Allow me to tell you a story that has a rather odd moral to it. Try to suspend your disbelief while I spin a yarn which I will then promptly correct with the actual pertinent facts.
Many of us remember when Neil Armstrong and "Buzz" Aldrin walked on the Moon on July 20, 1969. What is not as well known are the other men who followed them to the Moon. Even information regarding the first ten of these other men after Neil and Buzz can be easily found, for example in Tom Hanks' wonderful miniseries, "From the Earth to the Moon." According to the common story, the last men to set foot on the Moon (no talk of any women ever walking on the Moon) were Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmidt of Apollo 17 in December of 1972.
Well, let me tell you a secret. There were in fact 63 different men (and even six women) who have walked on the Moon, several of them more than once, and one even made three different trips to the Moon. Perhaps you might dimly remember that "orange soil" that Apollo 17 first found, then didn't, and then again did find on the Moon. It turned out that they actually discovered aliens who were playing with their minds. When the supposedly "orange" soil was brought back to the Earth, it wasn't orange at all.
For this reason, NASA, the Air Force, the CIA, and the Government decided to classify all subsequent flights to the Moon. Flights to the Moon continued clear until the mid-1990's under the auspices of a Black Project codenamed "Project Harvest Moon." A duplicate Mission Control was constructed in the US Government's secret facility at Mount Weather, and a secret launch facility was built on a small uninhabited tropical island nearly a thousand miles off the coast of Florida.
Saturn V launch vehicles continued to be built and launched throughout this time until the early 1990s when space shuttles, supposedly with secret military payloads, were instead used for the placing of a five-person laboratory on the Moon. We have explored the lunar craters Tycho and Tsiolkovskiy, the lunar polar regions, and a strange place near Mare Imbrium where there is an unexpectedly powerful magnetic field. Several of the missions contacted the aliens, and as an act of establishing diplomatic relations with them we donated the five-person laboratory to them... - Well, I think that's enough.
Everything from my "let me tell you a secret" statement until this point is simply a cute little story I just made up for this article. The bit about aliens was especially just me getting facetious so as to serve as a warning as to what absolute hooey that story is. But, aside from the fact that I just told you I made it all up (and the obvious ridiculousness of lunar aliens), how do we know that none of that ever actually happened? How can you know for certain there might not have been at least some secret manned launches to the Moon?
There is in fact a very simple way to know. Think of all the people that would take in order to make it all happen, the ground crews that man the supposedly secret new mission control, the secret launch pad, the radar and telemetry tracking sites all around the world, the helicopters to pick up the space capsules at splashdown, and also all of those who were manufacturing, shipping, assembling, and checking out all the Saturn V rockets, command, service, and lunar "modules," and escape towers that would have been needed. And then there is the blast-off itself. Audible for hundreds of miles, the launch would have left a contrail visible for thousands of miles.
That involves an awful lot of people all of whom would have to have been completely silent. You would think that at least one person would have come forward to say "I walked on the Moon in 1979 along with the second woman ever to walk on the Moon, and see here's a genuine Moon rock I smuggled back to prove it," or "I've been in charge of making six or seven second-stage J-2 rocket motor fuel pumps for the Saturn V each year clear until Spring of 1991, and I have to wonder what they were using those rocket motors for…" or even "I turned my satellite dish to the Moon and picked up these recording I have made of communications between people on the Moon…"
In short, a thing like that simply could not be kept secret. Sooner or later someone would talk and the press and news media would have a field day, or else if suppressed, at least there would be those who had purchased the Early Edition with the suppressed article, or else videotaped the news broadcast, and it would be all over the internet as yet another conspiracy theory. As we know (and as I said), this hasn't happened. There is, however, one tiny germ of truth to it all.
It is indeed a fact that there was a "Project Harvest Moon," intended to follow on after Apollo 17 with yet another manned voyage to the Moon, but this was not some secret "black project," of the Government. It was, rather, an entrepreneurial endeavor of one Leonard David to purchase one of only two remaining Saturn V launch vehicles remaining in our nation's inventory, hire flight and launch crews to send it to the Moon, and return to earth. The whole thing would be funded by selling the Moon rocks brought back to those who would invest in this scheme, "harvesting" the Moon rocks for profit, hence its name. Unfortunately there just weren't enough Rockefeller-rich investors who were all that interested in having their own private Moon rock so as to come anywhere near raising the actual amount of money the trip would have required, and so the idea fizzled and came to naught. Portions of those remaining two Saturn V rockets are now on display in various museums.
