December 20, 2005
vol 16, no. 324

Practical Sedevacantism

    Is it practical to abandon the Narrow Path that leads to salvation and head pell-mell toward an abyss or rush into a roaring fire just because someone says it's safe? No! One must know the conditions and realize that the one beckoning is either a deceiver or doesn't know what he is doing. However if the one calling the sheep to jump is one who we should be able to trust, but has proven by his actions and words that he is a wolf in sheep's clothing, having betrayed our trust time and time again, would you still jump? Only if you are a fool, a blind fool!

      "No pope could ever teach that contraception is OK, but when supposed putative 'popes' teach that other religions that permit contraception are 'means of salvation' that is exactly what they have been teaching. Has everyone made the fullness of that deduction in a conscious and articulate manner as I give here? I don't claim that all that many have, and yet on some subconscious level, that very chain of reasoning is what lies behind every time some 'Cafeteria Catholic' out there says 'the pope is wrong.'"

    In a practical way, all of us who hold faithfully to the universal and historic magisterium of the Church (as infallibly taught by over 260 Popes and twenty general Councils and countless other lesser councils), are in fact a kind of sedevacantist. "No!" many here seem to protest, as if to distance themselves from the big bad sedevacantist label. "We are loyal to Benedict XVI (just not his errors...)" As if the whole problem is merely that the man is being naughty, like many Popes (such as Alexander VI) have been through history.

    But let us look fairly and objectively at the situation that faces all of us as Catholics, based on facts to be acknowledged by all (or at least "all" who still have any real attachment to the authentic and historical Church that Christ founded). The points are as follows:

    1) Without a doubt, there has been a clear leadership void at the Vatican these recent decades. At a time when the whole church is tearing itself to pieces over everything from liturgical disarray to abortion to war to "ecumenical issues" to clerical scandals, what has the leadership at the Vatican been doing? Going to great lengths to prevent a World War between Rhode Island and Samoa, issuing yet more long and aimless rambling documents about various political and economic theories, calling on pagans to pray to their various and sundry gods for world peace, and who knows what.

        There he goes, all over the world as if trying to fix it with some "Youth-Day" quick fix panacea while his own backyard is in such an unspeakable mess. Clerical abuse of children, and what is done? Not even a slap on the wrist (only the back, with a lot of hearty laughter). Everything falling apart and the leader saying "everything is fine." Even those of us who do their best to respect the man and who have a good and generous Indult in their area, may talk about him, but seldom bother to take any direction from him. We can and do praise his occasional "Catholic"-like acts, but everything else he does and says we either denounce or ignore. Instinctively, we all know better than to follow it in any case.

    2) There has been an unconscionable (and almost totally consistently so, with pitifully few exceptions) refusal to take any clear position or stand on anything at all. Before Vatican II, it was "Rome has spoken; the cause is finished." Roma locutus, causa finita est. Now it is "'Rome' (at least the pseudo 'Rome' of the Novus Ordo anyway) has spoken; what did it say? Can anyone tell, or even figure it out? Will it flip-flop again once public opinion disagrees? Granted, Vatican II can be reconciled with Catholic belief (if one is willing to resort to enough mental gymnastics), what sort of "official magisterial documents" could possibly be so vague and poorly worded as to require such substantial (and creative) "interpretation" in order to be taken in a Catholic sense at all? And this has pervaded virtually every document issued since. Classically, the Church's official magisterial documents are meant to be, in and of themselves, the Church's interpretation regarding whatever issue(s) is/are being discussed therein. Since when does there need to be (and we do know that there really does need to be) yet another "interpreter" to interpret "the Church's" interpretations? Only since Vatican II.

