Answering Sedevacantism (with Michael Lofton) (2023)

Trent:

One of the hazards of doing a podcast like mine is that I pre-record the episodes. Usually, that’s not a big deal. But sometimes I’ll record the episode at one point in history, and then when the episode airs, the national mood shifts a little bit.

Welcome to The Counsel of Trent podcast. I’m your host, Catholic Answers apologist and speaker Trent Horn. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, we talk apologetics, theology, how to explain and defend our Catholic faith, and that’s what we’re going to talk about today.

So, I thought it was interesting, last week on Thursday was the first episode for 2021. And if you couldn’t tell when the episode aired, it aired on the seventh, which was a day after the events at the US Capitol and all of the chaos that unfolded there. And so when you heard the podcast, I’m sure you figured, “Oh, Trent probably recorded this a week or two ago when things were a lot different.”

However, those events last week, and it’s interesting, now I am pre-recording this episode just a day or two after that, so by the time it airs who knows what’s going to happen in the future. And I was actually already scheduled to do the interview we’re going to do today, but I think the interview is actually very appropriate because it deals with the subject of authority and illicit authority.

So, those events, the unacceptable behavior and riots that happened at the US Capitol, the overarching question is what do you do when you think the fundamental authority is not really an authority anymore? When you think it’s just completely illicit, bankrupt, what do you do if you have that mindset about your fundamental authority? So, we saw that with people contesting elections and things with the US government.

But today we’re going to talk about sedevacantism, a view that some people hold that the Chair of Saint Peter is empty, that there is no pope. You’re Catholic, but you don’t have a Pope because you believe the current pope is not really the pope, he has illicit authority. There’s a little bit of a parallel here to what we’re talking about. What do you do when you think the ultimate ecclesial authority, the pope, doesn’t really have that authority?

So, a lot of people have asked me, my patrons online, and also at trenthornpodcast.com, we asked people to submit topics for 2021. And a few people asked Trent, “What do we do about sedevacantism, about Catholics who say, “Don’t listen to the pope because he’s not even really the pope.” And there’s a lot of people online who come across sedevacantist material on YouTube, on blogs, so I’m really excited for today’s interview.

My guest today is Michael Lofton. He is the host of the Reason and Theology YouTube channel. I’m actually going to be on that channel soon to do a Catholic Economics Round Table, it’s going to be super fun. I’m really excited about that. Capitalism, distributism, socialism. I think it will be very entertaining and engaging. And I love the work that Michael does with his channel, and so I thought he would be great to have on to talk about this subject. So Michael, welcome to The Counsel of Trent podcast.

Michael:

Hey, Trent. Thanks for having me on. It’s an honor to be with you.

Trent:

Absolutely. So, tell us a little bit more about yourself and your work at Reason and Theology.

Michael:

Yeah. Well, personally, I’m a convert to the Catholic Church, although I was for a period of time Protestant and also Eastern Orthodox, so I’ve kind of been on the whole spectrum of things when it comes to Christianity. I completed my Master of Arts in Theological Studies with Christendom a couple of years ago, and I’m working on a doctorate right now on theology with Pontifex. And I’ll be talking in my dissertation about the teaching authority, the magisterium. So, it does kind of tie into what we’re discussing today when it comes to authority.

Michael:

And as far as Reason and Theology, yeah, that’s a show and a program that we started [inaudible 00:03:54] January 2019, so two years now. And we do all kinds of stuff on there. Interviews, round table discussions, debates. And we will do it with, whether they are Catholic, we’ll do it with Orthodox, Protestants, we’ll even have non-Christians on like Muslims. We tend to focus on charitable dialogue and conversations on the channel.

Trent:

And that’s what I really appreciate about Reason and Theology, is that there are a lot of Catholic podcasts out there and Catholic shows, but there are very few that will offer debates or dialogues with non-Catholics. A lot of it’s just speaking to the choir, which is fine in many contexts, but we need to be able to reach outside of our bubble. And your guys’s channel, it’s really one of the few Catholic channels, and Catholics I see out there, like you, Erick Ybarra, who has some of the best stuff on the papacy I’ve ever seen, you guys are doing great work, which is why I figured you would be great to come in today to talk about sedevacantism, about these disputes.

Trent:

It’s interesting, people who care a lot about Eastern Orthodox relationships with Catholics and how to understand authority, you also have to figure out sedevacantism because it circles around kind of these similar questions. So, why don’t then, as we continue, tell us a little bit more about what sedevacantism is. And then, in your explanation, I think it’s important to distinguish that from the Society of Saint Pius X, or SSPX, because a lot of people conflate the two.

Michael:

Yeah. It’s a good question. Sedevacantism is a phenomenon that we encounter only in the post-conciliar church. To my knowledge, in the pre-conciliar church prior to the Second Vatican Council, there was no such thing. And sedevacantism effectively says that the See of Peter, the papacy, the Bishop of Rome, is unoccupied right now. Especially in the post-conciliar era from the pontificate of John XXIII onward, most sedevacantists would say that the popes, like John XXIII, Paul VI, JP II, John I, well, I know I’m out of order there, John I, then JP II, then Benedict and Francis, they would say that these are not actual occupants of the Holy See, of the-

Trent:

So, everyone after the Second Vatican Council.

