Sedevacantism (the claim that there is no current pope) is much more popular with reactionary ultra-Trads (”Conclavist” sects tend to have really… weird teachings that involve their papal claimant being a prophet more or less) but its still funny because despite identifying as extremely anti-Protestant their arguments about not submitting to the will of an ecumenical council (which is literally what you do if youre a ‘theologically conservative’ Catholic) boil down to “it violates my personal religious conscious and conviction” and its like ok whatever Martin Luther lol

stat-crux  asked:

Hi Father, Anon sent this to my ask, I was wondering what you thought: Hey, I'm struggling with Sedevacantism, the belief that Vatican Two corrupted the Church. The more I research to try and disprove it, the more I find myself thinking it's the only way to Salvation. Do you have any advice on what to do?


There is no doubt that the last 50 years have seen great problems for the Catholic Church.

Many priests and religious have left their service and returned to the world. Many people who grew up Catholic have joined another faith or have lost their faith altogether. Vocations to the seminary and convent have dropped. Abortion, contraception, divorce, and cohabitation among Catholics have increased dramatically. Mass attendance is down.

There is no denying that the Church is in a crisis. The quick and easy solution, in our minds, is to say, “What happened 50 years ago that might be the cause of all of this? I KNOW! It is Vatican II Council. The Council and the new Conciliarist Church that followed are the cause of all these problems!”

Ah. How easy that would be. A black and white answer. Let’s scapegoat and blame the Council. Then, let’s attack Vatican II and all those who have believed or followed Vatican II. We can point to the Novus Ordo, friendship with Protestants and other faiths, and belief in religious freedom, as the expression of the present-day “modernism” that has brought down the Church.

Then we will form a new Remnant of the true Catholics. Everyone else will be seen as belonging to the Newchurch. Everyone else will be on the side of the devil. Then, we will be the holy ones who hold on to the True Catholic Faith, while everyone else goes to hell in a hand basket.

It all sounds nice. The Vatican II conspiracy theory all sounds so easy to fall for, and so believable. But that is how propaganda is. Propaganda is the proposing of simplistic memes and gifs, the proposal of a black and white, uncomplicated world. 

The idea of propaganda is to assume that people are shallow and don’t take time to think, research, and educate themselves. The idea is that if you think for people, by spoon feeding them simple answers, they won’t even bother to go deeper and challenge you with questions. In some ways, this idea of propaganda is true–people don’t like to go beyond simple answers and study the complexity of a problem. 

So it is with the Catholic Church’s problems. The question I ask people is, “Besides Vatican II, what else was happening 50 years ago? What else was challenging to Catholics in the modern world? What else was problematic at the time?”

The main question, of course, is, “Did Vatican II create a crisis, from scratch, or did Vatican II attempt to respond to a crisis which was already in the making?”

Those are deeper, more complex questions. They are not the questions that the simple mind wishes to ponder and research. Because if you go deeper, you will find that the easy, black and white answers, are not the truth. The truth is much more complex. The truth will show that God is still with us, that Jesus is still with His Church, and that the Holy Spirit is still guiding us through the storms of faith!

Fifty-five years ago, even before Vatican II, Catholics were living in a world where people, on a large scale, were questioning how much they needed religion in their lives. On a large scale, people were questioning whether having sex was just for making babies, or whether having sex was just for married couples. People were questioning authority figures, and they were already starting to rebel on a large scale. 

Fifty-five years ago, a lot of the world was Marxist-Communist. Large parts of the globe had fallen to militant atheism, and the practice of religion, any religion, was banned. The other parts of the world that had lots of money was using money to build a comfortable life.

The people that had jobs and were making decent money, were buying decent homes. They were buying decent cars, decent clothes, were taking comfortable vacations, and were sending their kids to get a decent education at nice schools and colleges. For many Catholic countries, the material standard of living, the level of healthcare, and the opportunities for education had advanced. 

Young people, in a lifestyle that was comfortable and enjoyable, naturally asked why they needed God, and the Catholic Church, when life could be happy and comfortable just on a material level?

In poorer parts of the world, people were asking why they were hungry and poor. In Catholic countries with great poverty, people asked, “If Catholics are supposed to fight for justice and take care of the needy, why is our Catholic country filled with so many starving people?” 

The political repression and economic problems in many Catholic countries, even before Vatican II, was leading people to question, “What use is it to be Catholic, when you keep living in poverty and being politically marginalized?” Church attendance, 55 years ago, before Vatican II, was great in the United States. But in Europe and other parts of the world, the attendance at Mass was already going down–even before Vatican II.

