Is sedevacantism Catholic? (2023)

This article by Richard Cure was originally printed in the March 1998 issue of The Angelus magazine.

Part 1 (of 4)

Our priest, at that time, had circulated a talk given by a traditionalist priest which stated that we, as Catholics, do not have the right to judge the pope. In spite of this information being made available to me and my having listened to the tape twice, I still didn’t take an anti-sedevacantist position. Not until we had moved to a town where a Society of St. Pius X chapel was located and where the priest took a very negative position towards sedevacantism, did I take a serious look at this subject or my position. In talking to many sedevacantists, I have found the beginnings of sedevacantism follow much the same path in others.

After being confronted with the necessity of making a decision about just what was the right position, I started doing some research into the subject. It wasn’t easy since there was nowhere in Catholic writing that I could find the term "sedevacantism" even mentioned, other than in writings since Vatican II. It seemed a little unusual for a so-called traditionalist to be taking a position, in favor of traditionalism, when that position titled "sedevacantism" couldn’t even be found. The position of sedevacantism (that of believing that the chair of Peter is vacant even though the Church Militant doesn’t know it) could be found as an example in history just before and during the Great Western Schism, which illustrates the fruit of sedevacantism.

After reading many different imprimatured articles and rereading many articles in support of the sedevacantist position, it became clear to me that there was a great deal of confusion and that there needed to be an article written quoting the imprimatured articles and books that I had found in my research. This article is an attempt to summarize what ended up being a small book of mostly quotations.

Sedevacantism's most influential era: the Great Western Schism

The purpose of our looking at history is at least two-fold:

(Video) From Sedevacantist to CATHOLIC! (A true story of false Catholic Traditionalism)

  1. To understand tradition, and
  2. To better understand our times.

Since tradition would likely be the historical position of the Church, it is imperative that a traditionalist understand history in order to truly be a traditionalist. If we are to apply the traditional teaching of the Church to our times, we must understand history and whether or not sedevacantism is in conformity to the teaching of the Church or rather a departure from the teaching of the Church.

One has to look at history with some understanding of how history arrived at the point one wishes to study. If one doesn’t understand the background of that point in history, then one can’t understand why the events took place or actually even what did take place. So that the target point in history can be understood, some background information is necessary.

During the Great Western Schism, the Church was the world power in that the Church controlled, more than anyone else, the countries of the world. As a result, anyone who was very ambitious knew that the place of power was in the Church as a member of the hierarchy. So we see in the times of the Great Western Schism very bad churchmen in high places who very much scandalized the Church then, and who are scandalous to us poor souls today who try to read the historical accounts. It is not my intent to scandalize anyone, let alone the Church. But it is important to understand how corrupt things were so that one can understand why such things could happen and so better understand that things today aren’t necessarily quite as they appear.

During the Great Western Schism there were many times when the different factions believed the pope to be a heretic who should be deposed, but, in every case, history has proven that those judging the pope were not only wrong in their conclusion but were also wrong in their belief that they had a right to judge the pope as the turn of events proved; for by judging the pope, they only caused confusion and schism with as many as three claimants to the papacy at one time. These churchmen had other than the Church’s interest at heart; instead, it was usually their own personal gain or nationalism.

By 1294 the Church had had a number of popes who were poor churchmen and some who had been scandalously corrupt. But the good cardinals upon the death of the reigning pope elected Peter Morone, a pious, saintly hermit, to the papacy as Pope Celestine V. The hermit had no experience in such matters and in a short time had made quite a mess of things. He had protested upon being elected. He hadn’t wanted to leave his hermitage and wanted only to return to it. After a short time, Celestine V resigned so that another pope could be elected.

(Video) Sedevacantism is 100% Safe & 100% Catholic 👍 #AntipopeFrancis

Boniface VIII was the replacing pope. Since Boniface’s enemies were saying that Celestine hadn’t or couldn’t resign, Boniface had Celestine apprehended so that there wouldn’t be a schism.[1] Celestine died while in custody and was later canonized. These events clouded the beginning of Boniface’s pontificate. When additional events are added, the people of the time, who where so inclined, had reason to question the papacy of Boniface.

During the reign of Boniface VIII, Philip the Fair, the king of France, wanted to take possession of some of the Church’s properties and piling rights so as to increase his power and ability to tax. Philip used some arguments based on what the Church had allowed in France, discussed later under the title Gallicanism. Boniface countered with the idea that the pope had the right to rule the states because the kings had come to the pope to be crowned. Boniface prepared to excommunicate Philip.