    3) Who's really in charge over there, anyway? Let us be charitable towards the person of Benedict XVI himself and assume that he himself does not really approve of any of the nonsense and is nowhere near so heretical as many have made him pretend to be, and if only everyone (especially in the Vatican) would just listen to him instead of using him as a figurehead with which to advance their own pet theories and agendas, things would be all right. After all, the man is probably surrounded by all manner of "handlers" and schedule and event planners and others specially trained to keep him busy with all manner of useless activities and also to prevent him from ever coming into contact with anyone who might actually tell him something he needs to hear. With all that he just might be truly and sincerely capable of believing that all is well when in fact all is plainly askew. What does that really boil down to? A man who is really not responsible for anything, who signs his name to documents he neither wrote nor read nor even gave intellectual or moral assent to. A man who is either totally oblivious to the nefarious natures of the people he is already choosing to surround himself with, or else who is utterly powerless to get rid of them. So again I ask, who's in charge over there? A figurehead "pope" is a "pope" in name only, like couples who marry "in name only," perhaps for purposes of inheritance, tax avoidance, or immigration, but who never even meet let alone even live together or attempt to start a family.

    4) Those of us who have kept (or gained) our Faith, what is the source of our Catholicism? Granted, many, who resisted the novelties and ecumenism of John Paul II, think did a truly commendable thing in creating the Indult for Catholics to retain and fully practice their faith (and worship, as God directs) within the scope of his Vatican-run organization, but does that make him an authority in the Church, or even demonstrate him to be such? If a City Council were to permit some real estate to be rezoned, thus enabling a group of Catholics to erect a traditional chapel and school, does that make the City Council a group of Catholics? Can we therefore turn to them for spiritual guidance and accountability? Of course not. They have merely given a purely secular permission for a good thing to happen, not actually made it happen. They themselves, though having done a good deed, are not the sources of the goodness that goes on in the chapel and school. So it has been with the Indult. Yes it is nice to allow authentic Catholic worship, but where have the men at the Vatican ever clearly sided for Catholic worship instead of Novus Ordo? A "wide and generous" application of the Indult (at least one of them did ask that, however little he seems to have followed up on seeing to it that it actually happens) could hardly be considered a clear and resounding call to Catholicism. But that is as good as can be found coming from today's Vatican.

        On the clerical level, how many priests really know how to do the traditional Mass? Only such old-timers as were trained, formed, and ordained before "the changes" and who happen to remember, after all these years, what they learned way back then, and priests trained, formed and ordained by the SSPX, the SSPV, the CMRI, the Trento Priests, or the seminaries of other traditional bishops. True, the Fraternity of Peter trains and ordains (do they form as well? - - I am not sure about that, and even some ordinations could be of questionable validity), but all the priests who founded that order in 1988 (and also many who joined it later, such as Fr. Rizzo for example) were trained and formed by the SSPX, and in most cases ordained by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre himself, and in many other, by the bishops he created in 1988. Again, the Campos priests long existed outside the Vatican in a situation virtually identical to that of the SSPX, and it is to those long years and their proximity to the SSPX and formation by Bishop de Castro-Meyer (Monsignor Lefebvre's close friend and associate and fellow consecrator of the four new bishops in 1988) that they owe their Catholicism, not their newly-acquired Vatican masters.

        On our level as laymen, can any of us really turn to Benedict XVI and his writings (let alone example) for spiritual edification? Do those of us who labored and suffered through a reading of any of the "encyclicals" of, for example, the late John Paul II, obtain any spiritual merit or understanding thereby? Of course not. Their writings are, by and large, to our spirit what sawdust is to our digestive system. We have to weigh and sift everything he says, for we know we cannot trust it blindly. This was never the case with such Popes as Popes Leo XIII, St. Pius X, Pius XI and Pius XII!

        Recall the personal meeting between Bishops Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) and His Excellency Bernard Fellay, near the beginning of the latter's position as leader (of sorts) at the Vatican, between the two men and their respective societies. Each was attempting to pull the other away from one position to another. Bishop Fellay was doing his job as a faithful Catholic bishop, trying to pull Benedict XVI back to the true and authentic Faith. Benedict XVI was not merely refusing to budge (bad enough, morally speaking), but even attempting to lure the Superior General of the Society into his error and sin. Of course Bishop Fellay was having none of that and hence nothing came of this meeting. What business did Benedict XVI have attempting to pull Bishop Fellay away from the truth? Which one of these two men spoke for Catholicism at that meeting?

