29 March 2013

Just in Case

Even posting this link will set off some readers of this blog. It might be considered unnecessary by all seven of them. However, in the off chance that anyone who is justly dismayed by the auto demolition of the Church since 1962 and the recent turmoil and uncertainty is even thinking of peering down the rabbit hole of sedevacantism, this article from The Remnant should definitively end any doubt.

Though sedevacantism is not a problem in any traditionalist group recognized by Rome (and is not likely prevalent in SSPX communities either, from what I understand), some of us may have family or friends who are sedevacantists or who are drawn to flirt with that position. And when one looks superficially or even soberly at some of the scandalous nonsense that has occurred in the Church, and even in the higher levels of the hierarchy, it is understandable that one looks for answers that satisfy Christ's guarantee that the Church would prevail over the gates of hell.

The problem with forming conclusions is that we have no authority to do so on such a weighty matter as this: Does a pope cease being pope if he is a manifest public heretic? If so, how does this occur? And on whose authority?

If you are still reading this and have never heard the various theories behind sedevacantism-by-heresy, you are no doubt mystified. No problem, feel free to move on with your life. If otherwise, I urge you to read the linked article, which is lengthy but well-reasoned, well-cited, and which discusses the writings of St. Thomas, Suarez, Cajetan, St. Robert Bellarmine and others. It covers all the bases and even historical examples.

Bravo to The Remnant for posting it. And I suppose it is noteworthy to the current crisis that it sure seems to be timely posted.

From the Conclusion:

Just before our Lord’s Passion, He said to His disciples: “All you shall be scandalized in me this night. For it is written: I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be dispersed”. (Mt. 26:31) According to tradition, the life of the Church will parallel the life of Christ, and at the end experience a passion similar to that of its head. The Church today is following our Lord through His passion. We can even discern a mystical death taking place, in what seems to be a separation of the body and soul of the Church. At the end of our Lord’s Passion, His human soul separation of His body at once, and as such death was instantaneous. But with the Church, the mystical death – separation of body and soul - is extending over a period of time as more and more of its visible members defect interiorly from the Faith.

In such unusual circumstances as this, it is certainly understandable that Catholics would be confused; and it is equally understandable that they would be scandalized by the action and inaction of the recent Popes, who may indeed have lost the Faith. But as we have seen, the loss of faith, in and of itself, does not result in the loss of Papal office. Neither do actions that render a Pope suspect of heresy. And even if a Pope was a manifest heretic (which requires a public warning) there is a two-fold opinion on whether or not he would automatically lose his office, or only be rendered deposable; yet, as we have seen, on the practical level both opinions require a judgment and declaration from the Church. Since none of the recent popes have been given a public warning, and since none have been declared heretics by the proper authorities, they do not qualify as manifest heretics. Therefore, as bad as one may think they have been, they have retained their office.


Chris said...

It occurred to me that the Remnant article was preparing its readers for the publications' move into sedevacantism. Could this article be a trial balloon to ascertain reaction?
When I first started reading it, I thought that I was reading something from Most Holy Family Monastery. (They love to use the term "manifest heretic".)
Anyway, all of that talk is way above my pay grade. I'll stick with the Pope.

thetimman said...

Chris, quite the opposite. I took it as a reassurance to their readers who might be shocked by recent events. A bulwark, if you will.

Chris said...

Thank you for pointing out another way to look at the article. They had always seemed supportive of the papacy in the past and I hadn't noticed that they ever dealt with the subject of sedevacantism. You are probably right. Maybe they are just putting things in a cooler perspective.

Frank said...

"deceived by imprudent zeal for souls"

Pius XII, Humani Generis

Get ready see just what that great pope meant by imprudent zeal.

Bill said...

Excellent article. Best defense of the Ecclesia Dei or "indult" traditionalists yet.

I see one problem. If a pope cannot lose office without a formal declaration by the Church declaring him to be a heretic, then he retains not only his juridical but also his teaching authority. Is the author suggesting that the promise of infallibility and indefectibility would prevent a heretic pope from authoritatively teaching heresy or imposing laws and commandments contrary to the faith? This really is the heart of the matter, isn't it.

Sedevacantists hold their position because they believe that popes have done just this. At least that's what I think motivates them. They are trying to justify their resistance to these teachings and commands. Because, in the end, you can't resist a legitimate pope. Or can you?

