Vatican II appears to me to have been a schizophrenic episode in the life of the Church. With the psychosis still going on and getting more intense with Pope Francis. It’s as though there was a Spirit of Vatican I that has been replaced with a Spirit of Vatican II. Or as though the latter council was a counter catechism to the former. It’s extremely hard to interpret Vatican II and what came after it with a hermeneutic of continuity. I would love examples of this being done with the most controversial of the passages in that council’s documents.

I have been looking at a lot of Sedevacantist material, especially that of Most Holy Family Monastery, and what it says seems to make a lot of sense. All they seem to do really is take the infallible statements of the Popes and Ecumenical Councils seriously, as well as that of the Magisterium. And there have certainly been more than two ex-cathedra statements from the popes, contrary to popular opinion.

Long before Vatican II, both Communists and Freemasons openly declared their intention to set one of their own on the throne of Saint Peter. They were once very powerful forces in society, and probably still remain very influential today. Prophecies abound about a Great Apostasy that’s supposed to take place. And the Third Secret of Fatima was supposed to be revealed no later than 1960. Something just doesn’t add up, or rather, something does seem to add up, or at least appears to.

I don’t believe anyone of good will can read the writings of the Church before Vatican II, compare them with that council and the writings after, and say everything is fine and dandy. Therefore my question is to those who recognize that there is at least a major crisis in the Church, why is sedevacantism false?

  • 1
    There are a lot of (in my opinion, interesting) thoughts in this question but you provide no evidence for them. Could you add more information to your question?
    – Anon
    Jul 20, 2023 at 13:17
  • Can you provide some examples of statements from Vatican 2 that you would like to see synthesized with Tradition? We must also keep in mind that not everything in a council is infallible. There are paragraph 1, 2, and 3 statements in council documents, as well as claims that don't fall into any of these three categories. Lastly, I would like to say I don't think that Francis is in communion with heretics. He has extended a lot of grace to the German bishops and given them many chances to repent, but he has definitely called them out multiple times on their heresy. He is trying to correct them.
    – jaredad7
    Jul 21, 2023 at 12:33

1 Answer 1


Why is Sedevacantism false?

For one thing the Church will always have a pope. The longest historical Interregnum is 3 years, and they claim that since Pope Pius XII There has been no pope. That is an Interregnum of over 60 years! That means all the present cardinals are invalid also. This is just not true.

Sure Pope Francis is not clear enough is some of his theological views, but he is still the Head of the Church. Our Catholic Duty is to resist the harm done by a bad pope while still recognizing his authority. The Church has weathered this storm before and it will weather this one too.

The following article however long it is may be of great insight here. You brought up many points and many are covered here. It is long, but I left most out it out so you can parse it at your leisure.

1. The Catholic Church Will Always Have a Pope

Because the conciliar popes regularly commit shocking scandals, a Catholic might be tempted to the visceral reaction that there is no pope. However, that reaction is an error. The Catholic Church teaches that She will always have a pope, until the very end of the world:

  1. Vatican I infallibly teaches us: If anyone says that it is not by the institution of Christ the Lord Himself (that is to say, by Divine Law) that blessed Peter should have perpetual successors in the primacy over the whole Church; or that the Roman Pontiff is not the successor of Blessed Peter in this primacy, let him be anathema. Vatican I, Session 4, Ch. 2 (bold emphasis and parenthetical words are in the original, italic emphasis added).
  1. The great Doctor of the Church, Saint Francis de Sales, teaches us: St. Peter has had successors, has them in these days, and will have them even to the end of the ages. Catholic Controversy, part 2, art. 6, ch. 9.
  1. Pope Pius XII teaches us: If ever one day . . . material Rome were to crumble, . . . even then the Church would not crumble or crack, Christ’s promise to Peter would always remain true, the Papacy, the one and indestructible Church founded on the Pope alive at the moment, would always endure. January 30, 1949, Address to the Students of Rome, Quoted from The Pope Speaks, Pantheon Books, New York, 1957 (emphasis added).

