Observations on the Debate on Sedevacantism|
In order to carry on a fair debate, both parties must first agree on what constitutes a heretic. Otherwise, as was seen Monday night, anything goes and nothing is really resolved.
Editor's Note: While we await a transcript of the Debate between John Lane and Robert Sungenis on Sedevacantism, conducted on Monday, October 16 in Spokane, Washington and moderated by Tom Droleskey, we provide some observations below, first by Myrna Migala, whose daughter Jennifer Migala has graciously offered to transcribe the debate - which will soon be available to readers and to all conference attendees as well as the principals involved in the debate. The editor's own preliminary comments follow below after Myrna's cogent observations.
Mr. John Lane gave Dr. Robert Sungenis three points at the beginning of this debate to answer, and Dr. Sungenis failed to even mention one of them much to my disappointment. I was really looking forward to hearing his defense of especially why Benedict XVI was not even a Bishop. He didnít even defend this (the easy one) but instead skipped over to other canned points. I say canned because I have heard these exact points word for word on the internet from others of Dr. Sungenisí ilk.
Mr. John Lane in his opening statement spoke of the fruits of Vatican II, he quoted "by their fruits you will know them" from the Gospel of St. Matthew 7: 16. It seemed odd to me that his opponent Dr. Robert Sungenis picked up on this point, not to defend the bad fruits of Vatican II, but instead to equate this statement with the creation. He mentioned how God created the angels and man and the result of this was evil came into the world, therefore I assumed, Dr. Sungenis wants us to believe it okay for evil to come out of the Vatican. Does Dr. Sungenis truly mean since God is the creator of all, and evil is the result, therefore as Catholics we should believe that God canít do anything right? The statement "by their fruits you will know them," to begin with was totally out of context when Dr. Sungenis referred back to it. Out of context because in Matthew 7:16 we are warned to watch out for false prophets who will come to us in sheepís clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. The verse goes on the say, "A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore, by their fruits you will know them." Vatican II produces bad fruit therefore it is not of God, pure and simple as that.
Dr. Robert Sungenis put heavy emphasis on the complaints of the Sedevacantist; we object to the change of words "many" and "all", yet he himself went on and on about how the use of these words means little to nothing. If that is the case, that we Traditionalist are making something out of nothing, I now wonder why did Vatican II change them? If their meaning means nothing according to Dr. Sungenis, why did Vatican II bother to create such a storm, why not just leave it be. I think because Vatican II has an agenda, and Traditionalist know what it is. The new church believes and teaches all men are saved. This is proof of why they teach it is no longer necessary to convert those outside the church. That is, unless you are a Traditionalist Catholic, there is where their false charity stops.
Dr. Robert Sungenis also warns that Sedevacantism is taking the very dangerous road to Protestantism, something so terrible he said, he has been there and he knows, we donít want to go there, he said. I found this a little amusing since the "popes" that he defends think differently, according to them and their new teaching, truth is now in all religions. Protestantism is now embraced, even Billy Graham can now preach in Catholic churches and has done so.
It is the NEW Catholic church for all practical purpose that has become just another Protestant sect.
Sister Lucia of Fatima was mentioned by Dr. Robert Sungenis as an example for us to follow, however prior to that he warned us to obey God, not man. What does Sister Lucy have to do with the validity of the current person sitting in the Chair of Peter anyway? It seemed to be, if anything, more of a slur toward many in attendance who had attended the Fatima Conference just prior to this debate.
It was mentioned by Dr. Robert Sungenis that just because we, a tiny group of people believe these last four men were not valid successors to the Chair of Peter that we deny the Perpetuity of the Papacy. Mr. Lane pointed out, that was not true. He clearly said, Sedevacantism believe the Papacy and the deposit of faith are there, but the Chair of Peter is empty. Sedevacantism also believes the number of elect has declined dramatically since Vatican II. In the Gospels we read how, the elect will cry out for God to avenge them from their enemies, and God promises He will, but He also tells us when the times comes their wonít be too many left with Faith. "Yet when the Son of Man comes, will He find, do you think, faith on the earth?" St. Luke 18: 8.
My own conclusion to this entire debate is this: The two opponents should first agree on a definition of a heretic and define this before the debate. What exactly is a heretic? Unless this definition is agreed too, this debate or future debates can not properly address the question of whether Benedict XVI is or is not a legitimate occupant of the Papal Chair. I think everyone walked away with the same conclusion they came into the debate with. A few might change sides, but I doubt it. The few that may move have already made their decision before the debate and will use the debate to justify their actions.
