THE THESIS OF CASSICIACUM
or the material Papacy
A contribution for a peaceable debate
* * *
A Note from the Translator:
Among the various theological attempts to explain the place and the role of the Conciliar Popes in the crisis in the Church, there is one called the “Thesis of Cassiciacum”, or the Material Papacy, conceived after Vatican II by the French theologian Fr. Guérard des Lauriers.
There was lacking in the English language a serious critical study to expose the metaphysical and theological deficiencies of this theory. The following study, written by Fr. Curzio Nitoglia, a former follower of this Thesis, combines a deep theological knowledge and a balanced approach on the subject.
The bottom line of his argumentation is that a pure Material Pope is not sufficient to perpetuate the Papacy, but also theChurch Itself.
Fr. Nitoglia ranges the “Thesis of Cassiciacum” among the Sedevacantist theories, because despite recent attempts of calling it “Sedeprivationism”, the conclusion of this theory is that we have not a true Pope in Rome.
The author, in other studies, shares the position of Recognize and Resist (R&R) as being the most suitable attempt to explain the complex and difficult situation of the Papacy after Vatican II.
“In this passage from the Gospel of St. Mark (6:47-56) it is rightly written that the Boat (that is, the Church) was in the middle of the sea, while Jesus stood alone on the dry land: because the Church is not only tormented and oppressed by so many persecutions from the world, but sometimes it is also soiled and contaminated so that, if it were possible, its Redeemer in these circumstances, it would seem to have abandoned it completely”. Saint Bede (In Marcum, chapter VI, book II, chapter XXVIII, volume 4).
A prominent Dominican theologian, Father Michel Louis Guérard-des-Lauriers, in front of the tragedy of Vatican Council II and the Novus Ordo Missae, elaborated a "Thesis" called of "Cassiciacum", according to which, at least starting from the promulgation ofDignitatis humane (December 7, 1965), the See of Peter is formally vacant. That is, Paul VI was Pope only materially or in potency, but not formally or in act.
The distinctions between matter/form, potency/act are not his invention (as many of his detractors have suggested); there were elaborated by Aristotle, and perfected by St. Thomas Aquinas affirming that the being is the ultimate act of every form or essence, and were canonized by the Magisterium since the thirteenth century, and especially at the Council of Trent, concerning the Sacraments (matter, form and minister). 
However, if it is applied to the Papacy, it can work only with the material death of the Pope, but not beyond. In this article I will try to explain to the readers who, confused by the doctrines of the Second Vatican Council and the after-council and by the reservations of the "traditionalist" resistance to Modernist innovations, are turning to the Thesis of the material Papacy, which appears logically founded to solve the problem of Authority in the Church. In doing so, however, they start by defending the Authority but they end up by annihilating it.
Certainly in the face of so much disarray in the ecclesial environment, the question arises: "how is it possible that ‘Christ on earth’, who kisses the Quran, goes to a synagogue to proclaim the Jews ‘fathers of Christianity’, brings together all the false religions together with the only True Religion in Assisi ...?” But from here to theorize the"Theological Thesis" of the Papal Vacancy (not only of the Pope, but of Cardinals, Bishops and Priests) for fifty consecutive years and to organize a subsequent "Religious Movement" with an extremely detailed moral and liturgical discipline, which applies the "Thesis" to practical cases and comes to deny the sacraments to those who do not agree with the aforementioned "Thesis", considering it a "specification of an act of Faith", the step goes too far, and when “you bite more than you can chew,” it does not lead to anything good, but to a thunderous slide.
I do not want to denigrate the 'sedevacantists', who have been marginalized and accused too much in the "traditionalist" milieu, by taking the side of the criticism to their theories and their attitude led to the "excesses." Indeed, they have on their side some positive elements: serious studies of the Church and of the Papacy in the light of logic, of ecclesiology, of the counter-Church problem, of a largely forgotten Roman integration in the "traditionalist" environment, of classical anti-Modernism etc.
Nevertheless I would like to recommend them – after having been myself a 'sedevacantist' for 20 years  - to avoid those excesses, which do not help leading the souls to Heaven more easily and surely ("suprema lex Ecclesiae: salus animarum – the surpreme law of the Church is the salvation of souls"), that is to say, by affirming that all the sacraments of the 'non-sedevacantist' priests are certainly invalid or gravely sinful and therefore we must not approach them  ; a certain tendency towards personal criticism, which can lead to gossip (even now by personally attacking Bishop Williamson without foundation). Every excess is a defect. Father Guérard des Lauriers, (whom I still deeply respect as a man, priest and theologian, although I no longer share the theological Thesis  ) was alien to such petty quarrels, even if he had a strong vis polemica [polemic force], because the "struggle for the truth" should not be confused with gossip, slander, pedantry and malice.
