4 November 2016

Sedevacantism yet again

I venture to draw the attention of those readers who write to me about one or other of the many, indeed, Protean, forms 'Sedevacantism' takes, to the fact that Bishop Richard Williamson, on his blog, has written a two-part series on Sedevacantism. It is the second time in recent months that he has done this.

I often don't agree with what his Excellency does, says, or writes; and I wouldn't always express myself as he does. But I warmly second his apprehension that this pernicious error can be a real danger to souls.

My often-expressed view (and I think the Bishop's view is along the same lines) is that the Ultrahyperueberpapalism of some who surround Papa Bergoglio, and Sedevacantism, are two sides of the same dangerously erroneous coin. Or, if you prefer, a pair of inseparably joined Siamese Twins. They both massively exaggerate the personal inerrancy of the man who is the Roman Pontiff. Accepting an absurdly inflated notion of personal papal inerrancy, Bergoglian ultras (correctly believing him to be Pope) conclude that therefore his every word and even hint must be the ipsissimum verbum Spiritus; sedevacantists (deeming him to be guilty of repeated blunders) conclude that he "obviously" cannot really be pope.

Both views are equally absurd. And both involve the same erroneous premise: personal papal inerrancy. I have called it an error; I think I could justify calling it a heresy in view of the defined dogma of Vatican I that the Successors of S Peter have not been given the Holy Spirit so that by His inspiration they can propagate new doctrine.


And both are equally dangerous to souls.

Bergoglio is Pope. He's not my own favourite pope, but he's Pope. Vicar of Christ. Successor of the Prince of the Apostles. Capable of being the mouthpiece of the Catholic Church's own infallibility and of binding all our consciences were he manifestly to fulfill the immensely careful conditions laid down by the admirable decree Pastor aeternus of Vatican I.

To deny that is a most grave danger to Catholic Faith and to Communio.

There have been less than good Popes before now, as Cardinal Pell very wisely pointed out a couple of years ago in his Iuventutem sermon. Sensible Catholics take the long view. And sensible Catholics also know that the College of Cardinals is not guaranteed the peremptory guidance of the Holy Spirit when it meets in electoral conclave. Some real 101% shockers have, in the past, emerged from the pope-making process! If that were, sadly, to happen in our own time, there would be nothing new about it!

I remind readers that I do not enable comments which seem to me Sedevacantist or Sedeprivationist or which claim that the elected candidate is in some way not quite fully pope, or that Benedict XVI is still pope or that the real pope is Mr Smith two doors down the road who was elected by a conclave of five and a half laypeople and his Auntie Mildred's cat. Also unwelcome: abusive rhetoric about the man who is also Pope. This is, after all, my blog. Just don't waste your time. Spend it praying for our Holy Father Pope Francis.

12 comments:

Tom Forde said...

As usual sensible and erudite, Father. I don't know who coined the term 'schoolboy theology' to describe the idea that the Holy Spirit inspires the Cardinals to pick the Pope He wants. This would be stretching infallibility to impossible limits. I have been debating this with one of my confreres (a devotee of Bl. Paul VI). That the Holy Spirit provides every assistance and grace both to the electors and the man they elect to succeed Peter but that He does not force them to collaborate with that grace seems to me to be a better means to explain the 'clangers' in Papal history than the alternatives. Yes a 'clanger' might be the very man to do a certain job (as with the Pope who rejected Henry VIII's application for a decree of nullity or the Pope who excommunicated Elizabeth I) but that does seem to be the long way round. It seems we need to work hard to undo the excesses of those who want to go further than Vatican I let alone Vatican II.

Peregrinus Toronto said...

Amen, Father.

As they say in the land of Clinton/Trump: Preach it, brother.

Stephen said...

Is not the issue at least as much - if not more - centered around the authority of the Papacy, which was no less an topic of Pastor Aeternus than papal infallibility? Put another way, what limits are there to Papal authority, inasmuch as every Catholic MUST believe that his rule is universal, immediate and supreme as per Pastor Aeternus? A VERY reasonable answer, both in the letter of the law and in exercise since Vatican I, is that there are none. Would that not put the hyperultramontanists closer to the mean of the church in the West since the second millenium, and those who are more skeptical of the Papal Fullness more outliers?

One really can't be a champion of the fullness Papal authority only when somebody else's ox is getting gored, and then turn around and look to the limits of Papal authority when it's your oxen's blood. This is

John Collinson said...

My often-expressed view (and I think the Bishop's view is along the same lines) is that the Ultrahyperueberpapalism of some who surround Papa Bergoglio, and Sedevacantism, are two sides of the same dangerously erroneous coin. Or, if you prefer, a pair of inseparably joined Siamese Twins. They both massively exaggerate the personal inerrancy of the man who is the Roman Pontiff.

Fr., I don't think that this is accurate. Sedevacantists don't demand that a pope be impeccable in all his speech, they merely demand that he not be a pertinacious heretic; we have the right to demand this of every Catholic, not only the Roman pontiff. Sedevacantists don't cut themselves off from communion with Bergoglio because they think his speech is imprudent or totally inerrant, but because they believe that he publicly denies an article(s) of the Catholic faith.

