The arguments against sedevacantism have grown increasingly weaker over the years. Having been a Traditionalist for 36 years, I've seen the arguments come tumbling down as more and more evidence proves that the See of Peter has been vacant since the death of Pope Pius XII. The apologists for the Vatican II sect have increasingly had to resort to "straw man arguments," i.e., "when an arguer distorts an opponent’s argument for the purpose of more easily attacking it, demolishes the distorted argument, and then concludes that the opponent’s real argument has been demolished. By so doing, the arguer is said to have set up a straw man and knocked it down, only to conclude that the real man (opposing argument) has been knocked down as well." (See Hurley, Patrick J. "Informal Fallacies." A Concise Introduction to Logic. 9th ed. Australia: Thomson/Wadsworth, , pg. 121).
One of my readers sent me a link to an article entitled, "The Four Fatal Errors of Sedevacantism." (See http://www.saintdominicsmedia.com/against-sedevacantism/).
It is a masterpiece of sophistry. The author, Mr. David L. Gray, has done the only thing left for Vatican II sect apologists to do, especially in the era of Bergoglio: (1) misrepresent our positions, (2) attack and tear down the position/argument they fabricated, and then (3) claim sedevacantism to be proven false. It's harder and harder for me not to ascribe bad motives to these apologists. In the 1980s, when all this information (and its accessibility)was not available, I could understand how someone might construct poorly sourced and badly conceived arguments in favor of the Vatican II "popes" and then propagate them. In 2017, the same cannot be said, and in the case of Robert Siscoe and John Salza, they are definitely not in good faith given their education and purposeful deceit in arguing.
I've decided to expose this particular article to (a) show just how much our enemies must misrepresent Traditionalism, and (b) possibly prevent someone doubting the Vatican II sect from staying there due to such false attacks on the True Faith. I would also like to call my readers' attention to the fact that Mr. Gray is what passes as a "theologian" in the Vatican II sect. According to the St. Dominic's media website: Mr. David L. Gray is an American Catholic Theologian and a Historian on Black Fraternal History. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BS) from Central State University (Ohio) and a Masters of Arts in Catholic Theology (M.A.T.) from Ohio Dominican University. David is a convert to Catholicism by the way of Agnosticism and Protestantism. He currently resides in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and daughters, and is the President and Publisher of Saint Dominic's Media Inc. To learn more about Mr. Gray visit davidlgray.info
The "Four Fatal Errors" Exposed
1. Disordered Mass Nostalgia.
Mr. Gray (correctly) contends that sedevacantists hold the New "Mass" ("Novus Bogus" as I like to call it) to be evil and harmful. However, what he says next is incredulous:
Essentially, what Sedevacantists are arguing is that the Mass is evil because it’s not how it use to be. It’s really quite a sophistic and myopic argument once you follow the logic through to is reasonable conclusion. Their argument begs the question whether the Mass prior to the Tridentine Mass was also evil and harmful. Being that the Mass of Saint Paul that we find in 1 Corinthians 10 also lacked the form of the Tridentine Mass, what it also evil and harmful? That Mass, which seems to be very similar to what Justin Martyr (100-165) described in his Apology, seems to have been a simple blessing/consecration of the species; perhaps using same formula of words that the priest uses today from Luke 22:17-20.
I don't know of any sedevacantist (clergy or layman) who holds this preposterous view. The argument that the "Mass is evil because it's not how it used to be" is sophistic and myopic. Luckily, sedevacantists don't advance any such argument; it was manufactured by Mr. Gray. Notice that he doesn't cite to any sedevacantist claiming that the Mass cannot deviate from its structure imposed by Pope St. Pius V without being evil and harmful. The pre-Vatican II Eastern Rite Liturgies were very different from the Roman Rite, but every bit as Catholic. We reject the Novus Bogus for the evil and harmful elements introduced into it. Had "theologian" Gray read the rejection of the New "mass" authored by Cardinal Ottaviani and a group of (real) theologians (in 1969), now famously referred to as The Ottaviani Intervention, he would have discovered the following about the "new mass (sic):"
- A new definition of the Mass as an "assembly" rather than as a sacrifice offered to God
- Omissions of elements emphasizing the Catholic teaching (utterly repudiated by Protestants) that the Mass makes satisfaction for sins
- The reduction of the priest's role to a position approximating that of a Protestant minister
- Implicit denials of Christ's Real Presence and the doctrine of Transubstantiation
- The change of the Consecration from a sacramental action into a mere re-telling of the story of the Last Supper
- The fragmenting of the Church's unity of belief through the introduction of countless options [in prayers and rubrics--Introibo]
- Ambiguous language and equivocation throughout the rite which compromise the Church's doctrines
Mr. Gray responds to the Sedevacantist objection regarding the change in the Words of Consecration over the wine from "for many" to "for all" and back to "for many" in 2011 as follows:
Although this issue would now seem to be resolved with the updated English language version of the Novus Ordo liturgy in 2011, in pressing the issue here, Sedevacantists would argue, using quotes from Pope Leo XII, Pope Eugene IV, Pope Saint Pius V., and the Council of Trent about what form of words must to be used to validly consecrate the Holy Eucharist. They argue that originally changing the form to “for all” changed the audience of the sacrifice, which changed the meaning of it, thereby, invalidating the sacrifice. While their issue would seem to have been corrected now, and was NEVER an issue outside of the English language versions of the Novus Ordo Mass, this doesn’t resolve their claim that only a false council could produce an invalid consecration formula. Of course the counter-argument to their time machine case is that the bad English language translation never intended to say something that was not union with the Universal Church or something other than what had been said in Latin prior to the Novus Ordo. Nor could they prove that Jesus stopped coming to the English language Novus Ordo Mass for 45 years as the Holy Eucharist, while that bad translation was in place.