The Material Papacy & the Virtual Church’
It is of Faith (de fide) that the Church will last until the end of the world ("I am with you every day until the end of the world", Mt. 28:20). It is defined of Faith that Christ gave his Church a Hierarchy (Pope and Bishops), which will last until the end of the Church (Conc. Trent, DB 966).
The Protestants, however, recognize only the general priesthood of all the faithful and deny the Hierarchy or the Papacy and the Episcopate. They were condemned asheretics by the Council of Trent. The First Vatican Council defines of Faith: "Christ wanted that in his Church there were Pastors and Doctors until the end of the world (Mt. 28:20)" (DB 1821), which are the Bishopssuccessors of the Apostles and subject to the First or the Prince of the Apostles, that is Peter and his successors in the Roman See (DB 1821) Remove "First" and everything falls. Furthermore, it is of Faith that"Christ established Peter first of all the Apostles and the visible Head of the whole Church" (First Vatican Council, DB 1823).
Therefore the Church must rest on Peter and the Apostles and their successors (Pope and Bishops) until the end of the world when there must be at least two Bishops according to the most restrictive interpretation of the First Vatican Council (as regards Order and Jurisdiction) and a first Pope of all the Apostles (as regards Order and Jurisdiction).
Now the 'mitigated sedevacantists', who follow the 'Thesis of Cassiciacum', admit that there must always be during the history of the Church at least two validly consecrated Bishops, with integral Faith and Jurisdiction (Magisterium, Imperium et Sacerdotium –Magisterium, Government and Priesthood), but deny that there should be a Pope in act (in actu); only a Pope in potency(in potentia) is enough for them.
This distinction does not seem acceptable to me. In fact, how could the Church rest on a Pope who is not yet Pope in act, but who is a baptized elected by the Cardinals, who has not yet accepted the canonical election, and therefore not being a Pope? The Church (like any entity) cannot rest on and be founded on potentiality and becoming, but only in act and in being; otherwise it would be a potential, virtual and in fieri Church.
Furthermore, it is not possible to be lacking together the Pope in act, the College of Cardinals capable of replacing the deceased Pope by governing with authority (a sort of "vicar" college of the Vicar of Christ, because the cardinal College would be onlymaterial, which could validly elect a Pope, but does not govern the Church in act, which does not have formal apostolicity), and even the universal Episcopate having jurisdiction in act with every Bishop in his Diocese  , who maintain the unity and existence of the Church, awaiting for the election of a new Pope. Otherwise we would be faced with a state of 'vacant Church,' more than the only 'vacant papal See'.
Unity and Apostolicity of the Church
Unity is an essential note of the Church and is essentially focused on the only visible Head of the Church, the Roman Pontiff, to whom rests the principle of apostolic succession (or formal Apostolicity, while the only 'material apostolicity' is not enough as a note of the Church of Christ). Then, without Peter or Pope there is no Church, which is in communion with Christ through the Prince of the Apostles.  Therefore, everything that happens outside the uninterrupted chain of Peter and his successors is outside the Unity and formal Apostolicity of the Church  and reveals the detachment of dried branches from the vital trunk of the Church of Christ.
Apostolicity is, in the crisis which the ecclesial environment is experiencing, the most useful and important note to understand what happens and to bring a remedy to so much evil. Without the Apostles the Church of Christ does not subsist, since Jesus himself founded it on them. But without the Prince of the Apostles, without Peter, who is the secondary and subordinated 'stone' to Christ, the Apostles are detached from Christ. The presence of the Pope is therefore absolutely necessary, and not only of the Bishops in fieri (in becoming) or in esse (in being), and not in potentia (in potency) or in progress.
In fact, if the Church were in potency or in becoming, she would not yet exist and besides Christ would not be with her, as He has promised, every day from Calvary until the end of the world, but He would be at intervals, sometimes in progress or in being, and sometimes only in potency or in progress.
On the contrary, Christ founded His Church on a single uninterrupted chain of Popes in act of being and not in perpetual becoming or intermittently: Peter and the Apostles were Pope and Bishops in act and formally, not in potency, in fieri or only materially. The Church rests on being, on act and form, not on becoming, potency and materiality; a "Church" like this latter would seem rather the "cosmic Church" of the "cosmic Christ"in perpetual evolution of Teilhard de Chardin. Therefore, that “Church” or the “Papacy”,material or in progress, of four Popes which has not passed to the act and has interrupted the unity and the formal apostolic succession from Peter, is a Papacyconceived by the mind of a man, even from a very great theologian (who, however, is not Christ on earth nor the ecclesiastical Magisterium), but it is not the Church desired by God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
'Vacant See’, yes, 'Church vacant', no
a) 'Vacante Sede Apostolica' at every death of the Pope, yes.
Canonists and theologians define, and therefore distinguish, the period of Vacancy of the Apostolic See, which goes from the death of a Pope to the election of the next one, from the lack of authority or Hierarchy in the Church (Either "Sedevacantism" mitigated, or absolute).
