Book Review of True or False Pope? by Fr. Therasian Babu

“It is never the case that one man out of sheer wickedness suddenly invents a false doctrine. (...) A movement begins, often very rightly, by a vigorous and extreme opposition to some patently false teaching. Then this way or looking at things crystallizes and hardens; it is taken up enthusiastically by some school, it becomes a point of honour with a certain party to insist upon it... At last, someone gets hold of the theory, oversteps every limit in his defence of it, and is eagerly supported by the rest of the party. And then he finds himself condemned by the Church”.
Sedevacantism is not a major threat in our country, but it is becoming one and the day-to-day activities of the current Holy Father are accelerating the situation. It is truly ‘a false solution to a real problem’. This no one can deny. The situation in the Church is not helping a normal faithful to live his life normally. Nay rather, a heroic virtue of faith is expected of them. Yet the Son of man, when he cometh, shall he find, think you, faith on earth? 
Having said this, Sedevacantism is a major threat for very many traditional Catholics, esp. in the United States. While there is no dearth of material (usually online) available on pro-sedevacantism, the same cannot be said of ‘anti-sedevacantism: ‘A comprehensive and definitive refutation firmly grounded in ecclesiology, has been sorely needed’ (Bp. Fellay, foreword). And this exactly is what this book under review is all about. This brilliant ‘refutation of sedevacantism and other modern errors’ by John Salza and Robert Siscoe has done the difficult task remarkably well. To those trained in scholastic philosophy and desirous of getting an answer to this ‘neo-docetism’, this book may be an eye opener.
The fundamental theme of the book is this: If you follow Sedevacantist path, you will eventually abandon the saving faith on the Church. Chapter 1 and 2 deal with the Church and its attributes and its marks. Here the authors patiently analyze the thesis of various Sedevacantists and prove how they end up denying the basic notion of the Church, which is visible.
Chapter 3 – 12 is Sedevacantism in genere. Here they explain very many principles elegantly. Some chapter headings are provocative (like chap. 8: can a Pope fall into heresy?). Chapter 13-20 treats of Sedevacantism in specie. Here too, the authors show how sedevacantism is a false solution to a true problem. Chapter 21 is a “fruit – tasting session”. We can judge a tree by its fruits: The authors rightly give example from the mouth of Sedevacantists themselves about their ‘cult’. A certain Sedevacantist Mr. Lane writes “people who get interested in Sedevacantism become unstable in their spiritual lives (..) often destabilize others in their parish, and very often more broadly disturb the peace of the parish. I’ve observed all of this myself, and so often that I can’t answer. It’s true!” (p. 654). There is also an appendix chart on the ‘Theological opinions on the loss of office for a heretical Pope’. A bibliographical index and an index (unfortunately not a complete one) concludes the volume.
This conspectus on the ‘theology of Sedevacantism’ is quite the most remarkable of work of its kind available in English. It is outstanding not only for its exposition, but also for clarity in expression and in typographical presentation. Readers will definitely enjoy many concrete examples provided in each chapter and this just adds more weight to the argument (but the storey of ‘death of Fr. Hermann’s mother (p. 137) derives its strength from private revelation and it does slow down the tempo). And also, not everything will be accepted equally by theologians (like the essence of Eccl. Faith (p. 177), Valor of theological conclusions are still questiones disputatae). We can also notice one or two mistakes, on p. 203 it is Pope Pius IX (not Pius XI). A table explaining various ‘theological censures’ in chap. 7 could have been more useful. May be in the second edition, or if we may make our wish, in the second volume, it would be more profitable to treat of ‘Cassiacum thesis’ and ‘De Papatu Materiali’ extensively.
This ‘summa on Sedevacantism’ is an achievement. This is a book that may be warmly recommended to priests, seminarians and laity as well. It does require a slow reading and calm analysis but the effort made to penetrate the arguments will strengthen our faith without which it is impossible to please God.
All English trad- world owe a debt of gratitude to the authors and the publisher for giving us such a monumental work. May this ‘magnum opus’ render immense service to lead us ‘through the narrow gate that leads to life, erring neither to the left nor to the right’! (Bp. Fellay.)
Book review by the website "A Traditional Catholic Priest"

True Or False Pope – A Review Of The Book Of The Same Name

To be honest, I have put off writing this review for a long time; six months in fact.  It’s not that it isn’t a superb book, the title of the book and the length of the book (along with a general malaise about anything to do with the current state of the Church and the current Pope) had me not wanting to tackle this project.  Within the blogosphere, there have been countless articles about the state the Church is in and many more about what our Pontiff is doing and most of them are not helping the situation one bit.
What I didn’t want to do is add “more abuse” in the pile of articles that would have to be sifted by blog readers.   I am reminded of something that my mother taught me years ago.  She said, “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say nothing at all.”
Today, though, I feel it is not only proper, but I am required to open my mouth (pen, wireless keyboard?).  I finally got over my hesitancy and got around to reading this book and I thought it was superb.
The complete title is:  True Or False Pope? Refuting Sedevacantism And Other Modern Errors
The book was co-written by John Salza and Robert Siscoe

