Sedevacantist Watch…

Catholic Definition vs. Sedevacantist Definition

St. Robert Bellarmine
       As we cover in great detail in our book True or False Pope?, the Catholic Church is a visible, hierarchical society, with both internal and external bonds of unity. The internal bonds that unite men to Christ and to His Church are the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity, sanctifying grace and the gifts of the Holy Ghost.  The external, visible bonds of unity are the profession of the true faith, participation in the same sacraments, and subjection to the Pope and legitimate hierarchy.  A person enters the visible society of the Church through baptism, and remains a member of the Church by retaining the three external, visible bonds.
       In his classic treatise, De Ecclesia Militante, St. Robert Bellarmine explains that none of the internal bonds are necessary for one to remain a member of the Church (not even the internal virtue of faith, which is lost by the sin of heresy – a violation of Divine Law). Accordingly, Bellarmine defines the Church as the assembly of men who are united by the three visible, external bonds. He wrote:

       “This one and true Church is the assembly of men bound together by the profession of the same Christian faith and the communion of the same sacraments, under the rule of the legitimate pastors, and especially that of the Roman Pontiff, the one Vicar of Christ on earth. From this definition, it is easy to infer which men belong to the Church and which do not belong to it. There are three parts of this definition: the profession of the true faith, the communion of the sacraments, and the subjection to the Roman Pontiff, the legitimate pastor.”[1] [2]

       In this article, we will consider, in particular, the external bond of unity consisting of the “profession of the true faith.” We will consider the formal and material aspects of this bond, and see how the bond is severed and how it is not. In doing so, we will demonstrate that the Sedevacantist thesis is based upon an erroneous understanding of “the profession of faith,” since this external bond of unity is not broken when a Catholic makes a materially heretical statement, as Sedevacantists contend, but only when a Catholic renounces the Church as the infallible rule of faith. The Sedevacantists’ error also leads them to a further error, by believing that whether a cleric professes the true faith is a matter of personal “discernment” of any Catholic in the street. Let’s take a look at this critical issue in more depth.

Sedevacantists’ Error on “Profession of the True Faith”

       The universal error among Sedevacantist apologists is their claim that the conciliar Popes have not sufficiently “profess the true Faith,” and, therefore, cannot be considered members of the Church. This error, invented by Sedevacantists in the 1970s as an overreaction to the erupting crisis in the Church, is perhaps their most fundamental argument. And this small error in principle (beginning) has resulted in a big error in conclusion (end), by affecting the rest of their ecclesiology and leading them right out of the Church. Just read the works of Fr. Cekada, Bp. Sanborn, Mario Derksen, the Dimond brothers, Gerry Matatics, and the rest of them – they all gravely err on what the “profession of the true faith” means in regard to the external bond of unity (as we will prove in this article). This foundational error literally pervades all of their work.
       To compound their error, these Sedevacantists actually believe that it is the responsibility of each individual Catholic in the pew to “discern” whether or not a professing Catholic (whether it be a simple layman or the Pope himself) sufficiently “professes the Faith.” If the they discern that the individual does not sufficiently do so, then they believe they are entirely justified – nay, required – to publicly declare that he is not a member of the Church, even if the Church herself considers the person to be a member in good standing. And, as noted above, their “discerning” process applies equally to the lawfully elected Vicar of Christ, no less.
       This is one of the many errors promoted by Mario Derksen of NovusOrdoWatch. According to Derksen, if a man is legally elected Pope by the Cardinals, and accepted by the entire Church as Pope, it means absolutely nothing if he does not pass the Derksen “profession of faith” test. If Derksen personally “discerns” that the Pope doesn’t sufficiently profess the faith, then, according to Derksen, the man is not Pope, period. Derksen and the rest of his Sedevacantist colleagues also consider their personal judgment of his orthodoxy to constitute an absolute, irrefutable “fact” from which there is no appeal.
       According to this reasoning, the “fact” (i.e., infallible “dogmatic fact”) that the entire Church recognizes the man as Pope (which, incidentally, provides infallible certitude of his legitimacy, as we demonstrate in our book) has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on whether he is a true Pope, if the individual Sedevacantist personally discerns that the man does not sufficiently “profess the true Faith.” But don’t take our word for it. The following is taken from Derksen’s response to an article written by John Salza (which Derksen wrote under his penname “Gregorius”):