These are serious questions, and people were pondering these questions even before Vatican II. In the United States, millions of married couples now had the birth control pill available to them. 

Secretly, they could get abortions, if they wanted one. And millions of Catholic couples asked,”How am I supposed to get ahead in this country if I am having boatloads of kids? It costs a lot of money to have kids these days. It is difficult to pursue a nice education and a well-paying career if you get married young and start having babies. Catholic women asked if their only option, in a country like the U.S., was to get married after high school and start having a large family.

Entertainment, music, dancing, theater, and the modern arts were reaching millions and millions of people, with a secular message of living life by your own rules, not the rules of institutions and churches. The drug culture began to spread among famous people and artists. Vatican II did not cause any of this. But Vatican II could not stop it, either.

Priests and nuns said to wait until marriage, but that’s not what the music and films said. Priests and nuns, and your parents said, to go to Mass on Sunday. But if you move away from home and go to college, or just live on your own and get a job, you don’t have to follow those rules any more. This was the 1960′s, and people made up new rules as they went along.

Vatican II did not cause that.

And although, today, a lot of people think Latin is beautiful, and that we should have Gregorian chant, formal worship, and sermons with lots of dogma, that was not what they were thinking at the time of Vatican II. 

People, before Vatican II, already had music and entertainment that was exciting and bold. The old radios were replaced with nice stereos and could rock out music in your living room. The whole world seemed to be charged up with a new kind of art that encouraged people to let loose and be fancy free.

Going into old-fashioned churches with Latin and the same old sermons did not always appeal. It just didn’t. 

In short, the secularism and questioning of God, and questioning of the use of religion, did not begin with Vatican II. The 1960′s were a boiling cauldron of desire for change, radical action, and being “for real.” People were clamoring for political rights for everyone, equally, in a world that seemed so racist, unjust, and status quo.

Church, God, and Catholicism seemed to promote the same old medieval ideas that were just irrelevant and useless for life in the modern world. Then came 1962 and Vatican II Council. If you actually go back and read the articles and news coverage of the Council, you will see that Catholics were overjoyed at the prospects of the Council.

Catholics desperately wanted Vatican II, because they wanted the Catholic Church to mount a response to the modern, secular, humanistic world and its sexual revolution, and not just sit and repeat old formulations.

And if you want to know the facts, you will find out that the major falling away from Catholic faith did not occur in 1965, after Vatican II. The major falling away occurred in 1968, when Pope Paul VI published “Humanae Vitae” or the birth control encyclical. That is when Mass attendance and vocations plunged. 

Of course, certain liberals and dissenters used Vatican II for their agenda, of trying to start a new religion, so to speak. But Vatican II itself, was not a liberal Council, nor did it advocate for the abandonment of doctrine of good liturgy. It did, however, advocate for Catholics to use their wisdom and talents to express their Catholic Faith in a way that was meaningful in today’s world.

God bless and take care, Fr. Angel

bossuetism  asked:

Father, I am a Protestant convert and an SSPX Catholic but I'm moving ever closer to Sedevacantism especially with the way the current Pope is behaving. Do you have any advice for me to get back on track or to possibly understand the Pope's motives?


The concept of sedevacantism, that God would purposely and willfully desire that the Church be without a supreme authority for any lengthy amount of time, is profoundly unbiblical and without theological merit.

God provided the ancient Israelites with the patriarchs. He provided the Chosen People with Moses in the time of their deliverance. After Moses was the era of the Judges. Finally, Saul was anointed king and even after the fall of the kingdom, God raised up prophets with divine authority to provide guidance and correction.

The coming Messiah was God’s ultimate promise of an authority, and a shepherd, for His People. 

When in biblical times, and in the history of the Catholic Church, people are angry and grumbling, they easily fall to the temptation of denying their divinely appointed authority. Both in biblical history and in the history of the Church, people clamor to “throw the bums out.” But what does God do?

He reminds His people that divinely appointed authority is not a democracy. God calls and anoints. God is prepared to conserve His People, even when His leaders fail. 

God doesn’t call perfect men to lead his Church, or even men who are always of surpassing virtue. This was the great error of the so-called “Reformation.” Martin Luther propagated the thinking that if there were just holy and truthful leaders, or popes, the Church’s faith would stay valid and vibrant.

And yet, the holiness and orthodoxy of the Church always endures by the protection of the Holy Spirit. We are, sad to say, living in an age when the trust in the Holy Spirit, is non-existent. Everyone has self-appointed themselves to do the job the Holy Spirit is more than capable of doing–keeping the Church indefectible in her faith.

