Somewhere below, Lito from extranos has been asking me to give my two cents on his two cents on Gerry Matatics' sedevacantism, i.e., he declares that the seat of Peter has actually been vacant for a while on the grounds that a string of popes including the present one are heretical and therefore are not valid popes.
I'm not sure what to say. Perhaps Lito should had given me some specific questions to answer. I've never come across Gerry Matatics before, but this is not the first I've heard of sedevacantists and I've come across cases where people go further and declare themselves (or have a small group of "Catholics" declare them) as the valid bishop of Rome holding office in.. the porch of some house in some town in the United States, for example.
Dave Armstrong's comment boxes as well as Mark Shea's provide great clues as to why I won't be changing my Sunday plans anytime in this lifetime or the next. Moreover, Gerry's views are not as simple as they can be made out to be. Compare what Gerry says about his own beliefs in the institution of the papacy:
'By invoking the Old Testament testimony of Isaias, by borrowing his language and concept of the chief steward, or prime minister, Jesus, in effect, is saying to Peter: "The Church I will build is the Kingdom of God. I, the Son of David the King, will be its King. But I must have My officers, My ministers, My stewards. You are going to be My chief steward. So, I'm going to give you the keys the chief steward carries." And, since the chief steward's office is one of dynastic succession, Our Lord intended Peter's office and authority to be transmitted to successors.
And so we come to the final consideration: historically, who, in fact, inherited Peter's office and authority? There's only one candidate -the Bishop of Rome! I saw from early Church history that all Church Fathers who talked about where Peter went, talked about his going to Rome. It's as historically documented as any fact we know about the early Church - that Peter went to Rome, that he died in Rome, and that the next bishop of Rome acted confidently as the possessor of his authority, which the early Church sought and accepted.'
with this statement from extranos:
'There are some things that Mr. Matatics agree with the Protestants, the papacy is the seat of the anti-Christ so says their confessions of faith.'
It appears that Gerry will disagree that the papacy is the seat of the anti-Christ.
So what is Gerry's problem? I am still trying to discover that. From what I can tell thus far, he has a falling out with the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) and the popes who held the See of Peter from then until now. I agree with him that liturgical abuses are deplorable. However, I don't see that as somethng that was dogmatically perpetrated by Vatican II, nor by the popes of the last 40 years or so. If anything, it is due to laxity on the part of the Church Magisterium to enforce faithful adherence to the Catholic faith, in both liturgy and in catechism.
I sympathize with Gerry, but off-hand I think he's made a similar mistake that many have made when they went up against past or present popes: he is, in effect, arrogating for himself, good intentions and all, an authority higher than that of the Church Magisterium. When he wrote these words,
'This would include, not only the manifest heretics John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, and John Paul II, but also the manifest heretic and present illicit and invalid occupant of the See of Peter, Benedict XVI'
I was prompted to ask myself "manifest to whom?" I am also obliged now to consider a few key questions: What is heresy, and how have the popes mentioned promulgated heresy? Were they considered heretics before or after being elected as popes? Were they even confronted about their alleged heresy? Was their election invalid due to procedural lapses in the election process? And perhaps ultimately, how does a sedevacantist foresee an end to the vacancy of the seat of Peter?
I am reminded of the paradox that was the choice of Peter. He truly is blessed, because nothing of what was to be the papacy belongs nor originates from the man who is chosen. It is not flesh and blood that reveals truths to him, nor is he the builder of the Church. He is of practical use, a rock upon which to build. He is to hold the keys that are not of his kingdom but of Christ's. He is given the authority to bind and to loose on earth as in Heaven, but since the latter is the greater, it is the former that bends to the source of his authority: Christ. Sedevacantists and Protestants alike dash their teeth against this or that pope without realizing that they have probably fallen into a cynicism that does nto admit the possibility that Christ shepherds His Church exactly as he said he would, through Peter and in spite of Peter's falls. (Matt 16:17-19, John 21:15-17, Luke 22:31)
I also got to thinking that perhaps there is no small amount of pessimism among people who wish to use Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus without any qualifications. Perhaps it is the vehemence of a man who wakes up to a new day convinced that his past life was horrible to the utmost. Unfortunately, that can often be carried too far.
UPDATE: Robert Sungenis makes some good points about this.