by Br. Alexis Bugnolo
The Catholic World may have not noticed them at all, but the Church has a new genus of Sedevacantism: Benedict XVI Sedevacantists.
Sedevacantism is an ideology advanced by individuals who want to justify or calumniate the juridical order in the Church so as to obtain some personal license or advantage. It was an error first launched after the Second Vatican Council in a sort of desperation, while Catholics the world over were being persecuted by their own Bishops, under the direction of Pope Paul VI, who wanted to exterminate the Ancient Roman Rite and totally reshape the Catholic Faith in contradiction to Ecclesiastical Tradition
According to Wikipedia:
Early proponents of sedevacantism include:
- Francis Schuckardt, an American who was part of the Blue Army of Our Lady of Fátima, until he publicly took the position in 1967 that the Holy See was vacant and that the church that had emerged from the Second Vatican Council was no longer the Catholic Church. He founded the Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen (CMRI).
- Bishop Daniel Q. Brown, an American former Old Catholic bishop who converted to sedevacantism and an associate of Schuckardt.
- Joaquín Sáenz y Arriaga, a Mexican Jesuit priest and theologian who put forward sedevacantist ideas in his books The New Montinian Church (August 1971) and Sede Vacante (1973). His writings gave rise to the sedevacantist movement in Mexico, led by Sáenz, Moisés Carmona and Adolfo Zamora, priests who formed the Unión Católica Trento (Tridentine Catholic Union).
- Francis E. Fenton, an American priest who was inspired by Sáenz’s writings and founded the Orthodox Roman Catholic Movement as an American parallel to the Mexican Unión Católica Trento.
- Michel-Louis Guérard des Lauriers, a French Dominican priest and theologian who developed the Thesis of Cassiciacum in the 1970s.
- Several American priests of the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX): Daniel Dolan, Anthony Cekada, and Donald Sanborn, reportedly sedevacantists in the 1970s, who were expelled, along with several other priests, by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre for holding this view. Nine of these priests later founded the Society of Saint Pius V (SSPV) in 1983.
- Oswald Baker, an English priest who was a sedevacantist by at least 1982, and reportedly some time prior to that.
- Lucian Pulvermacher, an American missionary priest who left the Catholic Church in 1976 and in 1998 was elected pope of the conclavist “True Catholic Church” with the name of “Pius XIII”.
To this list we can add now, two more names: Andrea Cionci, the journalist, and Don Alessandro Minutella, the pastor of St. John Bosco’s Catholic Parish in Palermo, Italy. Archbishop Viganò can also be added, since he has openly espoused the equivalent of the Cassiciacum thesis of Father des Lauriers, and has begun to ordain men to the priesthood, according to Fr. Lovell and Roberto dei Mattei. Viganò never recognized that Pope Benedict XVI was pope until his death (and for that reason I omit a discussion of his position in this present article).
But Cionci and Don Minutella are what I call Pope Benedict XVI Sedevacantists, because both hold that the Catholic Church has no true pope since the death of Pope Benedict XVI. Both also hold, that none of the Cardinals appointed by Pope Francis can participate in a Conclave, and thus that no valid Conclave can be held to elect a new Pope unless only Cardinals appointed by Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI participate.
In addition, Don Minutella holds that this latter group of Cardinals is so compromised by silence and collaboration with Pope Francis that the election of anew Pope has to be the duty of the Catholic Clergy who remain faithful to Christ. These 8 priests met recently in Austria and held a conclave, and elected — drum roll — Don Minutella as the Pope. — Though there is some doubt in my mind, whether he has yet claimed the papacy, or when the coronation will take place.
Andrea Cionci, instead, is petitioning the Cardinals who can still validly participate in a Conclave, asking them to recognize that there is no canonically valid pope, and to convene in Conclave to elect one. That petition can be found here. So far it has garnered a little less than 4000 votes. — Many thanks to A.J. Baalman of Ordo Militaris Radio TV for informing me of its existence.
Don Minutella, for his part, had more than 25,000 loyal followers, mostly in Italy, last year; what that number is now, I do not know, but I think his election as an anti-pope may have caused those numbers to dwindle.
The Delirium of Pope Benedict XVI Sedevacantists
First, let me apologize to all those who remember Pope Benedict XVI with seriousness, respect and Catholic Faith, for having named this new genus of Sedevacantism after himself. I only do this because follow the practice in nomenclature of calling the principal genus of Sedevacantism, the Pius XII Sedevacantists, since they hold that the last validly elected pope was Pope Pius XII.
This new genus of Sedevacantism is caused by a grave spiritual delirium, just as the first. But whereas the first is caused by despair, and moved by avarice and pride (avarice to have spiritual gifts and offices which they do not merit, and pride in thinking they merit to have them even by unjust means), this new genus is caused by hatred: a hatred which will not tolerate that Jorge Mario Bergoglio enjoy any rights in the Church. This hatred causes them to deny that Bergoglio has any rights in canon law, whether the passive right to be elected Pope or the right to be tried and found guilty before being deprived from office.
Though Ann Barnhardt and many of her followers also hold that there is no pope, I do not yet know if they do so for any ideological reason, though like these other groups they deny that Pope Francis was elected in a valid juridical manner to the Papacy and accepted his election.
