The Sedevacantist Solutions
As a general rule, I’ve found sedevacantist leaders and public figures do not spend much time proposing solutions to the crisis. They, are instead, more focused on converting Catholics to the sedevacantist position, which is, essentially, that all Vatican II popes have been invalid and, therefore, not “true popes.” Sedevacantist apologists typically deflect the issue of resolving the crisis by arguing that any solutions outside sedevacantism necessarily require the admission of a defected Church, which, of course, is impossible. I will address this argument later. However, the question that these sedevacantist leaders must ask themselves is as follows. Let’s assume a hypothetical situation where sedevacantist apologists are wildly successful and convert 90% of Catholics to their position, what then?
Sedevacantists who attempt to explain the crisis by arguing that every pope and bishop since Vatican II lost their office for heresy are in a quandary. This position leaves no way to elect a new pope since there would no longer be any College of Cardinals. In fact, this is the very reason why the sedevacantists do not currently elect a new pope themselves. They rightly admit that they have no such authority or designation to do so. So where does this leave the 90% of Catholics who just became convinced of sedevacantism in our hypothetical? It basically leaves them at a dead end.
The Pope in the Woods
Not wanting to give up their thesis, some online sedevacantists have come up with a conspiracy theory that has been referred to as the “pope in the woods” theory. Under this theory, a true pope has secretly existed in exile, unknown to us, perhaps being held captive, and at a future time, will reveal himself. As sedevacantist website, Novus Ordo Watch, explains on its website:
It is possible that there has been and currently is a true Pope in hiding, one who can trace his lineage back to Pope Pius XII. Perhaps the situation will be resolved by this Pope emerging and proving his legitimacy. There is a prophecy to this effect.i
Who this individual could possibly be, especially since there are a small, finite, and dwindling number of Catholic priests and bishops who were ordained and consecrated in the old rite, is never speculated upon. The Novus Ordo Watch editor convincing all of the world’s Catholics to become sedevacantists only to have them wait with him for the “pope in the woods” brings to mind Linus convincing Sally to stay up waiting for The Great Pumpkin.
"It was Francis all along!"
The same type of theory is held by some sedevacantists to get them out of the jurisdiction dilemma. Since sedevacantists consider all current Catholic bishops to have lost their offices (and thus their jurisdiction) due to heresy, and with no Catholic pope to grant any new jurisdiction, some claim that out there somewhere is a true pre-Vatican II Catholic bishop who still has jurisdiction from Pius XII. Who this bishop could possibly be is never revealed.
Other sedevacantists, including the late Fr. Anthony Cekada, theorized that the problem could be solved by a miraculous event, such as Christ Himself, St. Peter, or St. Paul coming down from Heaven and appointing a new pope:
Fr. Cekada: “You have some saints that say that one day a pope will be designated from Heaven by Saints Peter and Paul. That’s, you know, one possibility people have talked about.” ii
However, this solution is untenable as the Church teaches that no public revelation binding on Catholics can occur after the death of the last apostle.
Other sedevacantists, including Bishop Donald Sanborn, hold to a different variation of the sedevacantist thesis called “sedeprivationism.”iii Sedeprivationism theorizes that the VCII popes were all mere “pope-elects” in that they were legitimately elected and designated to be pope by the Church, but as heretics they were blocked from receiving the authority of the office. Under the sedeprivationist thesis, the cardinal designation and the ability to elect a pope is somehow still retained by bishops that the sedeprivationists see as non-Catholic heretics. In this way, the sedeprivationists claim to have solved the problem of electing a new pope as this thesis keeps apostolic succession and the hierarchy going, albeit in a minimalist and legalistic manner. Their solution to the crisis is that, in the future a “pope-elect” could convert to true Catholicism, and in doing so, he would be able to finally receive the authority of the papacy he was previously elected to.
The problem for the sedeprivationist is that the future “pope-elect” would need to convert to the “true Catholicism” of sedevacantism. This means that the future hypothetical pope would need to publicly declare every pope since 1958 to have been an anti-pope and would also have to declare that the overwhelming majority of sacraments in the Latin Rite under the Novus Ordo since the mid to late 60’s, including countless priestly ordinations, Episcopal consecrations, Masses, confessions, etc. were all invalid. This would present unintended consequences for the sedeprivationist.
