The Fairytale of Independent Catholicism

Steve Speray Trying to Convince Me to be Sedevacantist

In a back and forth on Steve Speray’s website, I asked: “Under what condition do you think sacraments would be “impossible” if not now, when there are no known canonically sent priests?” to which Steve responded: 

“There’s this thing called death, which makes it impossible. That’s why we have Baptism of desire in case of dying without baptism. The same would apply to Confession. Death would make it impossible. There are, of course, other circumstances such as the Japanese living without priests at all for hundreds of years. The reason why they have the desire clause under the necessity of receiving baptism and confession is to stress the importance of the sacrament but also that it’s possible to be saved without them both. It answers the question, what if?” (Emphasis added).

Did you catch that? Steve admits that, when there are no priests, the sacraments would be impossible. This may sound like a small admission, but it actually completely destroys any argument for necessity to lift the laws regarding the requirement for canonical mission and appointment to lawfully exercise holy orders. In simple terms, men do not need to break the laws of the Church, or, as Steve would have us say, let the law cease on account of necessity, to receive the sacraments, because the law itself already provides for the kind of necessity we find ourselves in. The law does not say that, in the case of necessity, one may ignore the law (because it is no longer binding), and go and get oneself some holy orders and exercise the sacerdotal ministry without being sent by any lawful superior. The law does say that, in the time of necessity when it is impossible to receive the sacraments, one’s desire for them satisfies as a substitute for the sacraments themselves, as even Steve’s own article mentions, albeit in a footnote:

“As Christ instituted the Sacraments and bound them up with the communication of grace they are necessary to us for the achievement of salvation (necessitate medii), even if not all are necessary for each individual. The efficacious reception of a Sacrament can, in case of necessity, be replaced by the desire for the Sacrament (votum sacramenti) (hypothetical necessity),” (Emphasis added).

But I would like to turn my attention to these mysterious Japanese Catholics Steve refers to. That there were hundreds of years without priests in Japan–the lifting of the ban of Christianity in Japan was in 1873 and in 1644 was recorded the last missionary martyr, the number of years the Japanese Catholics were without priests is over two-hundred thirty–is not important. The time has nothing to do with the possibility or impossibility of receiving the sacraments. That there were no priests who were available to receive sacraments from is all that matters. But if time had anything to do with it, it would show that, even after a grave number of decades without priests, the Japanese still refused to do what Sedevacantists think they had every reason to do without the excuse of so long a lapse of time, something like two decades instead of twenty.

So what did the Japanese do without priests? Whatever they did besides what a quick search on the internet reveals, they didn’t make themselves priests. The most unorthodox among them turned the ancient practice of veneration of the saints into pagan ancestor worship, but they didn’t make priests for themselves. They transmitted the faith orally through biblical stories and prayers, and the Hidden Christian communities actually appointed lay leaders for religious services, but they didn’t make priests for themselves. These Kakure Kirishitan had Mizukata, or “secret posts,” to which were assigned Catholics who would baptize the children of the underground community, but they didn’t make priests for themselves. The reason being, of course, is that the many missionaries who had planted Catholicism there in the fertile soul-soil of the Japanese, though during a hostile weather of civil war, must have inculcated the notion that, even when things got tough, you let the laws of the Church guide you, instead of thinking you know better.

And that is perhaps the point of this whole thing, isn’t it? I mean, isn’t it that the Sedevacantists think they know better than the Church? They are not guided by the Church by their own admission, for if they have determined that the law has ceased to bind them, then their only authority becomes, not the law, since it has ceased, but their own human prudence, what they have determined to be expedient in this time of necessity. Thus, we see that not only are holy orders expedient for the remnant Church, but also seminaries, because, logically, one must have seminaries to have priests, right? Further, it becomes expedient to have convents as well, because we need our nuns to teach our children via the latest and greatest telecommunication technologies, don’t we? And so many other ways in which the law, having ceased, as caused religious anarchy, or the exact contradiction of holy orders.

At the end of the day, after all the arguments have been heard, a picture emerges as to what this is all really about, and it is perhaps not what you may think: This is about power. I do not mean the poor laity who believe in the clergy want power, or are motivated by a desire for power, because they are the subjects. I mean that the clergy, for all their denial of authority, actually hunger and thirst, not after righteousness but after spiritual, and, let’s face it, physical dominion. As the BC teaches:

984. The Church possesses and confers on her pastor, the power of orders and the power of jurisdiction; that is, the power to administer the Sacraments and sanctify the faithful, and the power to teach and make laws that direct the faithful to their spiritual good. A bishop has the full power of orders and the Pope alone has the full power of jurisdiction.

