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Lefebvre was Never Sedevacantist: Siscoe/Salza Refute Cekada

The Battle Intensifies

Anyone even remotely familiar with Archbishop Lefebvre’s position
on the crisis in the Church can only grimace at Fr. Cekada’s
unconvincing accusation that Lefebvre was a Sedevacantist.

Father Cekada’s Desperation Reaches New Lows: He Blames Archbishop Lefebvre for His Sedevacantism

by John Salza and Robert Siscoe

Fr. Cekada released yet another video which he pretends to be a response to our book,
True or False Pope? Refuting Sedevacantism and Other Errors. But like every one of his prior videos, Cekada makes no attempt to address any of our theological arguments that refute his position. This is quite revealing, given that we have provided him nearly 700 pages of theological arguments to critique, and many of those pages are devoted to exposing, in particular detail and attention, his own erroneous positions. By failing to respond to our arguments or even engage the theology of our book, Fr. Cekada has effectively conceded that he is unable to respond. He has no answer.

So what was the point of Fr. Cekada’s latest video? Believe it or not, Cekada attempts to defend himself and the Sedevacantist position by accusing Archbishop Lefebvre of being a Sedevacantist, and then further blames the Archbishop for leading him and some of his colleagues into Sedevacantism when they were seminarians! You read that correctly. Since Cekada cannot defend himself and his erroneous theories on theological grounds, he’s new tactic is to give all the credit for his Sedevacantism to Archbishop Lefebvre – even though the Archbishop was
not a Sedevacantist, and even expelled priests from his religious society for being Sedevacantists! Can you imagine, dear reader, a more desperate and revealing ploy? Frankly, we can’t. And, evidently, many Catholics agree with us, for we have been particularly inundated with emails about Cekada’s desperation in his latest video, which any true traditional Catholic can see.

Not only is Fr. Cekada’s accusation that Archbishop Lefebvre was a Sedevacantist an outright lie, but the entire argument is a classic red herring, intended to divert his audience’s attention away from his inability to respond to our book. In making this argument, Cekada has just given us notice that he cannot defend his position theologically. Rather, he must resort to dodges and distractions, which, in his videos, he dresses up with cheap humor, hoping that he can keep his audience entertained and diverted from the real, theological issues. In fact, this is no doubt why Cekada chooses to make videos rather than commit his responses to writing, like we do; it is easier to mask your deficiencies and persuade a simple audience through attention-grabbing videos, rather than through genuine scholarship. Such is also considered the effeminate response of those who cannot rebut their opponents arguments on substantive grounds. But it’s not Cekada’s intended audience who is really laughing (although there is nothing funny about a priest who spends his time making such asinine videos during this holy season of Lent).

Of course, those who have honestly followed this debate can easily see that the priest with the “sunglasses” and “director’s chair” (which is how his partner Bp. Dan Dolan describes him) is engaged in an all-out damage control campaign, scrambling to save face at any cost, even at the expense of the reputation of the venerable Archbishop Lefebvre. Indeed, the more videos Cekada makes, the more damage he does to his
own position and credibility, as his desperation becomes patently obvious to all. And his latest effort to “take down” Archbishop Lefebvre with him only shows that Cekada knows his Sedevacantist ship is just about sunk.

Nevertheless, as ridiculous as Cekada’s latest video is, it does provide some very revealing information about why he personally embraced Sedevacantism, which helps to explain why he cannot defend his position theologically. Specifically, in the video, Fr. Cekada admits that as a seminarian he embraced Sedevacantism as an
emotional, not a theological, response to the crisis in the Church; he even admits that he could not explain his decision in “formal, theological terms” (even though the question of whether a Pope is a true Pope is, first and foremost, a most profound theological question). No, Cekada based his decision on what he calls “the Catholic sense he possessed,” in other words, a feeling or emotion (which, ironically, is just how the Modernists operate).

This helps us understand why Cekada, even today, cannot defend his position in “formal, theological terms.” This is why he focuses on appealing to the
will, and not the intellect, of his unsophisticated audience, with videos portraying humorous caricatures and comical satire, rather than real scholarship. We will address Fr. Cekada’s root error (relating to how he became a Sedevacantist) in an upcoming article. For now, we wish to dispose of his outrageous accusation that Archbishop Lefebvre was a Sedevacantist.

