Who’s Afraid of Sedevacantism?

Who’s Afraid of Sedevacantism?

Recently, Father Anthony Cekada released a video entitled “Why Traditionalists Fear Sedevacantism”.  The video is a response to the soon-to-be-released book by John Salza and Robert Siscoe, True or False Pope. Interestingly, rather than demonstrating that Traditionalists fear Sedevacantism, Father Cekada’s remarks suggest that he fears Traditionalists critiques of Sedevacantism. Rather than responding to arguments and drawing necessary distinctions, Father Cekada resorts to ad hominem attacks and oversimplifications.  

The first sign of Father Cekada’s fear is the timing of the video. As Father admits in the first few minutes of the video, he has not even read the new book by Salza and Siscoe, nor could he have because it was not released at the time he made the video. Why would Father Cekada feel the need to attack a book he has not even read yet (other than a preface posted online)? Must he launch this preemptive strike because he fears the unknown text might actually refute his position?   Father Cekada’s only two criticisms of the book (not surprisingly, he has only two since he has not actually read the book) are its reported length and the use of some arguably hyperbolic language on the back cover.

As to the first, I can say having reviewed an advance copy of the book that it is quite long but this is because the book is extremely comprehensive. The authors not only dedicate significant space in the book to explaining and refuting the arguments of the Sedevacantists opinion in general but they present significant information on the theological positions of some of the greatest theologians in Church history who have discussed the possibility of a heretical pope, especially Francisco Suarez and St. Robert Bellarmine. The authors present evidence from these writings which to my knowledge have not been analyzed in the debates over this topic in the past few decades. At a minimum this new book does the service of presenting new historical information to the discussion. In my opinion, a trite argument lacking depth of research is more to be feared than a well-researched and documented argument, although the latter may be a bit intimidating to modern audiences drunk on the thirty-second sound bite and 140-character Twitter limit.

As to the second point, I agree that some of the colorful description of the Sedevacantist opinion on the back cover of the book may be a bit exaggerated in tone. Yet, this style is not uncommon on book covers. Importantly, although they use rather strong language about the Sedevacantist argument the authors in no way insult or personally attack any persons holding the Sedevacantist opinion. Unfortunately, Father Cekada does not reciprocate but instead attacks and calumniates traditionalist figures in his video. Most appallingly, Father Cekada attacks the Society of St. Pius X and His Excellency Bishop Fellay particularly by arguing that they reject the Sedevacantist opinion because it is more lucrative to do so. He argues that there is more money to be made in what he calls the R&R position (recognize and resist) as it is more popular and acceptable to the donating public. He makes these unfounded claims while displaying pictures of Bishop Fellay and the new SSPX seminary under construction in Virginia. Although the money grubbing calumny is more oblique with reference to the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, the video still implies financial concerns drove the Archbishop’s thinking. Father Cekada further attacks the Archbishop by suggesting his refusal of the Sedevacantist opinion was due to a closet Gallicanism harbored by the late Archbishop.

In any event, Father Cekada’s assertion that the SSPX rejects Sedevacantism out of human respect because the Traditionalist position is viewed as less extreme lacks basis in reality. Be it those attached to the Conciliar Church or secularists, such a distinction is not recognized. Both Traditionalists and Sedevacantists are treated as beyond the pale and extremists by the “mainstream.” In my own SSPX chapel community, I know of a lady who was fired as a teacher in a diocesan school for merely attending one Mass at the SSPX chapel. So much for the cozy acceptance of the SSPX position in contrast to Sedevacantism. Father should simply recognize that anyone overly concerned with human respect would neither be a Traditionalist nor hold the Sedevacantist position. In addition to the SSPX, Father Cekada calumniates the late Father Nicholas Gruner by also implying a financial motive behind his lifelong apostolate which Father Cekada refers to with the derogatory phrase, “the Fatima Industry.” I know from personal experience that Father Gruner lived in the most simple and humble accommodations. He carefully made certain that the donations made to the Fatima Center were used to make known the message of repentance of Our Lady of Fatima, which Father Cekada dismisses. Contrary to Father Cekada’s suggestion neither Christopher Ferrara nor Father Gruner simply dismissed Sedevacantism on the basis of the Third Secret of Fatima. They, especially Father Gruner, gave the opinion due consideration on the merits. Messrs. Salza and Siscoe have penned hundreds of pages to engaging the issues, rather than dismissing arguments with trite but catchy phrases as in Father Cekada’s video.

Like the Archbishop, whom I have heard discuss the issue in a recording of a conference given in English in the 1970s, Father Gruner did not dismiss the possibility that Paul VI or other post-Conciliar Popes would someday be adjudicated false or anti popes. Is it possible? Both the Archbishop and Father Gruner acknowledged the theoretical possibility but, unlike Father Cekada, they recognized that a single priest or even Archbishop was not competent to definitively declare a man to be an anti-pope and require obedience to such a private judgment. The Archbishop and Father Gruner humbly acknowledged the possibility, leaving the matter to competent authorities and simply kept praying and believing as the Church has always done.

Turning to the two attempts at argument that Father Cekada puts forward in the video, we see that he mischaracterizes what figures such as the Archbishop, Bishop Fellay, Father Gruner, and Messrs. Salza and Siscoe have said. They do not say only a statement stamped with infallibility is to be obeyed. They have consistently maintained that only a legitimate exercise of authority must be obeyed, which statement is simply a perennial Catholic principle. Starting from the premise that all authority comes from God, Catholic theology and philosophy have always held that the binding nature of a command comes not from the human agent who utters it but solely from the authority of God. As St. Thomas explains, the command of a Man holding an office vested with authority binds only to the extent that a command conforms to the Natural and Divine Law. When that Man, be he a pope, king or president, issues a command contrary to the higher law it does not bind in conscience and if it compels violation of higher law it must be refused. Thus, a command to use the Novus Ordo which offends against both the Divine and Natural Law does not bind in conscience not because it lacks a stamp of infallibility but because it fails to participate in God’s sovereign authority. This is the principle of legitimate disobedience to unjust commands.

Secondly, Father Cekada ridicules the analogy of the “bad Dad.” As Father Cekada well knows, analogies are never perfect but merely illustrative as they are analogical and not univocal. The analogy is merely meant to illustrate a corollary to the above defined principle. When a Man in authority issues an illegitimate command the command lacks the quality of authority requiring obedience but the fact of attempting to bind in conscience erroneously does not in and of itself depose the Man from the office which if used correctly could result in commands that require obedience. There are certainly many distinctions between a father and a pope but the analogy is merely meant to illustrate the principle.

Rather than Traditionalists fearing Sedevacantism, it seems that those holding the opinion rather fear the complexity of the crisis God has willed to permit His Church undergo. Rather than the arduous work of sifting through the confusion that has been coming out of the Vatican and chanceries for decades and applying certain Catholic principles to make proper distinctions between legitimate commands and those that lack authority, the opinion of Sedevacantism proposes an alluring simple black and white solution that avoids this difficult work of discernment. Like Conciliar Catholics who unthinkingly accept everything coming out of the Vatican press office, Sedevacantists take an analogous approach of accepting nothing. In different ways both avoid the more arduous path. Traditionalists who hold fast to the principle of discernment have nothing to fear. If Jorge Bergoglio is the Vicar of Christ, they will render obedience when required, if he legitimately commands what is in harmony with higher law, and they will withhold obedience when he exceeds his authority. They will therefore not be led into erroneous actions.