The Two Ways of Electing a Pope
A Pope, that is, the Roman Pontiff, can only be elected in a valid juridical manner in two ways, today: one, by means of the Cardinals who convene in a Conclave within 20 days of the death of a Roman Pontiff and observe all the things in the Papal Law for the election of Roman Pontiffs in a Conclave, known as “Universi Dominici Gregis”; and the other, everlasting fail safe, which is by apostolic right, that is, by the election of the Faithful of the Roman Church, which can only be resorted to when the Cardinals fail to fulfill their ministerial duty of electing a Roman Pontiff, after the death of his predecessor, within the time prescribed by the Papal Law.
While the whole Church is in agreement, that no Conclave has been held after the death of Pope Benedict XVI, and while several Bishops have called Pope Francis a “heretic” or “apostate” before and after the death of Pope Benedict XVI, the entire Church was not in agreement as to whether Pope Benedict XVI was the pope until death.
This latter truth, which was zealously defended by numerous scholars, jurists, writers, bloggers, journalists, personalities, clergy and faithful, and religious, was the primary cause celebre of FromRome.Info since 2018.
But unlike all the others who sustained this cause, I and my readers were they only ones who were not only preoccupied with obtaining the recognition of Pope Benedict XVI during life as the only true pope, but wanted this canonically recognized and sought for this; while at the same time remaining concerned for the election of his successor in a valid juridical manner.
Thus with the surprise death of Pope Benedict XVI on the last day of 2022 A. D., we moved immediately to urge the election of his successor, in open opposition to moves by Cionci and Minutella to ignore this problem at that time.
I met with Andrea Cionci and Don Minutella in person just a week after the death and burial of the Roman Pontiff, to discuss this matter. Present for the last part of our discussion was also Father Enrico Bernascone of Puglia.
Cionci’s position was that the Cardinals have to be first convinced Pope Benedict XVI was the pope, and then have to be urged to call a Conclave. — To this position, I pointed out that the Papal Law allowed them 20 days to convene, after the funeral, and if they failed to do so, the could not legally elect another.
Don Minutella’s position was that, after being illicitly and invalidly degraded from the priesthood by the “Dicastery for the Clergy” and his own Bishop (for saying that Bergoglio was not the pope), that he did not want to get involved in such a public controversy.
My position was and is, that of the law itself and perennial jurisprudence; namely, that when the Cardinals do not act, the right returns to the body which holds that right by a higher law, and this is Roman Church as a whole, and then all the faithful of that Church had the duty to see to an election as soon as possible. Here I use, “the Roman Church” specifically and individually and properly to refer to the Diocese of Rome and the suburbican dioceses contiguous with her, which canonically and theologically have always been associated with her as parts of the same local Church.
That possible became a reality, when the Cardinals failed to convene and with by the extraordinary intervention of Divine Providence, which allowed me to raise the enormous funds necessary — after having duly warned the Dean of the College of Cardinals that if they did not act, the Faithful were the only ones who could — to announce to the whole Church via Television and publicity statements to all the TV, Radio and Newspapers of the Roman Province: the convocation of an Assembly to chose Pope Benedict XVI’s successor.
That election was held on January 30, at the Mariott Hotel in Rome. And at it, no candidate presented himself, which left the Assembly, for the good of the Church, to heal the schism between those who followed the true Pope and those who followed a man who had never been canonically elected, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, but wanted to be pope and accepted already what he thought was his canonical election — by electing him as the pope.
So from about 12:30 pm of that day to this day, the Church has had a pope: not elected according to the papal law, because elected by apostolic tradition; but in a juridically valid manner, and canonically, because canon 331 requires an election, not a tacit acclamation, as some have argued. And since the same canon does not impose the requirement of an explicit acceptance of the election by the candidate elected — a tacit one, or habitual one is therefore by the natural law itself sufficient: which Jorge Mario Bergoglio certainly does have habitually since March 13, 2013.
These are the facts of the case. If one has an honest heart, which bends to Canon Law and Apostolic Tradition one can easily see it. But if one was principally motivated by hatred or despair, and does not trust in the word of Christ:
Whatsoever you bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven
(which regards both Canon Law and the decision of Saint Peter to give to the Roman Church the right to elect his successors in office).
Then one will never be able to see it.
I have fully refuted both Cionci and Don Minutella in English and Italian last spring, but the refuse to accept the truth, because they won’t under any condition accept to eat humble pie, that is, they refuse in their pride to admit the juridical controversy has ended and that Pope Benedict XVI has a valid successor.
You can read more about this controversy and its events through the menu “The Triumph of the Lamb”, at the top of this website.
Finally, I urge all the Catholic Faithful in the world, to hold fast to the Apostolic See and the Roman Church in the spirit of Saint Francis of Assisi, who wrote in his Holy Rule, that he promised “Obedience and reverence to the Lord Pope … and his canonically elected successors AND to the Roman Church”. For as a son of Saint Francis, I have ever urged and practiced this devotion of my Seraphic Patriarch and pray daily that others catch fire from his own spirit.