I have been away from this blog for two months attending to other duties, but I have decided to return because there are many issues that I would like to address here. As the saying goes, here goes nothing…
As some of you know, I like to track what is going on over in the traditionalist sedevacantist circles. I used to attend sedevacantist parishes before I saw the light and united with Rome, so I still retain an interest in what their bishops and parish priests discuss.
One of these bishops is Daniel A. Dolan, who was consecrated by Bishopo Mark Pivarunas. Bishop Dolan resides and serves at St. Gertude the Great. Every Sunday, his sermons are made available to a larger listening public via that site. When he isn’t available, one of his assistants preaches.
Certain traditionalists believe that Bishop Dolan is the best preacher since Archbishop Fulton Sheen, the great Catholic communicator of some fifty years ago. For the most part, no real comparisons can be made between the two. While Sheen speaks with the tremendous authority of one under Rome and Holy Mother church, Dolan preaches on the basis of his own theological opinions and those of other sedevacantist theologians. While his preaching contains Catholic truths and the essence of the Catholic faith, what it does not include is the same fiery charity that was so characteristic of Archbishop Sheen.
Another poin that I would like to make about Bishop Dolan is that he frequently says in his sermons that his parishioners and those others in the traditionalist movement are the last Catholics in the world. I’m afraid that Bishop Dolan is sorely mistaken if he truly believes this. In fact, this is the same sort of thing that was being served up by Francis Schuckardt to his congregations in Spokane, Washington before he was unceremoniously thrown out because of sexual misconduct with his seminarians.
The truth of the matter is that the sedevacantists are in schism from the Church. Whatever they may wish to believe about their own position, they are not in union with the Apostolic See. Of course, this fact carries with it tremendous consequences for them and for those that wish to attend their chapels.
First of all, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that is offered at these places is not licit. This means that they are not legal in the eyes of the Church. This also goes for the Sacrament of Confession since a priest with suspended faculties cannot absolve people in the confessional. If one were to investigate the situation carefully, one would find that the whole sedevacantist enterprise is a stack of cards with nothing holding it up except the theory that the current Pope is a heretic and that we do not owe him any obedience whatsoever.
The truth, of course, is much more complex and different than what the sedes believe. First of all, Bellarmine stated that a majority of cardinals and the laity would be responsible for kicking a heretical pope out of office and declaring an interregnum until a new pope is chosen by the College of Cardinals. Nothing like this has happened since Vatican II. Only a small minority of believers have left the Church because they saw the crisis for what it was. Yet it would have been much better if they had stayed and fought from within. When they left, they essentially said to the Vatican and the Holy Father, “We didn’t leave the Roman Catholic Church, the Roman Catholic Church left us.”
The current ecclesiastical situation in the Church is nothing to smile about, but it does not mean that we should pick up stakes and leave at the first opportunity. Rather, it means that we should stay and fight the more for tradition to return. God has worked great miracles if enough people are willing to pray and sacrifice for them. Who are we to say that He will not do so again?
Another problem I have with the sedevacantist thesis is that Christ made certain promises to St. Peter. He told Him that He would build His Church on Him and that the gates of hell would not prevail against Her. No matter how many times heretics and schismatics have tried to break down the doors of the Church and to make Her something that She isn’t, they have always failed. Why have they failed? Why haven’t they managed to succeed? Because they are powerless in the light of Christ’s promises to St. Peter and we all know that God means it when He makes a promise. He does not renege on what He says. He can’t.
It seems to me that Pope Benedict XVI understands the present situation much better than some of his predecessors. As a theologian, he knows what Catholic theologians have said about such things as sedevacantism. As the Supreme Pontiff, he knows and understands the present crisis in the Church. It is not for nothing that he is working so hard to heal the breach and to make things better. If only the traditionalists would see him for the man that he is and not the monster that they have been told about for so many years. The truth can set people free if only we are open to see it.
Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us!