Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Cure For Sedevacantism?

 A reader left some interesting questions/observations at my last post of 2/16/14. It involves sedevacantists and electing the next pope to end the interregnum. I will reproduce his comments and add my response in red. I would also like to direct the reader to my post of 5/10/13, "Attempting To Replace The Heretical With The Delusional," as I partially addressed that issue there and will reprint parts of it.

My reader comments: This is a serious question. Have sedevacantists (outside the lunatic fringe) ever considered electing their own pope? I don't want to be flippant but the sedevacantists seem not to have the courage of their convictions. After all, according to the sedes, the papal claimants and hierarchy are outside the church. Aren't those still within the church then obligated to elect a pope? They seem to be waiting for a sign or divine intervention, but you know what Our Lord said about those who "seeketh after a sign". The great western schism is always held up as a scandal, but may it really be the proper model for handling such a situation? After all, a true claimant eventually emerged. Why don't the sedes lead a movement to elect a true pope? How could the Almighty be against such a thing if the sede claimant (1) held and defended the faith; and (2) dedicated himself to saving those who have been led into error? By failing to advance a rival claimant to contest the conciliar pope, the sedes seem to be making the conciliar pope's job of destroying the faith much easier. 

The problem with this age of near universal apostasy is that there are no fast and sure answers on how to get out of it and bring back a true pontiff. As Fr. Cekada has written:
 IF THE POST-VATICAN II popes are not true popes, how might the Church one day get a true pope again? Here are some theories:1. Direct Divine Intervention. This scenario is found in the writingsof some approved mystics.2. The Material/Formal Thesis. This holds that should a post-Vatican II pope publicly renounce the heresies of the post-Conciliar Church, he would automatically become a true pope.3. An Imperfect General Council. The theologian Cajetan (1469–1534) and others teach that, should the College of Cardinals become extinct, the right to elect a pope would devolve to the clergy of Rome, and then to the universal Church. (de Comparatione13, 742, 745)Each of these seems to present some difficulties. But this should not be surprising, because the precise solution to an unusual problem in the Church cannot always be predicted beforehand.This can be seen from the following comment in the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia: “No canonical provisions exist regulatingthe authority of the College of Cardinals sede Romanâ impeditâ, i.e. in case the pope became insane, or personally a heretic; insuch cases it would be necessary to consult the dictates of right reason and the teachings of history.” (“Cardinal,” CE 3:339) 

Sedevacantists are basically divided into three "camps" so to speak, as to how the pontiff can be brought back:
1. The Divine Interventionists, who are waiting for a miracle from God.
2. The Sedeprivationists who hold to the material/formal thesis. Accordingly, Francis is a material pope, not a formal one. What this means is that he is a place holder, like being elected U.S. president by the electoral college, but impeded from taking the oath of office. You would become president if you could take the oath. Analogously, if Bergoglio were to publicly  abjure his heresies and embrace the Catholic Faith (then getting a valid ordination and consecration from a Traditionalist bishop) he would formally become Pope.
3. The Sedevacantists proper.  This would include those, like myself, who aren't convinced by the material/formal thesis of the sedeprivationists, and think an imperfect general council is the way to go.

 Now I'm sure my reader can see that the problem would lie in getting sedeprivationists (e.g. Bishop Sanborn embraces this view) and divine interventionists to work with sedevacantists proper on an imperfect general council. God has His reasons for doing what He does and His ways are not ours. It will take time to get a general consensus on what to do. In the meantime we hold fast to the Faith. 

Next, my reader says:A few more observations. The sedes (and SSPX for that matter) are always claiming that the conciliar popes and hierarchy believe, teach and do things the church has always condemned. As a result, the sedes (but not the SSPX) conclude that the popes and hierarchy are heretics and outside the church. But I can say the same thing about the sedes! The sedes (and SSPX) have adopted a form of church government the church has never used before - essentially the orthodox model where you have a collection of autocephalous entities that do not take orders from one another. I can say that adopting such a model is heretical - the church is a monarchy not a loose confederation. Those who do not recognize the conciliar pope either explicitly (the sedes) or implicitly (SSPX) are obligated, it would seem to me, to come together and elect their own pope and then, the hard part - TO OBEY HIM. Otherwise, the sedes and SSPX are using a form of church governance NOT instituted by Our Lord. Further, if the sedes and SSPX did elect a Pope and the election was in accordance with the will of the Almighty, those in the conciliar church would be obligated to acknowledge the sede and SSPX pope as the true pope and the conciliar pope for the heretical antipope they always have been, How can a true pope ever emerge if those who hold the faith don't advance one of their own into the fray?

