“Steve, what do you think of the sedevacantists?”

by Steve Ray on December 7, 2020

downloadFor starters, sedevacantists are those who believe the chair of Peter is empty, from the Latin sede-chair and vacante-empty. It is the belief we have no legitimate pope since around the 1960’s with various dates proposed.

Someone wrote to me today and asked,

Hi Steve. I have seen you around the internet and have learned a great deal about Catholicism from you. I was wondering if you’ve heard of Sedevacantism and what your thoughts are on the subject. I’m guessing you will be pretty knowledgeable about this and would like your expertise. Is it possible and why or why not. I understand you are a busy man but I would really like your insights on this. Thank you.

I responded,

God bless you and thanks for your kind words. With the Church in the sad, abysmal state that she is currently in, I understand the angst many people feel and I join you in that. With a Pope who has caused great confusion instead of clarity, weak-kneed bishops, closed churches, sex scandals, uncatechized faithful and more — I too am frustrated. However…

When I joined the Catholic Church 26 years ago I quickly identified the extreme Left (the liberals who want women priests, LGBT acceptance, liturgical dance, etc.) and I stayed as far away from them as possible.

Secondly, I identified the extreme-Right (those rejecting Vatican II, saying we have no pope, rejecting the Novus Order, etc.) and I stayed away from them with equal fervor.

I do this no matter what organization or society I join. Some converts joined the Catholic Church and got enticed into one or the other of these heady and seductive schismatic-minded groups. It is like jumping on a horse and falling off the other side.

Jesus is building his Church. It is not about our current Pope, or bishops who are more politicians than pastors, or the multiple problems in today’s Church. It is about Jesus. It is his Church and he is the one I trust.

download (1)There have always been good popes and bad popes, strong and spineless bishops, problems and sin. There has never been a Golden Age in the Church. Every generation thinks, “Oh my, the Church is falling apart, the Pope and bishops are bad, evil prevails, schism looms, etc.” You would think that it was a Golden Age under the great Apostle St. Paul. Just read 1 and 2 Corinthians to have that myth shot to hell.

I eschew the sedevacantists like I reject the schism of Luther and others who divide the Church, cause confusion and assert themselves as “their own popes and councils.”

Jesus said to the Twelve, “Will you also go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:67–68)

Stay with Jesus, stay with his Church, stay with all the great converts who have joined the Church in the last 30 years and who have no thought to follow such radicals. The chair is not empty. It is filled by a man with all the imperfections of men, but Jesus still reigns and I for one will stay with him and the Church and pray, work, teach and remain faithful.

Remember, Mother Teresa, who also loved and stayed true to the one, holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church said, “He does not require us to be successful, only to be faithful.”

God bless you! Below is a video with Jimmy Akin about the problems with sedevacantists.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

John S December 7, 2020 at 10:37 AM

I was born in 1962 so the very first mass I went to was the Latin Mass. I remember very little of it. The Novus Ordo mass is what I have been to most of my life. Our diocese offers the Latin Mass and I have attended it a few times. I am surprised how big a difference there is between the two masses. If I didn't know anything about it, I would think these where two different Christian Demoninations.

I have read a book by Dr Peter Kwasniewski called "Reclaiming Our Roman Catholic Birthright." Very informative on the changes to the mass.

I'm not sedavacationist, but from lived experiences going to mass I can see why some people would think there is a problem with Pope since VII.

STEVE RAY HERE: Thanks for writing and I sure appreciate your experience and observations. The one thing I would suggest that the breakdown of the liturgy is not the fault of the popes. Vatican II made changes that were accepted by good popes like John Paul II and Benedict. Most of the problems came with liberal priests and bishops who wanted to implement very modernist ideas and did not follow Vatican II correctly but followed what is called “the spirit of Vatican II“ which is very different than what the Counsel taught. They subverted the council and the Mass The way it was supposed to be reverently celebrated.

God bless you and keep up the good work and always stay faithful to the church.

Anthony McDowell December 7, 2020 at 3:18 PM

Even in these times of covid, it is "with equal fervor" not "with equal fever."


John S December 7, 2020 at 3:34 PM

Thanks Steve for your reply. I have heard that VII wasn't implemented properly because of the "Spirit of Vatican II". For a long time I bought into that thinking also. But I think VII documents and the direction of the popes must have been vague enough that all the irregularities we see in the mass and Church are in line with VII. I would think after 50 years the Church would have clarified any misunderstandings by now. I will keep praying for the Church that we follow the will of Christ.

STEVE RAY HERE: After Vatican II there were a lot of liberals hovering like vultures to “highjack the council” and to a great degree they did. They followed a myth called “the spirit of Vatican II” which was what they “wanted” it to be, not what it was. The best thing people can do is vote with your feet by finding a good church with a reverent Mass and a devout priest. We have found several such parishes and are very happy. Stay with the Church!

Matthew B December 9, 2020 at 1:34 AM

Hello Steve,

There is a difference between a bad Pope and one who is a blatant non-Catholic, as Francis most patently is in light of his public and manifest heresies.

