This is primarily addressed to Atila Sinke Guimarăes as a follow-up to what Michael Cain broached a few weeks ago. In your Booklet Resistance Versus Sede-vacantism, Atila, Michael Matt states in its short introduction that "The following interview probably will be the beginning of a rather lively discussion." If that booklet is to be the beginning, it is about time for the continuation of that discussion to occur, which I believe it does with this here.
No doubt by now you are aware of Cain's urging you to "fish or cut bait" in his editorial It's time to resist the "resist and recognize" camp to their face, reaching the obvious conclusion which the numerous evidences you have gathered all consistently point to, and to "connect the dots."
I have to admit that I can seen the intrinsic ineffectiveness of pointing to some recent abomination to emanate from the Modernist "Vatican" even if greater than any before (and that's debatable) or else as the "one last straw" to be what is needed to bring you to realizing the necessary and inevitable conclusion we all must one day reach. You have already seen far more than I have even heard of, and perhaps even that he has, and yet you remain stymied at the earliest steps of the logical progression to Faith that the rest of us have taken.
By all evidences, the Abbe de Nantes seems to have taken a substantially similar position, documenting in (if anything) even more detail what you also document, though by now his volumes are not as up to date. While Michael Cain credits your integrity I give you (and the Abbe, for that matter, with his Books of Accusation) credit for doing one thing that truly needs to be done in all of this. So much of what gets said about all this seems to be ABOUT him. You have devoted effort to what needs to be said TO the various Vatican leaders in turn. Certainly in all fairness and justice we should do our part to try to bring them into the loop. If they can explain themselves certainly we can and should afford them every chance to do so.
Paul VI and John Paul II each went to the grave without answering to these most serious charges. It would have been far easier for them to explain themselves to us than they have since found it to explain themselves to their Maker. That convicts them. While Benedict XVI is still alive he still has a chance and I most earnestly pray that he does, for the good of his own soul. But of course there is a reason they never did, namely because they cannot. There is no way back to Eternal Life but for them to recant.
Be all that as it may however, I think you (and your following) have been victim to a most serious misdirection. It is the men's heresies that call such vivid attention to the fact that they have all operated seriously outside the Divinely established parameters for a Pope to be even capable of functioning (due to infallibility) even if he desired. So many, noting these obvious heresies and numerous errors and grave public scandals ("teaching by example"?), have therefore mistakenly focused on trying to judge the men themselves. But, as you point out, the direction of accusation of heresy can be a most difficult thing to sustain, even with such an incomparable inundation of errors as we have seen today, let alone what it would be for a pope who confined his heresy to one or two very subtle errors that could easily go undetected.
Certainly, if ever there could exist some "Tribunal" worthy and duly authorized to scrutinize them and judge and depose them, there can be no doubt you and I would have to agree as to what to expect the conclusion that Tribunal would have to reach, short of them recanting all when placed on trial.
The fundamental problem enters in that by the nature and structure of the Church there does not exist and cannot ever be any such "Tribunal" body as the First See is judged by no one. As a result, most sedevacantists must therefore limit their "judgment" regarding the recent and current Vatican leadership to the realm of the "subjective" and personal, with no official standing before the Church. As I understand, you permit them this private judgment but do not share it yourself. Others, frustrated with that evident limitation, try to finagle such a "subjective" finding into some sort of "official" fact the Church would be therefore morally bound to take into account, and obviously this simply goes outside the domain and authority of any of us faithful Catholics.
In the booklet, you talk about the question as to whether the man is a secret heretic or a public one, allowing that the secret heretic might lose the Papacy “before God” while still retaining it “before the Church” if he “secretly abandons the Faith.” Perhaps you think in this you are throwing sedevacantists a bone by allowing us the possibility of being right in some theoretical “before God”-only sense. But secret heresies have absolutely nothing to do with the present question. Of all the numerous aberrations you have so meticulously documented, how many of them did you learn of through psychics who have the ability to see inside the man’s head? Or how many of these aberrations do you know of only because of some very close intimate of his who leaked out to you what he promised him he would not tell to anyone? Of course if you are privy to such things then (and only then) would it have been legitimate to even bring up the topic of him being a secret heretic. No, the things you have documented are all public, easily discoverable and verifiable, even shoved in our collective face. The man’s heresies and loss of the Faith are public, not secret.
So let me propose an alternate strategy. Forget judging the man. Forget trying to figure out as to even whether he is a heretic or not. And definitely forget about trying to speculate as to his interior motives or state of mind. A simple canonical, philosophical, and ontological examination, based on official pronouncements provides all that is needed to understand the present situation in full. You don’t need to accuse the men of anything so you don’t have to prove any "guilt" about anything (so that difficulty disappears), but instead merely take their self-declarations at face value.
In 1964, Paul VI together with all bishops and cardinals and other hierarchical members of the Church promulgated a redefinition of their organization and of its relationship to the Church. Up until that exact point, their organization simply WAS the Church - absolute identity. But there they defined it as something different, something within portions of which portions of the Church might continue to "subsist," but outside of which other portions of the Church would now be able to do their "subsisting" and with all due authority, jurisdiction, and faculties to confer Grace and guide and rule in the Church. You know the famous "subsists in" passage of Lumen Gentium; you mentioned it in your book The Murky Waters of Vatican II.
In your book you simply note it as just one more error or heresy or whatever and move on. You've seen so many I can understand how that could get lost among them all as though it really were just one more. But there is a way to interpret it that is not heretical, but rather of extraordinary juridical impact. (It’s either heresy, or of the exact juridical impact of which I speak; its grammar prevents it from being anything else.) They have redefined their organization to be something other than the Church. And they have explicitly stated that part of the Church, with the power to teach infallible Truth and to convey Divine Sanctification, can now exist legitimately and "de jure" outside the confines of their organization.
