Tag: sedevacantism

Sickness Unimaginable

Sickness Unimaginable posted in Eleison Comments on March 7, 2015

In the Society of St Pius X’s “hot summer” of 1976, after Paul VI “suspended” Archbishop Lefebvre for ordaining 14 priests for Tradition, the clash between Pope and Catholic Tradition was so sharp that one of the two moments occurred that August when the Archbishop most seriously considered whether the See of Rome might be vacant. As can be heard from the recording of words he then spoke, he was agonizing over that clash: how possibly could a true Vicar of Christ be so destroying the Church? The Archbishop never finally adopted the sedevacantist solution, but let us see how clearly he stated the problem, and then offer once more a line of solution which he may have been too sane in mind to think of. Here is a summary of his words in August of 1976:—

People ask me what I think of the Pope [Paul VI]. It is an incredible mystery. The true Pope is the unity of the Church, inspired by the Holy Ghost, and protected by the promise of Our Lord in upholding the Faith. But in the aftermath of Vatican II, Paul VI is systematically destroying the Church. Nothing is spared: catechism, universities, Congregations, seminaries, schools. Everything Catholic is being destroyed. One looks for a solution.

A series of false solutions can be dismissed out of hand, e.g. Paul VI is a prisoner, drugged, victim of his underlings, etc. For when he blessed the Charismatics or kissed the feet of the Orthodox Patriarch, did he have a revolver at his head? I have watched him in public audiences, speaking with the skill, presence of mind, pertinence and intelligence of a man in full possession of his faculties. Cardinal Benelli told me that it was the Pope himself who wrote those letters to me [crushing Tradition], that he is fully informed, that he knows exactly what he is doing, it is his will, they are his decisions. The Cardinal said that he reported to the Pope every day, and would do so again, straight after our own conversation.

Then can Paul VI be not a true Pope? That is one possible hypothesis. Theologians have studied the problem. I do not know. Do not put words in my mouth. But the problem seems theologically insoluble.

The Archbishop spoke of Paul VI, but the problem is essentially the same for all six Conciliar Popes (except perhaps John-Paul I). Let us divide the problem in two: how can the true God allow such destruction of his Church? How can his true Vicars be the main destroyers?

As for Almighty God, firstly the destruction will be still worse at world’s end (Lk. XVIII, 8). Secondly, God may easily be purifying his Church to prepare for the Triumph of his Mother’s Immaculate Heart. Thirdly, God did protect Paul VI from utterly destroying the Church, when for instance he arranged for the “chance” discovery to Paul VI of a plan to dissolve the Papacy by the text of Lumen Gentium. This enabled the Pope to block the plan by adding the Nota Praevia.

As for the Vicars, Archbishop Lefebvre never seems to have considered the solution which follows, which may be why in that August even he seems to have been nearly impaled on the horns of the sedevacantist-or-liberal dilemma. But if with each year liberalism comes closer to confusing the mind of every man on earth, how should the Popes escape the universal malady of being “sincerely” wrong? Because they are educated men? But liberalism reigns especially in the schools and universities. So if the miseducated Conciliar Popes are “sincerely” convinced that “truth” evolves, they will not even by their grave errors be pertinaciously denying what they know to be defined Catholic Truth, because even defined Truth, if it is to be for them “truth,” evolves in their direction.

Kyrie eleison.

Living Popes

Living Popes posted in Eleison Comments on November 29, 2014

On January 29, 1949, Pope Pius XII made the following remarks about the importance of the Pope: If ever one day – speaking purely hypothetically – material Rome were to collapse; if ever this Vatican basilica, symbol of the one and only victorious Catholic Church, were to bury beneath its ruins the historic treasures and sacred tombs which it encloses, even then the Church would be in no way demolished or split. Christ’s promise to Peter would still hold true, the Papacy would last for ever, like the Church, one and indestructible, being founded on the Pope then living .”

Since these words are classic Church doctrine (only the underlining has been added), resting as they do on Our Lord’s own words (Mt. XVI, 16–18), then it is small wonder if, ever since 1962 when the living Popes became Conciliar, millions upon millions of Catholics have been driven to becoming likewise Conciliar and liberal. The only way out of the problem that sedevacantists can see is to deny that the Conciliar Popes have been Popes at all, which can seem to be common sense, but to most Catholics it seems even more to be common sense that the Church designed by God to rest upon the living Pope cannot have existed for the last half century (1962–2014) without one.

It is easy to see how the decline of Christian civilisation since the height of the Middle Ages has led to the present corruption of the living Popes. It is easy to see how God can have permitted this appalling corruption to punish that appalling decline. What is less easy to see is how the Church can still live when the living Popes on whom it is founded are convinced that liberalism, war on God, is Catholic. In Our Lord’s own words, A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit and an evil tree cannot bring forth good fruit (Mt. VII, 18).

