In reading a letter by a SSPX priest against the heresy of "Feeneyism" I could not help but be amazed by the implications of the last paragraph in that piece which goes as follows:
The purpose of these few lines is to inform you of the gravity of this issue, which is not at all one open to free choice. Objectively speaking, Feeneyites commit a grave sin against the Faith, even if they are not aware of it. This is the reason why the Society of Saint Pius X does not allow any proselytism of this error in or around its chapels and faithful, either by word of mouth or by written handouts. In a time of normality in the Church, Rome would continue to act authoritatively, condemning this error and possibly making a de fide definition concerning baptism of blood and desire. If it is time that Feeneyites take advantage of the confusion caused by the breakdown in the Church's authority, we have no excuse for contributing to this confusion by weakness or lack of clarity in our exposition of the Church's teaching, as found in the Catechism of the Council of Trent.
What exactly would normality in the Church be and what prevents Rome from acting authoritatively condemning error and possibly making a de fide definition? What would have to be done in order for all the thinking orthodox laity and clergy to no longer have the obligation to parse (something that never needed to be done in the history of the Church) each and every word and action of the putative Pontiffs for the past 50 years?
Might the fact that we have not had a legitimate Pope for fifty years have something to do with our dilemma?
Or must the reason for this lack of normality and authority in Rome be the result of something else? Anything else. Even if we have no idea what that reason might be.
This same SSPX Priest also had the following valid quote in his letter:
It cannot be denied that this apparently black and white simplification of the Church's teaching on the necessity of the sacrament of baptism and of belonging to the one true Church has an attraction for some traditionally-minded Catholics. The reason is to be found not only in the substitution of private opinion for the Church's teaching that is typical of liberalism, but also in a narrow-minded legalism that overlooks the primacy of grace, and hence that of the interior life, making the sacramental character more important than the grace of the sacrament for which we receive the character. Sacraments are for men, and not vice versa. Their sole purpose is to make us members of the mystical body of Christ, in order to give us the sanctifying grace and actual graces needed for our salvation. The sad consequence of these attitudes is that many Feeneyites are impervious to the explanation of the Church's teaching, that they also lack docility in many other aspects of the Catholic life, that they deliberately take isolated texts out of context to justify their false opinion, and look for legalistic arguments to discredit Father Feeney's condemnation by the Holy Office in 1949, and excommunication in 1952.
If you take what I have bolded in the SSPX Priest's two separate quotes listed above and apply it to sedevacantism you will see that the Society in which he is a member does the exact same thing as the Feeneyites do in regards to Baptism of Desire and Baptism of Blood (BOD/BOB). They are impervious to the explanation of the Church's teaching (Saint Bellarmine, Pope Paul IV etc.). They deliberately take isolated texts (Saint Bellarmine, Pope Paul IV etc.) out of context to justify their false opinion. And they look for legalistic arguments to discredit the facts using the very canon law that condemns their anti-sedevacantist bias to do so.
I find it amazing how often I have witnessed the accuser being guilty of the exact same vices listed in his own accusation of others down to the very letter even in cases where the accuser is correctly accusing and trying to correct another sect.
I believe in the case of Feeneyism and in the case of anti-sedevacantism the reason for such inconsistency among those who generally have orthodox beliefs apart from their special pet-peeve(s) is that in the case of their pet-peeves they come to a conclusion or assume it to be true before actually setting out to see if a thing is in fact true or not. To make this point more clear I will spell out this way of thinking in the following hypothetical quote: "I know sedevacantism just can't be true, now let me search for the 'proof'."
Do you really "know" sedevacantism cannot be true? How do you know? What theological teachings from the Fathers, Doctors, Saints and Popes do you base this premise on? Have you read the writings from the same that seem to conclusively prove the fact of the vacancy of a legitimate authority in the Chair of Peter in our day true? You see here that one who comes to a conclusion before searching the facts has lost the battle (if his conclusion is false) before it has even begun.
