Sedevacantism and MHFM

So I have this particular friend that recently converted to Sedevacantism and broke away from The Church (what he considers the “False Church in Rome”). His entire demeanor seems to have changed to be very uncharitable. The fact that he follows a highly dedicated Sedevacantist site “Most Holy Family Monestary” makes not only his arguments numerous but also his substance large and rather very tedious to go through and refute.

Does anyone know any substantial reference against sedevacantism or reading material? Or any expanded knowledge on the subject?

I sadly have no reading recommendations nor a deep knowledge of Sedevacantism. But I always found the idea that Christ would simply let His bride run around like a headless chicken as ridiculous. Somehow all of us well-meaning Catholics are all being lead to Hell by our false Pope while sedevacantists are part of the true tiny remnant that may not even attend Mass due to a revelation they found in obscure scholarship. Truly, a study into Quo Primium was what Jesus referred to as the narrow gate.



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Do you think he really wants to debate Peter Dimond or is it Michael Dimond? He said he did but then he added a condition which he knows Peter (or michael) Dimond could not fulfill.

Thank you, it seems quite lengthy but I shall definitely read over it

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In the article you have given us, Salza says he wanted to debate Dimond. But he attached the impossible condition that Dimond show he was a member of the Benedictine community operating inside the governance of the Catholic church. Dimond, being a sedevacantist, does not recognize such and considers himself to belong to an independent Benedictine community operating outside the governance of the Catholic Church.
By attaching impossible conditions to a debate with Dimond, it is obvious that Salza does not really want a debate with Dimond, even though he asserts that he does.

It has been my experience that dealing with someone who is a sede is akin to trying to capture the wind. My experience is that they are so emotionally wrapped up in thier conspiracy theories that facts and common sense do not register; they simply bounce off the individual as wind bounces off a rock.

And while I am not educated in either psychiatry or psychology, it is my experience that such individuals may be in need of advice, counsel and etc. from one or the other disciplines. To put it perhaps not so politely, talking to the tin foil hat crowd is an exercise in futility.

In short, pray for them and move on. They like almost everyone you will meet, if not all - need your prayers. And there is precious little else you can bring to bear.

At the very core of it, they are either ignorant of the Gospel or incapable of grasping it, when it tells us that Christ promised to send the Holy Spirit to guide the Church, and that the gates of hell will not prevail against it. And if challenged, they might acknowledge that the Gospel tells us this, and then… merrily down the nearest rabbit hole we go.


Oh I understand this almost too much.

The issue is that this is a good friend of mine and I recall very much that MHFM likes to take things out of context quite a lot.

And unfortunately he seems to get very uncharitable responses from others that he talks to as if they were never his friend and ostracize and/or make fun of him.

So I really think that he needs someone to talk to about this that genuinely wants him back and not just someone that either would make fun of him, or someone that “just wants to be right”

Keep praying for him that the HOLY SPIRIT will open his eyes to the TRUTH and help him see that he belongs in Jesus’ One True Holy Apostolic Church not a splinter branch that doesn’t agree with the Pope or Vat. 2 or whatever. Jesus founded only ONE Church.

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I acknowledge that a Pope can defect from the Church through heresy like anyone else, just that it is not the case at this time. One can pick apart all the sedevacantist doctrinal arguments, but it is easier to look at their principles to see why all the different brands of it are wrong in principle.

Sedevacantist claims are purely negative (“the putative Catholic Church is heretical, therefore we by default are the true Church”) resting on certain doctrinal controversies and arguments over whether something is a legitimate theological conclusion or actual heresy (claims that the Catholic Church has fallen into heresy are not new, just ask the Greeks or the non-Chalcedonians), none of which have been definitively condemned by the Church, but which were taught at an ecumenical Council, and IMO can all be defended. They also conflate simply being wrong about something with the heresy that necessarily separates one from the Church.