But a tree half good, half bad, can produce fruits half good, half bad. Now taken as a whole, a mixture of good and bad is bad, but that does not mean that taken part by part, the mixture’s good parts are as bad as its bad parts. Cancer in the liver will kill me, but that does not mean that I have cancer in the lungs. Now no living churchman, any more than any man alive, is entirely good or entirely bad. We are all a fluctuating mixture until the day we die. So can there ever have been a living Pope whose fruits were entirely evil? The answer can only be, no. In which case the Catholic Church can have half-lived for the last 50 years on the half-good fruits of the Conciliar Popes, with a half-life permitted by God to purify his Church, but which he would never permit to go so far as to kill his Church.

Thus for example Paul VI wept for the lack of vocations. Benedict XVI hankered after Tradition. Even Pope Francis surely means to bring men to God when he drags God down to men. So, Conciliar Popes are dreadfully mistaken in their ideas, fatally ambiguous in the Faith where they need to be absolutely unambiguous. The Church has been and is dying beneath them, but whatever parts in them have still been good have enabled the Church to continue, and they have been needed as living heads to continue the body of the living Church, as Pius XII said. Then let us not fear that they will be allowed to kill off the Church, but let us for our part fight their liberalism tooth and nail and pray for their return to Catholic sanity, because we do need them for the life of our Church.

Kyrie eleison.

Context Upended

Context Upended posted in Eleison Comments on September 20, 2014

Starting out from arguments against sedevacantism as being a short-sighted error in a wholly abnormal situation, an Italian friend (C.C.) takes a longer view of that situation. Without being a priest or theologian, he ventures the opinion that sedevacantism is merely one of several attempts in the Church to fit the crisis of today into the categories of yesterday. There is no question of Catholic theology changing, but the real situation to which that theology has to be applied underwent a sea-change with Vatican II. Here is a key paragraph of his on that upended reality:—

“By its refusal of the objective reality of God’s existence and of the need to submit to his Law, today’s world is not normal, and the present Catholic unity is not normal either which has put man instead of God at the centre of things. Nor is it by a sudden swerve that the Church has arrived at this abnormal state of things, but following on a long and complex process of moving away from God, the disruptive effects of which showed up at Vatican II. For hundreds of years the germs of dissolution have been fostered within the Church, as have the men harbouring these germs, and they have beeen allowed to occupy all ranks of the hierarchy, up to and including the See of Peter.”

My friend goes on that if one fails to take into consideration this overall abnormality of the present state of the Church, which is unbelievably, yet truly, worse than ever, one runs the risk of dealing with a reality that no longer exists, in terms of reference that no longer apply. Thus for example the sedevacantists will say that today’s churchmen must know what they are doing, because they are intelligent and educated men. Not so, says C.C.: their preaching and practice may well no longer be Catholic, but they are convinced that they are wholly orthodox. The whole world has gone mad. They have merely gone mad with it, not by a loss of reason but by having given up the use of it, and as their Catholic faith grows weaker, so there is less and less to stop them from losing it altogether.

But then, one might object, God must have abandoned his Church. To reply, CC resorts to three quotations from Scripture. Firstly, Lk.XVIII, 8, where Our Lord wonders if he will even find the Faith on earth when he comes back. Obviously a small remainder of priests and laity (with perhaps some bishops) will be enough to ensure the indefectibility of the Church until the end of the world (one thinks of the present difficulties of the “Resistance” in taking shape). Likewise, secondly, Mt.XXIV, 11–14, where it is foreseen that many false prophets will deceive many souls, and charity will grow cold. And thirdly, Lk.XXII, 31–32, where Our Lord instructs Peter to confirm his brethren in the faith after he has converted, strongly suggesting that his faith will first have failed. So almost the whole hierarchy can fail, including Peter, without the Church ceasing to be indefectible, somewhat like when the Apostles all ran away in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mt.XXVI, 56).

In conclusion, CC’s vision for the Church of tomorrow or the day after strongly resembles that of Fr Calmel: let each of us do his duty according to his state of life, and take part in building a network of little forts of the Faith, each with a priest to ensure the sacraments, but with no henceforth inapplicable theology of the Church, nor unobtainable canonical approval, nor with any out-dated dividing-walls over the top of which the Faith will have flowed. The forts will be united by the Truth and will have mutual contacts of charity. The rest is in God’s hands.

Kyrie eleison.

