Sedevacantism Takes on the Opposition
Over 25 years ago it dawned on us that the pivotal problem facing our troubled Church revolved around the man at the top: the pope. Given the hierarchical structure of the institution, it seemed this had to be the case. And time has only reinforced this view. By now it should be most evident to Catholics that our current woes reflect nothing less than a cataclysmic crisis afflicting the papacy itself, that the overshadowing of this office by the powers of darkness has put the Church as a whole in a state of eclipse.
Hence the confusion we see among Catholics seeking to clarify things. Along with a dimming of visibility, the eclipse has caused a blurring of the true lines of ecclesiastical authority. Abandoned by bishops and theologians who are steeped in modernism, the bemused layman is forced to chart his own course, delving into dogmatic tracts and canon law, steering his way into strange realms. Those who persist in thinking the problem is merely local, or regional, may still look to Rome as a kind of lone star, or beacon, to light their way. Other traditionalists, however, blame the current crew in the Vatican for the errors promulgated by their underlings, i.e. the countless clerics worldwide who, even as we watch, fade into mushrooming clouds of ecumenical bliss.
Whereas some critics charge that most, if not all, top prelates in Rome have sunk into heresy and thereby abandoned their posts, others steer what they perceive to be a safer course, a via media, if you will. While acknowledging the stream of errors flowing from Rome since the days of Roncalli, they insist on recognizing him and his successors as valid pontiffs. Promoters of this view include the Society of St. Pius X; and the editors, publishers and writers associated with such publications as the Remnant, The Latin Mass, Fatima Crusader, and Catholic Family News.
Writing recently in the latter, Christopher Ferrara, Esq. attacks those who refuse to accept the past five occupants of the papal chair as true popes. Such a stance he calls “patently absurd.” It’s absurd, he says, to think that except for a few diehards, the whole world should be fooled by a series of imposters. Moreover, such a belief violates the doctrines of indefectibility and visibility. Christ said the gates of hell would not prevail against his Church, and Vatican I proclaimed Peter would have perpetual and visible successors. Even when Antichrist comes, says Ferrara, the Church will have a pope and bishops “in communion with him;” otherwise Christ would “be made a liar”!
Strong words, to be sure. The trouble is, when Our Lord hints in the gospel that only a very few of His flock might remain when He returns, He does not specify their rank, nor their condition. As for “visibility,” we moderns tend to think of that in terms of the mass media. Think about it, though. To be visible, need a pope appear surrounded by cheering throngs in living color on the nightly news? Need he be featured in glossy magazines or newspapers? Before the dawn of photography, remember, relatively few of the faithful ever saw their pontiff’s picture, let alone the man himself.
True, the Church has endured on earth for roughly 2000 years as a visible society of living, breathing men and women—not ghosts. At times, however, large numbers may be in hiding for some reason. The early Christians worshipped in the catacombs. With the Arian heresy, most bishops fell into error, forcing Athanasius into exile. During the so-called reformation, English and Irish Catholics heard Mass in secret. Outlawed priests traveled incognito, hiding in any hole they could find. During the French revolution the faithful even had to baptize babies secretly. In 1870, Pius IX, targeted by revolutionaries, fled Rome in disguise. In Poland under the Nazis, young men were ordained surreptitiously, and with the Communists it only got worse. The underground Church grew to such unprecedented proportions that Pius XII felt compelled to send secretly consecrated (in camera) bishops behind the Iron curtain to ordain and consecrate others.
Nor did all of those who managed to escape the East like what they found on the other side. Mindszenty, for one, faced persecution from the Vatican of Paul VI. Rumor has it that other clerics, and prelates from the eastern bloc, not liking what they saw in the Novus Ordo, chose to remain, to some extent, underground. Having experienced the evils of Communism first hand, they were more inclined than their naïve brethren in the West to look below the surface.
Ferrara notes in his article that even during the Great Western Schism (1379-1417) there was a true pope. What he does not point out, however, is that though the three claimants were alive and very “visible,” for 38 years the vast majority of Catholics could not identify who was what: pope or anti-pope. Even Vincent Ferrer chose the wrong man—and he was a saint. Yet our Ferrara, sounding like the embodiment (or, given the “visibility” issue, should we say disembodiment?) of 21st century hubris, is absolutely sure that what he sees on TV and reads in newspapers regarding recent claimants is accurate. Despite mounds of evidence to the contrary, he apparently feels the need to take things at face value. His five guys have to be the real thing, because otherwise nothing makes sense to him.