Michael:

Exactly. Generally, there are some sedevacantists out there that have some nuances here and there, but for the most part, they tend to say that. Now, in some sense we all affirm a form of sedevacantism. When a pope dies, the see is vacant sure. But they would say that the see has been vacant, as you noted, from the Second Vatican Council onward. And so that’s effectively what it is in a nutshell.

Michael:

Now, I do want to contrast that with the Society of Saint Pius X because I think there’s a fundamental difference here. Sedevacantists would actually be in schism because they don’t recognize the legitimate pope who occupies the Holy See, whereas the Society of Saint Pius X, a priestly society, they do recognize the Holy Father, the current Holy Father, for example, Pope Francis. They do recognize him as the Pope. In fact, they commemorate him during the liturgy, they say his name during the liturgy. And they do respect and revere the Holy Father. They might not agree with everything he says, but they will definitely recognize that he’s the pope.

Michael:

(Video) REVIEW: Sedevacantism Debate (Cassman vs. Dimond)

So, I would say that they’re not in schism. It seems that they are in economically irregular state, if we’re going to put it that way. I think that would be the best way to describe it. There are some irregularities there when it comes to canon law. But that is a far cry from where sedevacantists are when it comes to schism. So, I think that’s the [inaudible 00:07:36].

Trent:

Right [inaudible 00:07:36] the Society of Saint Pius X. And if you want to hear a great interview on that, I’ll leave a link to one at trenthornpodcast.com. Catholic Answers Focus actually did a great interview with a representative of the Society for Catholic Answers Focus, a very enlightening interview, and I think a very helpful and educational one. And I would share your verdict that the Society is not in schism, but it is canonically irregular. And then if you go listen to that interview, you’ll hear more of the backstory about SSPX, that its origination was because Archbishop Marcel Lefebre illicitly consecrated bishops during the pontificate of Pope Saint John Paul II, which incurred an excommunication that was later lifted.

Trent:

So, there are issues about the canonical authority and issues related to jurisdiction of the priests that were ordained by these bishops. Of course, that’s a show for another time. But the main thing for everyone to understand is SSPX is not sedevacantism because as you said, Michael, they recognize Pope Francis is the Pope. They just don’t necessarily agree with [inaudible 00:08:44] I don’t agree with the Pope all the time. That’s not Catholic teaching. But we do recognize his legitimate authority as the pope, whereas sedevacantists will say Pope Francis calls himself pope, but he’s not. And that’s a far problematic position.

Michael:

Absolutely. Absolutely fundamental difference there.

Trent:

Sure. Okay. So, then let’s jump right into sedevacantism. What is the overall problem with this view? And it seems to my mind, well, before we get to the main arguments that people will make, you or I as a Catholic, what is just the overarching problem with this claim that the see has been empty going on now for about 60 years?

Michael:

Well, I think it’s contingent upon several claims that they make. One is that they believe that the post-conciliar popes are heretics. And there’s a lot of difficulty there because honestly, when you engage most sedevacantists, they will say things like, “Well, this pope said this,” or “This pope said that,” and “This is heretical,” and “They couldn’t possibly be a pope because a heretic is outside the church,” and blah, blah, blah, blah.

Michael:

Well, the problem is a lot of times their definitions are faulty, in my experience. The way they define the term “heretic” or what constitutes heresy is often lacking. So, finding a sedevacantist who’s aware of the distinction between formal heresy and material heresy, or better yet, a public heretic versus a notorious heretic and the crime of heresy, if they know those distinctions, you’ve found somebody extremely exceptional. They generally don’t know those distinctions, but their arguments hinge on those distinctions.

Michael:

And so I think they often jump the gun. They say that “So-and-so is a heretic. Therefore, he couldn’t possibly be the pope.” But when you really get down to it and start to ask them, “Okay. How do you understand heresy?” you find that things are lacking. That’s one of the big problems that I’ve noticed with sedevacantism. Of course, there’s many more.

Trent:

Sure. Let’s dive into that one before we talk about other problems and arguments they make. So, it seems like one of the common arguments they make is that the See of Peter, the Holy See has been empty, the Chair of Rome is empty, because the pope can not be a heretic, premise one. Premise two, all of the popes after the Second Vatican Council are heretics. Therefore, there has not been a pope since the Second Vatican Council.

Trent:

And it seems to me you could actually challenge both of those premises based on the definitions that are in them. The minor premise, that the popes are heretics, the problem seems to be, and you could address this more at length in your reply, the problem it seems to be the understanding of what constitutes a heresy.

Trent:

And I think honestly, a lot of people do this. I’ll read online, both on the theological left and the theological right, will throw this word around haphazardly saying somebody is a heretic. Just because somebody has a mistaken theological belief, or even disagrees with something that’s widely considered to be true within the Catholic faith, it doesn’t make them a heretic. It’s a very stringent definition. Correct?