During the Conclave the Cardinals cannot issue new laws, but they must not diminish the rights of the Apostolic See, keeping alive those existing (see St. Pius X, Vacante Sede Apostolica, December 25, 1904; Pius XI, Quae divinitus, March 26, 1925, Pius XII, Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis, December 8, 1945).
Then, even though the Pope is dead, the Cardinals still have a certain power on the universal Church, as the Bishops maintain the Jurisdiction in their Dioceses and the Parish Priests in the Parishes.
While in the practical case of "Sedevacantism" one finds oneself in a total (or onlyformal) vacancy of the power of Jurisdiction of the Pope, of the Cardinals and of the Bishops throughout the world (starting from 1958/1965), and also in a state of privation of the power of Order (starting from 1970). That is, the Hierarchical Church no longer exists; as regards the power of Jurisdiction, totally or at least formally according to the "Thesis of Cassiciacum", for this Thesis the papal authority from Paul VI until today is only material or potential; and moreover the Priesthood would have disappeared since 1970 because it is considered invalid by 'Sedevacantism' if it is conferred with the new Sacramentary of Paul VI of 1970.
Now, Jesus promised the indefectibility to the Church,  saying: "I will be with you until the end of the world" (Mt. 28:20) and "the gates of Hell will not prevail against My Church" (Mt. 16:19).
Therefore His Church will last until the end of the world, keeping 1°) the Hierarchy, since the Church is hierarchical and monarchical by divine Will and will remain so until the end of time; 2°) the Priesthood, as without the priesthood or sacrifice there is no Religion.
In this regard, St. Ambrose of Milan (Liber de Salomone, chapter 4) compares the Church to a ship "that is continually agitated by the waves and storms of the sea, but which will never fail, because its mast is the Cross of Christ, his helmsman is God the Father, the guardian of the prow the Holy Ghost, and the rowers the Apostles.". 
Saint Bede comments: "In this passage from the Gospel of Mark (6:47-56) it is rightly written that the Ship (i.e. the Church) was found in the middle of the sea, while Jesus stood alone on the dry land: since the Church is not only tormented and oppressed by so many persecutions by the world, but sometimes it is also dirty and contaminated so that, if possible, its Redeemer in these circumstances, it would seem to have abandoned it completely." (In Marcum, chapter VI, book II, chapter XXVIII, volume 4)
The College of Cardinals is still an arbiter in act, in spite of the Pope's death, for urgent cases, namely in the internal forum and conscience, which are solved by a majority vote. Furthermore, every day a "General Congregation" of all Cardinals in Conclave must meet.
Besides, the Cardinals are locked up in the Conclave and "placed in poor living conditions to shorten as much as possible the Vacancy of the Apostolic See", which would have lasted, according to Sedevacantism, over half a century against the nature of the Church. Indeed, according to "Sedevacantism," the vacancy would have lasted at least since 1965. When the Pope dies the offices of all the Cardinals cease, except a) that of the "Major Penitentiary Cardinal",  who continues to exercise the most important functions, that is, about cases of internal forum and conscience (see Pius XI, Quae divinitus, March 26, 1925); b) that of the "Camerlengo Cardinal",  which, far from diminishing or even completely ceasing, develops its most important functions, which consist in administering the temporal goods of the Apostolic See; c) the "Sacred Congregations"  and the "Ecclesiastical Tribunals"  which continue to function only with the ordinary faculties, except those that are not urgent, which may be postponed to the future election of the Pope. Furthermore, Saint Pius X wisely wished that the certainty and validity of the election of the Pope should be out of any doubt and therefore eliminated any penalty invalidatingthe election of the Pope brought by any previously reigning Pope (for example, Pope Julius II, in 1505, he had sanctioned Simony as invalidating the papal election). 
As for Simony, it consists in the gravely illicit exchange of spiritual goods with material ones (e.g. a cardinal buys the papal election for 10 million). Now St. Thomas equates Simony with Atheism or Irreligion, since a simoniac does not believe in God because he buys spiritual things with money as if they were material (S. Th., II-II, q. 100, a. 1).
This analogy is very interesting, since the "Thesis of Cassiciacum" does not follow the dead path ab initio [from the beginning] of the “heretical Pope”, but takes a new and apparently living road, according to which the Authority is aimed at the common good of the subject. Therefore, they say, a Pope who does not objectively want the good of theChurch does not want the end or goal of the Pontifical Authority.