Who cares about secret heretics or the internal forum, or poorly written books that smack of heresy?

The only problem is what a pope teaches and commands.

Alison said...

Pope John XXII preached successive Good Friday sermons in which he preached there was only one judgment. He later retracted and expressed believe in a particular judgement. That kind of thing has always bothered me. Probably better for me to think less about that. Thanks for the article.

Long pants said...

We watched the Miracle Maker last night with our kids and during the scenes where the keepers of the faith were aghast at the things Jesus said and did, I couldn't help thinking about all those suffering from apoplexy with every move or word from Pope Francis. We shake our heads at the Pharisees and Sadducees of Jesus' time, but they are clearly still with us.

Anonymous said...

Please explain what sedevacantism means. I don't understand what everyone else here seems to be referring to. Thanks.

Tim in Iowa

Jane Chantal said...

Washing the feet of men only is a ritual that faithfully adheres to what Jesus said and did -- and yet, curiously, some today appear to be aghast at it. The same Jesus who spoke to the Samaritan woman, defying the cultural conventions of that time, chose males to be His Apostles -- the template for our priesthood. Yet, curiously, some today are apoplectic over that. I wonder who are the modern-day Pharisees and Sadducees, angry when anyone dares to defy their rigid code of political correctness.

It matters little to me where in the Vatican the Pope prefers to live, or what kind of shoes he pefers to wear, or how many candles he prefers to see on the altar. I wasn't worried, until Holy Thursday. Now I feel like Dorothy waking up in Oz. The Emerald City holds less than no allure for me.

Diego said...

Now is a good time to demonstrate our obedience to the Sovereign Pontiff - but not in the way envisioned by liberals.

The Holy Father wishes us to help the poor. Indeed we should! But over and beyond the corporal works of mercy (which of course should not be neglected), we must not fail to aid them in their spiritual needs.

Arrange for a priest to offer a Traditional Mass in a poverty-stricken area. Before and after the Mass, and within it (during the sermon), the good father has an excellent opportunity to explain why the poor, as children of God and alike in dignity in every way to the rich and powerful, have the right to worship our Lord and God in the best way possible. He has an excellent opportunity to explain how dumbed-down liturgies can actually be an insult to the poor. He might speak of the great humility of St. Jean-Marie Vianney, who subsisted on the plainest food and lived in the most appalling conditions and took no delight in earthly honours (thus reserving little material comfort or finery for himself), yet who felt great joy whenever some new liturgical equipment of splendid workmanship would be delivered to his parish - knowing, of course, that such vestments and regalia and furnishings were not for himself, but for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, offered for the glory of God and for the salvation of souls.

As for laypeople in traditional parishes, this is also a wonderful opportunity for them to act and help the less fortunate. Organise food kitchens, medical missions - whatever might be appropriate under the circumstances. Along with meals and medicines, dispense such things as solidly traditional prayer books and missals, icons and rosaries (with booklets to pray the traditional 15 mysteries of course!), scapulars and mantillas, catechisms and holy cards. Explain, as one Christian to another, and as perfect equals in the sight of the Lord, how the use of such things as chapel veils, rather than useless anachronisms, actually adds to and highlights their dignity as children of God.

And don't forget to distribute bottles of traditionally-blessed holy water, that they might use it frequently to send the hounds of Hell scurrying from their homes and neighbourhoods!

Now indeed is the time to reach out. Now indeed is the time to help those in need. Our Sovereign Pontiff commands us to help the poor, and help the poor we shall - by restoring to them the sacred traditions that have so unjustly been denied to them all these years.

Diego said...

Sorry, as the author of the rather long-winded comment submitted earlier, I'd like to make a pious request that someone registered on Father Z's blog might also post the above-mentioned comment there, under the recent post thanking Pope Francis for indirectly promoting Summorum. (Provided, of course, that the comment is thought to be of some value and might be helpful in some way; otherwise please do ignore this request!) I'm not registered there and couldn't comment.

Cheers and may the good Lord bless you all. Happy Easter!

thetimman said...

Tim in Iowa,

Sedevacantism is a term based on the Latin phrase for "empty seat". It is a term for the belief that the chair of Peter is vacant, that there is no pope. We are all sedevacantists when the pope dies, or abdicates, until the next is elected.

Certain sedevacantists today think Pius XII or maybe John XXIII was the last true pope. Why? Google it if you must, but be warned it may not be prudent to dwell on these theories.