Michael:

Absolutely. And so we could talk about somebody who is a material heretic. This is somebody who holds to something that is heretical, but they don’t know it. There’s no consent of the intellect and will there. Whereas a formal heretic, there actually is consent there. They’re obstinate, there’s an element of pertinacity, they’ve been shown the error of their ways and they remain obstinate in it. Or they’re at least obstinately doubting something that is dogmatic, too. And so it can’t just be something that is taught with a lower level in the magisterium; it has to be actually something that is dogmatic, that is in the deposit of faith and has been confirmed by the Catholic Church definitively. That would be a dogma. So, they have to either obstinately deny or doubt one of those things.

Michael:

And often that isn’t the case with most people. But even if you have a pope who is a formal heretic, he consciously and knowingly maintains a heretical proposition or even teaches it publicly, that does not necessarily mean that he loses office. We now have to distinguish between a pope who is a heretic and the loss of the papal office. The loss of the papal office is contingent upon establishing that he is a notorious heretic. So, he’s not only publicly teaching something that’s formally heretical, but he has been rebuked by the proper authorities, well, in this case, there’s nobody in authority over the church, so it would be a fraternal correction. He has been corrected on his heresy and remains obstinate and continues in it.

Michael:

And now we get into some debates. Some theologians say he’s automatically deposed; other theologians say that, no, the bishops actually have to declare that he has been deposed by God so that the faithful know to distance themselves from the heretic, as Titus 3:10 tells us. So, there is a debate on that aspect. But the fact that he has to be judged as a notorious heretic is something that theologians generally agree on and sedevacantists are often unaware of. They just think, “Hey, if the pope says something that sounds heretical to me and he said it publicly, he’s a heretic, so he automatically isn’t the pope or couldn’t be the pope.” And it’s not that simple, there’s more to it than that.

Trent:

Let’s reaffirm for everyone to make sure we understand heresy. Heresy is the obstinate, so you have to persist in it even though you’ve been corrected, you’re not an accidental formal heretic, the obstinate post-baptismal denial, so after you’re baptized. Obstinate post-baptismal denial of a truth of the faith that must be believed with divine and Catholic faith or a dogma.

Trent:

(Video) Trent Horn & Michael Lofton Debunked On Francis & Proselytism

So, it has to be something that has been declared to be irreformable. Take something like Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist, or someone who denies the teaching that it is wrong to directly kill an innocent human being. That is something that, and there can be heresy really to things that are theological teachings but also moral teachings, but not as many moral categories fall under this. So, if you deny the teaching that it is wrong to directly kill an innocent human being, that would constitute heresy.

Trent:

But if you denied the teaching that in vitro fertilization was wrong, while the church teaches that in vitro fertilization is sinful, it has not done so in an irreformable way, it has not done so in a dogmatic way. So, we have these two elements here. You have to be formal in it, but then also the subject matter has to be something that you ascend to with divine and Catholic faith.

Trent:

So, it seems to me, Michael, the problem is sedevacantists, what kinds of teachings do they try to say that these popes, what specific subjects do they say the popes are guilty being heretical of, is the most common ones that come up.

Michael:

A huge one that comes up often is their assertion that somebody who is not a formal member of the Catholic Church could be saved. And in fact, that’s not heretical. This is something that we find in the pre-conciliar church, really from the 1500s onwards. So, this is nothing new to the post-conciliar era. But they would say that, “Okay, unless you are a formal member of the church, you can’t be saved.” And often, they’re not even using the distinction between a formal or an informal member, but that’s what they’re presupposing.

Michael:

But they see this as something that is innovative and that they assert is heretical when, in fact, not only is it not heretical, but it’s actually maintained by the magisterium even in the pre-conciliar era. So, the problem is they will identify certain propositions as heretical and they will say, “Okay, well, this person who claims to be the pope can’t be the pope because he maintains this proposition.” But in fact, it’s not something heretical.

Michael:

So, identifying what is heretical is a huge weakness for sedevacantists in my estimation. So, identifying properly a magisterial proposition, weighing it, and interpreting it, and determining its proper level of ascent, these are areas where I’ve noticed they’re deficient.

Trent:

And I would agree with you. So, you brought up the example of there is no salvation outside the church, which is something that has been taught all the way back, you go to Saint Cyprian of Carthage, that has been taught. Now, the proposition “no salvation outside of the church,” that is infallibly taught.

Michael:

Absolutely.

Trent:

But the meaning of what that follows, which is can someone be in the church without conscious knowledge of it, for example? That is something that is allowed for in Catholic teaching, even long before the Second Vatican Council, of recognizing that God is capable of saving people who, through no fault of their own, never had the chance to know who Jesus Christ was. They never rejected the gospel because they had no opportunity to ever formally accept the gospel. We think about Native Americans in the New World before the arrival of Columbus, for example.

Trent:

And so I think you’re right about this, that one of the problems in sedevacantism is they’ll say, “Proposition X is a heresy. Pope so-and-so believes and teaches Proposition X. Therefore, Pope so-and-so is a heretic.” But they fail at the first premise because Proposition X is not a heresy, or they’ve formulated it incorrectly. I think another example that will come up also, this reminds me, “no salvation outside the church,” where they misunderstand that infallible teaching.

