What is Sedevacantism?
Sedevacantism is a term used to describe the situation in the Church after the death of one pope and the election of the next one. It comes from the Latin sede vacante – empty chair.
Arguments for Sedevacantism
The root of the sedevacantism goes back to Vatican II and the nature of the post-Vatican II Church. The essential question is: Is the Novus Ordo Church Catholic?
The answer to this question can only either be “yes” or “no” – something can’t be half-Catholic. But before we answer the question, we must determine what the consequences for each answer would be.
- If the N. O. Church is Catholic, then there is no reason to resist it; in fact, by resisting the true Catholic Church, one would become schismatic. The Church has always taught that full submission to the Roman Pontiff and the magisterium (teaching body) of the Church is necessary.
“…this Chair of Peter. This chair is the center of Catholic truth and unity, that is, the head, mother, and teacher of all the Churches to which all honour and obedience must be offered. Every church must agree with it because of its greater preeminence — that is, those people who are in all respects faithful.” (Pope Pius IX, Inter Multiplices)
- If the N. O. Church is not Catholic, then the only option is to denounce it completely, sever all ties with it and look upon it as a heretical Church; for there is only one true Church of Christ. Read more>>>
Submission to the Roman Pontiff is necessary to be a Catholic
The SSPX/ Resistance cannot hold the Ecclesiology that the Church has always taught because of the specific mixture of the (“traditional”) Catholicism with the belief that the modernist/heretic/apostate is a true pope.”What the Church has always taught” would mean that one is under “full and supreme power of jurisdiction” of the man who is the Roman Pontiff. “Remember also that the government and administration of the whole Church rests with the Roman Pontiff to whom (…) the full power of nourishing, ruling and governing the universal Church was given by Christ the Lord.” (Gregory XVI, Mirari Vos)
Vatican I teaches:”Wherefore we teach and declare that, by divine ordinance the Roman church possesses a pre-eminence of ordinary power over every other church, and that this jurisdictional power of the Roman Pontiff is both Episcopal and immediate. Both clergy and faithful, of whatever rite and dignity, both singly and collectively, are bound to submit to this power by the duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, and this not only in matters concerning faith and morals, but also in those which regard the discipline and government of the church throughout the world. In this way, by unity with the Roman Pontiff, in communion and in profession of the same faith, the Church of Christ becomes one flock under one supreme shepherd. This is the teaching of the Catholic truth, and no one can depart from it without endangering his faith and salvation.” (On the Power and Character of the Primacy of the Roman Pontiff) Read more>>>
Sedevacantism is not an opinion.
It can not be said that everything that is not a dogma, in a solemn form, is just a matter of opinion and we are free to choose whatever we want and prefer (first solemn dogmatic definition was declared no earlier than the IVth century). “Many, however, confuse theological opinion with theological conclusion. A theological conclusion is a firm and certain theological doctrine which flows from principles which are derives from revelation and right reason. For example, it is certain theological conclusion that God gives all man the sufficient grace to save their souls. This fact is not directly revealed, nor is declared by the Church, but is held by all theologians as absolutely certain. It could not be termed a “theological opinion”.” (from: Fr. A. Cekada: Opinionism)
If for those who “recognise and resist” both theological “opinions” – 1) Bellarmine’s about a heretical pope and 2) that in order to be a Catholic Pope one does not have to be a Catholic are right legitimate – they could then say that they are both doubtful as well. If they wish to be consistent, they might as well act in this way: Read more>>>
Objections/ Questions about Sedevacantism
Q: Today’s situation is unforeseen. No one can tell us with certainty, that does no fear error, which way to take regarding sedevacantism.
We can and we have to find some kind of direction, a true root of it in the past teaching and in the past Church’s praxis. It means also that under any circumstances we are not allowed to contradict, to go against, the pre-Vatican II Church’s teachings in order to explain today’s situation. If we are aware of the VII apostasy, we have to stick to the teaching which was before (for example we can not negate Vatican I and Mystici Corporis) ,and draw conclusions out of that.
Similar times in Church history must be studied moiré carefully, long vacancies, Church Law in relation to Protestantism, the French revolution, the rise of communism, modernism and others. We should study these past situations and apply true ecclesiology, Vat. I, papal encyclicals to our conclusions. Read more>>>
Q: If the Novus Ordo Church is not the true Church, where has the Catholic Church gone?
The Catholic Church remains with those who remain faithful to It, who didn’t go with the N.O. ecumenical church and its head, and with those who overcame their ignorance and converted to It.