Sincerity is a must for obviouslyly one has to want to know the truth and be willing to accept it when such is proven. Also, to rightfully arrive at such a point it is obvious that one should pray at least five decades of the Rosary every day and stay free from mortal sin and try to detach themselves from all venial sin as well in order to be given or keep the grace of being able to see things as clearly as their capacity to do so may be considering our fallen human nature.
Personal Testimony of Finally Seeing through the Feeneyite Facade
As a personal example of getting all the facts before coming to a definitive conclusion about anything I will share a similar parallel. It wasn't until recently that I finally got around to really looking at the claims of Feeneyism in depth. I had heard what my non-Feeneyite contemporaries taught which was that Baptism of Desire and Baptism of Blood (BOB/D) is the teaching of the Church. But I wanted to hear what the Feeneyites (whom I believed to be familiar with Church teaching as well) taught. Why do they so ardently believe what they believe and in fact make it the most important issue, by far and away of the faith; insisting on it even when preaching to potential converts who are just now considering the possibility that Catholicism is indeed the One, True Faith? And not only insisting on this but insisting that they believe all their friends and relatives who have not been baptized with water are in hell as a qualification for their being accepted in the Church. Well I looked at what they had to say and quite frankly what they had to say was quite convincing.
However, I did not realize at the time that to be convincing they had to downplay the teaching of (among others) Popes Pius IX and Pius XII, Canon Law, the Council of Trent, Saint Augustine, Saint Ambrose, Saint Bernard, Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Alphonsus Ligouri.
Well after being all but 100% convinced by their onslaught of "infallible" and Ex Cathedra quotes from countless Popes and other authoritative figures I went back to my contemporaries claiming that I found the case of Feeneyism rather convincing. I was one who was totally hoodwinked by Peter Dimond's impressive-sounding Treatise for Feeneyism. Prior to hearing any rebuttal, I had not seen any definitive arguments for or against Feeneyism (that showed for 100% certain that the teaching was absolutely, conclusively false to the point of being objectively a definitive heresy) other than the claim that the Church teaches (BOB/BOD) without seeing for myself that she actually does so.
But I thought to myself if what the Feenyites claim is true, then what? You may notice during this ordeal I did not go into it saying "I KNOW such and such is false now let me prove it." No, no, no. I first looked at what those who held what Feeneyites claimed to be Catholic belief and how different it was than what I believed and had thought. And since they pretty much convinced me that they were correct or at least had a very strong case, you can see that I truly went into my study objectively as we all should do when delving into controversial topics. It wasn't until Griff Ruby's magnificent series "The Art of Scholastic Dishonesty" running on this site over the last month plus Father Martin Stepanich's series Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus refuting Feeneyism that I realized Dimond had pulled a ruse by cheating - much like the anti-sedevacantist do - in taking quotes out of context and deleting parts of quotes that do not suit their interest.
Dimond's clever craftiness was so convincing that earlier this year I was almost on the brink of being bamboozled into accepting heresy. I say almost because something in regards to the Feeneyite teaching did not sit well with me. I believe that the Lord exalts the humble and raises up the lowly and makes those who think they are wise to be fools through the words of the simple-hearted. Neither Peter Dimond, nor his brother Michael seem to exude that kind of humility, though what is on their hearts is something only God can know. It puzzled me greatly that two young men in rural Fillmore, New York, who converted from Atheism, could be right while a living theological giant of our day like Father Stepanich, who actually has a doctorate in Sacred Theology, could be wrong; not only Father Stepanich, but also many others who have had theological training at a traditional seminary such as Bishops Daniel Dolan, Donald Sanborn, Mark Pivarunas, Robert McKenna and Father Cekeda.