First, under the sedeprivationist hypothetical, Catholics would be lead to a position where the visible Church of Christ had disappeared for decades, centuries, or perhaps millennia, depending on how long it took for one of the pope-elects to convert. This would destroy any credibility the Church had. For what sort of Church founded by Christ could disappear from view for half a century to millennia, all the while having Her hierarchy morph into an evil impostor church that, according to the sedevacantists, lead countless souls to Hell? In addition, how would Catholics know that the new “restored” Church in this scenario, under a future true Catholic pope, wouldn’t simply morph back into an evil impostor church once again? This “solution” would, in effect, make a mockery of Christ’s promises regarding the Church.
Second, why should the Catholic faithful trust the future true Catholic pope when he tells them that the previous (10, 20, 30?) popes were all anti-popes? What is to keep the faithful from believing that this new pope is himself an anti-pope for making such a devastating and unprecedented declaration? In addition, what if the next pope after our hypothetical converted pope, declares that his predecessor, who we thought was the true Catholic pope, was actually an anti-pope and that none of what he said was valid? We would end up in chaos.
For if the man in white, in the Chair of Peter, can't be trusted to be the pope when he is the sole claimant and 99.9% of Catholics recognize him to be, then you have an unworkable paradigm. Catholics would simply leave the Church in droves if the sedeprivationist hypothetical came to pass as nothing the man who is supposed to be pope says could be trusted. For his successor could simply say that his predecessor was never the pope to begin with and so on.
Third, if this hypothetical converted “true pope” was later perceived by some sedeprivationist faithful to have publicly contradicted the Faith, the precedent would have already been set for them to consider their new “true pope” a merely “material pope” who had lost the authority of his office. For the sedeprivationist thesis, like all sedevacantist theses, relies on the private judgment of the individual as to whether or not those in authority over them in the Church possess any real authority whatsoever. As you can see, any Church structure based on this system makes it entirely unworkable.
It’s a Mystery
At the end of the day, sedevacantists admit they do not know exactly how they will get a new pope under their thesis and fall back on the explanation that it is a mystery. There are certain theological dogmas that we know are true, but, with our limited intellect cannot fully comprehend, like the Holy Trinity. These are theological mysteries. The sedevacantist mystery of how the Church will get a pope, however, is a “mystery” of their own making. For it is no mystery how the Church gets a new pope. She elects one at a conclave through those who have been designated with the authority to do so.
For those still trying to figure out the sedevacantist mystery of how they will get a new pope, Novus Ordo Watch offers these words of wisdom:
Do not spend too much time trying to figure things out — it can lead to pride, vain curiosity, dangerous ideas, and a misplaced reliance on self rather than on God…iv
When asked for their solution to the crisis, most Neo-Catholic apologists would simply ask, “What crisis?” As Mark Twain famously said, “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.” The worst part is that if a Neo-Catholic apologist read my last sentence, he would most likely meticulously correct the quote to read “The Nile is not just a river in Egypt,” begin a 3,000 word treatise on whether Mark Twain actually originated the saying, and completely miss the point in the process. Such are the personalities of our friends, the Novus Ordo apologists: humorless, literalist, and largely clueless as to what is happening in their own Church.
Although some Neo-Catholic writers are beginning to see the light under Francis, such as Phillip Lawler, a hardcore contingent remains in public denial that any crisis is happening. Sure, these folks may admit to some minor problems here and there where Francis has been “misunderstood,” due entirely to mistranslations of course, but on the whole they admit of no pressing “crisis” to be concerned with and scoff at Traditionalist assertions that the Church is in trouble.
This is because, sadly, most Neo-Catholic apologists are eternally stuck in the 1990’s. I must admit I feel badly for them since this was a depressing decade in the Church; but not for the Neo-Catholic. One can only imagine them typing their defenses of Francis’ latest whopper, their faded “World Youth Day: Denver 1993” poster still on the wall, Dana’s “We Are One Body” CD playing in their 5 disc Aiwa bookshelf stereo, George Weigel’s 1056 page JPII biography being used to prop up their one short desk leg, and a signed picture of Christopher West on their nightstand. For the Neo-Catholic apologists have not changed their approach of defending every papal utterance since the 1990’s despite the fact that Francis makes JPII look like St. Pius X.