Trent:

The other one, though, they misunderstand is the infallible teaching that someone who dies in a state of mortal sin is separated from God for all eternity. That seems very clear in church teaching. If you die in the state of mortal sin, you’re separated from God for all eternity. They then turn around and take this to say if you teach that it’s possible for, let’s say an unbaptized baby, to go to heaven, or at least to not go to hell, then you’re a heretic. But this seems to be another example of that misreading of church teachings. And I think you can comment on this well because you actually wrote a whole book on this subject, right?

Michael:

Absolutely. It’s a topic very, very dear to me for many reasons. But yes, this is another area that I’ve noted with them. Nobody is claiming that an infant who dies in a state of mortal sin sees the beatific vision. Nobody makes that argument. So, they fail to make the proper distinctions in what we’re actually saying. What the post-conciliar era is effectively saying is that, prior to the death of an infant, it is possible and we can have the hope that God remits the original sin of that infant so that they’re not dying in a state of mortal or original sin because, of course, infants don’t have mortal sin, but even if you die in a state of original sin alone, you are deprived of the beatific vision.

Michael:

But [inaudible 00:20:06] we can say that we can hope that God would remit that original sin in an extra-sacramental way. He gives them the graces of baptism so they are baptized in a loose sense, not with water but perhaps by vicarious baptism of desire of the parents. Whatever your theory on how God does this is really irrelevant because the point is it is permitted and in fact magisterial to say that we can have the hope that God does remit that original sin and so they don’t die in a state deprived of his grace.

Michael:

So, that’s really where the debate is. But getting a sedevacantist to understand those parameters and the proper distinctions is very, very difficult.

Trent:

Let’s go on to another one which, outside of theological matters, might be in liturgical matters or canon law. I’ve heard some sedevacantists say, “Well, all of the popes after the Second Vatican Council, they’ve changed the mass with the new mass and that’s illicit. You can’t do that.” And they’ll cite Quo Primum, a papal document, I think it’s from the 16th century, that has a line in there saying that no one has the authority to change these rubrics or this element of the mass. But that kind of argument seems to me to misunderstand that, no, the pope has full and supreme power over the church, that if one pope could say that no future pope could ever change any matters regarding canon law or the celebration of the liturgy, it would evacuate the papacy of all of its authority over the church. Is this something you’ve noticed when they kind of focus on the mass?

Michael:

(Video) Is Pope Francis an Anti-Pope? | Michael Lofton

Absolutely. And really, this is a debate that goes back to Pope John XXII on whether one pope can bind another pope, so yeah, a whole lot could be said there. But as far as Quo Primum and a pope being able to reform the Roman Missal, what’s interesting, and you can see this in a work by Dr. James Likoudis on The Pope, The Council, and The Mass, he notes, actually, that even though you have that kind of language that sounds like, “Okay, nobody can reform this Roman Missal that is being provided here in the 16th century,” what’s interesting is that is not how successive popes, future popes, understood Quo Primum because, it’s very curious, Pius X reformed the breviary and the breviary had that exact same language of “Don’t reform. Nobody can reform it. This is for all times.” And yet he, a saint, Pius X, reformed the breviary.

Michael:

And in fact, you have Clement VIII, Urban VIII, Pius X, Leo XIII, and others who actually did reform some aspects of the Roman Missal way before Vatican II and Paul VI. So, clearly what the pope was doing there in Quo Primum is he was binding anybody who was not a pope. And when it comes to reforming the liturgy, he was binding them as far as prohibiting them from reforming the liturgy, but that doesn’t mean a future pope could not do so.

Trent:

Right. Well, one follow up, though, on sedevacantism. Something I’ve always wondered about is that I feel like this movement has a time limit or an expiration date on it. Because the claim is that if the office of the Holy See has been vacant for, let’s say, going on what now, 60 years or so? And traditionally speaking, only validly ordained bishops, or at the very least only someone with valid holy orders can pass along apostolic succession, so in order to become a priest or bishop you have to be ordained by a bishop. There’s a bit of a dispute about whether a priest could do this, but let’s say you got to be ordained by a bishop with valid holy orders.

Trent:

But the problem is I think there’s something only like four or five bishops left in the world who were ordained before the Second Vatican Council. So, in another 10 or 20 years it seems like there will be no bishops, no cardinals. Eventually we will get to the point where there are no priests that have been ordained before the Second Vatican Council. What happens to sedevacantism, if they’re waiting for the true pope to arrive, how could that be if it seems like they’ve totally severed a connection with the past?

Michael:

And by the way, I’m glad you bring this up because one point to note here is that if you have that few bishops who are validly ordained in the world, that means most people can’t receive the sacraments. It’s a really sad state to be in, if you were to maintain that thesis. But as to the issue here, what they’ll try to do to get around that, because they recognize, “Okay, this is a major, major problem. What do we do as far as reversing this thing?” What they’ll generally note is that some of the pre-conciliar theologians did talk about how in some kind of state of emergency and crisis, that the church as a whole could, so like, the pope.

Michael:

And though that may be true, I think it just causes more problems than they’re solving at this point, identifying the true church and now identifying it to just a select few. And how do you know which group, now, that identifies as the true church, how do you know when they have selected a pope? And so it just causes more problems than I think it really solves. And I think it’s at the point that one could not really reverse it if they were to maintain the sedevacantist thesis. I don’t think that there’s any way out of this thing, which is one of the reasons why I dismiss it as an untenable position.