Therefore he is not Pope in act or formally, but only in potency or materially and will become Pope only when he has taken away the impediment of the lack of right intention or will of the common good or end of the Authority. But the atheist or the irreligious, who does notbelieve in God, in Religion and therefore not even in the Church, cannot want the goodof the Church and of souls. And yet, according to St. Pius X and Canon Law, he is also a Pope in act.  So the path of the "Thesis of Cassiciacum" ("partialSedevacantism") finishes, at its end, in a barred road like the one, already barred, of the "heretical Pope" ("total Sedevacantism"). The candidate canonically elected by the College of Cardinals, if he accepts the election, ipso facto becomes Pope in act.  Regarding Benedict XVI, who is considered an "appearance of Pope" by the "Thesis of Cassiciacum," since he would not be a Bishop, as being consecrated after 1970 with the new Pontifical of Paul VI, first of all, it would be necessary to demonstrate the invalidity of the new Episcopal Consecrations; furthermore, even if the power of Order and the power of Jurisdiction are each other really distinct, since the Order is conferred through the appropriate Sacrament, while Jurisdiction is granted through the canonical Mission of the Pope (see Pius XII, Mystici Corporis, 1943), nevertheless they are "in mutual relation because Jurisdiction supposes the Order, and vice versa the exercise of the Order is governed by the Jurisdiction".  So if Ratzinger was not a bishop, he would not even be in potentia proxima to become Pope because Jurisdiction supposes the Order, and since he would not have the Order of Episcopate he could not have the Jurisdiction over the Universal Church as the Bishop of Rome.
Therefore he would not be even materially Pope, but only "an appearance of Pope", just like the actor
Ugo Pagliai, who in the film "Under the Sky of Rome" represented Pius XII, was not even "Pope materially", but only an "appearance of Pope" representing Eugenio Pacelli.
It seems clear to me that the "Vacant See at every death of the Pope" is essentially distinct from the "Sedevacantism" theory, which destroys the essere or being of the Church and creates a virtual one, in potency or in constant becoming according to the "Thesis of Cassiciacum", while "Total Sedevacantism" does not save anything.
b) Not to 'Sedevacantism' or the Vacant See for half a century.
Then we must clearly distinguish: 1°) the transient state of the "Vacant See", which goes from the death of a Pope to the election of another, a state in which the College of Cardinals remain capable of substituying the deceased Pope  (a kind of "Vicar" College of the Vicar of Christ) governing with authority and the universal Episcopate, thus maintaining uninterrupted Unity and Continuity of the series of Popes from St. Peter until the end of the world and the existence of the Church, awaiting for the election of a new Pope; 2°) the "Vacant Church", which is the state of deprivation of a pope in act, a College governing with vicarious authority, and of the universal Episcopate having jurisdiction, a state that could materially last until the passing of this material papacy. 'Sedevacantism', therefore, is substantially different from the Vacancy of the Apostolic See at every Pope's death. In fact, according to this theory, it practically coincides with the "Vacant Church" and, therefore, runs into this difficulty: if the material Pope dies without becoming Pope in act or formally, then the unbroken chain of the Popes’ seriesbreaks and the doors of the Hell would prevail, the Church of Christ having died, passed from potentiality to corruption or to nothingness. In fact, Aristotle and St. Thomas teach that there is: 'nothing' (nihilo), 'power' (potentia or ability to pass to the act) and the 'act' (actus) of being or existing. Now “ex nihilo nihil fit (from nothing, nothing comes)”;  “Potentia reducitur ad actum, per ens in actu (potency passes into act thanks to an efficient cause, which is already an being in act)”  and finally "ex ente in actu non fit ens, quia iam est ens (from a being in act does not come a being, because it is already in act)”. 
Aristotle with the notion of power or potency, which is truly distinguished from the actand from nothingness and which is a pure capacity of passing to act or to receive it, harmonized the principle of being, and the fact of becoming [a being]. In fact, thanks to the power or potency (which is not nothing, but neither being in act), the Stagirite explains that "from potency comes the act, or potency passes to the act.
Therefore becoming is possible and being also, precisely thanks to power". Now, potency is notnothing but "non-being" and exists as something intermediate between nothingness and being in perfect act (for example the wood of the statue that is slowly chiseled is not pure nothingness, but neither is the completed statue, yet it exists while the artist works it and strives for the perfect act and not for perpetual movement). 
This metaphysical notion of power or potency was applied by Father M. Guérard des Lauriers theologically and acutely to the problem of Authority: he said that a Pope can be such either in act (or formally) or only in potency (or materially). That is, when a Pope is elected and he has not yet accepted the canonical election, he is Pope only innear potency (potentia proxima) or materially; he becomes in act or formally when he accepts his election. Any baptized man can be elected Pope and therefore he is Popein 'remote power' (potentia remota); if he is elected, he becomes in 'near potency' and if he accepts the canonical election he becomes Pope 'in act' or formally (receiving the priestly and episcopal consecration).
In fact "forma dat esse" (the form gives the being) (Aristotle and St. Thomas). Now aformless or material Pope does not exist in act; he could exist if he receives the beingin act, like wood which is not a chair but could become it. Any existing being exists (ex-sistit, comes out of nothing or its cause) when its essence, which is in potency to be as the ultimate act, receives the being in act.
