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Your Own Understanding

Someone asked me once about Sedevacantism (the belief that the current Pope is not a valid Pope and that, therefore, the Holy See is empty). There are many avenues that I could go down in responding to this issue for him. The one that is the most troubling is not what you may think. It is, actually, the aspect of Sedevacantism that has the gravest repercussions for those who fall into this way of thinking.

Except during the Avignon Papacy (when there were competing Popes) it has normally been the responsibility of a subsequent Pope to make the determination of the errors of a previous Pope. This means that we (all of the rest of us) do not have the authority (or the responsibility) to make this determination. Anyone who thinks that they can do so, is apparently leaning on their own understanding (something condemned in Scripture; Proverbs 3:5 etc.). That is not only prideful to do so, but it is also dangerous because it means that someone of that frame of mind will do so in other areas of life as well.

We do not know all things, and we certainly do not know all of the details of what a Pope does (regardless of whether we think that we do). Yes, the evidence may be clear to us, but it is only conclusive if we have comprehensive knowledge of all things (and only God has that). There have been bad Popes in the past and there will (likely) be bad Popes in the future. Even if we struggle with what the Holy Father says and does, we must find humility and leave the determination of his status up to those who have that responsibility. Instead of being certain about the status of Pope Francis, let us be certain that God knows, and that He will lead us into all truth at the right time. In the meantime: pray.


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