It’s really all too much. After living through decades of decadent morals and dead-ended dialoguing, why, oh why, can’t he see that, beneath a veneer of slick officialese, the Vaticanos and their henchmen worldwide are not sincere? Nor are they stupid, nor ill-informed, nor inept in the art of obfuscation. On the contrary: these are brilliant, well-trained men who know perfectly well what they are doing, and obviously have no intention of jeopardizing their plan to absorb traditionalists into the counterfeit church known as the Novus Ordo.
This is no honest debate between well-meaning sides in the so-called “marketplace” of ideas. Nor is it merely a war of “isms”—of modernism and rationalism or secularism or Americanism vs. Thomism or scholasticism. Whereas ideas are, of course, important, they take but minor roles in a farce of sheer duplicity, one featuring diabolical fraud masked as hale–and–hearty ambiguity. And acting behind the masks are real, live, flesh-and-blood (i.e. “visible”) men, whose true thoughts—and covert actions—are not being revealed to us.
But do these actors (including that consummate ham, the late great Karol Wojtyla) represent the true Church of Christ?
Hardly. By now it should be most obvious that this scenario must involve the most cunning sort of infiltration. How can Ferrara not get it, considering the fact that his editor John Vennari, and apologist Craig Heimbichner (who defended him recently in CFN) have written extensively on the historical background relating to this very topic! Both men have focused in particular on the Alta Vendita, which back in the 1840’s comprised “the highest lodge” of Italian Freemasonry. As a secret society it promoted the most devious of methods in order to foment revolution in Italy and throughout Europe, and its ultimate target was our Catholic Church. So we learn from a secret document that was providentially seized by papal authorities under Gregory XVI. Called the Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita, it is quoted at length in a book published in 1880 by Msgr. George Dillon; and, more recently, in a booklet by Vennari which he aptly subtitles a Masonic Blueprint for the Subversion of the Church.
In the original diatribe, the Masonic author admits his hopes of destroying forever “Catholicism and even . . . the Christian idea.” Accordingly he advises his confreres to infiltrate the Church, with the long-term goal of controlling the papacy. To secure “a Pope according to our wants” he says it is first necessary to recruit from among the young and the lower clergy.
In a few years the young clergy will have, by the force of events, invaded all the functions. They will govern, administer, and judge. They will form the council of the Sovereign. They will be called upon to choose the Pontiff who will reign. . . You wish to establish the reign of the elect upon the throne of the prostitute of Babylon? Let the clergy march under your banner in the belief always that they march under the banner of the Apostolic Keys. You wish to cause the last vestige of tyranny and of oppression to disappear? Lay your nets like Simon Barjona. Lay them in the depths of sacristies, seminaries, and convents . . . and . . . . you will give yourselves a draught of fishes. . . The fisher of fishes will become a fisher of men. You will bring yourselves as friends around the Apostolic Chair. You will have fished up a Revolution in Tiara and Cope, marching with Cross and banner. . .
Lest we think this was only an Italian thing, Msgr. Dillon in his book exposing Freemasonry brings out the fact that for much of the 19th century the Grand Patriarch of the secret societies was an English––or Anglo-Irish––peer, Lord Palmerston. Despite his aristocratic status, this official (a prime minister under Queen Victoria) worked abroad helping other Masonic leaders, including Mazzini and Garibaldi, to spread revolution throughout Italy and the rest of Europe. His success was such that when Garibaldi went to England in 1864 and the cream of society flocked to greet him, the praise went both ways. Yes, Garibaldi thanked his admiring hosts profusely for the help given his cause by Lord Palmerston, Lord Russell—and the English nation as a whole. Without England, he said, he and Mazzini couldn’t have done it!
Cardinal Manning bemoaned the fact that Garibaldi’s fans included high-ranking officials and even Anglican prelates, who promoted a movement that was ultimately anti-Catholic. Not that the prelate was too surprised to find his countrymen so involved. Since the days of Henry VIII, he noted, Protestant England had aimed to “strip the Holy See of its temporal sovereignty.” That was happening now, as revolutionaries took over the Papal States. Did Manning think it would stop here? No, he felt “the critical point in the whole conflict, the key of the whole, and the last success to be gained,” by the conspirators was the total “dethronement of the Vicar of our Redeemer.” In his eyes, such a plot was nothing less than apocalyptical, for he identified the pope as the great restrainer mentioned by St. Paul in Thessalonians II. Without the pope, the world falls into apostasy. Consequently England’s current anti-papal policy regarding Italy he saw as “simply the prelude of Antichrist.”