Trent:

Right. And I would agree with you. I’ve read these other solutions before [inaudible 00:25:40] well, the sensus fidelium, the lay faithful as a whole. But it seems to me that approach ultimately ends up destroying your ecclesiology. And it destroys the very existence of a ministerial priesthood and turns the church, really makes it no different from common Protestant understandings of what the church is, if it’s just this kind of invisible bond but with all the baptized.

Trent:

Another question I have is that, and this may come up, I think the sedevacantism question is going to come up a lot more after the passing of Pope Benedict XVI because there’s a fair number of people who have been upset with aspects of Francis’s pontificate who have held to say, “Well, maybe Pope Benedict is actually really still the pope.” But before I get to that question, would you agree it’s important when discussing with sedevacantists to show empathy, and that things both in the post-conciliar church and during even Francis’s pontificate, there are a fair number of things be frustrated by, and so it’s fair to do that, to establish that valid common ground.

Michael:

Absolutely. You do want to sympathize with them. I understand what they’re wrestling with and I detest some of the things that they detest. So, I want to be able to relate with them and explain that, “Hey, I totally understand. What you’re talking about here is not right. It is against Christ’s will. It is sinful.” But then again, I don’t want to sell the farm and go too far with it because I think some of their concerns are not actual problems to begin with. I think they have a misunderstanding of some aspects of the crisis in the church today. But that there is a crisis, sure, we can all affirm that and we can be sympathetic, but I think they take it too far. And they jump the gun and think that just everything is heretical that a pope may say, or they just think that everything is a problem. And I try to balance things out.

Trent:

Right. Peter did not stop being pope when he refused to dine with the gentile Christians. He made a big mistake and he was worthy of being rebuked by Saint Paul, but he didn’t stop being pope in that. So, it’s okay to have that fraternal correction that is done in an appropriate way. Saint Catherine of Siena would be another example of that. But it doesn’t follow that you just throw a hand grenade to the office of the papacy. But what do you think about this benevacantism movement that says that Pope Benedict is still the pope?

Michael:

Yeah. I think it’s also an untenable thesis and, again, causes more problems than it really solves. But I do agree with you. Okay, after pope emeritus passes away, that is going to cause some people to become sedevacantists. So my thing is, in order to prevent that, I think that we just need to make better distinctions, become more nuanced, and become a little bit more informed so that we don’t fall into that position and so that we can maintain the idea that Pope Francis is the Pope, and yet not necessarily agree with everything he says.

Trent:

Sure. All right. Well, my last question would be this: what are some practical tips for people who, when sedevacantism comes up in discussions with friends or family, though honestly I feel like it ends up coming up the most for me on the internet. I haven’t met too many, I met a few, one or two, in the real world, but I think it comes up more online. But it’s still something I don’t think we can ignore, but we need to engage it in a charitable way. What are other tips or resources you would recommend for people?

Michael:

Ironically, I would express genuine concern that they have left the church and are in danger of losing salvation. What’s curious here, I would base that on lumen gentium, Vatican II. It talks about this, about somebody who knows that the church was established by Christ but refuses to enter or remain in it cannot be saved. So, I would actually quote Vatican II to tell them genuinely, and from a very concerned heart, that I’m very concerned that they are putting their salvation in jeopardy because they are formally, well, at the very least, materially in schism, but in many cases formally in schism. So, it’s a very dangerous place to be.

Michael:

And I would also ask them how often they receive the sacraments. How often do they have access to it. Because odds are, they probably don’t. And I would tell them, “Look, you need to get back to the sacraments.” If we’re in a position where the vast majority of people in the world can no longer receive the sacraments, I think you might need to rethink some things here. I don’t think God would providentially allow that, especially for so long and worldwide.

Michael:

Another thing is, know your stuff. Know your material. Don’t try to engage in dialogue with a sedevacantist if you don’t know the arguments and the material, because they’ll eat your lunch and they will feel vindicated. So, know your stuff and know how to respond. But do so, of course, charitably. And then another thing is I would ask them, “Okay, let’s just go ahead and accept the sedevacantist thesis hypothetically. How can we get out of this position at this point?” And kind of go from there. I think those are some helpful tips when engaging sedevacantists that I’ve noted in my experience.

Trent:

(Video) Why I'm NOT taking down the Sedevacantism debate

Yeah. I’m not familiar with too many books on the subject. I know there’s Patrick Madrid and Pete Vere did a little book on it that’s fine enough called More Catholic Than the Pope? You referenced James Likoudis’s book, The Pope, The Council, and The Mass, which, I don’t think it’s strictly about sedevacantism, but it is about the Second Vatican Council.

Michael:

Right. A huge one for me, the definitive guide against sedevacantism, in my opinion, is John Salza and Robert Siscoe’s book, True or False Pope?

Trent:

Yes. Oh, yeah.

Michael:

I really think that is the definitive guide against sedevacantism, so definitely go and get a copy of that.

Trent:

Oh, yeah. Yeah. Right, right. Yes. How could I forget that one? True or False Pope? by Salza and what was the other co-author?