A variation of the Neo-Catholic “What crisis?” solution to the crisis is the “What pope?” solution to the crisis made famous by Michael Voris and his website Church Militant. This solution completely ignores any papal statement, document, act, omission, etc. that affects any doctrine or discipline of the Church negatively. Instead, the practitioners of this approach routinely and publicly chastise bishops and priests for carrying out the will of the very pope the practitioners ignore. Since the pope in this instance is the problem, this approach is ineffective. In fact, far from being a solution, this approach actually ends up avoiding a solution because of a refusal to confront the real problem.
True, Voris did recently speak out against Francis’ approach to handling the sexual abuse crisis. However, Voris limits his criticisms only to personal papal behavior and not to matters of teaching and doctrine and discipline where the roots of the crisis are. Thus, the “What Pope?” strategy is just as ineffective as the “What Crisis?” strategy to resolve the crisis.
Hermeneutic of Continuity
The Neo-Catholic apologist’s first and basically only solution to any “perceived” crisis is the approach made famous by Benedict XVI, the “hermeneutic of continuity.” To the extent Neo-Catholic apologists address any problematic elements of the Francis pontificate, they try to force their own private interpretation on his words until they are unrecognizable, but claim that at least the new meaning they have created is, in their own mind (through mental gymnastics) compatible with traditional Catholic teaching.
They then explain away any and all “apparent” contradictions as actually new and insightful “developments” of the Traditional doctrine. The Neo-Catholic apologists are like the evolutionists in this regard as they expect us to believe that one species of thing simply “developed” into another, entirely different, species of thing over time, and that these two entirely different things are really the same. When you ask them where the missing link is that proves their theory, the answer you get sounds like a malfunctioning random word generator of obfuscating jargon.
The irony is that both the Neo-Catholic and the Liberal are fine with the hermeneutic of continuity “solution” to the crisis. For the Liberal keeps changing teaching and discipline on the de facto, practical, every day level while slipping in some wiggle words of plausible deniability on the legal, official documentary level. The Liberal knows exactly what destructive thing he is trying to accomplish with his changes and so does the Traditionalist. But the Neo-Catholic uses the hermeneutic of continuity to unwittingly give the Liberal cover by convincing otherwise conservative Catholic faithful why the documents put out by the Liberal are not problematic at all when understood in the strained orthodox manner the Neo-Catholic interprets it to mean.
This is a symbiotic “win/ win” relationship for the Liberal and the Neo-Catholic as the Liberal gets to keep undermining the Church through implementing terrible policies, refusing to enforce orthodoxy, and issuing contradictory and confusing statements while the Neo-Catholic apologists continue to make a living privately interpreting the ambiguous and contradictory Liberal shell game as orthodoxy. The Neo-Catholic apologists then sell their interpretation to the conservative Catholic masses so they will not start becoming irate and demanding changes, as they would if they truly realized what was happening.
How The Crisis Will End
So far I have presented what I believe to be the sedevacantist and the Neo-Catholic proposed solutions to the current crisis in the Church and why these solutions are unworkable and do not truly resolve the crisis. Now I will propose what I believe to be the true solution to the crisis, which is consistent with the approach The Remnant has taken all along.
Progressive Attitudes About Infallibility
First, the doctrine of infallibility is the key to resolving the crisis. The most significant advantage we have over the Neo-Modernists is that the idea of papal infallibility is anathema to them. It was anathema to their forefathers, the Modernists, as well. However, instead of being intellectually honest and formally splitting from the Catholic Church, as the Old Catholics did over this issue, the Neo-Modernists remained underground in the Church. Decades later, they successfully maneuvered to elect the first of a series of sympathetic popes who continue under Francis.
After the Neo-Modernists came to power, they had to deal with the reality that Vatican I already defined the dogma of papal infallibility. Their preferred strategy has been twofold.
