Part 2 of this book completes with a section that makes an anomalous attempt to do exactly what it at first sets out not to do. Let us start with this noble initial declaration:
"There are those who think it possible to argue against sedevacantism simply by virtue of its sterility. Nor can this criterion be simply rejected as such, because it has an evangelical origin. Nonetheless, the estimation of a good or bad fruit is susceptible to at least an element of subjectivism, and might induce us to descend from universal and doctrinal considerations to purely human ones. We shall therefore cede the application of this standard to others. We shall leave to the reader the task of personally and freely applying this type of analysis, when he judges it opportune and has the necessary evidence to make an evaluation."
Yes, let the reader decide. Personally, I think it would be at least somewhat easier to argue against the SSPX than against the sedevacantist community simply by virtue of its sterility. And it can only all the more progressively easier and easier to argue against the Indult/Motu and Conservative Novus Ordo and Liberal camps, respectively, by virtue of greater and greater sterility. Indeed, where the Conservative Novus Ordo demonstrates the limits of mere sterility, the Liberal Novus Ordo is constrained to go beyond mere sterility into an intrinsic self-death-wish. You want to see the doorway out of the Church altogether, and out of any and all supernatural Faith of any kind? That is what Liberalism is. Today's Liberal is tomorrow's Deist, the next day's Agnostic, and the day after that's Atheist.
That is why the only parts of the Novus Ordo that can escape outright shrinkage (or even attain a small scale sort of illusory "growth" - actually through immigration from foreign lands) are the archconservative parts.
But how is one to measure fecundity versus sterility? Perhaps this is somewhat subjective, as the book stated. Let me start by listing the criteria that I am aware of:
1) Academic - the ability of an outlook to promote academic discovery and groundbreaking progress in understanding the nature of the world and all that surrounds us,
2) Practical - the ability of an outlook to promote great achievements commensurate with the purposes of one's goals (e. g. charity),
3) Evangelical - the ability of an outlook to attract great numbers of people to itself as a desirable way of life,
4) Familial - the ability of an outlook to promote large families of largely like-minded youth, and
5) Devotional - the ability of an outlook to promote serious devotion, the interior life, heroic sacrifice, all the fruits and gifts of the Holy Ghost.
Those are not the criteria used in the book, very much anyway, as it goes on from its initial noble quote into doing precisely what it just stated that it was going to "cede" to others. It directly goes on to state, "There is nonetheless an abiding element of sterility in sedevacantism that does not depend on good or bad intentions, but rather on the objective situation in which it finds itself. It does seem appropriate to say something about this danger." No, sorry but it does not seem appropriate, at least not right after having just ceded this to others.
Obviously, such a fatuous statement has no basis in the criteria that I have just listed above for measuring fecundity versus sterility. Let's see what they do base it on:
"With the problem of authority resolved - at least subjectively - the average sedevacantist no longer has a true interest in fighting for the triumph of truth in a Church that he can no longer consider in any way his own. ... These assumptions risk leading to an attitude which is no longer directly touched by the current situation of the Church and its vicissitudes. These are part of a problem which, however unhappy, pertains to souls and prelates with whom the sedevacantists claim to have nothing in common."
The reference to a "Church" here is not to that Catholic Church of all ages which we traditionalists alone all comprise, but rather the utterly Post-Catholic Novus Ordo organization which has unhappily hijacked nearly all of the Church's material and human resources into all manner of nefarious purposes. Do we sedevacantists have relatively little concern of what goes on within that organization? Personally, I think, would that we had even yet less than we do now. I don't see members of the SSPX grieving over the terribly fallen state of the Anglican Church, or the Lutheran Church, or the various East Orthodox, Methodist, Presbyterian, Congregational, Baptist, Muslim, Mormon, and so forth "Churches" there are out there.
Who of the SSPX would even think of joining any of these other churches merely out of a purpose of somehow making it possible for Truth to triumph within any of them? Why treat the Novus Ordo any different? Every one of these churches was once made up of congregations, priests, bishops, religious, lay faithful, who were once Catholics and as such belonged to the Church (and in that sense are still our rightful assets, they and their descendants, both spiritual and physical).
It was the Catholic Church that originally built Canterbury Cathedral and the British Archdiocese it represented. Canterbury still stands today, still with its "archbishop" and "bishops" and "dioceses" and "priests" and parish churches and lay faithful, of both "High" and "Low" churches and everything in between. But all of that is outside the Catholic Church, in schismatic hands, and what happens there is of relatively little significance to Catholics.
