Father Martin Stepanich, O.F.M., S.T.D.
In Response to the Fatima Franchise's Attacks: Time to dismiss dead arguments already refuted by the Living Magisterium for persistent public pronouncements and scandals without correction or repentance definitely manifest public, formal or material heresy and the greater the office, the greater the scandal and offense. What else would one call it when one persists in deviating from the Catholic Faith but heresy? - Manifest Heresy!
"The fact is, Father Gruner, that men cannot destroy the Church. Men cannot make the Church stop existing. To use the technical term, men cannot destroy the indefectibility of the Church. The most that men can do is to help destroy the faith of the individual members of the Church, even to the point – as you yourself admit – that there would remain only a “remnant” of those faithful to Our Lord. Wherever the True Faith would still be professed and practiced, even if there were no Pope on the Chair of Peter, that is where the essential nucleus of the True Church would be."
Dear Father Gruner:
You are accustomed to sending out frequent encyclical-like letters of exhortation and appeal with the ones coming to my address having “Dear Father Stepanich” personal touches to them.
Here in return is a special “dear Father Gruner” letter, it also having a personal touch to it. To make things plain to you right from the start, this letter has a personal message for you, a message that you cannot afford to ignore. If correction is something that does no exactly appeal to you as a world-renowned celebrity, especially when coming from a 90-year-old nobody, just fasten your seat belt…, Tolle! Lege! Take and read!
In the summer 2005 issue of The Fatima Crusader, you treat readers with the misnamed article “Defend your salvation,” an article that in no way defends anyone’s salvation. If anything, the article endangers the salvation of souls, because it fails to present to them the true picture of the situation in the Church when a public heretic occupies the Chair of Peter. All that your article does I to defend your mistaken notions in regard to Sede-vacantism. A more accurate title would read: “Defend Anti-Sedevacantism.”
What greatly aggrevates an already bad situation is that the other article in the same issue of The Fatima Crusader, the article brashly entitled “defending the Papacy.” That article is very plainly an ill-advised Defense of the Presence of a Public Heretic in Peter’s Chair. It’s title should in all honesty read accordingly, that is, “Defending A Public Heretic on the Chair of the Papacy.”
Sooner or later, Father Gruner, you will with embarrassment regret giving space to an article like Ferrara’s in Our Lady’s Review. Have you considered changing the title to that review to The Anti-Sedevacantist Crusader?
Curiously enough, the Ferrara article showed up also in The Catholic Family News, but with a different title, the unimaginative title “Opposing the Sede-vacantist Enterprise.” But, whatever title the Anti-sedevacantists dream up for that Ferrara article, it does not deserve to be printed in any genuine traditional Catholic publication.
Father Gruner, your outstanding and well-deserved merit for so many long years has come from your courageous promotion and defense of God’s Fatima Message, given to the world through Our Lady and the Angel of Fatima. Why, then, have you now gone out onto the dangerous anti-sedevantist limb where you don‘t belong? As it is, that limb was already weighed down heavily by such heavyweight anti-sedevantists as Vennari, Matt and Guimaraes and Kramer and the official SSPX.
Although it has been well-known for years that you are, in practice, an incorrigible anti-sedevacantist, acknowledging as you have long done, the Vatican II Ecumenical and religious-mixing “popes’ as being real Catholic popes, why do you now have to pose as somewhat of an authority on Sede-vacantism, while neglecting to make clear just what sedevacantism really is, in its full and correct meaning?
Just how confused and one-sided your thinking is on sedevacantism is glaringly evident in the first sub-title in your article which reads: “The ‘Sede-vacantist’ Theory is False.” There you come up with a categorical and blatantly untruthful declaration that sede-vacantism is nothing more than a “theory” when it is in reality an undeniable fact in all its three meanings.
Father Gruner, you had the chance to explain to readers in what ways the Chair of Peter can become vacant, and actually has become vacant many times. There are three instances in which Peter’s Papal Chair can become vacant, and non one should have to tell you what those three instances are, but since you did not do the necessary explaining, let us do it for you.