First, never speak of it. The infamous Hans Kung admitted this reality in his March 9, 2016 letter entitled, “Urgent Appeal to Pope Francis to Permit an Open and Impartial Discussion on Infallibility of Pope and Bishops.” Kung stated:
…the hierarchy tries as far as possible to avoid the subject, which is unpopular in the church and in society. When he was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Joseph Ratzinger only expressly referred to it very few times.
Second, never utilize it. To illustrate this, Hans Kung recalls an anecdote about John XXIII:
It would, however, be far easier to imagine Pope Francis smilingly telling students, “Io non sono infallibile” — “I am not infallible” — as Pope John XXIII did in his time. When he saw how surprised the students were, John added, “I am only infallible when I speak ex cathedra, but that is something I will never do.” … even John Paul II, who restored papal centralism and was always happy to seek publicity, did not dare to play to the gallery by proclaiming a new dogma.
Kung’s mentioning John Paul II reminds me of a talk I heard by Bishop Fellay years ago. Bishop Fellay was commenting on his discussions with Vatican officials. During these talks Bp. Fellay offered a compliment to these officials, speaking in an approving way of John Paul II, the pope at the time, for using his infallibility to declare abortion as a grave sin and once and for all rejecting the notion of the female priesthood. The officials were surprised at this and told Bp. Fellay that John Paul II never meant to invoke infallibility in making these strongly worded declarations.
This avoidance of infallibility apparently even applies to canonizations. In a conference on August 16, 2016, Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the SSPX at the time, commenting on relations with Rome, stated that Roman officials told him “Francis does not think that the canonizations are infallible.”v
The foregoing is evidence that Neo-Modernists and progressives in the Church are thoroughly embarrassed by the dogma of infallibility, wish it was never proclaimed, and are doing their best to throw it down the memory hole. To them, it is a stumbling block towards ecumenical progress and dialogue with non-Catholic religionists and the secular world.
Their Strategy of Demolition
Ironically, this liberal aversion to infallibility is precisely what is keeping the post-Vatican II popes from making any of their liturgical innovations, heterodox statements, or scandalous acts permanent and unchangeable. For the liberal mind is based in notions of human liberty and freedom of choice which are diametrically opposed to the idea of immutable dogmas. Thus, as Chris Ferrara first proposed in his masterwork, The Great Façade, the most the liberals can do is to disguise the eternal truths of the Church with the coverings of non-obligatory and non-infallible post-Conciliar innovations.
For example, the innovators could not erase the dogmatic decrees of Trent. The best they could do was to try to eliminate all of the wise prudential safeguards Trent mandated to reinforce its dogmas. For instance, the innovators offered an alternative more ambiguous liturgy for the Latin Rite. They permitted Communion in the hand and lay Eucharistic ministers to eat away at Trent's teaching on transubstantiation. They permitted girl altar boys to confuse the laity about women priests. They replaced the fixed altar with a tableform altar to take the primary sacrificial emphasis away from the Mass. They replaced sacred music with secular styled music to reduce reverence and fear of God, etc. On top of their innovations, those in charge refused to discipline or correct the many bishops and priests who openly went beyond even the approved liturgical innovations, in addition to spouting every sort of heretical teaching.
As a result, Vatican II ended up turning into the anti-Trent. Where Trent’s dogmas and doctrines were clear, Vatican II’s statements were left purposefully ambiguous and open to an interpretation that opposed Trent.
In many places, [the Council Fathers] had to find in which, often, the positions of the majority are located immediately next to those of the minority, designed to delimit them. Thus, [and] open the door to a in either direction.
Cardinal Walter Kaspervi
Where Trent’s implementation acted to reinforce and safeguard Catholic doctrines that had been attacked by the heresies of Protestantism, the implementation of Vatican II acted to uproot these safeguards and provide no reinforcement for Trent’s Catholic doctrines.
