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The code of Canon Law says absolutely nothing directly on the loss of office, procedural or automatic, of a hereticizing Sovereign Pontiff. In this debate the canonical position of the sedevacantists is so weak as to depend on fixing the eyes of the interlocutor on just one canon, the now famous canon 188.4, in the hope that the interlocutor knows nothing on how the Church proceeds with heretics. That is why it is not rare to see sedevacantists give up the fight on the terrain of canon law itself... except, those like you, who have recourse to some manuals of canon law.

Besides, the Pope is under the Law, canon Law, not as whatever member, but as a head. An entire “Titulus” of the Code concerns him. Because of his immunity (can.1556), the equivalent of a procedure of impeachment is not mentioned in the Code, but only took place in History, in various ways, and was more mentioned by theologians than canonists. But this does not mean that there should be no analogy between the loss of office of a subaltern and the loss of office of a head: by contending that the Pope is not under any law but Divine Law, you claim to strip the papal suspect of all the guarantees the law provides for ordinary suspects of heresy. By your system, the Pope is treated worse than the least of us: we can just lynch him on the first branch, of course, because Divine Law is on our side. Can we at least make you understand why we are not sedevacantists.

The next problem is that the first witness of Divine Law is the Pope, not you or I (Matthew XVIII, 16). Divine Law says so. If not we protestantize, since the next faithful in the pew will say “divine law says this” and the other “divine law says that”; “Galatians I means this”, “Galatians I means that”. When, God willing, a good Pope gets reinstated in Rome, if a faithful, or a group of faithful come to think that the Pope is a heretic, it will mean that not only they can, but they must say “he is not the Pope” and not “We think he is a suspect of heresy for xyz reasons”.

Moreover, the loss of office of a cleric is a canonical event, at least in its canonical consequences. Fr Calderon states in his conferences, “… given that the Church is a visible society, the acts of its official and public life [and nothing is more public and official than the loss of office of a Pontiff], are not lawfully consummated unless they are notoriously promoted.” Our argument is not about such loss of office in itself; since for the both of us, heresy is incompatible in itself with the retention of office; but on the way it is or shall be lost. You want to evacuate all way of due process, notifications, admonitions and warnings and make the loss emanate directly from God. We include a human (quoad nos) element, because the Church is both divine and human. The Church is a public society of men, divinely instituted and guaranteed, but run by human and visible instruments.

Likewise, heresy, whether you like it or not, is a canonical crime. It is a sin, but it is also a crime. Crime is a sin plus an added public gravity. Hence what conciliar Popes are perpetrating are crimes. “They are criminals of the faith”, said Archbishop Lefebvre. “Sono tutti banditi”, said Dom Putti famously. Are the crimes of Francis also canonical? Yes, because they are public, and terribly so; affecting the public life of the Church. Hence they call for a public response that should be juridically organized, depending on the means at our disposal. The response of St Paul to St Peter on the question of the heresy of judaizers, was public in the canonical sense. He went straight to the suspect and laid down the matter at hand ON THE PUBLIC FORUM of the Church: thankfully there was no pertinacity on the part of Peter, but the precedent was laid. One can also imagine that St Paul would not have backed down if St Peter had remained obdurate, he would have called the other Apostles.

CANON 188.4

But for starters, sedevacantists do not know how to use this famed canon 188.4 in the first place, its extension and its interpretation:

* VERMEERSCH is spot on: “One defects from the Faith who denies its foundation pertinaciously, or who by some precise fact (“facto factove”) destroys all bound with the Catholic religion, for instance, by adhering to a heretical or schismatic sect. The delict is public , when it is notorious to the greater part of the community or can soon be known” Epitome Iuris Canonici, I, p.190. Here in the Philippines, the delict is far from public, and for all our efforts, Francis is in good standing as the “Santo Padre”. We do not know how soon he will be known as such, in spite of our efforts.