Now these above named scholarly consecrated true shepherds, who refuse to compromise with error and seek to please God rather than man and who have been shown to be followers of the truth wherever it leads them, regardless of the cost, all are unanimous in their conclusion against Feeneyism while the two young bright men of no formal training in Sacred Theology from Fillmore beg to differ. Wow, that was a wake-up for me because I know that each and every man mentioned above would preach Feeneyism from the roof-tops had they known such a teaching to be a part of Sacred Tradition. But they didn't and we know from their other teachings that they are not afraid of human opinion and they do not cower or compromise the truth for the sake of convenience. So why do they all claim Feeneyism to be a false understanding of the Deposit of Faith and even an objective heresy that puts one outside the Church?
Well with a little help from my friends I came to find out why, Deo gratias! Baptism of Desire and Baptism of Blood are the ordinary infallible teaching of the Church. That is why. It is not possible for a teaching to be "a little infallible". Either a teaching is infallible or it is not and to fall under the ordinary infallible teaching of the Church is infallible enough for any authentic Catholic within the Church to accept.
There is no need for me to elaborate as this is being expounded upon on this site in the most thorough and magnificent of ways by a man whose theological understanding of the truth and the ability to express it never ceases to amaze me, Griff Ruby.
Going that extra length to connect the obvious dots
You see, regarding many of the truths I have come to know I would go to those more knowledgeable than I to make sure my thinking was correct, not focusing so much on their personal opinion but focusing on the authoritative resources they would point me to and reading the quotes, allegedly pro or con, in context i.e. in their entirety. To me the truth is more important than anything and so I do not consider it a great gift to be willing to admit I have been wrong. It is a most splendid thing to be proven wrong and more splendid still to be able to accept it; for when such an occurrence happens I have learned and learned well something that I will probably never forget.
I like to get to the root cause of problems as I did in regards to the fall of society and the family and the reason for the moral chaos which surrounds us in America and in the world and how the wide-spread use of the pill, sexual revolution, Vatican "2", secret conspirators, the French Revolution, the American Constitution, separation of Church and state, religious liberty, Industrialism, the Protestant Revolt and that dastardly thing called Original Sin led to the downfall of our society. So also, I should like to get to the root cause of why some otherwise orthodox and sometimes even brilliant individuals are so stubbornly blind to certain facts where they are left looking rather dull and unorthodox when they speak to the issue of sedevacantism if they can muster up the courage to speak to the issue at all. You'll notice often these same "mute" individuals are usually not at a loss for words on other topics.
My conclusions in this instance are that there are several possible reasons why several sound thinking Catholics appear to turn into illogical, intellectually dishonest individuals in a blink of an eye when confronted with the subject of sedevacantism. Often times name calling follows from their mouths or pens or keyboards in e-mail, blogs, etc. In the case of the Feeneyites they additionally turn into uncharitable self-righteous fools. The only difference between the anti-sedevacantists and the feeneyites is that the latter are heretics if they continue to cling to the heresy of Feeneyism, whereas for the former it is not heresy to hold the unconscionable idea that a heretic could be a true pope, just a grave error that will lead them further away from truth as these boiled frogs become more tenderized for the conciliar kettle. Yet, often times these anti-sedevacantists can be guilty of additional vices against charity as well though usually with a lesser demonic fury than the desperate Feeneyite.
Take for instance the sentence quoted above "I know sedevacantism just can't be true, now let me search for the 'proof'." and apply this sentence to a hypothetical clergy-man in the SSPX. Why would such a one go about "seeking" the "truth" in such a manner rather than objectively looking at all the facts first before coming to a definitive conclusion? In such a case, though I will just give what I believe to be the best example in this instance, we could come up with a number of reasons why an otherwise sound-thinking intellectually honest individual appears to dive into the nearest bunker or starts pulling "facts" out of the air before even really taking an honest look at the subject at hand. For instance it is common knowledge that the SSPX will kick out any Priest that becomes a public sedevacantist. So right off the bat we can see a possible reason why SSPX priests, who might otherwise be sound theologians, can turn into babbling idiots on the topic of sedevacantism for no apparent reason.
But what makes the thinking laity often act in the same way as the SSPX clerics when confronted with the issue? Why is it that they too seem to insist on coming to a conclusion first (if this is in fact what they do) and then go about finding all they can to support that presupposition without honestly looking at the facts first?
The answer is difficult for me to fathom; perhaps, because I have never been afraid to admit that I have been wrong when I have realized that I was. Perhaps, the fear of being wrong, staunchly wrong, for many years, would have something to do with their reluctance to look at the facts objectively. This answer seems plausible until you consider the fact that many of these people who have converted from the Novus Ordo have had no problem admitting that they had been wrong about the validity of the Novus Ordo which they left. Though even in that regard some feebly maintain that there is no doubt that the Novus Ordo Mass is indeed valid when offered "correctly". Now, again, we must differentiate here between those who left the Novus Ordo merely because they could not take the nonsense anymore from those who logically proceeded to the place they believed God would have them go for sound theological reasons. So right off the bat a substantial number of "traditionalists" would be eliminated from what I am considering here, as I am considering those of sound logic and at least minimally learned in the very basics of Sacred Theology, scholasticism, the teachings of the Fathers, Doctors, Saints and Popes. For all the laity, almost without exception, apart perhaps from those who had the fortune of attending a traditional seminary, are spiritual babies when it comes to theological knowledge. But at least we have reached babyhood, which sadly, the rest of the world and even many self-styled traditionalists have not achieved. Why would such as these be so seemingly and even obviously willfully blind to the facts?
Before trying to answer that question we have another category of traditionalists to eliminate from my study. That would be those who parrot "if he said it it must be true no matter what was said." Many contributing writers to this site and the editor himself have admitted being at one time in this category, mesmerized by the spin machine of the charismatic John Paul II as "Mary's Pope." Most of those writers and editor realized their error because they dug in and searched for the truth. Each came to the truth in God's time in the same type of journey for the truth that I have been on. Remember, you have to be hungry for the truth. It doesn't just all of a sudden come to you out of the blue. Therefore, I would call those who accept whatever is said sight unseen as "Blind Robots" and this category must also be eliminated becaue they adhere to the dictates of fallible men, some of whom are
coerced into preaching that which they may not necessarily believe or have adequately studied themselves as if what they say is equivalent to an Ex Cathedra statement. This is something often found in traditional circles as well as in conservative Novus Ordo circles.
It must be stressed that during normal times being a blind robot to the dictates of your parish priest would generally be a safe and humble thing to do and even now I would suggest one whose state in life or mental capacity legitimately prevents him from studying the true faith from such reliable sources as the Fathers, Doctors, Saints and Popes cannot be blamed if they come to a wrong conclusion in regards to the main reason and root cause of our Church appearing to be crucified and buried at this juncture in the history of fallen man merely because they have listened to one qualified to tell them so and who supposedly has no bias, politics or agendas to contend with.
Silent Sedes Persecuted Even in the Catacombs
Next, the logical thinking orthodox Catholics not yet eliminated from my study probably will not be kicked out of the Society for concluding with the Church that a heretic cannot be Pope; at least if they keep relatively quiet about their realization. In most cases they will not lose money (donations), prestige or friends over it even if they decide to continue attending Mass where they are because they believe that it is okay to go to a Mass "una cum" heretic since they may come to understand (rightly or wrongly) that attendance at an objectively schismatic Mass during this time of epikeia is okay because their validly ordained priest is acting in good faith and does not deny the Papacy, is not a manifest heretic and resists the novelties or the conciliar Church; yet even some of the common laity may still have "something to lose" by coming to this conclusion based upon Church teaching and the facts of our day if they may rightfully conclude that they can no longer go to an una cum heretic Mass and will then either have to travel greater distances to get to an objectively non-schismatic Mass or stay at home. This is because to attend a Mass that is offered in union with a heretic, no matter how valid that Mass is indeed a schismatic Mass. Of course, a Mass is either valid or invalid, for as far as I know one Mass cannot be more valid than another Mass.
