I know of several priests who are not Sedevacantist officially speaking but they admit sedevacantism is a legitimate position to take. So while not being sedevacantist themselves they are not anti-Sedevacantist. They have a realistic picture of the current situation and a firm grasp, based upon their preconciliar readings what authentic Catholicism is.
Our freedom of opinion in this matter also holds true much like our freedom of opinion regarding the apparitions at Fatima. No good Catholic is obligated to believe in any private revelation no matter how likely it is. So you can have a good Catholic not believing in Fatima and a bad Catholic who believes it though the the reverse is more common.
I noticed Christopher Ferrara's words were placed under a feature titled the "Agony of Aggiornamento" last week. Truly we are reaping the agony of aggiornamento and yet, in this time when a united front would serve the purpose of Traditional Catholicism much more in exposing the facts that the church of Vatican II is not Catholic, this high profile author, barrister, and reporter has chosen to turn on the ranks as he delves further in a defense of the position that the conciliar popes are Catholic. In posting his defense of the indefensible, Ferrara, an armchair theologian like myself, has the audacity to say that the mere possibility of sedevacantism is "patently absurd".
While Father Anthony Cekeda, a true scholarly theologian in every sense of the word says that the chair is vacant and bases this on what previous Popes, Doctors and Saints who spoke to the topic taught and that is (to sum up and simplify a confusing issue) a heretic cannot be pope for you cannot be the head of a body in which you are not a member of and a heretic is not Catholic and therefore, ipso facto not a member of and therefore not the head of the Mystical Body of Christ which is the Catholic Church.
A pope not only cannot teach heresy in his official capacity but a Catholic Pope cannot in his official capacity, rule or sanctify in a non-Catholic way either. For instance a Catholic Pope cannot approve Canon Law (ruling aspect of the papacy) that decrees that heretics can receive Communion as John Paul 2 did nor can a Catholic Pope approve a Mass (sanctifying aspect of the papacy) with questionable validity as Paul 6 did. These are not only imprudent things to do but evil (objectively speaking) and quite probably subjectively speaking as well in that these "popes" were not ignorant of the Doctrines of the pre-conciliar Church. These examples are just the tip of the iceberg.
That said, we are in times unprecedented in the history of mankind. So while it would be wrong to say you must be sedevacantist in order to be a good Catholic it also would be wrong to say that you cannot be a sedevacantist and be a good Catholic either. I know many good sedevcantists that are true Catholics in every sense of the word while there are some sedevacantists that are nuts. The same holds true for non-sedevacantists. Is there any group without sin who will throw the first stone? And yet, lots of stones have been thrown. Are these stones building a foundation of trust and clarity, or are they reinforcing the preconceived prejudices that one had going in? I would hope the former for that is the fruit of what these discussions hopefully will build - a greater understanding of our Faith and what previous Popes, whose papacies were beyond reproach, taught, spoke and acted in every aspect - without exception, without any compromise whatsoever.
So while it is wrong for sedevacantists to condemn others merely for not holding to their sedevacantist opinion, it is also wrong for non-sedevacantists to condemn sedevacantists merely for being sedevacantists. What many misconceived non-sedevacantists don't realize is that true sedevacantists are such because of their love for the Papacy not because they do not believe in it. If a true pope can teach heresy, engage in heretical acts, approve a Mass of doubtful validity and approve heretical canon law then the pope is a mere useless figurehead and that is not what Christ established to unify His Church through the Primacy of Peter!
Many non-sedevacantist traditionalists in reality have the Society of St. Pius X as their pope in that they believe WHATEVER the SSPX says. The SSPX says there are two different Church's (a true Church) and a new false Church and that their pope is the head of the new false Church. A strange position to take but the only acceptable one to most non-sedevacantist traditionalists because the idea of a papal claimant being a heretic is akin to the world being flat or Jesus being Lucifer in their eyes.
A lady said to me that "You cannot be holier than the pope" I said that depends on how holy the pope is. This went completely over her head as does the idea of sedevacantism go over many a good Catholic's head. It is inconceivable to them. This is typical of people immersed in the modernism of the new Church. They are brainwashed to believe unCatholic things because their "popes" teach them such; the Old Covenant is not revoked, the Greek Orthodox do not need to be converted, May John the Baptism protect Islam and on and on and on as the modern "popes" preach Modernism 101.
Her statement if taken to its logical conclusion means that at any given time during the 2000 years of the Church that the holiest person on earth was the pope, no matter who the pope was at the time and no matter what saints were living at that time, even if that pope had sex and children during his papacy as in fact happened with several dark-age popes. This is not logical thinking. One can in fact be holier than the pope. But people are brainwashed into thinking that all popes must be the holiest people on earth which is false and that all those who claim the papacy, even if they teach heresy in their official capacity must also be popes which is also false.