Editor's Note: As being a first-hand witness to the debate, Myrna is so right that Sungenis either was not listening to John Lane about the three cogent points he challenged Bob to answer at the outset, which Sungenis then ignored and used the tactic of being a victim of verbal attacks - by one of the most charitable of Traditional speakers in Lane - and that, I believe, intimidated John to a degree to back off a bit and not be able to use his usual clever comebacks that hit at the heart and move hearts. Sungenis even conveyed to moderator Dr. Thomas A. Droleskey that he would walk out of the debate if Mr. Lane continued to be uncharitable. First of all, anyone listening to Lane's remarks will realize this was a debate - not a love-fest - and hence, there is going to be various brick-bats hurled. I don't for the life of me believe that Bob Sungenis, after spending $1250 of donated money for this very purpose to get to Spokane, would walk out on such a flimsy excuse. It was an empty threat whereby raising his voice from his seat and shaking his finger in John's face, he tried to intimidate. Clever but not very ethical. It was like taking the sharp-steeled sword out of John's hand and replacing it with a rubber sword. He could not get his opponent (Sungenis) to stand still long enough to thrust because Bob kept bouncing off the sword onto another tangent. To Sungenis' credit in debate know-how, it was a clever tactic and purposely planned as a defensive mechanism to try to throw off his opponent.
Also, I sensed Sungenis went off on that tangent of creation and the fall, which Myrna referred to, on purpose to avoid answering. John had already put Bob on the defensive and Sungenis totally neglected to respond or purposely did so in order to protect his own tired-worn arguments he had prepared prior. I noticed that when Bob got off his script he was in no man's land and said things that were ridiculous such as at the end with his rationalization that since 98.1 % of the population accept Benedict XVI as pope that is proof that he is. Talk about brainwashed. Has Bob ever heard St. Augustine's words that, "Right is right even if no one is doing it, and wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it."? One wonders.
I must admit I am surprised Sungenis has gone back to the Novus Ordo for I had thought he was still a Traditionalist, just anti-sedevacantist. From his comments, I can see he fits much more into the category than His Excellency Bishop Richard Williamson does of what Fr. Anthony Cekada identified as a "mentevacantist." That, in fact, fits more with Sungenis for he continues to be blind to the facts and the truth, skirting them as he did on Monday night, October 16. As part of Sungenis' defensive mechanism, he waited until the very end to try to challenge John and the audience, when we had two to five minutes to leave the auditorium per agreement with Lewis and Clark authorities by 10 p.m.: "What are the heresies of Benedict XVI? No one advanced any this evening." He didn't broach the subject until the very end when he knew very well there was no time left to refute. Given another hour, I'm sure John would have given him a full list of Ratzinger's heresies and the men before Benedict as well. Maybe it would have taken two or three hours more to get them all in going back to John XXIII.
In the aftermath of the debate, it spilled out onto the steps and sidewalk of the high-school where several attempted to question Sungenis on why he had avoided the three questions initially posed by Lane and Sungenis continued to evade the issue, instead choosing, with his assistant to call most of those asking questions "in schism" or "Protestant" even though the questions asked were in light of what was discussed in the debate, such as his assertion that the Novus Ordo was valid and good. Basically, though many tried to speak with Sungenis afterwards, he couldn't get out of there fast enough despite what he might tell his readers in future communications on his site. We were there, we know. We all saw him slink into the darkness.
Finally, considering Myrna's summation above, it had to be very difficult for Tom Droleskey to remain objective considering his findings over the past six months. Yet, in remaining truly and nobly objective, he did a masterful job of moderating and his pep talk at the end saved the evening, I believe, and put everything in the right perspective. Keep in mind that Dr. Droleskey remained firm to his pledge to remain neutral during the Debate. Now that it is over, look for him to give a thorough account of it which we will keep you updated on. Also, traditional apologist Gerry Matatics was in attendance as well and challenged Sungenis to a follow-up debate. Stay tuned and see if Sungenis will be man enough to accept the gauntlet thrown down by Matatics. If so, you know it will be an event for the ages. On this, too, we shall keep you updated.
Michael Cain, editor