Archbishop Lefebvre Was Never Sedevacantist

Anyone even remotely familiar with Archbishop Lefebvre’s position on the crisis in the Church can only grimace at Fr. Cekada’s slanderous accusation that Lefebvre was a Sedevacantist. Evidently, Fr. Cekada’s desperation has reached a point where the truth and his own reputation are irrelevant to him, as he attempts to defend the Sedevacantist thesis at all costs. To be clear, as the record clearly demonstrates, Archbishop Lefebvre
was never a Sedevacantist, at any time during his life. Because Fr. Cekada knows (or should know) this fact makes his accusation a public lie. But, as this recent debate has shown, Fr. Cekada is not interested in the truth, even after he has been publicly corrected.

For example, in his video “The Pope Speaks. You Decide!,” Fr. Cekada lied when he said “the SSPX bankrolled the Salza/Siscoe book.” We brought this objective falsehood to Cekada’s attention in our reply article called “The Pope is Elected. You Decide!” Nevertheless, Fr. Cekada has persisted in this public lie by repeating that “the SSPX bankrolled the Salza/Siscoe book” in his latest video on Archbishop Lefebvre, thus, making his statement a
subjective (culpable) lie. Fr. Cekada also continues to display this false statement in writing on his website, which further perpetuates the lie.

Fr. Cekada also lied in his recent video on Nestorius, when he claimed that we implied Cardinal Billot was wrong about how a heretical bishop loses his jurisdiction, even though our article clearly shows that we not only
agreed with Billot, but demonstrated that Billot’s position refutes Sedevacantism. Indeed, Fr. Cekada has proven himself to be a man who is not interested in the truth, and seems to have no scruples about publicly violating the Eighth Commandment in order to defend his position. While more could be said, let us turn to the matter of Archbishop Lefebvre.

To help us understand the Archbishop’s position and his many statements on the crisis in the Church, we believe it is important to explain the steps that one logically takes before becoming a Sedevacantist. There are five clear stages that one goes through, with the last stage ending not only in a rejection of the Pope, but also a rejection of the entire visible Church over which he reigns. In explaining these stages, we will demonstrate that Archbishop Lefebvre never went beyond the
first, initial stage, which is simply questioning whether it was possible for the conciliar Popes to be illegitimate Popes. This first step is one that many Traditional Catholics (including these authors, as we mention in our book) have taken - but most never move past it to the second stage.

The Five Stages: From Catholic to Sedevacantist

Stage 1 - Questioning Phase: As we indicated, the first phase is one in which many Traditional Catholics have been at one time or another. Rightly scandalized by the words and actions of the recent Popes and the dire situation in the Church, they wonder if perhaps the answer is that these men have not been true Popes at all (some may even raise the question publicly, but without forming a definitive judgment on the matter). We both approached this phase, by at least privately raising the question to ourselves, which is what led us to researching the Sedevacantist position. Following the shocking resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and the election of Pope Francis, who has done much damage to the Church in a very short time, even many conservative (non-Traditional) Catholics are now in this questioning phase as well. In light of the continuous papal scandals coming from the Vatican, this phase is understandable, and there is certainly nothing wrong or sinful about it. However, almost all Catholics who enter this phase never go beyond it.

Stage 2 - Private Opinion: The next phase is when one personally concludes (the intellect arrives at a judgment and the will embraces it) that the Pope is not the true Pope. Some priests who have arrived at this stage refuse to include the Pope’s name in the canon of the Mass. This person is a private Sedevacantist.

Stage 3 - Public Opinion: The next phase is when the person publicly professes their opinion that the Pope is not the true Pope, and may even seek to persuade others to embrace the position. While such a person is a public Sedevacantist, he would also concede that his opinion could theoretically be erroneous.

Stage 4 - Public Fact/Sedevacantism: The next phase is when the person presents their opinion that the Pope is not the true Pope as a fact, without any possibility of error. Consequently, the person maintains that others must also accept their opinion as a fact, lest they cease to be Catholic, at least in the objective order. These people are known as “dogmatic” Sedevacantists.

Stage 5 - Public Fact/Ecclesiavacantism: The final phase is the logical conclusion to the previous. In this phase, the person has lost faith in the entire visible Church. Once a person arrives at this state, he considers the Church itself as an entirely false Church, and viciously attacks the Church with the goal of discrediting it. In this phase, which usually goes hand-in-hand with the previous phase, the errors of churchmen are not exposed for the purpose of defending the Faith, but for the purpose of mocking and discrediting the Church itself. Those in this phase will declare that one may have nothing to do with the visible Church, since they believe it is a false Church. They also usually (but not always) declare that it is forbidden even to assist at an “una cum” Mass – that is, a Mass in which the Pope’s name is mentioned. Clearly, the top Sedevacantist apologists fall into this category (Fr. Cekada, Bp. Dolan, Bp. Sanborn, Mario Derksen, John Lane, Gerry Matatics, the Dimond brothers).

