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Monday, September 11, 2023

Please! Don't Follow Fr. Altman into the Labyrinth!

Fr. James Altman
I received an email from a friend today who is disillusioned with the pope. (What serious Catholic isn't?) I was sorry to see her saying she totally agrees with Fr. Altman's recent statements and decision to embrace sedevacantism. I do not! 

Perhaps I misunderstood my friend's remarks, because she ended her email saying we all need to stick to tradition. I certainly agree with that! But I truly regret what Fr. Altman. is doing even though his criticism of the pope is legitimate. He is popular and many Catholics are likely to follow him -- but where to? 

They are disgusted with the treatment Fr. Altman received from his bishop when he was forced into the growing group of canceled priest. I'm disgusted too. In fact, I wrote an open letter to his bishop at the time (2020) which was published on LifeSiteNews. But I cannot follow Fr. Altman down a convoluted path that leads to chaos and further confusion for the faithful. Yes, his criticism of the pope is legitimate; but one can remain united with Peter even when, like One Mad Mom writes, he resembles the Emperor with no clothes.

In response to my friend's email, I wrote this slightly edited response:

I agree we need to stick to tradition, but there have been other liars on the chair of Peter and I do not follow the sedevacantists who do not have the authority to dethrone a pope. Sedevantism seems to me to be neo-Protestantism. While I agree with much of what Fr. Altman has said in the past, I think what he is doing now is unfortunate. I don't condemn him; we all have to follow our own consciences. Mine does not lead me on that labyrinthian path.


I’m almost finished with Bishop Schneider’s book on the Mass and then will read The Springtime that Never Came. Peter Kwasniewski did a review of that book which mentioned a bit of what Bishop Schneider said about sedevacantim which he repudiates. 


Bishop Schneider argues against sedevacantism by saying that it fundamentally misconstrues the finite and conditional place of the pope within the reality of the Church and, more grievously, mistrusts God’s Providence over history:

I would also say that ultimately I detect in this attitude of sedevacantism a lack of faith in the Providence of God, in the fact that God governs the world, that He is the Lord of the Church. Another error is concealed here: identifying the pope with the Church. The pope is not the Church. The pope is a member of the Church. He is a part of the Church. The Church as a whole is stronger than a heretical pope. And for a certain time, the Church is able to withstand the rule of a heretical pope. The Church is a work of God and has means of defense even against such a potential threat as a heretical pope. For example, the bishops can declare a universal crusade of prayer, acts of penance, and fasting for the conversion of such a pope. They can also clearly preach the Catholic teaching, especially on those points that were obfuscated by the pope’s heretical words. They can plead for God’s intervention. All these are means that presuppose that the Church is first of all a supernatural community. We are not a political party. If we were a party, normal secular means could be used to get rid of the leader. But the Church is not a political party. The Church is the Mystical Body of Christ, a supernatural community. (299–300) 
The sedevacantist labyrinth -- the land of confusion!

No, I cannot go the way of sedevacantism. I agree with Bishop Schneider that such a “solution” leads to the same situation in the past when there was a pope and anti-pope (or more than one anti-pope). It is the same situation that led to the Great Western Schism with the Avignon popes, a time of great confusion for Holy Mother Church and the faithful. It seems to me that the sedevacantists lead the Church into more chaos. I don't condemn them; the crisis is real. But I think they would do better to fast and pray for Pope Francis while they promote the truths of tradition. I have no problem with confronting the pope’s errors,  but sedevacantism is not the answer in my opinion. I trust Bishop Schneider on that.  

And so I cling to the faith of the Fathers of the Church and holy Tradition and Scripture, but I will stay with what the sedevacantists call “the ape church.” No, she is not an "ape Church," she is our holy Mother held hostage by evil men. But she continues even when a bad pope sits on her throne. In reality, he will not be there much longer. Which leads me to a serious question.

What will the sedevacantists do when Pope Francis dies? Will they declare any conclave illegitimate and hold their alternate conclave and elect their own pope? What a labyrinth that would be, or should I say rabbit hole?


  1. One path: “It is an ape church”.
    Another path: “She is our holy Mother held hostage by evil men”.

    Between these two premises lies an irreconcilable gulf … and eternal consequences.

    Choose wisely. Choose carefully.

