I saw a note where this is now allowed to be discussed in the Traidtional Catholicism forum. So just to show my ignorance what is sedevacantism?

**It’s the belief in the idea that the Chair of Peter is empty. For instance, there are those who espouse the belief that there has not been a legitimate pope since Pius XII. **I fall into the category pf people who believe that this shows a lack of faith.

Why has it previously not been an allowed topic of discussion? We talk about pretty much everything here on CA, why not this, previously? Just curious. It might help frame some of the discussion on the topic.


Sedevacantism is really merely a theological opinion held by some traditional Catholics who believe that Benedict (or JPII, or Paul VI) were not popes because they were not, as persons, valid “Matter” for the office of Peter. That is, they believe that these men held to one or more heretical views and that, by divine law (as distinct from ecclesiastical law) a heretic cannot command in the church (hence he could not be a pope) because a heretic is by divine law no longer even a MEMBER of the church due to heresy.

I have a good friend who is a sedevacantist and we’ve had some lively discussions about this matter.

Whew. Hope that was helpful.
God bless,
Jaypeeto3 (aka Jaypeeto4)

Does this all tie in with oppostion to vatiican II?

The discussions on this issue were quite…heated. There was rarely a thread that produced learning, instead it often resulted in Pope bashing.

Yes, they do believe there are errors in Vatican Council II.

Chiefly, they belive that the Council’s teachings on
Religious Liberty and
Ecclesiology (The Church of Christ not being exactly the same thing as the Catholic Church but “subsisting in” the Catholic Church) to be in error.

As for the individual popes whose legitimacy they question,
a big issue currently for them is JPII’s teaching that The Old Covenant Has Never Been Revoked By God is heretical, as they are convinced it contradicts Scripture and the Historic magisterium of the Church (especially they will cite the Council of Florence which taught that the matter pertaining to the Law of Moses, the Old Covenant, ceased upon the promulgation of the gospel).

They have other issues as well, but those are biggies.

God bless,
Jaypeeto3 (aka Jaypeeto4)

Oh my! Well, that’s a good reason then! Hope it goes well here and everyone can behave.


These discussions can get extremely heated and quite nasty actually. They tend to turn into personal attacks on each other and it just gets ugly all the way around, primarily because it brings out he truly radical on both sides of the spectrum.

Sedevacantists believe that a manifest (publicly known) heretic cannot hold ecclesiastical office, including the papacy. Almost all Sedevacantists believe that the popes from John XXIII to Pope Benedict XVI have been manifest heretics, and that therefore, the Church has continued with the office of pope vacant during this time.

But couldn’t that get tricky if you go back into the Middle Ages? I can’t imagine that you wouldn’t be able to find at least one Pope who was a “heretic” by some standard of that age? Or does the Pope have to have promulgated a teaching that was in error and teaching heresy? But then what was JPI’s great teaching of heresy? He was only in office for a scant period of time.

Did Vatican II really say that the Church of Christ does not equal the Catholic Church?:confused:

And hasn’t the New Covenant replaced the Old? What did Pope John Paul II mean?:confused:

I think most Sedevacantists are very sincere, but it is curious that they consider Pope John XXIII a manifest heretic, but also consider Pope Pius XII a valid pope.

The Sedevacantists theory has fit very well into dislike of Vatican II. It caused a schism within the Lefebvrists, however, that resulted in the SSPX rejecting it. Those who continued to believe in Sedevacantism created the SSPV and several other smaller groups.

Just curious…what was the purpose of your statement about Pius XII? What about his life and time as Pope could lead you to believe he could possibly be considered an invalid Pope?

Lumen Gentium

Chapter 8

This is the one Church of Christ which in the Creed is professed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic, (12*) which our Saviour, after His Resurrection, commissioned Peter to shepherd,(74) and him and the other apostles to extend and direct with authority,(75) which He erected for all ages as “the pillar and mainstay of the truth”.(76) **This Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, *which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him,(13) although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure. These elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward catholic unity


Excellent question.

With regard to the modern popes, Sedevacantist apologists will usually refer to some public statement that was made before that particular pope was elected, and follow up with additional teachings during the papacy. It doesn’t seem to matter whether the manifest heresy was made during his papacy or not, and it doesn’t appear important whether the statement was offered as a personal opinion or an official teaching. Anyone who has had different experiences please correct me if I’m wrong.

With regard to medieval popes, they sometimes concede that one pope or another might have been a manifest heretic, but maintain that there would have been some public record of it.

For me, this is the largest flaw in the theory. Since it is impossible to conclusively prove a negative, then it’s always possible that any pope, perhaps all popes, were manifest heretics.

Appears to me it is saying ALL Christians subsist in the Catholic Church . Now if it said the Catholic Church subsisted in the Church of Christ we would have a big problem

The problem that Sedes and other Traditionalists have with “subsists in the Catholic Church” is that Pius XII had taught that the Church of Christ IS the Catholic Church.
Subsists in, means that though the Church of Christ exists uniquely and fully in the Catholic Church, still (as Ratzinger once said a few years back) the Church of Christ is a broader entity than the Catholic Church. whereas Pope Pius XII had said that the Church of Christ “is” the Catholic Church.
Traditionalists see a contradiction in this.

Jaypeeto3 (aka Jaypeeto4)

I wasn’t trying to single out Pope Pius XII as being any more heterodox than other popes. Rather, I was trying to point out the dividing line for most Sedevacantists: Pope Pius XII was the last Pope prior to Vatican II.

IMHO, if one were to hold any pope to the same level of scrutiny as Pope John XXIII and the rest of the postconciliar Popes, one would find some controversy that could possibly be construed as heresy.

For example, Pope Pius XII began the reform of the Mass that ultimately culminated in the calling of Vatican II. Sedevacantists are quick to point out that St. Pope Pius V pronounced an anathema upon anyone who changed the Tridentine Mass, and yet few of them would argue that the changes that Pope Piux XII made amount to heresy.

Likewise, St. Pius V declared the same anathema upon anyone who made changes to the Tridentine Office (i.e., LIturgy of the Hours). And yet none of the Sedevacantists contend that St. Pope Pius X, who reformed the Tridentine Office, was a manifest heretic.

On another matter, Cardinal Cushing, under strong directions from Pope Pius XII’s curia, excommunicated Fr. Feeney for defending (overzealously) two dogmas of the faith: 1) outside the Church there is no salvation and 2) the necessity of water baptism for salvation. Sedevacantists are deeply divided on this matter, some siding with the Vatican and others siding with Fr. Feeney. Regardless, very few of the Sedevacantists who support Fr. Feeney’s beliefs pursue the argument that Pope Pius XII was a manifest heretic.

Ultimately what I’m trying to say is that Sedevacantists, despite their sincerity, are hypercritical of the Vatican II popes. And yet if they were to critically examine each and every public act of each and every pope to the same degree, not one would be considered by them to be a valid pope.

Ok…I understand what you were getting at now…Thanks for the clarification :thumbsup:

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