Therefore, if the cardinals Montini, Luciani, Wojtyla or Ratzinger do not receive the form or ultimate act of being, there is no such thing as Pope Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II and Benedict XVI.
Furthermore, Card. Montini or Pope Paul VI once dead is no longer a man, but a corpse which is neither a subject of sacred Orders (Priesthood and Episcopate) nor of Jurisdiction (Papacy and Bishop of Rome).
The corpse falls into dust and becomes nothing, once separated from its soul or form first and therefore he cannot receive the ultimate being or form/act and cannot exist, except by a miracle of Divine Omnipotence that restores life to the dead ("Ex nihilo nihil fit"), as will happen at the end of the world with the Resurrection of the bodies.
Therefore, if 'Sedevacantism' wants to be logical, Montini can no longer become Paul VI in the act of being and is no longer even a material Pope, but a corpse "pulvis, cinis et nihil" (dust, ashes and nothing). Then, if John Paul I would have "converted" (as the 'Thesis of Cassiciacum' suggested), he would not have been the successor of Paul VI, because the uninterrupted chain of the Popes, from St. Peter to the last living Pope until the End of the World, it would be interrupted and the Church of Christ would have ended with the death of Paul VI. But all this is against the defined Faith of the Unity and Apostolicity of the Church.
In fact, if the material Pope does not accept the election, he remains Pope in near potency until he dies. Once dead, he is a corpse and is no longer a baptized man, it isnihil (or nothing), it is no longer potency (or ens materialiter). Now ex nihilo nihil fit(nothing comes from nothing). Therefore the Church, according to 'Sedevacantism', would have died. As wood could become a statue in act, but if it rots and becomes dust, it is no longer in remote potency (pure wood) nor in near potency (wood in process, which is becoming a statue), so the corpse is not in potency (not even remote) to the Papacy and will never become Pope.
The thesis of the material or in potency Papacy had a considerable initial philosophical and theological depth, but it was exhausted with the death of Paul VI and is completely overcome with the election of Benedict XVI, who is considered by the same Thesis, not to be a bishop and therefore an "appearance" of Pope (Guérard des Lauriers). Now "an appearance" or an actor representing a Pontiff is not subject to Holy Orders and Jurisdiction (the Cardinals do not elect an actor or one who poses himself as Pope, but choose a baptized person who accepts the canonical election to become really Pope in act) and it is not even in a remote potency capable of becoming Pope in near potencyand then in act. According to 'Sedevacantism,' the successor of Pius XII, after the death of the material Pope Paul VI, who did not pass to the act and could no longer pass, being dead, he would no longer be the formal successor of Peter, but would be the Head of a new "church", essentially different from the one that founded Jesus Christ over Peter, and a fortiori the Pope elected after Benedict XVI would not be the formalsuccessor of Peter, but only an "appearance of the Pope" and not even a "materialPope". But this is contrary to the revealed and defined Catholic Faith, which teaches the formal and uninterrupted apostolicity of the Popes from St. Peter to the end of the world.
If the ecclesial and spiritual "Hierarchy" (Pope and Bishops) are the formal successors of Christ, of Peter and of the Apostles, they are the Church of Christ as Christ wanted it; otherwise they are the product of an intellectual Thesis elaborated in an "emergency" state. But it is not human thought that creates reality even in a state of extreme emergency, it is not a theological thesis which founds the true Church of Christ. This "church", a product of human intellect and essentially different from the hierarchical and visible Church of Christ, seems to me rather a "pneumatic [spiritual] church". The real state of emergency or necessity in which we find ourselves does not authorize us to change the essence of the Church, which Christ has desired and founded, imagining one in fieri [in becoming] or in potency or material, which never exists, without passing to the act for over half a century.
The Church has been, is and will be in act, not in becoming, just as Christ is hodie, heri et in saecula, [today, yesterday and forever] "semper idem" [always the same] and not "always in fieri" [in becoming]. The true Apostolic succession is the formal succession, nourished by its root, which is the ‘Rock’, Christ, and His Vicar on earth, 'Peter'.
St. Augustine teaches that a simple material succession, not formally united with its root, would be sterile.  Like any branch (Bishops/Apostles) that starts from cut and dry branches (Pope/First and Prince of the Apostles) is not alive and fruitful. Remove the first one and the whole building collapses. Thus an only material apostolic succession has collapsed, died and is dead. It is a historical, chronological, material, physical "succession" or an "abscess", but not formally apostolic, alive and vivifying.
For these reasons it seems to me that we cannot admit 'Sedevacantism' as theologically probable, while the 'Vacant See at every death of Pope' is a fact and"contra factum non valet argumentum" [there is no argument against a fact].