Anticipating these developments, Philip had made plans to capture the pope and bring him before a council to be judged and deposed.[2] As a result of Gallicanism, Philip had rationalized that he had the right to commit these atrocities against the Church. Philip sent two thousand mercenaries who captured Pope Boniface VIII and held him captive for three days. After having been freed, the pope lived only ten days. The next pope also opposed Philip the Fair and died suddenly, it is believed by poisoning. He was later canonized. These episodes much weakened respect for the papacy and brought about Gallicanism and sedevacantism which can only survive in an atmosphere of disrespect for the pope and the papacy.

During the reign of the next couple of popes, Philip tried to force the popes to condemn the dead Boniface, which they would not do. After the death of Boniface’s personal enemies, even the French accepted the legitimacy of the reign of Boniface.[3] We often see in history how men or groups of men will paint a distorted picture of someone or some event which then affects history for some time.

Rome had been a world center for many centuries and with the coming and going of so many people, it was a hotbed of disease. Since it was also a center of power, a convergence of factions almost like separate nations within the city caused free movement and dissemination of information to be a problem. Because of the heat and humidity of summer, the hierarchy liked to leave the city.[4] This along with the extreme nationalism (particularly French), led to the establishment of a papal palace at Avignon which was on the border of France.

(Video) The Problem with Sedevacantism

Pope Clement V took up residence in Avignon beginning what was termed "the Babylonian Captivity" because the reign from Avignon lasted about as long as the Babylonian Captivity and was under the influence of the French court. France had been controlling the papal elections, electing Frenchmen to the office. This is one of the reasons the papal palace had been set up in Avignon.

After Clement V died, there was a two-year, three-and-a-half month period during which there was no pope. John XXII was finally elected to the papacy, but damage to the respect for the papacy resulted from such a long vacancy.

Pope John XXII took the same position as Boniface in that he insisted that kings had no right to rule until the pope had given the Bestowal of Imperial Dignity. King Louis of Bavaria would not submit to Pope John so the pope excommunicated him. The king then went to Italy and had one of the pope’s enemies proclaim John XXII a heretic, usurper, and oppressor of the Church and deprived John XXII of all his papal dignities, supposedly. The king then proclaimed an enemy of the pope, anti-pope Nicholas V. Through his position on papal right to rule nations, John XXII caused quite a stir, but it wasn’t anything compared to what was to come.

Pope John XXII had stated before his election that he believed the soul didn’t posses the Beatific Vision upon death. He also gave a series of five sermons stating his belief. At the University of Paris, a group of theologians gave the opinion that the pope was seriously wrong, but that he had not made an ex cathedra statement. As a result, it was not binding and was simply a private belief of the pope. John stated that he had not intended to teach contrary to Holy Scripture or the rule of Faith and before his death declared his belief that souls separated from their bodies enjoyed the Beatific Vision.[5] Clearly the pope was not imposing his views or teaching ex cathedra.[6] Here we have an example from history of a pope taking positions contrary to the traditions of the Church, but history shows that the man was still Catholic and indeed the pope. We all err, but to be obstinate in our errors after being shown our error or after being obstinate after being shown by the Church that one is in error is when one rejects the Church’s teaching. Even though John XXII corrected his wrong, much disrespect for the papacy resulted from his actions.

part 2 >

(Video) The Errors of Sedevacantism

Footnotes

1 Warren H. Carrol, The Glory of Christendom (Christendom Press, 1993), p.335.

2 Catholic Encyclopedia, (1913), Vol. II, “Boniface VIII,” p.668.

3 Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. IV, “Clement V,” p.21.

4 Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. IV, “Clement V,” p.20.

(Video) Are Sedevacantist Catholic? Is the Chair of St. Peter Empty?

5 Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. VIII, p.433.

6 The Glory of Christendom, p.372.

FAQs

Is the SSPX part of the Catholic Church? ›

The Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) (Latin: Fraternitas Sacerdotalis Sancti Pii X; FSSPX) is an international fraternity of traditionalist Catholic priests founded in 1970 by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, a leading traditionalist voice at the Second Vatican Council with the Coetus Internationalis Patrum, and Superior ...

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.

What does the pope think of EWTN? ›

' In a Q&A session with Jesuits in Slovakia, Pope Francis revealed that after his colon surgery this summer, some prelates wanted him to die. He also issued a thinly-veiled criticism of EWTN, saying the Catholic network's attacks on him are “the work of the devil.”

Are Catholics allowed to attend SSPX Mass? ›

As to “fulfilling a Sunday obligation”, if one is unable to attend Catholic Mass whether for reasons of ill health, travel or some other grave reason, the obligation doesn't hold. In short, one may attend Mass at an SSPX church or chapel; but one is NOT to receive Communion.

