Saturday, February 15, 2014

Solution for Sedevacantists!

Today while driving I pondered about the [probable] apostasy and repentance of St Marcellinus and the Honorius affair, then once again began to wonder what was the end game for sedevacantists. A little less than a year ago I was myself a sedevacantist, as was everyone, but then came the white smoke and we stopped. For some though it will not be so simple.

My most viewed ever post gave a very light reflection on some of the issues surrounding sedevacantism, although the only people I know involved with sedevacantism no longer hold the position (most went back to the mainstream and the other went Eastern Orthodox). I suspect the post made such a splash because the issue is taboo. The FSSPX/FSSP group worry about pushing their faithful over the edge, the ICRSS and diocesan crowd have a different set of priorities, and the rest of the Catholic world just sees it as a very strange and minute topic. Still, Fr. Anthony Cekada's writings have garnered the interest of canonical clergy and writers like Msgr. Wadsworth, Deacon Alcuin Reid, and Dr Geoffrey Hull.

On an unrelated note Fr. Anthony Cekada reports that the "pre-1955" Missal is coming back into print (thanks for the hint, Alan). Good news!

The situation begs the solemn question: why not elect a papal claimant? In my post I noted that according to sedevacantist ecclesiology episcopal authority in the Church is gone. This means no College of Cardinals and no Ecumenical Council to elect a claimant. Were this the case one could, I think, safely assume that the Code of Canon Law and the existing rules on election would be quite irrelevant. But, I mentioned, there could be one way to elect a claimant, a way derived from precedent: popular acclamation by the people of Rome.

From the second century until the ninth or there about the Pope was elected by the Catholic laity of the city of Rome. In later days the Cardinals, the clergy of Rome, handled the nomination process and, during a two century period, the Byzantine emperor would stamp his seal of approval on the Pope-elect. Surely there are some sedevacantists in Rome and given that in their ecclesiology they are most certainly true Catholics, while the other Christians of Rome would be dubiously Catholic, could not Roman sedevacantists elect someone who could then petition a Thucite bishop (or whoever else is wandering with Holy Orders) for consecration? Voila!

Since the lack of a Pope and the heresy of the validly consecrated bishops of the world in the 1960s eliminated episcopal authority would not a Roman sedevacantist election create the alleged Pope who could restore order? Pius XII, oddly claimed to be the last "true" pope (I'll take John XXIII any day), did claim that all episcopal authority derives from the Papacy (Ad Apostolorum Principis 39). A claimant would mean dioceses, parishes, and, above all, a solution!

So why not? It could be done tomorrow morning! Despite my tongue-in-cheek tone I am entirely serious.


  1. I don't think that Pope was simply elected by the laity. It is more complicated than that. Secular rulers, future apointments by reigning Popes, approval by the Byzantine Emperor, all played a part.

    But interestingly Bellarmine speculated of sudden death of all cardinals. He said that in the case described the power of election would be transferred to the clergy of Rome. And other this are said there.

    So, it is a bit more complicated than a few Roman sedes electing a Pope among them.

  2. What is the difference between the priorities of the FSSP/SSPX and the ICRSS?

  3. Dear Rad Trad. Smashing. Funny as hell and deadly serious. I love it.

    As for the SSPX (and the SSPV - when we will have the SSP2.5?) one of its ghastly effects is that generations of putative Catholics are being raised in their chapels with the firm belief that the Catholic Church is not to be trusted.

  4. @ Marko: The issue is actually very straightforward as I see it. The faithful of Rome elected their bishop (as did the faithful of Milan and almost all other cities at the time). The other considerations, such as the Byzantine emperor's approval, mattered (as was the case with St Gregory the Great) but were eventually details. Bellarmine likely speculated as he did because in his mind the Cardinals represented the clergy of Rome and their disappearance would qualify the actual clergy of Rome. Still, that would be one method of election among many.

    @ Crocker: The ICRSS clergy have a broader appeal than the FSSPX/FSSP clergy. They practice a Salesian spirituality and promote a baroque liturgical aesthetic based on lower French and northern Italian culture. They have some of the political sympathies that the French FSSPX does, but generally they are unique. Indeed a trip into one of their parishes reveals a more diverse congregation than a FSSPX/FSSP parish. But I may be wrong.

  5. I've recently learned that the same people who will be publishing the aforementioned pre-1955 Missal are also hoping eventually to publish an earlier breviary as well - the 1911 breviary.