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 A false dilemma 
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Joined: Tue May 16, 2006 2:30 pm
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New post A false dilemma
With the current upsurge of interest in the sede vacante thesis as a potential solution to the mysterious crisis in the Church we are seeing quite a few people on both sides being caught by a false dichotomy.

It's very simple, and it goes like this: Either the Conciliar Church is the Catholic Church or it isn't; if it is, then one must accept all of its reforms - i.e. the New Religion - but if it isn't, then where is the Church?

As can be readily seen, this dilemma has something for everyone, and yet nothing for everyone at the same time. For a dogmatic sedevacantist (including the non-dogmatic sedevacantist who is really a dogmatic sedevacantist with a soft heart) the first horn looks like a great argument against the sedeplenist position; for a sedeplenist, the second horn seems to skewer the sedevacantist position.

In my view both horns are flawed. If we define the terms clearly the dilemma should dissolve before our eyes.

What is the Church? The Church is the body of all of those who profess the true faith, share the same sacraments and sacrifice, and are subject to the Roman Pontiff. Subjection to the Roman Pontiff means obeying his laws, above all else.

What is the Conciliar Church? The Conciliar Church is that body which is constituted of all of those who profess the errors of Vatican II, share the New Sacraments and New Mass, and are subject to Bergoglio.

So, the Conciliar Church as defined above is not the Catholic Church because it practices a false religion. That much is immediately certain.

As is obvious, the concept of subjection to authority is essential to both definitions. True subjection to the pope means obeying his laws. Subjection to Bergoglio is a variable concept which can mean anything from a purely verbal recognition that he is pope, without any discernable associated effect on belief or action (e.g. the attitude of many Modernist "Catholics" and sedeplenist traditionalists), to an almost heroic effort of obedience by "Conservatives" who, for example, find various doctrinal positions in the conflicting and ambiguous decrees emanating from "rome" and honestly conform their minds to them. If this is not already clear to a reader, take this article as an example and imagine yourself attempting to conform your mind to the doctrine of Vatican II on the identity of the Church:

From these considerations I think two further things are sufficiently clear.

One, sedeplenist "subjection" to Bergoglio is unreal, and does not meet the definition of subjection to the pope found in Catholic theology. It cannot be reduced to practice without a corresponding change of religion. To the contrary, traditionalists are truly and very obviously subject to the popes from before Vatican II, seriously endeavouring to believe what the Church has always taught, openly rejecting the errors of Vatican II, and likewise disregarding the New Code of Canon Law and Conciliar liturgical laws (such as they exist). Traditionalists continue to assist at the old Mass, fast in Lent, abstain from meat on fridays, and refuse to engage in joint worship with non-Catholics.

Two, those who accept as obligatory (or at least congenial and convenient) the errors of Vatican II can be said truly to be subject to Bergoglio or at least do not continue to be subject to previous popes as traditionalists do, but even leaving aside that observation, they have adopted the New Religion and practice it. These people are no longer Catholics, as far as anybody can tell. (There remain some or perhaps many who outwardly practice the New Religion in its more ambiguous and deceptive elements, such as attending the New Mass, yet remain Catholic in their faith and would immediately reject these things if the Church were to condemn them. These are still Catholics.)

So, where is the Catholic Church?

Before answering that directly, some basic theological points must be grasped. The keystone of the infallibility and therefore the indefectibility of the Church is the pope. In the absence of a pope, that is during a vacancy of the Holy See, the Church is unable to speak infallibly and her indefectibility is correspondingly obscured. This does not mean that the Church can fail when there is no pope, but it means that it can be unclear what is truly authorised and what isn't, and also who is a Catholic and who isn't, even amongst the hierarchy, etc. Confusion and doubt extend across the Church and grow with time during any extended vacancy. The terrible effects of a vacancy are directly proportional to the fundamental importance and necessity of the office of the pope. The Great Western Schism witnessed all manner of evils growing apace, and yet it is commonly believed that there was a true pope during the entire forty years. The complete absence of a pope for the same period may render the Church virtually unrecognisable. Some of those who refer to "the Conciliar Church" appear to regard it as consisting of all of those who are not traditionalists, on the ground of the indefectibility of the Catholic Church, but this view does not take into account the very great degree to which the Church may be distorted and disfigured in the absence of her principle of unity, the Roman Pontiff.

The Catholic Church continues to exist and with the same definition she has always had, but with an accidental, not essential, diminution of her unity and other perfections, due the absence of the Roman Pontiff and the ubiquitous agents of novelty and heresy assaulting her members on every side. The Catholic Church is still the body of all of those who profess the true faith, share the same sacraments and sacrifice, and are subject to the Roman Pontiff, which means those who are obeying his laws (i.e. the traditional Catholics, who keep the precepts of the Church, and those who remain mired in the Conciliar confusion but maintain the profession of the true faith, etc.).

In Christ our King.
Last bumped by John Lane on Thu Nov 13, 2014 12:23 am.

Thu Nov 13, 2014 12:23 am
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