2. The Catholic Church is not in an Interregnum

Sedevacantists generally hold that Pope Pius XII has had no successors, during the last 57 years. In an attempt to avoid the contradiction between Vatican I’s infallible teaching and their own theory, the sedevacantists simply label the last 57 years as a “papal interregnum”.

But if a sedevacantist would examine his position objectively, he would see that the supposed “facts” he asserts would not constitute a real interregnum but rather would be in an interruption in papal succession. The sedevacantists assert that there will be a pope in some future time. But their theory (viz., no pope now, but there will be a future pope) really supposes there would be (what historians call) a restoration of the (papal) monarchy. See, the history of monarchy in various countries in which the monarchy has been restored, e.g., England and France.

3. The Catholic Church Will Always Be Visible And Will Always Have a Pope Who is Visible to All

Knowing that we must have a pope, there are a few tiny dispersed groups who so despise the pope in the Vatican, that they concoct theories that there is a hidden pope, whom only their tiny “elite” “knows” about.

These tiny “elite” groups are disunited in their views about who the hidden “pope” is. Some hold that he lives in a farmhouse in Kansas, others that the “pope” is in Montana, Croatia, Argentina, Kenya, Spain or elsewhere. Each of these “popes” is “known” and recognized only by his own tiny group.

4. The Man Whom the Whole Church Accepts as Pope, Is the Pope

Because the pope must be visible, a necessary corollary of this truth is that whoever is accepted as the pope by virtually all Catholics, we know must be the pope by that very fact, since the pope must be visible to the Church as the pope. This is true because, if virtually all Catholics accepted the legitimacy of an anti-pope, then the true pope would be “invisible”, i.e., unknown to the Church. Thus, because the pope must be visible to all, whoever is accepted as pope by virtually all Catholics, we know must be the pope.

St. Alphonsus de Liguori, Doctor of the Church, explained this truth as follows:

It is of no importance that in past centuries some Pontiff was illegitimately elected or took possession of the Pontificate by fraud. It is enough that he was accepted afterwards by the whole Church as Pope, since by such an acceptance he would become the True Pontiff.

When teaching this same truth, Cardinal Louis Billot identified the cause of this truth, viz., the indefectibility of the Church:

Beyond all doubt, it ought to be firmly held, that the adhesion of the universal Church would, in itself, always be an infallible sign of the legitimacy of a particular pope, and even for the existence of all conditions which are required for his legitimacy as pope. Nor does it take long to identify the reason for this fact. For the reason is taken directly from the infallible promise of Christ and from Providence: The gates of hell shall not prevail against Her [the Church]. And again: Behold, I am with you all days, which is equivalent.

When discussing the invalidity of simoniacal elections to the papacy, Bishop Kenrick teaches that the Church’s acceptance of a pope cures any defect in his election but that the pope nonetheless has a moral duty to resign:

Should the contemplated case unfortunately occur, the guilty individual must know that he cannot conscientiously exercise the papal power. . . . [T]he acquiescence of the Church heals the defect as far as the faithful are concerned, although it does not relieve the delinquent from the necessity of abdicating the high office which he sacrilegiously assumed.

5. Rash Judgment: Concluding the Pope is a Formal Heretic

Trying to escape the fact that the pope in the Vatican is visible to all and is accepted as pope by virtually all Catholics, a tiny group holds that no “real” Catholics exist besides the members of their own tiny group. Thus, they assert that the pope in the Vatican is not the “real” pope because he is not accepted as pope by the “real” Catholics (who are exclusively members of their own tiny group). Or alternatively, they assert that their own “pope” (accepted only by their own tiny group) is visible to “all” Catholics and accepted by “all” Catholics, because their tiny group is the only group of “true” Catholics.

Therefore, in order to reach the result they seek, this tiny group judges the 1.2 billion people who profess to be Catholic. This tiny group decides that the Faith and morals of those 1.2 billion people show they are not “real” Catholics. Similarly, this tiny group also judges the pope in the Vatican and decides that his Faith (and morals) show he is not “really” the pope.

