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 When the Shepherd Is Struck (and "Arian VI" quote) 
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New post When the Shepherd Is Struck (and "Arian VI" quote)
The Papacy and Sedevacantist “Disunity” ... -disunity/

This Summer’s issue of the inspiring quarterly publication The Reign of Mary, under the editorial direction of Fr. Benedict Hughes, CMRI, featured an excellent article by Mario Derksen that we republish here. I had the pleasure and great benefit of featuring Mario’s columns on the DailyCatholic beginning 13 years ago in February 2002 with a seven part series titled “Vatican II and the Gospel of Man.” At the time, Mario was affiliated with the recognize-and-resist position of the indult and the SSPX, a position he has since repudiated as contrary to Catholic teaching. In 2004, Mario was the first sedevacantist to supply material for the DailyCatholic at a time when this editor was connecting the final dots to realize the Vatican II ‘popes’ could not possibly be true Sovereign Pontiffs. Mario helped convince me of that inevitability considering all the facts and evidence he provided. Mario’s work, Sacred Scripture, Papal Decrees, the Church Councils, other sources, including Atila Guimaraes’ thorough “Eli Lamma Sabbacthani” volumes, provided all the proof I needed. I pray Atila will reread his own work and realize the same conclusion I came to. Mario is one of the finest young lay writers on theological matters today as you’ll see in…

When the Shepherd Is Struck: The Papacy and Sedevacantist “Disunity”

by Mario Derksen

(From The Reign of Mary, Vol. XLV, No. 155. Summer 2014)

All too often we hear from people seeking to be traditional Catholics that what keeps them from becoming sedevacantists is the problem of “disunity” among them. From disputes about which Holy Week rites to follow, to contemporary bioethical problems, to the question of whether one may ever assist at non-sedevacantist Masses, the disagreements among those who do not recognize the papal claimants after Pope Pius XII as legitimate seem too numerous or too daunting for many people’s comfort.

In what follows, I propose to show that though lamentable, the divisions among sedevacantists need not be a stumbling block to us, because they are but the natural consequence of that which is truly at the root of all the trouble: the absence of a Pope.

It is from the Pope that the unity of the Church derives, and it is the Pope upon whom it depends. It therefore follows that, if there is no Pope reigning for a long time or he is unable to exercise his office freely, the cohesion of the faithful will suffer serious injury before long.

Although this situation is undeniably a great trial, we should take advantage of it, as it were, and use it for our personal sanctification and thus transform our anguish into a seedbed from which the future restoration of the Church will flower.

The Papacy, Infallible Source of Catholic Unity

0929mikeOn May 18, 1890, Pope Leo XIII approved a series of exorcism prayers against Satan and the apostate angels, which includes the long version of the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, which Leo himself had composed. Part of this prayer reads:

“In the Holy Place itself, where has been set up the See of the most holy Peter and the Chair of Truth for the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety, with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck, the sheep may be scattered.”[1]This idea of the sheep being scattered after – and especially because of – the Pastor having been struck, originates in the words of the prophet Zacharias, quoted by our Blessed Lord: “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.”[2]

The reason why the sheep are scattered when the shepherd is struck is that the shepherd – the Pope – is the principle and source of unity for the flock, the Catholic Church, as Pope Benedict XIV taught:

tiarplug“The vigilance and the pastoral solicitude of the Roman Pontiff … according to the duties of his office, are principally and above all manifested in maintaining and conserving the unity and integrity of the Catholic faith, without which it is impossible to please God. They strive also to the end that the faithful of Christ, not being like irresolute children, or carried about by every wind of doctrine by the wickedness of men [Eph 4:14], may all come to the unity of faith and to the knowledge of the Son of God to form the perfect man, that … united in the bond of charity like members of a single body having Christ for head, and under the authority of his Vicar on earth, the Roman Pontiff, successor of the Blessed Peter, from whom is derived the unity of the entire Church, they may increase in number for the edification of the body, and with the assistance of divine grace, they may so enjoy tranquility in this life as to enjoy future beatitude.”[3]

No one can be a Catholic, a member of the Church, without being in union with the head of the Church, to whom all must submit under pain of schism and heresy and as a condition for attaining unto a blessed eternity. Papal teaching on this matter is quite explicit:

tiarplug“Furthermore we declare, state, and define that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of all human creatures that they submit to the Roman pontiff.”[4]

tiarplug“Union with the Roman See of Peter is to [St. Jerome] always the public criterion of a Catholic…. And for a like reason St. Augustine publicly attests that… ‘You are not to be looked upon as holding the true Catholic faith if you do not teach that the faith of Rome is to be held’” (Sermo cxx., n. 13).[5]

tiarplug“Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed.”[6]