However,those who write for such periodicals as The Remnant, Catholic Family News or for the Fatima Crusader have even more to lose from a worldly perspective than the common laity. Consider the percentage of their subscribers who would drop them like a hot potato were they to become public sedevacantists as these subscribers in many cases, based on my first-hand knowledge, have the fear of hell put into them if they bring up the topic of sedevacantism and are brainwashed to the contrary by any SSPX or SSPX-affiliated priests.
Categorizing the Culprits
So now we have eliminated from my study on the reason for the willful blindness among those who are otherwise intellectually honest those who do not blindly follow the opinion of the priest of the day and then change their opinion if a new priest says to the contrary; and those who left the Novus Ordo merely because they could not stand the nutty shenanigans of that liturgy anymore and those publishers who would have to alter their life somewhat drastically if they came to such a public conclusion. Of course, that is not unheard of. After all, Dr. Thomas Droleskey, whom the aforementioned three publications - which he contributed his brilliant writings to - now treat as a leper, is living proof of one who had to drastically alter his life in order not to compromise one iota with conciliarism and how it is indeed possible for a man who had much to lose from a worldly perspective chose truth over comfort! Here is a man who took seriously our Lord's words "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his corss, and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for My sake, shall find it. For what doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matt. 16: 24-26).
The rest not yet considered in my study who would be considered to be in the one group of all mentioned so far who would be least likely to be unbiased in their reasoning are the "informed" traditionalists who READ the writings from The Remnant, Catholic Family News and the Fatima Crusader. Hmm. Maybe I am on to something. Let us see, that would include those of us left who did not leave the Novus Ordo merely because we got uncomfortable with it; secondly, those of us who do not have our life-style as drastically affected as the public figures who would be affected by coming to an open sedevacantist conclusion are stuck reading articles from "experts" who, from a financial, worldly perspective, have even more to lose if they publically correct their opinion on this all-important topic of sedevacantism. They are simply unwilling to consider that having no Pope for fifty years is at the root of all our problems in the Church; for a fish indeed rots from the top. Now, it seems, to me at least, that we are getting somewhere.
In fact when I consider the above conclusion I recall one person in particular who I know to be rather knowledgeable in things Catholic that ultimately turns into a moronic imbecile when it comes to the topic of sedevacantism and this person just so happens to barely fall short of actually worshipping Father Grunner. Ah, hah. Though I can't know for sure if this is, in fact, the reason for their seemingly incompetency and actual blindness on the sedevacantist issue, we can now start to see the pieces purportedly coming together. The reasons for this otherwise incomprehensible denseness akin to severe mental retardation, often found among the otherwise bright and beautiful, would have to be one or more of the following in my opinion:
A. They are influenced by their favorite writers.
B. They really are not so bright and beautiful but are in fact stupid to the point of idiocy.
C. Their Apostolate and the whole purpose of their existence depend on donations from the laity to petition the "POPE" in union with all the "bishops" to consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
D. They would not be able to go to Mass (No SV Church nearby).
E. They would have to travel farther to get to an objectively non-schismatic Mass.
F. They would lose prestige and friendship with their non-SV Priests at their current parish.
G. They might have ties with their current friends and family cut.
Well we know for sure that they are not stupid. We also know that humanly speaking one cannot help but be influenced by their favorite writers. The other reasons to one who cares about the truth over comfort are non-reasons as all the above reasons are non-reasons to compromise your faith and your soul for the sake of convenience, prestige or finances. Where will their friends be during their Particular Judgment? What do other people's opinions of you have to do with the only thing that matters - your salvation? Where do "credibility" and a little extra padding for the pocket get you in the end? Admittedly not having a true Mass that can be attended in good conscience anymore or even only being able to attend a true Mass less frequently than you have been accustomed to is no small thing, though we must keep in mind that sacrifice is not against our religion but rather akin to it. In fact it is better to have meritorious sacrifice than to risk sacrificing your soul by compromising with conciliarism for the sake of convenience.