But people are not ready for that, this is the great scandal and apostasy talked about by Saint Paul in 2 Thessalonians, by the Mother of God in Quito, Ecuador, at LaSalette, and at Fatima. This great apostasy was foretold not only in Sacred Scripture in the Old and New, by Our Lord Himself (Matthew 24), but also by numerous saints. Yet, those who stubbornly cling to the "pope-has-to-be-the-pope" argument, are not ready to hear such a terrible thing. The truth can be hard to take, hard to accept. Recall what Jesus did when the people walked away after He told them what they must do to gain everlasting life. Did He hurry behind them and say, 'wait a second, let Me explain it better?' No! He merely said to His disciples, "Will you also go away?" (John 6: 68). You'll note that Christ did not "dialogue" with them at all, nor did He ever compromise with any of them. You'll also note He spoke clearly in everything He said except those things which were a mystery and then His analogies and imagery made it quite clear what He was talking about.
You'll also note what Peter said to Him when Jesus asked His disciples that question: "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou has the words of eternal life. And we have believed, and have known that thou art the Christ, the Son of God" (John 6: 69-70). Peter testified that He alone had the words of everlasting life. Peter also knew that Christ would not and could not deceive them, nor could our Lord be deceived for He knew all. This is reconfirmed in the Act of Faith said daily with the Acts of Hope and Charity. Let me remind you of its sure words:
"O my God, I firmly believe that Thou art one God in three Divine Persons, Father, Son and Holy Ghost. I believe that Thy Divine Son became man and died for our sins, and that He will come again to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the Holy Catholic Church teaches because Thou hast revealed them, Who canst neither deceive nor be deceived."
Sedevacantists pray that very prayer right along with non-sedevacantists. Both groups are good traditional Catholics. Both sedevacantists and non-sedevacantists recognize Catholicism as an unchanging religion. Both realize that is not what the Conciliar Church believes. Both groups acknowledge the same problems in the Conciliar Church - a different church, a false church, a man-made church. Yet non-sedevacantists castigate sedevacantists because sedevacantists adhere to all that Christ revealed, all His True Church has taught and that includes the infallible decrees and papal pronouncements condemning the very actions and words of the conciliar "popes." So who do we believe? Who do we owe our allegiance to? Those who say that things are different now, that Christ's teachings can "evolve" and His Church is no longer necessary for salvation as the conciliar "popes" have made it manifestly clear? Or those Popes who stood like Christ and would not compromise, would not dialogue, would not alter or water down one iota of what He revealed? Frankly, that's a no-brainer. Sedevacantists stand with the latter and have every reason to because Christ said it, we believe it, that settles it! The very fact that non-sedevacantists so strongly attack sedevacantists as being wrong proves that the non-sede's arguments are as solid as those who argue that the world is flat.
Here's another argument that could easily be termed a riddle which non-sedevacantists claim is the only way "a pope can be deposed": 'A heretical non-pope is not a heretical non-pope until after he is declared a heretical non-pope' You'll note they don't take into consideration the fact they have caused the eternal damnation of so many souls. That doesn't seem to matter to the equation of the validity of a pope. Why? That's beyond me to figure out. As I mentioned earlier, a pope's holiness is directly connected with the souls he is entrusted with. Yet, those who rail against sedevacantists, maintain the heretical non-pope is a pope until he is declared a non-pope. That makes as much sense as saying
the man is a snake. But we must not consider the man to be a snake until he is authoritatively and officially declared to be a snake.
Regardless of the fact this snake slithered into the Church just as satan did when he first took the form of the serpent in the Garden, let us say this man/snake lived from 1964 to, oh say, 2020. The man/snake is declared to have never been a man but to have always been a snake in the year 2040. Yet from 1964 until 2040 we are compelled to believe under the force of excomunication and or schism that the snake was in fact a man? If we are to believe that, well then, dear reader, we must believe the world is flat as well.
All riddles aside, the fact of the matter is that it is a terrible thing, if in fact we have not had a pope for nearly 50 years, but the end times are predicted to be terrible, in fact, a "great apostasy" which would be ushered in by the man of perdition - also a snake, aka Satan or Lucifer. Should we follow and acknowledge those who are promoting this obvious apostasy with all the ecumenism, religious liberty, humanism and so many other heresies formerly formally condemned? Of course not, for Christ said there would be many false prophets and those false prophets could very well be the conciliar "popes." If that is the case, and the evidence points overwhelmingly to that very fact through the actions and words of the past five conciliar "popes", then sedevacantists are really being good, loyal Catholics in adhering to what Christ forewarned and living up to the very Act of Faith they pray every day. To continue to demean them for being totally loyal Catholics constitutes a sin against faith, hope and charity.
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam
"Catholics who remain faithful to Tradition, even if they are reduced to but a handful, they are THE TRUE CHURCH"
St. Athanasius, AD 373