* Fr BRIAN HARRISON says, “188.4 states that among the actions which automatically (ipso facto) cause any cleric to lose his office, even without any declaration on the part of a superior, is that of “defecting publicly from the faith”. However, to 'defect publicly' from the faith, in this context, clearly means something a lot more drastic than making heretical (or allegedly heretical) statements in the course of public speeches and documents. This particular cause of losing office is found in that section of the Code dealing with the resignation of such an office (cc. 184-191), and is part of a canon which lists eight sorts of actions which the law treats as 'tacit resignations'. In other words, they are the sort of actions which can safely be taken as evidence that the cleric does not even want to continue in the office he held up till that time, even though he may never have bothered to put his resignation or abdication in writing.” Living Tradition, May 2000.

* Fr ALVARO CALDERON says that “In effect there are acts which voluntary realization implies in the holder of office who executes them the intent to resign and which of the opportunity, by the same right, to accept the resignation.” A tacit resignation is an intent to resign. It implies a will to resign. (…) “one must have recourse to understand 188.4 to a) similar parts in the Code if there are any, (and you are very careful to avoid that) b) the goal and circumstance of the law and c) the intent of the legislator (can. 18).” What would be a tacit resignation in the case of a Pope? “The papal office would be vacant if the Pope was negligent in assuming his charge and did not present himself to his congregation; or, once enthroned, abandoned his residence without giving a reasonable motive and no one knew where he was; or if he presented himself in front of a civil tribunal to enter into marriage and fixed his residence in a determined place; or the chronicles of the newspapers announced that he had enlisted in the secular army and was on the front; in the same way, without declaration, ipso facto, by tacit renunciation, the see of the Roman Pontiff would become vacant if a fide catholica publice defecerit by adhering publicly to a non-catholic or schismatic sect, breaking all links with the catholic religion or completely abandoning the Christian faith.”

Canonists integrate 2314 and other canons to 188.4, like Fr Ayrinhac: “If they have been formally affiliated with a non-Catholic sect, or publicly adhere to it, they incur ipso facto the note of infamy. Clerics lose all ecclesiastical office they might hold (Canon 188.4), and after a fruitless warning they should be deposed.” (Penal legislation, p.193, 1920). A cleric, should he even join the Adventists publicly, which is the correct meaning of ‘defecting publicly from the Faith’, is entitled to be warned before being deposed. So far Francis has not done so, but only multiplied heretical statements.

How many more references would you like to have? We could go on forever on what all say about 188.4.

Sedevacantists totally miss the meaning of 188 as a whole, for if one analyses the other dots, .1, .2, .3, .5, .6, .7, the Church requires canonical monitions as well

Hence, in the other instances of loss of office:

=> Canon 2388 mentions the loss of office of priests attempting marriage after warnings are made. It is just to underline that the office is lost in this special way, but never without warnings. And naturally, what follows an unheeded warning is a declaration that 188 has taken effect.

=> Same for 188.7: Clerics who do not wear the ecclesiastical habit, get warning first, by virtue of Canon 2379, then lose their office. How many more references and examples do you want?

=> In 2314, the expression “with due regard for the prescription of Canon 188” occurs, meaning the loss of office for heresy is not impeded by monitions, but part of the process.

To conclude, 188.4 is not like some canons that are derived directly from Divine Law, like the canons that state the properties of Marriage. It bears all the marks of a human positive law, unfolding the different ways of what is called a tacit resignation.


Moreover, when your canonical options run out, all of you want to have it too easily by saying “The See of Rome is judged by no one.” (can. 1556) if the following canons show the privileges and the procedure and the precautions the Church exhibits towards ordinary heretics, how much more precautions will be required when its highest official is accused, dethroned? That is why we have always seen hereticizing popes been brought to bay only by Councils or by the roman Cardinals, and get their case examined (cf. part VI). The pope is not under canon law as an inferior member, concedo, but he certainly is as a superior member, just like our heads get oxygen and nutrients, protection and locomotion from the lower members and are expected to return service and direction. As a head, the Papacy is under Law, and it is a whole “Titulus” in Canon Law.