 Once more, it is vital to have a deep knowledge of the Faith in these unprecedented times. The SSPX, who believe that Francis is pope cannot "elect" a "rival pope." There can only be one visible Head of the Church of Christ. To attemp to elect another would be admitting to electing an antipope. As to the charge that we sedevacantists have set up a "church" akin to the Eastern schismatics, this is simply false as proven by the teaching of the Church Herself. According to theologian Dorsch:

  “The Church therefore is a society that is essentially monarchical. But this does not prevent the Church, for a short time after the death of a pope, or even for many years, from remaining deprived of her head. [vel etiam per plures annos capite suo destituta manet]. Her monarchical form also remains intact in this state.…
 “Thus the Church is then indeed a headless body.… Her monarchical form of government remains, though then in a different way — that is, it remains incomplete and to be completed. The ordering of the whole to submission to her Primate is present, even though actual submission is not…
 “For this reason, the See of Rome is rightly said to remain after the person sitting in it has died — for the See of Rome consists essentially in the rights of the Primate.
      “These rights are an essential and necessary element of the Church. With them, moreover, the Primacy then continues, at least morally. The perennial physical presence of the person of the head, however, [perennitas autem physica personis principisis not so strictly necessary.” (de Ecclesia 2:196–7)
It is the teaching of the Church that she can be deprived of a visible Head for for many years and still Her monarchical structure remains.
 In summation, it is prudent to wait and discern the Will of God with patience and in keeping with Church teaching. As I will be writing about in the near future, it is prudent for Traditionalist Bishops to begin talking to each other in some sort of synod and try to work out these problems. Trying to "advance one of our own into the fray" without taking however long as necessary to find the Will of God will give us a dubious "pope" and a cure that is worse than the disease. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Bishop Williamson Is Infallibly Wrong

Once more Bishop Richard Williamson, expelled from the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), and now heading up his own order (Society of St. Pius X of the Strict Observance or SSPX-SO), is trying to refute sedevacantism by offering an interesting argument based on the Church's Infallibility. In his latest e-letter called "Eleison Comments," he claims that Modernists (he calls them "liberals") and sedevacantists (i.e. true Catholics), do not have opposing views, but rather think alike! I summarize his points in black, and comment below in red

 Bp. Williamson proposes this syllogism:
Major Premise: Popes are infallible
Minor Premise: Conciliar popes are liberal
Liberal Conclusion: We must become liberal

First, I'm a bit confused by his use of the term "liberal." This is theology not politics. If he means liberal, as in Modernist, fine. He should use the correct label. Liberalism can also refer to religious indifferentism which is but one aspect of Modernism, "the synthesis of all heresies." His next syllogism follows.

Major Premise: Popes are infallible
Minor Premise: Conciliar popes are liberal
Sedevacantist Conclusion: They (conciliar popes) cannot be popes

So far, he seems to get it. "Seems" is the key word. If Jorge Bergoglio is pope, then he can't be a liberal, (i.e. Modernist or Indifferentist) as this would be heresy. Therefore, all appearances and logic to the contrary, what Francis teaches must be Catholic truth and we must follow him.....OR if he is liberal, then his claims to the contrary, Francis is an Antipope. But wait! Bp.Williamson informs us that the problem lies not in the minor premise (the bishop ADMITS the post- Vatican II "popes" are heretics!) or in the logic but in the Major premise, by putting "authority above truth." Huh?

God gave his Churchmen the freedom to err. At Vatican II the Church error (!) went a long way without God allowing His Church to be wholly defectible. Conciliar popes have told many Catholic truths alongside Conciliar errors.

Wow. OK, so the Church can teach error, just not a whole lot of error! Martin Luther himself could have been pope since he taught some Catholic truth alongside his errors. Being Catholic is an all or nothing proposition. If you deny even one truth of faith, or oppose it by teaching something to the contrary, you cease to be Catholic.

