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 principis] is 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.