The shrewd innovators did not openly contradict the dogmas of Trent, for two reasons. First, no non-infallible statement they could have made in Vatican II would have outweighed the authority of Trent’s infallible teaching. Second, if against the liberals’ own principles, Pope Paul VI issued infallible teachings contradicting Trent, the entire Church system would have contradicted itself and crumbled to the ground, destroying any chance the liberals had of remaining in power over a worldwide organization. While it is true that the Holy Ghost would have forbidden the second option, remember we are talking about the subjective motivations of the innovators (who see their every move as a new inspiration of the Holy Spirit) apart from the reality of the situation.
In view of the pastoral nature of the Council, it avoided any extraordinary statement of dogmas that would be endowed with the note of infallibility.
Pope Paul VIvii
The Neo-Catholics and sedevacantists often respond to the fact that Vatican II was not infallible with the claim that it still possesses the authority of the Ordinary Magisterium which must be accepted with docility. This claim, even if accepted on its face as true, is easily responded to with two points.
First, what exactly are the authoritative teachings of the post-conciliar Ordinary Magisterium that must be accepted with docility? Since Vatican II and almost all post-conciliar “teachings” are muddled with undefined terms and ambiguous language it is hardly ever clear exactly what “teachings” are being proposed that require docile assent.
Second, let’s say there is an authoritative teaching of a post-conciliar Pope or of Vatican II that contradicts the authoritative teaching of the ordinary and universal magisterium of the previous 2,000 years of popes, councils, and the Church? In that case, at minimum, we are bound to “accept with docility” the prior teaching just as much as the new teaching. If the two contradict, then one cannot docilly accept both at the same time without violating the principle of non-contradiction.
Therefore, one is forced to choose between the two. Logic, common sense, and the nature of the Church itself tell Traditionalists that you obviously stick with what has always and everywhere been believed, per St. Vincent of Lerins, rather than accept the latest contradictory novelty. This is very close to what happened in the time of Pope John XXII, when the pope started to teach his novel view of souls not being admitted to Heaven until the Second Coming. This teaching contradicted Tradition, and faithful and prominent Catholics of his day rightfully rejected it in docile acceptance to the teaching of the universal and ordinary magisterium of the prior 1300 years.viii
Vatican II: The Anti-Trent
Because of the anti-Trent Council, Vatican II, the Church is now experiencing much of the very same confusion, errors, and corruption that plagued it during the era of the Reformation. Trent resolved the Reformation crisis by launching the Catholic Counter-Reformation. As Stephen Beale writes in his December 4, 2013, Catholic Exchange article, "Lessons From the Council of Trent":
The achievements of the Counter-Reformation are breathtaking: It gave rise to great religious orders like the Discalced Carmelites, the Capuchins, and the Jesuits, who, in turn, launched the great missions to South America, Africa, China, and Japan. It gave birth to great saints like St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Philip Neri, and St. Francis de Sales and inspired a new era of devotional fervor, as exemplified in books written by many of those saints, like The Spiritual Exercises and An Introduction to the Devout Life. And it created the form of Catholicism that withstood centuries of social strife and political turmoil, from the French Revolution to the emergence of communism...
Thus, it makes sense that the anti-Trent council, Vatican II, which ripped away Trent’s implementing reforms and obfuscated the doctrines that made the counter-Reformation possible, would reap the opposite results. As Catholic author, Pat Buchanan, wrote in his December 11, 2002 article “An Index of Catholicism’s Decline,”: quoting Kenneth C. Jones’ “Index of Leading Catholic Indicators: The Church Since Vatican II,”
Thirty-seven years after the end of the only church council of the 20th century, the jury has come in with its verdict: Vatican II appears to have been an unrelieved disaster for Roman Catholicism.
Liars may figure, but figures do not lie…
Only 10 percent of lay religious teachers now accept church teaching on contraception. Fifty-three percent believe a Catholic can have an abortion and remain a good Catholic. Sixty-five percent believe that Catholics may divorce and remarry. Seventy-seven percent believe one can be a good Catholic without going to mass on Sundays. By one New York Times poll, 70 percent of all Catholics in the age group 18 to 44 believe the Eucharist is merely a “symbolic reminder” of Jesus.
At the opening of Vatican II, reformers were all the rage. They were going to lead us out of our Catholic ghettos by altering the liturgy, rewriting the Bible and missals, abandoning the old traditions, making us more ecumenical, and engaging the world. And their legacy?