    One thing I know: the Holy RC Body of Christ will never die until She is glorified and raised to heaven at the Eschaton - suffer, yes … just as at Calvary no doubt, in Christ’s seeming defeat; die, no … just as those Apostles were deceived to think, who knew not who Jesus truly was, until everything suddenly changed in a moment for them in His resurrection and His final explanation, His correction and then finally His Ascension in power.

    This is how God works … always.

    The Pope is the Vicar of Christ, Viceroy of Heaven. Controversy over a man, even over he who occupies a Sacred Throne, does not sway my faith. I worship Christ. I see the straight line that leads me to Him - which is within the Hierarchic Apostolic RC Church, and only in Her. I will remain within Her and on that line even in the face of the hurricane sulfurous winds of hell itself.

    Christ behind. Christ in front. Christ with me now.

  2. I have decided to embrace Hussitism and become a Moravian. Obviously Jan Huss was right in the 1300s and the papacy is antichrist.

  3. I understand all that. I understand the mindset, the necessity in these times to find an anchor, and the anchor has always been the church. I would never want to sift that sand under someone's feet or try to. We are all Catholics together, even when we come to different conclusions or plans. We are going to have to remember that, because we are about to be sifted. I believe that asking Bp. Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, for his resignation for the crime of being a faithful Catholic bishop is going to be a breaking point for many Catholics, a point beyond which many cannot go. I won't argue the position, and I know this is schism, but not schism faithful Catholics caused. This is on Bergoglio. I would only hope that each side does not ever forget we are not on opposite sides of the fence. To start infighting would be to give these bastards what they want. Don't do it.

  4. To be clear...I was not speaking to our excellent bloggist or commenters here. I am just speaking generally.

  5. Mary Ann, you are relatively new to Tradiland. A significant number of us who have been with the SSPX for decades, trads who stuck by Msgr. Lefebvre as certain Society priests defected to Right and to the Left during the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, have in the latter years embraced sedevacantism or, as I have, adopted sedeprivationism. Looking back at 1983, I see now that the American priests (Kelly, Sanborn, Dolan, Cekada, et al.) were correct in their assessments of the ecclesial situation. Msgr. Lefebvre was short-sighted and too eager at the time for some kind of recognition from Wojtyła. I do not attend an SSPV or other sede chapel. I still attend SSPX. However, as a state above, there are a noticable number of us old-timers who have come to accept the sede position even after resisting it for a very lobg time. It is neither chaos nor a labyrinth; it is the mysterious reality of Christ's Bride in these dark times.

  6. The real doozy is asking people to pray for his conversion to Catholicism but then also say “he’s the pope, dammit!” when Catholic theology would assure you that non-Catholics cannot be elected or hold the office. This is not just a matter of Canon Law, but divine law.

    If he is the pope, he is Catholic. And if he is not Catholic, neither is he the pope. To hold hot that he is not Catholic and that he is the pope is a self contradiction, which doesn’t metaphysically exist and is a sign that you reasoned wrongly somewhere.

  7. It is sad to see Father A. migrate to the land of the Dimond brothers. (By the way, they don't like him, as seen in their recent post about him).
    The fringe is a lonely place. Many of his influential Internet friends will abandon him. He will not be invited to speak any more.
    I fully understand anger and confusion, but when prudence disappears, you are not left with much.

  8. So a heretical pope is better than no pope at all. The "system" is more important than the Faith? If Bergoglio is the legitimate pope, by what right do you resist his authority? It'll be interesting to watch these pages to see what heretical straw it will take to break the camel's back for you. Lastly, I don't equate those who believe Francis is an anti-pope with those who are 1958 sedevacantists.....most of us would argue a conclave is needed now (I think Bergoglio's election was void due to Benedict's invalid resignation).

  9. Correction: I am not certain if a heretic can be elected pope, but post-election (formal?) heresy is incompatible with being the head of the Church, because--as Pope Pius XII taught--heresy removes one from the body of the Church, and someone who is not part of the Church obviously cannot be it's head. I am not making this up on my own authority, dogmatic theology teaches that (formal?) heretics are not in the body of the Church.