Pope Leo XIII beautifully elaborated on just how the Pope brings about this unity among the faithful, to wit, by means of the jurisdiction which is intrinsic to the papal primacy and comes directly from God Himself. Commenting on Matthew 16:18,[7] the scriptural passage in which Christ announces the future establishment of the papacy, the Holy Father

tiarplug“From this text it is clear that by the will and command of God the Church rests upon St. Peter, just as a building rests on its foundation. Now the proper nature of a foundation is to be a principle of cohesion for the various parts of the building. It must be the necessary condition of stability and strength. Remove it and the whole building falls. It is consequently the office of St. Peter to support the Church, and to guard it in all its strength and indestructible unity. How could he fulfil this office without the power of commanding, forbidding, and judging, which is properly called jurisdiction? It is only by this power of jurisdiction that nations and commonwealths are held together. A primacy of honour and the shadowy right of giving advice and admonition, which is called direction, could never secure to any society of men unity or strength.”[8]

In this clear papal teaching, we can already see how misguided are those “traditional Catholics” today who would recognize Francis as a true Pope while in reality only conceding him a primacy of honor, not at all believing his teachings or per se accepting any exercise of his putative jurisdiction over the whole Church – not his magisterial documents, not his liturgy, not his laws, not his saints.

Pope Leo continues, explaining what our Lord meant when He said that “the gates of hell shall not prevail” against the Church:

tiarplug“The meaning of this divine utterance is, that, notwithstanding the wiles and intrigues which they bring to bear against the Church, it can never be that the church committed to the care of Peter shall succumb or in any wise fail…. Therefore God confided His Church to Peter so that he might safely guard it with his unconquerable power. He invested him, therefore, with the needful authority; since the right to rule is absolutely required by him who has to guard human society really and effectively. This, furthermore, Christ gave: ‘To thee will I give the keys of the kingdom of Heaven’…. In this same sense He says: ‘Whatsoever thou shall bind upon earth it shall be bound also in Heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth it shall be loosed also in Heaven’ [Mt 16:19]. This metaphorical expression of binding and loosing indicates the power of making laws, of judging and of punishing; and the power is said to be of such amplitude and force that God will ratify whatever is decreed by it. Thus it is supreme and absolutely independent, so that, having no other power on earth as its superior, it embraces the whole Church and all things committed to the Church.”[9]

This teaching that the Church, no matter what may happen to her, can never fail, is found again and again in the Catholic Magisterium, and it is based on Christ’s promises to St. Peter, whose Faith cannot fail. It is for this reason that the Holy See will forever be the ultimate measuring rod of the orthodoxy of any doctrine, and adherence to it will always be the ultimate criterion of any Catholic:

1stvat“Therefore, the bishops of the whole world, now individually, now gathered in Synods, following a long custom of the churches and the formula of the ancient rule, referred to this Holy See those dangers particularly which emerged in the affairs of faith, that there especially the damages to faith might be repaired where faith cannot experience a failure…. Indeed, all the venerable fathers have embraced their apostolic doctrine, and the holy orthodox Doctors have venerated and followed it, knowing full well that the See of St. Peter always remains unimpaired by any error, according to the divine promise of our Lord the Savior made to the chief of His disciples: ‘I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren’ [Lk 22:32].”[10]

By means of the Roman Pontificate, then, God guarantees that the entire Church, united to the Pope, will always be the exclusive and indefectible means of salvation:

tiarplug“…[B]y God’s commandment salvation is to be found nowhere but in the Church; the strong and effective instrument of salvation is none other than the Roman Pontificate.”[11]

tiarplug“Just as at the first moment of the Incarnation the Son of the Eternal Father adorned with the fullness of the Holy Spirit the human nature which was substantially united to Him, that it might be a fitting instrument of the Divinity in the sanguinary work of the Redemption, so at the hour of His precious death He willed that His Church should be enriched with the abundant gifts of the Paraclete in order that in dispensing the divine fruits of the Redemption she might be, for the Incarnate Word, a powerful instrument that would never fail. For both the juridical mission of the Church, and the power to teach, govern and administer the Sacraments, derive their supernatural efficacy and force for the building up of the Body of Christ from the fact that Jesus Christ, hanging on the Cross, opened up to His Church the fountain of those divine gifts, which prevent her from ever teaching false doctrine and enable her to rule them for the salvation of their souls through divinely enlightened pastors and to bestow on them an abundance of heavenly graces.”[12]

Behold, then, the beauty and the power of the papacy! It is a most wonderful and glorious gift to the Church, established by God Himself.

The Papacy Impeded

Yet, there is a flip side to all this as well: If the Pope is the rock of doctrinal and moral verities, guaranteed to be so by God Himself, then it follows that unspeakable evils would befall the Church if at some point, somehow, the Pope were to be impeded in the free exercise of his office, if he were to be prevented from assuming office, or if, after a Pope’s death, there should be an extended period of time before a new Pope is elected.