If we learn from the Church someday that he was not a legitimate pope, then we still have nothing to fear. We will have only obeyed commands that are consistent with Divine and Natural Law and we will have made merely an error in factual judgment. We acknowledged a Man who has been accepted as the pope by Catholics throughout the world. We know from the Great Schism that merely being wrong about this factual issue in the context of confusing times does not separate one from the Church of Rome. Canonized saints were incorrect in their assessment of who in fact was the legitimate pope. Thus, we have nothing to fear if someday the Church adjudicates that one or more of the Men of the post Conciliar era were not legitimate popes. We will have held fast to the truths of the Faith and refused any command contrary to Divine or Natural Law and shown ourselves willing to submit to the legitimate authority.

Yet, as we shall see, the longer the crisis in the Church continues the less plausible is the opinion that each and every Man since 1958 has been an antipope (even if perhaps one or the other might have been). Rather, it is those holding the Sedevacantist opinion who should fear the state of affairs they hold to be true. If it were true that no pope has reigned since John XXIII, there are no valid Cardinals, and there is no Roman clergy (by definition if there is no bishop to validly and legitimately ordain and incardinate them into the Roman church), then the Church in her essential nature would have defected. There would be no method for continuing the Roman Church or the election of a new pope. The Sedevacantist opinion was more plausible in the early 1970s when there were pre-Conciliar Cardinals who could restore the papacy (or at least a Roman clergy to elect a pope according to prior practice). The longer the crisis continues the less plausible becomes the Sedevacantist opinion that none of the popes since 1958 have held office because the methods consistent with the Church’s Constitution for a valid papal election become impossible to achieve.

Father Cekada essentially admitted to me in email correspondence several years ago that the Sedevacantist opinion holders have no real answer to the preservation of the Church’s indefectibility. The most he could come up with was a Deus ex Machina assertion that God would in some in explicable way give the Church a pope. Yet, in the 2,000-year history of the Church, this is a complete novelty. Even in the darkest hour of the Great Schism and the Babylonian Captivity, the essential structures of the Church remained intact. God is certainly not bound absolutely by the structures of the Church He created (as He was not bound to transmit the merits of the redemption through a Church) yet having chosen to make use of the structures of the Church, He would not allow those structures to vanish through a complete lapse of a hierarchy for so long that the means of its own preservation have all become extinct.

The Church is a perfect society and as such must always be self-sufficient in pursuing its perfect end. Rather than fearing the misuse of God’s authority that requires subjects to apply the principles of higher law, those holding the Sedevacantist opinion should fear that with every passing year they implicitly deny the indefectibility of the Church.  Source


Anybody here afraid of Sedevacantism? Speak!

Comments (58)

  • RCA Victor

    One commbox commenter on The Remnant website, from whence this article originates, posted a question about Canon 844 of the New Code of Canon Law, claiming that since it allows non-Catholics to receive Holy Communion, and since the New Code was promulgated by JPII, it became a universal law…unless JPII was not really a Pope.

    Well, not knowing anything about 844, I looked it up and found that this commenter had completely distorted and/or misunderstood its meaning. A typical case of a sedevacantist studying a few trees and proclaiming that they are the entire forest. Can you say private judgment?

    However, whilst in the midst of this reading, I also came across the classic double-talk regarding the SSPX, namely:

    1. A theologian named Peter Vere is quoted extensively in the Wikipedia article on 844, including on the subject of whether a Catholic can approach an SSPX priest for the Sacraments. Here is his first claim: “…[their Sacraments] are also valid, but it is considered morally illicit for the faithful to participate in these Masses unless they are physically or morally impeded from participating in a Mass celebrated by a Catholic priest in good standing.”

    [Sidebar: It is “morally illicit” to assist at a Mass in which the traditional moral doctrines of the Church are taught and affirmed with absolute fidelity! And of course, it must therefore be “morally licit” to assist at a NOM in which the traditional moral doctrines of the Church are either ignored or dissented from…or outright contradicted.]

    2. Vera claimed that Ecclesia Dei “does not consider the lack of opportunity to assist at a Tridentine Mass sufficient cause to receive the sacraments from a Lefebvrite cleric.”

    [Sidebar: In other words, there is no such thing as supplied jurisdiction, which leads one to suspect that Mr. Vere might possess a Reader’s Digest version of the Code of Canon Law.] [Or perhaps a comic book.]

    3. Writes Vera further: “”the Catholic Church is not certain at the present whether the SSPX constitutes a Church like the Eastern Orthodox or the Polish National Catholic Church, or whether the SSPX is simply a loose federation of acephalous (independent) priests and episcopal vagantes (wandering bishops) like the Old Catholic Movement in North America. Thus where to classify the SSPX schism at the moment represents an internal dilemma for the Church.”

    [Sidebar: So the SSPX is not a separate Church, but they are is schism? Here we have Mr. Vere channeling Michael Voris.]

    4. However, According to the PCPCU the 1993 ED “is not concerned with the” SSPX. “The situation of the members of” the SSPX “is an internal matter of the Catholic Church” and the SSPX “is not another Church or Ecclesial Community in the meaning used in the” 1993 ED.

    5. Vera then admits that “the Holy See has prudently chosen not to classify the SSPX as a Church.”

    6. In other words, the SSPX is not a separate Church: it is part of the Catholic Church!

    Insert Christopher Ferrara’s old Remnant article, “Full Communion and Other Gnostic Twaddle,” here.

    January 14, 2016 at 3:56 pm
    • editor

      RCA Victor,

      I was about to close this thread when I saw your (very interesting) contribution lurking in the SPAM folder – must be a forbidden word in there, but I can’t work it out, so I’m sorry about the delay in releasing it.

      Surprised me to note the apparent lack of interest in this topic until you came along, because I thought we’d be inundated with bloggers insisting they weren’t remotely afraid of the sedevacantist claims.

      I always think it’s amazing that Catholics will readily acknowledge the bad popes from centuries ago but faced with admitting that we’ve had a few recently, would prefer to argue that they weren’t popes at all. Crackers!

      I think the Salza/Siscoe book looks good and I’m looking forward to reading it. However, I’ve too many hard copy books around me as it is, so I’ll be waiting for the online version.

      January 14, 2016 at 9:04 pm
      • RCA Victor


        Actually I’m surprised it posted because when I clicked on “Post Comment” my computer went into la-la land and I couldn’t recover what I typed.

        I was also thinking, in regards to this article, about one of Our Lady’s Fatima messages, wherein she states, “The Holy Father will have much to suffer.” Note, sedevacantists, that she did not say “There will be no Holy Father,” or, “The Chair of Peter will be vacant.” But what she did say is intriguing from another standpoint as well: could it be that all these disoriented, modernist Popes will not only have much to suffer during their pontificates, but also after they depart from this world?

        January 14, 2016 at 9:25 pm
      • editor

        RCA Victor,

        Before I disappear myself for a bit, allow me to say that I firmly believe they’ll have much to suffer when they depart from this world, even without the Fatima warning! That’s my personal view, based on objective observation and without, of course, being able to read the souls of these apparently very bad pontiffs. To paraphrase what one of my “old” (in both senses of the word) Parish Priests once said to us all congregated at Mass and listening to his stern sermon: “The only judgment that matters is in the hands of God and for that, [they] can be thankful ! “

        January 14, 2016 at 9:42 pm
      • RCA Victor


        My reply went into spam again…..