“Qui potest maius potest minus”: if a Pope can lose his office at once, “vi haeresi”, immediately and by divine law; why such a fact should not take place on his inferiors as well? (Some of you follow that path and depose all the Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, Abbots and parish Pastors of the world.) Bear with us and contemplate the precautions the Church takes with ordinary quidam, lay or clerical: how much more cautious would she be if the suspect turned out to be the one sitting on the Chair of Peter? The expeditive procedure you are recommending for a pope simply does not take place for inferior members:

* Canon 160, against sedeprivationnism. “The election of a Sovereign Pontiff is guided solely by “Vacante Sede Apostolica” of Pope Pius X”, which constitution, on #29 not only exclude canonical or juridical censures, but also any reason whatsoever to bar a Cardinal from active or passive voice in a Conclave. More on this later.

* 1325.2 Pertinacity: “After the reception of Baptism, anyone retaining the name of Christian, pertinaciously denies or doubts something to be believed from the truth of divine and Catholic faith is a heretic.”

* 1556 “Prima Sedes a nemine iudicatur”, the First See is judged by no one, except declaratively: “Potest pontifex ab hominibus iudicatus ostendi, si videlicet evanescat in haeresim, quoniam qui non credit iam iudicatus est.” “The Pontiff can be shown by men of having been already judged, if he indeed falls into heresy, because he who does not believe is already judged.” Innocent III, serm IV in Consecr. Pont. We keep on saying we are not judging, you say we judge. Listen to Innocent.

Yet, immunity works both ways, that is, while you claim you are not judging the Pope, you make a judgement, nay, you compell others to submit to the judgement you have come up. The invocation of the Divine Law does not change anything, since the invocation of Divine law on a case is a judgement, and any judgement on the loss of office of a cleric, because of its gravity, normally invokes Divine Law, alongside Canon law.

* 1576.1,2 “The contrary custom being reprobated and being revoked any other privilege, […] causes which regard delicts leading to deposition are reserved to a tribunal of five judges.” Nothing automatic and sentenceless in the deposition of a cleric, even a lower one. If you say God does it, then leave it to God, otherwise there is a rule of law amongst us.

* 1939 is about non notorious delicts, but it stresses that an already incurred penalty or censure calls for a declaratory sentence. A fortiori, how much more nefarious heresy needs canonical exposure?

* 2198 (By opposition to the delicts that violate also the law of the State,) “A delict that violates only a law of the Church can, by its nature, be pursued only by ecclesiastical authority.” Such is the case of heresy it can and was only pursued by the Holy Office or the Sacred Inquisition, the Index, etc, not by armchair theologians.

* 2232 Whilst there is no deposition, the heretic and excommunicated enjoys a valid jurisdiction, precariously, even though he cannot exercise it lawfully.

* 2223.4 : Public good requires declaratory sentence of already incurred sentence (latae sententiae). Were we to concede that the penalty of heresy (and especially the loss of office for clerics) falls without declaration, the accused can call for it, “to impugn the justice or legitimacy of his excommunication” (can. 1654) or to say that he is guilty of nothing since no declaration nor monition has been made. “If you call me a murderer, show me the monition, the sentence, the minutes of the trial, etc.” You may not like it, but this is how human polity works.

It runs as follows: “Generally the declaring of an automatic penalty is committed to the prudence of the Superior; but a declaratory sentence must be given either at the request of an interested party or when so required by the common good”.

And how can you maintain that the common good of the Church does not require that man in Rome to be issued a sentence for all the crimes he is doing against the Faith? The people who are supposed to issue it may fail to issue it, by their own heresy or cowardice (like Cardinal Burke, Siri, etc.), but they will answer God for not issuing it, because they failed to give what the common good requires. Their lamentable failure does not remove the necessity of this declaratory sentence by competent prelates, for the common good, since that failure leaves millions and millions in the ignorance, even according to their private opinion, that Francis is a heretic.

