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Dealing with a Sedevacantist Priest

Dealing with a Sedevacantist Priest


We go to Christopher in Tennessee,
Christopher you are on with Jimmy Akin, what’s your question? Hey guys,
thanks for taking my call. So my question is, how do I deal with a priest
that is borderline Sedevacantist? I say “borderline” because he doesn’t
outright say that the chair is vacant. But he does spend time during his
homilies to not only criticize the Pope but also his writings,
most recently Amoris Laetitia–which, by the way, thank you guys for your write-up
on that on the Catholic Answers website, that was immensely helpful to me, at
least as far as being able to understand what’s going on there. But back to
this predicament: Father has an interesting theory that I won’t go into
here, but basically boils down to, he doesn’t know who the valid Pope is–is
what he says–but out of an abundance of caution he still says
“Francis” during the prayers of the faithful, so it’s irksome, to say the
least. And a few of us–parishioners, that is–tried to talk to him about it and he,
for lack of better terms, pulls rank on us saying that we’re just not as studied
on the current situation as he is. I mean, I get that he’s not an Ultramontanist,
that’s fine, I can dig that. But if he’s referring to the Pope by his
given name instead of his Papal name, and criticizing him during Mass–and in his
podcast, because he’s hip on technology– is there anything that we as laypeople
can do about it if we feel that it’s inappropriate for him to do so, comma, is it
appropriate for him to do so? Okay, so you, let me make sure of something now. You’ve
already talked to him personally, right? Yes. Okay. One thing, I’ll just mention this
as just a small matter, I wouldn’t I wouldn’t sweat over the fact that he
sometimes refers to the Pope by his given name. That can sound a little
unusual to American ears, but it’s actually quite common in Europe. If you
read, like, famous Vaticanistas, you know, journalists who make a
study of the Vatican, like Sandro Magister and people like that who are quite
Orthodox, they will regularly talk about, you know, Papa,
or not just him, but for a long time they’ll say, you know, like, Papa Wojtyla. That would be John Paul II. Or Papa Ratzinger. Or Papa Bergoglio now. So that’s
actually not that uncommon. Now, if he was calling him George, well, okay, that’s a
little familiar for His Holiness. But I probably wouldn’t worry too much
about that. The thing that concerns me is that this guy is saying he’s not sure
who the Pope is. And that’s a serious thing, and it’s a very problematic thing
for a priest to say in an ordinary parish setting. I assume that you’re
going to an ordinary diocesan parish and, you know, not like some kind of
independent chapel. Is that correct, Christopher? That’s correct. Yeah, so this
is like totally over the line, for a priest who has the care of souls in a
parish, to be publicly doubting who the Pope is. That’s just way over
the line. And so you’ve tried talking to him already on your own, and I
would, I’d probably go back to him and say, “Look, this is a really unreasonable
sentiment to be expressing to the faithful, because it’s
going to scandalize them, and not just in the sense of outraging them, but tempting
them towards the sin of schism.” And–because if Father’s expressing these doubts, then
that’s going to stir up doubts on their part. And that could lead people into
schism, which is a grave sin and a canonical crime. And so for him to be
doing that is just completely pastorally irresponsible. And I’d be frank with him
and say, “You know, if you have doubts that are like this, and you’re
expressing them in public, that’s something I think you need to have a
talk with the bishop about. And so if, you know, I feel the need to let the bishop
know about this. I mean, I tried talking to you individually–” and by the way,
that’s something I always recommend. You never start by going behind somebody’s
back. You start the way our Lord said to in Matthew 18, which is talking to the
person directly. But if you don’t get the problem resolved by talking to the
person directly, then it can be necessary to escalate, and in this case, where you
have a priest publicly doubting in front of the faithful whether the Pope is the
Pope, that’s the kind of thing that you need to escalate over. And so I’d talk to
him once more and say, “I think this needs to be brought to the attention of the
bishop, and I want to let you know that as a courtesy to you, but this is a very
serious matter and I feel I need to do that.” Okay. And is it appropriate
to try and, you know–let me just say I’ve never tried to contact the bishop
directly before, is it more appropriate to, like, write an anonymous
letter? No. Do not– It’s some sort of like– Do not write anonymous letters to the
bishop, that doesn’t do anybody any good, you need to take responsibility for what
you’re doing. When a bishop sees an anonymous letter it decreases the
credibility of it, because the person who wrote it didn’t have the courage to put
their name to it. If–the more you–for all the bishop knows, it could be
misreporting something just based on a personal rivalry, someone has it in for
the priest, and–or just doesn’t like him and wants to do him harm by making up a
story. What I would do is, I’d write the bishop a letter, I’d write it directly to
the bishop with the bishop’s name on it, he will see it. And say, you know, “Father
so-and-so has said this on this occasion,” supply dates and exact quotations if you
can, maybe from his podcast, if he said this stuff in his podcast. Point to
Bishop to where he can listen to the podcast and which episodes to listen to
and he can hear it for himself, and then, you know, ask that, you
know, you can say, “This is obviously a very serious matter for a priest who has
pastoral care of the faithful to be expressing these sentiments in public,
and I wanted to call it to your attention, Respectfully submitted,” and
sign your name Gotcha, thanks. Thank you Christopher.

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