What this does to the bishops is mild. Where before they could have had exclusive authority over their dioceses, now anyone can enter and do their job therein, though of course they can also still continue to do their job therein alongside any others entering.
But what this does to the Papal office is catastrophic. The Vatican leader, having jurisdiction (and by his own decree) over only part of the Church, namely that portion still "within the confines" of his organization, and not over that portion outside, has therefore something less than universal jurisdiction. The Papal office, by its very definition as Divinely established, MUST be of universal jurisdiction over the entire Church. For a man's office to be of any less jurisdiction, by even a single Catholic soul, is for the man to occupy a different office from that of the Roman Catholic Papacy.
Ergo, with the promulgation of Lumen Gentium, Paul VI thereby ceased to be Pope over the Church. And with Lumen Gentium remaining on the books, and acknowledged by his successors instead of being revoked (as it should and one day must be), his successors were all therefore elected to this new and different and lesser office, and thus are not popes either (how else can we get so many such blatant failures all in a row?) And not being pope, infallibility and all the other papal prerogatives and Divine protections simply do not apply to them at all. This finding, of itself, does not put them outside the Church, but merely outside the Papacy. As Mitchell McDeere put it, "It may not be sexy, but it’s got teeth."
Therefore when one after the other manages to do something that the doctrine of the Papacy declares to be impossible for a pope, it is no surprise to me, nor need I attribute it to some extraordinary demonic power to set aside the guarantees of God to His Church. They are as capable of mistakes, even in their most formal and solemn actions, as you and I, and if anything more so given the gravely deficient formation they have been receiving all these past 50 years or so.
Even in the case of a true and saintly and worthy Pope, were he (and Council) to be tricked or maneuvered into signing such a document, he would thereby lose his papacy. If the man be not cognizant of how or that it got lost, he may subsequently come to be inwardly tormented with doubts as to why it is that the Holy Ghost no longer prevents him from doing things he was formerly prevented from doing. The loss is not merely interior or theoretical but actual and official. The heresies and errors and other numerous irregularities are but symptoms of that canonical fact. And that is not subjective but objective, being a situation itself explicitly mandated and set up by their own conciliar "constitution." The man has thereby lost the papacy before the Church and not merely secretly before God.
In your booklet, you repeatedly go on about sedevacantists supposedly "going outside the visible Church." Well excuse me, but apart from absolute home-aloners (sedevacantist or not alike, I might add), none of us have. We are as much fully and visibly inside the Church as any canonized saint was in their saintly life. Even though some portions of the Church can still be found inside its confines, the Vatican organization itself, as an organization or corporate entity, is not the Catholic Church.
Today's situation is very like that of Englanders once the Declaration of Royal Supremacy was signed by practically every English cleric, with what few remaining were either killed off or driven underground. What would you have told a Catholic back then to do? Stay within his Anglican "parish" and resist from within, trying to make it "more Catholic" while its leadership labors to make it less Catholic? Would you tell a German Catholic to stay within his (now Lutheran) parish, even with the same priest and building, trying to make Lutheranism "more Catholic" somehow?
Perhaps you would claim that those who absented their former parishes to attend Masses by the likes of Fr. Edward Campion were "going outside the visible Church." Who was really the "parallel hierarchy" here? All those same bishops and priests in their same cathedrals and parish churches all looking the same as they did before, but merely under the different auspices of the King instead of the Pope? Or those few (very few) who kept their Faith outside all those usual channels? The traditional priests, exiled from their former stations, or even originating from Bishops Thuc, Lefebvre, de Castro-Meyer, and Mendez (and their lawful successors) are the true Edward Campions today.
None of us sedevacantists have ever “set up a new society” but rather our clergy are simply the valid and lawful successors of the clergy of bygone days, continuing in their Divinely appointed assignments and Apostolic Mission duly imparted by Christ to His Church all those ages ago. If the holy bishop Saint John Fisher of England could have survived the fall of the English Church to King Henry VIII, who but some canonically incompetent nut would have insisted that even so he continue to confine all his activities to his former diocese of Rochester, instead of doing throughout all of England what today’s faithful bishops have in fact done throughout the whole world, even clear to the consecration of lawful successors?
You claim that the final “end of the process” of sedevacantism is institutional chaos. Well excuse me, but such institutional chaos was already formally mandated by Lumen Gentium. So the true “end of the process” is for us to recognize the truth that such a state of institutional chaos is indeed the actual nature and face of the visible Church today. I pray you and everyone may reach that final stage, and as soon as possible, for only then can the pieces begin to be picked up and put back together again.
I have to wonder where you turn for your own sacraments and Grace? Do you use the Novus Ordo? Do you stay at home? What? And what about St. Paul preaching in the synagogues? Do you think he turned to their Rabbis for his spiritual direction, blessings, teaching, and so forth? No, he got those from the Christian congregation, and then brought that grace to the Synagogue so long as he could. He didn’t “stay” in the Synagogues, he “preached” in them. I did likewise, deriving my grace and sacraments from a (sedevacantist) traditional parish while doing what I could to spread (preach) the faith within the Novus Ordo until they booted me out. As with back then with the Apostle Paul, they could only tolerate a Catholic in their midst for a limited time.
I have here attempted to compress into a very tiny space the fruit of a great deal of study I have been privileged to do in the name of the Church, and coming to understand the true nature of the present situation. One can only spin in a vacuum unless one knows the truth. I know this says a lot, and I hope and pray that you will take your time to meditate upon these facts before responding. You have done good work in your extensive compendium of books exposing Vatican II, but now it is time to move on to the next task that God has set before you.
Griff L. Ruby