The Pope, The Professor, And Dr Strangelove: Reflections On Sedevacantism.

Doctor Strangelove has a solution for the problem of Francis' Papacy.

I continue to not understand the confusion and disorientation of many Catholics – even readers of this blog – when confronted with the horrible deeds of Pope Francis. It is as if they realised that they have a horrible Pope, and found the fact unprecedented and very difficult to cope with.

The crude reality is that Catholicism has already seen it all. A Pope openly siding with heresy, to the point of excommunicating Athanasius and forbidding the Creed in Church? Check. A Pope declared a heretic by no less than an ecumenical council? Check. A Pope openly espousing obviously and gravely heretical ideas? Check. A Pope announcing that he is minded to make of his heretical ideas a dogma of the Church? Check. Popes who were fornicators, thieves, gluttons, corrupts, or curruptors? Check, check, check, check, and check.

We must realise that the protection given by the Holy Ghost to the Church is of limited nature, and is meant to safeguard nothing more than the core of her activity, without which she would not be able to fulfill her function. It is to the clergy and the laity to provide for many vocations of sound quality and a diffused expectation of sound clergymen, in order for the Church to grow and prosper. But there is no guarantee of growth, of prosperity, even of continued existence in your particular country or even continent.

Whilst the comparison has the limits of all comparisons, you can make a parallel between a Pope and a history professor. History has an awful lot of incontrovertible historical facts. Facts can't be changed, or interpreted away. If a professor starts teaching that Abraham Lincoln was born in Ghana, and Jesus in Rome, does it mean that he is not a professor? No, he is still one. He will, bar further episodes, for the moment still have the same job, with the same title, the same job description, and the same wage. But his pupils will understand that he is a horrible professor; one who, in fact, is unworthy of the job and should never have been allowed to teach in a primary school, much less a university.

Does the teaching of the stupid, ignorant, arrogant professor change the facts? Of course not. Can you say “either his statements are right, or he is not a professor”? No. Can you deny the acts that he puts in place in his quality as professor? No.

What you have there is an ugly professor, nothing more and nothing less.

Now, the Holy Ghost merely guarantees that a Pope will not proclaim a heretical dogma, something a professor can't do even with an orthodox one. Every rubbish a teacher can produce, a Pope can, too; but he will, of course, not be able to change truth; no more than a professor could change historical facts, or mathematical rules, or laws of physics.

Truths are things. They are, in fact, far more solid than them, because they will be there when the entire universe has been dissolved in a spark. Can Popes make universes? No? Well, then….

Then there is the other question: what's the big difference between saying that we have a rubbish Pope, and saying that we have no Pope? The difference is simply immeasurable.

Bad Popes are as much a part of the fabric of the world as bad people. Popes are people. Some Popes will be bad, or very bad. Unpleasant, but physiological. Like having to walk near a field in the time of dunging.

Sedevacantism, on the other hand, is a way to the abyss. If the Pope is no Pope, his Cardinals aren't Cardinals. Therefore, his successor is also an impostor. And at this point there is no way to say how – bar having Angels coming down from Heaven – the legitimate office of legitimate popes and cardinals can be restored. It is every bit like shooting yourself in the head because you have a severe headache, and thinking that God, in His mercy, will restore your brains to full functionality punctually by tea time, when the headache has gone.

The implications of Sedevacantism, the wheels that the thinking would set in motion if thought to the end – which most Sedes accurately avoid – are absolutely immense. They are tantamount to destroying the visible Church out of love for the visible Church. It is Dr Strangelove's approach to the crisis in the Church.

And as we are there, allow me two words on the Western Schism.

There never were two Popes, or three. There always was only one, and Rome always knew and said who he was. There can never be two Popes, or three, in charge. This is why Benedict is merely a Pope Emeritus, one who used to have the office of the Pope; but now only keeps the title, without the function, like every professor emeritus does. It's also not so that at some point all those popes resigned, paving the way for the end of the schism. Only one Pope has resigned. The others were not Popes, period.

It's not complicated, or confusing, in the least. The confusion only begins when the faithful start to attribute some kind of almost magical power, or alternatively an almost magical divine protection, to the Pope; making of him a man who can't ever be heretical, not even a material heretic, without their own understanding of the Papacy crumbling.

Of course a Pope can be a material heretic. History teaches this as an incontrovertible fact, that is not for me or you to accept or refuse, but merely to acknowledge in its hard reality of crude historic event.