        January 14, 2016 at 9:25 pm
      • editor

        RCA Victor,

        Sorry about this. I’ve followed the advice given by WordPress but instead of posts disappearing into moderation, they’re now going into SPAM. I can’t see any banned words in your posts so it is a mystery.

        January 14, 2016 at 9:38 pm
      • Therese

        I thought RCA Victor’s analysis was spot on, but as I didn’t haven’t anything to add except to acknowledge and admire his clear exposition, I said nowt. Editor, you can put me down as one who readily acknowledges that we have had some of the most terrible popes in history in the latter half of the 20th century and – so far – the 21st century. I don’t deny they were popes. I wish I could, though. The present incumbent is the worst possible I could imagine in my wildest dreams, but unfortunately he is still the pope. although I am still unsure about the position of his predecessor. Time will tell if he is “the bishop in white”.

        January 14, 2016 at 9:50 pm
      • editor


        “I don’t deny they were popes. I wish I could, though”

        Priceless! Agreed!

        January 15, 2016 at 12:05 am
  • Athanasius

    Simple practical arithmetic condemns the sedevacantist position; For if all the Cardinals elevated by the so-called “non-popes,” from John XXIII through to Francis, are void, then there is effectively today no College of Cardinals and therefore no possibility of electing a valid Pope in the future. Hence the Gates of Hell will have prevailed, contrary to Our Lord’s promise. This of course is both impossible and unthinkable.

    Aside from that, those few Doctors of the Church who have touched on the possibility of a future Pope who may harm the faith are unanimous that in such an event the faithful should respectfully refuse obedience to the Supreme Pontiff but not judge him. There is only one in higher authority who can judge the Pope, and that is God Himself.

    This makes perfect sense in light of the Commandment that we should not judge. It is our duty to judge deeds, yes, but not souls. The sedevacantist position depends on this latter forbidden judgment on the Pope’s state of soul, which no one but God can possibly know. This is how they make the giant leap from a general observation of “material” heresy on the part of the conciliar Popes to a condemnation and renunciation of the modern Papacy on the grounds of “formal” heresy.

    The distinction is critically important. It is the difference between those who demonstrate an heroic Catholic resistance to doctrinal error while still acknowledging the legitimacy and authority of the Vicar of Christ, and those who, having become embittered, reject both Pope and error, thereby separating themselves from the Church.

    It is interesting to note here that not one of the dangerous novelties introduced into the Church since Vatican II, including the New Mass, has been imposed on the faithful by the binding authority of the Papal Magisterium. If ever proof were required that Our Lord’s promise holds true to this day, that the Church is both infallible and indefectible, even in the darkness of this present apostasy, then it is in this glorious fact.

    Sadly, the sedevacantists are lost to this great and glaring truth and it is historically near-impossible to guide them back to it. This is because sedevacantism is born of intellectual and/or spiritual pride, which blinds and embitters its victims. The devil is very clever, he knows well how to tempt Traditional Catholic souls to fall into schism just as surely as the liberal-modernists they oppose. That’s why Archbishop Lefebvre strongly resisted the sedevacantist mindset and warned of its dangers. Some like Fr. Cekada very tragically thought they knew better than this great and holy prelate.

    RCA Victor,

    A very good comment from you, extremely concise and informative. I have read a lot of Peter Vere’s stuff against the SSPX over the years and it is frighteningly ignorant, not to mention inaccurate. He is indeed a kind of forerunner of Michael Voris, and still on the go I believe. For these men, the faith amounts to little more than a series of changeable legalities to be accepted by all in blind obedience to whichever Pope happens to be then reigning. You’ll find a parallel in the Gospels where the high priest and the Pharisees are condemned by Our Lord for laying precisely the self same man-made burden of legal servitude on the Jews of the day.

    January 14, 2016 at 9:46 pm
    • Lionel (Paris)


      Once again, I think that your explanation is clear and right.

      January 14, 2016 at 10:31 pm
  • RCA Victor


    This hollow charge of “fear” of sedevacantism reminds me of a word in the lexicon of the homosexual radicals, invented by them to intimidate Christians and anyone else who affirms moral behavior: “homophobia” – whose literal meaning has absolutely no relation to its current usage. Likewise, a critical analysis of the untenable position of sedevacantism is being labelled as “fear.” Moreover, there was similar tactic that was used by liberals back in the 90s against those who objected to the implications of the new buzzwords “tolerance,” “diversity,” and “inclusion”: we were asked “What are you afraid of?” As if the conservative/traditional position was based on fear.

    So I’d say that Father Cekada has truly scraped the bottom of his theologically solipsistic barrel by resorting to tired old liberal demagoguery – and without even having read the book, no less! Perhaps the next step for him will be to start calling us “sedevacantophobes”?


    I recall you using the phrase “bitter zeal” at least several times to describe the sv’s, Lately I’ve been thinking this term could also be applied to the “Resistance,” whose ringleaders have already descended, in my opinion, into schism.

    January 15, 2016 at 12:55 am
    • editor

      RCA Victor,

      I completely agree about the deliberate use of the term “fear”. I say, sure thing, we’re afraid – afraid that you are off your head, pal.

      As for the so-called resistance (to nothing – quite literally) they are really a pitiful bunch. I have just learned of one friend of mine who is part of that group – he’s “resisted” telling me that but another mutual friend spilt the beans and I am absolutely certain that he is – in the normal run of things – too sensible, level headed and intelligent to go along with that nonsense, and, but for the fact that he is friendly with, and lives geographically close to, a priest of that ilk, I don’t think for a second that he would have supported their contrived (baloney) concerns. How sad. Some of them have already moved into the sedevacantist camp and, frankly, there’s nowhere else for them to go, so more will follow. Tragic.

      January 15, 2016 at 9:37 am
  • John

    An interesting article by Damien Thompson in the Catholic Herald were he asks ten probably unanswerable questions . Before he asks the questions he suggests that Senior prelates Vatican officials, and their Press officers are sometimes untruthful, surely not? 😀


    January 15, 2016 at 1:33 pm
  • observer


    This is another recent book on the subject by an American ex-sedevacantist. It is quite a thorough study and well worth reading.

    January 15, 2016 at 4:19 pm
    • Michaela


      I don’t like the look of that book at all. I don’t think it would be worth reading when this claim is giving in the blurb: “Pope Francis is the real pope but only because the Church can fail and defect in contradiction of its own terms yet still remain the Catholic Church of the ages.”

      The claim that sedevacantism supports Orthodoxy, is rubbish. Nothing can “support” a schism. So, I disagree that the book is worth reading. I wouldn’t waste my time. The blurb is enough for me to know that the author doesn’t understand the Catholic Church.

      January 16, 2016 at 10:47 am
      • LadyCáit

        I’m glad to read this reply. I had difficulty making out exactly what the author himself was getting at from the reviews. Is the author (schismatic eastern) orthodox now? How could the Church fail? Obviously impossible.
        Sort of related: I have found that the best means of converting Protestants is pointing out that 1. Catholic Church is founded by Jesus Christ 2. Has never taught error
        These facts astonish the younger dumber generations who are used to saying with pride which mortal “founded” their Protestant sect in and discussing past errors in their sect that were then corrected, etc. So these flawed Church heresies take away from what signals the Church’s divinity to wayward outsiders.

        January 16, 2016 at 4:36 pm
    • editor


      I’m afraid I agree with Michaela – having taken a look (admittedly very quick look – I’m the original Flying Scotswoman today) I think the author looks to have lost his Catholic moorings, with bells on!