I don't know what to make of the situation. I don't know if Bergoglio is a formal and public heretic, or merely a material and private one, or not a heretic at all but who says things savouring of heresy or approving of heretics, or the co-discoverer (along with other post-conciliar pontiffs) of a new orthodoxy unknown before the council, or the glad answer to the evil accretions of the medieval and counter-Reformation church, or what.

Does Francis believe, and did John Paul II and Benedict XVI believe, that union with the Catholic Church and submission to the Roman pontiff is necessary for salvation, as the Church has always and very clearly taught? For the way that they go around kissing non-Catholics and worshipping in their temples really makes me wonder about their holding of this revealed truth, an integral part of the Catholic faith. I have even heard of these popes discouraging individuals from converting to the Catholic Church and remaining in one of their Protestant sects. I can't imagine a greater betrayal of papal duty.

Unknown said...

So I struggle with the fact that we are suppose to welcome and worship with Islam but is in complete contradiction to the Catechism and previous Councils and Popes. How do we reconcile with what was True then must be True now? Both cant be Truth and are not souls at stake? How is the Koran a holy book when it denounces Jesus as the Son of God? I am not saying we don't help them in some way, but if we Love them should we not want them to be Catholic. I feel I have a responsibility as a Father and Grandfather to protect my children body and soul. I know so many Catholics that have left the Church because when things do not make sense anymore and the Truth is abandoned, apathy and indifference takes over. Thank you Father for your time.

Valdemar said...

I'm glad you posted this.

There are a number of theories out there in the Cathosphere and I think the sede position is one of those "feel-good" samples that people who just don't like hard facts fall back on.

I have never heard anyone suggest that ole' Rod Borgia wasn't Pope and neither have I ever heard of anyone who wished he had lived in a time when he could have had a microphone welded to his lower lip like Papa Bergoglio has.

I also doubt we will see another Pope "Alexander"...and I'm beginning to wonder {hope springs eternal} if Francis the First might not need a numerical qualifier tagged to his name in future years after he is gone, either...

S said...

Indeed Francis is Pope. His Excellency Williamson is a twice excommunicated ilicitly consecrated Bishop tossed out of an order for disobedience. Oh, he is also a holocaust denier and recently consecrated his own darn Bishops! And he is the best witness on the matter? I'm think'n d,d,diabolical d,d,disorienttta t i o n .
Fr. What sin should one confess if one holds the non-dogmatic whackey opinion which i do not hold and shall not mention?
Pray hard,
Viva la 3rd secret.

Liam Ronan said...

I am no sedevacantist, Father. I just follow the smoke.

May I suggest that by assuming the title "Pope Emeritus", a position heretofore unknown canonically, and continuing to reside within the Vatican, that Pope Benedict XVI has contributed in no small part to the general confusion among the faithful.

Francis has a flat (so to speak) in the same Vatican at Domus Sanctae Marthae.

Whatever is the "Papal munis" that Benedict XVI specifically retained? Do we have not one but two Popes?

TLM said...

I do pray for him and mostly pray that he direct Catholics in the way they should go which he is not doing. Whether or not he 'teaches from the chair' he still teaches and has influence because he IS the Pope. He is a bad Pope, but still is our Holy Father. I am NOT saying that he is a bad 'person', that is quite different from saying that he is a bad 'Pope'. Not saying he is a bad 'person' at all! But whether from the chair or not, he is leading a good number of Catholics in the wrong direction. We have had bad 'Popes' before, there is nothing new under the sun, and I pray that the Holy Spirit direct him so that he may begin to guide the Church rightly. It would be refreshing indeed if he would actually begin to teach Catholicism whether from 'The Chair' or 'From the Airplane'.

Jeff McLaughlin said...

I am not a sedevacantist (I attend an ICK parish) but I do think it would be good, as Bellarmine, St. Francis de Sales, St. Thomas, and many other Catholics did, to meet their arguments head on, rather than setting up a straw man and taking that down. Their line of reasoning generally has little to do with infallibility, so you are attributing to them an argument they don't make. They argue that public heretics are intelligible to be elected pope. That the post-VII popes have allegedly been public heretics prior to their elections. And that, therefore, they were not validly elected. There are a host of ancillary arguments (as to the validity of the Novus Ordo rite of episcopal consecration, for example) but the crux of their argument has nothing to do with papal infallibility since it deals with the state of the man prior to his being elected. I'd be happy to see an article from you or H.E. dealing with that.

S said...

What sin should sedevacantists confess and repent from in order to return to a state of grace?

Mr Grumpy said...

Can I say that Auntie Mildred's cat is Pope? Excellent post, Father. I feel just as you do about Benedict and Francis - but then I read the Lectio Divina on yesterday's Gospel in "Magnificat", and come across a quote from Francis which I find really enlightening.

One commenter suggests the basis for sedevacantism is public heresy on the part of post-VII popes before their election. If every post-VII pope including Benedict fails this test, you have to wonder how many pre-VII popes would pass it if their every public utterance was preserved on the Internet.