Michael:

Robert Siscoe.

Trent:

Siscoe, yes. I’m more familiar with Salza’s work, and I can see the book cover, the black book cover, in my mind. But that definitely is a great one.

Trent:

Also, as a sneak peek to everyone listening, we could use more resources on this subject and on other issues related to people who feel like the Catholic Church has abandoned them, and maybe they’re looking at sedevacantism or Eastern Orthodoxy or Anglicanism. That is why I’m working on, as a little project right now, an anthology that covers this. The tentative title is “Almost Catholic,” and it would cover Eastern Orthodoxy, sedevacantism, Anglicanism, Oriental Orthodoxy. Because we really need to examine these close alternatives to Catholicism that some people who are disenchanted with the church feel like that they should go to instead and also feel, how do we invite our brethren within these churches or communities or belief systems to be able to come into the fullness of Christ’s church?

Trent:

So, Michael is actually one of the contributors. I’m going over some of his essays right now. Super good stuff. I have others also, probably about six or eight contributors, it’s in its early genesis. It’s not formally going to be published, it hasn’t been formally accepted for publishing yet, but I still want to put it all together and I’m super excited. And Michael, I’m super glad you are a contributor as well.

Michael:

And I appreciate it. Thank you so much.

Trent:

Absolutely. And I’m so glad you were here on the show today with us. Where can people go to learn more about you and your work?

Michael:

Yeah. And again, thanks for having me on. Reasonandtheology.com. Or you can just go to YouTube, type in “reason and theology,” and you’ll see the R&T channel pull up right there.

Trent:

All right. Perfect. Well, thank you so much. I’ll be seeing you in a few weeks as well for the Catholic Economics Round Table. Very excited for you to monitor that.

Michael:

Yes, sir. I look forward to that.

Trent:

All right. Thank you all so much for listening, everybody. Have a great day. Have a blessed day.

Speaker 1:

(Video) Answering an Email about Liberal Catholicism w/ Michael Lofton

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FAQs

Is Sspx a Sedevacantist? ›

Answer: No they are not, because sedevacantists believe there is no valid pope. The Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) recognizes the validity of all legitimate popes, including Pope John II, under whom its founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, and the four bishops he unlawfully ordained were excommunicated in 1988.

How many Sedevacantist priests are there? ›

There are estimated to be between several tens of thousands and more than two hundred thousand sedevacantists worldwide, mostly concentrated in the United States, Mexico, Canada, France, the United Kingdom, Italy and Australia, but the actual size of the sedevacantist movement has never been accurately assessed.

Who invented Sedevacantism? ›

Early history. One of the earliest proponents of sedevacantism was the American Francis Schuckardt.

Can a faithful Catholic attend SSPX Mass? ›

In the wake of Benedict XVI's apostolic letter 'Summorum Pontificum,' any Catholic can freely attend, and most priests may celebrate, Mass according to the 1962 missal.

Does the pope recognize SSPX? ›

During the Year of Mercy, Francis made special provisions to recognize as valid the absolution offered by SSPX priests through the sacrament of confession. After the Holy Year ended, the pope extended that provision "lest anyone ever be deprived of the sacramental sign of reconciliation through the church's pardon."

Is Feeneyism a heresy? ›

Feeneyism opposes the doctrines of baptism of desire and baptism of blood as well as the view that non-Catholics can go to heaven. Feeneyism is considered a heresy by the Catholic Church; some Catholics refer to Feeneyism as the Boston heresy.

Who is the most powerful pope in the world? ›

Pope Innocent was one of the most powerful and influential of the medieval popes. He exerted a wide influence over the Christian states of Europe, claiming supremacy over all of Europe's kings.
...
Pope Innocent III
SuccessorHonorius III
Orders
Ordination21 February 1198
Consecration22 February 1198 by Ottaviano di Paoli
19 more rows

Has there ever been a heretic pope? ›

Honorius I, (born, Roman Campania [Italy]—died October 12, 638), pope from 625 to 638 whose posthumous condemnation as a heretic subsequently caused extensive controversy on the question of papal infallibility.

Who was the first black pope? ›

Pope Saint Victor I

Who was the first Catholic on earth? ›

According to Catholic tradition, the Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Christ. The New Testament records Jesus' activities and teaching, His appointment of the twelve Apostles, and His instructions to them to continue His work.

How historically accurate is the two popes? ›

As for the literal veracity of those conversations and the situation that created them, the truth is that they're mostly imagined. Bergoglio's letters of resignation are based on fact, but his subsequent visit with the pope is fictional, as are the conversations between the two.

How much does it cost to get blessed by the pope? ›

Papal blessings are available in two formats: Printed certificate ($25). Please allow a minimum of 3-4 weeks for this option. Parchment with calligraphy ($50).

How much does it cost to send a letter to the Pope? ›

The easiest way to send letters from the USA to Vatican City is with Global Forever Stamps for $1.40 each. You can also use regular, domestic forever stamps as long as they add up to $1.40. Extra postage is required over 1 ounce.

Will the Pope answer my letter? ›

"He definitely reads them, puts his initials and directs us on how we should respond." Although Pope Francis is unable to respond personally to all of the letters he receives, the priest assured that all who write the pontiff do receive a response expressing gratitude in the Pope's name.