Indeed, he thought that “things are fulfilling fast, and it is good for us to keep them before our eyes: for the forerunners are already abroad—the weakness of the Holy Father, the murder of his armies, the invasion of his States, the betrayal of those who are nearest to him, the tyranny of those who are his sons. . .” While not specifying the particulars, he did cite Catholic scholars, including doctors of the Church, who thought that Rome would someday apostatize and drive out the pope. It was up to a contemporary of his, an Italian Passionist named Gaudentius Rossi to record the “well founded rumor” that even as he wrote in the early 1870s, plans were afoot to elect an anti-pope, thus causing a schism in the Church. Father Rossi even predicted that possibly two men elected during the next century would in fact be antipopes.
He would prove to be too conservative in his estimate.
In 1884 Msgr. George F. Dillon gave the series of lectures in Edinburgh that would be compiled into his book The War of Antichrist with the Church and Christian Civilization. Leo XIII was so impressed with this expose that he had an Italian version published at his own expense. Msgr. Dillon, in turn, said his work was inspired by Leo’s encyclical Humanum Genus, which, while revealing the nefarious plotting of conspirators, told Catholics to “tear the mask off Freemasonry.”
Then in 1888 came Leo’s horrific vision of Christ conversing with Satan, who boasted that he could take over mankind totally, given a mere 75 or 100 years. The incident is described in the article Warnings from Heaven Suppressed, posted on Gary Giuffré's website. Whatever the details, they resulted in the pope’s own prayer to St. Michael in which he describes his reasons for invoking the archangel. The most compelling, if mysterious, part goes:
. . . These most crafty enemies have filled and inebriated with gall and bitterness the Church, the spouse of the Immaculate Lamb, and have laid impious hands on her most sacred possessions. In the Holy Place itself, where has been set up the See of the most holy Peter and the Chair of Truth for the Light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety, with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck, the sheep may be scattered.
To us moderns, these lines seem eerily apropos—for our day as well as Leo’s. In retrospect we have to wonder if that pontiff had any inkling at all that his own secretary of state, Cardinal Rampolla, might have occult ties. Craig Heimbichner insists he did. In an article for CFN he says he can document that Rampolla belonged not to just any old lodge, but to the Ordo Templi Orientis or OTO, an elitist cabal known for its blasphemous and licentious rituals. The OTO, Heimbichner says further, is also closely connected with the Gnostic Catholic Church, or EGC. Their beliefs and rituals, in fact, overlap. The French version of the EGC, established in 1890, recruited validly consecrated priests among the Old Catholics to perform their weird rites, which, parodying those of the true Church, continue to this day.
Heimbichner sees in their so-called Gnostic “Mass” a means by which the EGC “transitions” neophytes from a Catholic background into the occult. In other words, the new guys––or gals––undergo an intense kind of sensitivity training, i.e. brainwashing (if not out-and-out diabolical infestation). Considering this, it should come as no surprise to us that the OTO has also taken an interest in changing the outlook of the Catholic Church itself. In October, 1962, the group actually staged their own triumphant ritual to welcome in Vatican II! On the opening day of the Council, OTO members, carrying their own hawk-headed, New Age icon, began a long pilgrimage across Germany to celebrate the event.
As for Rampolla, even the Catholic Encyclopedia asserts that during the 1903 conclave, his election was blocked by the Austrian emperor’s veto. Heimbichner reports the view circulating in traditionalist circles that it was Msgr. Jouin, an expert on secret societies, who prompted him to do this. Whatever the motive, the important thing is that, instead of Rampolla, Catholics ended up with saintly Pius X as their pope. The conspirators had suffered a major setback—but permanently? With all the evidence they have, do Heimbichner, Ferrara and company honestly think the bad guys, after coming so close, would do nothing more to penetrate subsequent conclaves, using more sophisticated methods? Moreover, do they think the infiltration process as a whole came to a standstill?