The great King, David, murdered one of his best friends in order to run away with the guy’s wife, after he impregnated her. How low down and dirty is that? And yet God received his repentance and confirmed a covenant with David.

The examples of Scripture, and of history, of God’s protective faithfulness to the Church are too numerous to cite. And God is able to accomplish this even when unworthy men occupy the supreme leadership of the Church. No human being can get in God’s way. No human being, no pope, can unravel God’s plan and His will for the Church.

The danger of sedevacantism is, first of all, the pride and haughtiness of self-appointing oneself the theological expert of the pope’s doctrine. This is in effect making oneself a Grand Inquisitor. People can spout off dogmas and Church Council decrees. However, that does not make them orthodox or wise, anymore than the devil quoting the Bible to Jesus, made the devil a wise Bible scholar.

Another danger of sedevacantism is the idea that a pope can “unpope” or disqualify himself as supreme visible leader (Jesus is always supreme invisible leader) by “teaching heresy.” The ideas that people have of what a dogma is, or what a heresy is, is often based on the letter of the words. People think that certain definitions of doctrine are only to be understood in one, single way.

This idea of “unpoping” or “losing your pope-ness” over heresy is mentally and emotionally unsound because it is based on the most narrow theological concepts. It shows a mind which is puny, rigid, brittle, and thinks only inside of a certain box. The sedevacantists I know are not able to define correctly what a dogma is. They cannot define correctly even what a heresy is.

And yet, they are making judgments and condemnations of the pope based on their faulty theology and faulty understanding of the proper language and concepts of dogmas, and heresies. 

What I think is unusual is that past popes who were publicly involved in fraud, sex scandals, and murders, like Pope Alexander VI (of the Borgias), are accepted by sedevacantists as “real popes.” And yet a pope who strives to give example of Christian virtue, and chastity, like Pope Francis is an invalid heretic? 

For people who also have a tendency to claim they are the holy Remnant of the Church, this is weird, if you ask me. Valid popes, real popes, can assassinate people, and have sex with mistresses and name their kids to be cardinals in public. They are safe in orthodoxy because, at least, they were not “modernists.” And yet popes who give to the poor, are chaste and celibate, who show Christ’s love to Catholics and non-Catholics–such as John XXIII, Paul VI, and John Paul II–are unfit to be considered popes and so their chair is empty, “sede vacante.” 

I don’t know how such judgments can be seen as anything put very elitist and exclusive. A Catholic is supposed to live their faith with joy, with hospitality, with compassion for the suffering of all peoples, and to welcome the stranger in their midst, even the heretic and sexual sinner. But one does not find this spirit among the sedevacantists. They seem to relish deciding who is outside the True Church, who must be cast into the outer darkness, who is unwashed, impure, and defiled in heresy.

This is no different than the Protestant fights over “sola scripture.” When your faith is based on the “literal Bible words alone”, who is to say who is being literal, and who is making a false interpretation? What the sedevacantists do is have similar brawls and fights over the past teachings of popes and Council documents. 

They are not adherents of “sola scriptura” but “sola traditio.” The thinking of “sola traditio” is that “I” will take the words of holy Tradition and give them “my” interpretation. If my special and unique interpretation of the words of Tradition are different than your interpretation, then you are a heretic.

Instead of quoting a Bible verse and condemning and attacking, a sedevacantist quotes a Tradition verse and then starts to condemn and attack. That attack could easily be resolved with what? What? A Magisterium! What a novel idea! To resolve fights about Tradition with an authority who, ALONE, has the authority to give interpretation to the documents of Tradition.

But no. Sola Traditio folks say, “The documents of Tradition need no translator or interpreter. They are plain and obvious, unless being twisted by modernists. But who gets to judge who is a “modernist”, or a heretic? Who gets to judge who is interpreting the words of Tradition according to orthodox Tradition, or according to “modernism”? It is not the Magisterium, that is for sure.

When a skilled and well researched theologian begins to apply historical contexts, language nuances, and proper intention of the author, the sedevacantists interpretations of heresy fall like a deck of cards. It is just like when heretics misinterpret the Bible. To show them wrong, the Catholic Magisterium informs them of the proper contexts of that particular Bible verse, the language nuances, and the real intention of the sacred author.

In the same way that sola scriptura adherents simply will not be corrected about Bible verses, so the adherents of sola Traditio will not be corrected on any verse of the teachings of Tradition. In this sense, they are actually both Protestants. Except that Protestants who are Protestant adhere to “Bible only” arguments, whereas Catholics who are Protestants adhere only to Tradition arguments. 

