In my experience, many of the most important, relevant, and even profound questions have been prefaced with "This may be a stupid question, but…" This typically occurs when you have someone overhearing a discussion among those who all make some unspoken assumption (and one that once spoken would be at once seen for the absurdity that it is), and the one overhearing finally dares to enter the discussion with his "stupid question" about this unspoken assumption.
I would like to say that there really are no stupid questions, but that really is not true. Let us put it this way: No sincere question is ever a stupid question. A sincere question is that put forth with the intent of obtaining an answer. Oftentimes, the sincere questioner asks the question hoping to be quickly instructed in some basic point he doesn't already understand, as one might ask a simple question of algebra of a group of College Professors arguing over some finer point of differential calculus. And of course, rhetorical "questions" are not actually questions at all but merely a rhetorical device, not meant to be answered, and everyone understands that, so there is nothing particularly insincere about them either.
But there are truly stupid questions, and that is the insincere ones. A person gives some learned dissertation and once putting it to the audience for questions, is asked by some heckler in the crowd, "Yeah, where did you get that lousy haircut?" Obviously, the heckler is not seeking advice about the comparative merits or skills of the various barbers whose services are available. A stupid question is that which is asked, not with the intent of seeking an answer, but of conveying disrespect, of mocking, or even trying to bring a person down.
In that last category comes those who even asked such stupid questions of our Lord. Their hope was that their questions would so perplex Him as to make Him put His fingers in His mouth and go "Uh buh buh uh I dunno," and lose all credibility. What appalling arrogance and terminal stupidity to actually imagine that our Lord should be such a moron as to be unable to answer these simple questions:
"All right, you wanna-be messianic pretender, if you think you are so smart, what do you think we should we do with this woman caught in the very act of adultery?" "All right, you wanna-be messianic pretender, if you think you are so smart, do you think we should we pay taxes to Caesar?" "All right, you wanna-be messianic pretender, if you think you are so smart, where do you think you get your authority from?" "All right, you wanna-be messianic pretender, if you think you are so smart, who do you think is my neighbor?"
Obviously, such disrespectful questions are altogether unworthy of response, let alone answer. In all justice, Jesus would have been utterly within His rights not to answer any of them. As it is, the one about where He got His authority from did go unanswered, as He first put it to his heckling questioners "Where did John the Baptist get his authority? From Man or from God? You answer me that and then I will answer you." However, it is interesting to note that He did nevertheless proceed to answer the other questions, thus showing an extraordinary range. As God, He fully possessed (and thereby fully understood) perfect sanctity, but also being omniscient, He also understood (without possessing at all) the utter depravity of His questioners.
His response to one of these questioners gave us a glimpse of His attitude towards them: "Why do you test me, you hypocrites?" He harbored no illusions of winning over those who ask such questions, but He was rightly concerned about those simpler souls who overheard the questions and who just might be sincerely capable of wondering what the answer would actually be.
As it was, His answers were readily obvious, and the sort of things already known to the learned. Those supposedly learned persons putting these questions to Him already knew the answers, but actually supposed that He didn't. More fools they. It's a little like the question the Jehovah's Witnesses used to teach their followers to ask of any Trinitarian: "Who ran the Universe for those three days that Jesus was dead?" Anyone with the least understanding of the actual doctrine of the Trinity (and particularly how it differs from the heresy of Monarchianism as taught by Sabellius) would never even think to ask such an obviously silly question, yet to the theological blockheads of the Watchtower it actually seemed like a useful "stupid question" to heckle Trinitarians with.
Of course, in my opinion, the very stupidest question ever asked is "Who are you?" This gets asked usually after you tell someone something they don't want to hear but know to be right. Anyone who actually poses this question instantly and automatically loses all possible respect, certainly in my own eyes, and also in the eyes of anyone who has ever given this matter a moment's thought.
For example, you tell a person "You better stop this drinking and driving of yours because you might hurt or kill somebody, perhaps even yourself," and then they respond, "Who are you to tell me not to drink and drive?" As if there were somebody-or-other that you could be so that it would be all right for you to tell them the unfortunate truth which they already know and don't want to hear.
"I'm George Washington, the Founding father of this great nation of the United States of America!" "Oh, sorry sir! I didn't realize it was you. I better clean up my act, so let me get going on it right away!" - No, obviously we know it would not go this way with these types even if it really were actually and literally George Washington himself personally or anyone else saying it. Obviously it doesn't make the slightest difference who you are, and besides they already know. So why do they ask? Who knows. I for one find that kind of stupid question altogether incomprehensible. For such a person, no one has the right to tell them the truth.