Learn to cope with the events, and Catholic teaching will make wonderful sense exactly concerning papal infallibility and the Indefectibility of the Church. Take refuge in a fantasy world where no Pope ever behaves theologically badly, and you are on your way to Dr Strangelove's solution.

M

 

Posted on September 11, 2014, in Catholicism, Conservative Catholicism, Traditional Catholicism and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. Brilliant. Logical. Comforting. This post is all of these and more. You are an extraordinary professor of Blogonian Catholicism 101. Sign me up for next semester.

  2. I’m not a sedevacantist, but regarding what you wrote about sedes, I don’t think that they deny the validity of some of the whackos who have held the office in the past.  I think they deny the validity of popes starting with either John XXIII because in reality Cardinal Siri was elected or Paul VI because he was a Freemason a fact which automatically excommunicated him and an excommunicant cannot be Pope and therefore, in addition, his changes to the prayers of episcopal consecration were not valid therefore all who were consecrated using that prayer are not really bishops and therefore cannot be pope, i.e. Bishop of Rome.  If that were the case I don’t know that there is reason to panic.  Invalid Cardinals would not mean the end of the papacy.  The office of cardinal only goes back to I think the 11th century.  The pope only has to be a valid bishop over the diocese of Rome.  That could be Fellay if the clergy and people of Rome clamoured for it.  Go easy on them though, just looking at the last 50+ years and especially the last year and a half, it’s easy to understand where they are coming from and if we are supposed to judge a tree by its fruit, looking at the state of the Church during that time, maybe, just maybe they are right.  I know it seems a bit far out, but I don’t think it can be summarily dismissed so easily. Perhaps only God knows the truth of it…

    • Sedevacantists come in various flavour, but most of them allow for valid Popes until Pope Pius XII or John XXIII. How Honorius or Liberius or Hohn XXIII were valid Popes but John XXIII not, I have never read explained in a way that a rational man could accept.
      Instead, you have fantasies about fantasy elections, and the like.

      The problem with your theory is that once there are no Cardinals anymore, there is no saying who, when, how could implant a new system of election. The clergy of Rome who elected the Popes of once acted in a Church that was run by Popes. How would the Roman clergy, after 60 years of sedevacantism, do that now? Most Sedes think they aren’t clergy at all. Those who don’t think so, actually should if they are sedevacantists, then if a Pope is an impostor his episcopal appointments should not be accepted, etc. Bergoglio is therefore no bishop, & Co.

      And who would the “clergy of Rome” elect as Pope? Lady gaga? And whomever they would chose, on what basis should others accept it? Where’s the Pope who says “after my death, the clergy of Rome will elect the next Pope in this and that manner?”

      It just does not make sense.

      M

  3. “Bad Popes are as much a part of the fabric of the world as bad people. ” Amen to that. As you point out, at times there have been some real “characters” heading up the Church. Just MHO but we may have been given this Pope as a scourge to cleanse us of our pride. Only God knows, may His will be done and may He have mercy upon us all.

    • Besides, a simple mechanism has always believed to apply: God punishes men’s sins by sending them bad clergymen.

      When the sin is as spread and as arrogant as nowadays, then you get a Pope like Francis. It makes perfect sense, then Francis is truly the son of two generations of Catholics who think they know what is right and what is wrong better than God.

      M

  4. Thank you! I do not understand the lack of comprehension. It is reality, just as you say, ‘like having to walk near a field at the time of dunging’. (I was raised on a farm and that’s a very vivid picture to me!) Those sedevacantists are in my mind no different than Luther or Henry VIII or Calvin, or the other protestants. Whatever they are, they are certainly not thinking like Catholics, and their guilt will be magnified by convincing some confused Catholics of their argument.

    • I think most of them are good catholics who make a great effort of orthodoxy; but in doing so, they simply forget reality. The legend of the false pope election is just an example, the astonishing feat to declare that God would allow 7 billion people (of which 2 billion Christians) to be in error as to who is the Successor of Peter and one billion Catholics in ignorance about their not having a Pope is another.

      In some of them, pride certainly plays a role. But honestly, I’d bet my pint most Sedes leads a far better life than I do.

      M

  5. Excellent Commentary… Don’t know of anyone who could present an argument against what you’ve written and have it taken seriously. Thanks for your clarity and completely understandable comparisons.

  6. I have regarded SV as an oddity, similar to claims of alien spaceships in the basement of the Vatican. Well, maybe it’s not that extreme — e.g., Fr Hesse has said that sedes do have some good arguments but in the end they fall short and do not prove anything.

