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Talking Sedevacantism with an SSPX Lay Kahuna

Following the SSPX wave…

Father: Even though I’ve figured out that sedevacantism is the only possible theological explanation for Bergoglio and the whole Vatican II mess, I still have a lot of friends and acquaintances in SSPX circles. Word of my change of position has gotten around, so the topic now comes up in conversations. Lay SSPX-ers agree with my arguments … up to a point. Their priests respond like they are brain dead, and either have no answer at all or tell me to read the Salza-Siscoe book.

Recently, though, a layman who is a respected major player in the SSPX empire invited me over to talk with him about sedevacantism. He’s an intelligent guy, and probably hopes to “convert” me back to R&R from the “errors” of sedevacantism. Any ideas about how to handle him?

LOOK ON IT as an opportunity to get him thinking about some of the unquestioned “givens” the Society has handed him about “evil, schismatic, proud” sedevacantism.

Like the SSPX priest, your friend also probably told you to read the Salza-Siscoe book, which is like Ambien in print. Zzzz. Instead of sending him links to Dead on Arrival and A Dignified Burial, my two videos refuting the book’s arguments,  I’d recommend you point him to a big wave coming from another direction.

A SEDE behind that smile?

I. Abp. Lefebvre in Favor of Sedevacantism?

For any SSPX kahuna, clerical or lay, the gold standard for explaining the state of the Church after Vatican II is supposedly “the position of Archbishop Lefebvre,” as if this were some great body of fixed and consistent teaching — which, of course, it was not. (See a 1984 article here.)

But since the notion of Lefebvre’s supposed authority casts such a long shadow in SSPX-land, you should meet your friend’s suggestion that you read the Salza-Siscoe book with another suggestion to him: that he take a close look at the material found at these two links:

Chances are, the lay kahuna will run this rather surprising information by an SSPX priest, perhaps even the District Kahuna himself. These priests — unlike me — did not know Abp. Lefebvre personally or hear him say these things, and they will not have a convincing way to explain them away for your friend.

So, an intelligent and reasonable man, having been told for ages that “the archbishop’s thinking” on Vatican II mess was nearly divine revelation, may indeed rightly begin to question the SSPX party line that sedevacantism is “schismatic.”

How could it be, if the the Iron Bishop himself so repeatedly spoke in favor of it?

The only conclusion if you say “true popes.”

II. The Real Problem: A Defecting Church

But serving up Abp. Lefebvre’s pro-sede statements is just a little hors d’oeuvre.

The essential argument against R&R and for sedevacantism is based upon ironclad principles of Catholic (i.e. pre-Vatican II) dogmatic theology concerning the indefectibility and infallibility of the Church — n.b. not just the infallibility of Roman Pontiff alone in rare ex cathedra pronouncements. I have provided a summary and application of the teaching in Resisting the Pope, Sedevacantism and Frankenchurch, and again in Section I of Sedevacantism: A Quick Primer.

The logical corner to force intelligent SSPX-ers like your lay friend into is the defecting Church.

(1) If Vatican II is error and the new laws are evil — as SSPX and R&R firmly insist —and at the same time, and the men who promulgated them somehow still had authority from Christ, the Church herself has defected, and Christ’s promises have failed — especially, “I am with you always.”

(2) But faith tells us this is impossible.

(3) The only alternate solution consonant with the Church’s infallibility and indefectibility is that the men who promulgated these errors and evils never received authority from Christ in the first place; they defected — not the Church herself — and became incapable of being validly elected popes or of receiving authority from Jesus Christ.

(4) The judgement that the changes were errors and evils is thus implicitly a judgment that those who promulgated them had no authority.

In other words, the errors and evils of the officially-approved changes is the smoking gun which leads to an unassailable and ironclad verdict: No authority, fake popes.

An Angelus Press bestseller?

III. Wait for the Lame Excuses…

Your friend will probably have heard the standard objections that SSPX has employed to get around this argument, and may repeat them to you:

  • Where would we get a true pope, then?
  • Vatican II is not universal ordinary magisterium because it is not in accord with previous “tradition,” so we’re not bound by it.
  • The pope is like a bad dad whom we can disobey.
All these have been answered over the years, and answered in spades:

(1) Not having absolute certitude how to get a pope does not make a heretic a true pope by default OR solve your defecting Church problem.

(2) ALL the bishops came home from the Vatican II and, in union with the Vatican II popes, taught the Council’s doctrines, which John Paul II then duly enshrined and imposed as obligatory in his universal catechism; so, if you believe the V2 popes are true popes, Vatican II is universal ordinary magisterium.

(3) The SSPX argument that universal ordinary magisterium, to be such and to be binding, must first be “in accord with tradition”

a. Erroneously turns a consequence into a condition. In fact, a teaching is “in accord with tradition” and infallible because a true pope and his bishops universally teach it — that’s how Christ’s promise works — not because you, Mr. Layman or Father SSPX, have checked out the hierarchy’s pronouncement and decided that it is consistent with “tradition.”

b. Was an argument of the anti-infallibilist “Old Catholic” party that was rejected by Vatican I.

(4) A bad dad’s authority is paternal, domestic, private and expressed in particular commands, whereas a pope’s authority is jurisdictional, universal, public and exercised through universal disciplinary laws, which are infallible. Sorry, there are no common points, making this old analogy particularly bone-headed and silly.

There are other equally worthless evasions that have likewise been answered again and again. (See section 3 of Sedevacantism: A Quick Primer.)

•  •  •  •  •

YOUR LAY FRIEND should have no difficulty understanding the argument: once you say that the officially-approved changes in doctrine and discipline are errors and are evil, you are logically stuck with one of two explanations: the Church has defected, or the individual or individuals who imposed them have defected.

Sedevacantists like Bp. Daniel Dolan, Bp. Donald Sanborn and myself have been making this same argument for decades, and no one — not Michael Davies, not The Remnant, not SSPX, not its SS shock troops, not anyone on the R&R side — has been able to come up with a convincing refutation for it based on the principles of pre-Vatican II dogmatic theology.

If the doctrinal, disciplinary and liturgical changes are error-ridden, evil and sacrilegious, the papacy of the Vatican II popes is toast. It is a straight-line argument to that inexorable conclusion.

Your lay friend may indeed be comfortably basking in the SSPX empire’s sunny climate at the moment. But forcing him to think logically about the Church’s infallibility and indefectibility may well lead him to say a final aloha to the R&R myths, and bid a new one to sedevacantism as his own wave of the future…

Time to catch the wave, kahuna!