Surely it comes as no surprise, given the exalted nature and authority of the papacy, that there have not been found wanting, throughout Church history, enemies of Christ who desire precisely to harm the papacy in any way possible. Writing to the bishops of France, His Holiness Pope Pius IX warned against such forces and exhorted all Catholics to even greater love of and obedience to the Holy See:

tiarplug“Now you know well that the most deadly foes of the Catholic religion have always waged a fierce war, but without success, against this Chair; they are by no means ignorant of the fact that religion itself can never totter and fall while this Chair remains intact, the Chair which rests on the rock which the proud gates of hell cannot overthrow and in which there is the whole and perfect solidity of the Christian religion. Therefore, because of your special faith in the Church and special piety toward the same Chair of Peter, We exhort you to direct your constant efforts so that the faithful people of France may avoid the crafty deceptions and errors of these plotters and develop a more filial affection and obedience to this Apostolic See. Be vigilant in act and word, so that the faithful may grow in love for this Holy See, venerate it, and accept it with complete obedience; they should execute whatever the See itself teaches, determines, and decrees.”[13]

Here we see demonstrated the greatness and power of the papacy in engendering, fostering, and enforcing genuine unity among all members of the Church. The papacy possesses this power in itself as it is one of the constitutive elements of the Church established by our Lord. Yet, unity is ensured in this manner only as long as “this Chair remains intact,” as Pius IX teaches, in which exists “the whole and perfect solidity of the Christian religion.”

What, then, might happen if this Chair were no longer “intact” at some point? We have already seen that the See of St. Peter, being the infallible Chair of Truth, cannot ever fail; it cannot turn into the Chair of Error all of a sudden, else the Church would turn from being the vehicle of salvation to being a vehicle of damnation, and this with the backing of Christ.

Yet we must still consider other possibilities, scenarios that would not contradict the divine promises, under which we may indeed say that the Chair of St. Peter is no longer “intact,” even though it has not failed. Such would be the case, for example, in the event of aprolonged vacancy of the Apostolic See, or in the case of serious secular interference with the exercise of the Supreme Pontificate (for example, by taking the Pope prisoner), or if an antipope should usurp the Holy See and impede either the election or the free reign of the rightful Pope.

The state of the papal chair being vacant is known as sede vacante, that of it being obstructed as sede impedita. Neither condition is foreign to the Church, as her history shows.

Any time a Pope dies, the Holy See becomes vacant, and this state of affairs lasts until the valid election of a new Pope. Until the death of Pius XII in 1958, the longest vacancy in the history of the Church had occurred between the reigns of Popes Clement IV and Gregory X: a vacancy of over two-and-a-half years, from 1269 to 1271.

In the twelfth century, Pope Innocent II was hindered from exercising his papacy freely because of the schism of Antipope Anacletus II, whom a majority of people erroneously believed to be the true Pope, and who occupied St. Peter’s in Rome. It took eight years for Innocent II to finally be acknowledged as the legitimate Roman Pontiff by the entire Church.

The case of the Great Western Schism in the 14th and 15th centuries was also a great trial for the Church. For approximately 40 years, there was great confusion as to the identity of the true Pope, with two, even three, simultaneous claimants at various times. The Jesuit theologian Fr. Edmund J. O’Reilly provides some astute commentary on this tragic period of church history, which helps to shed some light on our present situation:

“The great schism of the West suggests to me a reflection which I take the liberty of expressing here. If this schism had not occurred, the hypothesis of such a thing happening would appear to many chimerical. They would say it could not be; God would not permit the Church to come into so unhappy a situation. Heresies might spring up and spread and last painfully long, through the fault and to the perdition of their authors and abettors, to the great distress too of the faithful, increased by actual persecution in many places where the heretics were dominant. But that the true Church should remain between thirty and forty years without a thoroughly ascertained Head, and representative of Christ on earth, this would not be. Yet it has been; and we have no guarantee that it will not be again, though we may fervently hope otherwise. What I would infer is, that we must not be too ready to pronounce on what God may permit. We know with absolute certainty that He will fulfill His promises; not allow anything to occur at variance with them; that He will sustain His Church and enable her to triumph over all enemies and difficulties; that He will give to each of the faithful those graces which are needed for each one’s service of Him and attainment of salvation, as He did during the great schism we have been considering, and in all the sufferings and trials which the Church has passed through from the beginning. We may also trust He will do a great deal more than what He has bound Himself to by His promises. We may look forward with a cheering probability to exemption for the future from some of the troubles and misfortunes that have befallen in the past. But we, or our successors in future generations of Christians, shall perhaps see stranger evils than have yet been experienced, even before the immediate approach of that great winding up of all things on earth that will precede the day of judgment. I am not setting up for a prophet, nor pretending to see unhappy wonders, of which I have no knowledge whatever. All I mean to convey is that contingencies regarding the Church, not excluded by the Divine promises, cannot be regarded as practically impossible, just because they would be terrible and distressing in a very high degree.”[14]

lasalcryAs we have seen, such possible contingencies include sede impedita as well as an extended period of sede vacante. They manifestly do not include what we might call sede lapsa, the idea that heresy and error can come from the Chair of Truth.[15]

With this in mind, we recall that when Our Lady appeared at La Salette in 1846, she chose the following words to describe the coming tribulation: “The Church will be in eclipse….”[16] An object that is being eclipsed cannot be said to have failed; rather, it is obscured, hindered, or in some way prevented from being efficacious. Were these words of Our Lady coincidental? Certainly not.