Putting together the various currents or theses that attempt to explain the current situation in the Church of Christ is a "traditional-ecumenical" utopia, and instead of shooting among anti-modernists, to aim at modernism is a more realistic possibility. "In coertis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas!" [Unity in truth, freedom in doubt, charity in everything].
Fr. Curzio Nitoglia
 DB 355, St. Gregory VII, Synod of Rome (11 February 1079); DB 430, Innocent III, IV Lateran Council (30 November 1215); DB 581, Gregory XII, Council of Constance (22 February 1418; DB 884, Julius III, Council of Trent (11 October 1551); DB 1529, Pius VI, Constitution Auctorem fidei (August 28, 1794); DB 2045, St. Pius X, Lamentabili Decree (3 July 1907); DB 2318, Pius XII, Encyclical Humani generis (12 August 1950); cfr. St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Th., III, q. 60; A. Piolanti, The Sacraments, Florence, 1956.
 I do not deny it, "he who denies is a renegade," but I have taken and I take a distance from it, because I believe I had not the certainty I presumed to have [at that time]. "Total sedevacantism" has never convinced me. The "Thesis of Cassiciacum" yes, but now no more. I am not infallible, I do not hold any authority; I only allow myself to express my convictions without wanting to excommunicate, to accuse anyone of formal heresy or schism. "In a black night, a black priest, on a black stone, only God can see him", says the proverb. In the present situation, which seems to me to be the most serious that has troubled but not overcome the Church, we find ourselves in the dark, as during the Passion and Death of Jesus: "tenebrae factae sunt - there were darkness" (Lk. 23:44); "this is your hour, and the power of darkness."(Lk 22:53) and it is very difficult to see clearly ... in the dark.
 Confession and Extreme Unction included, when Moral Theology and Canon Law teach that in periculo mortis a Catholic can ask for absolution and Extreme Unction also to a schismatic, an excommunicated or a heretic (CIC, can. 870-936; 937-947; 1251). Therefore denying the possibility to the faithful to go to Confession, since the priests 'non una cum' are not everywhere, means exposing them to the risk of damnation, committing an abuse of power, which goes against the moral and canonical doctrine commonly taught by the Church.
 Well-founded metaphysically until the death of the first material Pope, but weak in the practical, historical, juridical and canonical consequences. In fact, Father Guérard des Lauriers regarded it little; in fact he looked very carefully at the canonists. Instead the Church is not only a pneumatic, mystical, spiritual or "meta - physical" entity, but it is also a Body, a perfect juridical Society, composed of baptized human beings and a hierarchy made up of men, who live throughout history, who are faced with moral, practical and contingent situations, not only metaphysical, speculative and dogmatic situations. St. Robert Bellarmine defines it: "the Society of the baptized, who profess the same Faith, participate in the same sacraments and depend on the legitimate Pastors, the Bishops, and especially the Roman Pontiff". The Catechism of St. Pius X (October 12, 1912) incorporates this definition to N. 105, also to N. 110 teaches: "the Church of Jesus Christ is one, because all its members had, have and will always have [...] the Roman Pontiff, successor of St. Peter, thus forming all one Body, the Mystical Body of Jesus".Pius XII explained this definition by speaking of a juridical "Body" and at the same time "Mystical" or supernatural Body (Encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi, 1943). The Church is divine or supernatural and spiritual as regards the efficient cause (God who founded it), the final cause (the Heaven to which it leads), the means which provide the Grace with which God has endowed it (the Sacraments), but it is human as regards the material cause, faithful and pastors who compose it (the baptized, the Bishops and the Pope). These two elements of the Church cannot be divided, but must always be united and studied together, as the body and the soul in man.
 The onus probandi [burden of the proof] that (according to the more restrictive interpretation of the First Vatican Council) at least two bishops with jurisdiction remained in their dioceses during the period of currently supposed "vacant see" (1965-2013) belongs to the 'Sedevacantist'. You cannot make a petition of principle: since at least two bishops are necessary to guarantee the permanence of the hierarchical Church, then it is absolutely certain that there were and continue to be two bishops with jurisdiction, who teach true doctrine and celebrate Mass traditional not "una cum"(Magisterium), they do not publicly accept the false one of Vatican II and the communion with the material Pope (from Paul VI to Benedict XVI); they have the power of Order (Sacerdotium), having been ordained priests and consecrated bishops before 1970, and finally they govern the souls with laws that lead them to Heaven (Imperium), rejecting the false ones of Vatican II and post-council. Since the hierarchy of the Church must be easily recognizable, the 'Sedevacantism' must show us what these two bishops are. The theory of the Church that exists in the true "traditionalist" faithful and priests is contrary to the divine institution of the Church, invariably directed by a monarchical episcopate both in the Dioceses (Bishops) and in the universal Church (Pope). Moreover, these bishops without the 'Bishop of the Bishops' or a Pope, 'the first or the Prince of the Apostles', in act are 'acephal’ [headless], but a Body without a Head is dead, so 'Sedevacantism' does not guarantee the subsistence of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, which is Petrine and Episcopal by Divine will who wanted a Church founded on a Pope (successor of Peter and not an "appearance") and on the Bishops (successors of the Apostles).