What was the Church's response to this outright robbery? Try to regain Canterbury for itself? The attempt, if made at all, was soon abandoned. The real response, the one that had any legs to it, was to build Westminster Cathedral. Now, thanks to Vatican II, Westminster Cathedral itself is just another Canterbury and the Church must one day build another new cathedral (or else buy back Canterbury or Westminster from those that originally stole it from us).
So, if you want to say that we sedevacantists are not very concerned about the "triumph of truth" in today's Vatican organization, well guilty as charged! And good for us! That whole organization's defining purpose is the abolition of truth. There can be no more "triumph of truth" in it than there ever could be within any of the other many other false "churches" and "religions" there are out there.
I realize that there are those who still wish to rehabilitate the Vatican organization. Those doing so for the sake of what elderly once-Catholics who still inhabit it and who might potentially wish to return to the Faith of their Baptism, I can at least understand the motives of. But if anyone thinks that God has any special stake in rehabilitating it, as if "one day the pendulum must swing our way," I hereby place you all on notice that you labor in vain. The "pendulum" has been off its gimbals since Vatican II and that organization is on a free trajectory into all manner of error, heresy, infidelity, and ultimate apostasy. God has no more stake in its rehabilitation that He does in the rehabilitation of the Mormon church.
Meanwhile however, what has been the SSPX's focus on the real Catholic Church? While the fake churches one and all are plagued by all manner of false doctrines and false teachings, and more recently all manner of grave pastoral scandals and malpractice, the real Church suffers something quite different. To be sedevacantist is to be best in a position to discern the true nature and breadth of the Church, and thereby to perceive what problems actually befall Her. And what would those problems actually be?
Principle among them is the lack of unity between the various orders, their bishops, priests, religious, and lay faithful. The lack of unity comes from the lack of a true Pope who would (by definition) serve to unite them. This same lack deprives the Church of a much-needed arbiter, one to rule among the various competing opinions, mandate that all of those of varying sides get along with each other until such time as a ruling be made, and then make that ruling and rightly expect all to fall in line with it. These days, in the Church, a question comes up, and various groups take various sides of it, arguing one against the other, and there it lies. Thankfully, virtually all of these questions pertain to understanding the present state of the Church and of how the situation is to be resolved, and not to any moral or doctrinal questions. If nothing else, today's circumstance is a dramatic demonstration of how things would have been if, as Protestants and East Orthodox claim, all twelve Apostles were truly of equal rank.
How many times has one seen that, especially in Protestant writings (but East Orthodox claim this as well), all twelve Apostles are treated to be of exactly the same rank, no one of them (e. g. Peter) set over the rest to "confirm his brethren" and "Feed My sheep" in any sort of special office of universal authority? Isn't that the only real alternative to the Catholic claim that St. Peter alone was established to be the "Rock" upon which Jesus would build His Church, and over which the gates of Hell would never prevail? I suppose a few have claimed a nominal "leadership" of St. James or St. John over the rest, but this is simply not borne out by any substantive evidences of any kind, and in the end such speculations exist merely because they have tacitly accepted that there must have been at least some sort of leadership, while specifically wishing to oust Peter as having been that first leader of the Church, once founded on that original Pentecost.
Well, if that had really been the case, if all Apostles were of equal rank, we see now just what would have happened. While all (or at least pretty much all) were still alive they would have rapidly formed rival groups and torn each other to pieces. Without Peter to unite them there would be no Bible, no Church, no worldwide evangelism, in short the coming of Christ would have been of only most limited and brief effect. His name would be altogether unknown today, unless perhaps to some small number of ancient historians, the kind of persons who would know the name of the mother of Cicero and any number of similar bits of trivia from ancient history.
That is the real problem of the Church today. Everything else we have as problems, our small size, our lack of visibility to the secular world at large, the private doubts and suspicions many of us interiorly endure and so forth, all stem from that one simple fact, either directly or at least indirectly. And don't think the SSPX is doing any better. By all reports they do not do as well. Hence the occasional invocation of draconian policies that work against their success.
Even those who would like to rehabilitate the Vatican organization, as if that were ever possible: We need a true pope, elected by the true traditional Catholic bishops and/or their designates, to accept and receive them back into the Church as a organization, should they ever be willing to come in out of the cold, to come back home. Even if they repented of all their errors, heresies, criminal acts, and so forth, and if they got valid orders for all of their clerics, and managed to become exactly like Catholics, they would nevertheless remain in a materially schismatic condition until such time as their leader should submit himself to our true pope, once we get one. But how is he to do that, even if willing, if we for our part should fail to provide one? Think it's hard to get a false "pope" to submit to a true one? But how much harder still it would be to get a false "pope" to submit to some (hopefully sufficient) consortium of representative traditional bishops! And we can forget about getting the false "pope" to choose from among the Church's present feuding bishops, submit to one, and endure being seemingly ousted by all the rest!