    As for N.O.W., personality-wise I don’t think I’d enjoy being in the same room, but I wish him well in his anti-Francis efforts.

    My guess is that CallMeJorge is SV, and is the same person as NoSacredCows2 on Twitter (whom I wrote back and forth with more than a few times before I got banned there by some homo working for Twitter). Kudos to CallMeJorge for his good anti-Francis work.

    Still, above all else, it seems to me that the correct antidote to Francis and his henchmen is SSPX.

  7. Maybe they’ve swallowed the cult of personality set up by JPII and can’t fathom a dungy Pope? I too have tried to put the insanity of the past 50 years in a little box I can explain easily…and what the clean up will look like and why…but in the end, I’m not a bishop or cardinal who can decide these things. God will bring all to light and order in His way and time. And I agree…the sedes are devout…anyone who spends as much time as they do trying to fight against the “New Church” must love the true Bride of Christ deeplyr:+) God bless~

  8. Quality writing Mundabor, it honestly affirmed my path as a Roman Catholic, as lately I’ve grown so disillusioned with Jorge. SV, when looked at as a larger picture, is a clear dead end. We must mind our history and realize that Jorge wasn’t the first, and he certainly won’t be the last. God help us, either way!

  9. quiavideruntoculi

    Thank you for this charitable post.

    Some observations:

    1. Honorius was indeed condemned for “heresy”; but heresy has different shades. The heresy sedes are worried about is the formal kind; not material heresy, not aiding and abetting heresy (Honorius’s crime).

    2. It is relatively easy to excuse a John XXII, who in any case recanted his erroneous views, on a lot of grounds. For a start, the Church had not defined the matter. It is not easy to excuse a Francis of the same charge, for reasons you are well aware of.

    3. There seems to me to be a greater difference than you allow between a pope who is very bad personally, even to the point of favouring heretics, and a pope whose teaching leads 99% of people to believe that Catholicism is something other than what it actually is.

    A really bad pope whose laws / official teaching / infallible end up being orthodox is fine.

    A really bad pope whose laws 1) bind the whole Church, 2) are deleterious to faith and morals, is a bigger problem. If you have a Pope like that, you have to start saying things like “The Novus Ordo is intrinsically deleterious to faith and morals” (as most SSPX people do).

    Essentially, you end up having to persuade people not to follow the norms, laws, disciplines, and ordinary teachers of the Church. To continue to maintain that these men still have the full authority of the offices they claim whilst openly defying them looks, to many, like schism.

    • 1. The extreme gravity of the facts remain. By confirming the heresy in writing in a letter, it is even questionable this was not, in fact, formal heresy.
      2. That John XXII’s heresy was formal, there can not be any doubt, and the fact that the matter was not defined is no excuse in the least: it was not defined, because there had never been the need to do it.

      John XXIII did away with Jesus’ very words to the Good Robber (bar atrocious contortionisms), with the cult of the saints, and with what the Church had always believed from the start, and therefore infallibly.
      3. No there isn’t. A formally heretical pope does the same all the time. OTOH, a stupid pope will always convey in the stupid the idea that the Church is stupid.

      The last argument is a sad fact, but also doesn’t wash in defence of Sedevacantism.

      The NO mass will water down your faith. The NO Church will water down your faith. The NO Popes will water down your faith. Sad, but true since the Council. The SSPX know all this, and they insist Francis is the Pope.

      We live in atrocious times, is all.

      M

  10. Thank you Mundabor. Good timing ! I really needed that today. 🙂

  11. Catholic Thinker

    Nice commentary, M. After nearly a decade of reading dogmatic sedevacantist material, it seems to me that, for the most part, their emotions drive their position, not vice-versa.

    Of course, in this time of Great Confusion (diabolical disorientation), it is not surprising that people are confused. My wife corresponds regularly with another homeschooling Catholic mother who is a sede vacantist and (it seems) a holy person. For some, it is a matter of simple intellectual error; again, these are murky waters to navigate, sadly – which our prelates “with itching ears” will answer for.

    It may also be worth mentioning that the prophecies of Our Lady of Fatima, the greatest *public* prophecy in millennia, make no sense without a visible pontiff.

    I do think, however, that the situation of our Pope Emeritus might be just a bit more complex; certainly some aspects of it are unprecedented.

    • I do not see ant difference with Pope (Saint) Celestine; who resigned having recognised he did not have what it takes to be Pope; without even claiming the necessity of avoiding another pontificate like the last four-five-six years of JP II.
      M

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