Applying this same theory to the Siri Theory
I may anger or upset a few traditional Catholics with what I have to say here and in Part II of this article, but for some reason it seems to be on my mind a lot recently. For starters, allow me to stress that I do not believe that followers of the so-called "Siri Theory" are not Catholics. They are Catholics. Indeed I know of few who can hold more closely to the fullness of the Faith than those who believe that Cardinal Giuseppe Siri was the real and actual pope elected either at the 1958 or 1963 conclave, gloriously reigning as His Holiness Pope Gregory XVII until his death on May 2, 1989.
There are in fact a number of significant advantages to the Siri Theory that truly ought to be acknowledged, as there are some important lessons to be derived from it, pertaining to such things as following the visible unity of the Church, staying with the Pope, being obedient, and so forth. And in fact, the Siri Theory has only one major drawback, which I will get to in the second part.
One of the things that many find disturbing within the traditional movement is an all-too eager readiness to question, judge, or even outright condemn others on one's own authority. Caution is indeed required. Discernment is essential. The ever-commanded distinction between hating the sin and loving the sinner must have its application here in that one should be able to disagree with one's fellow Catholic without having to cast doubt on that person's membership in good standing with the Church. But condemnation or judgment of others goes "ultra vires" and invites personal spiritual disaster. I can't help but wonder if much of the unpleasantness among authentic Catholics is in fact occasioned by the lack of spiritual development that results from such a judgmental attitude.
There is an important distinction that must be made here, and it is that distinction that I wish to discuss as most important, not so much the role of the Siri Theory or its plausibility, though that as a separate issue is also worth discussing. All persons, in investigating the current situation of the Church, actually have only two basic kinds of evidences to present for whatever side is to be argued for. One is called "objective," and the other is called "a priori." This distinction was first brought to my attention in Michael Davies' book, "I Am with You Always."
I had long noted that apologists for the Novus Ordo as against traditional Catholic often seemed to recycle the same tired argument over and over again, and it was in finding the refutation of this argument that I found the basis and central thesis for my own book The Resurrection of the Roman Catholic Church, and of my articles posted here on The Daily Catholic. This was the argument that goes thus: Paul VI was a legitimate Pope of the Catholic Church. Paul VI imposed the new rite on all the Church, following all lawful procedures for promulgating anything. A Pope cannot thus promulgate anything contrary or offensive to Catholic Faith, or invalid from a sacramental point of view. Ergo, the new (Novus Ordo) rite MUST (somehow) be valid and lawful and acceptable for Catholics, no matter how gravely inferior to the authentic Catholic rite (Tridentine) one is intellectually and morally bound to concede that it is.
Merely arguing backwards from the evident non-Catholicity of the Novus Ordo "service" to its promulgator being a non-pope explains nothing. Why isn't he a pope? How is it that he could be elected by all the cardinals, accepted by all of them, and accepted by practically all the world and even practically all who regard themselves as Catholics as being the Pope, without his actually being the Pope? But it is possible, since there are all too many evidences that no Successor of Peter could have ever promulgated, as universal Rites of the Church, all the new "sacramental forms" that have come out since Vatican II.
It is however Michael Davies and his book that I owe the fascinating distinction between the "a priori" argument going from Paul VI's election to the Papacy to the Novus Ordo somehow being acceptable for Catholics, and the "objective" arguments based on the evidences of what has happened with the loss of the Faith, the Sacraments, and ultimately of Grace itself from the loss of the authentic traditions in favor of the new concoction. As traditional Catholics, we know these objective evidences well: the Novus Ordo "Missae's" similarity to the services devised by Martin Luther, Thomas Cramner, and John Calvin, etc., certain themes uniting each of the doctrines systematically excluded from the new rite that were all present in the old, formal Papal decrees against the aberrational worship of the Protestants, the absence of saints formed by the new "liturgical forms," the contempt for the new rite expressed by such modern saints as Padre Pio, the necessity of adding ridiculous and even blasphemous "abuses" in order to "jazz it up" and make it entertaining to audiences, etc.