Where to begin? First, since all the sacraments have been invalidated in the Vatican II sect except (some) baptisms and (some) marriages, there are very few valid priests left, so it doesn't matter what words a layman recites; they're all invalid. Second, it's just plain false that the translation of the Consecration was never an issue outside English speaking countries. Italy (to give but one example) also changed the words to "per tutti" (for all). Third, pre-Vatican II treaties on invalidating defects that occur in the form of the sacrament of the Eucharist, insist that the Words of Consecration must not be recited as part of an historical narrative. This is exactly how it is now done in the Novus Bogus "Institution Narrative" of the "Eucharistic Prayer."
(See J. O'Connell, The Celebration of Mass: A Study of the Rubrics of the Roman Missal [Milwaukee:Bruce Publishers], 1941), pgs. 225-226)
Mr. Gray's objection might work against the "recognize and resistors" of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), who recognize Bergoglio as pope and his sacraments as valid. You could try and paint their Mass as nostalgia, because if a true pope promulgates a valid mass, all you have is a matter of preference, or you're claiming that a true pope can give a valid yet evil Mass (which is impossible due to the Indefectibility of the Church). However, his argument has no applicability to sedevacantists whatsoever.
2. Repetition of the Protestant Error
Here, Gray means the Protestant error of a non-visible Church. His objection is brief (and citation free!):
By using that defense to avoid their first conclusion of their teaching against Vatican II, Sedevacantists only then fall into an even more grave conclusion. That is, if the true Church of Jesus Christ was not prevailed against by the Gates of Hell, but is actually still here, then where is it? Certainly, if the Catholic Church still contains the four theological marks of being One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic, and still contains the seven historical marks, then Sedevacantists should be able to point to it and say ‘there it is’.
Being that Sedevacantists cannot point to the true Church of Jesus Christ and tell us where it is now, then errantly they fall into the Protestant false teaching of the unscriptural invisible church.
It is theological ignorance to suggest that you need a living pope on the throne of St. Peter as a necessary requirement to have a visible Church. 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 principis] is not so strictly necessary." (de Ecclesia 2:196–7; Emphasis mine)
Second, according to theologian Salaverri, instead of being a "primary foundation… without which the Church could not exist," the pope is a "secondary foundation," "ministerial," who exercises his power as someone else’s (Christ’s) representative. (See De Ecclesia 1:448)
Moreover, there was a de facto interregnum for 51 years during the Great Western Schism from 1378 until 1429, when Pope Martin V became the universally recognized pontiff. Prior to this, there were up to three claimants to the papal throne, all with arguments for their legitimacy. Only one (or none) could be the true pope. Which one was it? Mutual excommunications, appointing bishops and cardinals; to whom do you submit? Was the Church a "three headed monster" during this time? If you chose wrongly (in an age of limited education with no Internet or daily papers) are you "schismatic" and damned to Hell? There was no discernible pope, so according to the pope= visibility theory, the Church would have defected--an impossibility. That the Church is Indefectible is a dogma of the Faith.