And what most gets in the way of we the Church providing ourselves with a Pope as God most clearly intends and desires? Between those of the Indult/Motarian, SSPX, non-sedevacantist "independent" clergy (what few remain), and even our own Formaliter/Materialiter sedevacantists, all of whom in one way or another all seem to suffer from "Vatican-on-the-brain" how are we the Church ever to take the necessary action? Yet take it we must. Until that golden time when we finally prove able to do what we must, the more practical day-to-day concerns are to sustain our fecundity in all the criteria of which I listed above, to continue the Apostolic Succession, and keep the Faith.
If ever there be any real mistake many sedevacantists have made, it is to see their sedevacantism in terms of their evaluation of the current Vatican leader (whoever he may be at any given time) rather than in terms of the failure of the Church's bishops, orders, priests, and even laity (at times) to recognize each other as the brothers we all are, such that we can cooperate together towards unifying under a chosen bishop as pope, ourselves all being the one true Church that we are. That is fully as large a mistake as it would be to arbitrarily rule out the Sede Vacante finding a priori. Whatever the Vatican leader may or may not ever do or be or become has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on the question.
From that criteria that they have set up it is the SSPX (together with all others with "Vatican-on-the-brain" who are pursuing the utterly sterile policy of withholding any intent to get on with the Church's clear and present duty to provide Herself with a Pope) which has proven quite sterile in lacking any real desire to rectify the real problems within the Church. But that is not the only oddball criteria brought in by the book's authors to "define" or "measure" sedevacantism as being "sterile."
In particular, the remainder of this section of the book defines sterility as being efforts to attack the SSPX. So let's take a look at that. It reads, "In these circumstances it stands to reason that in the long term sedevacantism will no longer direct its bile and venom against modernism as such - such attacks are useful only to demonstrate that John Paul II is not the pope - but rather against those who, also rejecting modernist doctrines, do not embrace positions on authority identical to their own," and again, "It is paradoxically condemned to wage war against those who, without adhering to the sedevacantist position, are actually waging the struggle against neomodernist errors."
If some of us have turned much of our attention to the SSPX and other non-sedevacantist traditionalists, it is primarily because as part of the Church they are entitled to have us share with them the immense profit of our theological discoveries. One cannot be a serious Catholic without wanting to share the spiritual riches which we have been privileged to experience and learn and be edified by. It can only be to the total and utter gain of all Catholics to know the things that we sedevacantists know, to have their lights at last turned on, for them to be able to walk as we already do, in an easy yet firm confidence in God and in our role in His Church, instead of bumbling through some dark street, ever fearing to fall down a pit or trip over something. Who with even the faintest dash of compassion, being rich, and seeing another who is poor and starving, would not wish to share something of that riches, at least enough to alleviate their starvation? And all the more is this so for us towards those who are related to us by being of the household of Faith (Galatians 6:10).
And who really struggles against the "neomodernist errors"? Who can even identify what exactly they are and where they have their root? If the SSPX (or any other traditional society or group or person) really wanted to take on these "neomodernist errors," then let them begin, tome by tome, writer by writer, diabologian by diabologian, to take on each and every one of the original (and then later) modernist writers and propagandists, exposing their works for the scholastic frauds that they are.
Is anyone actually doing that? How difficult can it actually be? I've done some little of it myself in other articles
(e. g. Father Edward McNamara in "Lest we forget - Why 'PRO MULTIS' or again Fr. Sullivan in Dead or Alive, Anonymous Apostates Are Known to God). And let us not forget those who exposed the patent scholastic fraud of one "Joachim Jeremias" who actually had the temerity to claim that the Aramaic language had no distinct words for "many" and "all." That sort of exposure of scholastic dishonesty is what there truly needs to be much more of. The whole of modernism is nothing but scholastic fraud fully as bogus as the particular frauds I have exposed or mentioned here.
As one should be able to see, this sort of academic investigation can be done by any Catholic, sedevacantist or not. I define a "traditional Catholic" simply as being anyone who applies due diligence and academic integrity to the study of one's Faith. Despite its relative size, it is amazing just how little of this has been done by the SSPX. Even in their discussions with the Vatican representatives, dare they show all that could be shown? I doubt it. The moment they do, the show's over. As long as they hide behind polite phrases of political correctness and pretend that all of the modernist scholastic frauds were sincere but somehow, "perhaps slightly mistaken on some point or another," little of value can be said but at least the show goes on.