You see here the basic philosophical paradox laid before us, and which Michael Davies does his level best to muddle through in his book (quite unsuccessfully, I might add). When one uses "a priori" reasoning, one is using logical deduction, and anything deductively proven is proven indeed, providing only that the initial premises are sound. By contrast however, objective reasoning is inductive. This is still valuable, perhaps even enough to hang a murder suspect on, but in the final analysis it is still qualitatively inferior to the force of deductive reasoning. Merely adding up yet more and more objective evidences against the Novus Ordo, as it indeed continues to accumulate, accomplishes nothing to change that fundamental philosophical inferiority of mere "inductive" reasoning based on objective evidences to the full "deductive" force of "a priori" reasoning.
What's needed is an "a priori" means of showing that Paul VI was no Pope when he promulgated the fake new "liturgical" forms. We need a means to establish that he was no pope without using any of the evidences of his heresies, his careful and systematic destruction of the Church, his seeking to introduce the smoke of Satan into the Temple of God, and so forth. I know this is a tall order, but without it all of historic Roman Catholicism hasn't a leg to stand on. If Jesus Christ is really God the Son, then He founded the Church on the Rock of Saint Peter, who is infallible and therefore incapable of teaching or mandating anything that falls beyond the pale.
If it were truly Peter who had done those things which we objectively know to be beyond the pale then the whole Christian Faith falls down, thus throwing us back to having to conclude that either 1) Caiaphas was right to have Jesus crucified as a blasphemer against the Law of Moses which is therefore still in effect, or 2) even the Law of Moses was itself a total farce and we all just came up by mere chance from some mindless primordial ooze to which we must all ultimately return.
If, on the other hand, we can establish, "a priori", that Paul VI was no Pope, then it follows logically that he should therefore be perfectly capable of guiding souls into Hell and of doing everything we have seen him do. There are two ways to establish that Paul VI (and those who came after him) were not actual successors of Peter, and as such perfectly capable of doing the abominations they have done. One of them, the one by far better known and understood, even by those who don't agree with it, is the Siri theory.
Let us draw a lesson from history about this. When Vigilius was first elected, he was the willing and eager pawn of his patron, the Empress Theodora. As such he openly favored the Monophysite heresy and several Monophysite clerics whom he therefore went on to appoint to crucial sees. If one of today's typical sedevacantists were to be sent to back then, he would look at "pope" Vigilius' career and assert that "based on the clear and objective evidence of the man's own actions, both as putative 'pope' and previous, I hold that Vigilius is no Pope at all." He might even venture the theory that no one with such a history of sympathy to any heresy or sponsorship by a heretic could be validly elected as pope, and so therefore his election was invalid. But even then he is arguing backwards from subsequent objective evidences. A Novus Ordo conservative transported to back then would have claimed that the Church lawfully chose Vigilius to be Her Holy Father the Pope, and as popes are infallible, therefore Monophysitism must somehow be a legitimate and acceptable theological opinion. If he is conservative enough in his Novus Ordoism, he might even twist his brain into however much of a pretzel it takes to rationalize a possible reconciliation between Monophysitism and Catholic orthodoxy, and claim that Pope Vigilius is not really meaning to teach Monophysitism but merely trying to "reach out" with his ecumenical hand of fellowship to the Monophysitists.
On the one hand, an objective approach would show that the man was no pope on account of his behaviors being so clearly beyond the pale, but on the other hand, the standard "a priori" approach would seem to have maintained that he was a true, but very bad, Pope, on account of his valid and lawful election. Although there was as yet in his day no "College of Cardinals" to hold a "Conclave," there was an equivalent procedure in his day which HAD been followed. How to resolve the seeming contradiction?
As things came to be sorted out in subsequent centuries of Church history, it is now known that all one needed to do back then in order to explain and resolve that paradox was to point out "Hey wait a minute! His predecessor Pope Silverius, even though being held captive and in no position to rule the Church, is nevertheless still alive and has not resigned in any way. Therefore, the papal office, already being lawfully occupied by Silverius cannot also be occupied by Vigilius, and so therefore Vigilius never received the office of the Papacy at all, and thus did not enjoy the protection of the Holy Spirit and the charism of Infallibility which a true Pope would possess. Ergo, he was free to vanish into his error." In other words, one would claim that Vigilius was no Pope, not on the basis of his evident heresies (merely "objective" evidences), but deductively because Pope Silverius is still gloriously reigning. Evidently, the procedures as understood then were still unclear as to what to do if a pope were taken in confinement and hence unable to rule the Church as he ought, namely, "Does he lose the papacy and need to be replaced?" to which the answer by the infallible Church has since proven to be "No, it cannot be taken from him, only voluntarily relinquished by resignation (which he has not done) or terminated through his death (which has not happened)."
