Apr 21, 2007

Sedevecantism

A lot of traditional Catholics in Kansas City recently received a letter advertising "Counterfeit Catholicism," a talk to be given by Gerry Matatics. Gerry used to accept the Pope, but now has retreated to the belief that no Pope has occupied the chair of Peter since Pope Pius XII who died in 1958--almost 50 years ago. As is pointed out by one of the three indult priests serving traditional Catholics in the Kansas City area, this requires one to believe the Papacy is now extinct because no Cardinals appointed by the last 'valid' Pope, Pius XII, are alive to elect the next Pope. Sedevecantists cannot objectively describe when and by whom the next Apostolic Primate will be elected, indicating a Papal vacancy could last until the end of time.

Some other observations on and objections to sedevecantism (two Latin words which mean “the Chair is vacant”) include:
  1. 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.
  2. 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..
  3. 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.
  4. 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.]
  5. 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.
  6. Sedevecantism is reduced to the absurd (reductio ad absurdum) when one considers:
    1. An imposter Pope would always act invalidly, eliminating the rule of obedience
    2. All church laws and spiritual activities from Rome would be either evil or worthless
    3. This malignant cancer would completely destroy the Church, contrary to Christ's promise
    4. An imposter Pope would also be an false Bishop and could not legitimately consecrate other Bishops
    5. No cardinals to elect the next Pope could be validly appointed by an imposter Pope
[The above items have been taken from a thorough examination of sedevecantism found here. Don't be surprised that this very detailed study was written by Rev. Dominique Boulet of the Society of St. Pius X. The SSPX has been in the forefront of opposing sedevecantism for many years.]

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.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

An excellent post; thank you!

A few comments: You (and the SSPX) are right to point out that, generally speaking, sedevacantists are a reaction to the times we all live in. The Holy Roman Catholic Church has had a visible presence in the world, AND leadership, even in the most difficult of times.

Saint Peter is one of the best examples of such problems with leaders who are, after all is said and done, still *human*. It saddens me to hear of such people like Gerry Matatics and sedevacantists. Faith is not easy, but our faith should never be shaken because of the difficulty of the times we live in.

Also, in addition to the great reasoning you listed in your post, I'd add the following notes, all from the Old Testament, showing how God's Old Testament prophets were all imperfect, but still *perfectly* carried out God's Word and Will for the whole world:


1. Adam and Eve -- their Fall makes us all less than perfect.

2. Moses -- a murderer and one who broke the first set of Commandments that God gave him.

3. Job -- one who, like many of us, had much difficulty repenting his sins, but repented them in the end.

4. Daniel -- who was thrown into a pit of lions for his transgression of the law.

5. The people of Israel during their Exodus from Egypt who worshipped golden statues -- even after witnessing fantastic miracles of God.


All of these are examples that God's Word will be done in spite of the frailty of our human nature.

Regarding the time we live in -- everyone knows they are less than perfect. The times illustrate to me, first and foremost, how *easily* and how *quickly* it is possible for Catholics as a whole to lose so much of our faith and our heritage. These are lessons we must never forget -- we must carry them into the future, and make sure that we pass them on to our children.

Gerry Matatics is someone we should all pray for; for he is likely to leave the Church if he hasn't done so already. I encourage Mr. Matatics -- and ALL Catholics -- to become steeped in the Bible and steeped in history.
So much of the Old Testament is a mystery to Catholics, that many fail to ever see that the Catholic Church is prophesied everywhere in the Old Testament -- including the earliest Book of Genesis.

The seat has never been vacant -- not from the time of Abraham or Moses; or from the time of Christ's Passion to the present day.

The Chair of Saint Peter is the ancient Chair of Moses. God has always known we would be imperfect; and He has used our imperfections to lead us towards holiness, and to gather us towards Himself. In this way I see sin as a great leveller -- it keeps us focused on God, Jesus the Christ, and the Holy Spirit, and keeps most of us from arguing that imperfection is a sign of hypocrisy.


-rllw

Parvenu74 said...

The SSPX aren't the only ones condemning sedevacantists. An FSSP Priest, in his sermon yesterday, called out Gerry Matatics by name and categorically forbade his congregation from going to his talk or listening to or reading his opinions on the Papacy. If you weren't there to hear it, here's the audio:

http://www.audiosancto.com/audio/20070422_Sermon_GoodShepherdSunday_ContraSedevacantism.mp3

thetimman said...

well said.

Anonymous said...

For those not familiar with Gerry, he is nothing more than a sensationalist trying to capitalize on the emotions that inevitably are running high in the traditional movement. Once he stops making money on his "new" position (which has been argued many times throughout history, with many notable people on each side), he will find a new urgent message to convince people that they need to buy his books. It really wouldn't surprise me if he wrote a book or two defending the opposing point of view and ran another tour around the country to sell it. He's a poser, and listening to him is not worth the time of any educated Catholic.