Popes Fallible

Popes Fallible posted in Eleison Comments on September 13, 2014

Neither liberals nor sedevacantists appreciate being told that they are like heads and tails of the same coin, but it is true. For instance, neither of them can conceive of a third alternative. See for instance in his Letter to Three Bishops of April 14, 2012 , how Bishop Fellay could see no alternative to his liberalism except sedevacantism. Conversely, for many a sedevacantist if one accepts that any of the Conciliar Popes has really been Pope, then one can only be a liberal, and if one criticises sedevacantism, then one is promoting liberalism. But not at all!

Why not? Because both of them are making the same error of exaggerating the Pope’s infallibility. Why? Might it be because both of them are modern men who believe more in persons than in institutions? And why should that be a feature of modern men? Because from more or less Protestantism onwards, fewer and fewer institutions have truly sought the common good, while more and more seek some private interest such as money (my claim on you), which of course diminishes our respect for them. For instance, good men saved for a while the rotten institution of modern banking from having immediately all its evil effects, but the rotten banksters are at last showing what the institutions of fractional reserve banking and central banks were, in themselves, from the beginning. The Devil is in modern structures, thanks to the enemies of God and man.

So it is understandable if modern Catholics have tended to put too much faith in the Pope and too little in the Church, and here is the answer to that reader who asked me why I do not write about infallibility in the same way that the classic Catholic theology manuals do. Those manuals are marvellous in their way, but they were all written before Vatican II, and they tended to attach to the Pope an infallibility which belongs to the Church. For instance, the summit of infallibility is liable to be presented in the manuals as a solemn definition by the Pope, or by Pope with Council, but in any case by the Pope. The liberal-sedevacantist dilemma has been the consequence and, as it were, a punishment of this tendency to overrate the person and underrate the institution, because the Church is no merely human institution.

For, firstly, the Solemn Magisterium’s snow-cap on the Ordinary Magisterium’s mountain is its summit only in a very limited way – it is completely supported by the rock summit beneath the snow. And secondly, by the Church’s most authoritative text on infallibility, the Definition of the truly Catholic Council of Vatican I (1870), we know that the Pope’s infallibility comes from the Church, and not the other way round. When the Pope engages all four conditions necessary for ex cathedra teaching, then, says the Definition, he possesses “that infallibility which the divine Redeemer willed his Church to enjoy in defining doctrine.” But of course! Where else can infallibility come from, except from God? The best of human beings, and some Popes have been very good human beings, may be inerrant, i.e. make no mistakes, but as long as they have original sin they cannot be infallible as God alone can be. If they are infallible, the infallibility must come through, but from outside, their humanity, from God, who chooses to bestow it through the Catholic Church, and that infallibility need only be a momentary gift, for the duration of the Definition.

Therefore outside of a Pope’s ex cathedra moments, nothing stops him from talking nonsense such as the new religion of Vatican II. Therefore neither liberals nor sedevacantists need or should heed that nonsense, because, as Archbishop Lefebvre said, they have 2000 years’ worth of Ordinarily infallible Church teaching by which to judge that it is nonsense.

Kyrie eleison.

Church Infallibility – V

Church Infallibility – V posted in Eleison Comments on May 31, 2014

Liberalism is war on God, and it is the dissolution of truth. Within today’s Church crippled by liberalism, sedevacantism is an understandable reaction, but it still credits authority with too much power over truth. The modern world has lost natural truth, let alone supernatural truth, and here is the heart of the problem.

For our purposes we might divide all papal teaching into three parts. Firstly, if the Pope teaches as Pope, on Faith or morals, definitively and so as to bind all Catholics, then we have his Extraordinary Magisterium (EM for short), necessarily infallible. Secondly, if he does not engage all four conditions but teaches in line with what the Church has always and everywhere taught and imposed on Catholics to believe, then he is partaking in what is called the Church’s “Ordinary Universal Magisterium” (OUM for short), also infallible. Thirdly we have the rest of his teaching, which, if it is out of line with Tradition, is not only fallible but also false.

By now it should be clear that the EM is to the OUM as snow-cap is to mountain. The snow-cap does not make the summit of the mountain, it merely makes it more visible. EM is to OUM as servant to master. It exists to serve the OUM by making clear once and for all what does or does not belong to the OUM. But what makes the rest of the mountain visible, so to speak, is its being traceable back to Our Lord and his Apostles, in other words, Tradition. That is why every EM definition is at pains to show that what is being defined was always previously part of Tradition. It was mountain before it was covered in snow.

