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Stuck in a Rut: Anti-Sedevacantism in the Age of Bergoglio

A video by Rev. Anthony Cekada

THE ELECTION of Jorge Mario Bergoglio by the March 2013 conclave was a turning point in the ongoing dispute among Catholic traditionalists over the question of the pope: Do we “recognize” the post-Vatican II popes as true popes, but “resist” them? (The “R&R” position held by the Society of St. Pius X, Bp. Williamson, The Remnant, Catholic Family News and many others) Or do we treat them as public heretics who are not true popes at all? (The sedevacantist position)

Francis’ outrageous public statements and madcap antics have led more and more traditionalists to embrace sedevacantism, and many more to consider doing the same.

This has caused consternation in the R&R camp, which has felt obliged to produce a good number of anti-sedevacantist critiques over the past two years.

I’ve received many requests to answer these critiques, and this video will serve as my response.

The first rut for R&R is following the wrong theologians — Suarez, Cajetan and John of St. Thomas — who maintained that a heretical pope had to be put on trial before he lost his office. This teaching:

  1. Was subsequently abandoned by theologians, who adopted the position of St. Robert Bellarmine instead.
  2. Superseded by Paul IV’s Bull Cum ex Apostolatus Officio.
  3. Results in absurdity, because in our own days, heretical cardinals would be expected to judge a heretical pope.

The second rut for R&R is that they are still arguing the wrong issue — loss of office by a heretical pope — while sedevacantists now argue that Bergoglio could not have become a true pope in the first place. Here we discuss:

  1. The teaching of canonists that a public heretic is barred by divine law from becoming a true pope.
  2. R&R’s confusion of the sin of heresy with the canonical crime of heresy.
  3. R&R’s creation of the “orthodoxy buddy” rule — you can’t become a heretic unless someone warns you.
  4. Formal vs. material heresy, and how Pius XII’s 1943 Encyclical Mystici Corporis providentially closed R&R’s last escape route.

We conclude by answering six common R&R “pope by default” objections, and by offering an analysis of the underlying problem which forces Catholics to debate these issues.

To find out more, follow the links at Sedevacantism: A Quick Primer.