6. Sedevacantism is Un-Catholic because it is Revolutionary

When someone in authority commands something evil, it is one thing to refuse to consent to that superior’s command, but it is a further step to use that evil command as a basis for rejecting the ruler’s authority as such. This further step is to revolt.

In summary, revolutionaries follow a common pattern:

  1. they assert that their ruler committed wrongs (actual or merely imagined); and then
  1. they use such wrongs as a basis to declare that their ruler’s own conduct has resulted in his losing his authority to rule them.

7. Our Catholic Duty: Resist the Harm Done by a Bad Pope But (Of Course) Recognize His Authority

Two different mortal sins prevent an informed Catholic from being a sedevacantist: If we rashly judge the pope to be a formal heretic because he is a material heretic, this is a mortal sin (because it is the sin of rash judgment on a grave matter).

If we revolt against the pope’s authority as such, this is a mortal sin of revolution.

Therefore, because Catholics must neither be rash-judgers nor revolutionaries, we must recognize the authority of the pope who is in the Vatican.

8. Judging the Pope’s Words & Deeds According to Catholic Tradition

It is (objectively) a mortal sin of rash judgment for a person to decide that the pope is a formal heretic. See Section 5 above. It is (objectively) a mortal sin of revolution for a person to declare the pope has lost his authority as such.

On the other hand, it is also clear that we have a duty to resist the pope’s errors and the harm he causes.

However, we are not Church Doctors or popes. How do we know what is true (and what to believe), unless we simply believe whatever the pope teaches us? But on the other hand, if we do not decide for ourselves what to believe, then how do we know when we have a duty to resist what the pope says or does?

One false argument many sedevacantists use, is to present the following false alternatives:

  • Either you must deny the authority of the pope in the Vatican (as they do);

  • Or you must accept everything he does and says. Because (these sedevacantists say), if he were pope and you pick and choose what you accept from him, then (they say) it shows you have a protestant mentality (of picking and choosing). This sedevacantist “argument” relies on a false understanding of papal infallibility.

The pope’s ex cathedra infallibility

We know the pope’s words are infallible (viz., from the very fact that he utters them), only when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when:

  1. in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians,

  2. in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority,

  3. he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals,

  4. to be held by the whole church.

Dogmatic definition quoted from Vatican I, Session 4, ch.4. (We will treat elsewhere concerning the teachings of a Church Council.)

9. An Example of a Pope Teaching Heresy Before His Election and During His Reign

We know that it is (objectively) a mortal sin of rash judgment for a person to decide that the pope is a formal heretic (and thus is no longer the pope). See, Section 5 above. But although we recognize the pope’s authority, we know that we have a duty to resist his errors and the harm he causes. See, Section 7 above. We know it is possible for a pope to teach heresy if he is not speaking ex cathedra. (This is the whole reason Vatican I listed the conditions for the pope’s ex cathedra infallibility because, by fulfillment of those conditions, Catholics know that a particular papal teaching must be true and cannot be heresy.)

But a person could wonder if any pope before Vatican II ever really denied a doctrine of the Catholic Faith and publicly taught heresy—or had such possibility merely been theoretical? If such a pre-Vatican II pope did publicly teach heresy, then did that pope remain pope or did he somehow lose his papal office by teaching heresy? The answer is that prior popes have publicly taught heresy and did retain their papal office. The case of Pope John XXII (1316-34) is a useful example.

  1. A Man Need not be Consecrated a Bishop or Ordained a Priest to be a Valid Pope**

An Explanation How the Catholic Church Continues to Possess A Full Hierarchy even in these Times of Great Apostasy Against the Sedevacantist Argument that only a Valid Bishop Can Be Pope because He is Bishop of Rome

From the above considerations, it is plain that sedevacantism is wrong. However, some sedevacantists indirectly attack our present pope’s possession of his office. They assert that because one of the pope’s titles is “Bishop of Rome”, he cannot be pope because he is not a valid bishop. These sedevacantists then declare that, because conciliar ordinations and consecrations are definitely invalid (so they assert), the more recent conciliar popes cannot be real popes because they are not valid bishops.



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