       “Salza’s points about how canon law allows only a Pope to judge a cardinal, etc., are not relevant to the issue of sedevacantism, because we are not pretending to be judging a Pope or a cardinal in a canonical trial. Instead, we are merely discerning that a certain cleric does not profess the Catholic Faith and hence cannot be a member of the Church. … To sum up: Sedevacantists do not usurp any ecclesiastical authority in arriving at the conclusion that Benedict XVI is not the Pope, because this conclusion is not arrived at by means of putative “legal” judgments, which no sedevacantist has the right to make, but because any Roman Catholic can discern as a matter of fact (not law) that Benedict XVI does not adhere to all the dogmatic teachings of the Magisterium of the Church until 1958.”[3]

       You see, dear reader, if Judge Derksen personally judges that a Pope does not “profess the faith” – that is, in his words, does not “adhere to all the dogmatic teachings of the Magisterium,” he thinks it necessarily follows that the man is not a true Pope.
       After all, Derksen reasons, the “profession of the true faith” is an external bond of unity with the Church. Therefore, if he discerns that the Pope does not profess the faith, it must mean he doesn’t possess that bond of unity, and thus is not a member of the Church; and if he is not a member of the Church, he cannot be the head of the Church. This is indeed his reasoning, and the reasoning of all Sedevacantists. They constantly declare that “you cannot be the head of what you are not a member,” and other such similar statements.
       What else is noteworthy is that they consider a man who has been legally elected as Pope by the Cardinals in a Conclave, to be no different than a man who simply declares himself to be Pope (which many Sedevacantists have done). In other words, their personal discernment theory requires them to put Pope Paul VI, who was validly elected by a Conclave, and David Bawden, who was “elected” as “Pope Michael” by his parents and several friends, on the same level. They consider both claimants to be in the exact same camp, and actually believe it is up to each individual Catholic in the pew to discern who is a true Pope and who is not. For example, in a recent webcast Derksen said:

       “Look, if you are able to discern [there’s that word again!] that Francis is not a Catholic [that is, that he does not sufficiently profess the faith], if that much is clear, then it is absolutely clear also that he isn’t Pope. …  That has nothing to do with ‘judging the Pope’; it has to do with judging whether a particular individual who claims to be Pope, can actually be one. And if that weren’t permissible, well then anyone’s mere claim to the papacy, would have to be accepted as valid.” (9:30 – 10:10)   

       You see, according to Derksen’s reasoning, if you’re not allowed to decide for yourself if a man elected Pope by the Church is a true Pope, it means you have to accept, as Pope, anyone and everyone who simply claims to be Pope. Sounds crazy, you say? That’s right, because it is crazy. Welcome to the wacky world of Sedevacantism, where even the identity of the Pope is based on private judgment, rather than the public judgment of the Church.
       Now, you may be wondering what authority Derksen cites to support his pet theory that if he personally “discerns” that a Pope does not profess the faith, he is justified in concluding and publicly declaring that the man is not a true Pope. The answer, of course, is that he cites no authority, because no such authority exists. Using the words of Fr. Cekada, the novel theory is nothing but a “tribal myth” of Sedevacantism; a pure novelty invented by Sedevacantists to justify their rebellion against the bad but true Popes of the post-Vatican II era. No doubt Sedevacantists have tried to justify their theory by cobbling and patching together piecemeal quotations from various theologians (like Protestants do with Bible verses), which they then publish on the internet, where weak souls are drawn in and deceived. But such a theory is so completely foreign to true Catholic teaching and practice that the more the Sedevacantists attempt to defend it, the more confused they become, and the more their errors shine brightly for those with eyes to see.
       Thus, let’s further shine a spotlight on their error, by showing how their tribal myth is rooted in an incomplete understanding of the phrase “profession of the faith,” and how this external bond of unity is actually severed.

What is meant by the “Profession of the True Faith,”
and how is it lost?