Four decades of devastation wrought upon the church, and the final disgrace of a hierarchy that lacked the moral courage of the Boy Scouts to keep the perverts out of the seminaries, and throw them out of the rectories and schools of Holy Mother Church.
Through the papacy of Pius XII, the church resisted the clamor to accommodate itself to the world and remained a moral beacon to mankind. Since Vatican II, the church has sought to meet the world halfway.
Jones’ statistics tell us the price of appeasement.
Instead of causing discouragement, these facts should inspire hope in us, as the model to unraveling the entire modern Church crisis already exists and was already successfully tried and implemented at Trent with great success. For, once we are successful, with the assistance of the Holy Ghost, in elevating one of our own to the papacy, it is absolute “game over” for the Neo-Modernists. The innovators were limited to sowing confusion through non-infallible acts, decrees, and innovations filled with obfuscation while letting errors fester through not disciplining the erring. In contrast, a future Catholic pope can, as great popes before him did, cut off the Neo-Modernist crisis at the root through the exercise of papal infallibility.
The best part is that the Neo-Modernists themselves have given this future pope a great roadmap showing him exactly which novel doctrines he would need to condemn. In the decades since the Council, traditionalists have kept an ever growing and meticulous list of every single post-Conciliar error the Neo-Modernists have perpetrated. All that would be left is for a future pope to condemn and anathematize each of these errors in a solemn decree while reaffirming the opposing traditional Catholic teaching as infallible. This would permanently eradicate them from the Church forever.
Many people don’t realize that in the history of the Church, many novel ideas against the doctrine of the Church and Tradition festered amongst many of the faithful, clergy, and bishops for long periods of time until infallible declarations were finally made against them. Things typically progressed in a pattern. First, an innovator would think up clever reinterpretations of scripture or novel theological ideas which were contrary to Tradition in many areas, but never formally anathematized because the innovative doctrines contained new twists that the Church authority had never before encountered.
We can see this with the Council of Trent having to define the dogma of Transubstantiation. The Church had always held that the Real Presence of Jesus Christ was in the Blessed Sacrament, however this was still on the level of the universal and ordinary magisterium at the time as it was always and everywhere believed but never infallibly defined to that point. Only in the day of Luther, had the novel error denying this notion spread to the point where the Church felt the need to explicitly eradicate this error forever through an infallible declaration of dogma and a corresponding anathema. The same for Luther’s errors on justification.
Likewise, novel theological notions from Vatican II to Francis, claiming to be “doctrinal developments” are no more “developments” than Luther’s view on the Eucharist and Justification. Like Luther’s views on these two subjects, these errors are being allowed to fester amongst the faithful, this time with the aid and support of the Pope and prelates, until such time as they are formally anathematized. Until then, as the Church suffered confusion and turmoil before Trent, so shall it suffer it now.
However, whereas the Vatican II epoch has been one of complete confusion, a future papacy would bring complete, and final, clarity, on all of the Pandora’s boxes of cleverly worded heresies the Neo-Modernists have concocted since Vatican II. If one declaration of papal infallibility rattled the Modernists in 1870, then an avalanche of infallible declarations on such topics as religious liberty, collegiality, ecumenism, and Catholic moral theology, would serve as their final death knell. It would make the Church’s doctrinal paradigm completely unworkable for them as the newly defined dogmas would act to completely eviscerate and obliterate the patch worked shoddy façade of novelty they have built around the truth for the past 60+ years.