They have no argument as to why they are the true Church, because they aren’t. Sedevacantism in all its forms is clearly lacking in hierarchical communion, a teaching authority, the primacy in act or potency, and various other elements as well as a perduring continuity–all of which are proper to the true Church. The putative Catholic Church clearly has all these things.

Let’s look at some of these issues in more detail:

(1) Thave no primacy in act or in potency. Since the Roman primacy is a constituent element of the Church and the Church has defined that there is to be a perpetual succession of bishops in the Roman primacy, the Church must retain the primacy either in act (with a living Pope) or in potency (if there is no Pope, the Church retains the power recognize there is no Pope and to appoint a new one). The Church cannot choose to go without a Pope (this was an error of Hus condemned at the Council of Constance). All historical sedevacantists (ie those that thought the Pope fell out of the Church due to heresy, but still maintained the primacy) from Hippolytus’ to Okham’s group, etc., even though they were all wrong, all at least sought to restore the primacy to act. It appears that for sedevacantists, that power to restore the visible head to the Church cannot be found–in fact, they all claim not to have that power at all, from what I can see. Being unable to elect a new head or choosing not to both violate the divine constitution of the Church.

On the other hand, the true Church has not lost this constituent element and does not fail to do this. This is because it also follows that there must be divine assistance involved in this recognition, since if the Church could fail to recognize her headlessness, she could proceed as headless in perpetuity (and even possibly submit to the teaching and governance of someone other than her head), which is impossible given the above and the other divine promises made to the Church regarding her indefectibility and infallibility.


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continued from above…

(2) At least according to all the sedevacantist material I have read, the Church would have had to cease to exist for a time and/or constituent elements of the Church were lost for a period and had to be imported from a false sect. For example, there’s always a lag time between when the supposed foundation of the false “Vatican II sect” is and when the true Church emerged from it. Where was the true Church during that time?

On the other hand, the Catholic dogma is that the Catholic Church’s existence and unique identity as the one Church of Christ is a perduring and permanent reality. The putative Catholic Church has never ceased to exist, unlike the sedevacantist Church.

Likewise, there is usually also a time in between when the precise moment when the Pope supposedly became a heretic and defected and the allegedl true Church stopped following him, meaning the entire Church was deceived in this matter for a time. But this is not consistent with Catholic principles:

Hunters Outlines of Dogmatic Theology Vol 1:

First, then, the Church is infallible when she declares what person holds the office of Pope; for if the person of the Pope were uncertain, it would be uncertain what Bishops were in communion with the Pope; but according to the Catholic faith, as will be proved hereafter, communion with the Pope is a condition for the exercise of the function of teaching by the body of Bishops (n. 208); if then the. uncertainty could not be cleared up, the power of teaching could not be exercised, and Christ’s promise (St. Matt. xxviii. 20; and n. 199, II.) would be falsified, which is impossible.

This argument is in substance the same as applies to other cases of dogmatic facts. Also, it affords an answer to a much vaunted objection to the claims of the Catholic Church, put forward by writers who think that they find proof in history that the election of a certain Pope was simoniacal and invalid, and that the successor was elected by Cardinals who owed their own appointment to the simoniacal intruder; from which it is gathered that the Papacy has been vacant ever since that time. A volume might be occupied if we attempted to expose all the frailness of the argument which is supposed to lead to this startling conclusion; but it is enough to say that if the Bishops agree in recognizing a certain man as Pope, they are certainly right, for otherwise the body of the Bishops would be separated from their head, and the Divine constitution of the Church would be ruined. In just the same way the infallibility extends to declaring that a certain Council is or is not ecumenical.

In other words, if a Pope defects from the Church, the Church will recognize it, just as she recognizes it in those other times she lacks a head (death or resignation) (see part 1 for more on this).


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continued from above…

(3) You also have those groups that got their orders from bishops who either belonged at the time to “the Vatican II sect” or to some other group the newly ordained was not in hierarchical communion with, as if the Church needed to be perfected by non-Catholic societies. They had to go outside what they see as the true Church to get constituent elements of the true Church–the Catholic dogma is that all these elements are permanently part of the Church–she cannot lose them.