* 2225 “... if an automatic or formal penalty is inflicted in the manner of a particular precept,   in writing or in the presence of two witnesses, indicating the cause of the penalty [...]”

* 2264 Acts of jurisdiction placed by an excommunicated are still valid before declaratory sentence. For instance, an occult external, yet not divulgated heretic is not a member of the Church, since according to the Code he is ipso facto excommunicated, yet his jurisdiction is still there. Hence it is not his being outside of the Church that takes his jurisdiction away. Even after a public sentence, public heretics can still absolve with jurisdiction in some case.

* 2266After a condemnatory or declaratory sentence, one excommunicated remains deprived of the fruits of dignity, office, benefice, pension and duty if he had one in the Church; and a vidandus excommunicate is deprived of the dignity, office, benefice, pension, and duty itself.” The office itself falls at the declaration, not before.

* 2284 If a cleric loses the power to absolve, by a suspension latae sententiae, his absolution is only illicit, but still valid, until he is dealt a condemnatory or declaratory sentence.

* 2298-2305 The loss of office is a vindictive penalty, which penalty is always understood to be inflicted ferendae sententiae (by the issuance of a sentence), unless expressly said otherwise (can. 2217.2). This is important to understand what happens exactly when a cleric culpably denies the Faith:

* 2314#1, n.1,2,3. is the explicit interpretation of 188.4. Canonical warnings are necessary for deposition from office (Tit 3.10). It sit at the head of Title 11.

All apostates from the Christian faith and each and every heretic or schismatic:

-1. Incur by that fact excommunication. (granted, the censure of excommunication immediately falls).

-2. Unless they respect warnings, they are deprived of benefice, dignity, pension, office, or other duty they have in the Church, they are declared infamous, and if clerics, with the warning being repeated, are deposed.

-3. If they give their names to non-Catholic sects or publicly adhere to them, they are by that fact infamous, and with due regard for the prescription of Canon 188.4, clerics, the previous warnings having been useless, are degraded.”

* 2315 “One suspected of heresy, who, having been warned, does not remove the cause of suspicion is prohibited from legitimate acts; if he is a cleric, moreover, the warning having been repeated without effect, he is suspended a divinis; but if within six months from contracting the penalty, the one suspected of heresy does not amend himself completely, let him be considered a heretic and liable to the penalties from heretics.”

* Canon “Si Papa” of the collection of Gratian used to deal directly with the problem.(I, Dist 40, D 79): “On earth no mortal should presume to reproach the Pontiff of any fault, because he who has to judge others should not be judged by anyone, unless he is found deviating from the Faith.” It worth repeating that the DTC maintains that this canon accounts for the whole jurisprudence of the Middle Ages on that question.

What's the point of denegating the Decrees of Gratian, as some of you do, if St Thomas Aquinas himself constantly makes use of them, along with all Catholic theologians, for centuries? Modernists have the same mentality.

Hence you are better off saying Canon Law does not apply to a Pope… but then, why do you always have to turn to the lonely canon 188.4? You can’t have it both ways, and there is more. Same process with the Decretals of the Popes. You throw the lonely “Cum ex” against an entire succession of Apostolic Decrees.


The next trick, once the terrain of canon law becomes too bumpy is to claim: “Francis has nothing to lose”, since he never ever got to the Sovereign Pontificate because he was already a heretic. Cum Ex bars such from access to the Pontificate. Cum ex is dogmatic, infallible. End of debate. So it goes.

Yet at the time of Vatican I, it was the Dollinger party, who later begot the schismatic church of the “Old Catholics”, who argued that Cum Ex was dogmatic “Ex Cathedra”.