The Remnant must really be having to scrape the bottom of the barrel to have to have actually wasted column space on the sort of "letter to the editor" which would in better times be instantly consigned to the circular file. The last thing a Catholic paper ought be devoting space to is anti-Catholic heckling (unless at least carrying a response as I do here). In all justice, such questions deserve no response besides that which our Lord already gave: "Why do you test me, you hypocrites?" But like our Lord was with the hecklers of His day I too shall respond, in holy imitation of my Divine Master, and with no claim that my answers will be as good as His.
Before diving into the questions, a couple more points go here:
1) Several of these questions concern the actions of particular individuals, e. g. "Why did So-and-so…" While I obviously cannot claim to have any inside insight into the mysterious and inscrutable reasons people, even saints, may at times do strange and foolish and inconsistent things, even if perchance I actually did know the answer I would not share it because quite frankly such things are not anybody else's business.
2) Obviously, the writer of these questions has never sat down (nor even corresponded at any length from a distance) with any actual sedevacantists to understand what the claims actually are, and thereby learn just how much their own questions really are on the level of "Who ran the Universe for three days while Jesus was dead?" and spare themselves the embarrassment they so justly deserve. Any sedevacantist worth his salt would already know the answers to all these stupid questions and give pretty much the answers I give here.
Now to the questions themselves:
1) How can you ever get a plenary indulgence if one of the requirements is to pray for the pope?
There are several points here. For one thing, plenary indulgences are not a necessary thing. Many great saints and martyrs from ages past never got one, but if anything, instead helped in their own small way to provide the basis for them from the treasury of their own sufferings. They certainly don't seem any the worse off for it from the standpoint of the Heavenly station they enjoy now. However, be that as it may, this question is invalid on another level. Plenary Indulgences are not gained using a prayer for the pope, but rather by using a prayer for the intention of the pope. And as it is, the Church has always had the procedure in place, for such times as She is between popes for whatever reason, as to what to do instead. One prays for the specific intentions that all popes must perenially have. These intentions of the pope has been defined as the following prayer subjects:
a. Propagation of the Faith
b. Exterpation of heresy
c. Conversion of sinners
d. Peace and concord between Christian princes
e. Exaltation of the Church
Indeed, one would justly have to question the papacy of any claimant who clearly does not share any of these intentions. These are what the intentions of the pope are supposed to be, and any real pope worthy of the recognition would intend all of them at all times, though he may in addition intend some additional thing(s), say for example, Divine help with some particular trouble spot where the Church needs our strongest prayers. Hence one normally says in such prayers for a Plenary Indulgence "and for the intention of our Holy Father, N. …" whenever there is a living Holy Father "N." to name.
2) How will Russia ever be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary (her request) if there is no pope?
Obviously, such a prophecy must be understood as being also a prophecy that there will again one day be a pope so as to perform this sacred act. The Church's present popeless situation is a highly irregular and exceptional one, and clearly not meant to last as such. Paul VI persisted in brushing the consecration of Russia aside, and John Paul II persisted in simulating the consecration by various means, such as consecrating the whole world, or by his "entrustment" of Russia, and so forth. Indeed, I suspect the reason they did these things was that both knew that their attempts to do the real consecration correctly as our Lady insisted would have proven ineffectual, and provide evidence of their lack of hold on the papacy. Ergo, this prophecy means that there will one day be a pope again, and once there is I cannot imagine him wasting much time before seeing to this long overdue duty. Given the doubts people have over all the various papal claimants and traditionalist currents there are, such a consecration, followed by a true conversion of Russia, and period of peace as promised, just might be the necessary sign to show to all when the next true pope has been elected!
3) How can you recognize St. Padre Pio as a saint if he was canonized by a Post Conciliar pope? Why did St. Padre Pio recognize and accept all the post conciliar popes, and according to his biography why was he confessor to Pope John Paul II?
Archbishop Lefebvre is also widely recognized as a saint by all of truly Catholic sympathy, and on exactly the same basis as Padre Pio is. We call them both saints, not because either have ever been formally so canonized by the Church, but because there is no room for doubt that they will both one day be, in all justice. As to Padre Pio's reasons for not apparently rejecting the post Vatican II papal claimant, this gets back to the interior reasons of a man which are no one else's business. In any case, he only had to deal with one such, so it is not accurate to speak of him has having accepted "all" of the post conciliar "popes" as he only knew of one in his lifetime. And that one may well possibly have redeemed himself in the eyes of Padre Pio himself by excusing the Padre from all of the Novus Ordo nonsense. Padre Pio was never confessor to "Pope John Paul II" as he died a decade too early to have done that. And as to the possibility that he might have heard a confession of Father or Bishop Wojtyla, we have no more business knowing whether the Padre gave absolution or not than we have business knowing what sins Wojtyla confessed.
