What is sedevacantism?

Sedevacantism comes from the Latin sede vacante, which means "seat vacant." It is the position held by a small portion of traditional Catholics who claim that the Papal Seat, the Holy See, has been vacant since around 1960. There is debate within their movement as to who was the last proper Pope, either Pope Pius XII who died in 1958 or Pope John XXIII who died in 1963. Therefore, sedevacantists would say that all the popes since either Pope Pius XII or Pope John XXIII are not true Catholics and certainly not true popes.

Sedevacantism bases its rejection of the proper continuation of papal succession based upon the teachings of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), which the sedevacantists say violated traditional Roman Catholicism. The Second Vatican Council affirmed that there is salvation outside the Roman Catholic Church, but traditional Roman Catholicism would say that the Roman Catholic Church is the only true church, outside of which there is no salvation, that water baptism is absolutely necessary for salvation and rejects the "baptism of desire," and that rejection of a single dogma of the Catholic faith is a mortal sin.1

Some sedevacantists groups are:

  • Society of St. Pius V
  • Most Holy Family Monastery
  • Catholic Restoration
  • Society of St. Pius X
  • Society of St. Paul V
  • Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen
  • The Society of the Immaculata

1. http://www.catholicintl.com/epologetics/dialogs/church/gerry.htm