Neither group wants to have anything to do with popes. Sola scriptura people simply deny any need for a pope. Sola Traditio folks say there is a need for a pope, but there isn’t one to be found–how convenient. Either way, you get rid of a living Magisterium of flesh and blood men, and turn yourself into your own Magisterium.

God bless and take care, Fr. Angel



Last night, Benedict XVI gave his last words of public address as Bishop of Rome. During his short speech from the Castel balcony, he said, “I’m no longer the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic church – at least, at 8 o’clock I won’t be – now I’m just a pilgrim beginning the last part of his journey on earth.” Herein, the Church enters Sede Vacante: the seat of the Bishop of Rome, the Holy See of Peter, is vacant.

One doesn’t know what it’s like to lose a pope if one has never had one. I know I didn’t feel much when Pope John Paul II passed away. I was a recently baptized early 30-something, comfortable within non-denominational Christianity, with no pope – just a pastor who didn’t claim any authority but the Bible he opened up and studied. And yet, the more “Catholic” my little worshiping community got it with its forms, the more I liked it. Particularly moving for me was a service called Tenebrae – literally, Latin for “darkness”. I loved the service for the entering and leaving in silence, the series of readings from the crucifixion account, the moments left throughout for silent reflection – and for the drama of the candlelight against the high, bare white walls of the chapel of the (coincidentally) former Catholic convent.

Still, none of this on its own would have been sufficient to prompt me to investigate the truth claims of the Catholic Church. Priests, robes, processions – and talk of mortal sins? The whole thing seemed too big, too old, too institutional, and too foreign. But within that year, a longtime friend (who was, and remains, a kind of older brother to me) made his conversion to the “Roman Catholic” Church – and by the end of our second extended phone call on the subject, I could feel my attitude changing from one of deep suspicion, to deep curiousity. What unfolded in the years to follow was a conversion – and though each story of conversion is beautiful in its own way, this is not the post in which to recount it. A conversion is a moving from shadows into light, and this post is about a move from light into shadow.

On the night before Good Friday, at the end of the Maundy Thursday mass, the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist is not placed back in the Tabernacle, and no mass is celebrated until the Easter Vigil. It is a time of holy shadows – we keep vigil with Christ in the garden, go with Him to the cross, wait with Him entombed. The passion, death, and burial of Christ is marked with a kind of holy darkening.

After Pope Benedict’s speech last night, I saw a tweet from a Benedictine nun, Sister Catherine Wybourne: “Trying to find an analogy for how today FEELS — it’s like when we strip the altar after the Maundy Thursday Mass and empty the water stoups.”

Sister Wybourne’s words recall a passage in Evelyn Waugh’s novel Brideshead Revisited, in which Cordelia Flyte, the youngest sibling of an aristocratic Catholic family, tries to explain to the devoutly agnostic Charles Ryder, just what it feels like when a chapel is de-consecrated:

“They’ve closed the chapel at Brideshead, Bridey and the Bishop; Mummy’s requiem was the last mass said there. After she was buried the priest came in – I was there alone. I don’t think he saw me – and took out the altar stone and put it in his bag; then he burned the wads of wool with the holy oil on them and threw the ash outside; he emptied the holy water stoup and blew out the lamp in the sanctuary and left the tabernacle open and empty, as though from now on it was always to be Good Friday. I suppose none of this makes any sense to you, Charles, poor agnostic. I stayed there till he was gone, and then, suddenly, there wasn’t any chapel there any more, just an oddly decorated room. I can’t tell you what it felt like. You’ve never been to Tenebrae, I suppose?”

The light of Christ can never be extinguished from the Church; and yet, part of the Catholic faith includes a kind of re-making-present of various moments in the life of Christ, both in the individual heart of the believer, and in the collective heart of the Body, the Church. The pope, as visible head of the visible body of Christ, is a kind of sign: an icon (Gk. ikon: “likeness”, “image”) of Christ to the world. For the Church on earth to lose Her visible head, and to wait for a time in the shadows, is to enter in some way into a kind of darkening, a kind of death, a kind of entombment. And yet, we wait in joyful hope and expectation, knowing all the while that Christ is faithfully steering the Barque of Peter to Her final destination. The joy we possess in these moments is of a different kind than the exuberant G major of a Vivaldi “Gloria”. It’s perhaps more like the inevitability of a low and resonant bell – a solitary bell which, in time, will become part of an entire chorus. In these moments our joy is not so much a bright light, as much as a candle held close – but there is even a kind of beauty in the shadow of a candle on a bare white wall.