        Worst of all however (and this is the most telling point in this whole essay) is the deleterious effect that even the Vatican-run Indult has had on many who have embraced it. Fr. Bisig of the Fraternity of Peter was promised (in writing, and in no uncertain terms) that the Fraternity and its clergy would never be obliged to perform a Novus Ordo or perform a "modernized sacrament" of any kind at any time. Yet many of us remember Protocols 1411 and 512 in which those agreements were baldly denied and revoked, forcing the priests of the Fraternity, at least on some few occasions, to perform (bad enough having to sit in or through) a Novus Ordo ceremony, or at least actively participate. But then if they would violate an infallible papal decree that said "never" and "forever" several times in Pope Saint Pius V's Quo Primum, should we be surprised they would take their promise to the FSSP so lightly?

        For a season, Bishop Rifan was also getting caught up in such things as participating in Novus Ordo ceremonies and the like, something he was guaranteed would never have to happen when he signed up. (By the way, has anyone but me noticed that it has been at least a year since any such scandals have taken place in Campos? Is it merely that we have all just stopped paying attention, or has His Excellency Bishop Rifan finally decided to stop letting himself get pushed around and manipulated by the Modernists? Obviously I dearly hope the latter.) We also hear of many Indult locations going from the 1962 liturgy to that of 1965, and of only all the more and more reports of admixtures of traditional and novus ordo elements, such as Novus Ordo readings for the day, or even the priest facing the people during the consecration, or even Latin Novus Ordos being published or "sold" to the public as traditional Masses. After all, what does most of the public really know about the True Latin Mass?

        What this means is that those who choose to associate with the Vatican find it to be an influence pressuring them away from the true center of Catholicism and towards some other religion, and an influence leading people to sin against the Faith! The Indult is not intended by them to be the beginnings of a return to the Faith on their part, but merely treating us Catholics with kid gloves, just some prelate here and there saying "all right, let's pretend we're Catholics for a little while..." It is all a facade. In the Indult, you have the Mass, and occasionally other Sacraments as well, but immediately behind that, an organization made up of people who are bent on taking you away from the Faith, and for many of whom (granted not all, as some few are at least nostalgic themselves for the Faith of their childhood and young years, and perhaps some very few still trying to advance the Faith within their organization), are merely using the Indult as a strategy or at best, a mere localized accommodation to drive out those who offer the True Mass, most of the time the SSPX.

    5) Is it still the Church? Funny how you can be so quickly slapped down for daring to ask if Benedict XVI is really a Catholic pope, but ask if it still really is the Church and even many of the CUF/Wanderer crowd are still with you, as is The Remnant/Catholic Family News and The Fatima Crusader. And yet the "pope" issue is implicit in the "church" question. If it is not the Church, then he as its leader occupies an office other than that of the papacy. If he occupies an office other than the papacy does that not mean that he, strictly and technically speaking, cannot really be a pope? Could the same person be both referee and a member of one team at a game of sports? Is Benedict XVI captain of the Catholic team, or has he now successfully made himself some sort of referee between several different teams (of different religions) of equal validity and right to the playing field?

    6) As we all know, the Pope is meant to be the principle of Unity in the Church. But what "unity" does anyone really find in the recent and current Vatican leadership? The man is going off in all directions at once. In one sentence he is telling the Lutherans how they and we have the same faith now and in the next he is telling the Jews that the Jewish Covenant still exists (though it was abrogated in favor of the Christian Covenant with the founding of the Church), and so on and so forth. Once in a while he may even make some brief nod in a vaguely Catholic direction. The true God is grudgingly granted at most an unglamorous corner in the Vatican pantheon, providing of course He agrees not to criticize His equals and superiors, all the other gods in that Pantheon.

