Sedevacantism, a Form of Neo-Jansenism/Puritanism
Sedevacantism, a Form of Neo-Jansenism/Puritanism: A Disguised Neo-Protestant Movement
By Joseph Andrew Settanni
What to do when the rightly notable holiness of the ecclesiastical representation, the Roman Catholic Church, is absolutely perfect but the people, obviously, are not at all perfect? Have a peevish temper tantrum? Or, perhaps, come up with truly tautological doctrines that can, of course, completely and conveniently accommodate prejudices to suit a bigoted religious mind? One yet might interestingly ask, however, what’s really going on here?
Get real! A true and committed sedevacantist cannot withstand scandal. And, when all the other fancy verbiage gets so said and disputed unendingly, that is the actual bottom line. The great scandal of St. Peter having denied Jesus three times should, in fact, make him want to, also, disqualify the very first Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. Why waste the effort or anger, as they do, by only starting, usually, with Pope John XXIII? The Fisherman was a sad miscreant himself, obviously.1
Moreover, every genuine and true sedevacantist should, upon true reflection, be seriously concerned about being, in effect, more papist than any mere pope. For they do, in fact, impiously and vaingloriously both judge and condemn the entirety, the Apostolic ampleness, of the Papacy itself, meaning typically since the end of the reign of Pope Pius XII. But, why isn’t St. Peter, a perpetrator of scandal, equally held in contempt?
Of course, there is the acknowledgement, the free admission, of a continuing and monumental, real and substantial, genuine crisis in the Church, which manifests no truly visible signs of any “quick fix” any time soon. But, however, the still awful embrace of heresy is not the amenable “solution” or, perhaps, supposed panacea to be sought.
A Way to Normalize Heresy … or Here We Go Again
The heretical Catholic version of Puritanism, known as Jansenism goes well, therefore, with any form or variety, type or manifestation, of sedevacantism. Historically speaking, it can be interestingly noted that sedevacantism’ s most significant period was the time of the Great Papal Western Schism (1378 – 1415), when as many as three different popes had all claimed the loyalty of Catholics. A sociological “law” of an inverse ratio seems to exist as seen critically pertaining to this particular matter. It needs to be put into italics to stand out better for an added emphasis:
There is, genuinely, much less overt reason for this vain effort’s persistence than there surely was, in point of fact, during the height of that noted Western Schism; but, a yet greater fervency persists, among a very smaller minority, with a substantially and markedly decreased right of legitimate justification. Of course, the stalwart opponents of the Papacy, seemingly being ignorant of such cognition to a fault, do normally fail to notice this absolutely obvious truth staring at them, directly in the face, every day of their yet ongoing absurd dissent.
Today’s sedevacantists, however, are truly a relatively tiny group, as with, e. g., the Old Roman Catholic Church (Altkatholische), mostly based in Germany, in the late 19th century and its members, who turned heretical and could not agree with Blessed Pope Pius IX’s assertion of papal infallibility. For such people, it is a kind of siege-mentality nostalgia suitable mainly for a despoiled romantic notion of “church” that never actually existed in reality, only in their fertile imaginations. How may this be much better known?
This is clearly because these unfortunate nonconformists or dissenters or, rather, neo-Protestants of a strange kind do, unfortunately, have a very skewed and corrupted understanding and comprehension of actual orthodoxy, authentic traditionalism, and genuine fidelity to both the Catholic faith and Church. They really want or desire only to know of the Church Militant (on earth) and Church Triumphant (in Heaven) by always, however, selectively excluding the substantial fullness of the Church Suffering (when persecution or, in fact, any such major suffering or, perhaps, serious moral disorientation occurs to it).
This heresy is not “radical traditionalism” of any kind as is often falsely alleged; it is actually more done in the spirit of Protestant so-called Reformed Religion, not any good effort to, supposedly, protect real Catholicism. But, to be a committed, practicing Roman Catholic, means affirming all three aspects of Catholicism as each being a legitimate component part of the entire Trinitarian faith. The Church Suffering is, then, dismissed as just a mere unwanted orphan child because it may be seen as being extremely inconvenient to the so pleasantly desired sedevacantist beliefs, a pseudo-religion of quite continuously profound and integral despair.