(4) Other kinds of sedevacantists say the Church is whoever believes in the right doctrines, no matter which society they formally belong to, even societies not in hierarchical communion with one another or even including those formally belonging to the “Vatican II sect.” This is just a new spin on Protestant ecclesiology. But the Church of Christ has one subsistence only, it cannot be said to subsist in multiple different societies. The Church is one and includes the bonds of hierarchical communion.

I don’t recall too much about MHFM, but one or more of the above issues will apply to them. I hope that helps!

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It’s one thing to object to Vatican 2 but MHFM/Sedevacantism share many properties of a cult IMO.

Some of their theories don’t sound a whole lot different than those coming from our good friend Jack Chick.

This definitely does! I had thought about quite a few points you have made as well, especially (1) and (2).

They do claim that for point (1) “miracles can happen for emergency cases” or along the lines of something or another. Which I have always found weak but they seem to dismiss the first point due to that. Although your articulation of potency and act is a very nice way of putting it.

I have not heard any proper justification for (2) yet. And MHFM somehow justifies (3) considering they have gotten their masses at a place that is in communion with Rome despite their belief they would be a false sect.

As he is your friend, I can understand your concern.

If he was well catechized before this change, then it would appear that the change may have some organic implications, and that is beyond anything you can impact.

If he was not well catechized, then he may well be adrift both intellectually and emotionally. It would seem that a critical question is, what triggered this change?

Good luck. It is not something I would venture, based in large part on my experiences of people going through such a change. Speak carefully, and do not go in with expectations of “saving” him.

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I think I may have a rough idea and in all honesty me and a few other friends pretty much saw this coming, I was simply too hopeful in that he wouldn’t actually get to that state. It honestly saddens me.

Right of course, it is God that does the saving. I can only pray that I may be His instrument if that is His Will.

Thank you and please pray for us

Miracles do happen in emergency cases–and have–to preserve those elements in the Church (e.g. there have been cases where God sent some sort of chastisement or prophetic voice to help a deadlocked conclave get on with their duty). The sedes, on the other hand, claim a miracle is necessary to restore a constituent element of the Church which is currently missing. In other words, they claim God failed to preserve the Church as He constituted it and now must fix it.


Also this:

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Very good point, thank you!

Quite a bit of reading material, thank you

the title of the second one aggravates me slightly. … [Most SSPX] members and supporters reject sedevacantism.

I appreciate the criticism, especially since I am the webmaster of that site. Be aware that I considered this potential objection before posting the page with that title, and, after considering it, I decided to do so anyway, for the following reason: it is okay to put two different things in the same title if you are dealing with something they have something in common. What they have in common in this case is: all the other things on that page, other than Sedevacantism.

I’ll give an example that might be more relatable: if I was browsing a Protestant apologetics site, I wouldn’t think they were misinformed or disingenuous if they had a page titled “Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy.” Even if they had a subpage within that page called “The Papacy,” in which they argued against it, I wouldn’t go email the webmaster to tell him that that the two pages should be separated because the Orthodox don’t agree with us Catholics on the papacy. Instead, I would recognize that putting two things into the same title doesn’t need to imply that they are the same; the author might be aware of the differences, but also know that, on most of the issues explored on that page, they are similar, and therefore he can include them on the same page to avoid redundancy.

In my case I also had an additonal reason: I suspect that those who are flirting with joining the SSPX, or who are admirers thereof, are susceptible to the kinds of arguments that sedevacantists make. To my ears, sedevacantism seems like “just taking the next step” beyond irregularity and into blatant schism. And since I don’t want people who are flirting with the SSPX (or admirers) to take the next step into schism, I want them to see the arguments against it – and a good way to do, at least to my mind, that is to put them on the same page.

I hope that clarification gives you some background for why I made that choice. You may disagree, and that’s fine, but I hope you can see that at least I made an attempt to do it for defensible reasons, after reflection, and not out of any misguided attempt to “lump the two together.”

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