Fr. Herman B. Kramer, in his interpretation of the Apocalypse, warns that a prolonged vacancy of the Apostolic Chair, entirely within the realm of possibility according to Catholic teaching, would mean terrible hardship for the Church:

“…[T]he great [secular] powers may take a menacing attitude to hinder the election of the logical and expected [papal] candidate by threats of a general apostasy, assassination or imprisonment of this candidate if elected. This would … cause intense anguish to the Church, because an extended interregnum in the papacy is always disastrous and more so in a time of universal persecution. If Satan would contrive to hinder a papal election, the Church would suffer great travail.[17]

Clearly, the situation in which we find ourselves today, and which all those who recognize Pius XII as the last true Pope have correctly identified as being either that of an extended period of sede vacante or that of sede impedita,[18] is not at all foreign to the mind of the Church, nor contrary to her teaching. That terrible trials should result from such a situation stands to reason.

All these considerations will help us in assessing the true significance of any “disunity” and disagreements found among sedevacantists.

The Papacy and Sedevacantist “Disunity”

Having extensively reviewed the Catholic doctrine on the power of the papacy, specifically with regard to its being the source and safeguard of the unity of the entire Church, as well as the possibility that the papal office may at some point either be vacant or impeded, we can now turn to the difficulties that exist among sedevacantists and understand how these dissensions, far from disproving our theological position in any way, are actually but the natural outcome of the absence of a rightful Roman Pontiff.

When we examine the issues sedevacantists are divided on, we realize very quickly that they are not really disagreements pertaining to doctrine per se, for all who recognize the Popes up to Pius XII as legitimate must also submit to their Magisterium at least under pain of mortal sin, sometimes under pain of heresy. Rather, the disagreements typically concern the correct application of the Church’s teaching to a specific case at hand, or to a finer doctrinal point not yet settled by the Church, or to the right interpretation of a law, or to the proper pastoral response to a particular situation.

So, for instance, we find Catholics holding divergent views regarding how to resolve this or that parish problem, what constitutes the most suitable Catholic school curriculum, whether a particular seminary is worthy of support, or whether a specific individual is a fit candidate for holy orders. We find people disagreeing on whether a specific type of clothing meets the required standards of modesty, whether Pope Pius XII would still want us to use his liturgical reforms of the mid-1950’s, or whether a priest has the right – or the duty – to deny Holy Communion to this or that individual. Other points of contention include whether a priest can bind the consciences of the faithful regarding a theological conclusion other priests disagree with, whether a particular ordination is to be considered doubtful or not, and whether or to what extent we should, or should not, be involved in the secular political process.

The list of disagreements can seem overwhelming at times, but we must take a step back and view it all in its proper context: We are lacking a true Pope who could, by virtue of his office, settle these disputes and enforce the unity of the flock by an authoritative decision. The situation we find ourselves in is clearly an exile of sorts, a great agony which we should accept, like any other suffering, with great love, patience, and perseverance, knowing that it has been permitted by an all-wise, all-good God, and that what we truly deserve is infinitely worse.

We should also evaluate how realistic our own ideas and expectations are. Is it reasonable to expect that if there has been no Pope for decades, everything in the Church will simply continue normally? Can we really, on the one hand, affirm sede vacante, but then on the other complain that there are so many disagreements among us? Does the latter not rather accompany the former as a practically inevitable consequence?

But let us suppose for a moment that these sedevacantist disagreements we so lament did not exist. Let us suppose that all of us who recognize Pius XII as the last true Pope agreed on every detail with regard to the difficulties enumerated above, so that we would enjoy complete and perfect unity in these matters.

I maintain that it wouldn’t make a difference.

That is to say, it would not make any difference in principle. The reason for this is that any agreement on a matter that has not been settled by a true Pope will always only be incidental, that is, the product of circumstance, as it were, because the Pope is the only one who could engender and enforce consensus by virtue of the unifying power of his office, which enjoys authority from God to direct the minds and wills of all the faithful. Thus only the Pope himself can intrinsically “cause” agreement and therefore unity, whereas any other agreement would merely come about as nothing more than the product of sheer happenstance, possessed by people who all happen to think the same way, but whose agreement is not the essential effect of a unifying cause and thus could come to an end at any time. It would be an incidental unity only, not an essential unity, which can only come from the Pope.

This consideration, I believe, shows that whether we should suffer lamentable divisions as we presently do, or whether we should all be in complete agreement on all things, we cannot escape the fact that the absence of a Pope means that the principle of unity is temporarily prevented from bringing about the unity of the flock on those matters about which we currently legitimately dispute and disagree.

Realizing, then, that our essential unity would be no greater if we happened to agree on all those matters concerning which we now diverge, because it would still not be the result of a true Pope governing our wills and our intellects on these points, we should feel consoled that by the same token, this unity also cannot be lessened or taken away by the disputes and divisions we presently undergo.