And about those negotiations: Ever since they have started, all the SSPX's best material (whatever they have actually mustered or gathered) has been confined behind the closed doors of those secret meetings, out of sight and out of mind, precisely where the Vatican Modernists hope to keep them confined as long as possible. They fault us for supposedly attacking them instead of attacking the Modernists, but look at who is doing the attacking of anyone but the Modernists now. If they were really serious about attacking the Modernists, they would at least present detailed summaries of the case they have been presenting therein for all of us to be edified by. But of course they know that once they should ever start doing this, the one real reason the Vatican has been willing to go along with these discussions will be gone and they would then come to a abrupt end.
But as to any supposed attack of the SSPX from the sedevacantists (what little there is), how do the writers of the book account for it? They say, "If we assume the sedevacantist perspective, the attitude of Archbishop Lefebvre in the post-Conciliar tragedy cannot be read as a barrier against error, but rather as a bridge leading the antimodernist resistance to cross over into the Conciliar structure through recognition of the authority of John Paul II." In other words, they think sedevacantists might go from being sedevacantists to the SSPX and from there clear to the Novus Ordo.
That really is not a reasonable fear, and if anything the opposite is far truer. Many sedevacantists got their traditionalist start, perhaps first with an Indult or Motu Mass, but then, or else more directly, with the SSPX, and only from there to the fuller understanding of our present situation regarding the Church which the Sede Vacante finding enables one to reach. So if anything, the SSPX has served mostly as a conduit out of Novus Ordoism and into fullness of Faith, and not much (if at all) in the other direction.
If there be any legitimate beef the sedevacantists would have with the SSPX it would be their resistance to following the fullness of the discoveries they have made, and of their refusal to understand intrinsic nature of the choices they are already living out in the practical arena. For the SSPX is fully sedevacantist in everything but name, in terms of their attempt to preserve fully the ancient Faith, refusing in all practice to take the Vatican leader as any real point of reference (let alone regula that any Pope would necessarily be, by definition), to do this by insulating themselves from the Novus Ordo, and to continue the succession of the Church through ordinations and consecrations.
They publish such a book as this that I have been addressing in these humble installments, not to promote lively discussion or reprove excesses, but merely to bring down and oppose any real progress in understanding the situation we all find ourselves in. It is like crabs in a trap that prevent any one crab from climbing out. We have no problem with the SSPX simply being able to reach out more easily to those not yet ready for the Sede Vacante finding by showing them a good rule of Faith to live by until one is ready for that next step. To that extent they are worthy of unqualified praise. But we do have a problem with their efforts to prevent anyone from taking that next step himself.
For this leads to the first area in which the sedevacantists are plainly far more fecund than the comparatively sterile non-sedevacantists of any kind, namely that of the academic pursuit of an understanding of our present ecclesiastical situation. Imagine just how academically stultifying it would be for a chemistry major to be barred from any belief in molecules, or physics while being barred from believing Newton's Three Laws of Motion. How far could any student of either area of study get if he is saddled with such dire limitations to his research?
And again, academically, while the Sede Vacante finding most certainly raised further questions, is that not the nature of any true discoveries? Each of these further questions raises a whole domain for further study of our present situation which can only provide much fruit in the way of further knowledge once explored. Only this way does the Church begin to see the way out of the present crisis. But those who refuse this kind of study can give us nothing. All they can do is passively wait for some answer to fall out of the sky (which will never happen), or to assume that "the triumph of the truth will be automatic and universal with the arrival of a true pope," as if by magic. Even if (somehow) some true pope just "fell out of the sky" there is no way that any more than the barest fraction of all who count themselves as Catholic would ever follow him, so there is no way for any "triumph of the truth" to be universal merely with his arrival. Who will recognize him? No doubt far fewer than there are authentic Catholics today.
Moving on to the other shows of fecundity, it is true (regarding the third, namely in size of numbers) that we sedevacantists still form a somewhat smaller community of Catholics than the others, but bear in mind first of all the rather recent discovery of this finding, coupled with the attacks made against it (and most especially by those who, by virtue of their training, formation, and strong stand for Catholic Tradition, and who therefore should have known better), have hindered its growth somewhat, but grow it cannot help even while the SSPX falters.