* CARDINAL HERGENROTHER, prefect of the Vatican archives at the time of the first Vatican Council, nails it perfectly: “Appeal is also made to the Bull of Paul IV, ‘Cum ex apostolatus officio’ of 15th feb 1559, to which our opponents are most eager to attach the character of a dogmatic ex cathedra decision, saying that if this Bull is not an universally binding doctrinal decree, no single papal decree can claim to be such. But none of the exponents of dogmatic theology have as yet discovered this character in the Bull, which has been universally regarded an emanation of the spiritual penal authority, not a decision of the doctrinal authority. […] the Dollinger party and jurists who protest against the Vatican Council assert that the Bull of Paul IV dogmatic, though all Catholic theologians deny it to be such. In truth, neither the wording of this last named Bull, nor the contents as a whole, nor the rules universally received among theologians, allow it to be regarded as a dogmatic decision. If there is to be a doctrinal decree binding on all, it is requisite that a doctrine to be held, or proposition to be rejected, be placed before the faithful in terms implying obligation, and be prescribed by the full authority of the Church’s teaching office. This is not the case with this Bull.

True enough in the introduction the Papal power is spoken of, and in accordance with the view of it held universally in the middle Ages. But here, as in every other Bull, the rule already spoken of holds good, that not the ingroduction and the reasons alleged, but simply and only the enjoining dispositive portion, the decision itself, has binding force. Introductions quite similar are to be found in laws relating purely to matters of discipline, as one may see who consults the Bullarium. As to the enjoining portion of the Bull in question, it only contains penal sanctions against heresy which unquestionably belong to disciplinary laws alone.” The Catholic Church and the Christian State, vol. I, p.42.

Cum Ex has not been retained, over the course of the Jurisprudence of the Church, because its content poses a problem, especially the statement that a secret heretic ceases to be the Pope, nor can become a Pope… However, not being able to be removed by men, because nobody knows his state of mind, the Papacy should cease, like some sede argue now (leading them to the heresy itself of Ecclesiavacantism. Paul IV wanted to prevent infiltrators, a most difficult thing indeed, when it is the avowed strategy of the enemy.

Contrary to other decretals, Cum ex was not in force at the start of the present crisis of the Church. It does not figure in the Denzinger, and it is not included in the current Corpus of Law of the Church. If it was, then it is superceeded by so many decretals, issued by:

* CLEMENT V, whose decretal “Ne Romani”, c.2#4, precedes Cum Ex: “Nullus Cardinalium cuiuslibet excommunicationis, suspensionis aut interdicti pretextu a dicat valeat electione repelli.” “No Cardinal can be repelled from the said election by any pretext of any excommunication, suspension, or interdict whatsoever.” It says by pretext of any [type of] excommunication whatsoever. The new found type of automatic exclusion from the Catholic Church or excommunication concocted by sedevacantists enters in the net.

* PIUS IV in his constitution “In Eligendis”, #29. But some bullarium mention also “Nos Quantum”, developing the point already made by “Ne Romani”: “Et ne dissentionis occasio aut schismatis oriatur, volumus censurarum et excommunicationum praefatarum et aliarum quarumcumque praetextu, Cardinales a Pontificis electione active vel passive excludi nullo modo” Indeed it goes further, it states not just any type of excommunications, no, it says “no cardinal can be barred [from participating] passively or actively to the election of the Pontiff under any pretext of any issued censures or excommunications, and of any other pretext whatsoever.” Perhaps it so happen that some people invented other pretexts, beyond the pretext of excommunication at that time. So Pius IV nails it perfectly by saying “and any other pretext whatsoever”. This policy is repeated word for word by “Vacante Sede” four centuries later.

* GREGORY XV in the constitution “Aeterni Patris”, #22. The bullarium adds also “Matura Cum” in 1621: “Volumus etiam et decernimus censurarum et excommunicationum praedictarum et aliarum quarumcumque praetextu vel causa Cardinales a Summi pontificis electione active et passive exclude nullo modo posse”. Same words, “any other things whatsoever”. Any pretext whatsoever, what can be clearer?