Finally, let's not forget the Great Apostasy foretold in the Bible, and taught by the Church. According to theologian Berry, "The prophesies of the Apocalypse show that Satan will imitate the Church of Christ to deceive mankind; he will set up a church of Satan in opposition of the Church of Christ. Antichrist will assume the role of Messias; his prophet will act the part of pope, and there will be imitations of the Sacraments of the Church. There will also be lying wonders in imitation of the miracles wrought in the Church." (See Berry, The Church of Christ: An Apologetic and Dogmatic Treatise , , pg.119; Emphasis in original) Having no pope is therefore not incompatible with the visibility of the Church. Wherever the True faith and sacraments exist, there is the Church until the papacy is restored.
3. Sedevacantism is Unlikely to be Resolved
Here, Gray rejects the position because he doesn't like the result. If the position is true, we must deal with the consequences as they are, not reject a correct position itself and put our heads in the sand. He writes:
If Sedevacantism wants to tell us that it is a reformation movement, then it also has to tell us why it is quite different than every other just reformation movement of the Church. It is different in the first place because it breaks unity, and it is doubly different because it offers no path to heal the disunity it caused. That is, by holding that the Second Vatican Council was in error, the only resolution for Sedevacantism is for some future Pope or Ecumenical Council to decree that the Second Vatican Council and/or its particular documents and the new Mass were in error. That seems quite unlikely.
First, Traditionalists are not a "reform movement," we are what is left of the One True Church of Christ. Second, the Church never lacks unity because others fall away. Third, sedevacantism will be resolved either by the restoration of the papacy via imperfect general council, or perhaps sedeprivationism proves true, OR Christ will come again if these prove to be the end days. God resolves all problems eventually.
4. Repetition of Claimed Evil
Sedevacantism posits that the new Mass is evil, but then it goes ahead and purports another evil itself by telling its adherents to avoid going to Mass and receiving the Sacraments in a Church that is in union with the Pope.
Am I the only one who sees the utter stupidity of this statement? It can be reduced to this: "People who reject Bergoglio as pope for sound theological reasons are themselves evil for telling people not to go to the Churches of Bergoglio, because he is the pope." If Bergoglio is rejected as pope, why would his churches be considered in union with the pope? Gray claims sedevacantists are evil for rejecting the churches "in union with the pope" which begs the very question as to whether Bergoglio is pope, and he makes no attempt to refute the theological arguments that he cannot be pope.
He then goes on:
Of course Sedevacantists would argue that the Sacraments of the institutional Catholic Church are no longer valid since Vatican II was in error and the new Mass is evil and harmful, but being that there is no way for them to prove that God hasn’t sustained His Sacraments (ex opere operato) even if the council was invalid, then there is no just cause for them to teach Catholics to avoid them. In fact, it makes this teaching of Sedevacantists the gravest of all evils.
Ex opere operato, means the sacraments work "by the very act of correctly performing them" and not on the beliefs or moral disposition of the minister or recipient of the sacrament. It does not mean that you can change the matter, form or intention of the sacrament (as the Vatican II sect did), and God will still make the sacrament valid. If this novel principle were true, then a priest who uses chocolate chip cookies and milk in place of bread and wine at Mass would offer a valid Holy Sacrifice, and the milk and cookies would become the Sacred Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ. I know of not one theologian who teaches this absurdity, except "theologian" Gray himself.
Finally, sedevacantism is the "gravest of all evils"? Really? How about:
Finally, sedevacantism is the "gravest of all evils"? Really? How about:
- "communion" for adulterers
- praying with witch doctors and all the false religions for "world peace"
- stating atheists can go to Heaven
- claiming proselytism is nonsense
The ersatz "theologian" of the Vatican II sect, David Gray, has distorted sedevacantism beyond recognition. Traditionalists do not reject the Novus Bogus "mass" because it is not "like the Mass used to be." We do not repeat the Protestant error of an invisible Church, as the teachings of the pre-Vatican II theologians clearly show. The situation will be resolved someday, and the fact he doesn't like the consequences does not make sedevacantism untrue. Lastly, how can we be guilty of telling people to stay away from churches in "union with the pope" when we reject Bergoglio as pope in the first place?
Ironically, Mr. Gray's "Four Fatal Errors" are themselves fatally flawed. Before the Great Apostasy, theologians could only be clerics of the highest learning. Now, a married layman with a Masters degree can purport to be a "theologian." He misrepresents his opponents' position, and has almost no citations to any authorities except a couple of Bible passages and his own ipse dixit. Does Mr. Gray really think as poorly as his slipshod article? I don't know, but I actually (and charitably) hope he does. If he falls into the bad faith category with Siscoe and Salza, I wince thinking of their fate when I recall the words of Our Lord, "He that is of God, heareth the words of God. Therefore you hear them not, because you are not of God." (St. John 8:47).