The Novus Ordo Missae was a substantial and essential change in the Traditional Latin Rite, as argued and copiously documented by Fr. Cekada in his book "Work of Human Hands: A Theological Critique of the Mass of Paul VI".

In addition, Vatican II promulgated doctrines which had previously been condemned as heretical or erroneous, particularly on matters of religious liberty, ecumenism, and episcopal collegiality. To assert that liberal bishops and priests following "the spirit of Vatican II" is the reason for our current troubles – as though it were contrary to what the Council actually professed and ushered in – rings hollow over half a century later.

You say that sedevacantists introduce disorder and confusion into the Church with a straight face, even as Francis wreaks theological havoc and gives people license to continue in their sins thanks to his magisterial teaching. The disunity among sedevacantists can only be expected, for the principle of unity in the Church on earth is the Pope; if there isn't one, of course there's going to be chaos and disorder.

Where is the essential unity in faith and morals for the religion which professes Francis to be the Pope?

STEVE RAY HERE: Matthew, thanks for your comment and your irenic and kind tone. I am moderating in favor of your response, even though I disagree, because of your gentle and respectful style.

Though I have no love lost for this pope is well known. I gave a talk soon to appear on YouTube entitled ““How can a John Paul II Catholic Survive in a Pope Francis World”. However, he is the Pope, whether I like his style, his teaching or his emphasis. His recently op ed in the NYT leaves me cringing and frustrated. I stopped trying to defend him years ago. However, he is the pope and we have to deal with it. There have been good popes and bad popes and even popes condemned as heretics by councils (Honorius).

You accuse him of manifest heresy but provide no proof. Heresy is a word that is carefully defined and I think too often used cavalierly these days. The Novus Ordo is changed from the Tradtitional Latin Mass, but that in itself does not make it heretical or illicit. Latin was not the original Mass — it was first celebrated in Aramaic, later in Greek and then Later in Latin. There are Catholic Masses today that are neither the Latin Mass nor the Novus Ordo in other rites of the Catholic Church. But the fact that the Novus Ordo has been hijacked in many quarters by loopy priests, does not make it invalid.

You make a very strong claim with your words, “Vatican II promulgated doctrines which had previously been condemned as heretical or erroneous.” There may have been different emphasis or explanation, but Vatican II did not approve of heresies condemned before. Maybe new emphasis (like salvation outside the Church) but it did not approve heresy. This is being a little footloose with language and facts I would suggest.

You ask, “Where is the essential unity in faith and morals for the religion which professes Francis to be the Pope?” I agree there is confusion and the Left loves to jump on his careless and misguided statements (especially on planes), but there unity still exists in the documents and faith of the Church. When this pope is gone and hopefully a more astute pope sits on the chair of Peter, this confusion will be rectified, but it certainly won’t be by new schisms and reactionary divisions.

Disagreements and inhouse fighting is expected and encouraged in a manner, but dividing or causing a schism is a very grave evil and is almost impossible to heal, e.g., the Protestant Deformation.

But though we may disagree, I love you brother and thank God for our mutual faith and concern. God bless you and Merry Christmas.

CESARE FORGIONE December 11, 2020 at 12:29 AM

Hi Steve,
Do you ever attend Mass in the Traditional Latin Rite? Do you consider people who attend this Mass as far right extremists?
Kind Regards,

Steve Ray Here: I have attended such a mess but I do not on a regular basis. I do not consider people from the Latin mass to be extremists, but if they use it as a political statement that Vatican II is invalid, than I do.

Restoration December 19, 2020 at 10:53 PM

Hi Steve:

We are not sedevacantists, but "benevacantists" as we are among a growing group who do not recognize Benedict's abdication as valid. So, we acknowledge the one and only living Pope: B16. Men of goodwill can certainly disagree on this point, but you should allow room for those who see Jorge Bergolio as a usurper and fraud.

The Pachamama idol worship was enough for us to know with certainty that something is seriously and gravely wrong in Rome…far more than a "bad Pope".

Please read Fr. Z post here:


I hope you will read Taylor Marshall's book Infiltration and Bishop Schneider's outstanding book Christus Vincit as both lend credence to those who argue that Benedict XVI is the only Pope.

STEVE RAY HERE: You may be a growing group, but I cannot join or condone your misinformed direction. Benedict himself said he resigned. Whatever the reasons, and whether we were/are happy about it, which I am not, it happened. A new pope was elected whether we like that or not. This pope is a serious problem, no doubt. That is why I gave a talk “How can a John Paul II Catholic Survive in a Pope Francis World”.

But lots of people also thought JP II was too liberal, especially when he kissed the Koran and other such things. No matter who joins the resistance, it does not make it so. I do disagree with you.

Darryl B January 3, 2021 at 10:04 PM

If a chair is regarded as vacant, wouldn't that imply that it can never ever be re-seated?

STEVE RAY HERE: God question!

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