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.

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.

Who started Sedevacantism? ›

Father Joaquín Sáenz y Arriaga, a Mexican Jesuit priest and theologian who put forward sedevacantist ideas in his books The New Montinian Church (August 1971) and Sede Vacante (1973).

Who invented Sedevacantism? ›

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

What religion was Jesus? ›

Of course, Jesus was a Jew. He was born of a Jewish mother, in Galilee, a Jewish part of the world. All of his friends, associates, colleagues, disciples, all of them were Jews. He regularly worshipped in Jewish communal worship, what we call synagogues.

Do Catholics accept other religions? ›

While that identification with the Catholic Church officially defines the institution as well as the community that constitutes it, the University also affirms without hesitation that women and men of all religious traditions are welcomed and embraced in that community.

Why are so many people leaving the Catholic faith? ›

When asked to explain in their own words the main reason for leaving Catholicism, upwards of four-in-ten former Catholics (48% of those who are now unaffiliated and 41% of those who are now Protestant) cite a disagreement with the Catholic Church's religious or moral beliefs.

What is the biggest problem with the Catholic Church? ›

The Catholic Church has also been criticized for its active efforts to influence political decisions and governments, such as the Church's promotion of the Crusades, opposition to contraception, secular education, and LGBT rights, and its involvement with various 20th-century far-right dictatorships.

Does the Catholic Church recognize EWTN? ›

A lay-run organization, EWTN answers to no one in the church—not the local bishop, not even the pope. To many Catholics, EWTN has become the voice of the Catholic Church in America. For most of its 40-year history, this position was largely apolitical.

Does the pope recognize SSPX? ›

"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."

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.

Who is exempt from Catholic Mass? ›

You have no obligation to come to Mass when it is impossible, either physically or morally, or where charity would require absenting yourself, such as if you have a contagious illness. Examples of legitimate reasons to miss Mass given in the Catechism are illness or the care of infants (CCC 2181).

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.

Why the SSPX is not in schism? ›

In any case, the SSPX has always recognized the papacy and the primacy of Rome. The reciprocal is also true, namely, that every Pope since foundation of the SSPX in the 1970s has recognized the validity of their sacraments. Thus, they do not fit the classic definition of “schism.” Not even by a long shot.

Is SSPX in communion with Rome 2022? ›

Pius X (SSPX), which is not in full communion with the Catholic Church. Their particular apostolate is to preserve and promote what is now called the “extraordinary form” of the Roman Rite, that is, the Mass of Pius V / Council of Trent, that was the normal form of the Roman Rite from 1570–1970.

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.

What did Pope Pius XI say about communism? ›

Pope Pius XI further emphasized the fundamental opposition between Communism and Christianity, and made it clear that no Catholic could subscribe even to moderate Socialism.

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.

Where would Catholicism be without the popes? ›

Oscar Martinez : Look, it doesn't take a genius to know that any organization thrives when it has two leaders. Oscar Martinez : Go ahead, name a country that doesn't have two presidents. A boat that sets sail without two captains. Where would Catholicism be without the popes.

Has a pope ever had 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.

What is Novus Ordo in the Catholic Church? ›

Novus Ordo is short for Novus Ordo Missae, which means the "new order of the Mass". The term Novus Ordo distinguishes the Mass promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1969 from the Traditional Latin Mass promulgated by Pope Pius V in 1570.

Why was pope Benedict removed? ›

Benedict himself was swept up in the scandal after a January 2022 report that had been commissioned by the Roman Catholic Church in Munich to investigate how the church had handled cases of sexual abuse between 1945 and 2019.

Who was the last pope to have a wife? ›

There is good reason to believe that the majority of priests and bishops during the first four centuries of Christianity were married; so were many Popes, the last of whom was Adrian II in the 9th century.

What religion believes in the Bible but not Jesus? ›

Biblical Unitarians

Biblical Unitarianism (also known as "biblical Unitarianism" or "biblical unitarianism") identifies the Christian belief that the Bible teaches that God the Father is one singular being, and that Jesus Christ is a distinct being, his son, but not divine.

What was Jesus last name? ›

We often refer to Jesus as Jesus Christ, and some people assume that Christ is Jesus's last name. But Christ is actually a title, not a last name. So if Christ isn't a last name, what was Jesus's last name? The answer is Jesus didn't have a formal last name or surname like we do today.

What is Jesus's full name? ›

Jesus' name in Hebrew was “Yeshua” which translates to English as Joshua.