The idea of power is inextricably linked to holy orders, because that is precisely what it confers, the power to do and to arrange spiritual and temporal things according to one’s own will–since the laws of the Church, you will remember, no longer cease to bind. The office of priest is both an office of power and also dignity, the very highest dignity of all offices, because it was instituted by the most dignified, the Most High:

996. Christians should look upon the priests of the Church as the messengers of God and the dispensers of His mysteries.

999. We should show great respect to the priests and bishops of the Church: 
   1. Because they are the representatives of Christ upon earth, and
   2. Because they administer the Sacraments without which we cannot be saved. Therefore, we should be most careful in what we do, say or think concerning God’s ministers. To show our respect in proportion to their dignity, we address the priest as Reverend, the bishop as Right Reverend, the archbishop as Most Reverend, and the Pope as Holy Father.

The Sedevacantist priest is looked upon as a messenger from God, and one who holds within his own venerable and consecrated hands the power to save you. He is also to be looked on as a dignitary of God, and ambassador from Heaven. For the spiritual man, the faithful Catholic in the pew, the priest is more important than the president of the United States. How is that not an ego boost? How does that for even the most pure of hearts, not tempt one to think more highly of oneself than what is perhaps just? And how, and perhaps this is the point, is it not utterly necessary for the good of souls to ensure such power of holy orders is not conferred on an unworthy man by the safeguards established by the Church, written into the Code of Canon Law, promulgated in Ecumenical Councils, and time and again repeated both in Holy Scripture and by Roman Pontiffs down through the ages, that, unless a man be sent, he should not presume to act in God’s name.

I am sure I will get a lot of backlash from this assertion that what is really at the back of all this is a quest for power. People will accuse me of rash judgment, of being uncharitable toward Sedevacantist priests, who are good-willed and pure intentioned and only want to help their fellow Catholics out by assuming the role of priest in their lives, and provide them with the sacraments. I am sure there are those who do so, but the majority, probably not the minority, do not. And as for those men who went and got themselves consecrated bishop, you really have to wonder if not every single one was after power. With the exception of McGuire of Saint Gertrude the Great who was named by the late Daniel Dolan as his own successor, have not all the Sedevacantist bishops sought out their own episcopal consecration? How un-Catholic does it get? Instead of the Bishop of Rome sifting through candidates for the episcopate and approving proven and holy men for the bishopric office in the Church, these supposedly Catholic men with supposed vocations from God rush half-demented men like Thuc or more than half-heretical men like Lefebvre for consecrations, and perpetuate the cycle from generation to generation, and we are naively to believe that they have the care of souls in mind? Pardon me, but I’m not so credulous to believe men are so good as all that, whenever outward appearance proves that they are only after power and the privilege of office.

I wonder now, coming to my conclusion of this post, whether there isn’t something more to this power thing than I even realized at first. I wonder if it’s not at all a mere coincidence that there seems to be a disproportionally large number of American Sedevacantist bishops to any other nation in the world. The word is Independent Catholicism and Independent Priests. Funny how I never saw it before: Japan, which has never been truly free from dictatorial rule, never had a mind to think they could do anything without Rome, even baptize, whereas America, which had its origins in a handful of men who desired above all power and who declared independence of the lawful authority of the Crown for too much tea tax, is also the very same nation today which has a handful of men saying that they are independent priests and bishops. The question is, independent of what? The answer is this crown.

Independent Catholicism is a fairytale, a story of make-believe and make-yourself-priests, which has been told to children in the faith for far too long. It is time to stop telling stories, and get back to telling the truth: We are in the Apocalypse. The Great Apostasy has already happened, and we are living through its aftermath. There are no known priests in the world, because God has preordained it to be so, and no matter how much we might want there to be sacraments to help us, these, with the priests, have been taken away as a punishment for our sins. Those who say that they are priests and bishops of the Catholic Church are liars and thieves who have not entered by the gate but have climbed over the wall. They did not come to us in the name of God; they came to us in their own name: I am come in the name of my Father, and you receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him you will receive. 

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