How does one talk to a sedevacantist, and still be loving and sincere?


I am having a conversation with a sedevacantist–not my choice, it is his or hers, (let us use the pronoun ‘he’ for simplicity), he is being gently insistent, and I don’t feel right saying ‘no.’

He has quite gently called me to account for a comment I made to someone who it seems is leaving the Catholic Church for the Orthodox one. The comment was to the effect: is walking away from Peter analagous to those who walked away from Christ in John’s Gospel?

I do not wish to insult this person with whom I am having the conversation, I have made it clear that I pray for his return to the fold, find his position shocking and disordered, but I wouldn’t mind help in the proper way to talk about this.




Is Sedevancantism a Heresy or what is it?
I mean, is it against the Catholic Religion?


thanks for your clarity! :stuck_out_tongue:


What? You don’t have a choice on your end of the conversation? Come on, you have free will, don’t you? :smiley:

I’ll mention a few things:

  1. Any discussion should be backed up by prayer and sacrifice; I’m not just talking about prayer and sacrifice for the conversion of the erring one, but prayer and sacrifice that you yourself be enlightened concerning the whole truth and enabled to expose that truth in a convincing and charitable way.

  2. If you fear that you don’t have the intellectual qualities or education or that your faith is not strong enough for such a debate, you should say no. And you cannot feel bad about that because you are taking the proper precautions for safeguarding your faith, which is required of you.

  3. You cannot have a fruitful dialogue if you do not face your own errors within the debate. The truth will set you free. If the truth is on your side of the debate, you have absolutely nothing to lose by admitting what truth there is on the other side. And if the truth is not on your side of the debate, you have everything to gain by admitting the truth. This is a win-win situation. :slight_smile:

  4. You need to be willing to see the other side; in other words, where that person is coming from, why he believes what he does. While you may not have respect for his errors, you of course need to have respect for the person and trust his good faith until he shows he does not have it. Sometimes it is scary to see the other side because often there is a lot of truth there that you didn’t see before, but if the truth is on your side, you have nothing to fear.

  5. You must assume the good faith of the person until you cannot do so any longer. Very many people are sincere in their errors; many have gone through a lot of agony in coming to the conclusions they have. You have to have compassion and understanding for them, but not a condescending one. Remember that compassion comes from the Latin meaning to suffer with. (This compassion, of course, must directed to the person, not the errors. :))

Just my two cents, :smiley:


My experience has been that you don’t have a conversation – which is a TWO-way form of communication – with a sede: the sede tries to convince you of their point of view and won’t listen to anything he doesn’t already believe. It’s possible that there are truly open-minded sedes out there with whom it’s possible to have a proper, grown-up discussion, but I’ve not met any of them yet.


thanks Maria, you’ve helped a lot. ANd of course I have a choice, I just don’t “feel right” saying no to the conversation. I appreciate your time!


actually, so far, he has not at all been out of line.


Well, you have to ask yourself if you’re being the same way. If you want a sedevacantist to listen to your argument, you must listen to his and try to understand it. You must also directly admit what truth there is in his argument. Besides, in a converstation with a sedevacantist, are you not also trying to convince him of your point of view? So there’s nothing wrong with that in a sedevacantist.

It’s possible? It’s not just a possibility, but a reality!

Why not?

And that proves my point, parvenu74. If you assume the bad faith of your opponent when you really should assume good faith until it is proven otherwise, you’ve closed the door to fruitful debate because you’ve just closed your end of the debate to mutual charity. You can’t blame that on the other side.



Just have a rational, friendly, yet frank discussion. I helped an individual abandon sedevacantism in that way. And has been said, whenever you’re trying to bring someone into the fold, it is always good to assume they are outside in good faith. This is the method most highly recommended–and even mandated–by the Church.