Evidence to the contrary abounds. Dr. Alice von Hildebrand, widow of the philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand, for instance, says her husband thought that for much of the 20th century there had been “a systematic infiltration of the Church by diabolical enemies. . .” In an article for The Latin Mass magazine, she cites the testimony of ex-Communist Bella Dodd, who told the von Hildebrands about the Party’s “deliberate infiltration of agents into the seminaries.” While still a spy, Dodd said, she had “dealt with no fewer than four cardinals within the Vatican” who were working for her side.
Four cardinals inside the Vatican? (And Ferrara doesn’t think conclaves could have been penetrated?)
Dr. von Hildebrand also alludes to Don Luigi Villa, who, prompted by Padre Pio, investigated the infiltration of Freemasons and Communists into the Church. In a book on the subject, Villa tells about the discovery of a Red mole, Alighiero Tondi, S.J., who had betrayed to Stalin the names of priests working clandestinely behind the iron curtain. All these were consequently arrested and executed or sent to the gulag. It seems Tondi was a “close advisor” to Bishop Montini, then Secretary of State to Pius XII. The incident caused a “rift” between the pope and Montini, says von Hildebrand.
If you think this is strong stuff, though, let us point out that her rendition of the incident is mild compared to one which appeared earlier, in the September, 15, 1984, edition of the Italian newsletter Si Si, No No. In this version, Montini emerges as the prime contact with Stalin; Tondi simply worked for him—or them, rather. Though Pius XII had forbidden any overtures to Communists, Montini made them, even during World War II. After the Lutheran bishop of Upsala informed Pius XII of the situation, Montini lost his job as Pius’ Secretary of state. For his part in the espionage ring, Tondi was laicized. Montini was also exiled to Milan, to be their archbishop—without the red hat that usually went along with the job. And if you assume he soon repented of his crimes, think again. He actually later helped Tondi to find another job—after the ex-cleric had married a fellow (former?) Communist activist!
Alice von Hildebrand calls Americans naïve, and here she is right. For awhile during the fifties, it’s true, we were attuned to the existence of Communist spies, but these were chiefly of a political nature, nothing religious, and after the fall of Joe McCarthy––and the Berlin wall—all that came to be forgotten. For most of us there remained only rumors floating here and there. Back in the late ‘70’s, for instance, a priest told me that a professor of his had claimed there was one Communist planted in every seminary in this country. Meanwhile, an investigator for the U.S. Civil Service told a friend of mine that they had been looking long and hard for two known Commies who finally turned up in a Catholic seminary.
Yes, both of them did; together!
As for Freemasons, let’s face it, there was little said. Most Americans tended to think of Masons as do-gooders who wear silly hats, and ride funny little cars in parades and things. That their influence might have its shady side is pooh-poohed to this day. Thus a recent issue of U.S. News and World Report features George Washington on the cover, wearing a Masonic apron, and the story inside makes light of conspiracy tales regarding the Lodge. It makes their activities instead seem like just good clean fun. Our leaders couldn’t be really sinister, could they? I mean, who cares if Benjamin Franklin actually inducted Voltaire into the French Lodge of the Nine Sisters: a fact revealed in a recent PBS documentary on that founding father!
It’s true that in the olden days Catholics were told not to join the Masons, under pain of excommunication. What bishop, though, was so bold as to actually name names? Or cite offenses? On the contrary: the majority of prelates in this country seemed to get along quite well with high-ranking Masons; they actually hobnobbed with them. Not that your average Joe Catholic knew this.
We do, though. That same U. S. News story also shows a fascinating photo of Masons in formal attire: black coats with tails, top hats, white gloves––and aprons–– standing in rows, honoring one of their own: President McKinley. He, of course, was president during the Spanish American War, when we set our imperial sights on Catholic Spain. It’s interesting to note that the Catholic Encyclopedia says it was none other than Archbishop Ryan of Philadelphia who “opened” the Republican National Convention of 1900 that nominated the Mason McKinley for a second term. Then, after the president was assassinated, Ryan was the principal speaker at the memorial service in Philadelphia honoring the dead leader.
Needless to say, this would not have been a Catholic service. Since Masons have their own elaborate funeral rite, it would be interesting to know if his Excellency joined in on any of them. Or perhaps he just weaseled his way out of that one too. . .
To be continued. . .
Copyright 2006 by Judith Gordon