I would like to conclude by drawing your attention to a pertinent remark made by Fr. Leo Trese writing in the early 1950’s:

“There may come in our time, as there came in the fifth century, a barbarian invasion to inundate the Christian world. If that happens, the light of Faith may flicker again, as it flickered fifteen hundred years ago, a feeble flame marking the hot embers that lie beneath the new fuel that God is heaping upon His Church.”[19]

Though the barbarian invasion this priest had in mind did not come to pass, a much more sinister one came in its stead: an invasion of Modernists usurping the Holy See under the external guise of Catholicism, like the Trojan horse in ancient Greece, to cause much more serious and extensive damage than any barbarians ever could.

But we take heart because, as Fr. Trese suggests, the tribulations we are now afflicted with are but a necessary prelude to the glorious future restoration of the Catholic Church,[20] which shall take place at precisely the time and in precisely the manner which Almighty God has preordained from all eternity.

[1] See Acta Sanctae Sedis XXIII (1890-91), p. 744; cf. also Ambrose St. John, The Raccolta or Collection of Indulgenced Prayers and Good Works (1910), n. 292.

[2] Zacharias 13:7; cf. Mark 14:27.

[3] Benedict XIV, Apostolic Constitution Pastoralis Romani Pontificis (1741); in Benedictine Monks of Solesmes, eds., Papal Teachings: The Church, trans. by Mother E. O’Gorman (Boston: Daughters of St. Paul, 1962), n. 1; emphasis added.

[4] Boniface VIII, Bull Unam Sanctam (1302); see Denzinger-Hűnermann 875 or Denzinger-Rahner 469.

[5] Leo XIII, Encyclical Satis Cognitum 13 (1896).

[6] Pius XII, Encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi 22 (1943).

[7] “And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

[8] Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum 12.

[9] Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum 12; emphasis added.

[10] First Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus 4; see Denzinger-Rahner 1836 or Denzinger-Hűnermann 3070; emphasis added.

[11] Leo XIII, Allocution for the 25th Anniversary of his Election (Feb. 20, 1903); in Benedictine Monks, Papal Teachings: The Church, n. 653.

[12] Pius XII, Encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi 31, ibid.; emphasis added.

[13] Pius IX, Encyclical Inter Multiplices 7 (1853); emphasis added.

[14] Fr. Edmund J. O’Reilly, The Relations of the Church to Society, trans. by Matthew Russell (London: John Hodges, 1892), pp. 287-288; emphasis added, original italics removed.

[15] This idea of a “Holy See gone bad” is held by a great many “traditional Catholics” today who have chosen to acknowledge the Vatican II popes as true Popes yet resisting any exercise of these claimants’ office judged to be contrary to pre-Vatican II teaching or practice.

[16] Secrets of La Salette (Asbury: The 101 Foundation, 1994), p. 17.

[17] Fr. Herman Bernard Kramer, The Book of Destiny (Rockford: TAN Books, 1975), p. 278. This book was first published in 1955 by Buechler Publishing Company, but the page reference refers to the 1975 reprint edition by TAN, which is widely available.

[18] I mention here also sede impedita since we cannot discount the possibility, however unlikely it may appear, that there is currently a true Pope in hiding, somehow prevented from making himself known to the world.

[19] Fr. Leo Trese, “Foreword”, in Dorothy Dohen, Vocation to Love (New York: Sheed & Ward, 1951), p. vii.

[20] Cf. Romans 18:8: “For I reckon that the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come, that shall be revealed in us.”

Fri Jan 16, 2015 6:32 pm
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New post Re: When the Shepherd Is Struck:
The sedeplenist Joe Bloggs, and more importantly, the sedeplenist Fr. Bloggs, won't find the apology regarding sedevacantist disunity compelling. The reason is that the logic doesn't work. I think that Mario doesn't understand the objection to which he is meant to be replying.

The sedeplenist observation over decades is that people who get interested in sedevacantism become unstable in their spiritual lives, confused about what matters and what doesn't, forget their own incompetence in what are often very technically challenging areas of law and doctrine, often destablise others in their parish, and very often more broadly disturb the peace of the parish. I've observed all of this myself, and so often that I can't answer it. It's true. It isn't an observation that touches upon whether Francis is pope, obviously, but one can certainly understand that to somebody with the other conviction, it's a mighty motivation not to look at our view.

One cannot answer this by arguing as follows:

1. The pope is the principle of unity in the Church
2. But there's no pope at present
Ergo, disunity is expected and not at all surprising.

This argument, which is sound and true, only explains the disunity on all fronts, amongst all Catholics, whatever their convictions. It says nothing whatsoever about why sedevacantism is so often concommitant with spiritual maladies.

In Christ our King.