 See B. Gherardini, La Cattolica. Lineamenti d’ecclesiologia agostiniana, Turin, Lindau, 2011, pp. 77-78.
 St. Aug., Epistle 53, 1, 2.
 From the Latin "in-deficere", cannot fail, cannot cease.
 C. Mazzella, De Religione et Ecclesia, Rome, 1892, n. 738.
 F. Roberti - P. Palazzini, Dizionario di Teologia Morale, Rome, Studium, IV ed., 1968, entry "Conclave", vol. I, p. 360.
 The "Major Penitentiary Cardinal" is the Cardinal who presides over the "Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary", which in the Roman Curia is the "first Ecclesiastical Court". A tribunal of mercy, forgiveness and redemption, almost an appendix of the sacrament of Confession for the most difficult or reserved cases to the Holy See. It grants acquittals, dispensations, commutations and condonations for the internal forum only. The other Congregations or Dicasteries of the Roman Curia provide for the external forum (see C. Berutti, De Curia Romana, Rome, 1952). The Holy Penitentiary dates back to the remotest times of the Church (see Benedict XIV, Apostolic Constitution In Apostolicae, 13 April 1744, Pius XI, Const. Apost., Quae divinitus, 25 March 1935), "as a fountain open to the faithful for the ablution of sins" (Pius XI, Const. cit.).“In the case of a vacant office, the Major Penitentiary Cardinal not only preserves all his faculties, but may also - in cases of serious and urgent necessity - do what is usually reserved for the Pope personally." (Pius XI, Const. Apost., Quae divinitus, cit., N.12, Pius XII, Const. Apost., Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis, 8 December 1954, n.17). If during the Apostolic See's vacancy the Major Penitentiary Cardinal dies, the other Cardinals gathered in the Conclave, must meet as soon as possible to elect a cardinal who, during the Vacancy of the Holy See, will have the office of Major Penitentiary (Pius XII, Apost., Vacantis Sedis Apostolicae, cit., No. 14). As can be seen, the period of vacant office is very different from the period contemplated by "Sedevacantism", in which there is the absence, at least current if not total, of any Papal, Cardinals and Episcopal Authorities, given the Heresy of the Pope, the Cardinals and of the Bishops who follow the errors of Vatican II ("absolute Sedevacantism") or the lack of objective will to do the good of the Church ("mitigated Sedevacantism").
 The "Cardinal Camerlengo" is the Cardinal who presides over the "Apostolic Chamber", which administers all the assets and income of the Holy See and of the Vatican City during the "Vacant See" (St. Pius X, Const. Apost., Vacante Apostolica Sede, December 25, 1901). See G. Felici, La reverenda Camera Apostolica, Vatican City, 1940.
 "Sacred Congregations", also called Dicasteries or Roman Congregations, are collegial bodies, made up of various Cardinals, who assist the Pope in governing the Church. Their competence is only in the external forum. Cf. N. Del Re,La Curia Romana, Rome, 1941.
 The "Ecclesiastical Tribunals" are the organs of the Canonical Judicial Order of the Church, which administer justice, that is, they judge imperatively the controversies that arise in the application and observation, in special cases, of the Law enacted by the Ecclesiastical Legislative Bodies. In the Church there are Central or Roman Tribunals, which have jurisdiction for canonical or ecclesiastical laws throughout the world. In addition there are Diocesan Tribunals (peripheral or local), which have jurisdiction only on the particular Diocese. Cf. F. Roberti, De Processibus, I, Rome, 1941; F. Della Rocca, Istituzioni di Diritto processuale canonico, Turin, 1946).
 See Vittorio Bartoccetti, entry "Conclave", in "Enciclopedia Cattolica", Vatican City, 1950, vol. IV, coll. 176-183.
