The "Sede" Position in Brief
In this third and final installment, I would like to cite John Lane's syllogism in thirteen points below in presenting a short, systematic outline of the history and doctrine supporting the "sede vacante" thesis.
• 1. Heresy is defined as a pertinacious doubt or denial of something required to be held with divine and catholic faith.
• 2. "Vatican II" and its "popes" have taught, adhered to, acted in accordance with, or failed to condemn a plethora of heresies, including religious liberty, universal salvation, the efficacy of non-Catholics sects for salvation, the blasphemy that Jews & Muslims worship the One True God, the evolution of dogma, etc. They have also destroyed the faith of tens of millions, and Karol Wojtyla ("John Paul II") describes this whole process as a "new Pentecost." In other words, he thinks it is good, and wants the Holy Ghost to take the blame ("credit").
• 3. There are various undoubtedly genuine prophecies relating to our time (or a time like ours) which predict the loss of faith at Rome, the use of the See by Antichrist, the mass apostasy, the disappearance of the perpetual sacrifice, etc.
• 4. It is the constant tradition of Holy Church that manifest (i.e. "public") heresy results in the radical incapacity of a man to hold the papacy.
• 5. History provides a number of examples of popes (or "popes") who were claimed to have fallen into at least material heresy, and the reaction of good Catholics each time was to threaten to withdraw from communion with them, and in the more outstanding cases work towards convoking an imperfect council for the "deposition" of the apparent heretic. The significant examples include Liberius, Honorius (after his death), Pascal II, John XXII, Alexander VI, Paul VI, and John Paul II.
• 6. There is no case in history where a "pope" has apparently been a manifest heretic and did not produce this reaction in some portion of the clergy and laity (the faithful).
• 7. These members of the faithful have included many saints.
• 8. The theological basis for this reaction has been established perfectly by many theologians and canonists, with the outstanding example being St. Robert Bellarmine, who has harmonised or criticised all of the opinions to produce the locus classicus on the subject. Given that his works have received the highest possible approbation by the Church - he has been named a Doctor (i.e. "Teacher") of the Universal Church - it is perfectly legitimate, nay praiseworthy in the highest degree, for Catholics to be taught by him in all matters of sacred doctrine.
• 9. Furthermore, there are only three or four theologians known to have held that a heretic could become or remain pope, and none of those are Doctors of the Church.
• 10. Furthermore, there is the bull of Pope Paul IV, Cum Ex Apostolatus Officio, which legislates that if a heretic is elected pope the election is completely null and void, and cannot be convalidated in any way. Once again, this bull proves the radical incompatibility of the papacy and the person of a heretic. If this was not the case, the faulty election could be repaired by acclamation or subsequent "convalidation" by the Sacred College.
• 11. It is contrary to right reason to insist that individual members of the faithful have no right to draw the concrete conclusion of a vacant see through heresy, prior to a declaration by Holy Church. This is proved by a reductio ad absurdum - if this were the case, then no action could be legitimately taken to remove such a "papal" heretic and then replace him. This is because a pope cannot be judged by any man, since judging belongs by divine right only to superiors, and the pope has no superior. Hence any proceedings which were founded on any basis other than the evident vacancy of the Holy See would be contrary to divine law and thus null and void. This is also proved by the authority of Wernz and Vidal, cited elsewhere on this web site, who maintain that those who dispute the legitimacy of a given pontiff are not to be counted schismatics.
• 12. This judgement of vacancy made by an individual is valid and sufficient in its sphere. It can be and should be a judgement of moral certainty, based on the relevant clear principles of theology and divine law, as embodied in the writings of the approved teachers of Holy Church, and also in her canon law. These principles include the nature of Holy Church as a visible society of those who, among other things, outwardly profess the true faith. Also relevant is the presumption under divine law (and hence canon law) of guilt for heresy (in the external forum) until and unless the contrary is proved. (This principle is no different in its fundamental nature from the presumption which provides perfectly sufficient support for the validity of all sacraments, including the Thuc and Lefebvre lines of Orders and all marriages). This principle is also clearly implied in St. Robert Bellarmine's assessment of the case of Liberius, in which he states that Liberius was actually innocent and yet rightly presumed guilty. It is also clearly enunciated in Leo XIII's Apostolicae Curae, in which the Holy Father laid down that only God judges what remains internal, while men judge externals. (Emphasis mine throughout - JG)
• 13. Given the above, it is the right and responsibility of all of the faithful, as it lies within their competence, to form a view on this question, and it is the additional responsibility of the clergy to act upon the conclusion reached.
Perhaps it may now be clear why it is an absolute outrage that so-called "sedevacantists" are treated as schismatics and denounced as enemies of Holy Church. Sede Position in Brief
Again, turning to John Lane's findings, let us examine what St. Robert Bellarmine points out.
