In recent days, a number of articles defending the legitimacy of Francis’s papacy have appeared on websites that are usually critical of the Holy Father, including a two-part blog post on One Peter Five by Robert Siscoe (click to read parts 1 and 2). Siscoe, who co-authored a 2015 book entitled True or False Pope? Refuting Sedevacantism and Other Modern Errors, appears to be a member of what is colloquially known as the “Recognize and Resist” faction of contemporary Catholicism, a group that includes the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) and other traditionalist Catholics who reject much of post-Vatican II liturgy and theology, while still insisting that the current pope is the legitimate Successor of Peter.

The visibility of those who endorse this view has grown in the age of social media, and has been galvanized during the pontificate of Pope Francis, who many see as the embodiment of the “errors” and “heresies” of the post-Vatican II Church. And while many in these groups openly defy the authoritative and magisterial teachings of the last 50+ years–ordaining priests and celebrating sacraments without papal or episcopal approval; preaching and teaching that current liturgical norms are spiritually harmful and theologically suspect; and writing books, articles, and blog posts criticizing nearly every aspect of the institutional Church — they insist that they are faithful and obedient to the pope and respect papal primacy.

Despite their constant criticism and their often scandalous rejection of papal and conciliar teachings, they have been constant in their acknowledgement that the pope is the pope. So it is not surprising that in a climate where even Monsignors who served in the Vatican under Pope Benedict XVI are openly questioning the legitimacy of Benedict’s resignation and Francis’s papacy, veteran Recognize and Resistors are weighing in with doctrinal justifications in favor of the pope’s legitimacy. In the case of the SSPX, for instance, Pope Francis doesn’t pose any particular difficulty. They regard him as another modernist pope who teaches error–the same as they view the previous 4-5 popes.

Siscoe’s argument boils down to this:

“All that is required to ascertain [a pope’s] legitimacy is to find out if he was recognized as pope by the Church. If the answer is yes, that alone provides infallible certitude of his legitimacy, as well a corresponding degree of certitude that all the conditions required for him to have become popes were satisfied — such as the condition that the papal office was vacant at the time. And the certitude of the pope’s legitimacy occurs the moment the entire Church learns of his election, provided it is not at once contested.”

Recognize-and-Resistors have been embroiled in a debate since the 1970s with another faction of traditionalists: the sedevacantists. The typical Sedevacantist believes that there has not been a legitimate pope since 1958 (although agreement on the identity of the last pope varies among sedevacantists). While the SSPX and Sedevacantists agree on many of the same principles about the Church since Vatican II regarding the liturgy, theology, and magisterial teaching (they don’t like it), sedevacantists like to draw attention to one fairly obvious point: if you believe he’s the pope, then why do you disobey him and denounce his teachings?

While the SSPX and those with a similar mindset correctly recognize who the pope is, they empty his authority and primacy of all of its meaning. Certainly they’ve developed excuses and justifications for their behavior (it’s a “state of emergency,” which provides them with “supplied jurisdiction”), and perhaps this helps them sleep better at night, but there is no precedent for what they’re doing. Much of our site is dedicated to point out this fact. They’ve given their personal disagreements with the Church priority over the clearly defined Magisterial authority of the Church. Pedro Gabriel describes this at length in his piece “Sola Tradito.” Rather than following the actual Magisterium, they’ve created their own imagisterium and follow that.

Sedevacantists recognize the hypocrisy in that position, and instead have decided the pope isn’t the pope. If there was a pope, they argue, they would be bound to obey him and respect his primacy. Of course, while doing so, they ignore the teachings on the legitimacy of the pope that Siscoe and others so clearly articulate. They see, very clearly, that “Recognize and Resist” is incompatible with Catholic teaching, and make very strong arguments, rooted in magisterial teaching, to that effect (here’s one example among many), but are blind to the impossibility of their own position.