       To answer this question, we will rely on one of the Sedevacantists favorite authorities, Fr. E. Sylvester Berry. Fr. Berry is often cited by Sedevacantists, including Derksen. The lay Sedevacantist preacher, Gerry Matatics, also highly praises Fr. Berry. In one of his CD talks, Matatics said one of his “favorite authors is Fr. E. Sylvester Berry, professor of Scripture at Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary… in the 1920s and 30s.”  Matatics went on to refer to Fr. Berry’s “wonderful book called The Church of Christ.”[4]
       Since Sedevacantists claim to have such respect for Fr. Berry, we will allow him to explain what is meant by “the profession of the true faith,” and how this bond of unity is not lost when someone fails to properly articulate “all the dogmatic teachings of the Magisterium.” Fr. Berry explains this in the very book that Mr. Matatics referred to, his Apologetic and Dogmatic Treatise, The Church of Christ.
       In his classic book, Fr. Berry refers to the external bonds of unity as conditions for membership in the Church. He explains that “subjection to the Pope and hierarchy” is essentially submission to the Church’s ruling authority, while “the profession of faith” is realized by the external and public submission to the Church’s teaching authority. The “profession of the true faith” does not require that “all the dogmatic teachings of the Magisterium” be professed with theological precision; and, more importantly, neither is it severed by the profession of an erroneous or even heretical doctrine, as Derksen imagines.
       Regarding the condition for membership, Fr. Berry wrote:
“…three conditions are absolutely necessary and of themselves sufficient for membership; viz.:

(a) Initiation by baptism;
(b) External profession of the true Faith which is had by submission to the teaching authority of the Church.
(c) Submission to the ruling authority of the Church.”[5]

       Let’s repeat the key point for Mr. Derksen:

The external profession of the true Faith means submitting to the teaching authority of the Church, that is, acknowledging that the Church is the infallible rule of Faith.

       Fr. Berry goes on to explain that perfect observance of the conditions (or “unities”) is not absolutely necessary for a person to retain membership in the Church. He wrote:

       “These conditions may be briefly summarized in one phrase:

The reception of Baptism, and the preservation of the unities – unity of faith, unity of worship, and unity of government; or in other words, reception of Baptism and submission to the teaching and ruling authority of the Church. It should be noted, however, that perfect observance of the unities is not required for mere membership in the Church; a person need not make an explicit  profession of faith at all times; nor conform all his actions to it. He need not make a diligent use of the Sacraments at all times, neither must he be free from all infractions of Church laws and precepts.”[6]

       That the conditions for unity need not to be observed perfectly at all times is confirmed by the fact that a Catholic who has drifted away from the sacraments is not, for that reason alone, immediately considered a non-member of the Church. It is also confirmed by the many historical examples of Popes and other clerics who taught material errors and even heresies against the Faith but were still considered members of the Church (we will provide some of these examples later in this article).

Formal and Material Aspect of the Bond

       We can further clarify this key point by distinguishing between the formal and material aspect of the bond. The formal and absolutely essential aspect of the “profession of faith” is submission to the Church’s teaching authority, by implicitly or explicitly professing the Church as the rule of faith; the material aspect of this bond is the understanding and material profession of doctrine. The material aspect can be perfect (i.e., when each doctrine is held and professed with theological precision) or imperfect (i.e., when there is an admixture of error or even material heresy). Since the material aspect of this bond does not require perfection for the bond itself to remain intact, we can understand why Fr. Berry would say that “the profession of the faith practically resolves itself into submission to her teaching authority”[7] – which is the formal aspect of the bond.
       Hence, this external bond does not require that every member profess each and every aspect of the faith with theological precision; nor does the profession of a materially heretical doctrine sever one from the Church for heresy. This is confirmed by The Catechism of the Council of Trent, which explains that,

       “a person is not to be called a heretic as soon as he shall have offended in matters of faith [material aspect]; but he is a heretic who, having disregarded the authority of the Church [formal aspect], maintains an impious opinion with pertinaticy.”[8]

       This is consistent with the practice of the Church, which does not immediately excommunicate (or consider excommunicated) every person who makes a false or even heretical statement. If all who made a heretical statement immediately severed their membership in the Church, there would be few Catholics in the world, since a large number of Catholics have held a doctrine that is materially heretical at one time or another in their adult life.
       Contrary to the tribal myth of the Sedevacantists, Fr. Berry explains that those who submit to the Church as the rule of faith, yet who hold heretical doctrines, are not, by that fact alone, considered to be heretics. He wrote:

       “A heretic is usually defined as a Christian, i.e., a baptized person, who holds a doctrine contrary to a revealed truth; but this definition is inaccurate, since it would make heretics of a large portion of the faithful. A doctrine contrary to a revealed truth is usually stigmatized as heretical, but a person who professes an heretical doctrine is not necessarily a heretic. Heresy, from the Greek hairesis, signifies a choosing; therefore a heretic is one who chooses for himself in matters of faith, thereby rejecting the authority of the Church established by Christ to teach all men the truths of revelation. (…) A person who submits to the authority of the Church and wishes to accept all her teachings, is not a heretic, even though he profess heretical doctrines through ignorance of what the Church really teaches; he implicitly accepts the true doctrine in his general intention to accept all that the Church teaches.”[9]

       Again, we see that the “profession of true faith,” required for membership in the Church, is essentially the external acknowledgment of the Church as the proximate rule and faith and submission to itsteaching authority. This bond is not severed by the profession of a heretical doctrine alone. Thus, even if one were to “prove” that a conciliar Pope made a materially heretical statement, (which itself is debatable and whose judgment belongs to the Church alone), it certainly does not “prove” that such Pope lost membership in the Church.
       As even the Sedevacantists would be forced to concede (and to the detriment of their own theory), all the conciliar Popes acknowledged the Church as the infallible rule of Faith; even if Modernism so confused their minds that they professed errors or even heresies, it would not have formally severed this external bond.  They all accepted the teaching authority of the Church, and never claimed they were willfully departing from it.
       This fact was conceded by the notorious Sedevacantist, Richard Ibranyi, who wrote the following about John Paul II:

       “John Paul II does not believe he is teaching contrary to Church dogma, at least it cannot be proven that he believes he is. JP2 not only verbally professes to be Catholic, he also verbally submits to the Catholic Church and the papacy.”[10]

       The same can be said about Pope Francis. In fact, when he was confronted with the allegation that he was a Communist, or rather, that his social doctrine appeared to be Communist, he replied by saying: 

       “I’m sure that I haven’t said anything more than what’s written in the social doctrine of the Church... I am the one following the Church… And in this it seems that I’m not wrong. I believe that I never said a thing that wasn’t the social doctrine of the Church. Things can be explained, possibly an explanation gave an impression of being a little ‘to the left,’ but it would be an error of explanation…all of this, is the social doctrine of the Church.”[11]

       Again, even if a material heresy (as opposed to a lesser degree of error) was professed by one or more of the conciliar Popes, there is absolutely no evidence that they rejected the Church as the rule of Faith, which is the essential aspect of the bond.
       Cardinal Billot also confirms that a Catholic - that is, a person who accepts the Church as the rule of faith – yet who professes a materially heretical doctrine, is not, for that fact alone, a heretic. The Cardinal further explains that a Catholic who professes heresy cannot even rightly be called a “material heretic.” As we explain in detail in our book, according to the correct usage of the term, a material heretic is a person who chooses something other than the Church as their rule of faith, whether it be the “Bible alone” or a non-Catholic preacher or sect. Cardinal Billot explains: “material heretics are those who, being in invincible ignorance of the Church herself, in good faith choose some other guiding rule.”[12]  In other words, a material heretic is an objective classification which describes someone who is a member of a non-Catholic sect. 
       The Cardinal goes on to explain that “the nature of heresy consists in withdrawal from the rule of the ecclesiastical Magisterium”[13] (which severs the formal aspect of the external bond), and not simply the profession of a heretical doctrine (the material aspect of the bond). What this also means is that even if Sedevacantists want to claim that the public “sin” of heresy causes loss of membership in the Church (without the need of the Church rendering a judgment), it would only apply in the case of those who publicly severed their submission to the Church as the rule of faith - in other words, those who publicly defected from the Faith by leaving the Church of their own will. The public “sin” of heresy would not be manifest by a person who merely professed a heretical doctrine, since, as Cardinal Billot explained, the nature of heresy does not consist of the professing a materially heretical doctrine, but in the “withdrawal from the rule of the ecclesiastical Magisterium.”

Historical Examples:

A Family Who Embraced
 Protestant Errors and Worship

       In our book True or False Pope?, we provide numerous examples of Catholics, both laymen and clerics, who held to and publicly professed materially heretical doctrines, yet who were always considered members of the Church in good standing.   
       One example is found in an article by the Sedevacantist writer, John Daly. In this historical case, we see just how “imperfectly” a person can observe the external bond of “profession of the true faith” while still remaining a member of the Church. 
       On January 10, 1907, during the pontificate of Pope St. Pius X, a parish priest submitted a question to a moral theologian on the staff at L'Ami Du Clergé, concerning a family at his parish. The members of the family were all baptized Catholics and openly professed to being Catholic, but they had stopped regularly attending Mass, sent their children to Protestant schools, and from time to time attended Protestant services themselves. They even professed Protestant heresies (false doctrines) about the Blessed Sacrament. According to Mr. Daly, they went so far as having “blasphemed the Blessed Eucharist to the parish priest, relying on typically Protestant arguments.”[14]
       Even so, the family professed that they were Catholics, not Protestants, and wanted to have their newborn children baptized by the parish priest. The priest contacted L'Ami Du Clergé for guidance in answering several questions. He wanted to know “whether the parents had incurred excommunication, whether they could be buried as Catholics, and whether, if he should manage to convert any of them, they would have to make a formal abjuration.”[15]
       L'Ami Du Clergé, a highly respected publication that was approved and even encouraged by Pope St. Pius X at the time, replied by saying that the family’s attendance at Protestant services was not proof that they intended to leave the Church (which was confirmed by the fact that they publicly declared themselves to be Catholics). Because they continued to profess being Catholics, the moral theologian concluded that, even though they publicly professed heretical doctrines about the Blessed Sacrament, “these poor misguided souls had no wish to knowingly and willingly reject the dogma of the Church concerning the Holy Eucharist.”[16]
       Mr. Daly concluded his comments on this case by saying:

       “So in evaluating the questions posed by the parish priest, the Ami du Clergé replied that the culprits were still members of the Catholic Church, were not excommunicated, had no need to make formal abjuration of their errors, but only to repair the scandal given...”[17]

       This historical example from the days of Pope St. Pius X shows us just how imperfectly a Catholic can observe the material aspect of the “profession of the true faith,” while still being considered a member of the Church.

Erasmus of Rotterdam

       Another example we can cite is that of the priest, Erasmus of Rotterdam, who was accused of heresy by some of his contemporaries due to the doctrines he professed, yet was always considered a member of the Church in good standing.
        St. Alphonsus said that Erasmus wrote in an obscure manner concerning dogma and even began to criticize the Fathers of the Church. His errors eventually became more pronounced, which led the French Dominican theologian, Noel Alexandre, to say “the more works he wrote, the more errors he published.”[18] Many Catholics openly accused him of professing heretical doctrine, and for good reason.
       St. Alphonsus said that Erasmus “called the Invocation of the Blessed Virgin and the Saints idolatry; condemned Monasteries, ridiculed the Religious…and condemned their vows and rules.”[19] He “was opposed to the Celibacy of the Clergy, and turned into mockery Papal Indulgences, relics of Saints, feasts and fasts, auricular Confession.”[20] As a prelude to Luther, he claimed “that by Faith alone man is justified, and even threw doubt on the authority of the Scripture and Councils.”[21] In one of his published books he even declared it “rash to call the Holy Ghost God.”[22]
       Certainly, Erasmus was a forerunner of the Protestant revolt, and, if he persisted in these errors at a canonical trial (by refusing to “hear the Church,” thus formally severing the bond), would have been considered a heretic even by Vatican II standards. But in spite of all his egregious, public doctrinal errors against the Faith, Erasmus was not considered a public heretic or a non-member of the Church by his contemporaries, or even by the Popes reigning at the time. Rather, as St. Alphonsus reported, Erasmus was “esteemed by several Popes, who invited him to Rome, to write against Luther, and it was even reported that Pope Paul III intended him for the Cardinalship.”[23] After listing the above errors and heresies professed by Erasmus of Rotterdam, St. Alphonsus concludes his historical account of his life by saying: “We may conclude with Bernini, that he died with the character of an unsound Catholic, but not a heretic, as he submitted his writings to the judgment of the Church.”[24]
       Now, what would the Sedevacantists of our day say about a Pope (or a Cardinal or bishop) who referred to the Invocation of the Blessed Virgin and the saints idolatry, mocked indulgences, relics, fasting and confession, and declared it rash to call the Holy Ghost God, as did Eramus? Would they “discern” that he did not sufficiently profess the true faith to be a member of the Church? To ask the question is to answer it. The case of Erasmus only highlights how erroneous is the Sedevacantists “tribal myth” concerning the “profession of the true faith, which Derksen has fallen for hook, line and sinker. 