  10. Edison,

    Authority is not unlimited even for a pope. I support Pope Francis when he teaches the truth and the doctrines of the faith in line with 2000 years of faith and tradition. When he steps into papal Lala land I refuse to follow. We are Catholic by baptism, even the pope. We are Catholic even when we commit sins. True for me; true for the pope. St. Paul resisted St. Peter without claiming he had lost his office.

    1. Thus might one say I'm OK being a liberal Democrat most of the time except when they do things I don't like.
      Or, my spouse only beats me up twice a month and is nice the rest of the time so I refuse to leave him.
      Or, my brother only abused 2 of his 5 kids and it matters more to me to keep the family together so I won't abandon our relationship.
      Adolf Hitler could have been nice three days a week. THAT WOULD NOT MATTER nor would it justify any association with him or any other evil person including Jorge Bergoglio--a liar, a deceiver, and a heretic.

    2. Mary Ann, I really appreciate your constancy and good judgement in the midst of the confusion. Bp Williamson calls it Catholic schizophrenia - we all have it to some extent because the visible head (the Papacy), Rock, of the Hierarchy has been struck.

      There is no Catholic Faith if there is no hierarchy - no Pope, then no Bishops; no Bishops, then no Priests; no Priests, then no Sacraments; no Sacraments, then we are all eternally damned.

      Sedes do not lack for confidence, but their position is built on a foundation of sand - declaring the entire Hierarchy dead for 60 years past and indefinitely into the future, absent direct Divine intervention.

      This SSPX Crisis In The Faith video, Episode 34 “Is Sedevacantism The Answer To The Crisis”, respectfully summarizes the Sede premise, the facts of which we mostly agree on, then carefully explains why the Sede conclusion is not just wrong, but fatal.

      It’s an hour in length, but we’ll worth the investment of time since the stakes are so high and so many are being led to the same conclusion as the Conciliarists, but from the opposite direction if the Sede: we can have a Catholic religion without an Hierarchy, without the Pope.

      Tradition! The SSPX gets it. And they carefully, clearly can explain it to the suffering and confused. They are a gift from God, in this crisis.

    3. I never argued that popes have unlimited authority....I do have a reasonable expectation that they will not teach heresy. Again, it is a mistake to equate the Bergoglio is an anti-pope camp with 1958 sedes.
      Define "papal la la land"....are you unable to admit that Bergoglio is teaching heresy? For the record, Peter was not teaching heresy when resisted by Paul.
      Rather than acknowledging Bergoglio as an anti-pope, you've set yourself up your own arbiter of the Faith, which further undermines the office of the papacy both now and in the future.

  11. But if all it take to be Catholic is baptism, then every sect that baptizes is Catholic.

    Please don't group us all with 1958 sedevacantists.

  12. The pope now si like a father who has lost his mind, heretic words come from his mouth, but mercy on him, he Is the Pope, and until the final judgement, we have to forgive because he doesn't know what he Is doing. Pray for his salvation.

  13. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  14. Edison said, "you've set yourself up your own arbiter of the Faith."

    What a ridiculous statement! Provide some evidence. Tomorrow's post refutes sedevacantism. Note -- I don't refute it. The Church's own teachings refute it.

    1. You accept Bergoglio as a legitimate pope, but you reserve the right to override / dismiss his teachings when they don't conform to your understanding of authentic Church teaching.
      Again, what is "papal la la land"....has Bergoglio taught heresy?

    2. I am looking forward to that post, very much. Much appreciated.

  15. Incorrect. I reject the novelties that conflict with 2000 years of Church teaching in the company of the Fathers of the Church and the saints. Apparently, you believe that everything a pope says is infallible and he has the right to make up "his own teachings. That is what I mean by papal Lala land where many Catholics languish. A pope is the caretaker of the faith given to us by the Word made Flesh. He does not have the authority to change it as St. Paul makes clear in his letters.

  16. I agree with what you just wrote...a pope cannot make up his own teachings; he is to be the guardian of what has been handed down to him.
    So I'll ask the question yet again....has Bergoglio taught heresy? You keep dodging this question.
    If he has (Amoris Laetitia comes to mind), how can he be a legitimate pope?

  17. Mr Edison Frisbee
    re: "So a heretical pope is better than no pope at all."

    Between 1378 and 1418 there were three sitting popes. One each in Pisa, Rome and Avignon. Men and woman, who were later raised to the altar disagreed with one another and backed the papal claimants in Rome, Pisa and Avignon. Historians still argue which one was the true pope. Some argue that all three were heretics.

