Thank you for
contacting us. First, please let me say that we most definitely understand your
concern with changes in the Church. Some thoughts on these changes can be found
on our site in these locations... (click links to view)
'Tridentine' Mass vs. Novus Ordo Mass
Changes Since Vatican II
Vatican II and its Fruits
False Ecumenism (Q & A)
Secondly, we would
like to point out that have likewise been scandalized by actions of recent
popes. It's probably needless to point out examples, but there have been many
actions / statements / omissions / etc. in the recent past that have troubled
us. We have not shied away from publishing material on our
site that touches on these matters (hopefully as respectfully as possible).
Nevertheless, despite these facts, we cannot agree with the sedevacantist
position. Reasons we cannot agree with this position include the following...
* Popes in question were validly elected.
* Various pre-Vatican II popes also did not have 'spotless'
records, but they clearly remained popes until their death.
* As mere lay people, we cannot set ourselves up as judge
and jury over a supreme pontiff and formally declare him a heretic. Like it or
not, this is simply not within the power of lay persons. And clearly it seems
impossible that the all-wise God could have put in place a system where His
lawful vicar could 'invisibly' lose his essential office upon an action that
could be private and unknown to the general public for decades (e.g. secretly
holding a heretical position).
* From a practical perspective, it would be
difficult/impossible if the retention of a the papal office were subject to the
individual judgment of the laity or if popes could 'invisibly' lose their
office. Think seriously for a while over the implications of this.
* Surely the removal of a pope would have to require more
than the (fallible) judgment of lay persons – lay persons do not have
jurisdiction over the pope, nor would many/most people have the competence to
deal with such matters (not to mention the fact that they would not have the
protection of the Holy Spirit). If the supposed removal of office was automatic
upon a prelate's adoption of heresy, how could we ever know the pope was no
longer the pope? Who would make the determination? By what authority? And how
could they do this without the protection of infallibility? And if the people
determined a man was no longer pope, this would require election of a new pope,
yet lay persons have no authority to elect a new pope.
* The sedevacantist position would completely destroy all
certainty concerning our leaders. If persons could lose their positions
automatically by adopting a heretical position, how could we ever be certain
with regard to any prelate? There really could be no certainty because we don't
know a prelate's thoughts on all matters. It's perfectly possible that a trusted
and apparently orthodox pope secretly holds a heretical position on some matter.
Besides the pope, lay persons also do not have authority/power over bishops or
priests, yet it is known that various prelates have taught outright heresy. To
be consistent, one adopting the sedevacantist position would also have to reject
erring bishops & priests based on their own judgment (and likewise various
sacraments of those bishops & priests). One would be permitted to think there
could be no one left in the Church if this was taken to its logical conclusion
with every lay person (orthodox or not) having an 'equal right' to reject a
prelate upon their recognition of supposed (or actual) heresy. How could
Christ's promise concerning the gates of hell ever be maintained with this type
of 'private judgment' system? How could you have any certainty over your
Confirmation? Your confessions? The Holy Eucharist at any given parish? How
could you ever be sure that any given prelate didn't hold a single heretical
position? Have you thoroughly questioned any single priest or bishop about the
* Much of the trouble concerning post-conciliar popes'
actions may ultimately be tied to a misunderstanding of infallibility.
Infallibility is actually very limited (for more on infallibility, see
here). One can make mistakes and still be pope, just like a mother/father
can err without thereby losing their right to parentage over their children.
* We can (and should) reject any false teaching in
accordance with scriptural instructions (e.g. see Gal. 1:8), but that fact alone
does not give us the power or authority to remove/reject the lawful holder of an
office. Lay persons don't have the power to confer an office automatically to
someone who is orthodox, nor do we have the power or authority determine that
someone has automatically lost their office by failing to be orthodox (small
'o', of course).
* The sedevacantist position employs rather simplistic
logic that is not supported by scripture or tradition. Where in scripture or
history does an erring prelate automatically lose his office? Were not rather
the office holders' positions respected even while they were in error? (For
example, see Matthew Chapter 23)
* Even Sr. Lucy, a Fatima seer (visionary of the Mother of
God!), recognized post-conciliar popes as popes.
With the sedevacantist
position, people must necessarily recognize different popes / bishops / priests.
They can have no real certainty or tranquility. They must rely on individuals'
fallible private judgment (individuals who, using sedevacantist logic, may "no
longer be Catholic" because they held to some heresy). They surely must usurp
authority not belonging to them (e.g. to 'elect a new pope'). They adhere to a
'parallel hierarchy' and may consider themselves the only "true Catholics". They
disagree amongst each other. They have no realistic means out of their situation
as long as they hold onto this position. They disagree with nearly all Catholics
and even a visionary of the Mother of God.
For other arguments
against sedevacantism, you could try online. You should find a number of articles that
worthily refute the sedevacantist position.
In any event, we
believe the solution to today's crisis (from a mere human perspective) is for
Catholics to work from within the Church and to lead holy lives. We must also
pray daily for the Church and for the pope and do what we can to help. Christ
loves His Church and we must trust in Him and in His promises. While we cannot
not blindly follow or accept scandalous actions of our leaders, we also cannot
simply depose/reject them on our own authority. The sedevacantist position seems
to me like a case of 'throwing the baby out with the bath water'. The office of
the pope is too important for it to be lost invisibly or for it to be subject to
the private judgment of individuals. Rather, it is a divinely protected office,
that is exercised by human beings who may occasionally err. Christ did not
promise us absolute perfection from our leaders, but rather infallibility is a
limited protection. As the Church has stated...
approbation of the sacred Council, teach and explain that the dogma has been
divinely revealed: that the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra, that is,
when carrying out the office of pastor and teacher of all Christians, by virtue
of his supreme apostolic authority he defines a doctrine regarding faith or
morals to be held by the universal Church, through the divine assistance
promised him in blessed Peter, possesses that infallibility with which the
divine Redeemer willed that His Church be endowed for defining doctrine
regarding faith and morals; and so such definitions of the Roman Pontiff of
themselves, and not from the consensus of the Church, are irreformable."
(Vatican Council I)
Outside of these
limits, the popes unfortunately can & do make mistakes.
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