Radical traditionalists are split over which set of doctrines to choose: recognition of the pope or papal primacy. The Catholic position, of course, is to accept both. Here’s a chart to illustrate what I’m saying:

An orthodox Catholic would hold SSPX’s view of who the Pope is AND the sedevacantist’s view on papal primacy. Perhaps if you took a sedevacantist and a member of the SSPX and combined them, your result would be one pretty good Catholic. But until that’s possible, they’re two sides of the same coin.

 

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27 Responses

  1. Avatar Peter Aiello says:

    Assuming that a Catholic is also a Christian, we are all vicars of Christ even if we believe that the pope is a vicar of Christ and a successor of Peter. He has his job and we have ours. We are all ambassadors for Christ and have the word of reconciliation (2Corinthians 5:19-20). I’m not aware of a better definition for the word ‘vicar’. I believe that we need a wider perspective.

    • Avatar Mike Lewis says:

      Maybe I should have said “Supreme Pontiff”? “Peter’s legitimate successor”? The reason why I didn’t simply say “pope” is because a Protestant (or any non-Catholic, probably) would have no problem recognizing Francis as the Catholic pope, but they don’t see that as anything noteworthy or something that demands a response from them.

      • Avatar Peter Aiello says:

        Another way to look at it is that all of Christianity today is a continuation of what happened 2000 years ago. There has never been a time when Christianity has not existed even though there have been heresies, schisms, reformations, and counter-reformations.
        The orthodox as well as the Catholic Church have apostolic succession. The important question is whether membership in a specific Christian organization is essential for being a part of the mystical body of Christ. Before Vatican II, we were told that it was. Now, that is not so clear. The New Testament is not so clear.
        I often remember the event in the gospels where an individual was casting out devils in the name of Jesus Christ, and the apostles forbade him because he was not part of the group. Jesus had no problem with him casting out the devils on his own (Mark 9:38-40).
        You can have the Biblical faith for salvation regardless of where you are. The instructions are in Scripture. If a Christian organization doesn’t teach it properly, you can always read it for yourself. It wasn’t this easy in the beginning. I don’t think that the Church anticipated this when it compiled the Bible.

  2. Avatar Ashpenaz says:

    If it is the case (and I think it is) that Amoris Laetitia and other teachings of Pope Francis are in continuity with Pope St. JPII, then it means that the Catholic Church is not what many think it is or want it to be, and it never was. If the papacies of Pope St. JPII and Pope Benedict contain the seeds which lead to the possibility of divorced people receiving communion (and I think they do), then communion for divorced people is, and has always been, part of the deposit of faith. To be Catholic is to accept that reality.

    I believe that the deposit of faith contains the ability to bless same-sex couples. I don’t think the goodness of homosexual acts within a lifelong same-sex relationship is a new teaching–I think it has always been part of the deposit of faith. I think it’s only recently that we’ve been able to discern it because it’s only lately we’ve had the scientific and psychological understanding of homosexuality. The Catechism says, “God communicates himself to man gradually” (53) and “Yet even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries. ” (66)

    I believe that as the Holy Spirit leads us into a more in-depth understanding of the deposit of faith, we will find that not only can we bless same-sex couples, but also that artificial contraception is acceptable in some circumstances as well as IVF. I believe that Pope Francis is laying the groundwork for this deeper understanding of what is already true but as yet not fully seen. And these teachings will be demonstrably in continuity with the teachings of earlier popes–like the current, fuller understanding of the death penalty.

    • Avatar M. says:

      A.L. allows for Communion for D and R Catholics only under particular circumstances. You shouldn’t make it sound like Communion is now open to all divorced and remarried Catholics, will-nilly. It isn’t the correct interpretation of the footnote. Your comment could be confusing to people who read it.

      With regards to your other comments- the Church isn’t going to start teaching that what is wrong is now right. You can’t compare it to the death penalty, because in that case, what was always wrong was tolerated by the Church, not accepted as doctrinally moral and good. So the Chruch can now say- “this is no longer going to be tolerated” without changing any of her teaching, since it was never a doctrine enshrined in dogma, that the death penalty was allowed.

