Sedevacantism

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Sedevacantism is the position held by a minority of Traditionalist Catholics who claim that the Papal See has been vacant since either the death of Pope Pius XII in 1958 or Pope John XXIII in 1963.

Sedevacantists believe that Paul VI (1963–1978), John Paul I (1978), John Paul II (1978–2005) and Benedict XVI (since 2005) 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. Some of them classify John XXIII (1958–1963) also as a Modernist antipope.

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.[1]

Some small groups of Traditionalist Catholics give allegiance to alternative Popes of their own. Since they hold that the Holy See is headed by their nominee and therefore is not in fact vacant, they are not sedevacantists in the strict sense, and are sometimes called "conclavists". However, the term "sedevacantist" is often applied to them because they reject the generally accepted papal succession.

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Early history

One of the earliest proponents of sedevacantism was the American Francis Schuckardt. Though he was still working within the "official" Church in 1967, he publicly took the position in 1968 that the Holy See was vacant and that the Church that had emerged from the Second Vatican Council was no longer Catholic.[2] An associate of his, Daniel Q. Brown, arrived at the same conclusion. In 1969, Brown received episcopal orders from an Old Catholic bishop, and in 1971 he in turn consecrated Schuckardt. Schuckardt founded a congregation called the Tridentine Latin Rite Catholic Church.

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