Imagine every Conciliar doctrinal error and liturgical novelty of the past half-century done away with by the stroke of a pen. Indeed, this possibility exists and, if Our Lord willed it, it could be done tomorrow. All of this, without requiring His faithful to believe in any outlandish sedevacantist theory or to believe in the erroneous non-infallible contradictory claptrap that has been emanating from the cracks of St. Peters since the crisis began. For until the crisis is finally resolved through infallible declarations we have an obligation to be obedient to the constant teachings of the popes and Tradition, which cannot be lead astray, over the non-infallible authentic magisterium of a later pope who is contradicting it. This was true in the time of Pope John XXII and it is still true today.ix
In the final analysis, a future pope could work to implement these newly defined dogmas as Trent did, by mandating disciplines, liturgical and otherwise, to reinforce the opposite of the neo-modernist errors. A future pope could also wreak havoc on the 5th column of liberal priests, bishops, and religious who wear the garb of the Church while at the same time working for Her destruction. In fact, the very first thing a future Catholic pope should do is to gut the College of Cardinals. At the very first moment of his election, this future pope should immediately remove every single cardinal so much as suspected of heterodoxy and replace them with truly Catholic cardinals who are loyal to tradition. This would ensure that the left would be locked out of the papacy, God willing, for a very long time, if not hopefully forever.
When the glorious day comes where a future pope infallibly condemns all of the widespread errors that plague us in our present time, we can imagine it might sound something like the glorious words of Pope Leo X in Exsurge Domine, where he first condemned the errors of Martin Luther. May Pope Leo’s plea to Heaven and the Saints that began this holy document 500 years ago become our fervent prayer today:
Arise, O Lord, and judge your own cause. Remember your reproaches to those who are filled with foolishness all through the day. Listen to our prayers, for foxes have arisen seeking to destroy the vineyard whose winepress you alone have trod. When you were about to ascend to your Father, you committed the care, rule, and administration of the vineyard, an image of the triumphant church, to Peter, as the head and your vicar and his successors. The wild boar from the forest seeks to destroy it and every wild beast feeds upon it.
Rise, Peter, and fulfill this pastoral office divinely entrusted to you as mentioned above. Give heed to the cause of the holy Roman Church, mother of all churches and teacher of the faith, whom you by the order of God, have consecrated by your blood. Against the Roman Church, you warned, lying teachers are rising, introducing ruinous sects, and drawing upon themselves speedy doom. Their tongues are fire, a restless evil, full of deadly poison. They have bitter zeal, contention in their hearts, and boast and lie against the truth.
We beseech you also, Paul, to arise. It was you that enlightened and illuminated the Church by your doctrine and by a martyrdom like Peter’s. For now a new Porphyry rises who, as the old once wrongfully assailed the holy apostles, now assails the holy pontiffs, our predecessors.
Rebuking them, in violation of your teaching, instead of imploring them, he is not ashamed to assail them, to tear at them, and when he despairs of his cause, to stoop to insults. He is like the heretics “whose last defense,” as Jerome says, “is to start spewing out a serpent’s venom with their tongue when they see that their causes are about to be condemned, and spring to insults when they see they are vanquished.” For although you have said that there must be heresies to test the faithful, still they must be destroyed at their very birth by your intercession and help, so they do not grow or wax strong like your wolves. Finally, let the whole church of the saints and the rest of the universal church arise. Some, putting aside her true interpretation of Sacred Scripture, are blinded in mind by the father of lies. Wise in their own eyes, according to the ancient practice of heretics, they interpret these same Scriptures otherwise than the Holy Spirit demands, inspired only by their own sense of ambition, and for the sake of popular acclaim, as the Apostle declares. In fact, they twist and adulterate the Scriptures. As a result, according to Jerome, “It is no longer the Gospel of Christ, but a man’s, or what is worse, the devil’s.”
Let all this holy Church of God, I say, arise, and with the blessed apostles intercede with almighty God to purge the errors of His sheep, to banish all heresies from the lands of the faithful, and be pleased to maintain the peace and unity of His holy Church.x
ii “TR Media: Father Anthony Cekada, Sedevacantism: How to tell Aunt Helen, with Stephen Heiner, 2011”
https://youtu.be/OQ_Ci4XeS6c at 39:17.
iii “On Being Pope Materially: Second Part: Explanation of the Thesis” by Bp. Donald Sanborn, http://mostholytrinityseminary.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/On-Being-a-Pope-Materially.pdf
iv See i.
viApril 12, 2013, also found here: http://www.christianorder.com/editorials/editorials_2015/editorials_augsep15.htm
viiPope Paul VI, “After the Council: New Tasks”, vol. 11 (Winter, 1966), p.154.