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Please don’t say “We’re all sedevacantists now”

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Please don’t say “We’re all sedevacantists now”


by John Vennari

It is usually said in light-hearted jest: “We’re all sedevacantists now,” in reference to the resignation of Pope Benedict. Yes, I am as ready for humor as the next man; and yes, I smile when it is said to me, but usually out of courtesy rather than genuine amusement.

The truth is we are not “all sedevacantists now,” but simply Catholics living through the normal cycles of Church history, one of which is that short interval between when a Pope dies and a new one elected.

The 2013 drama is different in the sense that we have never had a Pope reign for eight years – and one who had been head of a leading Vatican discatersry for more than 20 years prior to his Papal election – simply resign because he feels his health does not permit him to carry on. Even Cardinal Pell and others express unease with this novelty.

“Sedevacantism,” however, is a position taken by a small number of traditional Catholics who believe that those who call themselves post-conciliar popes are guilty of formal manifest heresy and have thus lost their office. The average traditional Catholic has little in common with this position, since it comprises the belief that none of the Cardinals gathered are true Cardinals, and most of the world’s bishops are not even bishops. The Papal Election of 2013 will not change anything for sedevacantists, since the men in the Sistine Chapel are fraudulent Cardinals with no authority to elect a Supreme Pontiff.

Sedevacantism is a position I have never even been tempted to embrace. I see it as a kind of despair that ends up asking more questions than it answers.

Yet the main cause of sedevacantism, I believe, is not the sedevacantists themselves. Rather, it is the post-Conciliar Popes who give the impression that there can be some transformation of the dogmatic teaching of the Church over time – that there is one form of “Catholic Truth” for the 19th Century, and an updated and different form of “Catholic Truth” for the 20th and 21st centuries; that in the 19th Century, it was good to have the 1864 Syllabus of Errors, but in the 20th Century, it was good that Vatican II was a
countersyllabus.

The guiding principle of any Pope must be what is defined infallibly at Vatican I and spelled out in the Oath Against Modernism: to teach the Catholic Faith “
in the same meaning and in the same explanation” as the Church always taught throughout the centuries.

This principle is a head-on collision with what Vatican II produced.

By some miracle may we be granted a Pontiff who will eventually recognize Vatican II for the
catastrophe that it is, who will put all human respect and modernist trends behind him, and who will govern the Church according to the immutable Catholic truths of the centuries.





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