Eastern Sedevacantism?

Friday, September 16, 2011

I myself got a taste of the ludicrous polemics of sedevacantism—the heresy which holds that there is no real pope on earth and that Popes John XXIII up to Benedict XVI were/is (an) impostor/s—anti-popes, a typical sedevacantist would call them. This ideology springs from misinterpretations of the reforms of Second Vatican Council. Sedevacantists believe that the Church had fallen into error because of Vatican II, when as a matter of fact; the council never defined any dogma at all and was purely pastoral—those which changed were the disciplines and not the dogmas.

Sedevacantism is very much prominent in the Latin Church. We have the examples of the Dimond Brothers and the Society of St. Pius V. But apparently, there are also sedevacantists on the Eastern front, specifically ones that call themselves the Ukrainian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church.

This organization was founded by seven bishops who were former UGCC priests and is based in Pidhirsti, Ukraine. They have declared Pope Benedict XVI as excommunicated, along with more or less 10,000 bishops of the Catholic Church worldwide and 265 theologians from the Pontifical Gregorian University. The excommunication against the Holy Father was declared not long ago, on May 1, 2011.

The current Patriarch of this movement is Anthony Elias Dohnal, who announced that he and some others were consecrated as bishops, since the UGCC was falling into heresy and is on the verge of apostasy. On their website, they posted the following:
Our orthodox Catholic Bishops’ Synod pointed out last year the heresies of Card. L. Husar which violate the very essence of the Christian faith. The Cardinal did not present a single explanatory argument against the accusation of heresies. Unfortunately, the whole Synod of the UGCC manifested their unity with him and with his heresies. Instead of dealing with the most essential problem, i.e. L. Husar’s proclamation of heresies, they took his side and help him towards the liquidation of the orthodox Catholic faithful. The heresies are as follows:
  1. casting doubt on the Divinity of Christ
  2. casting doubt on the Virginity of the Mother of God
  3. casting doubt on the eternity of hell
  4. propagation of occultism and syncretism
  5. divination by pendulum
  6. approval of homosexuality and of doctrinal and moral relativism
  7. casting doubt on the primacy and infallibility of the Pope
  8. propagation of reincarnation
They have—as a matter of fact—not provided any basis for the accusations against Lubomyr Husar above. In my opinion the accusations are just slanderous and way out. Was Lubomyr Husar really guilty of the accusations? I highly doubt it.

Although some would assert that the UOGCC is not a sedevacantist organization, their excommunications against Pope Benedict XVI and Bl. John Paul II have in fact proven their belief of the Church as with their declaration below:
The Byzantine Catholic Patriarchate by authority of the apostolic and prophetic office in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ obliges before God all Catholics in conscience and promulgates:
  • Beatification of the deceased Pope John Paul II is invalid.
  • The deceased Pope John Paul II (Gal 1:8-9) excommunicated himself from the Church of Christ. The reason was his apostatical gesture in Assisi by which he opened the Church to the spirit of antichrist.
  • By beatification of the spirit of Assisi – the spirit of antichrist – Pope Benedict XVI likewise excommunicated himself from the Church of Christ.[1]
(By believing that the Church had fallen into apostasy concerning Bl. John Paul II’s participation in the Assisi affair, it seems as if the UOGCC—like many sedevacantist organizations—adheres to Pius XI’s Mortalium Animos, which did not reiterate dogma but merely issued a norm of discipline.)

Furthermore, they themselves have admitted to believing that the Church is in the state of sedes vacantis:
As from 1st May 2011, the Church is in a sedes vacantis state. Every priest is now obliged to dissociate himself from the spirit of Assisi before the faithful. He must no longer mention the name of the apostate Benedict XVI or of the apostate bishop in the Liturgy. If he remains in unity with the spirit of apostasy, then, as an apostate, he celebrates the Liturgy invalidly. The Byzantine Catholic Patriarchate is now commissioned by God to protect the orthodox doctrine of the Catholic Church, including the Latin Church. Only after an orthodox Catholic hierarchy and an orthodox successor to the Papacy is elected, will the Patriarchate be relieved of this God-given duty. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed![2]
Blatantly, the UOGCC has indeed declared itself to be a sedevacantist organization, falling into the errors of the sedevacantist heresy, which apparently has more to do with its problems with the changes of Church discipline instead of Church dogma, the latter which never changed.

It seems as if on that on the Eastern front, misinterpretations of Vatican II and some writings of the popes before John XXIII have also caused this sort of whim. Will we be seeing a new pope—a Slavic pope, like the “anti-Christ” Ivan Pavla[3]—emerging from Ukraine anytime soon? Or has a new pope already been elected somewhere in the Mid-West? How does sedevacantism make sense from a theological perspective again? Beats me; ask a sede.

By Jared Dale T. Combista

[1] Ukrainian Orthodox Greek-Catholic Church, Declaration of an excommunication upon Pope Benedict XVI and John Paul II
[2] Ibid.
[3] I’m being sarcastic here—hope nobody takes offense.


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