(Adapted from Gerry Matatics's well-written article, "Is Gerry Matatics a ''sedevacantist''?")
I'm a Catholic, pure and simple (though hopefully not too simple). I love the Catholic Faith and wish only to profess it in all its purity and fullness. I love the Catholic Church and wish only and always to be a faithful member of Her, since She has repeatedly and solemnly defined as a dogma that there is no salvation outside of her.
Every Catholic -- however he or she might prefer to be positive in his presentation of the Faith -- must necessarily oppose and reject all those persons and things that are incompatible with Catholicism.
"Sedevacantist" has become the unfortunate (and inaccurate) nickname for those Catholics who admit that adherence to the Catholic Faith and the Catholic Church in our time necessarily entails rejection of John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I & II, Benedict XVI, and Francis as heretics and therefore not popes. This in turn necessarily entails a complete rejection of those "reforms" illicitly promulgated by these men: Vatican II, the New Mass and new sacraments, the New Code of Canon Law, the New Catechism, the new canonizations (e.g., of Msgr. Escriva, Mother Theresa, et al), and so forth. It is an indisputable FACT that Catholics, at many critical moments of their Church's history, have had to reject both false popes (every Church historian agrees that there have been over 40 of them -- many of them ruling right from Rome itself) and "robber councils" (over 17 of them falsely purporting to be valid councils). Though it has become the accepted label for such Catholics, in my estimation the term "sedevacantist" is not a helpful one, for several reasons:
1. The term is unnecessary. It could mislead others into thinking that "sedevacantism" is some "ism" distinguishable from "Catholicism." It is not. The "sedevacantist" only wishes to be a Catholic, nothing more: to believe what Catholics have always believed, worship as Catholics have always worshipped, live as Catholics have always lived. No additional nickname is therefore necessary.
2. The term is unauthorised. Popes in the past have instructed Catholics not to use additional nicknames, but simply to identify themselves as "Catholics." In this regard, Pope Benedict XV (note: not XVI!), in his encyclical letter Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum 24 (1914), says: "It is...Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as 'profane novelties of words,' out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: 'This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved' (Athanasian Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim 'Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,' only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself."
3. The term is dismissive. By labelling this position an "ism," those who profess to be Catholic but reject this position ("sedevacantism") imply, at best, that they (the rejectors of "sedevacantism") can still affirm the fullness of the Catholic Faith -- an implication which those of us who hold the "sedevacantist" position dispute. At worst, the rejectors imply that "sedevacantists" are not Catholics. Labelling those who hold this position as "sedevacantists" is therefore an attempt at least to relativize the implications of this position, or, at worst, to demonise them.
4. The term is prejudicial. The term "sedevacantist" was originally a term of abuse coined by the opponents of the position to stigmatise those who held to it, and is still commonly used as such today - just as Arians labelled upholders of Nicene orthodoxy as "Athanasianites" rather than simply "Catholics," and misappropriated to themselves (the Arians) the title of being "Catholics."
5. The term claims too much. As a reasonable man, I reject as rather ridiculous (on the face of it) the claims of the self-appointed pseudo-popes of our time (e.g., "Pope" Pius XIII, "Pope" Gregory XVII, et al) to be successors of St. Peter. (Though, to be fair, I don't find the claims of Francis and his five predecessors to be Catholics, and therefore popes, any less laughable. Some claimants at least seem to be orthodox Catholics, however flimsy and far-fetched the legal pretensions of the "conclaves" that elected them.) However, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that, in fulfillment of many prophecies (documented in such books as Yves Dupont, Catholic Prophecy; Fr. Gerald Culleton, The Prophets and Our Times; Edward Connor, Prophecy for Today, all published by TAN Books) there could be, somehow, a "hidden" pope that God will bring forth at the predestined moment to bring an end to our current crisis. I, therefore, object to the term "sedevacantist" on the grounds that it seems to require me to omnisciently assert that there is no valid pope anywhere in the world, something I am not competent to do. I prefer to content myself with the far more modest assertion that, whether or not some such pope might now or might in the future exist, I can be sure, by the strict application of Catholic principles to "Pope" Francis, that he definitely cannot be the pope.
6. The term focuses on too little. While in point 5 I suggested that the term "sedevacantist" claims too much, here I suggest that, paradoxically, the term seems at the same time to claim too little - to reduce the current crisis down to the "papal question," i.e., the question of whether Francis is or isn't the pope. The fact is, everyone who hold the position nicknamed "sedevacantism" believes that there is much more that is wrong with the current state of affairs than simply a vacancy of the Holy See, as though the crisis would be completely resolved if tomorrow an orthodox Catholic were to take the place of Francis. Though the crisis could then be resolved in principle, there would be much work to be done, for the "sedevacantist" believes, not just that there is a false pope currently claiming to be a true one, but that there is a false Mass, false sacraments, a false catechism, a false code of canon law - in sum, a false "church" claiming to be the true Catholic Church. To ignore these larger issues and fixate merely on the orthodoxy or lack thereof of Jorge Bergoglio is therefore misleadingly reductionistic.
7. The term embraces too many people. Another aspect of the above mentioned reductionism is the fact that the rejection of Bergoglio as a false pope is NOT the principle of unity of all true Catholics: the possession and profession of the Catholic Faith is. Just because someone rejects Bergoglio as a usurper, therefore, does not automatically make him a Catholic; on the contrary, if he rejects, not only Bergoglio, but such politically incorrect dogmas as extra ecclesiam nulla salus ("there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church"), then he is not a Catholic. The same is also true of other Catholic doctrines; for example, the notorious Dimond brothers reject the doctrine of Baptism of desire, and are therefore heretics as well (of the Feeneyite variety, to be specific). A rejecter of Bergoglio, therefore, doesn't automatically belong to the supernatural society of all those who, by God's grace, truly profess and possess the Catholic Faith. This observation goes a long way to describing the lack of unity among so-called "sedevacantists," a lack of unity to which anti-sedevacantists often gleefully point as though vindicating their non-sedevacatism. (It does not: non-sedevacantists demonstrate a far wider spectrum of disunity than do sedevacantists, on an innumerable host of far more fundamental issues, issues on which even squabbling "sedevacantists" all completely agree.)
8. The term is "accidental". It does not describe the internal essence of such a Catholic's faith, merely the extrinsic historical "accident" (in the philosophical sense of that term) that the man who happens to be in control of Vatican City at that moment of history is not, in the estimation of that Catholic, a valid pope. If the very next day this false pope were to die and a valid pope were to be elected, the faith, behavior, and worship of the Catholic in question would not be thereby altered one iota. Yet the day before he would be labeled a "sedevacantist" and the next day he would not be! How helpful, therefore, in defining the content of such a Catholic's faith is a term that would describe him one day and not the next, when the content of his faith and worship and moral life is unvarying? The term actually describes nothing in him, only something about the state of affairs outside of him, i.e., whether a valid pope sits on the throne or not. Yet every Catholic historian agrees that when in fact false popes did usurp authority over the Church, the faith of true Catholics was not thereby altered.