      January 16, 2016 at 2:50 pm
  • Alex F

    I wouldn’t say I’m especially scared of sedevacantism, but I can see problems with the whole argument in terms of the visibility of the Church. However, I can also see significant problems with the Recognise and Resist position that the SSPX promotes. I think it’s a dangerous position to take that we recognise the current occupant of the See of Peter as the Vicar of Christ, but we refuse to submit to him or have anything to do with him except in a symbolic way. To say that we submit to the pope in everything that is consistent with traditional Church teaching implies that we can get to decide what is traditional and what is not. So what is the purpose of having a pope other than as a symbolic figure head like the British monarchy? We’ll decide which Councils we accept and which ones we won’t. We’ll decide which rites of Mass we will attend and which ones we won’t, and we decide which encyclicals and instructions and canonisations to accept and which not to. At the very least, sedevacantism is consistent- there have been antipopes and robber councils in the past. Sedevacantists reject the second Vatican Council and everything that comes thereafter. Not quite simple, but less convoluted than recognise and resist.

    I know there are people who know more about this than I do, but I’m just saying how I see it. SSPX people often go to geat lengths to avoid accusations of schism. Possibly, the “fear” of sedevacantism comes from that. We can prove we are not schismatic by pointing to sedevacantists who are worse than us, even though, in practice we amount to the same. It would seem that Sedevacantists, however, don’t care about being called schismatic by the mainstream church, because they believe that the mainstream church has apostasised. So they are as offended at being called schismatic by the mainstream church as I would be offended at being called schismatic by an Anglican.

    There are massive problems in the Church today, and I am not convinced that sedevacantism is the answer, but neither am I convinced that the position taken by people like the SSPX is the right way.

    January 16, 2016 at 2:57 pm
    • Athanasius

      Alex F,

      While I do not doubt your sincerity, I believe your argument is based on one very fundamental flaw. You equate the spirit of the SSPX with the spirit of Protestantism, which is to say you mistakenly surmise that SSPX Catholics make personal choices in regard to what they will and will not accept from Popes and Councils. This is utterly false.

      SSPX Catholics are guided in all things by the consistent Magisterial teaching of the Popes and Councils through history, up to Vatican II. Whatever they reject then from this latter Council (which was the first non-dogmatic Council in the Church) they reject on the basis of that consistent Magisterial teaching.

      The same applies with regard to the Pope. When the Pope speaks or acts in accordance with what has always been taught, then we are obliged under pain of sin to obey him. However, where the Pontiff contradicts or departs from that teaching to the detriment of the faith handed down, such as with the New Mass, Ecumenism, inter-religious initiatives, etc., then we are equally obliged under pain of sin to respectfully resist him. There is no personal choice involved, it’s down to knowing one’s faith, the 2000-year doctrinal teaching of the Popes, saints and Councils of the Church, and acting accordingly.

      If a post-Council Pope makes changes that are not immediately dangerous to faith, we are again obliged to obey. A typical example of this was Archbishop Lefebvre’s acceptance of the liturgical changes made by Pope John XXIII. So not everything proceeding from Vatican II is rejected per se, nor indeed everything said and done by the Conciliar Popes. The essential criteria is: does this threaten or harm the deposit of faith that has been handed down from Apostolic times.

      Sedevacantism is very different, absolutely parallel to Protestantism in effect, if not in spirit. It basically judges Vatican II to be entirely illegitimate and the Popes of that Council to be non-Popes. It therefore rejects the Magisterium of the post-Council Popes, both the good and the bad, which effectively means they do not submit to the Vicar of Christ under any circumstances, which is effectively formal schism. They have separated themselves from the Church in the name of defending her, just as the Portestants done before them. Please do not liken that tragic error to the position held by the SSPX.

      As has been so often stated by senior Vatican officials: “The SSPX is not a schism, they are in the Church”.

      January 16, 2016 at 3:30 pm
    • editor

      Alex F,

      Catholics have the answer to the dilemma of the pope’s authority – extent and limits – from several key saints, not least St Vincent of Lerins who wrote about how to deal with the sort of situation in which we find ourselves today.

      I urge you to read the front page of the current edition of our newsletter, which you can find on our website, Newsletter page, where he is quoted at length.

      Snippet: when in doubt, “hold fast that Faith which has been believed everywhere, always and by all.”

      Clearly Protestants don’t do that, and neither do so-called “liberal” Catholics (including “liberal” popes).

      The SSPX simply clings to that advice in this time of crisis. Remember, the rules change in an emergency. Nobody expects the folks across the UK who wake up to flooded homes and offices, to get to work on time (if at all) and keep housework and business up to date and to a high standard. Not a terrific analogy but serves the purpose. We’re in a crisis. We haven’t had to “resist” popes in our lifetimes, until “that Council” which is why so many are bewildered and confused.

      But resist we must – just as St Paul had to resist Peter “to his face, because he was to blame.”

      Sunday, 9.45.a.m. St Andrew’s SSPX chapel, Renfrew Street, Glasgow – see you there!

      January 16, 2016 at 7:56 pm
    • Alex F

      Athanasius and Editor,

      Thanks for your responses. I’ll read that.

      I went to the SSPX church a few times when I was living in London many years ago, and I’ve been to the churches in Edinburgh and Glasgow since I moved up here. I would never say that the SSPX is Protestant. Whenever I visited the SSPX, I met very devout Catholics who are deeply concerned about the crisis in the Church. However, as I say, I have misgivings about their position.

      In the age we are living, we have popes appearing to say and do things that in a previous age would have seen them in front of the Inquisition on suspicion of heresy. So it’s not for me to say they are wrong when I look the state of the mainstream church and what passes for the Catholic Mass in the majority of parishes. I take a similar view with respect to sedevacantists. If they are baptised Catholics who haven’t been excommunicated and identify themselves as Catholic, then it’s not my place to say they’re not. I’ll leave that to others better qualified than me to decide. I expect that if we had a pope who behaved like a Catholic, the sedevacantists I’ve read would submit to him without hesitation.

      I suppose the only precedent in history is the Western schism. I know that wasn’t about faith, but there were good devout Catholics who genuinely didn’t know what to do and had to just put their trust in God and muddle through as best they could. As an aside, I feel I have to remind people that Scotland followed an antipope during the Western schism while Ireland followed the true popes. I’m not saying that to make a point or anything, but as an Irish-born Zulu I just think it’s worth pointing out on a Scottish blog! 😉

      January 16, 2016 at 8:54 pm
    • RCA Victor

      Hello Alex,

      Sorry to join in late, but just to add a few things:

      1. I think it’s a dangerous position to take that we recognise the current occupant of the See of Peter as the Vicar of Christ, but we refuse to submit to him or have anything to do with him except in a symbolic way. This, in fact, is the position of the so-called Resistance and Bp. WIlliamson, not the SSPX.

      2. To say that we submit to the pope in everything that is consistent with traditional Church teaching implies that we can get to decide what is traditional and what is not. No it doesn’t. We (the SSPX) don’t decide anything: we merely compare Magisterial teaching with what has been produced since “Pacem in Terris” of John XXIII, and reject what contradicts the Magisterium, whose teaching, before the Conciliar era, was crystal clear. That, in fact, is our duty as Catholics: obedience to Truth comes above all else.

      3. So what is the purpose of having a pope other than as a symbolic figure head like the British monarchy? Is that a serious question?

      4. The rest of that paragraph starting with “So what is the purpose…” It doesn’t appear to me that you have a very good understanding of the SSPX position.