How then does someone find the truth? If you look with an upright heart, God will lead you, and Tradition is where you will find the truth. Popes don't make Tradition true, they make it certain by their Extraordinary Magisterium. Archbishop Lefebvre preferred unerring Tradition to erring Popes. Tradition is found in the Ordinary Magisterium. Sedevacantists underestimate the truth, overestimate the popes, and can be tempted to quit the Church altogether.

I met Bp. Williamson in 1985 when he was just Fr. Williamson. He was arrogant and full of himself. He also proves (again and again) that he can't think on his own, but must idolize his ordaining/consecrating Archbishop. Bp.Williamson never cites to relevant authority to back up his novel and strange assertions. Any serious look at what was taught by the theologians before Vatican II, will quickly dispel his nonsensical drivel.

Tradition is to be found in the Ordinary Magisterium? Then, by your own admission, Your Excellency, Vatican II is part of Tradition because it is taught by the Ordinary Magisterium! According to theologian Tanquerey, "The ordinary and universal magisterium is that which is carried on daily through the continuous preaching of the Church among all peoples. It includes: 1. The preaching and proclamations of the Corporate  Body of Bishops..." (See Tanquery, A.,  Manual of Dogmatic Theology 1:177, Emphasis in original). The preaching and proclamations of the bishops at Vatican II, and continuously preached throughout the world by them since then, meets the definition for the heresies of  Vatican II to be part of Tradition. This simply cannot be, as the Church is protected from ALL error, not just SOME error and God gives us a teaching authority for just that purpose. The idea of having God give us a Church that teaches truth alongside error, and then leaves it up to us individually to go around discerning what is true and what is false is so bizarre that I can only wonder how Williamson came up with it. Fr. Cekada gave us two issues that need to be confronted and refuted, if sedevacantism is to be proven false. 

   1. Fact. Certain pronouncements of Vatican II and the post-Conciliar popes on religious liberty, ecumenism and various other doctrinal matters appear to contradict, sometimes word for word, previous Church teachings, or appear to propose as true certain teachings which the Church has condemned in the past. Those who adhere to the sedevacantist position would contend that such pronouncements represent a public defection from the Catholic faith.

2. Law. According to church law, public defection from the Catholic faith automatically deprives a person of all ecclesiastical offices he may hold. Theologians and canonists such as St. Robert Bellarmine, Cajetan, Suarez, Torquemada, and Wernz and Vidal maintain, without compromising the doctrine of papal infallibility, that even a pope may himself become a heretic and thus lose the pontificate. (Some of these authors also maintain that a pope can become a schismatic.) This possibility is recognized even by an authoritative commentary on the 1983 Code of Canon Law:
"Classical canonists discussed the question of whether a pope, in his private or personal opinions, could go into heresy, apostasy, or schism. If he were to do so in a notoriously and widely publicized manner, he would break communion, and according to an accepted opinion, lose his office ipso facto. (c. 194 §1, 2º ). Since no one can judge the pope (c.1404) no one could depose a pope for such crimes, and the authors are divided as to how his loss of office would be declared in such a way that a vacancy could then be filled by a new election." (James A. Corridan et al. editors, The Code of Canon Law: A Text and Commentary commissioned by the Canon Law Society of America [New York: Paulist 1985], c. 333.)

If Bp. Williamson wants to show the sedevacantist position false he must either (1) show that the teachings of Vatican II, the post-conciliar "popes" and the corporate body of bishops have not taught heresy, or (2) in spite of their heresy (and the teaching of the Church on the loss of office through the profession of heresy) they nevertheless retained their authority--and it's on him to demonstrate how.  

Bishop Williamson, you underestimate the importance of the knowledge of Church teaching, overestimate the importance of Archbishop Lefebvre, write shoddy screeds bereft of relevant citations to Church law/teaching, and make up wacko ideas about the nature of the Church. In so doing it is you, and not  sedevacantists, that runs the danger of placing yourself extra ecclesiam, where we all know there is nulla salus. Kyrie eleision on you.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Unanswered Prayer?

   The following story was passed on to me. It is apocryphal, and alleged to have made the go-round in the early 1990s. With Antipope Francis telling us not to be "obsessed" with "small-minded rules" (i.e. traditional Church teachings on morals), I think a story like this one deserves retelling.