Let us look at reason "C". This is an interesting reason for being against sedevacantism which cannot be over-looked and you will notice all three of the publications I mentioned are big time supporters of this apostolate and are all of the opinion that all our ills will be solved if only "the currently reigning 'Pope'" would just consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in the way that she has asked. We must keep in mind that I am not discounting the significance of what could happen if a legitimate Pope consecrated Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in union with all valid Bishops even if the number of valid Bishops might be rather minute. Nor do I dismiss the catastrophes of wars, communism, abortion, etc. and an interregnum of 50 years without a true pope which all could have been avoided had this consecration happened during the reign of a valid Pontiff as putting our Lady's request off indefinitely certainly cannot and did not work to our advantage. In fact if you think about it you can see the justice in depriving us of a visible head when the legitimate Popes we were blessed with would not comply with our Lady's request. "No Pope will consecrate Russia or reveal the secret BEFORE the set time - therefore there will be no Pope in existence (at least until the very end) AFTER the set time able to do so."
Well if the purpose of Father Gruner's Apostolate's existence is to petition the "pope" to consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and there is no Pope to petition, what becomes of their apostolate? Can you see how it might be convenient for such apostolates to vehemently oppose even the mere possibility of Sedevacantism?
Now let us suppose that the SSPX went sedevacantist. Stop laughing. What would these traditional periodicals do then? Former friends reunited at last might be heard to exclaim, "Tom Droleskey, ol' buddy, ol' pal! How have you been doing my friend?!!!" Out would come the excuses of we did not want to scandalize the laity over the issue of sedevacantism or break the wounded weed as it were perhaps. Maybe, just maybe, they would try to find out the truth in a completely objective manner on this issue for once and actually go where the truth leads them no matter how inconvenient this may be for them; or maybe they would think, "Oh, this is too much for me to take" and go back to the Novus Ordo or give up religion completely. Maybe they would continue to write but avoid the issue of sedevacantism entirely. Maybe The Wanderer and The Remnant would bury the hatchet and become one publication again as it was before the changes of Vatican II prompted Walter Matt to break away because he had the guts to study the truth. Too bad he didn't consult Fr. Stepanich back then, but maybe that's part of the fallout from a true pope not consecrating Russia to Mary's Immaculate Heart as she requested. Who knows?
Whether you be one who makes choices and come to conclusions based on feelings (apart from the intellect) alone, or are a blind robot, or a public figure with something to lose if you publicly embrace the facts, or are members of the laity negatively influenced by faulty writings, you must remember that the truth will set you free from all who would claim to teach uncompromisingly in the name of Christ without being uncompromisingly devoted to Him and HIS will. The Church certainly needs to be purged in order to function uninhibitedly and those who sit on the fence need to pick a side before a side is picked for them.
God is Truth. The Truth is all that matters. Let not the opinion of others, your comfortable life-style, your thoughtless biases keep you from that Truth. You must remember to words our Lord spoke to Pontius Pilate as the laity who read the periodicals have more of an excuse for their purported ignorance on this issue than those clergy in the SSPX who have studied theology and the "experts" who write for "traditional" periodicals have. "He that hath delivered Me to thee, hath the greater sin" (John 19: 11). The expert writers on traditionalism are the Judas' (subjective culpability aside) who are handing over the potential and actual mystical Body of Christ (the laity) over to Pontius Pilate (Father Syncretism Jewatholiclican Ratzinger who washes his hands of any and all authentic Catholicism). I quote once again:
"He that hath delivered Me to thee, hath the greater sin"
Is it not time for more of us to start embracing the truth over comfort? We can only hope.