Friday, March 1, 2013

Could I Be A Sedevacantist?

What with all the media buzz praying for a Pope that will destroy the Church via women priests, contraception, theological inclusiveness, dogmatic relativism, and so forth, I've been asked a lot by people what I would do in the event that the next Pope did all these things. Basically, they are asking if I could ever think that the Pope was a heretic or schismatic and therefore incur automatic excommunication, meaning that he'd no longer be Catholic, and therefore meaning he'd no longer be Pope. Keep in mind that this isn't going to be the case of a guy making some errors in a homily or audience or in a personal theological opinion. I'm talking about full-bore, Church-binding formal heresy here.

In a nutshell, I don't think this scenario is possible. If the Pope attempted to do these things, I feel like God would stop him, even if it meant striking him dead in order to do so. This is what the gates of hell not prevailing comes down to.  It's why the image Christ used was that of a rock or a fixed peg if we use the Isaiah 22 version. These things are not moved. So it is with the office of the papacy.

If you pushed me into a hypothetical where I was forced to come up with an alternative if something like this happened, I would have to consider the Pope in question to be an antipope. Either something was wrong with his election or, in the sort of case that we have now, Pope Benedict's abdication was somehow invalid and he remains the real Vicar of Christ.

For those who have doubts about this sort of thing, I point to the curious historical phenomenon that was so convincing to Cardinal Newman. In the early days of the Church, all of the other sees of Christianity fell into obvious and blatant heresy. Except for Rome. Somehow, Rome was always on the right side. And it has been the case ever since.

I don't think God is going to change things up on us now. Could we have an antipope at some point? Sure. Hell, we've got them now. Just ask Pope Michael or any of those Palmarian folk. Could we have one on a larger scale? Sure. Lots of Catholics seem to think they're the Pope now anyway, as our Lutheran friends recently pointed out.

Could we have a Successor of St. Peter who was evil or immoral? Absolutely. We've had them before. No reason to think we couldn't have one again. I hate to say it, but people are just way to sensitive about these things now. Can you imagine what the uproar would have been like if we'd have had the internet when a freak show like Benedict IX came to town? St. Peter Damian, a Doctor of the Church, called him "demon from hell in disguise as a priest." What do you think the New York Times would say about him?

We all need to relax, and I include myself in that. It's good to know what is going on in the Church, but that's so we'll know who and what to pray for. When to laugh, cry, whatever. We shouldn't feel anxious, though, or despairing.

If you start to feel disturbed, remember this one simple thing:

These things I have spoken to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you shall have distress: but have confidence, I have overcome the world.

John 16:33


Atticus said...

The New York Times would applaud him as a breath of fresh air, sweeping away centuries of ___________ (fill in the blank).

He would be a smash on Charley Rose, trade laughs with Chris Matthews, be a guest at Vanity Fair's Oscar Party, and welcomed back to Hyannisport. All the sex scandals would disappear from view forever.

In short, Pope Drinan I would be a smash. . . . Acceptable even to the Jesuits.

Throwback said...

Especially to the Jesuits