What do you call a Catholic who doesn't practice? ›

A lapsed Catholic is a Catholic who is non-practicing.

What does Pope Francis say about SSPX? ›

Pope Francis has already declared that during the current Jubilee Year of Mercy, the faithful can validly and licitly receive absolution of their sins from priests of the SSPX.

Why was SSPX excommunicated? ›

In 1991 Bishop Joseph Ferrario, of the diocese of Honolulu, declared that six adherents of the SSPX movement were excommunicated for, among other things, procuring the services of SSPX bishop Richard Williamson to illicitly administer confirmation.

What is the problem with SSPX? ›

SSPX members in Kansas were accused of either perpetrating or covering up clerical sex abuse in the state. For many years, the SSPX St. Mary's Rectory in Kansas faced numerous sex abuse allegations.

Is SSPX in full communion with the Church? ›

Confirmation: the only ordinary minister of Confirmation is a bishop. Despite their separation from full communion, bishops in the SSPX are regarded as validly, but not legitimately, exercising that office regarding Confirmation; c.

Is SSPX confession valid? ›

Because clergy of the SSPX were not in full communion with the pope, they essentially had the status of a suspended priest and thus did not have the faculty to validly hear confessions.

What are the 3 heresies? ›

For convenience the heresies which arose in this period have been divided into three groups: Trinitarian/Christological; Gnostic; and other heresies.

Why is Miaphysitism a heresy? ›

This position—called miaphysitism, or single-nature doctrine—was interpreted by the Roman and Greek churches as a heresy called monophysitism, the belief that Christ had only one nature, which was divine.

Why is pelagianism a heresy? ›

Christians often used "Pelagianism" as an insult to imply that the target denied God's grace and strayed into heresy. Later Augustinians criticized those who asserted a meaningful role for human free will in their own salvation as covert "Pelagians" or "semi-Pelagians".

Which pope stopped priests from marrying? ›

Pope Benedict VIII in 1018 formally forbade priestly marriages; the prohibition was solemnly extended by the First Lateran Council of 1123. The rule, however, was not easy to enforce.

Who is the youngest pope in the world? ›

Aged approximately 20 at his first election, he is one of the youngest popes in history. He is the only person to have been Pope on more than one occasion and the only person ever to have sold the papacy.
...
Pope Benedict IX
Diedc. December 1055/January 1056 (aged 43) Grottaferrata, Papal States
Other popes named Benedict
6 more rows

Can the pope have a son? ›

There are plenty of Popes in history who, despite their vow of celibacy, have broken this rule. These include popes who were married, had long-term partners, lovers, and even a few that had children. Some Popes in history have even been known to be the son of previous Popes, who had been moulded into taking over.

Can the pope forgive sin? ›

MONTGOMERY COUNTY (CBS) -- The Catholic Church considers some sins to be so bad, only the Pope can forgive those who commit them... until now. Francis has given temporary authority to some priests, including one from Montgomery County. It's part of the Pope's Year of Mercy in the Church.

What religion rejected the authority of the pope? ›

Reformation movement spread throughout western Europe

The reformers rejected the authority of the pope as well as many of the principles and practices of Catholicism of that time.

Can the pope be fired? ›

The later development of canon law has been in favor of papal supremacy, leaving no recourse to the removal of a pope involuntarily.

What was the name of the female pope? ›

Pope Joan (Ioannes Anglicus, 855–857) was, according to legend, a woman who reigned as pope for two years during the Middle Ages. Her story first appeared in chronicles in the 13th century and subsequently spread throughout Europe.

Who was Jesus first pope? ›

In Christian tradition, St. Peter was one of the 12 Apostles of Jesus. Roman Catholic tradition holds that Jesus established St. Peter as the first pope (Matthew 16:18).

Who were the three black popes? ›

There have also been three African popes: Victor I, Melchaides (a martyr), and Gelasius I. The vast majority of these Patristic-era figures resided in North Africa, where various Christian communities thrived until the Muslim conquests of the region.

Who is the father of Catholicism? ›

Catholic Church
FounderJesus, according to sacred tradition
Origin1st century Holy Land, Roman Empire
Members1.345 billion (2019)
ClergyBishops: 5,364 Priests: 414,336 Deacons: 48,238
20 more rows

Why do Catholics pray to Mary? ›

Catholics do not pray to Mary as if she were God. Prayer to Mary is memory of the great mysteries of our faith (Incarnation, Redemption through Christ in the rosary), praise to God for the wonderful things he has done in and through one of his creatures (Hail Mary) and intercession (second half of the Hail Mary).

What is the oldest religion? ›

The word Hindu is an exonym, and while Hinduism has been called the oldest religion in the world, many practitioners refer to their religion as Sanātana Dharma (Sanskrit: सनातन धर्म, lit.

Which pope had an illegitimate son? ›

Innocent VIII was not so innocent! He was the very first pope in existence to openly confirm his illegitimate children, which was around eight kids at the time, with speculation of it growing.

Why did Pope Benedict step down? ›

He had become the first pope in more than 700 years to voluntarily resign. Benedict said that his mental and physical strength had deteriorated "to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to fulfill the ministry entrusted to me."