By now it should also be clear that Tradition tells the Popes what to teach, and not the other way round. This is the basis on which Archbishop Lefebvre founded the Traditional movement, yet it is this same basis which, with all due respect, liberals and sedevacantists fail to grasp. Just see in the Gospel of St John how often Our Lord himself, as man, declares that what he is teaching comes not from himself but from his Father, for instance: “My doctrine is not mine but his that sent me” (VII, 16), or, “I have not spoken from out of myself; but the Father who sent me, he gave me commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak” (XII, 49). Of course nobody on earth is more authorized than the Pope to tell Church and world what is in Tradition, but he cannot tell Church or world that there is in Tradition what is not in it. What is in it is objective, now 2,000 years old, it is above the Pope and it sets limits to what a Pope can teach , just as the Father’s commandment set limits to what Christ as man would teach.

Then how can liberals and sedevacantists alike claim, in effect, that the Pope is infallible even outside of both EM and OUM? Because both overrate authority in relation to truth, and so they see Church authority no longer as the servant but as the master of truth. And why is that? Because they are both children of the modern world where Protestantism defied the Truth and liberalism ever since the French Revolution has been dissolving objective truth. And if there is no longer any objective truth, then of course authority can say whatever it can get away with, which is what we observe all around us, and there is nothing left to stop a Paul VI or a Bishop Fellay from becoming more and more arbitrary and tyrannical in the process.

Mother of God, obtain for me to love, discern and defend that Truth and order coming from the Father, both supernatural and natural, to which your own Son was as man subject, “unto death, even to the death of the Cross.”

Kyrie eleison.

Church’s Infallibility – III

Church’s Infallibility – III posted in Eleison Comments on May 17, 2014

The crazy words and deeds of Pope Francis are presently driving many believing Catholics towards sedevacantism, which is dangerous. The belief that the Conciliar Popes have not been and are not Popes may begin as an opinion, but all too often one observes that the opinion turns into a dogma and then into a mental steel trap. I think the minds of many sedevacantists shut down because the unprecedented crisis of Vatican II has caused their Catholic minds and hearts an agony which found in sedevacantism a simple solution, and they have no wish to re-open the agony by re-opening the question. So they positively crusade for others to share their simple solution, and in so doing many of them – not all – end up displaying an arrogance and a bitterness which are no signs or fruits of a true Catholic.

Now these “Comments” have abstained from proclaiming with certainty that the Conciliar Popes have been true Popes, but at the same time they have argued that the usual sedevacantist arguments are neither conclusive nor binding upon Catholics, as some sedevacantists would have us believe. Let us return to one of their most important arguments, which is from Papal infallibility: Popes are infallible. But liberals are fallible, and Conciliar Popes are liberal. Therefore they are not Popes.

To this one may object that a Pope is certainly infallible only when he engages the four conditions of the Church’s Extraordinary Magisterium by teaching 1 as Pope, 2 on Faith or morals, 3 definitively, 4 so as to bind all Catholics. Whereupon sedevacantists and liberals alike reply that it is Church teaching that the Ordinary Universal Magisterium is also infallible, so – and here is the weak point in their argument – whenever the Pope teaches solemnly even outside of his Extraordinary Magisterium, he must also be infallible. Now their liberal Conciliar teaching is solemn. Therefore we must become either liberals or sedevacantists, depending of course on who is wielding the same argument.

But the hallmark of teaching which belongs to the Church’s Ordinary Universal Magisterium is not the solemnity with which the Pope teaches outside of the Extraordinary Magisterium, but whether what he is teaching corresponds, or not, to what Our Lord, his Apostles and virtually all their successors, the bishops of the Universal Church, have taught in all times and in all places, in other words whether it corresponds to Tradition. Now Conciliar teaching (e.g. religious liberty and ecumenism) is in rupture with Tradition. Therefore Catholics today are not in fact bound to become liberals or sedevacantists.

However, both liberals and sedevacantists cling to their misunderstanding of Papal infallibility for reasons that are not without interest, but that is another story. In any case they do not give up easily, so they come back with another objection which deserves to be answered. Both of them will say that to argue that Tradition is the hallmark of the Ordinary Magisterium is to set up a vicious circle. For if the Church’s teaching authority, or Magisterium, exists to tell what is Church doctrine, as it does, then how can the Traditional doctrine at the same time tell what is the Magisterium? Either the teacher authorises what is taught, or what is taught authorises the teacher, but they cannot both at the same time authorise each other. So to argue that Tradition which is taught authorises the Ordinary Magisterium which is teaching, is wrong, and so the Pope is infallible not only in his Extraordinary teaching, and so we must become either liberals or sedevacantists, they conclude.

Why there is no vicious circle must wait until next week. It is as interesting as why both sedevacantists and liberals fall into the same error on infallibility.

Kyrie eleison.