Some other observations on and objections to sedevecantism (two Latin words which mean “the Chair is vacant”) include:
- To a large extent, this theological position is a deeply emotional response to the horrors in the Church in the past 40 years, something we can all understand.
- Sedevecantism requires one to believe the visible and indefectible Church promised by Christ can exist without a successor to St. Peter for a very long time--generations--even though the longest time between the death of one Pope and the election of the next has been three years, with the Holy See providing a visible government in that short time period..
- Past Popes have been heretics and have continued at the helm of the Church. For example, Pope Honorius (625-638) was condemned in 680 by the 3rd Council of Constantinople because he favored the Monothelite heresy.
- Father Garrigou-Lagrange is one of several extremely well respected theologians who concluded in the past 500 years that a heretic Pope could still retain his jurisdiction if his heresies were not notorious and pertinacious. [And only a very few Catholics are acquainted with the charges that recent Popes were heretics.]
- Jesus Christ instituted a visible Church with a visible leader. The Church was designed by Christ never to be a rudderless ship without a Captain--a successor of St. Peter.
- Sedevecantism is reduced to the absurd (reductio ad absurdum) when one considers:
- An imposter Pope would always act invalidly, eliminating the rule of obedience
- All church laws and spiritual activities from Rome would be either evil or worthless
- This malignant cancer would completely destroy the Church, contrary to Christ's promise
- An imposter Pope would also be an false Bishop and could not legitimately consecrate other Bishops
- No cardinals to elect the next Pope could be validly appointed by an imposter Pope
The terrible confusion in the Catholic churches today encourages poor understanding and judgment. Catholics find it difficult to explain how Popes can err in the governance of the Church, or approve 'new teachings' such as Limbo no longer exists. [Also see Fr. Brian Harrison's comments on Limbo.] Consequently, they turn their backs on the Church because the Captain can be an incompetent or unfaithful sailor.
My own opinion is that if St. Peter, the first Pope, could deny Christ three times, and even later had to be corrected by St. Paul for his error in compelling Gentiles to live as do the Jews (Gal. 2:11-15), then it isn't unusual to observe current Popes making mistakes--even very serious ones that lead to very critical damage in the Church. Yet the Church will continue to be led by a valid successor of St. Peter because Jesus promised Peter:
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. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven. (Matt 16:18-19)The Church exists to bring men to holiness by the sacraments, the sacrifice of the Mass, and by transmitting the teachings of Jesus to future generations. It will not and cannot fail this mandate.