Thu Jan 22, 2015 1:10 am
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New post Re: When the Shepherd Is Struck:

As sedevacantists some of us tend to think we know the answers and forget that we and the church are relying on God to guide us through this crisis. Only he truely knows how it will be solved. We do not have the answers on how to fix the crisis other than the general need of prayer and sacrifice and to believe the truths of the faith. Being sedevacantists may enable us to understand the crisis better, but still does not give us how it will be resolved. A great deal of Non-Sedevacantists tend to take this more humble approach of that the crisis is above them and in the Hands of God. Now while stupidity does not equal humility (I am sorry, but this rhymes so well. I mean to say ignorance.) we sedevacantists could learn a lesson from their example and refrain from becoming too confident that we have all the solutions. We don't, and we won't.

Thu Jan 22, 2015 1:54 am
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New post Re: When the Shepherd Is Struck:
Nice reply, James.

I'm of the view, and have been for years, that the crisis presents a mystery, and that the only valid and useful approach is to address the mystery as a whole. The sedeplenists don't do this, and neither has any sedevacantist writer. Instead, the sedevacantists "prove" their position, whilst failing to address the real elements of mystery which remain, and then turn and rend the sedeplenists for not accepting their opinion. The sedeplenists, on the other hand, restrict themselves to refuting sedevacantism, without addressing the very real problems it is meant to (partially) answer. The problem with this approach is compounded by the use of bad arguments, erroneous theology, and absolutely garbage "scholarship" (e.g. invented quotes from Pope Adrian VI, taken from a book which St. Pius X put on the Index). For these reasons, once one is a sedevacantist, one is constantly and severely tempted to believe that the other side are actually just complete charlatans without the slightest affection for the moral law or truth itself.

It's a great dynamic! :)

In Christ our King.

Thu Jan 22, 2015 4:47 am
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New post Re: When the Shepherd Is Struck:
The sedevacantist milieu is no worse off with regard to spiritual maladies than any other Catholic milieu. I know this from experience. Over the past 17 years I have gone from apostasy to liberal Novus Ordo to conservative NO to Ecclesia Dei to SSPX to SV. And I have seen others take similar routes. As well as seen others go in the opposite direction. I have never found any group which was free of spiritual maladies. I would say that traditionalists in general are spiritually more healthy simply because they at the very least have the true faith. But that is just a generalization. There is nothing inherent in the sedevacantist position which would cause spiritual difficulties. In fact, I found the exact opposite in my particular situation and it had nothing to do with the SV position but only with the resources available in my area. I went from an SSPX chapel which had only the Sunday Mass and usually holy days to an SV chapel with 2 nuns, a weekly catechism class, and Mass at least 3 or 4 times a week as well as holy days. It definitely has helped me to increase my devotion and zeal.

Thu Jan 22, 2015 9:00 pm
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New post Re: When the Shepherd Is Struck:
CM, no doubt, but your situation's unusual. Even on the score of access to mass and sacraments, the outcome is usually the opposite. And home-alonism compounds that, of course.

One of the factors at work is simply that sedevacantism is a minority position and by its nature radical. This attracts those who desire the most radical and "unsocial" position available, along with those who simply desire to know the truth. (By unsocial, I mean that it separates one from one's fellows, something that healthy human nature abhors, since we are essentially social beings, part of one family.) This factor colours the situation, making what I described above more difficult to assess in terms of cause and effect, of course. But even taking it into account, the same reality (sedevacantism is a radical and "unsocial" position) also operates as a cause on those who adopt it. That is, precisely because it separates us from our fellows, we find that our relations with them in every other respect tend to dissolution. Somebody observing this from outside will see it as evil. The other thing that compounds this is that within a sedeplenist setting, sedevacantist thinking immediately discredits the clergy in the eyes of the individual affected. One finds it a challenge to respect a priest whom one perceives to have his eyes closed to the truth, and who in many cases will use really bad arguments against it.

One can observe the same kind of cause-effect coupling in the so-called "Resistance". It attracts radically-minded individuals, and it radicalises those it attracts.

One irony of all of this is that those with fewer opportunities for mass and the sacraments, as a result of their own more "pure" position, actually tend to raise families with manifestly worldly children, and the loss rate is higher than that within, say, the SSPX milieu. This is observable in home-alonist families and in the "Resistance" - but how much is cause and how much is effect is impossible to judge. It's certainly a fact that an individual who is less devoted to duty (i.e. less spiritually healthy in the real sense, more worldly) is more likely to become infatuated with problems that are not his to solve, and to forget his own incompetence to solve them - and to spend time on them that he ought really to devote to obvious and immediate duties. The "Resistance" in Australia is composed largely of the more worldly faithful, people whose children do not use a missal at mass, dress scandalously, are less well educated, etc. I'd be surprised if it's any different elsewhere.

This is not as commonly the case with sedevacantists, and especially not in CMRI circles, and I put that down to the fact that the CMRI people have been sedevacantists so long that the middle-aged people are second-generation (i.e. not radicals by nature, they just grew up with it) and the numbers are large enough that the position is not unsocial in that milieu, but rather the contrary. This means that there's a healthy "normality" about the general views of the faithful (I don't mean that their views are, in the broader sense, normal, merely that within their own milieu they are commonly held, so that holding them is not unsocial and radicalising).