 The same comparison applies to a schismatic or heretic cardinal, possibly elected Pope. If the atheist is validly elected with even greater reason, the heretic, who does not deny all religion, but only some of his Dogmas. Therefore the Bull of Paul IV (Cum ex Apostolatus officio, 15 February 1559, in Bullarium Romanum, Turin, 1862, volume VI, pp. 551-556, tr. It., In SZ Ehler - JB Morrall, Chiesa e Stato attraverso i secoli, Milan, Vita e Pensiero, 1958, pp. 207-213) ceases as the Sanction concerning the Simony of Julius II of 1505. Furthermore, the Bull of Paul IV "is a disciplinary act of the Church, which sums up all the previous excommunications and depositions from the functions of the Church of all dignitaries. [...]. During the pontificate of Paul IV Gian Pietro Carafa (1555-1559) the Protestant schism reached very large proportions. [...]. Against this threatening tide, Pope Gian Pietro Carafa rose strongly. [...]. The atmosphere was so hot that Paul IV even came to fear defections in the College of Cardinals himself. His doubts particularly concerned the influential Cardinal Morone, whose possible election to the Holy See was a cause of great apprehension for Paul IV. [...]. The Bull Cum ex Apostolatus officio [...] provides for the possible election of a Pope of dubious orthodoxy [...] about Cardinal Morone. The Bull declares invalid the election to the papal throne of any candidate, who previously proved to be cohabiting with the Lutheran schismatics" (SZ Ehler - JB Morrall, Chiesa e Stato attraverso i secoli, cit., "Bolla Cum ex Apostolatus officio", Commentary, page 206). The fact of not having been taken over by the CIC of 1917 and being a disciplinary act, it falls ipso facto even if not explicitly repealed as the Bubble of Julius II of 1505 on Simony.
 S. Negro, L’ordinamento della Chiesa cattolica, Milan, 1940.
 A. Piolanti, I Sacramenti, Florence, 1956, Id., Corpo Mistico e Sacramenti, Rome, 1955; A. Lanza - P. Palazzini,Sacramenti e vita sacramentale, Rome, 1957; L. Billot, De Ecclesia Christi, vol. I, thesis 15-24, Rome, 1927; R. Zappelena, De Ecclesia, II ed., Rome, 1954; A. Ottaviani, Institutiones Iuris Publici Ecclesiastici, vol. I, Rome, 1936; A. Vellico, De Ecclesia, Rome, 1940; E. Ruffini, La Gerarchia della Chiesa, Rome, 1921; St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Th., II-II, q. 39, a. 3.
 Note that the trickery of an only material cardinal College, which could validly elect a Pope, but does not govern the Church in act, does not save formal apostolicity. In fact, if the material Pope does not pass to the act and becomes aformal Pope, the uninterrupted chain of Popes breaks and the Church ends.
 The Episcopate is: 1 °) monarchical ("only one is the Bishop for every church or diocese", St. Ignatius Martyr † 107,Philadelphi, IV, 1); 2°) by Will or Divine institution (St. Ign., Eph., II, 2; Id., Trall., XIII, 2; Id., Philadel., III, 2; Id., Smyrn., VIII, 1 ; Id., Eph., V, 3); 3 °) as an imperative rule (S. Ign., Philadelph., VII, 1: "sine Episcopo nihil faciatis – do nothing without a bishop"). In fact, the ecclesiastical Fathers since 80 A.D. (from S. Ignatius of Antioch, Ephes., I, 2; Damas of Magnesia, Magn., II, 1; Polybium of Tralle, Trall., I, 1; up to Smyrian Policarp, Ad Polyc., Prologue) teach it in a morally unanimous way, based on Holy Scripture (Act., 20:28; Philip., 1:1; 1 Tim., 3:4; Tit., 1:7; 1 Peter, 2:25). So this truth is contained in the two sources of Revelation (Tradition and Holy Scripture) and proposed to believe by the Magisterium(Council of Trento, sess., XXIII, c.4, DB 960; Conc. Vat. I, sess IV , c.3, DB 1828, St. Pius X, LamentabileDecree, DB 2050 and 2147), the "Code of Canon Law" (can 329, & 1) establishes the divine institution.
Therefore the diocesan church, and even more so the universal Church, cannot be governed by priests collegially and a fortiori by the faithful, but invariably there must be a bishop (at least twoin the whole world) with jurisdiction in the diocese and the pope with jurisdiction in place in the universal Church and not "an appearance of the Pope" (St. Ignatius Martyr, Ad Rom., chapter IX). The "appearance" of Pope and two incognito bishops are a pneumatic Church and not avisible Church, and therefore are not the Church of Christ (see A. VELLICO, De Ecclesia, Rome, 1940, pp. 229-242; Id.,De episcopis iuxta doctrinam catholicam, Rome, private ed., 1937).
 Only God creates from nothing.
 Wood is in potency to be either a statue or a chair ... but it passes to a statue or a chair ... only thanks to a carpenter, who is an efficient cause in existence. If wood rots and becomes dust and then nothing, without having first become a chair in place, it is no longer a chair in potency because "ex nihilo nihil fit – from nothing comes nothing". It is the same for the Cradinals Montini, Luciani and Wojtyla, who, having died without having become popes in act or formally, [according to the Thesis] no longer have the power to receive the form or the act of the Papacy ("from nothing comes nothing"): a dead person cannot come a Pope, since it is nothing and it is not power or ability to receive the form of the Papacy.
 From the chair or statue does not come the chair or statue, since it is already a chair or a statue in [