* VACANTE SEDE is the decree of St Pius X, that thrones at the end of my code of Canon Law, Vatican Edition of 1931. Its stands both on its own authority and the explicit recommandation of Canon 160 that says that the election of a Sovereign Pontiff is solely ruled by it, which excludes clearly any previous piece of legislation. The paragraph XXIX reads as follows: “None of the Cardinals may be in any way excluded from the active or passive election of the Sovereign Pontiff under pretext or by reason of any excommunication, suspension, inderdict or other ecclesiastical impediment. These censures and excommunications are suspended only for the effect of this election, and remain in effect otherwise.”

The footnote of Vacante Sede #29 refers to only three above authoritative jurisprudence for the Conclave as a precedent. Yet the point is made. (Some sedevacantists argue that Cum Ex is mentioned in a footnote of the Code, yet, so far, no edition of the Pio-benedictine code having such a footnote has ever been shown to me).

* VACANTIS APOSTOLICAE SEDIS, of Pius XII is in direct line of Vacante Sede. I would say it is even stronger, since it includes the wording of Pius IV and Gregory XV: “No Cardinal can in any way be excluded from the active and passive election of the Supreme Pontiff by any pretext or reason of any excommunication, suspension, interdict, or other ecclesiastical impediment whatsoever. We in fact suspend these censures only for the effect of an election of this sort.” n.34.

* Hence it is impossible to find any trace of your sedeprivationism in the legislation of the Church, and Cum Ex has fallen out of use, if it were ever used to bar a Cardinal to the Papacy. Fr GREGORY HESSE explained that Cum Ex was not used, save for its principle (that the holding of an office is incompatible with heresy), because of the regrettable tendency of Paul IV to imprison clerics without trial.

Canon Law also provides that should a Pope be missing, an actual reigning Pope must be elected, and for that purpose the Conclave must start to convene after ten days. The reason for this is the Constitution of the Church. Conclavist sedevacantists respect this implacable logic and we have now 15 reigning popes, by the count of Fr Ortiz. Your disagreement with conclavist sedevacantists shows you do not believe the Constitution of the Church applies any longer.

The last big problem of sedeprivationnism, is that Cardinals are no Popes, so, even in the theory of sedevacantism, they don’t enjoy immunity; they must be judged. We were told by them that special rules, dispensing from a juridical sentence, apply only for the Pope. With sedeprivationnism that is no longer the case, and therefore all ecclesiastical offices are in doubt the minute an individual Catholic deems the holder to be a heretic. Indeed, many sedes say that Cardinals are non Cardinals, bishops fake bishops, priests false priests. It is the proof that much more is at risk than the sole office of a Pope, but all offices in the Church.


“Vacantis Sedis” of Pius XII also state, in Chapter VII, #101, that as soon as the consent of the cardinals is given, “the elect is immediately a true Pope, and acquire by the very fact and exercise a full and absolute jurisdiction on the whole world (canon 219)”. Once elected, he must be accepted, so says Billot, near the very passage you love to quote. Billot says whatever the accusation and doubts emanate, even for reasons of heresy, the universal acceptance of the Church removes all doubt as to who is the pope. Theologians say that it is an infallible canonical fact, for if it remains that some, like you, believe that a pope is not the pope, while others, like us, believe that the pope is the pope, nothing certain would remain in what even a good pope would decide, if his papacy could be held into doubt.


The canonical concept of Notoriety combined with the distinction of fact and law, explains why ordinary Catholics, who are witnesses of the heresies perpetrated by Francis and his predecessors, can believe they are heretics, say they are heretics, separate from them as heretics (by a Notoriety of fact), while that heresy has not become formal in the juridical sense (Notoriety of Law). Notoriety of law is lacking, since no judgement, even declarative, can be issued by the wholly corrupt official hierarchy of today, we all recognize that, but your argument rests on notoriety of fact. Notoriety of law, which is the arraignment and sentencing of a heretic, confirm his pertinacity, like the canonical admonitions do. That is important, because pertinacity is required to make heresy formal, not just material. For all their defects, inconsistencies and limitations, the rebuke of Cardinal Burke and the so called “Correctio Filialis” are initial stages bringing about the pertinacity of Francis to the fore. Fr de Nantes did it with his “Liber Accusationis” and Archbishop Lefebvre did it with his “Dubia”, which he considered important, and with his admonition to John Paul II with Bishop Castro de Mayer.