But, the Church Suffering has included, e. g., such times as the many Roman persecutions, Arian Heresy, the Babylonian/Avignon Captivity, the sinful reign of the scandalous Borgia Pope Alexander VI, and, of course, the now postconciliar era brought on by the many terrible and still festering evils of the Second Vatican Council and its truly horrid aftermath. Of course, as to any misbehaving popes, none of those blasphemous or sacrilegious repercussions and consequences of the significant and often persistent errors, mistakes or maladministrations committed are to be denied here.
The sedevacantists, however, would rather not seek to suffer and endure with the Church Suffering and so construct, in their rather pitiful minds, a much neater and tidier version of “church” more psychologically, sociologically, and culturally suited to their ever much more aesthetic and so refined needs or wants. This was, as is known, equally true of the Jansenists and the Protestant Puritans, of course.
They had both wanted to be constant dissenters from the existing ecclesial establishments in a prideful effort to supposedly purify or perfect their version or kind of a church. It is supremely typical of both types of nonconformists as perfectionists to seek to avoid being associated, in their minds, with any scandal. It is too nasty to handle.
They possess a Protestant-style selectivity, partiality, and willfulness of belief; the basically same kind of “cafeteria Catholicism” mentality that they, typically, accuse the Novus Ordo adherents of having, so it does, indeed, take one to known one, as the old saying has it. These people are, therefore, the mirror imagine of the very types that they publicly claim they would wish to oppose, as to such differing beliefs pertaining to Catholicism.2
As to sedevacantists, one can only sarcastically say that their ever questionable and severely attenuated senses of supposed “orthodoxy,” “traditionalism,” and “fidelity” cannot really endure any scandal. Thus, by such “sensitive” logic, St. Peter, therefore, should be, must be, then rationally considered, by them all, as just having been only illegitimately the first Pope. It could not be thought otherwise.
This notion quite shockingly raises, of course, quite a greatly fierce conundrum and very allied strange quandary, at just a truly bare minimum, of such surely and necessarily troublesome thought, theological, religious, or otherwise so considered. For those deeply interested in doing more intense reading on this subject, they can consult John Salza and Robert Siscoe’s True or False Pope? Refuting Sedevacantism and Other Modern Errors, which appears, as a 700-page tome, to be now well on its way to logically become the fairly veritable “Bible” for so totally disproving and denouncing all of sedevacantism and its various implications.
The Church certainly has, through the many centuries of its earthly existence, undergone periods of moral laxity, degeneracy, and decline; it is experiencing significantly critical problems today; no doubt, when this current postconciliar era has finally run its entire course of destruction, there will be other times of confusion, disturbances, and, yes, actual severe scandals. The often sad human side of the Church is, therefore, administered and staffed by many imperfect, sinful people, meaning fallen creatures, suitably living in, of course, a fallen world.
Being neo-Jansenists themselves, the prideful sedevacantists, as did the aforementioned and similar Jansenists and Puritans, expect a level of perfection not to be ether had or truly seen in this sad world of misfortunes and limitations.
Therefore, all or any religious, theological, or other such protests or objections of these many odd neo-Protestants, in the light of the Church Suffering and all that it involves, are, by definition, absurdly made. Moreover, if no valid Papacy exists, since 1958, for the Church that Jesus Christ Himself had so created, then there could be no real Church and, more than that problematic matter in and of itself, one must, logically, so completely conclude that the Messiah, the Christ, had been, in fact, a simply great liar of definitely and unquestionably magnitudinal proportions at that.
For it means, since 1958 or, of course, whatever cutoff date a particular dissenter choses, the Gates of Hell had, therefore, prevailed against the Church, directly and explicitly contrary to the words of the Savior of Mankind that such would and, therefore, could never ever happen.
But, the vital essence of any kind of fundamentalist sedevacantism really worth the effort of boldly asserting must, by clear definition, agree so fully that the evil power of Hell had, indeed, reached out quite successfully and vilely gained an observably true dominion over the Church. Nothing less can be true, meaning if sedevacantism is held to be true.
Nothing less of this extreme magnitude of a monumental disaster of gargantuan proportions can be asseverated validly, therefore, by any genuine sedevacantism worthy of that particular heretical name or, perhaps, denomination. Sedevacantists, therefore, want to make the worship greater than the God being worshipped, which is, of course, idolatry.
One must here say that their totally unrighteous or self-righteous misunderstanding and misinterpretation of an enormously skewed orthodoxy, traditionalism, and fidelity is, thus, made idolatrous by raising them as assumed objections to the present suffering of the Church. Can some analogous cognition be presented for better illustrating the idolatry involved?
Saul, before he was named Paul, had been disgustingly filled with a (very false) righteousness that was merely his own myopic self-righteousness; this was when he most quite zealously and fervently had persecuted and hunted down the Christians, before being so rightly chastised by Jesus on the road to Damascus. Saul too had been a terrible idolater, prior to his good conversion, by making his understanding and comprehension of Judaism the exact measure by which he had then intolerantly measured out injustices against the harshly tormented followers of Jesus the Christ, the living Messiah.
Those who impiously dare to actually say that the Chair of St. Peter is truly vacant can reasonably be called, to coin a suitable term here, “Saulites” who are, thus, unrighteous idolaters who, in their terrible zeal, sinfully seek to follow that which is a theological and religious fraud, a total lie, vilely known as sedevacantism. It is an abomination before Almighty God, not just a simple error or calm disagreement.
One easily sees how these pretentious Saulites are, increasingly, gloating, triumphing over, and enjoying the sufferings of Holy Mother Church by saying how they were the one who were, in fact, totally right concerning the true direction of the many horrid evils that have manifested themselves. The evils are, thus, real; they were foreseen, however, by many others who did not leave the Church and by those, in a minority admittedly, who stayed loyal as the remnant with the Traditional Latin Mass (called now the Extraordinary Rite), which ought not to be limited to just the Tridentine Mass. Many in the Novus Ordo have, with many mounting difficulties and real travails, sought to be orthodox in their Catholic beliefs and practices.
The virulent and boastful triumphalism of these hard Saulites will, nonetheless, be held against them on Judgment Day because they had unrighteously lacked charity, which is a greater theological virtue than either hope or faith. But, more to the point, they sought, they seek, to exempt themselves or, perhaps, excuse themselves conveniently from having compassion for the sincere and dramatic, the profound and remorseful, great distress of Sancta Mater Ecclesia by yet staying committed and within the flock of the faithful.
Instead, they had opted out, with their titanic unmitigated hubris, by trying to be superior to the vast majority and even by outdoing in their minds, supposedly, the orthodox remnant who do stay with the Traditional Latin Mass. This is highly perfidious conduct completely unworthy of any who say that they do think of themselves as being Catholics.
They seek, in a sense, to be the “perfected ones” untouched by the filth of ecclesiastical troubles by specially setting themselves apart as the then self-selected judge and jury pronouncing the necessarily prejudiced sentence of their neo-Protestant condemnation, in particular, upon the entire Papacy itself, not just a wayward Church in general. It could not, moreover, be otherwise given their theologically and religiously corrupted and tainted principles and many allied suppositions. But, one must take note of the fact that truly much more serious matters are here, unfortunately, involved.
Sedevacantists, because they claim to really know what many hundreds of millions of the faithful do not know, are then necessarily claimants of an esoteric knowledge, though Catholicism, in sharp contrast, is an exoteric faith that both the simplest peasants and highest prelates can equally know as to fully all of the basic truths of the religion. Thus, it seems clear that the noted deniers of the legitimacy, the rightfulness, of the Pope must possesses a special Gnosis making them, by definition, Gnostics, not true Catholics. Sedevacantism is, therefore, a Gnostic faith fully at odds with true Catholicism.
One could easily challenge them by asking if they can really pick any 500 year stretch of Church history during which there was, in fact, absolutely no major and considerably serious problems that afflicted the ecclesiastical organization. It would not, of course, be possible. Nor could they honestly cite any 500 period, in the entire life of the Church, when the Papacy itself completely reigned, with a totally pristine purity of intent and action everywhere, within the vast domains, regions, and territories of Christendom. But, more than all that, the serious matter of the harmful nature of what is being contended must be confronted.
Sedevacantism is a heresy in that only a heretic would dare to claim that Jesus had, in fact, abandoned His Holy Church by allowing the Chair of St. Peter to be vacant of any legitimate pope. And, make no mistake, that is the ultimate bottom line of the contention being made by these supposedly clever neo-Protestants who, as with all such Protestants, contribute freely to the ever terrible fractionalizing of Christian belief.
A certainly grave suspicion rightly exists, therefore, that this is sought after or claimed as a rather clever way to supposedly normalize an ugly heresy, which mightily offends both the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. Nothing less is really involved.
A Form of Gnosticism and Idolatry
Their so holier-than-thou protestations are Jansenist in inspiration and Puritan in their adherence by neglecting all arguments and evidences to the contrary, by their hubristic certainty duly backed up by much tautological nonsense.
Circular reasoning, therefore, forever confirms them in their so absolutist obstinacy of retroactively specious reasoning; this is by which conclusions are, therefore, reached by merely having to assert their posited validity: Post hoc, ergo propter hoc ratiocination boldly on display. For if the conclusion is “logically” suspected to be capable of being actually positively found, arguments will be discovered, no doubt, in basic or general support of the assumed end result then expected.
The alleged “signs” of there being sedevacant conditions are looked for by which the then prepremised conclusions, in turn, do support – no real surprise – the gathered signs expectantly so found. Thus, as night follows day, yet another sedevacantist (read: neo-Protestant) is self-born of such Jesuitical, in the worst sense of that term, deliberation and argumentation. It is a manifestly most self-reinforcing mode of deliberation that, in its turn, consequently corrupts any such error-filled argumentation attempted.
One would think that the scandalous behavior, early on, of the Fisherman, the chief Apostle, would have been warning enough to Church members that no cultic papacies should be created, much less honored, as in the vainglorious and ironic examples of Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis. But, the preaching of Christ crucified will be, as ever, a scandal to the Jews and a folly to the pagans.
Christianity, scandal, and folly are, necessarily, ever concomitant realities of what human beings can realistically expect as just fallen creatures in a fallen world; the Christianity for pointing toward the means of salvation; the scandal for, thus, warning about the usual consequences of sin, and the folly always exhibited by the “wise” of this world who would reject Christ and His Church because of their ever supposed sophistication and enlightened minds.
Could nothing be more clearer to truly fair-minded and objective intellects? But, if all the presuppositional foundations of such a horrid and odd belief are demonstrably, palpably, false, how can the then ever questionable conclusion of sedevacantism be true?
To better enjoy psychological, sociological, and cultural pleasantries connected to a narrowed definition of religion, the sedevacantists wish to avoid the obvious ugliness, sloppiness, harshness, and unpleasant realities of the Church Suffering, for it is a scandal to be avoided in the desire for comfort and the finding of a safe harbor. It then reduces, substantially, the need to ever seriously challenge one’s self morally by recognizing the traditional Catholic need to chastise one’s soul for requisite spiritual improvement aimed at seeking salvation, not moral comfort or sociocultural and psychocultural safety, which excludes unwanted grief, anguish, or anxiety.
The modernist ethics of the Therapeutic State, it can be suspected, have been well absorbed by these egotistical people who do claim, whether admitted or not, their form of enlightenment and, thus, superiority.
For orthodoxy, i. e., real orthodoxy, also concerns actual thoughts of at least potential martyrdom, not just, e. g., the pious contemplation of the lives of the canonized saints. And, moreover, true Catholic fidelity is much more than being steadfastly loyal to one’s own need to, once again, ever avoid scandal, meaning the Church Suffering. This because sedevacantists are quite deficient, morally and spiritually, in those religious areas and theological issues involving authentic tradition, orthodoxy, and fidelity as true Roman Catholics. To have a change of heart and mind is to develop a surely greater sense of good Catholic charity incapable of being grasped beyond the effort to maintain the heretical belief itself.
The central realities seen are that this theologically and religiously untenable position goes question begging, seeks ever unanswerable paradoxes, presents, in the end, just a few totally unacceptable alternatives; reasons backwards, when forced to admit, in effect, very serious flaws in its reasoning, and is the most terrible “solution” to the admitted and rather disastrous ongoing crisis in the Church, in the Church Suffering.
It is so unquestionably myopic to an extreme degree, nonetheless, to make the Papacy the primary and, sometimes, the absolutely centered focus of all concentrated attack for, in effect, rejecting the need to stay loyal to the Catholic faith. Rather, it is best to stay so keenly and religiously focused upon Catholicism, while surely acknowledging the various flaws, faults, failings, or imperfections of popes.
Popes come and go, the Faith remains. The fundamental logic of Catholic religious fidelity is clear. One here easily perceives how, ultimately, that all of sedevacantism meaninglessly dissolves into the basest of absurdities imaginable, considering the cogent analysis in this article.
While a strongly pro-papist Catholicism is the pleasant ideal, real popes can be real problems. Practicing and living out faithfully one’s Catholicism, however, is yet the genuinely needed answer, not the act of complaining interminably, by just despairing of any solution, short of going the sedevacantist route that embraces this heinous heresy against the Faith and athwart the Church as well. The difficulty of having bad popes, a punishment sent by God as a scourge, is not really solved by dramatically jumping from the proverbial frying pan into the fire of Gnostic idolatry.
One needs to appropriately see that the Church Suffering is a cross, as Catholics ought to understand, to be willingly borne as a means of gaining grace, though there will be, in truth, much sorrow and severe travail involved in doing so. Instead of, as good children naturally filled with overwhelming filial love, rushing to the side of a suffering mother (Sancta Mater Ecclesia), they, on the contrary, are utterly appalled and disgusted at scandal and revile her by repudiating, disclaiming, the Papacy in the form of the popes.
Such is not the right attitude of a truly faithful Roman Catholic, rather, the noted proclivity of a dissenting neo-Protestant or, of course, a sedevacantist. And, that is the least that could be rightly said.
Thus, the proper religious-centered reply to having immoral or heretical3 popes ought not to be either a bad laity or bad prelacy by, then, being in sinful dissent as sedevacantists, as “traitors” to the Church. Admittedly, a religious institution that is a living organism is filled with sinful people, and it is, equally, not a museum where things are to be kept in perfect order as to a sense of perfection that is unreal.
The Gnostic Saulites, thus, should not absurdly demand a level of perfection not of this world. The sinfulness exhibited abundantly by those who attack Catholic dogmas, doctrines, and traditions should not be wrongly met by the reciprocation of heretical belief that adds insult to injury against Sancta Mater Ecclesia. Only a rather perverse sense of warped logic could endorse such a strange reaction productive not of religious virtue but of just more real sinfulness.
To here borrow a rather grand sense of irony from the great G. K. Chesterton, author of Orthodoxy (written, interestingly, while he still was a Protestant), one can, intriguingly, play a good game of one-upmanship to then illustrate better the quite enormous and inherent fallacies of sedevacantist cognition, as to its religiously dangerous implications and even harsher theological ramifications.
Following studiously the argumentation and deliberation, however convoluted, of what sedevacantism really advocates, why not here derivatively and logically contemplate being an ultra-sedevacantist? In the 19th century, there were, for instance, those of the faithful, called ultramontanists, who had publicly declared their unswerving Catholic allegiance and faith-filled apostolic fidelity to the Pope.4
Would not, thus, an ultra-sedevacantist, in an appropriately opposite but still fairly parallel sense, find true comfort and approbation, reassurance and more vindication, by taking up such a designation proudly and publicly? Might not others willingly rally to such a brave banner of dedicated defiance?
Being a mere sedevacantist should not ever truly be enough wanted radicalization or vindication. Simple opposition to the Papacy does not at all, therefore, express the requisitely needed intensity of such absolute disapproval. Much more is required to satisfy this massive urge to affirm both adamant and permanent disapproval on a yet still greater scale of added intense emphasis.
A “church” situation and formulation ought to logically develop by which the various dedicated adherents have legitimately their own oppositional (or protest) views set on Scripture, Tradition, and Magisterium affirmed. Nothing less should do, given the rather too profound grievances and allied logic necessarily involved. And, thus, this would be properly denominated as being ultra-sedevacantism.
Some or, perhaps, most committed sedevacantists, however, might object, upon serious reflection, to any such extreme scenario, as to much further radicalization; this is because there may, in fact, be no rational stopping or end point when such dynamic decisions are actually made. But, this is the critical danger here. Thinking any such disturbing thoughts really opposing this now theoretically proposed ultra-sedevacantism should, logically, be used so more appropriately – against any sedevacantism.
In any event, however, both Christian love and charity should be extended to these wayward Catholics who do, therefore, truly need to return to being proper practicing and believing members of the faithful, of the one true flock of Christ.
The best that seemingly can be done is to pray fervently for all the sedevacantists in hope that they may, someday, see the full Light of Christ and repent and return to the Church; polemics, over almost three generations by now, has done little to convince them of the grave error of their ways. This article may convince those who might have inclined, toward such an absurd and unfortunate position, to pull back and reconsider seriously the great rashness and folly of defending the impossible sedevacantist position that Jesus has, in fact, abandoned His Church.
Although John Paull II was, of course, quite fast tracked to sainthood, however, merely becoming a pope is no set axiomatic guarantee (prior to the fast tracking?) of either true holiness or a future sainthood.
Having very terribly flawed prelates, as Vicars of Christ in slightly before the late 20th and into early 21st century, does not, in fact, invalidate the Papacy itself. Illegitimating the Papacy also, thus, illegitimates Catholicism since it is, in fact, a hierarchical religion with a cognate theology that so confirms the need for hierarchy and its recognition. Furthermore, the doctrines of indefectibility, visibility, and apostolicity are ground into the complete reality of the Church and its inherent nature; they cannot be separated from the Papacy.
Therefore, the lack of saintliness in a Holy Father and related waywardness, more or less, is not any valid argument that all or any legitimacy is, by definition, to be just fully withdrawn or withheld. But, would should be thought about to encourage holiness? The Church Suffering should be embraced, not just the Church Militant or Triumphant.
And, yes, there are admitted difficulties involved by taking up the Cross, for Jesus, rather intimately, knows this “scandalous” fact. Nonetheless, the Church still preaches Christ crucified and as it theologically must.
Suffering and scandal are, however, yet opportunities for gaining grace, through dedicated prayer and by enduring spiritual torments, for the love of Jesus and His saints and Holy Mother Church. The faithful are obligated, of course, to pray for the Pope’s soul and his salvation, for his ever proper need to obtain grace.
Since even popes are, of course, still required to go to confession, they are fallible human beings as to their personal lives and conduct. The entirety of the Catholic faith is, however, a greater topic than just the Papacy.
Catholicism has been, is, and will be much more important, therefore, than any popes; the larger sum, meaning the Church, is always greater than the total of any of the individual parts. Thus, the Gnostic Saulites are to be solicitously, fraternally, and solemnly admonished for the grave error, a persistent mortal sin, that they have, so willingly, made their own. This is yet a call for Christian charity.
Keeping the Faith is certainly what matters by strongly rejecting sedevacantism, though not by being, perhaps, just absurdly blind or immorally indifferent to the ever capricious behavior, the immoral attitudes, or the notably downright morally poisonous, putrid perfidy of parlous popes, meaning Pope Francis included. Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus.
Athanasius contra mundum!
1. This sorry episode, in the very earliest history of the Church, was a major warning, given by Jesus, that scandals were to certainly occur, from time to time, as a normal part of the reality of living the Christian life. Given the necessary fact that sinful people, meaning human beings, were to govern and administer the Church, such allied difficulties and travails were to be known as being among the permanent kinds of consequences of Original Sin. Thus, sinfulness tends to be pandemic among people at large, which might as well be seen as still another scandal.
There were, e. g., some Avignon Popes who were practical atheists that had lived like luxury-minded, secularist, Renaissance courtiers, but were validly still popes; it is sadly known that Pope Alexander VI, Borgia, was a contemptuously vile and degenerate moral reprobate with a filthy mind, but, again, yet genuinely being the Vicar of Christ on earth, the Bishop of Rome, the true Holy Pontiff. Compared to him, therefore, Pope Francis is, surely, both a religious priest and true moral paradigm, regardless of his other obvious severe failings and extreme flaws.
To righteously speak and assert here the final truth, the sedevacantists are really scandalized (dare one say it?) by God, not just the mere Papacy. And, the Jansenists and Puritans were also of exactly the same morally and theologically vile opinion, not surprisingly, as both were religious radicals as are all, in fact, the (prideful) sedevacantists themselves.
2. This shocking phenomenon, which can be carried to an excess, is the irony of how struggling too deeply, too long, against an opponent will, over time, transform your side into the mirror image your adversary. It is, ultimately, a function of the continuing results of Original Sin. The ruthlessness, e. g., of the Nazis in World War II and the Communists during the Cold War made, in turn, the United States and other countries just as ruthless, meaning when absolute objectives were then thought to be found so vitally necessary and, thus, quite often heartlessly, callously, sought.
The Allies, for instance, did not hesitate to deliberately bomb civilian targets, as with Nuremberg, in an effort to end the war much sooner rather than later, for the end came to so justify the means; and, one might, felicitously, add that Machiavelli, of course, would have fully approved of this cold and calculating rationalization for immoral terrorism and raw brutality done, of course, for a higher cause.
The Gestapo, CIA, MI5, Mossad, and KGB are all very correct illustrations of how almost any conceivable inhumanity to man can, more or less, be better proposed, justified, and perpetrated, whenever morality gets suitably rationalized (conveniently) as to the purported need to achieve the assumed greater good. And, of course, an ideology, being an ersatz religion, helps to greatly supplement the justifications for barbarism and cruelty when pragmatically thought to be needed.
Among others, in moral contrast, such social prophets as the great Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn spoke of this matter as to the moral errors of Soviet behavior and conduct. He, logically, stated that any asserted morally great ends or goals should only be sought after by proportionately morally sound means, not through acts of brutality or ruthlessness.
Both hearers in the East and West, even unto today, have basically turned a full deaf ear to this vital admonishment and warning, against any flexible morality or situation ethics, to the grave peril of higher civilization.
3. Most Catholics are improperly or inadequately catechized these days and even, sadly, for about the last 60 years. When a pope formally speaks ex cathedra, meaning from the Chair of St. Peter, on the Faith, dogmas, morals, or ethics and, in addition, stays within the confines of Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium and, also, does not violate any classical Natural Law teachings, he can make statements or pronouncements, verbal or written; these are absolutely binding on all Roman Catholics without any question. It is a genuine and undisputed part of the powers, rights, obligations, and duties of the Pope.
This is directly related to the subject of papal infallibility in that the Holy Ghost, a belief of faith, always guards against any possibility of heresy’s involvement. His personal opinions, however, have absolutely nothing to do whatsoever with what the Church officially teaches as to what gets called the economy of salvation. Unfortunately, most Catholics today do not correctly understand and comprehend the proper needed distinctions. If His Holiness expresses, for instance, an opinion on global warming or carpooling, the bulk of the faithful do accept it, as if it must be dogmatic in nature, as to a papal pronouncement having supposed doctrinal weight and substance.
If Pope Francis issued a statement demanding, e. g, that Catholics now refrain from belief in the reality of gravity or, perhaps, of Sir Isaac Newton’s Laws of Motion, no Catholic (or, in fact, any other rational human being for that matter) is obliged to ever obey. It has, thus, simply nothing at all to do with papal infallibility. A directly contrary pertinent example can be rendered here.
When, in 1854, Blessed Pope Pius IX issued the official formalization of the Dogma of Papal Infallibility, such prominent people as England’s Lord Acton publicly (and, one hopes, privately for the sake of his soul) dropped all of his once vehement objections and stayed within the Church.
Consciously rejecting even a single dogma of the Faith then results axiomatically in committing a mortal sin that, if unconfessed and unrepented, gains access to Hell permanently. All the dogmas of the Church, without any exceptions whatsoever, are to be totally believed and accepted unconditionally.
But, as to the particular issue at hand as to actual papal prerogatives, even a heretical pope is held to be spiritually protected, by the guiding power of the Holy Spirit, from ever issuing any ex cathedra statement for then binding all the members of the Church. Of course, the Holy Pontiff can still be a rather sinful so-and-so.
4. The ultramontanists or ultramontanes, speaking as to the 19th century, developed due to a clerical political conception regarding papal authority and, moreover, the matter of proper loyalty toward papal prerogatives and privileges. Ultramontanism, adamantly supporting and affirming both integral and active Catholicism, found its major public vindication, in the First Vatican Council, in 1870. It had many practical political consequences. Instances can be given.
The Catholic Bishops of Germany, who then opposed Chancellor Otto von Bismarck’s Kulturkampf attacking Catholicism as being foreign and anti-German, had logically taken up the necessary opposing point of view, in strong defense of Catholicism, by strongly affirming the ultramontanist position.
This included, of course, open support for Blessed Pope Pius IX who suffered the great indignity and injustice of having all of the Papal States stolen from the Church by the Italian Communist, Freemason, and other secularist revolutionaries to form (what is usually not seen as) the rather ill-conceived Italian State.
Christopher Gerard Brown, Sedevacantism: A False Solution to a Real Problem
Dr. Thomas A. Droleskey, No Space Between Ratzinger and Bergoglio: So Close in Apostasy, So Far From Catholic Truth
Brother André Marie, The Popes and the Modern Crisis (on Sedevacantism)
John C. Pontrello, The Sedevacantist Delusion: Why Vatican II’s Clash with Sedevacantism Supports Eastern Orthodoxy
John Salza and Robert Siscoe, True or False Pope? Refuting Sedevacantism and Other Modern Errors