Indeed, one serious limiting factor for the SSPX is their refusal to consecrate anymore bishops for their own order. Back in 1988 when Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop De Castro-Meyer performed the consecrations, four bishops was just about right for the one hundred priests or so that they had, and the number of attached lay faithful in their fold. But in the years that followed, as there have come to be more lay faithful, and many more priests (nearly 600 as of now), the four bishops find themselves spread far too thin to accomplish much anymore, as SSPX parishioners are more and more finding themselves obliged to turn to other traditional bishops for the Sacrament of Confirmation rather than waiting the 10 to 15 years they might typically have to wait before any SSPX Bishop can make the rounds to their area. Given its present size, the SSPX truly ought to have about 20 bishops, not a mere 4. They need lots more bishops, but refuse to make them out of some gravely mistaken attempt to curry favor with the heretics at the Vatican.
The fact of our still comparatively small numbers also ripples back to the second criteria, namely that of charitable activities. One most horrible feature regarding the hijacking of the Church by the Novus Ordo heretics has been the theft of so very many charitable organizations and groups, various Sodalities, the St. Vincent de Paul Society, the Knights of Columbus, the Legion of Mary, etc. as yet still filled with many of the sorts of people who really have more in common with us sedevacantists than with their Novus Ordo overlords who keep them running in all directions so as to accomplish as little as possible in line with their charitable intentions, and also far too busy to examine the true state of the Church and where the true Catholic Church itself is even to be found. In this one stroke I claim all of them for us traditionalists, and sedevacantists most of all, for these bodies were all founded by our Traditional Catholic Church and not by those thieves of the Novus Ordo who now find themselves stuck with a bunch of "societies" they don't know what to do with. Surely they can and should (and I believe one day will) join us whole hog. We traditional Catholics founded all these groups and it is we who are the rightful holders and members thereof.
And that brings us to the most important difference between being just any traditional Catholic and being a sedevacantist traditional Catholic. If one's goal is merely saving one's own soul, or perhaps extending to the members of one's immediate family, then being any sort of traditionalist would be enough. But those who are of the sort to involve themselves in these sorts of societies are those who care enough to want to make an impact for God in their communities, and one's ability to do that will be greatly hampered if one does not know the true state of affairs with regards to the Church. Among the traditional Catholics, it is the sedevacantists who are the Church's Legion of Mary, the Church's Knights of Columbus (or of Malta, or any other Knights), the Church's St. Vincent de Paul Society, the Church's Sodalities, and so forth. Our concern is not merely to save our own soul (or even the souls of their immediate family) by keeping the Faith, but to do our utmost to help save others as well by pointing the way, and being lights to shine for all.
I bring up here one other statement in the book worth commenting on, namely when it says,
"Finally, not absent in the ranks of sedevacantism are those who hope to see this interpretation crowned with success by a general capitulation of the Society of Saint Pius X. For decades now they have argued that such a capitulation is imminent." It is not clear which sort of capitulation is spoken of here. Are they talking of those of us who fear that the SSPX might capitulate to the Novus Ordo, thus crowning our dire warnings about them with success? (And what do they expect us sedevacantists to do if they did capitulate to the Modernists? Gloat? If any of us would actually be so inclined, then that truly would be an excess worthy of reproof.) Or about the fact that one day they too must come home and join us who have completed their conversion to Tradition by discovering for themselves the Sede Vacante situation and all the rest of what knowledge goes with it. With one bishop scarcely a heartbeat away from getting a plastic Vatican red hat, another scarcely a heartbeat away from openly announcing sedevacantism in the other, and two remaining bishops trying to maneuver the best they can between these two extremes and sustain the similar limbo position Archbishop Lefebvre himself walked in all his life, things are bound to get interesting there, especially once the "negotiations" either break down utterly, or else offer something someone might feel he could "just barely" accept and does.
Again, in the familial, I admit the SSPX and other non-sedevacantist "independent" clergy (what few as remain) come to a very close second to us sedevacantists in terms of having large traditional Catholic families, much more than Conservative Novus Ordo and Indult/Motarian (again fairly closely tied with each other for third place, especially as there is a considerable overlap between them), and vastly more than those of the Liberal camp who still believe in abortion, contraception, and homosexual "marriages." So in this too we sedevacantists specifically are the very most fecund.
As for devotional fecundity, perhaps the best measure would be for the reader to make some visits to the various sorts of parishes, SSPX, "independent" (if still available), and sedevacantist congregations, for the devotion is best observed live in a congregation worshipping God than in any apologetic essays or discussions among those of us interested in theological issues. But witness the willingness of the SSPX (in very recent times) to sell (and are the people buying?) Novus Ordo music on CDs. You won't see sedevacantists doing that.
Finally, despite our limited numbers, there are new sedevacantist clergy, even a bishop from time to time, appearing in all parts of the world. While the SSPX is now limited in growth to what they can manage, we continue our growth in all parts of the world, with nowhere to go but up. Fecundity is most of all with us sedevacantists, and a clear sign of our evangelical origin.