    Then and now whether there is one pope, 3-popes or 33-popes it matters not as long as we love Jesus Christ who told us that if we love Him then we must keep his commandments ( John 14:15).

    "But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" Joshua 24:15.

    God bless

    Richard W Comerford

    1. The world we live in is completely given itself over to idolatry, trespasses and sin; worships the creature over the Creator. The RC Church has joined the world and facilitates this worship. The world needs God. The world needs conversion. The world needs Jesus Christ. And we who should know better, meeting Jesus in traditional Holy Latin Mass, are fighting each other over theological theories. I have been as guilty as anyone of this, in the past. I hereby renounce that behavior. I instead agree with what you said. I will instead proclaim Jesus Christ, crucified, risen, enthroned, the power to conquer sin and death, the Gospel.

      The world needs conversion. We have work to do.

    2. Wow....if you're Catholic and it doesn't matter if we have a valid pope, may be Catholicism isn't for you.

    3. Edison,
      What specifically are you doing to convert the world to Christ? That is the only question that matters, ultimately. Not to me, necessarily. But we all answer to God almost exclusively on *that* question.

      What was on the lips of the martyrs when they went up in flames, or as the lions approached their little band? Pretty sure it wasn’t the name of the Pope, but rather the holy Name of Jesus.

      It is my experience, has been for quite some time, that the Catholic Faith, as currently practiced, is based on theological controversies and infighting over debates like this. That is not Catholicism.

      Say you win your online debate, and to much acclaim among the readership, you are declared the winner. All thereby agree that your opinion is the correct one: Bergoglio is antipope. Ok. Then what? What’s changed for you, for anyone?

  18. I think Bergoglio is an antipope. This is not sedevacantism. To be classified with the "no pope since 1958" group is just wrong!

    1. Stephen: You are correct. Sedevacantism is an entirely different religion, as Mary Ann explains in her current post on this blog: “ Refuting Sedevacantism! To Accept it Destroys the Papacy and Hierarchical Nature of the Catholic Church”.

      Disagreements over the legal occupant of the Papacy, though uncommon, are not unprecedented in Church history. As with any other error afflicting the Church, there can be, because of sin and the freedom God grants His creatures by free will, errors in Papal elections - rare, but not impossible. This is resolved through the proper Hierarchical channels *in time*, Catholic time.

      Sedevacantism, otoh, strikes at the heart of the RC Church’s essential nature and declares the entire Hierarchy, with Jesus at its head, dead, ended, null and void. The only Hierarchy remaining is in the new Hierarchy of gnostic Bishops who “know”. Going back to a self-proclaimed point in time (typically when the Vatican smoke changed from grey to white - 1958, and the presumed election of Cardinal Siri) the Papacy, Apostolic Line, Priesthood, Religious and all Sacraments are ended; all Catholics damned to hell for idolatry in perpetuity, save the tiny Sede remnant.

      Those are two very different things. As the blog post, referenced above, states: (quote) “When a pope dies and the chair is empty the Church continues through the hierarchy and their "ordinary jurisdiction" until a new pope is elected. The pope's authority disappears, but the ordinary jurisdiction of the bishops continues within the Church protecting her until a new pope is elected. They have the jurisdiction they received from Christ, through the papacy. "Jurisdiction is the power governing the Church." (end quote)

      The Sede position has fundamentally different logic which cannot hold together because it is unsupported by the Sacred Deposit of Faith - the Word of God.

  19. Who are you to declare we don't have a valid pope? Where's your authority? What ecclesiastical law makes you the arbiter?


  20. Dear Anonymous at 11:24 AM: Your statement brought to mind a verse from the great book of Sirach. Maybe this a key to a better attitude:

    My child, help your father in his old age, and do not grieve him as long as he lives; even if his mind fails, be patient with him; because you have all your faculties do not despise him.

    Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 3:12-15 NRSV-CI -


  21. Mr Frisbee:
    Re: "Wow....if you're Catholic and it doesn't matter if we have a valid pope, may be Catholicism isn't for you."

    Almighty God disagrees with you:

    "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" Mathew 28:19

    Catholicism is for everyone.

    You should try practicing it.

    God bless

    Richard W Comerford