      5. Finally, here is Father Gruner on “schism”: [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugbb3Jhbg-k&w=854&h=480%5D

      January 18, 2016 at 12:05 am
      • Alex F

        RCA Victor,

        Thanks for posting that. My question on the purpose of the papacy was actually a seriously one, but never mind now.

        You are correct in that I don’t understand the SSPX position very well. But I understand it as well as I want.

        Thanks again.

        Over and out.

        January 18, 2016 at 12:20 am
      • Athanasius

        “You are correct in that I don’t understand the SSPX position very well. But I understand it as well as I want.”

        And what you want does not stretch to a full knowledge of the subject you debate on? This clearly gives rise to a questioning of your motives.

        January 18, 2016 at 1:28 am
  • Athanasius

    Alex F,

    As you rightly point out, the Great Western Schism was not in any way similar to the present situation the Church finds herself in. At least back then all claimants to the Papal Throne were doctrinally orthodox. Once the problem of the rightful Pope was resolved, the universal Church returned to normal very quickly.

    The situation today is entirely different because its is not a question of two Popes, one true the other false, but rather of two religions, one Traditional the other Modernist and liberal. In such a tragedy the only absolute certainty Catholics have of maintaining the truths of the faith handed down lies in holding fast to Tradition. There can be no sin in refusing to alter the faith of the saints and martyrs. It is the Modernist innovators who need to fear, not the Traditionalists who have changed nothing.

    As for the sedevacantists, I’m sorry to say that they have no excuse before God for their extreme reaction to the present crisis. We all know in our Catholic consciences that the Pope is the Successor of St. Peter, no matter how personally scandalous his life may be. And we all know, or should know, what the Saints and Doctors have said on the subject of resisting a bad Pope whilst not judging him. So The sedevacantists have no defence for their behaviour, which is very clearly schismatic, not to mention absolutely ludicrous.

    January 16, 2016 at 9:33 pm
    • Alex F

      The sedevacantists are responding to a real crisis in the Church. I might not agree with everything they say, but I cannot say that they are not responding in good faith. For me, it’s up to God to decide whether or not they have an excuse before God. I can’t pass comment on the interior state of someone else’s soul before God.

      Without wanting to get into a massive convoluted argument about sedevacantism versus recognise and resist, which I will definitely lose, my point is that in practice, there is not a whole lot of difference between the two positions. Both operate outside of the visible structure of the Church. Neither have canonical status in the Church. The only difference I can see is the Recognise and Resist people occasionally give symbolic lip service to a pope they ignore in everything else except when they happen to accidentally agree with him anyway.

      But then, I am an outsider looking in, and I have no emotional dog in this argument. As a conservative-leaning or “small t” traditional Catholic I would tend to see this as a dispute within the Traditional (large T) Catholic movement. But I think there are comparisons with the Western schism, even if it wasn’t about faith as such. If you follow an antipope you are excommunicated and outside of the Church. It doesn’t matter if you happen to share the same faith in doctrinal matters as the true pope. You’re outside of the Church and that’s that.

      As I said earlier, the Western schism was resolved and everything went back to normal. The Church did not require any public demonstration of fidelity from those who happened to have placed themselves in schism in good conscience, or public acts of penance. Bishops and priests kept their offices, St Andrew’s University was allowed to remain open, and life continued as before. I have read a lot of things by Catholics who hold the Recognise and Resist position and those who hold the sedevacantist, and one thing is clear that if the crisis were resolved, they would all submit to the Roman Pontiff and, please God, the Church would go on as normal. We can only pray for that day.

      January 16, 2016 at 10:21 pm
      • editor


        With all due respect, your position on this makes absolutely no sense. I mean, I don’t want to be blunt, so let me put it as gently as possible. No, absolutely, NO sense, our Alex…

        You have been told, very clearly, how it is that Catholics know what to do in a crisis situation. We follow what has been believed always, everywhere, and by all.

        Manifestly, the new Mass, new ecumenism, new rosary, new everything has not been believed by anyone until fifty years ago. Above all, the new pope is attacking what has been believed always, everywhere and by all, as if there’s no tomorrow. That, Alex, is our first clue.

        Catholics have NEVER been taught to accept everything and anything a pope says. That would make him a god. He’s not. The gift of infallibility [typed gift of ‘inability’ there, Freudian slip] which, to date, Pope Francis has not invoked and which Pope Benedict said in his book length interview he had no intention of invoking – has very narrow parameters. Modern Catholics who are unable to grasp the SSPX situation presumably consider – and this seems very clear from your own comments here today on the subject – that they owe a duty of obedience to everything a pope says and does; otherwise, they’re not faithful Catholics. Even though in theory they would deny that, in fact, that is what they believe.

        That is not, never has been and never will be, the teaching of the Catholic Church on papal authority. Popes may never introduce new teachings. Their task is to protect what has been passed on – Tradition (handed on…)

        As for this “I can’t judge the interior state of someone’s soul” – that’s a given. None of us can do that. Nobody IS doing that, so let’s put that red herring aside.

        You say that you know that you will lose the argument “sedevacantism Vs recognise and resist” which suggests that you know the distinction perfectly well. There’s a clear loss of divine and Catholic Faith in the promise of Christ to His Church that it will never fail (sedevacantism) whereas the refusal to accept false teaching from popes is merely history repeating itself, sadly. Not for the first time, the faithful have to resist papal errors. The two positions are not remotely similar. Sedevacantists are in schism. The SSPX is not.

        The fact that the SSPX is, as you put it, “outside the visible structures” is not their fault, and is a result of the crisis. St Athanasius had the same problem and famously described it thus: “They have the buildings, we have the Faith.” He, twice excommunicated, is now a canonised saint and Doctor of the Church.

        Go figure, as our American cousins keep saying, or, to say it “in character”, “Go fig-your”!

        Nite, Alex!

        January 16, 2016 at 11:45 pm
      • Athanasius

        Alex F,

        You don’t think you might be doing a wee bit of fence sitting with all this talk of canonical structures? If the SSPX is outside the Church, as you appear to believe, then so are all the Popes, saints and martyrs of history who believed and practiced exactly the same religion as we do. As I said before, we are not the ones who have changed anything of the faith handed down. How can such fidelity, then, be termed as “outside the canonical structures of the Church”? That has to be the greatest victory Satan has won yet, to have Sacred Tradition declared schismatic.

        January 16, 2016 at 11:50 pm
      • Alex F

        I suppose I am sitting on the fence on this, but I see the distinction between the SSPX position and the sedevacantist position as much of a much really. In practical terms, there is no observable difference that I can see. With the Recognise and Resist position I can’t see why Our Lord bothered to give us a pope at all.

        I did not say the SSPX was schismatic. In fact, I stated quite clearly that I think they are not; but at the end of the day, other people will have to judge on that -not me. However, despite their adherence to Catholic doctrine, they don’t have any canonical status in the Church, as I expect you are well aware. It’s probably disgraceful that they don’t, and I’m sure they have been treated very poorly by the mainstream church, but it is how it is, I’m afraid.

        January 17, 2016 at 12:23 am
      • Athanasius

        Alex F,

        If memory serves, St. Athanasius was also denied canonical status in the Church. He was later canonised while the Pope who sanctioned him, or at least permitted his sanction under duress, Pope Liberius, was the first Pope from St. Peter not to be canonised. So much, then, for canonical status. Besides that, some of the worst public heretics in the Church today, not to mention the morally dissenting Cardinal Kasper, are considered to be “in good standing”, that is “they enjoy canonical status,” so declarations of canonical status or absence thereof, can be shown to be used as a weapon by the eneimes of the faith against those who uphold the faith. That’s why Traditional Catholics don’t pay too much attention to announcements that they have no canonical status.