What religion is similar to Catholicism? ›

Catholics, especially white, non-Hispanic Catholics, name Protestantism as the faith that is most similar to Catholicism. Interestingly, Catholics see greater similarities between Catholicism and Protestantism than do Protestants. After Protestantism, Catholics see Judaism as most like their faith.

What religion is close to Roman Catholic? ›

The Eastern Orthodox Church has almost as large a share in the developments of the early centuries of Christianity as does the Roman Catholic Church, and even Protestantism looks to these centuries for its authentication.

What is non Catholic Christianity called? ›

The Protestant Reformation was a religious reform movement that swept through Europe in the 1500s. It resulted in the creation of a branch of Christianity called Protestantism, a name used collectively to refer to the many religious groups that separated from the Roman Catholic Church due to differences in doctrine.

What is it called when you are Catholic but don't go to church? ›

A lapsed Catholic is a Catholic who is non-practicing. Such a person may still identify as a Catholic, and remains one according to canon law.

Why is Catholicism declining in the US? ›

More recent study published in 2022 by Pew Research Center, have found a retention rate among American Christians closer to 67%, and cited that the decline of Christianity is primarily due to people leaving Christianity and choosing to have no religious affiliation (rather than due to people converting to other ...

What happens if a Catholic leaves the church? ›

It's that there's actually no way of quitting the church. According to church doctrine, once you've been baptised, the bond cannot be broken. The communion is eternal.

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 religion did Queen Mary follow? ›

Was she the bloodthirsty religious fanatic that posterity has bequeathed to us? While hundreds died under Mary's reign, her dark legacy may have as much to do with the fact that she was a Catholic monarch succeeded by a Protestant Queen in a country that remained Protestant.

Why were people unhappy with the Catholic Church? ›

Some felt that the Catholic Church was more interested in money and power than in saving souls. For example, the church sold 'indulgences' for those who had committed sins. For a fine, paid to the church, your sin would be forgiven and when you died, the Church said that you would go to heaven.

Does the Catholic Church recognizes non Catholic marriages? ›

The Church considers the marriage bond between non-Catholics to be as equally binding as those of Catholics. Like marriages in the Catholic Church, the validity of these marriages is presumed until the contrary is proven. Therefore, the marriage of two non-baptized people is presumed to be valid.

What denominations Does the Catholic Church recognize? ›

In addition to the Latin, or Roman, tradition, there are seven non-Latin, non-Roman ecclesial traditions: Armenian, Byzantine, Coptic, Ethiopian, East Syriac (Chaldean), West Syriac, and Maronite.

Are you allowed to swear in Catholicism? ›

We should never utter "Our Heavenly Father,” Jesus Christ our Lord, or the Holy Spirit in a foul expression. As with all of Catholic Morality, it is best to emphasize the idea of virtue, after which we strive and encourage children to seek forgiveness and absolution when they fail.

Is going to SSPX a sin? ›

The PCED formally (re)confirmed that (1) the SSPX is within the Church; (2) the SSPX is not in formal schism; (3) Catholics commit no sin, nor incur any canonical penalty, for attending SSPX Masses.

Does the Pope recognize SSPX? ›

"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."

Is SSPX in full communion? ›

WHY THE SSPX IS NOT IN FULL COMMUNION WITH THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. “Why the SSPX (Society of Saint Pius X) Is Not In Full Communion With the Catholic Church.” 1. The SSPX has discouraged its followers from attending even Tridentine Masses offered by priests in communion with Rome.

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.

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.

What is Novus Ordo Catholic? ›

Novus Ordo is short for Novus Ordo Missae, which means the "new order of the Mass". The term Novus Ordo distinguishes the Mass promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1969 from the Traditional Latin Mass promulgated by Pope Pius V in 1570.

Why do Orthodox reject the Pope? ›

The Eastern Orthodox Church is opposed to the Roman Catholic doctrine of papal supremacy. While not denying that primacy does exist for the Bishop of Rome, Eastern Orthodox Christians argue that the tradition of Rome's primacy in the early Church was not equivalent to the current doctrine of supremacy.

Does the Catholic Church condemn socialism? ›

Besides, Catholic social doctrine is not a surrogate for capitalism. In fact, although decisively condemning “socialism,” the church, since Leo XIII's Rerum Novarum, has always distanced itself from capitalistic ideology, holding it responsible for grave social injustices (cf.

Is the Novus Ordo Mass valid SSPX? ›

The SSPX's position on the protestantized New Mass is explained, thus demonstrating that according to the Church's teaching, Catholics are not obliged to attend the Novus Ordo as it puts the faith in danger.

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