You presumably agree that when a pope dies, the Chair of Peter becomes vacant. This is an undeniable fact, wouldn’t you say? It’s not just a “theory,” is it? It isn’t just an “enterprise” that anti-sedevacantists oppose, is it?
The plain fact is, as you well know, that the vacancy of Peter’s Chair caused by the death of a pope is sedevacantism in all its undeniable reality. It is the first of three instances.
The second instance in which the Papal Chair becomes vacant is when a pope resigns from the papacy. That is what Pope St. Celestine V did in 1294. He resigned. Do you agree that here you have sede-vacantism again, in all its undeniable reality? You wouldn’t say that it only a “theory” that resignation by a pope causes vacancy of Peter’s Chair, would you?
The third instance in which the Chair of Peter shows up to be vacant is when it is occupied by a public heretic and mixer of religions.
Believe it or not, it is consideration of this third instance of the vacancy of Peter’s Chair that brings about a complete spin-around of the minds of anti-sedevacantists. They simply ignore the first two instances of vacancy of that Chair, as if they were not undeniable instances of Sedevacantism. All that the word Sedevacantism means to them is the vacancy of Peter’s Chair caused by public heresy – and that is the kind of Sedevacantism they vehemently reject, with pertinacy and obstinacy.
Father Gruner, let’s make things perfectly clear right here. To Sedevacantists the central and unquestionable issue in all this is the true and unchanged Catholic Faith.
To Sedevacantists, a true Catholic Pope is one who professes and teaches and defends against any mixing with other so-called “Faiths” or religions.
Have you ever heard any anti-Sedevacantist saying it as definitely and clearly as that?
What you have heard, over and over again, and what you yourself keep saying, is that the Vatican II occupants of the Chair of Peter, despite being the public and scandalous heretics that you have long known them to be.
For anti-Sedevacantists, that is the central issue in their wrong-way opposition to Sedevacantists.
And what, Father Gruner, are the rationalizations of Anti-Sedevacantists use when insisting that Vatican II heretics on the Chair of Peter have all been legitimate Catholic Popes?
One of the favorite rationalizations of Anti-Sedevacantists is “Don’t Judge the Pope!” In that not too careful judgment of Sedevacantists, you make them look as though they judge genuine Catholic Popes who profess the true and unchanged Catholic Faith of all times. To be truthful and accurate about this matter of “Judging the Pope”, you know you would have to accuse Sedevacantists of judging an occupant of the Chair of Peter who does not profess the traditional and unchanged Catholic Faith, while the Anti-Sedevacantists wrongly imagine such a man to be a real Catholic Pope, despite what he does and teaches that is contrary to the Catholic Faith.
You anti-sedevacantists carelessly make it look as if any and all judgments about a pope are automatically wrong. No one needs to tell you that God gave men in general the ability to judge between right and wrong, good and evil, virtue and vice, truth and error. You also know that, with the gift of the Catholic Faith, God gave us the ability to judge the difference between what is in accord with the Catholic Faith and what is contrary to the Catholic Faith.
You also know very well that we are obliged to profess the Catholic Faith fully without holding back, and state frankly what we see to be contrary to that Faith, even in one who sits on the Chair of Peter. Anti-sedevacantists, to their shame, hold back on professing the faith fully when they refuse to declare that the Vatican II occupants of Peter’s Chair have been professing a new, ecumenical and un-Catholic religion, and cannot therefore possibly be even Catholics, much less Catholic Popes.
As you can plainly see, Father Gruner, your “Don’t judge the Pope” argument is a dead argument, useless in defense of anti-sedevacantism.
Another dead argument of anti-sedevacantists is the “visble church” argument. For anti-sedevacantists, the visibility of the church requires that someone must occupy the Chair of Peter, even if he be a public heretic and mixer or religions.
The truth is that Our Lord did indeed establish His Church as a visible Church, but what anti-sedevacantists don’t tell you is that His visible Church is one that professes and practices the unchanged one and only true Catholic Faith.