        As regards sedevacantism, I say again to you that those who go to such an extreme, negatively judging not just the actions of the modern Popes but also their souls, which every Catholic knows is forbidden by God, cannot excuse themselves as acting in good faith. That argument is just untenable. Thankfully, sedevacantism is more of a side show than a serious reaction to Modernism in the Church. The majority of Traditional Catholics are reasonable level-headed faithful who resist temptations to condemnatory anger against the Modernist Popes. There is a fine line between condemning the sin and condemning the sinner. Sedevacantists have all tragically crossed that line.

        January 17, 2016 at 1:53 pm
      • Alex F

        Yes I agree with you on the canonical status, but your justification for operating outside of the normal canonical structures of the Church are the same as theirs. None of the sedevacantist people I know of have tried to set up a parallel Church or elect another pope- that’s different groups. So you will have to forgive outsiders who think it’s just a “Judean People’s Front” versus the “People’s Front of Judea” distinction.

        Like I say, I try to listen to the arguments of everyone- it would be foolish not to in the current situation the Church is in. I have to say, in fairness, I have never read anything from sedevacantist authors that would indicate that they are passing judgement on the state of the pope’s soul. They tend to argue that they are not popes because of x, y and z. However, by saying that they (sedevacantist) have “no excuse before God for what they are doing,” you appear to be implying that you have some insight into their interior dispositions. Perhaps you simply phrased it in an unfortunate way, but it reads like you are doing exactly what you accuse them of doing.

        Sorry for being so blunt, but that’s how it comes across.

        January 17, 2016 at 2:23 pm
      • editor


        I’m not sure whether you are just winding us up or if you really don’t get it.

        If the latter, then, clearly, you think St Athanasius was wrong to “operate outside the Church structures” – should have accepted the heresy like the rest of them. He knew the limits of papal authority, which is why he “operated outside Church structures” – if you can’t see the parallel with the SSPX and the completely different situation with the schismatic sedevacantists, then I’m not the gal to help you.

        You go on about interior dispositions which is ridiculous. A judge in a court of law who sentences a robber to ten years and admonishes him for not keeping the law (something clearly demonstrably true) isn’t accused of judging the person’s interior disposition. Sedes tell us they don’t think we’ve had a pope for over fifty years. Nothing to do with judging their interior dispositions – they are wrong and their false belief is demonstrably false. Clearly, they do not believe in the indefectibility of the Church – else they’d recognise a pope (even a bad one) when they see him.

        Let’s leave it there. Shaking dust off shoes time has arrived!

        January 17, 2016 at 2:41 pm
  • Athanasius

    Alex F,

    None of the sedevacantist people I know of have tried to set up a parallel Church or elect another pope…

    Then you clearly haven’t done your homework. Ever heard of Palmar de Troya? Pope Pius XIII, perhaps? Well, you need to look these anomolies up and see the dangerous schismatic mindset that drives sedevacantism.

    Now, whether or not they elect their own Pope or set up a visible parallel Church is not the point. The point is that unlike the SSPX they reject the validity of the concilair Popes, and they do so on the grounds that said Popes are “formal,” and not “material” heretics. It is in this hugely significant distinction that they can be said to have crossed the line from judging and condemning deeds to judging and condemning souls. Surely you can see this?

    By the way, I’ve had many exchanges with sedevacantists over many years and I can say without fear of contradiction that they are generally very bitter in their zeal. They curb neither their anger nor their tongues when debating the modern Popes. That is not the spirit of Our Lord. Nor is it the spirit of the SSPX. Yes, there is a massive difference between sedevacantism and what you call “recognise and resist,” but which we call “keeping the Faith of our Fathers”.

    No Catholic with an IQ higher than the average house plant can fail to recognise that the New Mass, Communion in the hand, ecumenism and syncretist inter-religious initiatives have no place in the Faith of our Fathers. Quite the contrary, in fact. And that’s just intellectually speaking; the Sensus Fidei in ever baptised Catholic should be screaming this truth very loudly to the conscience.

    January 17, 2016 at 7:17 pm
    • Alex F


      All I can say is that I haven’t had that experience with the few sedevacantist people I’ve had interaction with. And I’ve encountered bitterness of zeal from people in all camps including some of the SSPX people I’ve met, but not all.

      Palmar de Troyes and the Pius XIII lot are not sedevacantist. They are Concilliarists. Perhaps I’m not the only one who should do more research. I’ve never claimed to be an expert on the various divisions within the Traditional Catholic movement, but even I knew that.

      January 17, 2016 at 9:46 pm
  • Athanasius

    Alex F,

    What do you mean by “Concilliarists”? The Palmar de Troya Sect has its own Pope and Pius XIII speaks for itself, so I’m a little confused by your term “Concilliarists” which is the normal term used for those who support the reforms of Vatican II. I have never heard the aforementioned sedes referred to as Concilliarists. Anti-Concilliatrist in the extreme would be more accurate.

    January 17, 2016 at 10:19 pm
    • Alex F

      I beg your pardon. The term is conclavist.

      January 18, 2016 at 12:03 am
  • Alex F

    Well, I’ve heard that term in relation to the different sects who’ve elected their own popes. And if they have elected their own pope, they can’t be sedevacantist I would have thought, because sedevacantists believe there’s no pope, while they believe there is- theirs.

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I didn’t claim to be an expert on all the different sects claiming to be the only real Catholics left. I’ll leave that to your good self. To be honest, I know about as much as I want to know. From the SSPX to everyone else, they all claim essentially the same thing.

    Maybe I should do more research into all these different groups, and why they are all 100% right about everything there is to know about everything and why everyone else is 100% wrong, but frankly I can’t be bothered.

    January 17, 2016 at 11:53 pm
    • RCA Victor


      From the SSPX to everyone else, they all claim essentially the same thing. You’re correct, you definitely need to “do more research into all these different groups.” BTW, the SSPX is not a “sect” – you have unfortunately imbibed the party line in too many ways.

      Your final statement is very revealing: not only is it a complete distortion and oversimplification, but I have to wonder: why, if you can’t be bothered to educate yourself, did you come to this blog?

      January 18, 2016 at 12:12 am
      • Alex F

        Why indeed?

        January 18, 2016 at 12:22 am
      • Athanasius

        Alex F

        If I understand your position correctly it is that you understand and sympathise with the motives of both the SSPX and sedevacantists, yet disaprove of both. In other words, you recognise that there is a crisis of faith in the Church but don’t believe it necessitates a reaction from the faithful. Or, to use your own words, perhaps you just can’t be bothered and are looking for reasons why you should do nothing. Your presence on this blog suggests that something is motivating you. What is it?

        January 18, 2016 at 1:21 am
      • Alex F


        My motive for my occasional sojourns on this blog is quite simple. I am a Catholic who is just trying to stay Catholic and not lose heart in the devastation that is the modern Church. As part of that, I read different people and ask questions about their positions. I read Church history, encyclicals, Fathers of the Church, everything I can to try to get my head around all this mess.

        From my exchanges here I can see that the SSPX is not the answer- either that, or I have “an IQ lower than the average house plant,” and simply am too dumb to get my head around all these lofty distinctions that are so obvious to all the blessed souls and superior Catholics who blog here.

