Contra Sedevacantism

Can anyone suggest good resources with documentation? Some of the apologetics I’ve seen so far are a bit weak in their arguments. Specifically, I’ve been presented with a list of “Answers to the Most Common Objections Against Sedevacantism” from a sedevacantist website.

Dave Armstrong posted some resources for refuting sedevacantism here:

Let me know if that is helpful.

One thing I would want to bring up is a few Scriptures that I think are incompatible with sedevacantism. One is 2 Thessalonians 2:3 – “Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction.” To me, this connects the great apostasy to the coming of the Antichrist. Verses 9-11 support this interpretation because they say that the Antichrist will cause the Apostasy when he comes. At least, that’s how I read it. If the sedevacantists really believe that the whole Church (except for themselves) is apostate, then where is the guy who was supposed to cause this? He should be identifiable because this verse says he will be revealed when the apostasy happens. Well, it’s been over forty years since Pope St. John XXIII was elected. Shouldn’t the Antichrist have appeared, maybe started the battle of Armageddon by now? Because I don’t see him.

I am aware that some sedevacantists go so far as to say that the pope himself is the Antichrist, but what I want to know is, which one was he? Verse 3 says, “the lawless one will be revealed,” not “the lawless several.” Second, what were the great powers and signs he wrought to prove himself? Verse 9 says he will come with signs and wonders – not to mention what other Bible verses say, that he will persecute the saints of God and wage a great war. Sedevacantists object that the pope has allowed too much religious liberty, not that he has persecuted them. To me, that means the pope isn’t the Antichrist, and if the Antichrist hasn’t come, the rebellion hasn’t happened. Case closed.

Do you think that might be a helpful argument?

A second passage I would want to bring up is the prophecy of Daniel chapter 2. Daniel chapter 2 pointed out the characteristics of the four kingdoms that would rise before the coming of the Messiah. (Daniel 2:39-43) The traditional Catholic interpretation of that prophesy is that they were Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. It correctly foretold that the Messiah would set up a kingdom in the midst of the reign of the fourth kingdom – Daniel 2:44-45.

The problem for sedevacantists is that in Daniel 2:35, the Messiah’s everlasting kingdom is described as being so large it would fill the whole earth. Sedevacantists say it is only a very tiny pebble in comparison. Only the Catholic Church of today fulfills the Daniel 2 prophesy. Only it was founded during the Roman empire and grew into a great size that has lasted ever since. No other faith has that. I think it is proof-positive that the Catholic Church under today’s pope is the true Church.

**EDIT :: I just noticed that some of Dave Armstrong’s links need to be updated because Catholic Answers deleted the back-issues of This Rock Magazine.

Habemus Papam can still be accessed here:

White Smoke, Valid Pope can still be accessed here:

Do-It-Yourself Popes can still be accessed here:

Mr. X can still be accessed here:

Those are all from the Web Archive’s Wayback Machine, which stores old copies of websites in case they get deleted during website updates. (Convenient, since that’s exactly what happened.)

First, based on the Church’s theological and canonical tradition, I believe it is possible for a Pope to defect publically from the Church like it is for anyone else. In that case, he would probably cease to be the Pope since one must be a member of the Church to be its head–but in such cases, the Church would recognize it and not completely follow a false head (answering all the specific sedevacantist accusations of heresy and the difference between being wrong–assuming a Pope in question has been wrong–and the kind of of public heresy canonists find necessary for loss of office is too long for this post, and ultimately unnecessary).

First, since all the Churches must agree with the Church of Rome, even if the Pope may defect, the entire Church of Rome cannot (the sedevacantists see all the particular Churches having defected, including Rome). This was defined in the Bull Licet ea of Pope Sixtus IV (he definitively condemned the error that “the Church of the city of Rome can fall into error” (Denzinger 730, older numbering).

Furthermore, the identity of the Roman Pontiff must also be a dogmatic fact, otherwise all the decisions of the Church would always lack certainty. Here are two traditional theology manuals on this–the second specifically addresses past versions of “sedevacantists.”

Here’s why this is the case, from Tanquerey’s oft-cited Manual on Dogmatic Theology:

More on this from Hunter’s Outlines of Dogmatic Theology Vol 1:

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