember correctly. If he were to try to bind the Church in such a fashion, however, e.g. were he to try to enforce inter-communion with those who do not believe in transubstantiation, or to require the giving of communion to those living in 'publicly scandalous' relationships or to enact a union with a heretical body etc., would you still be so confident that he is the pope? Why cannot a papal election be like a wedding? It may fail to achieve its goal even though procedurally correct because of an impediment. So just as a properly conducted wedding may fail even though no one was holding a gun to the bride's head etc. because e.g. the bride was already married, so perhaps a properly conducted papal election may fail because the selected candidate did not hold the Catholic faith. It does not seem beyond the bounds of likelihood that holding the Catholic faith is actually a requirement to be a pope and, ironically, it is Bergolio, with his annulment on demand, who has popularised the idea that invalidity of procedure due to impediment may be much wider than hitherto thought. I'm not convinced myself that the Sedevacantist argument is yet conclusive but it is persuasive and certainly not absurd in the way that many Catholics make out.

Sorry for the double posting earlier, I'm not au fait with entering stuff in comment boxes and couldn't tell whether I had managed to do so successfully.

Dom Harold said...

Pope Francis as Universal Supreme Legistor of the Roman Catholc Church could if he wished chsnge the mode if electing the. next Pope, His Successor, although hopefully not for s grest msny years yet. Pope Francis could even if He wished appoint a Coadjudor bishop of Rome with rights of immediate succession as Bishop of Rome and so consquently Pope after His death.

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Dear Opacus

I hereby undertake not in future to use the phrase ex cathedra or a vernacular equivalent except when I am talking about definitions which come within the Vatican I formula regarding papal infallibility. For the sake of lucidity and clarity, I invite others to join me in this self-denying ordinance.

Signed in my own blood

John Hunwicke

Liam Ronan said...

@Father Hunwicke,

Are you inviting us to sign in your blood?

Fr John Hunwicke said...

DeSr Dom HSrold

I enSbled your comment on the strict understSnding thSt you hSve cSrefully checked thSt Pope Bergoglio does NOT reSd my blog.

You will find the letter A just to the left of letter S on your keyboSrd. How I envy you chSps with the twinkling fingers who cSn type St S 1,000 digits S minute!

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Sorry ... but ten typos in four lines! Dear Dom Harold, is your time really so short that you can't check through what you write? I would have thought that was an obvious courtesy.

Jonny said...

Check out a new book: THE SEDEVACANTIST DELUSION: Why Vatican II's Clash with Sedevacantism Supports Eastern Orthodoxy by John Pontrello. Selling on Amazon. The book explains why apologists for the Vatican apparatus under Francis and the Sedevacantists are both correct and wrong - each side argues from a false premise.