"Therefore, the true opinion is the fifth, according to which the Pope who is manifestly a heretic ceases by himself to be Pope and head, in the same way as he ceases to be a Christian and a member of the body of the Church; and for this reason he can be judged and punished by the Church. This is the opinion of all the ancient Fathers, who teach that manifest heretics immediately lose all jurisdiction, and outstandingly that of St. Cyprian (lib. 4, epist. 2) who speaks as follows of Novatian, who was Pope [i.e. antipope] in the schism which occurred during the pontificate of St. Cornelius: 'He would not be able to retain the episcopate [i.e. of Rome], and, if he was made bishop before, he separated himself from the body of those who were, like him, bishops, and from the unity of the Church.'
According to what St. Cyprian affirms in this passage, even had Novatian been the true and legitimate Pope, he would have automatically fallen from the pontificate, if he separated himself from the Church.
"This is the opinion of great recent doctors, as John Driedo (lib. 4 de Script. et dogmat. Eccles., cap. 2, par. 2, sent. 2), who teaches that only they separate themselves from the Church who are expelled, like the excommunicated, and those who depart by themselves from her or oppose her, as heretics and schismatics. And in his seventh affirmation, he maintains that in those who turn away from the Church, there remains absolutely no spiritual power over those who are in the Church. Melchior Cano says the same (lib. 4 de loc., cap. 2), teaching that heretics are neither parts nor members of the Church, and that it cannot even be conceived that anyone could be head and Pope, without being member and part (cap. ult. ad argument. 12). And he teaches in the same place, in plain words, that occult [private or secret - JG] heretics are still of the Church, they are parts and members, and that therefore the Pope who is an occult heretic is still Pope. This is also the opinion of the other authors whom we cite in book I De Ecclesia.
"The foundation of this argument is that the manifest heretic is not in any way a member of the Church, that is, neither spiritually nor corporally, which signifies that he is not such by internal union nor by external union. For even bad Catholics [i.e. who are not heretics] are united and are members, spiritually by faith, corporally by confession of faith and by participation in the visible sacraments; the occult heretics are united and are members although only by external [VISIBLE - JG] union; on the contrary, the good catechumens belong to the Church only by an internal union [can be saved despite what the Feeneyites teach - JG], not by the external; but manifest heretics do not pertain in any manner, as we have already proved."
Comments by Jim Larrabee: As to the case of Liberius, which Bellarmine treats in book IV, chapter IX at considerable length, he is there concerned not to prove that Liberius was not deposed, and lawfully deposed (both of which he fully admits), but that the Liberius case does not argue against infallibility, nor was Liberius personally a heretic. This involves various distinctions which people now are failing to make, but are evident to any theologian. Perhaps I could quote this at length in future, but for now, let it be said that, while Liberius resisted heresy both before and after the period of his lapse and deposition (and that is what the quote from a later Pope undoubtedly refers to), he failed to do so for a given time. During this time the Roman clergy "deposed" him, i.e. they considered the papacy to be vacant, and accepted St. Felix as Pope.
For example (Bellarmine): "In addition, unless we are to admit that Liberius defected for a time from constancy in defending the Faith, we are compelled to exclude Felix II, who held the pontificate while Liberius was alive, from the number of the Popes: but the Catholic Church venerates this very Felix as Pope and martyr. However this may be, Liberius neither taught heresy, nor was a heretic, but only sinned by external act [emphasis in original Latin], as did St. Marcellinus, and unless I am mistaken, sinned less than St. Marcellinus." (lib. IV, c. 9, no. 5)
Further, after explaining that Felix was for a time an antipope, he continues (no. 15): "Then two years later came the lapse of Liberius, of which we have spoken above. Then indeed the Roman clergy, stripping Liberius of his pontifical dignity, went over to Felix, whom they knew [then] to be a Catholic. From that time, Felix began to be the true Pontiff. For although Liberius was not a heretic, nevertheless he was considered one, on account of the peace he made with the Arians, and by that presumption the pontificate could rightly [merito] be taken from him: for men are not bound, or able to read hearts; but when they see that someone is a heretic by his external works, they judge him to be a heretic pure and simple [simpliciter], and condemn him as a heretic. (Emphasis mine throughout) Bellarmine
If the conciliar Church is the Catholic Church then the gates of Hell could prevail and the Catholic Church could be destroyed since it would, if not already, no longer have a valid Mass as its main form of worship (even the "extraordinary form", modernized 1961/2 version of the true Mass is invalid when offered by the invalid clergy that composes over 99% of their clergy) or Sacraments or valid Priests or Bishops or Canon Law or Truth or Oneness or Holiness or Apostolicity. If any Mark of the Church is destroyed that whole Church is destroyed. Three out of the four Marks of the Conciliar Church have gone kaput as the only remaining Mark, which is its universality in this world so obviously ruled by Satan. Yes, we must take the bull by the horns and end the conciliar heresy for it is no game of sport when it comes to souls.
"Catholics who remain faithful to Tradition, even if they are reduced to but a handful, they are THE TRUE CHURCH"
Saint Athanasius, "Apostle of Tradition" AD 373