What is Sedevacantism?
Sedevacantism comes from the Latin sede vacante, which means “seat vacant.” It is the position held by traditional Catholics who claim that the Papal Seat, the Holy See, has been vacant since the death of Pope Pius XII in 1958. Sedevacantists believe that the subsequent claimants to the papal office — John XXIII (1958–1963), Paul VI (1963–1978), John Paul I (1978), John Paul II (1978–2005) and Benedict XVI (since 2005) — have been neither true Catholics nor true, legitimate popes. Sedevacantism owes its origins to the rejection of the theological and disciplinary changes implemented following the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965). Sedevacantists reject this Council and all its decrees, most notably its documents on ecumenism and religious liberty, which contradicts the traditional teachings of the Catholic Church and denies the unique mission of Catholicism as the one true religion, outside of which there is no salvation. Sedevacantists also reject the New Mass of Paul VI, promulgated on 3 April 1969, as invalid since it has changed the words of consecration and deviated from the tradition of the Church.
- Answers to the Most Common Objections Against Sedevacantism
- Objection 1): The Gates of Hell cannot prevail against the Church, as Christ said (Matthew 16). He said He would be with His Church all days until the end of the world (Matthew 28). What you are saying is contrary to the promises of Christ.
- Objection 2): What’s your authority for making these judgments? Your use of dogmatic statements is private interpretation.
- Objection 3): You cannot know if someone is a heretic or denounce him as such without a trial and declaratory sentence.
- Objection 4): What about material heresy? Can’t the Vatican II Popes only be material heretics?
- Objection 5): The Church cannot exist without a pope, or at least it cannot exist for 40 years without a pope, as sedevacantists say…
- Objection 6): Vatican I’s definitions on the perpetuity of the Papal Office contradict the claims of the sedevacantists.
- Objection 7): No one can judge the Holy See… thus the Vatican II popes are true popes.
- Objection 8): St. Robert Bellarmine said that one cannot depose a pope, but that one can licitly resist him. Sedevacantists judge, punish and depose the pope…
- Objection 9): Pope Liberius gave in to the Arian heretics and excommunicated St. Athanasius, yet he remained the pope…
- Objection 10): Pope Pius XII declared in Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis that a cardinal, no matter what excommunication he’s under, can be elected pope.
- Objection 11): What does it matter whether or not Benedict XVI is a pope? The issue does not concern me.
- Objection 12): How could the entire Church and all the cardinals recognize an antipope, such as in the case of John XXIII (1958-1963)?
- Objection 13): John XXII was a heretic, who was even denounced by Cardinal Orsini as a heretic, yet he remained the pope.
- Objection 14): Pope Honorius was condemned for heresy by a general council after his death, yet the Church does not consider him to have ceased to be pope, even though he was accused of heresy during his reign.
- Objection 15): The Church and the hierarchy will always be visible. If the Vatican II Church is not the true Catholic Church, then the Church and hierarchy are no longer visible.
- Objection 16): The Vatican II popes haven’t taught manifest heresy, because their statements are ambiguous and require commentary.
- Objection 17): Both the 1917 and 1983 Codes of Canon Law teach that a declaration is needed for one to lose his office due to heresy.
- Objection 18): The Council of Constance condemned the idea that a heretic would cease to be the pope.
- Objection 19): The Joint Declaration with the Lutherans is not manifest heresy because John Paul II and Benedict XVI didn’t sign it.
The Holy See has told us that no heretic can be accepted as the valid occupant of the Holy See (the Pope)! With the fullness of his authority, Pope Paul IV defined that anyone who has been promoted to the Papacy as a heretic is not a true and valid pope, and that he can be rejected as a warlock, heathen, publican and heresiarch.
Pope Paul IV, Bull Cum ex Apostolatus Officio, Feb. 15, 1559: “6. In addition, [by this Our Constitution, which is to remain valid in perpetuity, We enact, determine, decree and define:] that if ever at any time it shall appear that any Bishop, even if he be acting as an Archbishop, Patriarch or Primate; or any Cardinal of the aforesaid Roman Church, or, as has already been mentioned, any legate, or even the Roman Pontiff, prior to his promotion or his elevation as Cardinal or Roman Pontiff, has deviated from the Catholic Faith or fallen into some heresy:
(i) the promotion or elevation, even if it shall have been uncontested and by the unanimous assent of all the Cardinals, shall be null, void and worthless;
(ii) it shall not be possible for it to acquire validity (nor for it to be said that it has thus
acquired validity) through the acceptance of the office, of consecration, of subsequent authority, nor through possession of administration, nor through the putative enthronement of a Roman Pontiff, or Veneration, or obedience accorded to such by all, nor through the lapse of any period of time in the foregoing situation;
(iii) it shall not be held as partially legitimate in any way…
(vi) those thus promoted or elevated shall be deprived automatically, and without need for any further declaration, of all dignity, position, honour, title, authority, office and power…
7. Finally, [by this Our Constitution, which is to remain valid in perpetuity, We] also [enact, determine, define and decree]: that any and all persons who would have been subject to those thus promoted or elevated if they had not previously deviated from the Faith, become heretics, incurred schism or provoked or committed any or all of these, be they members of anysoever of the following categories:
(i) the clergy, secular and religious; (ii) the laity; (iii) the Cardinals [etc.]… shall be permitted at any time to withdraw with impunity from obedience and devotion to those thus promoted or elevated and to avoid them as warlocks, heathens, publicans, and heresiarchs (the same subject persons, nevertheless, remaining bound by the duty of fidelity and obedience to any future Bishops, Archbishops, Patriarchs, Primates, Cardinals and Roman Pontiff canonically entering).
10. No one at all, therefore, may infringe this document of our approbation, re- introduction, sanction, statute and derogation of wills and decrees, or by rash presumption contradict it. If anyone, however, should presume to attempt this, let him know that he is destined to incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the blessed Apostles, Peter and Paul.
Given in Rome at Saint Peter's in the year of the Incarnation of the Lord 1559, 15th February, in the fourth year of our Pontificate.
+ I, Paul, Bishop of the Catholic Church…”
Thus, one is obeying and adhering to the teaching of the Holy See in rejecting as invalid the heretical post-Vatican II claimants. They are not true popes, according to the teaching of the Holy See.