I don’t feel qualified to rule on that, but I will share my experience. I first contacted a SV while shopping for a vintage Catholic Prayer book. I learned that SedaVacantists (empty chair) believe that the chair of Peter has been unoccupied by a successor since before VAtican II. I don’ tknow if the views this individual expressed to me are average, but after I did some reading up on it, it seemed to me that they are. They feel that VatII destroyed the church, and that anyone supporting such a council is out of God’s will. They feel that they are the preserved “true” church, and pray for restoration of a “real” pope. As such, they recognize the recent three popes as imposters. When I began to defend the promulgations, the individual became annoyed with me, and told me “you have to listen to the Magesterium!”. But, when I asked, well, WHO IS THAT?! I could not get an answer, and was soundly run off. I tried several times to reopen discussion to no effect. I then received in the mail a stack of pre-vat 2 pamplets and teachings and a note encouraging me to look for a “traditional” parish (the New Order Mass is not considered valid). I was also accused of being contaminated by modernism by virtue of attending NO mass. It was quite puzzling and frustrating, however, that conversation is also what brought me into this forum, looking for answers, so I can’t complain too much,.:slight_smile:


[quote=TNT]Is Sedevancantism a Heresy or what is it?
I mean, is it against the Catholic Religion?

Well, TNT…is it a heresy?

If so, what is your evidence?


My guess is still that they deny the Visible Church but you already knew that.:wink:

Maurin, I’d talk to Gorman. He’s nice enough. :wink: That said, I’d agree that you don’t have to talk to him at all if you don’t want to.


[quote=bear06]My guess is still that they deny the Visible Church but you already knew that.:wink:

Dear bear06,

Thank you for the compliment. :wink:

Now, do you have any evidence (can you quote some source) that supports your assertion here? That is, that a sedevacantist may be assumed as outside the Church and that because it is assumed that he denies the visibility of the Church…which he explicitly says he does not.

I can’t help but believe that this is all just a tactic some have come up with for ruling all the arguments “out of court”. Knowing they’ll lose the debate on its merits, they hide behind “You’re not a Catholic.”




You’re asking for an argument I did not make. You asked TNT if sedevacantism is a heresy and I responded that my guess is that the heresy lies in the fact that they deny the visibility of the Church. To so when doesn’t when they do is quite typical. The SSPX do it all of the time. “We don’t deny the authority of the Holy Father” and they do. Again, to say that you believe in the Visible Church but then go on to say that it’s obscured in itself denies the visibility of the Church. Like I said, it’s hard to be the 'beacon on the hill" when it’s hidden under a bush.

Anyways, I rarely get into the “you’re a heretic” or “you’re a schismatic” argument because that’s not our call. I’m just guessing that that would be the heresy attached to sedevacantism.


Could you or anyone else please address the perfectly legitimate question put forth by gorman64 below? As gorman64, I would also like to know if there is documented evidence to explain this position you have claimed. I have heard this by another member (you know who you are:hypno:) over and over and he has no evidence, so I thought maybe you do.



By the sound of it, your “friend” did right to hold you accountable for your comment–there is no leaving the Church for an orthodox one. The sacraments are all valid according to the priests in the area where I live, and the bishops office as well, and I believe that you can find more than a little information about this available online as well.

I am unfamaliar with why you are using this term “sedevacantist”. Are you saying, this person does believe that the chair of St. Peter is vacant? Or are you simply falsely labelling this person, because in your opinion, and a fairly ill informed one from what I understand; someone is leaving the church?


The Orthodox may have the sacraments but they are in schism/heresy; they do not believe in the primacy of Peter and so of course are not in communion with the pope. For a Catholic to join the Orthodox is nothing less than leaving the Catholic Church, which alone is the Mystical Body of Christ.

The Orthodoxist and the sedevacantist are two separate people. Maurin made his original comment to an Orthodoxist; a sedevacantist took up maurin’s comment and challenged him on it. It is this sedevacantist whom maurin is talking about.



Thank you for the clarification, I will look into what you are saying, about the Orthodox churches.


Dear Bear,

So you don’t really know then…and then one would rightly say that you have no basis to either state or even worse, imply, that I am “outside the fold”.

Do we agree? Or are you going to hold on to this “guessing game” that we might be heretics.

The idea that sede vacante itself is a heresy is of course ridiculous…as the seat is vacant at times that we all agree on. Even you, dear bear, were a “sedevacantist” in 2005…I presume for about 3 weeks? Did you feel like you were “outside the fold”?




I never argued that we don’t believe in sedevacantism. I guess we’d now have to start using the term radical sedevacantism to denote those who believe in the standard form of sedevacantism and those who believe that 5 men have been elected who are fooling the world and are not really popes. :thumbsup:

And yep, I will continue to guess that there is heresy attached to radical sedevacantism. The Visible Church isn’t obscured.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit