Author: Samuel Loeman
I have been asked by a friend of the family to give my critique of a conference given in 2018 by a certain Mr. Mario Derksen at a Fatima Conference, organized by the CMRI in Spokane, Washington. The link to this conference, as well as it's transcription, can be found in the footnotes.1
I have summarised the gist of this conference as consisting of the following propositions:
- The institution that today claims to be the Catholic Church is an impostor church, because it appears to be radically different from the Catholic Church of times past.
- This change happened in 1958, after the death of pope Pius XII.
- The only possible cause for such a devastation is the undeniable fact that the papal throne has, since the death of pope Pius XII, been usurped by impostors, who created a new church and gave it a false religion.
- Various commentators and visionaries have predicted that one day the shepherd will be struck and the sheep will be scattered. This is proof that my assessment is correct.
- Those who object to my assessment are "faithless pseudo-Catholics," who "lack genuine Divine Faith."
Sentire Cum Ecclesia
Judge not according to the appearance: but judge just judgment. — John 7:24
Just is defined as 'having a basis in or conforming to fact or reason.' Facts are things that are true. As Catholics we know that the teachings of the Church are true. Therefore, in what follows let us avoid judging according to appearances but instead, as much as is possible, use faith and reason to arrive at a just judgment of what has happened to the Church in recent times.
Proposition #1: The institution that today claims to be the Catholic Church is an impostor church, because it appears to be radically different from the Catholic Church of times past.
Apart from appealing to our senses by pointing out a difference in appearance between the pre-1958 Church and the post-1958 Church, Mr. Derksen has given no reason to prove this first proposition. I therefore simply deny this proposition, and I see no need to give a reason for my doing so.
Quod gratis asseritur, gratis negatur — What is asserted without reason may be denied without reason.
Instead, I will suggest a different proposition.
When Christ foretold His apostles that he must be delivered to the Gentiles to be mocked, scourged, spit upon and put to death, the apostles understood none of these things. And when the time came for Jesus to be led away as a lamb to the slaughter, His disciples fled. Only Our Lady and one of the Apostles, the one "whom Jesus loved", were to be found at the foot of the cross.
Today, the Church, being the Mystical Body of Christ, is going through Her own passion. Mr. Derksen recognises this towards the end of his conference. But does he understand it? Does he understand that, just as Our Lord's appearance during His Passion was different from His appearance during His Transfiguration, so also the Church's appearance during Her passion must be different from Her appearance during Her Transfiguration?
Just as the Apostles were forewarned by Our Lord that He must go through His passion, so also have we been forewarned that the Mystical Body of Christ must go through Her passion. Again, Mr. Derksen recognises these warnings and even mentions some of them. But does he understand them? Does he understand what it means that "the shepherd will be struck"? Does he understand what it means that the Church "will be weakened, baffled, and prostrate, and will lie bleeding at the feet of the powers of this world"?
Our Lord warned us not to judge by appearance. Is Mr. Derksen heeding this warning?
Mr. Derksen is like the apostles during Our Lord's passion. He knows a lot, but he understand little. He judges by appearances, but fails to judge just judgment. Instead of staying with Our Lord's Mystical Body during Her passion, he flees away in confusion. In true Hollywood style he has a solution though: instead of letting the true Mystical Body of Christ go through Her passion, he brings in a stunt double, an impostor, an actor who appears to be the Mystical Body of Christ but who in reality is not. Let the impostor be mocked, scourged, spit upon and put to death. As long as the real McCoy is kept safe and well hidden in his garage, all is well.
Proposition #2: This change happened in 1958, after the death of pope Pius XII.
It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts. — Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes
Why would Mr. Derksen have us believe that 1958 was the date the Catholic Church was replaced by an impostor church? Why not 1962 when the second Vatican Council was opened by Pope John XXIII? Why not 1965 when the second Vatican Council was officially closed by Pope Paul VI? Why not 1969 when Pope Paul VI promulgated the Novus Ordo Missae? Why must it have been 1958, even though nobody at the time noticed it?
It is interesting that Mr. Derksen in a footnote of the transcription admits that this date was suggested to him by the daughter of a Rosicrucian Freemason "who recalled her father telling her in 1958 that there would be no more Popes after Pius XII and that John XXIII was “ours”".
Oh, so that's it! It must have been 1958 because the daughter of a Freemason recalled her father saying so, and because it fits the third proposition, in which Mr. Derksen asserts what could have been the only possible cause of his first proposition. As Sherlock Holmes said, "one begins to twist facts to suit theories."
Proposition #3: The only possible cause for such a devastation is the undeniable fact that the papal throne has, since the death of pope Pius XII, been usurped by impostors, who created a new church and gave it a false religion.
It is encouraging to see Mr. Derksen finally turn towards what the Church teaches, but it is disappointing to see that not only does he fail to understand the meaning of these teachings, he obviously has no problem with adding his own "improvements" to the Church's teachings and with passing the whole package deal off as "Catholic doctrine".
You see, Mr. Derksen claims that "it is Catholic doctrine that the Chair of St. Peter, for as long as it has a valid occupant, cannot fail." Well no, Mr. Derksen, that is not Catholic doctrine, that is your interpretation, or rather, falsification of Catholic doctrine. By adding "for as long as it has a valid occupant" you have once again twisted facts to suit your theories.
Let me give you a sample of what the Church does teach about the papacy.
Pope Pius XII:
If ever one day ... material Rome were to crumble, ... even then the Church would not crumble or crack, Christ’s promise to Peter would always remain true, the Papacy, the one and indestructible Church founded on the Pope alive at the moment, would always endure. — January 30, 1949, Address to the Students of Rome, Quoted from The Pope Speaks, Pantheon Books, New York, 1957
St Francis De Sales:
St Peter has had successors, has them in these days and will have them even to the end of ages. — Catholic Controversy, part II, art.6, ch. 9
Fr. Sylvester Berry:
The primacy with all its powers and privileges is transmitted to the successors of St Peter, who form an unbroken line of supreme pastors to rule the Church in its continued existence. ... The Church must ever have a custodian, a supreme law-giver and judge, if she is to continue as Christ founded her. — The Church of Christ, p.196
God cannot however permit that the whole Church accept as Pontiff who is not so truly and legitimately. — De Ecclesia, I, p. 612
Is this not what Mr. Derksen claims has happened since 1958, that an impostor pope was accepted by every single Catholic living at the time, including Padre Pio who somehow was able to see deep into a man's soul, but unable to recognize that the Pope he and all other Catholics living at the time pledged obedience to was an impostor pope?
Rather than deride other Catholics for refusing to run with this thesis, Mr. Derksen ought to have a hard think about his own itchy ears and lack of just judgment!
Proposition #4: Various commentators and visionaries have predicted that one day the shepherd will be struck and the sheep will be scattered. These are proof that our assessment is correct.
Let us call Mr. Derksen's commentators and visionaries to the bench then, to see what they have to say.
First witness is a certain Franco Bellegrandi, who states that he heard someone say that Roncalli, patriarch of Venice, was chosen by the Freemasons to become the next pope after Pius XII. Ok, and how does this prove that Paul VI was an impostor? Guilt by association perhaps?
This same Franco Bellegrandi tells us that Paul VI had many grave vices, which by the way have also been extensively documented and proven by Fr. Luigi Villa. But to the best of my knowledge, neither Bellegrandi nor Fr. Villa have ever suggested that Paul VI was an impostor. So, the only reason I can think of why Mr. Derksen brought Bellegrandi into the witness box is in order to scandalize the jury and to entice them to judge by appearance: "if the enemies of the Church chose Roncalli to become the next pope, then surely good Catholics must declare his election invalid." Sorry Mr. Derksen, that's not how the Church judges just judgments.
I now call to the bench my counter witness, Cardinal Billot:
Therefore, from the moment in which the Pope is accepted by the Church and united to her as the head to the body, it is no longer permitted to raise doubts about a possible vice of election or a possible lack of any condition whatsoever necessary for legitimacy. For the aforementioned adhesion of the Church heals in the root all fault in the election and proves infallibly the existence of all the required conditions. — Billot, Tractatus de Ecclesia Christi, vol. I, pp. 612-613
As Mr. Derksen recognises, the whole Church accepted the election of Pope John XXIII in 1958, and likewise with the election of Paul VI in 1963. Therefore, if we may take Cardinal Billot as a credible witness, being accepted as pope by the whole Church, Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI were valid popes.
Next witness called upon by the prosecutor is Fr. Sylvester Berry:
Our divine Saviour has a representative on earth in the person of the Pope upon whom He has conferred full powers to teach and govern. Likewise Antichrist will have his representative in the false prophet who will be endowed with the plenitude of satanic powers to deceive the nations. ...[T]he [false] prophet will probably set himself up in Rome as a sort of antipope during the vacancy of the papal throne.... But the elect will not allow themselves to be deceived; they will recall the words of our Lord: “Then if any man shall say to you: Lo here is Christ, or there, do not believe him” [Mt 24:23].
If Mr. Derkson would like to apply this prophecy to Pope John XXIII in 1958, then Mr. Derksen will need to explain who the elect were that would not allow themselves to be deceived. There were none. Not even Padre Pio was among the elect. And if Pope John XXIII was the false prophet, then who is Pope Paul VI, or Pope John Paul I, or Pope John Paul II, or Pope Benedict XVI, or Pope Francis? A reincarnation of the same false prophet maybe? And the Antichrist, who is alleged to have had Pope John XXIII as his representative, must be quite old and doddery by now. Which rest home did he end up in? No Mr. Derksen, this prophecy cannot possibly prove your proposition. However, it does make a good smokescreen.
Next on the list is Cardinal Henry Edward Manning:
The Word of God tells us that towards the end of time the power of this world will become so irresistible and so triumphant that the Church of God will sink underneath its hand.... It will be deprived of protection. It will be weakened, baffled, and prostrate, and will lie bleeding at the feet of the powers of this world.... [The Church] will seem, for a while, to be defeated, and the power of the enemies of the faith for a time to prevail.
Here we have yet another appeal to feelings and appearances. Yes, the Church today seems to be weakened, baffled, prostrate, bleeding, defeated. But how does that prove any of Mr. Derksen's propositions? If anything, it proves my counter proposition #1: the Church is the one that will suffer all these things, not it's stunt double!
Next we have Mgr. Fulton Sheen and Ven. Anne Catherine Emmerich who talk about a "counterchurch" and a "counterfeit church." These are scary prophecies indeed, but it is quite easy to claim that these prophecies apply to the Catholic Church since 1958. Protestants claim they have applied to the Catholic Church for many hundreds of years now. But it is much harder to prove such gratuitous assertions are true. I see no proof in Mr. Derksen's thesis, only claims. What if I were to claim that these prophecies apply to the CMRI, would Mr. Derksen take my word for it?
After a few more similar mirrors and smokescreens, Mr. Derksen concludes:
The evidence in favor of Communist-Masonic infiltration into the Catholic Church and the subsequent usurpation of the papal office is simply staggering.
Yes, Mr. Derksen, all Traditional Catholics wholeheartedly agree with the first part of your statement, i.e. that the Church has been infiltrated by an enemy. But that is not what your propositions are about. Your propositions say that as soon as the Catholic Church is infiltrated it no longer is the Catholic Church. In other words, as soon as the Catholic Church enters Her passion, it no longer is the Catholic Church. That is the proposition which you utterly failed to prove. All you have done is posit your thesis and then use some smokescreens and mirrors to awe and convince your unsuspecting audience. And if that was not bad enough, you even had the gal to add your next proposition.
Proposition #5: Those who object to our assessment are "faithless pseudo-Catholics," who "lack genuine Divine Faith."
Let us listen to Mr. Derksen pontificating:
The same Faith that God demanded of His Apostles He demands no less of us today: Faith that He who “is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham,” as St. John the Baptist said, can once again give to this world a true Pope, a genuine Vicar of Christ, and restore the Catholic Church to her former glory.
Of course Traditional Catholics believe that God can raise a true pope "of these stones". We just disagree that now is that time, because we still have a pope, albeit not a good one, nevertheless a valid one. And likewise we believe that God can prevent a bad Catholic from being raised to the papacy, or that God can prevent a good pope from becoming bad, and that God can convert anyone whom He wishes to convert. God can do anything He wills. But that does not mean that he must do everything that fits into Mr. Derksen's thesis, or that we must believe that God will do whatever suits that thesis.
Mr. Derksen again:
Tragically, a great number of people in our day who mean to be traditional Catholics show themselves, in the final analysis, not to have Faith. They are only willing to accept what they can personally make sense of or what does not upset too much their comfortable little world – so much so that they would sooner affirm that the Catholic Church has turned into a dangerous heretical sect, a veritable ark of damnation, rather than conclude that the men who today claim to be the Catholic hierarchy, are anti-Catholic impostors who have no authority in the Church whatsoever – “false apostles,” as St. Paul calls them, “deceitful workmen, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.”
And here we have a classical example of a false dichotomy. Mr. Derksen is presenting us with two options, insinuating that to deny one is to accept the other, or accepting the one is to deny the other. And of course Traditional Catholics, who refuse Mr. Derksen's option are now accused of having accepted "the only other" option. However, the Catechism of the Council of Trent provides us with a third option:
But although the Catholic faith uniformly and truly teaches that the good and the bad belong to the Church, yet the same faith declares that the condition of both is very different. The wicked are contained in the Church, as the chaff is mingled with the grain on the threshing floor, or as dead members sometimes remain attached to a living body.
The third option then is that there is a lot of chaff in the Church today. If Mr. Derksen likes to argue that "the men who today claim to be the Catholic hierarchy" are no longer members of the Catholic Church, which he is certainly insinuating, I would be very interested in hearing his arguments. Until then, my Catholic Faith tells me that as long as these men have been baptised, and have not left the church through apostasy, schism or excommunication, they remain members of the Catholic Church, no matter how much they smell of chaff, and no matter how allergic Mr. Derksen is to the smell of chaff.
Mr. Derksen continues his prosecution:
Such faithless pseudo-Catholics – for such they are objectively – cannot bear the thought of having no Pope, and so they opt for the (at this point) rather obvious counterfeit instead. Better a Pope to refuse submission to than no Pope to submit to, their strange logic seems to say.
On the contrary, strange is the logic of a Mr. Derksen who would rather declare the pope invalid so he can disobey him, than to limit himself to disobeying the pope and leave his deposition to the Church, or to God Himself. A good Catholic knows that there are circumstances where he can, and sometimes even must disobey his superior, even if this superior is the pope. If Mr. Derksen disagrees then let him nail his thesis to the Pearly Gates, c/o St. Thomas Aquinas. After all, it was St Thomas Aquinas who taught us that there are 4 kinds of obedience: perfect, sufficient, sinful and insufficient. In their refusal to stick with the teaching of the Church however, sedevacantists like a Mr. Derksen feel obliged to take matters into their own hands, to declare the pope deposed and to anathemize anyone who does not join them in their preposterous venture. Strange logic indeed.
If there is still any doubt that Mr. Derksen has greatly contributed to global warming, I believe the following comparison he throws at us ought to dispel those doubts:
In this they resemble somewhat the renegade Israelites of old. Unable to bear for an indefinite period of time the absence of Moses, their leader, who was receiving the Ten Commandments from God on Mount Sinai, they made for themselves a molten calf to adore. Better to have something tangible to know what to do with, than to be left hanging indefinitely, with no clear direction, having no choice but to trust in God with Faith and hope.
I wonder, is Mr. Derksen aware of the fact that many of his fellow sedevacantists could indeed no longer tolerate to be left hanging indefinitely and decided to elect their own "pontiff"? Do these conclavists as they are called resemble the Israelites of old too? Welcome to the club then! At least these conclavists have some logic left. But where is your logic Mr. Derksen? If you believe the Chair of St. Peter to be vacant, and the hierarchy in Rome to be impostors, what's stopping you and your hierarchy from electing a new Pope?
And while we're dreaming up comparisons, how about this one? In some way Mr. Derksen resembles the bad thief on the cross, who, just like the faithless jews, didn't recognize Our Lord as the King of Kings during His Passion, and who had no problem making his own little contribution to the mocking of a suffering Christ. And in some way Traditional Catholics are like the good thief, who judge not according to appearances, but who, admitting that their own sins have crucified Our Lord, humbly submit to their own just punishment, rather than kick and scream and blame everyone else but themselves.
Turn your attention upon yourself and beware of judging the deeds of other men, for in judging others a man labors vainly, often makes mistakes, and easily sins; whereas, in judging and taking stock of himself he does something that is always profitable. — St. Thomas a Kempis, The Imitaion of Christ
But wait, Mr. Derkson has a cherry to put on the cake:
And there it is again: that lack of genuine Divine Faith. They only accept what satisfies their intellect. The Catholic Church has gone bad, and God will fix it – this they can understand. The trouble is only that this diametrically contradicts what God has revealed – it is heresy! A Church that can go bad, so to speak, is not the Church founded by Jesus Christ. Conversely, the Church founded by Jesus Christ cannot go bad.
The accusation is as ridiculous as it is serious, and the language of the pontifical prosecutor is once again covered in mirrors and smokescreens.
First of all, nobody is saying that "the Church has gone bad." That's just another misrepresentation of the pontifical prosecutor who knows he doesn't have a leg to stand on. What Traditional Catholics are saying is that many members of the Church have gone bad. And that includes members of the Church Teaching. And who can deny that? The problem is that Mr. Derkson is unable or unwilling to distinguish between the Church Teaching, and the members of the Church Teaching.
As any Catholic knows, or should now, not everything their parish priest says in his Sunday sermon carries with it the same level of certainty and the same obligation of assent as when a pope defines a dogma of the faith. There are different levels of certainty attached to different teachings. Theologians call this classification the Theological Notes.2 When the Church defines as a dogma of the faith that the Church is infallible in it's teachings, it does not mean that every time a priest opens his mouth his teaching is infallible. There are rules to be followed and distinctions to be made.
So if our pontifical prosecutor wants to convince the Just judge that Traditional Catholics are heretics by denying or contradicting the infallibility of the Church, simply because they believe that bad clergy are able to teach bad things, let him bring it on! After all, this is what Traditional Catholics believe, that many bad members of the Teaching Church have taught many bad things, but none of them have been able to teach these bad things with the force of dogma. And is this not the history of the Church in a nutshell, a constant battle between truth and error, of popes being on their guard against errors being spread and taught by the Church's own members, and condemning them if and when such errors arise, of some members submitting to the correction and others refusing to submit and falling away from the faith? What does Mr. Derksen consider is new under the sun today? Is there a new species of wolf, of a type we've never seen before and don't know how to deal with, or are there simply more wolves than there used to be? Does Mr. Derksen know that when Pope Paul VI at the end of the second Vatican Council was asked for the Theological Notes of the council, he admitted that nothing in the whole council was dogmatic. Nothing! Too bad that doesn't fit Mr. Derkson's thesis!
Is there more to it?
I realize that not all sedevacantists are like Mr. Derksen. Much, much more can be said, ought to be said and has already been said somewhere by someone. I just do not have the time nor the stomach to prolong this critique any longer.
What is or should be clear by now, is that Mr. Derksen, like many other members of his club, is not only a sheep without a shepherd, he also is a sheep without a compass. Traditional Catholics however still have a compass, a moral compass that tells them not to judge other Catholics, and a doctrinal compass that tells them not to go beyond what the Church teaches, not to elevate their own opinions to the level of a dogma to be imposed on other Catholics.
For those who wish to look deeper into the matter, a good place to start would be Fr. Chazal's book Contra Cekadam, in which he absolutely demolishes the sedevacantist thesis. I have a few extra copies available to give away free of charge. Let me know if anyone would like to receive a copy.
I did not enjoy writing this critique. But I considered it my duty, especially when asked by a friend, to at least try and counter some of the nonsense that is enticing well meaning but confused Catholics to embark on a path that more often than not leads them off the deep end, from sedevacantism to ecclesiavacantism to conclavism or home-alone-ism.