No one should need to remind you that Protestant churches, Jewish synagogue, Hindu temples and Moslem mosques are all highly visible. But of what use is that kind of visibility if the one and only True Faith is missing in such places?
A public heretic and mixer of religions on the Chair of Peter is also highly visible. But of what use is his kind of visibility for the salvation of men if he does not profess nor practice the traditional and unchanged Catholic Faith?
Still another dead argument of anti-sedevacantists is the mistaken notion that the Church would stop existing if the Chair of Peter remained unoccupied for an extra long period of time. So, supposedly, in order to safeguard the Church’s continued existence, anti-sedevacantists strangely insist that even a scandalous public heretic on the Chair of Peter must be recognized a legitimate Catholic Pope, just so the Papal Chair does not remain vacant for too long a time.
Father Gruner, who decides when the Chair of Peter has been vacant for too long a time for the Church to keep existing? Are the anti-sedevacantists the ones to decide this?
The fact is, Father Gruner, that men cannot destroy the Church. Men cannot make the Church stop existing. To use the technical term, men cannot destroy the indefectibility of the Church. The most that men can do is to help destroy the faith of the individual members of the Church, even to the point – as you yourself admit – that there would remain only a “remnant” of those faithful to Our Lord. Wherever the True Faith would still be professed and practiced, even if there were no Pope on the Chair of Peter, that is where the essential nucleus of the True Church would be.
No matter how long the Chair of Peter may remain vacant, and no matter how may fall away from Our Lord’s Church, nothing can possibly prevent God from restoring His True Church and the True Faith, nor, in fact, can anything prevent God from even raising up new members “from the very stones” if He so willed.
When Our Lord promised, “I will be with you all days…,” He surely meant that He would be with those professing the traditional and unchanged Catholic Faith. He could not possibly have promised to be with a public heretic and mixer of religions occupying Peter’s Chair, as if acknowledging such a one to be a genuine Catholic Pope.
It isn’t Our Lord, but the anti-sedevacantists who unthinkingly insist that a public heretic on Peter’s Chair is “still the Pope.” To anti-sedevacantists, he may still be the “Pope” and dress like a Pope, but he cannot possibly be a genuine Catholic Pope. Such a “Pope” is really nothing but the “Our kind of Pope” that the Freemasons were dreaming about long, long ago, and, in fact, actually predicted that the day would come when “our kind of Pope” would occupy the Chair of Peter.
Anti-sedevacantists get themselves tangled up talking about a “Formal” Pope and a “Material” Pope. By a “Formal” Pope they presumably mean a genuine Catholic Pope. But what in the world is a “Material” Pope? If the man on Peter’s Chair is not a true Catholic Pope, then he simply is not a Pope, period! The only place you could be sure to find a “Material” Pope is in a coffin.
Anti-Sedevacantists also like to refer to a heretic “Pope” as “The Holy Father.” What do they now call him, seeing that he addresses them as “Dear brothers and sisters”? Shouldn’t they call him “the Holy Brother”?
Father Gruner, if you have the idea that sedevacantists are obstructing or delaying the consecration of Russia to Mary’s Immaculate Heart by a Pope, that is nothing but a slanderous misjudgment on your part. Our Lady could not possibly have asked for Russia’s consecration to be done by a public heretic and mixer of religions, who himself needs conversion to the true Catholic Faith, one who does the scandalous things that you complain about while still calling him “the Pope”.
But enough is enough! All the foregoing is more than enough to give you a chance to know and understand the real sedevacantist position on the Vatical II occupants of the Chair of Peter, something that your readers of The Fatima Crusader will not get the chance to do.
Father Gruner, if you are still there reading this “Dear Father Gruner” letter, maybe you might welcome th recommendation that you andyour devoted ollowers frequently recite the following prayer attributed to Our Lady in The Mystical City of God (Coronation Volume, page 244): “I ask, O my Son, that Thou look upon the affliction of thy Church and that, like a loving Father, Thou hasten the relief of Thy children engendered by Thy most Precious Blood.”
Father Martin Stepanich, OFM S.T.D.
For past articles of "By their fruits...", see 2005btf.htm Archives