What did the pope confess in two popes? ›

Pope Benedict voices the sins of the church in the form of a confession. The film acknowledges sexual abuse and also financial scandals.

Does the pope support condoms? ›

When asked whether the Catholic Church was not opposed in principle to the use of condoms, the Pope replied: "She of course does not regard it as a real or moral solution, but, in this or that case, there can be nonetheless, in the intention of reducing the risk of infection, a first step in a movement toward a ...

Are Catholic priests allowed to make money? ›

Although priests earn a modest salary, much of their income is earned through housing allowances, stipends, bonuses and other benefits. These benefits are often provided by the church or parish to support the spiritual development of their community.

Are the rosaries sold at the Vatican blessed? ›

Q: Does the Holy Father bless rosaries and other items? A: At the conclusion of Papal Audiences, the Sunday Angelus, and Papal Masses, the Holy Father gives his Apostolic Blessing. This blessing is for you, your family, your loved ones, and any items for devotional use that you have brought with you to be blessed.

Does the pope make a salary? ›

The pope will not be affected by the cuts, because he does not receive a salary. “As an absolute monarch, he has everything at his disposal and nothing at his disposal,” Mr. Muolo said. “He doesn't need an income, because he has everything that he needs.”

Does the pope have to pay taxes? ›

The mandate of Vatican Media is to facilitate the universal expansion of Catholicism. One key government function missing from the Vatican is taxation.

Can you meet the pope in private? ›

We invite you for a private audience with the Pope. Here, in Christianity's most sacred place, you can receive a blessing from the supreme pontiff himself. Papal Audience takes place on Wednesdays in St Peter's Square.

Does the Pope have to get his balls checked? ›

A cardinal would have the task of putting his hand up the hole to check whether the pope had testicles, or doing a visual examination. This procedure is not taken seriously by most historians, and there is no documented instance.

How do you greet the Pope in person? ›

Address him as "Your Holiness" or "Holy Father." What should I say to him? Introduce yourself and tell him something about you. Decide in advance what you're going to say, but let him lead the conversation.

Does the pope confess his sins? ›

Like everyone else, they have personal sins to acknowledge. Popes can also confess the sins of the entire church.

Does SSPX have canonical status? ›

"By definition, their request carried with it an acknowledgement of the Pope's authority over the Church here on earth." Pope Benedict XVI explained that the SSPX has no canonical status in the Catholic Church for doctrinal reasons and that SSPX ministers "do not legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church."

Are SSPX schismatics? ›

Although canonically-irregular, the SSPX (Society of Pope St. Pius X) founded by Archbishop Lefebvre (above picture) in the 1970s, is not schismatic.

Does the SSPX reject Vatican II? ›

No longer excommunicated, but not yet canonically re-integrated, the fraternity has made basic concessions but continues to reject important Vatican II documents.

What is the difference between FSSP and SSPX? ›

FSSP is in full union with Rome while SSPX is in an irregular situation. I wouldn't worry about it too much honestly. For as holy as the Church is, sometimes politics are played and the Faithful suffer for it.

What Missal does SSPX use? ›

A few words from Archbishop Marcel Lefebve given in 1983 on why the priests of the SSPX use the liturgical books of the 1962 Missale Romanum.

Are SSPX marriages valid? ›

For all these reasons, the faithful find themselves in a situation of necessity that allows them to turn to the priests of Tradition. Under the laws of the Church, their marriage is certainly valid.

Which SSPX sacraments are valid? ›

For a sacrament to be “valid,” the only requirements are that a minister capable of conferring that sacrament applies the necessary form to the necessary matter, with the intention of “doing what the Church does.” To put it another way: minister + form + matter + intention = sacrament.

Are schismatics excommunicated? ›

In the 1983 Code of Canon Law, which is followed by the Latin Church, schismatics incur the penalty of excommunication (see Can. 1364 §1). This means that schismatics cannot receive communion in the Catholic Church.

Which church denominations does not practice Holy Communion? ›

With the exception of the Quakers and the Salvation Army (denominations that do not celebrate Holy Communion), the majority of Christian denominations agree with the general aspects of Communion as outlined in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and in Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians.

Which church does not believe in Holy Communion? ›

Christians adhering to the theology of Memorialism, such as the Anabaptist Churches, do not believe in the concept of the real presence, believing that the Eucharist is only a ceremonial remembrance or memorial of the death of Christ.

What denominations have closed communion? ›

Among the modern descendants of the Anabaptists, the Amish, Old Order Mennonites and Conservative Mennonites all practice what they term close communion, restricting communion to members of a local congregation only.

Videos

1. Responding to @CatholicTruthOfficial and Michael Lofton from @ReasonandTheology about the Error at Trent
(Kevin Nontradicath)
2. Peter Dimond on Where to Receive the Sacraments!
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3. CALive | Michael Lofton: Open Forum 12.27.22
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4. Michael's Analysis Show: Ignatian Ecclesiology and Sedevacantism
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5. Answering Patron Questions w/ Michael Lofton
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6. Radical Traditionalism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Pope Bashing w/ Michael Lofton (@ReasonandTheology​)
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