Doctor Michel de Bay

       One more example taken from our book is that of Doctor Michel de Bay. The de Bay case is of particular interest because it involves St. Robert Bellarmine himself. By considering this historical case, we can see how St. Bellarmine reacted to a highly educated professor and celebrated theologian of his own day who was publicly professing false doctrines and even heresy.  As we will see, even though Bellarmine personally “discerned” that de Bay was professing heresy, he did not consider this to have severed “the profession of the true Faith,” and cause him to lose his membership in the Church.
       Doctor Michel de Bay was born in 1513. He completed his university studies at Louvain and was ordained in 1541. After serving as the principal for Standonk College from 1541 to 1544, he was given the chair of philosophy. He held this position until 1550 when he earned the degree of Doctor of Theology and was appointed President of the College Adrien. He was also invited to take part in the great Council of Trent.
       In spite of his learning, he possessed a love of novelty and a disdain for Scholasticism. One author noted that “a pronounced vice in his character was the ease with which he called heretics all those who failed to agree with his theological ideas, which, of course, he considered to be manifestly the only orthodox ones.” Shortly after being appointed President of the College Adrien, de Bay began to teach and spread errors and heresies. It got so bad that in 1561, Pope Pius IV, through Cardinal Granvelle, imposed silence upon him, which de Bay failed to obey. On October 1, 1567, Pope St. Pius V signed the Bull, Ex Omnibus Afflictionibus, which condemned more than 70 of de Bay’s propositions, with several being qualified as heretical. The Bull was sent privately to de Bay before being published. What was his response?  Michel de Bay refused to retract his doctrinal errors, and instead defended himself. St. Pius V responded by publishing the condemned propositions, yet he refrained from naming de Bay personally.
       It was not until the papal Bull was sent to the university that de Bay finally submitted to the condemnations (at least externally) and subscribed with the other professors. However, when the Bull was later made public, he again defended himself and his errors (even though they had been formally condemned by the Church), by claiming that the doctrines he held were nothing but that of St. Augustine. He further defended himself by saying that if some of his teachings were “at variance with the terminology of the Scholastics, they were yet the genuine sayings of the Fathers.”[25]
        It was during this time that St. Robert Bellarmine arrived at Louvain as a professor of theology. From 1570 to 1576, Bellarmine publicly opposed the false doctrines of de Bay in his lectures, but without ever naming him personally. As the Sedevacantist, John Daly, noted in his article on de Bay, when Bellarmine spoke of de Bay, “he always considered him as a learned Catholic, most worthy of respect, and at this time called him ‘prudent, pious, humble, erudite.’”[26] Yet in spite of this pubic respect for the person of de Bay, St. Bellarmine continued to hope for a new condemnation of his errors. The second condemnation would come in the year 1579, after the election of Pope Gregory XIII, in the Bull Provisionis Nostræ.
       Around this time, Bellarmine was replaced at Louvain by Venerable Leonard Lessius. By way of preparatory information, Bellarmine told Lessius that, in his opinion, the doctrine of de Bay and his disciples on predestination was heretical. Lessius later wrote to St. Bellarmine, who had been transferred to Rome, and informed him that de Bay “continued to spread his errors in private, even after the new condemnation, and sometimes even in public,” and that “his numerous disciples propagated them with great enthusiasm.”[27] Bellarmine  advised Lessius to continue to oppose these errors in his lectures, but without ever naming de Bay personally or condemning the man who was the source of so much evil, and the precursor of the heresy of Jansenism.
       After relating the history of Michel de Bay and St. Bellarmine (which is entirely consistent with what we wrote above), John Daly posed the following question:

       “Now in the light of this account, one is forced to ask whether some Sedevacantists in our day are not very much prompter than St. Robert Bellarmine was in identifying pertinacity, and more animated by the bad example of de Bay himself than by the good example of St. Robert and of the Ven. Leonard Lessius.”[28]

       Daly concludes by saying:

       “[I]f the Church presumes all who go astray in doctrine to be pertinacious, St. Robert Bellarmine was clearly not aware of it. And while it can be possible to recognize someone as a pertinacious heretic even before the intervention of the Holy See, the fact remains that St. Robert was slower to draw that conclusion, even after several Roman condemnations, than some are today when relying only on their own judgment of what seems evident.”[29]

       We certainly applaud Mr. Daly for his honest and true assessment of the Sedevacantist mindset, but it is a mindset that he also ultimately embraces along with his Sedevacantist colleagues, who put “their own judgment of what seems evident” ahead of “the judgment of the Church,” when it is a question of who holds the papal office.
       And to Daly’s questions, we will add our own: Do Sedevacantists consider Michael de Bay to have sufficiently “professed the faith” to retain his membership in the Church, given the fact that he was professing doctrinal errors and heresies that were formally condemned by the Church?  If not, why?  How is de Bay any different than prelates in our day who profess errors, and perhaps even heresies, yet are considered by the Church to be members in good standing?    
       What the de Bay case and the previous examples show us is that the tribal myth of the Sedevacantists regarding the “profession of the true faith” is not supported by tradition, or by the actions of their favorite saint, Robert Bellarmine. Even though Bellarmine considered the doctrines de Bay’s professed to be heretical, he did not declare him a “manifest heretic” as Sedevacantists no doubt would do; nor did he claim that de Bay had severed the external bond of the “profession of faith,” and thereby lost his membership in the Church.
       Now, maybe we can understand why Derksen & Company have never cited a single authority to support their “tribal myth” that an individual layman in the pew can publicly declare that a man elected Pope by the Church, and accepted as such by the Church, is a false Pope, simply because they personally “discern,” by considering his doctrinal teaching, that he does not sufficiently “profess the faith.” The absurdity of the tribal myth is clear evidence that today’s Sedevacantists have completely misunderstood what is meant by “the profession of the true Faith” and how the bond is severed. This is yet another nail in the Sedevacantist coffin.  

[1] De Ecclesia Militante, ch.2.
[2] Needless to say, Sedevacantists are not members of the Church, since, at a minimum, they have formally severed their bond of unity with the Pope and the legitimate hierarchy. Further, those Sedevacantists who have managed to get themselves ordained as bishops lack ordinary jurisdiction, and therefore are not legitimate pastors either.
[3] “The Chair is Still Empty,”
[4] Matatics, Compact Disc (“CD”) talk entitled, “Counterfeit Catholicism vs. Consistent
Catholisism,” Second Edition 2008 (Revised and Expanded), disc 4 of 6, track 9.
[5] The Church of Christ, p. 126.
[6] Ibid.
[7] The Church of Christ, p. 126.
[8] The Catechism of the Council of Trent, p. 96
[9] The Church of Christ, p. 128.
[10] Ibranyi, “Against John Lane,” December 2009 (emphasis added).
[11] Pope Francis (September 22, 2015). See Catholic News Agency’s report at http://www.
[12] Billot, De Ecclesia Christi, 3rd ed. (Prati: ex officina libraria Giachetti, 1909), p. 292.
[13] Ibid.
[14] John Daly, Heresy in History, May, 2000.
[15] Ibid.
[16] Ibid.
[17] Ibid
[18] Liguori, The History of Heresies, and Their Refutation, vol. I, (Dublin: Published by James
Duffy, Wellington Qua, 1847), Chapter XL, p. 291.
[19] Ibid.
[20] Ibid.
[21] Ibid.
[22] Ibid., p. 292.
[23] Ibid.
[24] Ibid.
[25] Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), vol. II (Michel de Bay or ‘Baius’), p. 209.
[26] John Daly, “Heresy in History,” May 2000.
[27] Ibid.
[28] Ibid.
[29] Ibid.