Hello Bishop Manchester. I recently heard a debate online between a sedevantist named Peter Dimond and a Catholic named William Albrecht that believes that the chair of Saint Peter is not vacant. The sedevacantist believed that both John Paul II & Benedict XVI were both Heretics for some of the things that they did, & because they were heretics they both automaticaly lost the right to be popes. While the non-sedevantist named William Albrecht said that he believed that both John Paul II & Benedict XVI were in error in some of the things that they did, he said that they were not manifest herectics. My question is what is, or what do you beleive the definition of a heretic is? - Ruben
Sedevacantism is the position held by some Traditionalist Catholics who claim that the Papal See has been vacant since the death of Pope Pius XII in 1958. Sedevacantists believe that subsequent Popes have been neither true Catholics nor true Popes by virtue of allegedly having espoused the heresy of Modernism, or of having otherwise denied or contradicted solemnly defined Catholic dogmas.
The term "sedevacantism" is derived from the Latin phrase sede vacante, which literally means "the seat being vacant," the seat in question being that of a bishop. A specific use of the phrase is in the context of the vacancy of the Holy See between the death or resignation of a Pope and the election of his successor. "Sedevacantism" as a term in English appears to date from the 1980s, though the movement itself is older.
The term heresy connotes, etymologically, both a choice and the thing chosen, the meaning being, however, narrowed to the selection of religious or political doctrines, adhesion to parties in Church or State.
Josephus applies the name (airesis) to the three religious sects prevalent in Judea since the Machabean period: the Sadducees, the Pharisees, the Essenes. St Paul is described to the Roman governor Felix as the leader of the heresy (aireseos) of the Nazarenes (Acts 24: 5); the Jews in Rome say to the same Apostle: "Concerning this sect [airesoeos], we know that it is everywhere contradicted" (Acts 28: 22). St Justin (Dialogue with Trypho 18) uses airesis in the same sense. St Peter applies the term to Christian sects: "There shall be among you lying teachers who shall bring in sects of perdition [aireseis apoleias]".
St Thomas defines heresy: "A species of infidelity in men who, having professed the faith of Christ, corrupt its dogmas." The right Christian faith consists in giving one's voluntary assent to Christ in all that truly belongs to His teaching. There are, therefore, two ways of deviating from Christianity: the one by refusing to believe in Christ Himself, which is the way of infidelity, common to Pagans and Jews; the other by restricting belief to certain points of Christ's doctrine selected and fashioned at pleasure, which is the way of heretics. The subject-matter of both faith and heresy is, therefore, the deposit of the faith, that is, the sum total of truths revealed in Scripture and Tradition as proposed to our belief by the Church. The believer accepts the whole deposit as proposed by the Church; the heretic accepts only such parts of it as commend themselves to his own approval. The heretical tenets may be ignorance of the true creed, erroneous judgement, imperfect apprehension and comprehension of dogmas: in none of these does the will play an appreciable part, wherefore one of the necessary conditions of sinfulness - free choice - is wanting and such heresy is merely objective, or material. On the other hand the will may freely incline the intellect to adhere to tenets declared false by the Divine teaching authority of the Church. The impelling motives are many: intellectual pride or exaggerated reliance on one's own insight; the illusions of religious zeal; the allurements of political or ecclesiastical power; the ties of material interests and personal status; and perhaps others more dishonourable. Heresy thus willed is imputable to the subject and carries with it a varying degree of guilt; it is called formal, because to the material error it adds the informative element of "freely willed.".
Simply not accepting the Christian faith in Medieval England was not a punishable offence unless the person had previously been a Christian, in which case they might suffer the punishment for apostasy. Heresy required more; the public and, to quote William Blackstone in Book IV of his Commentaries on the Laws of England (1756), obstinacy in the disavowal of Christian doctrines..