Yet, as Fr Calderon says, “If the concepts of publicity and notoriety are relatively clear in theory, their practical application requires a thorough examination and the application of extensive and complicated casuistry. Precisely because of this we have the grave problem of determining the precise moment in which the hypothetic destitution of a suspected heretical pope should take place. That is to say what level of notoriety and what level of publicity are necessary to consider him deposed?” And the authors that you quote in your favor are divided on this, just like sedevacantists are divided on when the See became vacant. The CMRI holds that Paul VI was Pope until he brought forth the new mass in 1969, others say the same lost his office before, upon passing the decree on Religious Liberty in 1965, other say it is John XXIII in 1958, some of you are beginning to have doubts about Pius XII and Mr Speray goes back to the XIth century, etc.

It is clear that if there is notoriety of fact for us, that same notoriety is missing before the “Minores” despite all our best attempts to inform them. The latter are the simple average novus ordites, totally ignorant of the situation in Rome. This is blatant here in Asia, while in the West, people are usually more aware of what the conciliar popes are doing. Hence even the Notoriety of fact is incomplete. That is why the Church requires a crime to be brought to court, precisely to remedy the lack of notoriety.


Melior est conditio possidentis”: in doubt the condition of the holder is better. St Joseph was the perfect case; Our Lady was clearly pregnant, but not of him; yet he also knew for certain she was perfectly chaste. So it was the same thing for Archbishop Lefebvre: something held him back, and you hold this as a weakness. The quotes of him in his Spiritual Conferences and Sermons show this hesitation, and he undestood sedevacantism main arguments, but he stated what was holding him: How does the Visible Constitution of the Church continue if the Papacy disappears? Can we determine the formality of the heresy of the conciliar hierarchy? Can the faithful still marooned in the novus ordo be ignored, dubbed non catholics; and how can we retrieve them if we cut the gordian knot as you do? The theory of Cassissiacum left him unfazed, same as the innumerable divisions among sedes, and especially the necessary conclusion of conclavist sedevacantists. While some gathering of forces was taking place under his leadership, he stuck to what clearly is stated in Divine Law, which is to separate, bail out people from the novus ordo, and leave the question of loss of office to better experts, or a future Pontiff yielding greater authority. We look at the condition of the holder, like St Joseph, sending Our Lady, still in possession of her good reputation, to her parent; trusting the situation will clear up, as it sure did.

All the while, Archbishop was so convinced the situation is so difficult to solve that he collaborated, even after 1983, with a long list of non dogmatic sedevacantist priests: Fathers Vinson, Sochel, Schaeffer, Mouraux, Coache, Raffali and others I can’t recall. Like him, they too probably understood that the situation is not so simple. These priests were in good standing, despite their views differing from his, and applied discretion. Hence, likewise, he wouldn’t touch what still stood. It is a great and wise canonical principle.


“Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat”, says the ages old latin juridical axiom: the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on the one who denies. Civilized society supposes that everyone is presumed innocent, until proven guilty in a Court of Law; it is a principle of natural justice. It does not exclude that we should protect ourselves from a suspect, but that we can only do just that until a public instance has settled the matter. We refuse to take the law in our own hands. The safety of our Faith is sufficiently ensured by separation from error. Moreover, at best, sedevacantists can only forward an opinion, not a definitive proof; while it incumbs on them to provide us with a proof.

Let us conclude: Sedevacantists have developed a unique ambivalence with Canon Law, and use “divine law” as an escape pod, once their position becomes untenable canonically. At the root of sedevacantism is the refusal that such a public matter must also be settled juridically, after the Pope has fallen according to their eyes, in the eyes of God.