    The biggest irony to this whole question is the fact that the general run of all of the "Catholic" world already know that we have no pope and have been without one for quite some time. This is subconsciously revealed in the different attitudes they have towards their own sins. In the Pre-Vatican II days, a "Catholic" who did not live up to all that the Church teaches would simply remark that "Well, I'm no saint..." which at once expresses their feeling that the Catholic standard called out for might be quite high, perhaps even Quixotic to them, and yet also admitting that it IS the Catholic standard and a standard to which they are not living up. It carries with it a subconscious admission that the one teaching it possesses that kind of authority, whatever they may think of how that authority is being used.

    Today, when you have a "Catholic" who does not live up to all that the Church teaches, he now remarks, "Well, the pope is wrong." Implicit right there and then in that statement is the notion of a "pope" who is capable of being out-and-out wrong, something that by definition a true pope could never be. It is a realization, however subconscious, of the fact that the Vatican leader no longer possesses that kind of authority (even if he happens to be right).

    When did all this begin? Back at Vatican II in 1964 when they began teaching in their official capacity that other religions and churches are themselves as much the lawful means of salvation as their own organization. Take for example the classic Modernist bugaboo contraception. Before Vatican II a contracepting couple simply said of their practice "We're not saints." But when all the East Orthodox and Protestants and others who permit contraception are now also admitted to the special class of "soul-saving churches," all that really means is that the law against contraception is no longer an absolute but merely a local and non-universal precept. The law against contraception is not binding on them, so why is it binding on us?

    Such an obviously unequal weight and measure is truly wrong and unjust, the very essence of iniquity. So to that limited extent, they are in fact correct, in that the man is indeed wrong to impose what fully amounts to a double standard. So when the contemporary "Cafeteria Catholic" says that "the pope is wrong," in a way he has a point, but only in a way. For of course the law against contraception is right and good, and the only wrong is to deny that it is binding on everyone equally. We have seen, of course, the distance the Modernists get from proceeding from the essential wrongness of that double standard to the absurd (but "politically correct," especially where it favors abortion) conclusion that the law against contraception itself is wrong.

    No pope could ever teach that contraception is OK, but when supposed putative "popes" teach that other religions that permit contraception are "means of salvation" that is exactly what they have been teaching. Has everyone made the fullness of that deduction in a conscious and articulate manner as I give here? I don't claim that all that many have, and yet on some subconscious level, that very chain of reasoning is what lies behind every time some "Cafeteria Catholic" out there says "the pope is wrong."

    So, when sedevacantists state that the Catholic Church has no pope, they are not telling anyone anything they don't already realize but merely stating straight out a universally acknowledged fact. Practically the whole "Catholic" world knows that we don't have a pope; they just don't "know" that they know this.

    In summary, what we all must know is that we traditional Catholics who truly keep our faith are all at least "practical sedevacantists" regardless of our opinions regarding the technical canonical status of Benedict XVI (and John Pauls I and II and Paul VI, and possibly even John XXIII, no one seriously goes any further than that).

    Really, the whole "pope" question is actually quite academic. In practice, we traditional Catholics all actually "do" all the same exact things, worship in the same Mass and Sacraments, believe in the same dogmas and doctrines and seek the one and the same authority, and to restore and continue that one hierarchical Church. We all know what to do and we have all been doing it, keeping our Faith no matter what, spreading it wherever and however we can. Granted it may well not be our call as mere layman to make juridic decisions regarding the Church, but we most certainly can and do make useful observations and act accordingly.

Griff L. Ruby

Griff's book is available from Books for $26.95 or can be read on-line at We at The Daily Catholic strongly urge you to share it with all you can for that could be the gentle shove that moves your friends back to where the True Faith resides forever, rooted in the Truths and Traditions of Holy Mother Church as Christ intended and promised.

    Griff Ruby's STRAIGHT STUFF
    December 20, 2005
    Volume 16, no. 324