4) If there is a legitimate marriage annulment case, how can this be resolved if there is no legitimate Vatican?
Annulment cases do not (ordinarly) go to the Vatican but are normally decided by panels of qualified experts (any such called a Marriage Rota), and it is the prerogative of bishops to appoint such panels. Some traditional bishops may lack the specific training (or the capacity to discern sufficient training in any prospective panel members) and thus appoint no such panel. Others (including those of the SSPX) have gone ahead and created such panels, as needed. An annulment is after all not a juridic act, one that the Church is free to decide to do or not do, but an ascertainable fact. Did the marriage exist or not? Either it did or it didn't. Either a diamond is fake or it is real, and all the reliable expert is needed for is to make that determination. The Church has no power to create one where it doesn't exist, or to dissolve it where it does. The only juridic role of the Church is to ensure that proper ecclesiastical procedures and principles are used in the examination of the case (so as to ascertain correctly) and then recognize and enforce the result. All traditional bishops possess sufficient jurisdiction to do this.
5) Why did Sister Lucia (the last of the Fatima children) recognize and accept all the post conciliar popes?
This is the supreme example of what I criticized above. What her reasons were, if any, are lost to history. And there are several problems with such an assumption. How do we know she ever reasoned it out in the first place? How do we know she might well have known it but not shared the truth? For that matter, how do we know that the "Sr. Lucia" who died recently and had claimed that the consecration was done in 1984 (despite the evident lack of any conversion on the part of Russia) was one and the same as the Sister Lucia who had earlier claimed that it had not been validly done then? But behind this lurkes another fundamentally flawed assumption: Sr. Lucia had been visited by our Lady back in the early twentieth century. Would not our Lady have told her about this? What's so flawed about that is that our Lady is a glorious saint in Heaven, not a newspaper. One might as well have asked our Lady who will win the next Presidential election or the next World Cup or what the next winning Lotto numbers will be. People get this sorry idea that just because a person is visited by some Heavenly Personage (and when real that really does change a person's life forever) they somehow retain some sort of 'inside track" on what the Heavenly Personages are currently up to. But real visitations are not like Medjugorjie or Fr. Gobbi whose "messages" seem to go on forever, coming every month or every day for years and years whether there is something to say or not. Real visitations happen all at once, or at least over a very short span, and from then on it is up to the person so visited to walk in what has been revealed to them, demonstrating the truth of it, not perpetually coming out with newer and newer "truths." If part of the Third Secret mentions some major ecclesiastical damage happening from the top down, there is nevertheless no evidence that any mention was made as to what, canonically and juridically speaking, became of that "top" (i. e. the Pope), in the course of, or as a result of, the damage he would bring on.
6) Why did Cardinal Siri, despite his alleged election to the Papacy, accept Pope John Paul II and Vatican II, and offer the New Ordo Mass?
This clearly deals with the so-called "Siri theory" only, as most sedevacantists regard this as no more than an idle theological speculation (and one unsupported at that). If Cardinal Siri was so elected, he subsequently resigned, and as such his resignation was valid. Of course, it is also possible that some other less well-known figure was the one elected, someone who quietly did not do these things and somehow never got noticed. But that too is only speculation. As for why the man did not stand for what he must have known to be true, that is between the man himself and God, and what dark reasons he had are none of our business.
7) St. Alphonse de Liguori is a highly acclaimed theologian accepted by all traditionalists. How can you disrespect his opinion which states that a sign of a true pope is demonstrated when a majority of the Church accepts him, even when his election is in doubt or he acquired the papacy by fraud? (Verita della Fede, Vol. VIII, p. 720).
First of all, this misrepresents what the sainted Doctor of the Church really said. In particular, St. Alphonsus said nothing about "a majority." After all, as the saint himself would no doubt be the first to point out if asked about this quote today, how many constitute a majority? Fifty percent plus one? Two thirds plus one? Ninety-nine percent? And since when are majorities even reliably right? No, those doubtfully elected popes he was referring to had been universally accepted by the Church, in their own times, and ever since. One might be able to apply this principle to John XXIII whom no one doubted until years after his death. But Paul VI was doubted from practically the day of his resignation onward. Not only sedevacantists (who formed a significant, though still minority number of Catholics) who rejected the post conciliar claimants on serious canonical grounds, but even lax Catholics could equally (if only intuitively) sense that some loss of papal authority had taken place. Before Vatican II, a person who did not live up to all that the popes taught would say of himself, "Well, I'm no saint." Afterwords, what he says is "Well, the pope is wrong," or "Well, we don't really have to follow the pope to be good Catholics." And the world often hails those who say these things as good and devout Catholics. In such statements is revealed an inarticulate sense that the "pope" so disrespectfully referred to by such "cafeteria Catholics" is somehow not really a pope, at least in the historic and Petrine sense of what it means to be a real Catholic pope. And as the Novus Ordo nonsense continues to expand, more and more serious Catholics are questioning the papal claims of the recent and current Vatican leadership.