        You lot say some of the most offensive and sanctimonious things I have read on the Internet and then accuse everyone else who disagrees with you, including sedevacantists, of have some sort of “bitter zeal.” I don’t understand that.

        I’m confused about a lot of things, but one thing is certain, I will NEVER go back near the SSPX, if you lot are representative of them.

        January 18, 2016 at 5:59 pm
      • editor

        Alex F,

        Don’t shun the SSPX because of me and my terrible faults. Believe me, what you read on here, is only the tip of the iceberg. You should (but never will, I hope!) hear my confession!

        You never did answer my question about St Athanasius, and please do not misunderstand, but it is something we’re used to here, people coming on and telling us they are well meaning and looking for answers, then when they get the answers they don’t like, turning agin us and accusing us of being “superior”.

        I asked if St Athanasius was wrong to go against the pope of his time. Remember, he said “they have the buildings, we have the Faith.” Identical to the SSPX position today. Should he have gone along with the heresy?
        Clue: had he done so, he wouldn’t be listed among the Doctors of the Church today.

        January 18, 2016 at 7:26 pm
      • Athanasius

        Alex F,

        Where you choose to go to Mass is between you and God. How you choose to act in this crisis is between you and God. No one here is pushing you to go to the SSPX. You must decide once and for all where you stand in this present crisis and then act according to your conscience, hopefully properly informed by the teaching of the Church. One thing is certain, there can be no middle ground when it comes to upholding the purity of the Catholic Faith.

        As for the rest of us on this blog, we are all sinners just trying to do our bit to uphold the Faith. We may be straight talkers, something you won’t get from conciliarist Catholics, but that doesn’t mean we’re sanctimonious. If you ask questions you’ll get answers, perhaps even answers you don’t want to hear. I regret that such frankness offends you and causes you to write unfairly of us.

        January 18, 2016 at 9:49 pm
  • Christiana2

    Alex, please don’t be discouraged from joining this blog. Like you I read it regularly to try to learn and to try to make sense of the muddles in the present day Church. Like you I am sometimes shocked by the blunt speaking, if not actual rudeness I find here too. I suppose people get very passionate and worked up. But everyone has a right to try to find a way through and things are very unclear about how we should react to our present Holy Father. He is our Pope and therefore even when we struggle with what he says, we should respect his office. I don’t post much because I do not have the theological education of most of the bloggers nor am I an expert in Church History, however I was brought up as a traditional pre Vatican 2 Catholic and I am pretty horrified by what goes on in our churches today. I will admit to an MA in Psychology of Religion, which among other things showed that fundamentalism usually leads to intolerance of some degree or another…I will also confess to feeling pretty confused about a lot of the writing on here too.

    January 18, 2016 at 6:31 pm
    • editor


      “Fundamentalism” is a much misused and abused word today. It used to mean only those who literally interpreted Sacred Scripture when some level of interpretation is required. For example, a fundamentalist has a hard time refusing to cut off his arm or yank out his eye, since Our Lord told us that it were better to do that than to use those parts of our body to sin. Clearly, Our Lord used hyperbole – exaggeration – to emphasise the gravity of sin. He really doesn’t want us mutilating our bodies in false obedience.

      Nowadays, however, “fundamentalism” is used to describe those of us who adhere to the traditional Faith of the Church – and it is used even by Catholics who should know better. By this modern definition, well, yes, we are “fundamentalists”.

      Thus, you are certainly correct to say that “fundamentalism” leads to “intolerance” in that, if we are faithful to Christ and His teaching, we will be totally intolerant of sin and intolerant, too, of all the bad laws which are dressing it up as somebody’s “human right” today. But we are also intolerant of discriminating against any other person unjustly. We are commanded to Charity – the greatest of the theological virtues, trumping, even, Faith.

      So, there should be no confusion on here at all. We say nothing more than what has been infallibly defined in umpteen encyclicals by faithful popes prior to the current madness. And, at risk of belabouring the point, the litmus test for Catholics is the same today as it has always been: we believe what has always been believed, everywhere and by all. Nothing confusing about that. It’s really very simple. And there’s nothing “superior” about pointing out a fact. I don’t feel superior to anyone, though anyone is free to disagree at any time 😀

      January 18, 2016 at 7:36 pm
    • Alex F

      Thank you for that, Christiana. I agree with what you say. The problem is that this type of forum isn’t good for me. I start by trying to have a discussion but end up annoyed and upset at the pompous attitudes of a bunch of strangers!

      I’m going to sign off and take a break from Internet discussion forums, or I’ll become a hardened atheist!

      January 18, 2016 at 7:56 pm
      • editor


        Before you disappear, would you mind answering my question, put to you several time now but still not answered. It’s really a fairly straightforward question. WAS St Athanasius wrong to stick to the Faith and refuse to go along with the Arian heresy, which decision caused him to be excommunicated twice?

        Just a simple “yes, St Athanasius was wrong” or “no St Athanasius was right” will do. Or, if push comes to shove, “I don’t know” is better than nothing at this stage. 😀

        January 18, 2016 at 8:28 pm
      • Alex F

        Ok. St Athanasius was right. So that means the SSPX is right in everything. Happy?

        January 18, 2016 at 8:54 pm
      • Athanasius

        Alex F,

        I agree that you are better for your soul’ sake to take time away from forums until you know precisely how to act in this crisis for the good of the Church and for your own soul. My suggestion is that you turn to Our Lady in the Rosary. She will surely obtain the grace of a better understanding of the things and how to proceed. At all costs resist that inclination, no matter how remote, to despair. That’s a temptation straight from the devil that must be resisted vigorously.

        And please do not mistake our certain defence of the truth here for pomposity. How many times do we have to repeat on this blog that we do not offer our own opinions on the Catholic Faith. We are not Modernists, we are Traditionalists, and that means we repeat only what has been handed down infallibly by the Church for two thousand years. Yes, there is absolute certainty in those truths, and safety. It’s the ones who have changed the faith, and those who go along with those detrimental changes who are pompous.

        January 18, 2016 at 9:11 pm
      • Alex F


        I have to thank you. I have been contemplating things for quite some time and you have helped me see the SSPX for what it is.

        Thank you for your kind words. I’m sure you don’t mean for it to come across as insufferably sanctimonious and condescending, so I’ll try not to interpret them as such.

        I’ll take your advice now.

        January 18, 2016 at 9:27 pm
      • Margaret Mary

        Alex F,

        How can you say that Athanasius is “insufferably sanctimonious and condescending” when all he is doing is pointing out that he is not giving his own opinion but the teaching of the Church? How is that being sanctimonious and condescending?

        One thing I definitely would agree with Athanasius on, is for you to turn to the rosary as Our Lady has told us through Sr Lucia that the rosary has been given a new efficacy in our times, and I can only think that since we are surrounded by heresy on every side and the rosary crushes heresy, he means you will see more clearly what is happening in the Church today. I agree with that 100%.

        You talk about the SSPX not being right about everything but even those of us who don’t attend SSPX chapels know that they are right about the crisis in the Church and that they are following in the footsteps of the great St Athanasius. Some of us would go to their Masses if we lived near enough, but anyway, I’ve seen balanced views here about the SSPX, it has been pointed out lots of times that they are not perfect so I don’t really understand what your beef is with the SSPX.

        Maybe you do need a rest from blogging but I hope you will come back as I’ve enjoyed your comments. It’s a pity when people take disagreements personally, as I always think the whole point of blogging is to debate and disagree and see what we can learn. I learn a lot on this blog. Somebody said recently it’s the best on the internet and I agree with that, so don’t stay away too long or it might get boring – LOL !