   A very pious Traditionalist nun was praying her Rosary before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament every day to beseech Him to put an end to cancer. The good sister had lost her parents and one of her seven siblings to the disease, and she was determined to storm Heaven with her prayers. "If enough good Catholics will pray to end this disease, God can't fail to hear and answer us," she said.

   The holy nun was able to get her entire convent behind the movement. "We think this is a very good intention, and we will join you in daily Rosaries before Our Lord in the tabernacle," her fellow religious told her. Soon, every moment not taken up with rules of the order were spent in this most worthy cause. Undaunted, the good sister was able to spread the word to other convents. Soon, there were thousands of religious (nuns and brothers) praying unceasingly to Almighty God for an end to cancer. Years passed, and cancer continued unabated.

   "There must be more we can do!" proclaimed sister. She spoke to Traditionalist priests and Bishops, who agreed to offer the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for this intention at least once a month. "Surely, God will answer our prayers now! Nothing is more powerful than the unbloody Sacrifice of the Cross!" And so, the prayers and Masses continued for years---as did the instances of cancer. "The laity must be involved too," thought our ever so determined sister. She went and obtained permission to approach as many Traditionalist Bishops as possible and request that they instruct their priests to preach about the need for the laity to offer their Rosaries and Holy Communions for the intention that God will end the horror of cancer.

   So it was done. Tens of thousands of laity the world over began offering their Communions, Rosaries, and making Holy Hours for the dreaded disease to end. More years passed, and still nothing changed. Now in her old age, the dear nun was praying before the Real Presence of Our Lord in the tabernacle, and for the first time in her life she felt discouraged. "Oh Lord, I have tried to be a good nun all my life. I love You above all else. I was certain that if I prayed for a good intention, the end of cancer, You would hear and answer it. Not merely because of my unworthy prayers, but all the prayers offered by the nuns and brothers worldwide. The countless Masses offered by Your loyal Bishops and priests, and the prayers of so many laymen and laywomen--could all of this be for naught? Nevertheless, Your ways are not mine, and Thy Will be done."

   All of a sudden, a bright light shone about the tabernacle! The nun was frightened, but she heard the consoling Voice of Christ telling her not to be afraid. "My dear child," Our Lord said to her, "your prayers and those of so many other members of My One True Church have not been in vain. I have sent you the cure for cancer." The nun was shocked. "Did this happen just now My Lord, for I have not heard any news as of this morning about a cure for cancer?" "No," replied Jesus Christ, "I sent it to you several years ago."

   "Several years ago, My Savior?" "Who has the cure? What has been done with it? Why haven't any of us heard anything about it?"  Christ replied, "I sent you the cure for cancer. However, it's not My fault his mother had an abortion."




Saturday, February 1, 2014

Bishop Williamson: You Don't Need To Be Anxious When You Can't See The Danger

Bishop Richard Williamson, recently expelled from the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), is thinking of consecrating a new bishop for the Society of St. Pius X of the Strict Observance (SSPX-SO). Bp. Williamson's new organization will go the way of the SSPX under Bishop Fellay only slower. Chalk it up to his near pathological refusal to realize that the post-Vatican II "popes" are heretics who cannot be the Vicar of Christ. In his most recent e-letter (entitled "Eleison Comments"), he discusses the same old worn out disproven arguments against sedevacantism.

 Under the banner of "Sedevacantist Anxiety II," Bp. Williamson makes straw-man arguments of the sedevacantist position which he then "refutes." He presents four (4) such caricatures which I will summarize with my comments below in red.