    • Avatar Peter Aiello says:

      No current pope should contradict a prior pope, and no series of popes should contradict Scripture. Tradition is not disconnected from Scripture. The Church cannot disregard Scripture and remain Christian.

    • Avatar carn says:

      “And these teachings will be demonstrably in continuity”

      What if you are wrong about that point?
      Would you submit nonetheless to some declaration of some 3rd Vatican council that it is anathema to say that homosexual acts are not intrinsically evil?

      I would try to submit if there were a similar declaration that homosexual acts are not intrinsically evil, though i would try to use any room for interpretation to avoid the conclusion that the law of non-contradiction was violated (and maybe i would fail doing that).

      I really cannot understand how one can be certain what the Church is going to teach; certainty about what the Church teaches is in my view at best only possible for what is taught now and what was taught in the past (“at best”, cause its still reading and interpreting texts and one can err there).

    • Avatar Paul Goings says:

      Consider this statement:

      “I believe that as the Holy Spirit leads us into a more in-depth understanding of the deposit of faith, we will find that not only are sexual relations between adults and minors morally acceptable, but even commendable in a variety of contexts.”

      Logically it does not differ at all from the one in your comment, which is exactly the problem with open-ended concepts of doctrinal development.

    • Avatar Mike Lewis says:

      Ashpenaz, I disagree, because I would never presume to go beyond what the Church teaches magisterially. Also, because the Church’s teachings on sexual morality have always seemed limited to sexual activity between a validly married man and woman.

      That said, I think there is a lot of discussion and magisterial reflection in the Church on how we approach homosexuality, divorce, and other situations that’s yet to be had.

      • Avatar Ashpenaz says:

        I equate the issue to the shift from Ptolemy to Copernicus. As new scientific evidence came it, the Church had a clearer understanding of what was and was not in the deposit of faith. It turns out that the deposit of faith did not contain the teaching that the earth was the center of the universe. Official teaching was adjusted accordingly.

        As scientists gain more information about homosexuality and human reproduction, I believe we will find that our current understanding of what the deposit of faith teaches will become more clear. Up until the 19th century, for instance, it was thought that the man planted a homunculus in the body of a woman–she contributed nothing to the child. I would argue that the Church has not caught up with this new information yet–it still bases its teaching on the limited information Aquinas had about reproduction.

        Also, there can be no Church teaching about homosexuality since it was unknown as an orientation until the 19th century. Aquinas assumed homosexuality was simply a surfeit of heterosexual desire. Again, as the Church integrates this new scientific information, we will see the deposit of faith more clearly. And, I believe, we will find that an authentic understanding of the deposit of faith will reveal an openness to artificial contraception and homosexual acts performed by those with irreversible homosexual orientations in life-long, monogamous relationships.

        I believe that Pope Francis understands how our understand gradually develops through the centuries, and he’s working to deepen our understanding of what the deposit of faith says about these issues. That’s why many traditionalists, who are afraid of the development of doctrine, don’t like him.

      • Avatar M says:

        Development of doctrine doesn’t mean anything like what you outlined here. Have you read Theology of the Body? I bet it would help you understand why the Catholic Church teaches that homosexual acts (not the orientation, just the acts) are disordered, in the same way that mutual masturbation even within marriage is a disordered act, along with contraception. It is all the same thing- divorcing sexuality from its combined unitive and procreative reason for being. That is not to say that we “hate” married couples who engage in such acts, or “hate” homosexual couples who engage in such acts, because the church says it would be better not to do it- just the Church teaches that such acts are divorced from the intrinsic meaning of human sexuality. That’s all- no more no less. We can’t judge those who choose to do these acts as “bad” or “good,” nor the individual circumstances of each act. All we can say is that the act itself is divorced from its philosophical meaning- that is, the Church can say that it won’t help the person to be integrated with the meaning of their body. Trans people have a unique and intuitive understanding of this, which is why they try to change their bodies to “match.” But that is a different discussion for a different day.

      • Avatar Ashpenaz says:

        I’ve actually read both West’s book on Theology of the Body and Salzman/Lawler’s Sexual Ethics. For me, the Salzman book is truer to Catholic tradition. I really don’t relate to the physicalist approach to moral theology in theology of the body. I gravitate towards the personalist approach in Salzman as well as Margaret Farley’s Just Love. I have also read the USCCB’s critique of Salzman–in this case, I don’t think the bishops discern the deposit of faith as well as the theologians. I don’t find the USCCB’s arguments compelling. I think that Salzman and Farley are pointing the direction that the Holy Spirit wants to lead the Church on sexual ethics, and I think that the upcoming synod of German bishops will reach the same conclusion. While Salzman’s and Farley’s approach are not accepted yet, I think the whole Church, including the Pope, will ultimately discern that the deposit of faith contains a more personalist sexual ethic.

      • Pedro Gabriel Pedro Gabriel says:

        Theology of the Body already is a personalist sexual ethic.

  3. Avatar jong says:

    Dear Mike;

    You might be surprise at what is now the position of some Trads as Dr.Taylor Marshall interviewed on Michael Matt at his channel is saying the Trads clan can possibly unite. Dr.Marshall is projecting an idea that other faction of Trads can be quasi united to them.

    Traditional Catholics Unite the Clans with Michael Matt (Dr Taylor Marshall #229)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcMdpdBY2YQ

    After watching and studying the Trads history & developmennt, I came to personal conclusion that Ab.Fulton Sheen prophecy on the counterfeit church might be pointing to Trads and not to any other denominations or faith.

    Ab.Sheen described the counterfeit church resembling catholic tone only but No Pope & Living Church Magisterium. The question is, why would satan set-up a counterfeit church in the time close to Vatican II?

    Satan was allowed by God in 1884 to destroy the church from within, satan strategy is to sow “smoke or Dubia” on the Vatican II Council, why? The purpose of Dubia was to sow confusions and divisions. And satan foreseen that those who would separate themselves will not embrace a protestant or other denominational faith but would still embrace their Catholic Tradition. So, setting-up a counterfeit church that resembles catholic tone was a good idea.

    So, satan anticipate those catholic who would be affected by his smoke/Dubia as satan will intensified the confusions by setting up the Council of Media as Pope Benedict XVI described their existence. The Council of Media objective is to undermine the True Spirit of Vatican II. This simply means the Council of Media will attack the work of the Holy Spirit in Vatican II. There are only two forces or spirit opposing in this world. The spirit of the Vatican II coming from the Holy Spirit vs. the spirit of the Council of Media which is against the Vatican II.

    St.John Paul II saw this clearly, that’s why he warn us early of the Final Confrontation between the Two opposing Churches.

    I hate to say this but it would seems, that the Rad Trads spirit that is visibly opposing the Vatican II since the beginning will emerge as the counterfeit church in the end. Pope Francis already stated that Real Schism was already visible as more Cardinals & Bishops will be exposed who’s side they are in, either they are loyal to the Pope or oppose, will be further expose by the resolution on the World Bishop Summit.

    I think this is the reason, why the SSPX strong statement that they are putting into the Hand of God their priestly fraternity, a clear indication that they will not embraced Full Communion with any Vatican II Pope.

    If ever the the different Trads clan unite in the future it would be a strong indications that they want to project that they are the True Catholic Church by Tradition and the Vatican II direction as Pope Benedict XVI predicted will be reduced to a small church. Pope Francis already embraced this vision when he said “how I wish the church become poor and for the poor”.

    We are going to see the Trads growing in numbers and the Vatican II Church reduced to a small poor church but fortunately it will be a small poor. humble and pious church.

    Michael Matt is dreaming that soon the Trads will take over Rome to celebrate Latin Mass inside, meaning they are dreaming that one day Trads will be occupying Rome, will it happen? I don’t think so..We are blessed to have a Two Great Pope invoking Matthew18:19, their united prayer to defeat the forces of darkness is so powerful because Jesus Christ was in their midst.

    Thank you Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI for your prayers & sacrifices for Church victory in the end.
    God bless. My Jesus Mercy.

  4. Avatar trent13@gmail.com says:

    Hilarious. It’s amazing that in all your little schpeal and your cutesy little chart, papal adherence to Catholic doctrine mattered not at all. If sedes did a chart, it would show both SSPX and Novus Ordo conservatives firmly in the campy of being willing to trade in Catholic doctrine for having a pope (or what is typically known as “a pope at all costs.”)

    At least you know your brand of fidelity to a pope at all costs results in people like Ashpenaz above, who has clearly departed from Catholic doctrine, and believes as logically follows, “because the pope said so”, that it turns out the Catholic Church was never right to begin with and can contradict itself. What a conundrum!

    We have the “Catholics” who don’t follow the Catholic faith (but, by golly, they have their pope!) and trade in the doctrine of the Church for the sake of having a pope, the resistors who trade in the infallibility of the Catholic Church for having a pope, or the sedes, who won’t trade in anything for the sake of having a pope, and who adhere fully to all the doctrines of the Catholic Church and reject heresy and those that teach heresy (as instructed by St. Paul – “If I or another from heaven should teach a gospel to you other than what I have taught you, let him be anathema”).

    But by all means, attempt to make the claim that sedes are “half-right” while you try to explain to people like Ash just how he’s wrong, but right, but wrong, but right….. “Let your answer be Yes, Yes, and No, No.”

    • Avatar Mike Lewis says:

      If you have read anything on this site, of course papal adherence to doctrine matters. But it is also intrinsic to the Church. If the pope is not the Rock on which we can rely for true doctrine, the office is meaningless.

    • Avatar Jane says:

      Ubi Petrus, Ibi Ecclesia, Ibi Deus

  5. Avatar carn says:

    “Recognize-and-Resistors have been embroiled in a debate since the 1970s”

    As the recognize-and-resistors of today mostly started doing that with Pope Francis and/or with AL and/or [pick the thing Pope Francis did that was the tipping point for some individual; e.g. Phillip Lawler as far as i remember named a specific sermon of Pope Francis as his tipping point]

    it seems a bit strange to say that they have been in some debate since the 1970s.

    “preaching and teaching that current liturgical norms are spiritually harmful and theologically suspect;”

    What is the problem with that?

    After all, the current head of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments – the person who is in matters of liturgy in a sense only second to the Pope – has criticized a too extensive use of communion in the hand as something that helps the Devil, so as spiritually very harmful.

    If the one regarding liturgy second only to the Pope publically is “teaching” that “current liturgical norms” are put into practice in a “spiritually harmful” way, the manifest will of the Pope seems to be that such criticism is ok for Catholics to voice (if done in a respectful way and based on appropiate expertise), cause the Pope is free to remove cardinal Sarah from his post at any moment and for any reason, which indicates that even if he sees something wrong about what Cardinal Sarah says, it is not something severe in his eyes – at least not something constituting disobedience to the Magisterium or Papal authority, which i think would usually be a direct jobloss offence for any prefect.

    “An orthodox Catholic would hold SSPX’s view of who the Pope is AND the sedevacantist’s view on papal primacy.”

    But an orthodox Catholic could still hold the opinion that some Cardinals are unable to spot a contradiction if they have a ten meter high and blinking “2+2=5” right in front of them and that if nonetheless the Pope refers to/highlights the expertise of these Cardinals that then the theological situation is not optimal.

    • Avatar Mike Lewis says:

      Apologies, I was not able to approve comments for a chunk of time there.