In Christ our King.

Fri Jan 23, 2015 12:50 am
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New post Re: When the Shepherd Is Struck:
You have a much better informed perspective than I on this topic but based on my experience I think the severity of the problem is dependent on the circumstances. I'm in Boston and not only is it a generally liberal area but the diocese is absolutely horrendous. So the dividing line here begins with the traditional Mass. If you attend one here you are a radical. There is no need to further distinguish oneself. The ED folks are just as ostracized as any other trads. Maybe the dynamics are different in more conservative areas. But at least I am certain that it's not a problem intrinsic to the position.

Fri Jan 23, 2015 2:50 am
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New post Re: When the Shepherd Is Struck:
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Nice reply, James.

I'm of the view, and have been for years, that the crisis presents a mystery, and that the only valid and useful approach is to address the mystery as a whole. The sedeplenists don't do this, and neither has any sedevacantist writer. Instead, the sedevacantists "prove" their position, whilst failing to address the real elements of mystery which remain, and then turn and rend the sedeplenists for not accepting their opinion. The sedeplenists, on the other hand, restrict themselves to refuting sedevacantism, without addressing the very real problems it is meant to (partially) answer. The problem with this approach is compounded by the use of bad arguments, erroneous theology, and absolutely garbage "scholarship" (e.g. invented quotes from Pope Adrian VI, taken from a book which St. Pius X put on the Index). For these reasons, once one is a sedevacantist, one is constantly and severely tempted to believe that the other side are actually just complete charlatans without the slightest affection for the moral law or truth itself.

It's a great dynamic! :)

This quote from "Adrian VI" has an interesting history, researched carefully and with justice by Mario Derkson, with the results published here in early 2015: ... ian-vi.htm

There are three categories of statements made by popes which scholars will ascribe to them by name.

1. Statements made by popes, as popes, that is, speaking in their official capacity.
2. Statements made by popes, speaking as private doctors, during their reign.
3. Statements made by popes prior to their elevation to the Apostolic See, and re-published with their explicit approval afterwards.

Examples are not required for the first category; all know well what it includes. The second category is surprising, perhaps, to some, but well known to theologians and canonists. Pope Innocent IV (Sinibaldo de' Fieschi), for example, was a canonist of note prior to his elevation to the papacy (he was a professor at Bologna). He remained an active scholar of canon law even after he ascended, and continued to publish his interpretations of the Decretals "as a private doctor." He made this explicit - that is, that his work was not to be taken as by the pope acting officially, but by the person of the pope acting privately.

The same was true, quite explicitly, when John XXII preached his infamous sermons on when the just would receive the beatific vision. It is therefore a scandal of the first water that somebody with a reputation as a scholar such as Robert de Mattei asserts that John XXII's sermons were magisterial acts: "The heterodox teaching of John XXII was certainly an act of ordinary magisterium regarding the faith of the Church, but not infallible, as it was devoid of a defining nature." This statement is opposed to all good authorities.

De Mattei, incidentally, misrepresents Bellarmine in the following passage:

"St. Robert Bellarmine who dealt amply with this issue in De Romano Pontifice (Opera omnia, Venetiis 1599, Book. IV, chap. 14, coll. 841-844) writes that John XXII supported a heretical thesis, with the intention of imposing it as the truth on the faithful, but died before he could have defined the dogma, without therefore, undermining the principle of pontifical infallibility by his behavior."

Actually, Bellarmine favourably paraphrases John Villanus, who was a contemporary of John XXII, as follows: "First, it is on good evidence that he never had it in his mind, although he had spoken on the matter, to define the question, rather only to treat it so as to discover the truth. Next, he [Villanus] added that John already thought the opinion was the more probable, that asserts the souls of the blessed enjoy the divine vision even before the day of judgement, and he embraced this opinion, unless at some time the Church would have defined otherwise, and he subjected all his teachings freely to its definition."

So there was no danger of a false definition, according to Bellarmine. Nor was John XXII himself convinced of the opinion he had tentatively proposed as a private doctor. Bellarmine accuses Calvin of lying in the latter's assertion that John XXII "abjured his error." Those familiar with anti-sedevacantist writings will be aware that Calvin's lie is popular in the present day.

De Mattei also errs by asserting, "But thanks be to God, some good theologians and prelates of the time, moved by their sensus fidei, publically [sic] refused their assent to the supreme authority." There was no authority involved, at all, as Bellarmine shows with multiple proofs, and numerous other theologians have as well, since his day. So much is this clear that Bellarmine points out, in the very place cited by de Mattei, that Benedict XII, John XXII's successor, and the pope who defined the dogma that the souls of the just immediately receive the beatific vision, recorded that John XXII had "severely commanded the Cardinals and others, all teachers, that they should give their true opinion so that the truth would be discovered." The only papal authority involved in this matter was that which commanded men to speak freely about the question, without fear of consequences, of which there would be none, for the pope was a good and holy man (much calumniated by the heretical Spiritual Franciscans, and William Ockham) who knew his duty.

