Sedevacantism and Canon 188.4


Peace be with you!

I read some more sedevacantist junk today and I thought I’d take this opportunity to write up a quick post on what I think of it.

It seems that sedevacantists go to excruciating length to attempt to prove that Canon 188.4 somehow supports their position. Surely we can see what they are trying to do–say that a Cardinal who excommunicates himself by teaching heresy cannot validly vote in a papal election. However, it is exactly with this point that they trip themselves up.
A person must be a bishop to be elected pope, but only the College of Cadinals may vote on the pope. For a pope to be elected, the vote must obviously be a majority for that person. Had John XXIII (whose body is still uncorrupted, mind you…funny for a heretic, isn’t it?) not been validly elected, then at least two-thirds of the Cardinals alive and voting at the time had to have been heretics. To my knowledge, sedevacantists have not attempted to point out which Cardinals those were or what heresies they excommunicated themselves by. Of course, the issue of John XXIII’s validity as pope never became an issue until after the Vatican II Council, four years after his election.
Now if the sedevacantists do indeed claim that the majority (and it would have to be at least two-thirds, though we have no way of knowing how many votes John XXIII recieved; the ballots are all burned) of the Cardinals were heretics this leads us to conclude a few things. First (the second will have to do with Mt. 16:18), they cannot specifically name which Cardinals are or are not heretics because they have no way of knowing who did or did not vote for John XXIII. So, the only thing they can do is say that all the Cardinals participating in that papal election were no longer Cardinals, having excommunicated themselves for heresy. Well, then I lay this charge upon them: do not go looking for 202 heresies of the Vatican II Council or 101 heresies of John Paul II, but find the heresies of each and every Cardinal alive at the time of John XXIII’s election to the papacy.
Now because the only way to safely claim John XXIII’s “anti-papacy” is to claim that every Cardinal was a heretic, then it would have been impossible for a legitamate Pope to be elected. However, they cannot be named heretics because of voting for John XXIII; canon 188.4 states that once they teach heresy they forfeit their position as Cardinal. Had they been heretics *prior *to the conclave, they would have been unable to vote. Hence, had another person been elected instead of John XXIII, they could not have been a valid Pope either because the Cardinals would no longer have been Cardinals.
Had Siri really been elected, his papacy would have been just as “anti” as John XXIII’s because the same Cardinals–who would have had to have been heretics going into the conclave and therefore unable to vote–would have elected him.
So, because sedevacantists must claim that every Cardinal voting in the 1958 papal election had to have been a heretic (otherwise their argument of canon 188.4 and a vacant See would not be valid or able to be taken seriously) that means that every choice for Pope also would have to be a heretic. We know from Mt. 16:18 when Jesus gave Peter the keys, he told him “the gates of hell shall never prevail against it [the Church]”. Sedevacantism, in the nicest way I can think of to say it, is the belief that the gates of hell have prevailed against the Church. Sedevacantists have done one of two things: they have either made Jesus into a liar, or they have given Satan more power than God. Now who is the heretic, I ask?

edit: I forgot to address Pius XII’s *Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis. *This is a very misleading document. Both sides try to use it to back up their position. However, I believe it cannot favor anyone but those in communion with Rome. Even had a heretic been elected Pope (and earlier papal encyclicals claim that no heretic can even be Catholic) the power of the office (the Holy Spirit) would prevent them from *teaching *that heresy. Had they the ability to teach that heresy, that would bring us back to my earlier point on Mt. 16:18.

In Christ,



Sedevacantism is still on our banned topics list, so this thread is now closed.

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