      I’m not really focusing on the Lawlers and Schmitzes and Robert Royal types in this piece, they are latecomers to the “Recognize and Resist” group, with a particular focus on Pope Francis. Some of them, like Msgr. Bux, were Pope Benedict loyalists who are now entertaining sedevacantist theories and applying them to Francis. The faction I’m referring to applies mainly to opponents of the reforms of the second Vatican Council: the SSPX, sites like Rorate Caeli and 1P5, and public voices like Michael Matt and Taylor Marshall. Their public opposition to the Council, as well as postconciliar teachings and popes, stretches back to the 1970s with the SSPX. In the late 70s and early 80s, some groups and individuals broke off from the SSPX position, arguing that the pope was illegitimate. (It’s much more complicated than that, but that was a significant part of it.)

      The point of contention was the legitimacy of the pope, something that the SSPX has always argued strongly in favor of. The counterargument, of course, made by the sedevacantists, is that if there is a legitimate pope, Catholics are bound to obey his disciplinary decisions and assent to his teaching. The common thread between the two is “Sola Traditio,” the difference is what to do about it.

      Now along comes Pope Francis, and Catholics who were happy with Vatican II and Francis’ predecessors (although they might have some qualms) decide that Francis doesn’t fit into their preconceived understanding of the Church and the Magisterium. They begin to apply some of the SSPX’s justifications for dissent and disobedience to their own understandings (I go into this in greater depth on my piece, “Marcel Lefebvre: Father of Traditionalist Dissent”). This, of course, is pleasing to the “Recognize and Resist” crowd, which is happy to welcome them onto the slippery slope of defiance in the Church. But some of these newcomers also begin to question the legitimacy of Francis’s papacy altogether, and are entertaining sedevacantist ideas as well.

      My guess is that some of the “Recognize and Resistors” see this happening, and therefore are working hard to counter “Benevacantism,” and they’re employing the arguments they’ve been using for countering sedevacantism since the 1970s.

      Regarding your 2+2=5 argument, you’re embracing the imagisterium. We can’t decide that the Church doesn’t teach what has been promulgated officially by the Magisterium. Our choice is whether or not we should accept it.

      • Avatar Jane says:

        Dear Carn, I began defending Pope Francis six years ago, not because of anything that Pope Francis said six years ago, but because of the railing and reviling I had seen done against Popes John Paul II and Emeritus Benedict XVI. I said to myself, “Enough is enough.”

      • Avatar Chris dorf says:

        Thank you! I feel the same about those throwing stones at Francis, Benedict, and JP II…

  6. Avatar Hans Georg Lundahl says:

    The square where you painted “sedevacantist” as sole option is actually divided, not all believing the see has been vacant since 1958, which is the classic “sede” position.

    1) Sede proper (no Pope since 1958 – probably incompatible with papal continuity, or will be so from 2028 on at least, 70 years after said event)
    2) Pope in Red / Siriite (Giuseppe Siri was validly elected and invalidly forced to resign in 1958, so he remained Pope to his death in 1989)
    3) Abdicationists (Benedict XVI was valid Pope, and was in material error about what he resigned, making his abdication in fact invalid)
    4) Orthopapists

    These latter come in two flavours, mysticalist and conclavist.

    The two most interesting mysticalist claims, on my view, are the Michel Colin claim (God replaced Pius XII with him in 1950) and the Palmar claim (Paul VI, saint, prisoner in the Vatican and martyr, asked God to arrange a valid papacy, since he foresaw the conclave of 1978 would be invalid, held by his captors; God complied by allowing Peter from heaven to designate Clemente Domínguez y Gómez as the next pope, who then took the name Gregorio XVII).

    I am ex-Palmarian, partly due to mixing up the two claims, since I reacted against Pius XII (not the usual stuff, I don’t accuse him of being “Hitler’s Pope” even if he was in fact Hitler’s Pope, since Hitler was only excommunicated by German bishops and not excluded from the Church).

    The conclavist claims started out with a conclave in 1990, to which six people came, but definitely more had been invited. Unless you will claim that David Bawden lied as well as bungling validity of the conclave. This gives him priority within this type of claim.