8) Sedevacantists say a heretic bishop or pope is excommunicated therefore cannot elect or be elected a valid pope. How do they explain Pope Pius XII's direct contradiction of this opinion when he proclaimed, "None of the Cardinals may, by pretext or reason of any excommunication, suspension, or interdict whatsoever, or any other ecclesiastical impediment, be excluded from the active and passive election of the Supreme Pontiff. We hereby suspend such censures solely for the purposes of the said election; at other times they are to remain in Vigour." (Apostolic Constitution Vacantis Apostolicae Seds, Dec. 8, 1945). The above phrase "passive election" includes a "heretic" Cardinal being elected pope, indicating that a heretic can be elected to the Papacy. How can this legitimately be argued?
Pope Pius XII did not know of any heretics who had, as he saw it, the least possibility of getting elected or even of being in the running. Perhaps there were some excommunicates (certainly a minority who could not seriously influence the election) whom he hoped to win back to the Church by permitting them a vote in so important a question. Again of course, no one actually knows what he was thinking or what would put it in his head to make such an unusual policy in the election of his successor. Perhaps there is something Providential in this. There are those who are stumbled by the minor detail that the traditional clergy (with one possible exception) all seem to lack diocesan assignments, or papal appointments, or approval. Once it becomes time for the traditional clergy to finally hold their true conclave (and also when they come to realize that they in fact belong to (but do not as yet any of them lead) the Diocese of Rome, and are therefore Cardinals, for reasons I discussed in Part Five of my What Is Your Picture series), such a declaration as this should remove the last vestige of any canonical concern against any of them voting or being voted for pope. Are the SSPX (or any other) traditional bishops excommunicated or suspended? I am sure they are not, but even if (somehow against all common sense and valid canonical principle) any of them were, they could still be valid and lawful electors of the next pope, according to this decree, which I don't believe ever got changed (or at least not changed significantly) at any point prior to Paul VI's resignation.
9) If a "heretic" pope is suddenly smitten with the grace (and God could do it) to renounce his "errors," would he then become a legitimate pope?
A fallen man's repentance from error would enable him to pass from death to life. It does not make him pope, however. Theoretically, I suppose that such a man could be elected to the papacy, but that would not be recommended. All the same, given the nature of the present situation it could go that way. If so, it would not be because of any previous election of his (though that may sway the crowds), but because of their subsequent universal acceptance of him as pope, once he returns to the Faith, that would constitute a "reelection." As for this "God could do it" part, again theoretically God could do anything He desires, however by His own decision God never interferes with the will of any man. He may apply grace, provide Providential circumstances in which repentance would be the obvious way to go, and so forth as indeed He always does with all men, and all the more intensely with those who are being ardently prayed for. But in the end it is up to the individual man to respond to Grace, or to not choose to. Many can be like Pharaoh in the Bible and merely harden their own heart against God and actually reach a point that "not even God can put the 'fear of God' in them."
10) Finally, if all the bishops are heretics, how can we ever elect a true pope and fulfill Christ's promise of a continual Apostolic succession and survival of the Church?
It is interesting to note here that even this question reveals in its wording an unconscious acknowledgment that the next true election will be performed by "bishops" and not "cardinals" (in the usual sense of those personally appointed by some pope, as all of them have passed away). But no one is claiming that all bishops are heretics. The traditional bishops are not heretics, however much some may disagree with some others over certain unsettled questions, and there may well be some smattering of others whose sympathies are with the Church and not with the Novus Ordo, despite their weak-kneed continuance therein.
In balance, it is worth pointing out that many sedevacantists have been negligent in addressing these simple sorts of questions. Perhaps that may well have made it easier for hecklers to imagine that these questions actually couldn't be addressed. No doubt, most sedevacantists, upon reading my above responses, would say, "But of course! You belabor the obvious." However in my experience, what is obvious to those who study an issue closely is seldom obvious to those who don't even know where to begin looking, or to those who have no idea as to why they should even care. Sometimes we just have to get the hay out of the loft and put it down where the horses can feed on it.