        January 19, 2016 at 12:03 am
  • christiana


    I agree that there is nothing superior or fundamentalist in pointing out a fact, indeed there is a duty to do so. It is just that sometimes how it is done can seem a little harsh or insensitive.
    The topic I find confusing (sorry if this is the wrong topic) is whether one should or should not attend the NO Mass. Where I live there is no alternative so I think it is my duty to observe the rule to go to Mass on Sunday. However I felt very uneasy when some bloggers seem to advocate almost isolating oneself, refusing the Sign of peace, saying the rosary instead of the Mass responses etc. that seemed to me like the wrong sort of fundamentalism. I do accept that the right sort consists of holding on to traditional teaching. Oh dear, I am putting my head above the parapet now, well out of my comfort zone!

    January 18, 2016 at 8:18 pm
    • editor


      This has to be short and (I hope!) sweet since I really should be elsewhere right now.

      Our position on the Mass is quite clear but I think you will recall that we have never denounced anyone – like yourself – who feels conscience bound to continue to attend the new Mass. I have friends in the same position. I had one say to me only the other day that she just cannot understand anyone, especially in the older generation, receiving Communion in the hand. That shocks her to the core. Yet she continues to attend the new Mass, witnessing this sacrilege. Indeed, she insisted that I mustn’t think others are not “traditional” Catholics because they attend the novus ordo. I resisted pointing out that her pals sitting in the same pew would possibly tear out her eyes if she said to them what she’d just said to me about Communion in the hand, but there you go. Confusion well and truly reigns at the present time.

      I do believe, as I’ve said to a number of novus ordo friends recently, that once we become more informed (I always recommend the writings of Michael Davies on the new Mass and Pope John’s Council) then we conclude ourselves that we must not attend the novus ordo. Still, nobody here will, or intends to, worry anyone who is not in the position to attend a TLM and feels they must attend the new Mass as a result. We simply point out that nobody can oblige us to attend it, that if we conclude that it is a danger to the Faith, then we may stay at home and pray a “dry” traditional Mass and/or offer extra prayers and spiritual reading. We’ve never said anybody is obliged to go against their conscience while it is dictating that they ought to go to their local parish Mass. We just don’t recommend it!

      I hope that clears up any misunderstanding. Don’t worry about your comfort zone – mine is right beside a box of Thornton’s chocolates… always and everywhere! 😀

      January 18, 2016 at 8:35 pm
    • Therese


      I’m at a loss to understand why you are uneasy when someone says the Rosary during Mass. Is one now to be labelled a fundamentalist (and the wrong sort, at that!) for attempting to unite oneself with Christ’s suffering and death during Mass by meditating on His Passion and Death? On the occasions when I attend the NO I find this is the best way I can participate in what is going on at the altar. It’s often difficult to block out the conversations of those around me, both before and after Mass (sometimes during); I never thought I’d give reason to be criticised for praying quietly to myself in the back of the church. You seem to see this as me isolating myself, but I’m trying to isolate myself with God, not the congregation. I strive for a personal relationship with Christ during Mass.

      I don’t go to Mass to socialise with fellow Catholics – that I do after Mass,and outside of the church. If that’s wrong, I confess I can’t see why.

      January 19, 2016 at 10:37 am
      • editor


        I didn’t notice that remark about the rosary in Christiana’s post, or I’d have pointed out that Sr Lucia corrected this criticism of praying the rosary during Mass as wrong thinking. I haven’t time to search out the source, but others may have it to hand.

        January 19, 2016 at 10:51 am
  • christiana


    I am so sorry if what I wrote upset you. And I absolutely agree that inside the church before or after Mass is not the place for idle chattering. It is awful how that seems to have become acceptable these days. I always confine myself to private prayer in preparation for Mass. However, much as I dislike the handshaking at the “Peace” I would not refuse to acknowledge my neighbor in the pew, it could be seen as a snub, and I would not call that socializing, merely responding to the celebrants call to offer one another the sign of peace. I think too that it is right to make the responses, the Confiteor etc, in order to participate as much as possible. After all we are called together as a Christian community to worship and give witness together and by attending Mass together we try to do just that. However it is up to your individual conscience to do what you think is right.
    My use of the term fundamentalist is probably not helpful or correct in thus situation. Forgive me!
    I suppose my confusion arises in part from feeling that I ought to attend Sunday Mass and from being distressed by some of the things that go on. Last week one of the Extraordinary Ministers was given the Blessed Sacrament to take to a sick person. Instead of leaving at the end of Mass he put the bag containing the pyx down on the pew and proceeded to chat with a fellow parishioner. I was horrified and summoned up the courage to confront him and gently suggest the he take Our Lord immediately to the sick. I said it was deeply disrespectful to leave the pyx on the bench. The man said “Thankyou for that” and resumed his chat! How could that happen?!
    I think we are losing all respect, or maybe belief, in the real presence. How else to explain. Such a thing? Maybe the man thought I was a fundamentalist for confronting him!!

    January 19, 2016 at 11:07 am
  • Therese


    Well done you for correcting the Extraordinary Minister – I’m afraid it does highlight, yet again, the irreverence shown to the Blessed Sacrament. His disgraceful response speaks volumes.

    Don’t worry, you haven’t upset me, and I agree that I wouldn’t refuse to respond to the handshake, and for the reason you state, but as the NO I attend is a weekday one and very poorly attended, I get away with sitting at the back and far away from everyone – so I get a wave, which I return with a smiling nod. I know that people mean to be friendly and don’t consider this to be an unnecessary distraction, and I wouldn’t hurt someone’s feelings by deliberately snubbing them, but I do hate the whole fiasco.

    I’m afraid the result of the NO has been a huge loss of respect and belief in the Real Presence, which is why I find it such a trial to take an active part and prefer to isolate myself as much as possible at the back. You see, I can’t help feeling like an outcast, because I don’t understand how my fellow Catholics (most of them my age or older) can bear to witness such a lack of respect; I have to conclude that their belief has been weakened, and this makes me angry and outraged. That doesn’t mean I feel superior to them, by any means, just very grateful that God has allowed me to hold on to my faith – undeserved though I am.

    I think your last paragraph hits the nail firmly on the head – to many, we are both fundamentalists – and long may we continue if that is the criterion.

    January 19, 2016 at 1:06 pm
  • catholicconvert1

    I’ve only just found this thread, and thank God I have. I don’t think the Church at large has anything to fear from sedevacantism, but I think the SSPX does, whether they are affiliated with the Resistance or lone wolves. I have had the misfortune of attending the SSPX chapel, and if it wasn’t for the kind, faithful and gentle priests, I would have stopped going. According to one barmpot the ‘Pope is not even a validly ordained Priest’ and basically if it ain’t Tridentine it ain’t valid. She is not alone, but she, her husband and another woman think that Bishop Williamson is the best thing since sliced bread. She insisted in most forceful terms that I get my Rosary which was blessed by the Holy Father re-blessed (and which was a gift from a dear friend) in the Tridentine way by Bishop de Galarreta and insisted that I make a General Confession to a Society Priest, in case I did not receive absolution from the Novus Ordo. They deny the Novus Ordo Sacraments carte blanche, and some of the SSPX priests who possess the positive qualities above have been evasive in responding to my queries. Can someone give me a source that attests to the validity of the Novus Ordo? My quiver is out of arrows, so I need your assistance to help my poor and misguided acquaintances.

    March 7, 2016 at 11:46 am

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