  1. You must either recognize the Vatican II so-called popes "all the way" (like the "liberals") or you must refuse them "all the way" like sedevacantists. This is not true. One must adopt the middle course of Archbishop Lefebvre which is not picking and choosing like a heretic, but picking and choosing according to Tradition.
Wrong. The basic notion that a pope can decree something in Faith, Morals, or universal discipline and YOU (vagrant bishop, Remnant publisher, etc.) get to choose what to accept or not based on what you think Tradition means is un-Catholic and stands condemned.
In a lengthy article, the pre-Vatican II theologian G. Bardy demolished this theory, because the right "to fix and define authentic tradition... belongs to the Church, as inheritor of apostolic succession." Without this, St. Vincent's dictum (i.e. to teach the same as was taught "everywhere, always and by everyone") "appears to leave each individual free to seek out which dogmas are accepted everywhere, always and by everyone," thus leaving "to personal choice the right to judge in the last resort."
This, Canon Bardy noted, was the error of the Gallicans and of the proto-modernist Döllinger (later excommunicated), who opposed papal infallibility at Vatican I. (Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique 15:3051) So if you have a true pope you CAN'T decide according to Tradition, because only the competent authority can do that; sedevacantists recognize that there is no such authority and hold on to the Faith as it was prior to the defection of the hierarchy.
        2. Popes in the past have "poisoned" the Faith, like Pope Liberius, yet he was still the pope, and St. Athanasius was the prototype of Archbishop Lefebvre in leading the true remnant Church.
Hero worship at its worst combined with ignorance of both Church history and theology. Opinions differ on whether or not Pope Liberius signed a statement detrimental to the Faith. Most importantly, he was imprisoned and threatened with death, which is no excuse for not standing up boldly for the Truth, nevertheless means the statement was coerced and not of his own free will which is necessary for the pope to be a heretic.
     3. The Ordinary Magisterium of the Church is infallible. Vatican II is part of that Ordinary Magisterium and has taught "nonsense," therefore, the post-Vatican II popes were not popes. However, if something goes "way outside"  of what the Church has always taught (e.g. ecumenism, religious liberty, etc.). then it's not part of the Ordinary Magisterium and does nothing to prove the post-Vatican II popes as antipopes.
 If something goes outside the teaching of the Ordinary Magisterium ("way outside" or just plain "outside"), then it is EVIL and could NOT have come from the Church.  

"The Church’s infallibility extends to… ecclesiastical laws passed for the universal Church for the direction of Christian worship and Christian living.… But the Church is infallible in issuing a doctrinal decree as intimated above — and to such an extent that it can never sanction a universal law which would be at odds with faith or morality or would be by its very nature conducive to the injury of souls.…If the Church should make a mistake in the manner alleged when it legislated for the general discipline, it would no longer be either a loyal guardian of revealed doctrine or a trustworthy teacher of the Christian way of life. It would not be a guardian of revealed doctrine, for the imposition of a vicious law would be, for all practical purposes, tantamount to an erroneous definition of doctrine; everyone would naturally conclude that what the Church had commanded squared with sound doctrine. It would not be a teacher of the Christian way of life, for by its laws it would induce corruption into the practice of religious life." [Van Noort, Dogmatic Theology. 2:91. His emphasis.]
      4. Lastly, Modernism is the "synthesis of all heresies" as taught by Pope St. Pius X. The post-Vatican II popes are Modernists and therefore "public and manifest" heretics who can not be popes. However, because of the "confusion of minds and hearts" that exists today, there is a difference between objective and subjective heresy. Objectively, what they say is heretical, but we don't know if it's subjectively heretical since we can't read their minds, and there is no ecclesiastical court that can judge the pope.
Really? As to the need for an ecclesiastical court, when canonists and theologians say that “heresy” automatically deprives a pope of his office, they are referring to the sin of heresy, not to the canonical crime of heresy. Secondly, you don't need to be a mind reader to know the man claiming to be pope is a heretic and therefore does not hold the office.
As to "reading minds," the canonist Michel writes:“Because the act of heresy is an erroneous judgment of intelligence to commit the sin of heresy it suffices to knowingly and willingly express this erroneous judgment in opposition to the Church’s magisterium. From the moment that one sufficiently knows the existence of the rule of the faith in the Church and that, on any point whatsoever, for whatever motive and in whatever form, one refuses to submit to it, formal heresy is complete.” (“Héresie, Héretique,” Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique [Paris: Letouzey 1913–1950] 6:2222)
There is a fifth objection that the Church is a "hopeless mess" which I will not even address, since no serious sedevacantist holds out such an argument. Unless Bishop Williamson gets a healthy dose of reality and forever rejects Antipope Francis, his organization will rot away with creeping Modernism; as does every organization that wants to recognize a heretic and escape the inevitable tendency to want to be united with him. As true Traditionalists (i.e. sedevacantists) we have good reason to be anxious, because we see the incredible evil taking over the world since Vatican II and we know that it could never come from the Church, but apostates who occupy formally Catholic buildings. Be afraid, Bishop Williamson, be very afraid.