Do traditionalists defy papal authority?
from "Traditionalists, Infallibility and the Pope" by Rev. Anthony Cekada
Catholics new to the traditional movement sometimes fear they are defying papal authority. Are they?
No. Unlike many traditionalist groups, we do not believe one can simultaneously hold that (a) The changes in the Church were bad and (b) The popes who promulgated the changes continued to possess authority from Christ.
Both propositions cannot be true. The authority of the Church cannot give evil or error.
But once you acknowledge the obvious - that the Vatican II changes were in fact harmful to souls - only one reasonable explanation remains: the men who promulgated these change, from Paul VI on down, either lost or lacked true authority to do so.
A Brief Explanation
How could this be so? The reasoning is as follows:
1. Officially-sanctioned Vatican II and post-Vatican II teachings and laws embody errors and/or promote evil.
2. Because the Church is indefectible, her teaching cannot change, and because she is infallible, her laws cannot give evil.
3. It is therefore impossible that the errors and evils officially sanctioned in Vatican II and post-Vatican II teachings and laws could have proceeded from the authority of the Church.
4. Those who promulgate such errors and evils must somehow lack real authority in the Church.
5. Canonists and theologians teach that defection from the faith, once it becomes manifest, brings with it automatic loss of ecclesiastical office (authority). They apply this principle even to a pope who, in his personal capacity, somehow becomes a heretic. (See Heresy and loss of authority.)
6. Even popes have acknowledged the possibility that a heretic could one day end up on the throne of Peter. Paul IV decreed that the election of such a pope would be invalid, and that he would lack all authority. (See Heresy and loss of authority.)
7. Since the Church cannot defect but a pope as an individual can defect (as, a fortiori, can diocesan bishops), the best explanation for the post-Vatican II errors and evils we have catalogued is that they proceeded (proceed) from individuals who, despite their occupation of the Vatican and of various diocesan cathedrals, did (do) not objectively possess canonical authority.
Put Another Way.
The Faith itself compels us to assert that those who have taught these errors or promulgated these evil laws, no matter what appearance of authority they may have, do not in fact possess the authority of the Catholic Church. Only in this way is the indefectibility of the Catholic Church preserved. We must therefore, as Catholics who affirm that the Church is both indefectible and infallible, reject and repudiate the claims that Paul VI and his successors have been true popes. On the other hand we leave it to the authority of the Church, when it once again will function in a normal manner, to declare authoritatively that these supposed popes were non-popes. We as simple priests cannot, after all, make authoritative judgements, whether legal or doctrinal, which bind the consciences of the faithful.