You will not see good authorities asserting that "the teaching of Pope John XXII was that the souls of the just do not immediately receive the beatific vision," precisely because of the danger that the unwary will think that this was taught by a pope, as pope.

Our third category is that of the works of popes written prior to their elevation, and re-published with their approval during their reign. An example of this type is Benedict XIV, who was, and remains, the greatest expert on the theology and the processes of beatification and canonisation in the history of the Church. He had his work on these questions edited and re-published after his accession to the Apostolic See. Therefore it is legitimate, and common, for theologians to refer to quotes from his work, as "by Benedict XIV." A substantial excerpt from this work is available here: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1482

What is the theological weight, or authority, of such a work? In brief, it has the status of the work of a private doctor, not that of the teaching of the Holy See, however it possesses peculiar authority insofar as it has the highest "imprimatur" that the work of a private doctor can receive, short of a declaration that the man himself is a Doctor of the Universal Church.

Now, turning to the quote from "Adrian VI" that was originally published in an anti-sedevacantist dossier which was prepared hurriedly by a good priest who was enduring an emergency situation caused by some sedevacantist parishioners. That was some fifteen years ago, and the present writer pointed out the unsound provenance of the quote in 2006. So much for its origins in contemporary polemics. Unfortunately, others who were not under extreme time pressure, and could easily, if they had the will, have researched the matter further, leaped upon that quote and used it irresponsibly. An example was here: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=1756 That was in November, 2014. Hence my comment above, in January 2015, to the effect that the use of this quote as though it were by a pope, as pope, is a scandal. It results in the discrediting of any writer that uses it, and contributes unnecessarily to the strain between sedevacantists and non-sedevacantists (the main point I was making in the post to which this is a further explanation). Mario Derkson researched the quote and published his finding shortly afterwards.

I should not have described the quote as "invented" - rather, I should have chosen a different word, such as "fraudulent" in order to express what I was trying to convey, which is that the attribution of that quote to a pope is not legitimate. It is less legitimate to attribute it to "Adrian VI" than it would be to attribute John XXII's erroneous opinion on the beatific vision to him as pope, when he explicitly stated that it was his opinion as a private doctor. Adrian VI didn't make the statement when he was pope, and the Gallican theologian Bossuet, who held the now-heretical opinion that popes, as popes, can err, attributed it to Adrian VI on the ground that it was re-published during Adrian VI's reign. But even if this were, at a stretch, legitimate then, it isn't today. Why not? Because it is scandalous. It is scandalous for the reason that the contrary has now been defined. As Cardinal Billot says, "Wherefore, the opinion of the Gallicans on this point must be regarded in the same sense as their opinion about the superiority of a Council over the Pope, which now, after the definitions of the Vatican Council, has proved heretical."

I'm sorry that this offends some people. (But I know it doesn't offend Fr. Boulet, with whom I have had some very amicable correspondence over the matter.)

John Lane.

Sat Jul 09, 2016 4:13 am
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New post Re: When the Shepherd Is Struck:
One more thing regarding this "Adrian VI" quote. Somebody suggested to me that we want to see this quote disappear because it is opposed to the thesis that the See is presently vacant.

That is untrue. The quote is worthless against sedevacantism, even on the hypothesis that it were defined ex cathedra by Pope Adrian VI. For it does not assert that any popes were public heretics, and that is the only kind of heresy that affects membership in the Church and consequently, the possession of habitual jurisdiction.

So why are we determined to deal with this quote? I can only speak for myself, and my motivation is simply that it is contrary to Roman Theology, the only completely sound theology, the theology of the popes. At Rome the theses of Bellarmine were favoured, which explains why his star continued to rise, inexorably, despite the lack of interest in him shown by the Dominicans (they, naturally, favoured Cajetan), until his doctrine dominated the Vatican Council in 1870 and he was declared a Doctor of the Universal Church in 1931, providentially, as Pius XI explicitly said. What did Providence have in mind in arranging this public approval of Bellarmine? Pius XI didn't say, but we can certainly infer, based upon subsequent historical events...

Bellarmine spends page after page laboriously exculpating the popes of the charges leveled against them by Protestants and Gallicans, showing that never was a pope a heretic - even Honorius. That is the doctrine favoured at Rome. What is simply tragic is the sight of those who have been scandalised by the Modernist pretenders, seeking to blacken the names of true popes in order to relativise the evils of the Conciliarists. May God have mercy on us all. Will the Son of Man, think ye, find faith when He returns? If we don't hold fast to traditional, Roman approved, theology, then no, He won't.

Hold the doctrines in the approved manuals, and let the chips fall where they may. If they show a vacant See, then it's vacant, no matter what it costs us to say it.

Sat Jul 09, 2016 3:19 pm
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