    While Palmarian, I found fault with the conclave on the ground that all people who showed up were laymen (including two women, but my point was absence of clergy).

    Since then only one claim can be held as equally interesting, namely that of Alexander IX. He was Pope of one faction having held a conclave with Sede clergy, then became accepted by another one, then has received several dissatisfied Palmarians.

    He is also a strict Feeneyist. That’s my most honest reason to have preferred Pope Michael despite the lay conclave.

    Since then Pope Michael at least claims to have been ordained and consecrated bishop on the two consecutive days of Gaudete weekend in 2011.

    I consider him somewhat of a grumpy curmudgeon, impatient with lack of ambition in holiness, more suited to be a novice master than a pope as to character, I do not consider him a liar.

    So, either Bob Biarnesen, formerly Ukrainean vagante bishop and then reconciled with Pope Michael as well as another one, and Bob having episcopal succession from Duarte Costa (who went in schism from Pius XII in 1950) actually did make him fully a clergyman, as well as previous to that Pope elect, or Pope Michael was victim of a mystification. Bob Biarnesen has no presence on the web, but there was a time when “episcopal lineage” was shown on wikipedia, even for Pope Michael, and back then it involved Bob Biarnesen and Duarte Costa and one or two between.

    However, the square below that is also badly filled in.

    You equate it with Protestants, but it also involves Orthodox, perhaps Nestorians, Armenians and Copts too (though one could argue they do have their parallel papacies instead), it also involved the early stages of the Utrecht Union, as well as obviously Duarte Costa’s still extant Brasilian Church.

    • Avatar Mike Lewis says:

      By dividing up the classes of Sedevacantists/conclavists/mysticalists into so many categories, doesn’t that further demonstrate the intrinsic flaw of deviating from communion with the man who is most universally recognized as the Successor of Peter?

      Many of these groups are fascinating, I agree, but their differences are striking (and in some cases, bizarre).

      It ultimately leaves it up to the individual (once separated from the Vatican) to decide for himself which “flavor” is the truth. And it’s impossible to know this with certainty.

      Even if one believes with deep conviction and certainty that their “version” is the truth, no one can deny that ecclesiologically, it’s a total mess.

      The visibility of the pope is essential, as is the universal nature of the Church. And one thing that pretty much everyone has to acknowledge is that if John XXIII wasn’t a true pope, there was no visible Church from 1958-68 (when sedevacantism became a thing.) Unless you count Michel Colin, I guess.

      • Avatar Peter Aiello says:

        Does communion with the man who is most universally recognized as the Successor of Peter require us to assent to everything that he says? If we feel obligated to do that, we are neglecting our personal guidance from the Holy Spirit (see Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium 12).

      • Avatar Mike Lewis says:

        What does Lumen Gentium 25th say we need to assent to?

      • Avatar Peter Aiello says:

        I have to admit that it is a challenge to try to reconcile different statements in Vatican II and Scripture.
        Lumen Gentium 12 says that the entire body of the faithful cannot err in matters of belief because of the discernment of the Spirit of truth.
        Lumen Gentium 25 tells us that the individual bishops do not enjoy the prerogative of infallibility.
        Dignitatis Humanae 3 tells us that when assent is given, a person is not to be forced to act in manner contrary to his conscience. Scripture tells us in 1Thessalonians 5:21 to “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”
        1John 2:20, 27 says: “But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things…But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.”
        Paul says in 2Corinthians 1:24: “Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand”; and 1Peter 5:3 says to the elders: “Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock”.
        Romans 13:7 says it best: “Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.” I believe that this also includes us.

      • Pedro Gabriel Pedro Gabriel says:

        Exactly. That’s the same argument Catholic apologists make around the 33,000+ Protestant denominations. Once a group of persons breaks away from proper authority, they inevitably follow their own opinions, which are different from the other people who went down the same road. The endless splitting is proof that they do not come from God, but man’s personal opinions.