– My Thoughts On The Book –
I am a pretty analytical guy and one of the things I most appreciated about this book  is that it is a logical, systematic dismantling of most errors related to the papacy and infallibility.  This book isn’t the ‘cliff-notes’ to modern errors, oh no. The book takes you from A to Z in a completely thorough in-depth manner and all of it is based, not on conjecture, but on the teachings of the Church through the writings of her Saints.  From what is the church, to who is in it, to the different modes of belief we are required to have, this book will walk you through what we are to believe and how to combat the errors that have found their way into the church.
As the chapter contents to the book show, just about every step of the way, there is the correct way to understand the situation we find ourselves in today.  It is a completely protestant mindset that thinks we have to reinvent the wheel.  The authors lay out the arguments and then begin to refute them using the arsenal the Church has provided.
The table of contents (chapter headings) give you a great clue as to what is covered in this book:
  • Chapter 1 – The Church and its Attributes
  • Chapter 2 – The Church and its Marks
  • Chapter 3 – Church Membership and Bonds of Unity
  • Chapter 4 – Church Membership and Salvation
  • Chapter 5 – Sin of Heresy and Loss of Office
  • Chapter 6 – Suspicion of Heresy
  • Chapter 7 – Theological Censures and “hereticizing”
  • Chapter 8 – Can a Pope Fall Into Heresy?
  • Chapter 9 – Proving the Crime of Heresy
  • Chapter 10 – The Church Must Judge The Crime
  • Chapter 11 – The Deposition of a Heretical Pope
  • Chapter 12 – Peaceful and Universal Acceptance Of A Pope
  • Chapter 13 – Vatican II and Conciliar Infallibility
  • Chapter 14 – Vatican II and the Ordinary Magisterium
  • Chapter 15 – Universal Disciplines and Infallibility
  • Chapter 16 – The New Mass and Infallibility
  • Chapter 17 – Canonization of Saints and Infallibility
  • Chapter 18 – The New Rite of Episcopal Consecration
  • Chapter 19 – The New rite of Ordination of Priest
  • Chapter 20 – We recognize and Resist
  • Chapter 21 – The Bitter Fruits of Sedevacantism
I could go on a chapter by chapter review, but I will not.  Let me just provide you with some of my thoughts as I read through the book and hopefully it will encourage you to buy a copy.
In reading through this book, I was comforted.  It served as a reminder that no matter how dark the times are, God gives us light.  The truth of the matter is that it is the same light that has been from the beginning: Christ has not abandon His Church.
In this book,  John Salza and Robert Siscoe don’t share anything necessarily new or profound but they dig deep into the well that is our Church and tradition and pull out the things we have forgotten and present them for us an apply them to the times in which we live today.  That is what is so great about this book.  It isn’t their power of persuasion that make this book profitable to read, it is the countless quotes from the Saints of the church who have dealt with this, or a version of this before and all point us back to what the Spirit of God has shown us in the past and still is showing us today.
This book is clear, concise, and it shows the truth of what the Church teaches.  In facing these truths, we are faced with facts that are cold, hard, and terribly disturbing when we examine what it means for us today. It isn’t easy to accept sometimes, but, honestly, that really doesn’t matter.  This book will really open your eyes as to the extent God allows His people (the clergy and the laity both) to completely make a mess out of everything.  If you haven’t read from the Old Testament any time lately, it would be a good time to review what God’s own people did then, and compare that to what the Church is doing now.
I am very grateful that John and Robert compiled this book for us to read.  For those who take the time to read it, it will be a great refresher as to the truth the Church teaches and still teaches.  In these times of obfuscation from current church documents, we can have profound clarity concerning doctrine by reading this book because they refer us back to a time in which the Church wrote much more clearly than they do today.
The answers are there, and I am glad they dug them up for us.
Book Review by Catholic Writer, Paul Folbrecht

I nearly skipped (or indefinitely deferred) this book.  I'm so glad I did not.

If you are tempted to pass on True Or False Pope? because you think you understand the sedevacantist error well enough, the first thing you should know is that virtually all of the information and all the argumentation in the book is equally useful in responding to the errors of neo-Catholicism, an area that is actually of much larger practical import.  This is because the root errors of both systems are the same, of course.

The book is far more than a veritable evisceration of the entire sedevacantist enterprise - though it is that, indeed.  The tsunami of Church teaching (all of it thoroughly referenced) that Salza & Siscoe bring to bear against Cekada, Speray, Derksen, and the minor sede pontifical usurpers crashes with equal force and equal effect against the barricade of the head-in-the-sand, hear-no-evil, the-pope-is-always-right-cause-that's-what-mom-said crowd. 

Apart, but related to that, the tome is useful as the theological manual of ecclesiology that it is.  In particular, the chapters on the Ordinary Magisterium, Church Disciplines, and the Novus Ordo Rite of Mass each in themselves justify ownership, as each is a superb overview of the most pertinent points on each topic - again, with ample references, and in the latter case containing documented facts (relating to its non-existent promulgation) not widely known even among diehard, faithful Traditionalists.