Even more interesting is to observe what happened when Pope Silverius finally did pass away and Vigilius could and did at last ascend to the true Papacy. The charism of infallibility now applied to him, and he was no longer able to approve the Monophysite clergy he had previously installed, nor to approve of Monophysitism itself in any way at all. While the remainder of his career as a Pope was dominated by the waverings of a weak, cowardly, and mentally unstable personality, at no point did his vacillations carry him beyond the pale, once Pope Silverius was dead and Vigilius able to occupy Peter's Chair at last. It is also interesting to note that although his previous record as a heretic ably predicted his papacy to be a weak and flawed one, it did not bar him from being Pope nor from having the Papal charism of Infallibility come upon him, once his predecessor Pope Silverius finally passed away. One does therefore see a marked difference between how Vigilius ran things before Pope Silverius was dead, versus how he ran things afterwards, and this difference can quite properly be described as the difference between merely believing that one is Pope, even sincerely (along with the rest of the whole world), versus really and actually being Pope.
Back to the present situation, and specifically the interest of the Siri theory, that theory gives us the same exact explanation for the present situation. His Holiness Pope Gregory XVII, elected at either, or both, of the 1958 and/or the 1963 conclave(s) has gloriously reigned as the Church's true Pope (just like Pope Silverius did even after Vigilius' election), and the familiar John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, and John Paul II were all like the mistakenly "elected" Vigilius who, being in fact mere "antipopes" unable to sit in the already-occupied-by-Gregory-XVII Papal chair, were therefore "a priori" not popes at all, and as such as free to fall into their personal errors of Modernism as Vigilius was free to fall into his error of Monophysitism.
There is much of genuine value such a view would give us. We don't have to judge whether the recent Vatican leadership was heretical or not, as indeed that is not our prerogative since "the First See is judged by no one." We don't have to have our trust in God shattered as though His Church had somehow finally "failed," since it would instead reside in the person and ministry of His Holiness Pope Gregory XVII. Otherwise, one just has a Church that continues faithfully through thousands of years weathering storms of persecution, inner dissension, heresies, schisms, corruption, decadence, and all the like only to just, somehow, "stop" being the Church and that is all. What a position of frightful despair! We don't have to be "against the pope," or to "resist the pope," we need only to obey and follow the true pope in favor over any and all false "popes."
It also puts a whole different spin on the Vatican leadership. One doesn't have to argue over whether they are popes, they simply are not, and that is only a matter of simple, verifiable fact, not subjective opinion. I wonder sometimes if some people's sedevacantism might boil down to little more than a shouting spasm of hate against the person who betrayed the trust they had heretofore placed in the Church, thus: "You! You dirty rotten non-pope, you!" Instead, the simple, "a priori" fact that the man cannot be pope due to these other external impediments that prevent it, instead enables one to take the spiritually far more lofty and sublime course of taking the man's lack of a hold on the papacy as a means to excuse him. The virtue of charity requires as much, thus: "Hey, go easy on him. Since he isn't a pope he has just as much ability to make a mistake as any of the rest of us. Such a pity he finds himself surrounded by people who like his errors and encourage him in them. Let us pray for him."
Best of all (and most important of all here) we have a perfect example of the sort of thing the Church ought to be looking for here. When the first evidences that the Church was still without any real, Catholic, leadership began to filter in back in the 1960's, the proper way to proceed would have been to explore any canonical reasons why it is that Paul VI (who was the Vatican leader when these doubts first arose) might in fact have never been lawfully elected, and/or if he might have not accepted, or even resigned, the papacy once elected. Certainly, the presence of another Pope, Gregory XVII, previously lawfully elected and still alive and serving would at once resolve that question and the Church could then have merely glommed onto the real Pope and that would have been that. But this procedure I have just outlined here was not written out anywhere. So instead some people sided with the Vatican claimant no matter what, or else with reservations, while others rejected him, with nothing but a vacant Chair to point to as an alternative.
One should be able to see here something of genuine value the Siri theory followers have contributed to the discussion as regards how to explain the state of the Church today, something which in all justice must be given recognition and appreciation in the years to come, and all of this is so despite the one single fatal flaw which this theory suffers from, which I will get to in the next part.