To “recognise a pope” and to resist him and all the hierarchy, which is in union with him, on the ground of his magisterium – pertaining to ecclesiology, canonisations, validation of an Old Covenant, his Law and Catechism – seems to be very grave, since it is a state of permanent contradiction; because to the true Pope you owe subordination. We again read in Unam Sanctam:
“Therefore whoever resists this power thus ordained by God, resists the ordinance of God. [Rom 13:2]”
However if his authority is not from God, but has been stolen and is working against Christ, every Catholic who knows his Faith, should call it false. Read more>>>
Q: If the Novus Ordo Church is not the Catholic Church, then where was the Church after Vatican II before sedevacantism emerged?
The argument that the Church did not really exist “in the period between the proclamation of the Documents of the Vatican II Council (or any earlier point when the pope and hierarchy departed from the faith) and the first public declaration of sedevacantism”, can’t at all be followed. Why? Because the Catholic Church, the Church of Jesus Christ, was established by Jesus Himself and not by anyone ecclesiastical “declaration”. As long as a person, baptized in the Catholic Church, is keeping the true Apostolic Faith, he or she is a Catholic and even the disaster of heresy or aortal apostasy of the “conciliar church” is not able to separate a person from the Church as long, of course, as this person is not accepting a schismatic, heretic or apostate position. From the Letter of Saint Athanasius to His Flock:” Even if Catholics faithful to Tradition are reduced to a handful, they are the ones who are the true Church of Jesus Christ.” Read more>>>
Q: Where has the Catholic hierarchy gone? As Catholics, we cannot deny the visibility of the Church!
The N.O. hierarchy could only be a continuation of the Catholic hierarchy if it professed unity of faith. Don’t you think that the N.O. hierarchy departed from the Catholic faith? –As a result of that departure, it cut itself off from the Catholic Church, and is no longer the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.
If still you want to recognize these heretics as the Catholic hierarchy, you should also recognis the Eastern Schismatics’ and Anglican Church’s hierarchy – it’s not that different. In fact, you should recognize all of the Protestant “hierarchies”, since they are recognized by the conciliar church (for example, through concelebration with them).
Q: St. Robert Bellarmine only gives his opinion on a heretical pope!
Note: St. Robert Bellarmine was a renowned theologian living in the Counter Reformation. He wrote many works refuting the heretics and heresies of his day and also wrote De Romano Pontifice (Concerning the Roman Pontiff), in which he explains that a heretic cannot be the head of the Church:
“This principle is most certain. The non-Christian cannot in any way be Pope, as Cajetan himself admits (ib. c. 26). The reason for this is that he cannot be head of what he is not a member; now he who is not a Christian is not a member of the Church, and a manifest heretic is not a Christian, as is clearly taught by St. Cyprian (lib. 4, epist. 2), St. Athanasius (Scr. 2 cont. Arian.), St. Augustine (lib. de great. Christ. cap. 20), St. Jerome (contra Lucifer.) and others; therefore the manifest heretic cannot be Pope.” (Source)
It is very hard to ignore St. Bellarmine and his works – “The Controversis on the Marks of the Church” and “The Controversis on the Roman Pontiff” (English translations by Ryan Grant were made available this year.) In the Translator’s Preface we read:
“Among the Theologians, Bellarmine was perhaps the most prolific and no one is more quoted in the documents of Vatican I (…). He not only refutes Protestant teaching, but lays down the theological foundation which would make their way into the definitions of the First Vatican Council.”
Moral Theology (op. cit., Vol. II) also teaches:
“If the opinion has the support as certain of only one theologian, it may be followed without further investigation, if he has received special mention from the Church as an authority and a safe guide.”
St. Bellarmine did receive special mention from the Church as an authority and a sage guide on matters of the Papacy by Pope XI in 1931, as he was appointed Doctor of the Church: read more>>>
Q: Isn’t logically following an opinion that has been made dogma just too much?
Logically following – that is: following reason.
“Opinion that has been made dogma” – I’d say that the other way round is true: dogma – the truth about Faith is making this opinion into theological conclusion.
Faith/ doctrine take precedence before the Sacraments. An important maxim to know is “One can get to Heaven without the Mass, but one cannot get to Heaven without the Faith.”
As the Catholic Church teaches, faith and reason do not contradict one another, instead they both assist man in the salvation of his soul. Reasoning and logic help us in finding the truth, and Truth is God Himself.