And, of course, there is that evisceration of sedevacantism.  This is not hyperbole.  Having read probably every Traditionalist piece on the sede error, going back a decade or so, from Ferrera, this book's authors, and others, I was personally not prepared for just how thorough a routing they were going to take here.  Make no mistake: No human being with a functioning intellect can read this book and in good conscience hold the dogmatic sedevacantist position.  Period.  There is no longer anywhere for them to hide, save behind their facade of sophism, sarcasm, and childish ad hominem.

Review by a former Sedevacantist who wishes to remain anonymous

I have finally finished the book. To state that it exceeded my expectations would be putting it too lightly, for the book achieved far more than that. It presented profound and complex ecclesiological doctrines in a very clear, precise and effective manner that was easy to follow and yet did not "dumb it down." Nor did the book engage in the prurient school-yard rhetoric which is apparently so beloved by the extremist polemicists whose errors and heresies it efficaciously refutes. Chapter 21, wherein the authors could have understandably indulged in anathematizing true-to-life caricatures, was particularly salient in its reserve and calm objectivity, with the most scandalous crimes being passed over in silence. The sedevacantists' errors as exposed and refuted throughout the book provide embarrassment enough and they, together with the few things mentioned in Chapter 21 (which are but inexorably concomitant with these errors), sufficed to present to the honest inquirer the true picture of the sedevacantist sects.

However, the value of the book is not solely to be found in its masterful refutation of the sedevacantists' errors and disorders. The book also provides excellent answers to those conservatives, animated by an indiscreet zeal and myopic conditioning, who would denigrate traditionalist Catholics' endeavor to preserve sacred Tradition and the Deposit of the holy Faith. Questions regarding subjects such as the new Missal, the recent Canonizations, the status of the Second Vatican Council, &c., are discussed with radical honesty and in light of numerous authorities and other pertinent sources. To reject the authors' presentation of these questions would necessitate the rejection of the sound teaching and example of so many eminent theologians, canonists, Saints, &c.: teaching and example that would only guide and console us in these tumultuous times.

To be frank, the excesses and disorders of the sedevacantist sects (I had attended a CMRI "chapel") had caused me to embrace the theological orientation of the conservatives, and to excuse away the bedeviling perplexities presented by the Second Vatican Council and the post-Conciliar Papacy. I was very skeptical that the book would change my mind, but now I cannot but seriously consider the possibility that I may have been mistaken and that there is a balance between the extremisms of both sedevacantism and post-Conciliar conservatism.

As someone who has been on both extremes of the spectrum that has arisen over the ecclesiological questions occasioned by the turmoil of the Conciliar and post-Conciliar eras, I can say without hesitation that this book not only refutes these same extremes, but presents a doctrinal compendium that should be in the hands of every serious Catholic who professes zeal for sacred Tradition;especially clergymen, parents, educators, and all else who have the task of teaching others. The present generation of traditionalist Catholics owe an exceeding great debt to the authors, who have calmly and precisely vindicated their hallowed cause against modernists, sedevacantists and indiscreet conservatives.


By Brother Alexis Bugnolo

In my many years, since college, I have rarely come upon a book written by a modern author, of which I can say, that its value will endure long after I am dead.  There are books which are very well written and even those which refute current errors, but of few of them can it be said that they will have anything other than a timely usefulness.  But of this new book by John Salza and Robert Siscoe, which deals not only with a timely issue — the moral and doctrinal error of Sedevacantism:  the error of judging by one’s self, who is or is not a legitimate pope today — but does so in a perennial manner (by searching out the founts of Catholic Theology and Canon Law and applying them not only to the specific problems presented by the Sedevacantists, but by addressing the Catholic solution to those problems, in the same manner that Catholics have done for 2016 years), one can truly proclaim: “It shall endure the ages as a monument of Catholic Theology and be sought out by Catholic Librarians for centuries to come,” — so well written, researched and organized it is.

For this reason, “True or False Pope?” is a book which I believe merits to be on the bookshelves of every Pope, Cardinal, Bishop, Priest, Deacon, Religious, Theologian, and learned Layman, not just in the hands of those afflicted or attacked by, or tempted to the error of Sedevacantism and its adherents.

But even more so, due to the present crisis brought on the Church by Team Bergoglio and the Kasperian thesis it has intentionally, deceitfully and maliciously promoted in all its actions, “True or False Pope?” is a book which needs to be read by all Catholics and the perennial Catholic teaching which it contains, put into practice: not only by those who confront Sedevacantists, or who are tempted by that error, but by every Theologian, Religious, Deacon, Priest, yes even Bishop and Cardinal, who has a duty to represent, though in different manners, the true teaching of the Faith and the right praxis of it, on questions of “Can the Pope be a heretic or schismatic?” and “What the Church and Bishops ought to do about it, if it should happen.”

For this reason, I wholeheartedly recommend each Catholic buy this book and give as many copies of it as a present to other Catholics, as they can, as its good effect in all the Church is something which we can not only expect in our present age, but be certain of through the generations to come which have the blessing to find a copy.