My name is Michael Dillon. I was the one who sent you a couple of emails a little while back in which I gave a few Bible verses that you could use in your debate with Matt Slick. I had also encouraged you to debate the Dimond brothers(don't worry, I won't bug you anymore about that!).
The reason why I am emailing you is so I could ask you some questions about sedevacantism. I have read the Dimond brothers article in defense of sedevacantism and wanted to know what your answers would be to some of the objections that they raise against what they call the "Vatican II sect". Would you be so kind in engaging in a little converstion with me on this issue? I would like to play "Devils' Advocate" here if you don't mind and ask you a few questions as if I were one coming from the Dimond brothers camp.
Let me start by asking this: A non-sedevacantist would say that there is no way that a Catholic laymen has the right to judge a Pope if he falls into heresy by saying that the seat is vacant. He would also say that it is left to the Church to decide if a Pope has really fallen into heresy and that it is only for the Church to judge whether the Pope has lost his office or not. A sedevacantist on the other hand would object by saying that there is no need for a Church council to declare whether a Pope has lost his office or not because it says in Pope Pius' IV bull "Cum ex apostolatus" that a Pope would lose his office automatically "without any declaration of law or application of fact". In another words, a Pope would be deposed automatically by Divine law because a Pope cannot teach public heresy being that he is no longer a member of the Catholic Church. Mr. Sungenis, could you please show me how you would answer this objection?
R. Sungenis: Michael, I dealt with the matter of Cum ex apostolatus (CEA) in my debate with John Lane. If I remember correctly, my argument was simply that the application of CEA only applies to a man PRIOR to his election to the papal chair, not afterward. Allow me to quote from a sedevacantist website that cites CEA. I will underline the specific statement I have in view:
“If ever at any time it shall appear that ... even the Roman Pontiff, prior to his promotion or his elevation as Cardinal or Roman Pontiff, has deviated from the Catholic Faith or fallen into some heresy ... the promotion or elevation, even if it shall have been uncontested and by the unanimous assent of all the Cardinals, shall be null, void and worthless; it shall not be possible for it to acquire validity through the acceptance of the office, of consecration, of subsequent authority, nor through possession of administration, nor through the putative enthronement of a Roman Pontiff, or veneration, or obedience accorded to such by all, nor through the lapse of any period of time in the foregoing situation ... [Everyone] shall be permitted at any time to withdraw with impunity from obedience and devotion to those thus promoted or elevated and to avoid them as warlocks, heathens, publicans, and heresiarchs.”
I think it is rather clear that, if it can be shown that, for example, Karol Wojtyla, was a heretic prior to his ascension to the papal chair, then it would be proper to “withdraw with impunity from obedience and devotion to those thus promoted or elevated and to avoid them as warlocks, heathens, publicans, and heresiarchs.”
But that also means that anyone who attempts to apply CEA to a reigning pope, that is, because he believes that the reigning pope has fallen into heresy and yet it was never proven that he was in heresy prior to his election as pope, is misapplying CEA.
That’s not all. Proving that Karol Wojtyla was a heretic prior to his election is going to require the same kind of ecclesiastical rigor of any such motion against a standing member of the hierarchy, that is, merely claiming that he was a heretic based on some subjective judgment from the laity will certainly not suffice. It must be shown, in a canonical court of law, that Karol Wojtyla was a heretic prior to his election, and only then could CEA be applied.
Even when CEA is applied, CEA does not say that the pope can be deposed, but only that we are permitted to “withdraw with impunity from obedience and devotion to those thus promoted or elevated and to avoid them as warlocks, heathens, publicans, and heresiarchs.” There is nothing in CEA about dethroning the reigning pope, much less a dethroning that comes from self-styled “monasteries” located in New York.