With an understanding of these stages, we will be able to more clearly see how Fr. Cekada has completely mischaracterized the position of Archbishop Lefebvre, who never advanced his inquiry past the First Stage.

Fr. Cekada’s Protestant Ploy:
Taking Quotes Out of Context to Serve His Pretext

True to his method of appealing to the will (not the intellect) of his audience, Fr. Cekada begins his video by playing the pity card, claiming that the purpose of True or False Pope? was to paint Sedevacantists “as totally, totally, wicked,” and as having “lost faith in the Church.” Of course, the purpose of the book is to refute, on theological grounds, the many errors of Sedevacantism and to demonstrate that the error does indeed lead to a loss of faith in the Church (Fifth Stage). Hasn’t Fr. Cekada lost faith in the Church that everyone in the world, except for him and his Sedevacantist colleagues, calls the Roman Catholic Church? How can Fr. Cekada claim he has not lost faith in the Church, when he maintains that the entire hierarchy has defected, and cannot point to where the visible social unit (the true Church) exists today? His fellow Sedevacantist, Bishop Donald Sanborn, goes so far as to forbid his seminarians from holding that there are any bishops today with jurisdiction. But if this were true, it would mean that there would no longer be a legitimate hierarchy of the Church, since a “legitimate hierarchy” requires not only validly consecrated bishops, but validly consecrated bishops with jurisdiction (which is given to the bishops from the Pope). If a legitimate hierarchy no longer exists, as Bishop Sanborn claims, it means the indefectible Church has defected.[1]

Fr. Cekada then goes on to ask: “How did we end up so evil? Who led us down this dark road?” After accusing us of calling Sedevacantists “the enemies of Christ” (even though we referred to the Jews of the Old Testament as the enemies of Christ, whose footsteps Sedevacantists follow by being persecutors of Christ’s Mystical Body), the video then fades to a big picture of Archbishop Lefebvre, followed by Fr. Cekada saying:

“It was the founder of the Society of St. Pius X himself, Marcel Lefebvre, titular archbishop of Synnada in Phrygia, and Sedevacantist! [Here Cekada plays the introduction to Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor, for special effects.] And that is why it is pure idiocy for SSPX priests to endorse Salza and Siscoe’s 700 pages of anti-Sedevacantist hyperventilations. If you want to call Sedevacantists like me an enemy of Christ, you better call your founder, Archbishop Lefebvre one too. Where do you think we got the idea in the first place?

The actual “idiocy” here is Fr. Cekada’s shameful attempt at revisionist history, claiming that Lefebvre was a Sedevacantist, who “led so many of us to Sedevacantism,” when in reality the Archbishop emphatically
rejected the Sedevacantist position (as we will see below). What is also sheer “idiocy” is Cekada’s passing over our 700-page compendium of theology as “anti-Sedevacantist hyperventilations.” If our book is mere “hyperventilations” (suggesting that it has no theological substance), then why hasn’t Fr. Cekada chosen to directly address the theological arguments in the book, even after he assured his audience that he would, and we responded by repeatedly challenging him to do so? And especially when those 700 pages contain detailed, theological refutations of Cekada’s own novel theories? Why has Fr. Cekada instead chosen to besmirch the good name of Archbishop Lefebvre, by accusing him of a position he did not hold, and which Cekada is evidently unable to defend for himself? Cekada’s desperation could not be more palpable.

In an effort to back up his false claim that Lefebvre was a Sedevacantist, Fr. Cekada goes on to provide “in the form of a catechism” (his words) “some of the Archbishop’s statements favoring Sedevacantism.” “Favoring” Sedevacantism? How does one “favor” a position he actually rejects? Cekada doesn’t say. But in true Protestant fashion, Cekada then displays questions that he himself crafted for the video (e.g., What are we to think of Vatican II’s errors? If the Pope adheres to the Conciliar Church, what is the effect?, etc.), which he then follows with a screen shot of a partial quotation from Archbishop
Lefebvre, as if the Archbishop is directly answering Cekada’s made-up questions!

In other words, Cekada manufactures a fictitious Q&A between himself and Archbishop Lefebvre, even addressing Lefebvre in the first person, as “Monsignor, tell us…” (as if Cekada is speaking with him!), and then completely wrenches the Lefebvre quotations out of context, that is, from the rest of the teaching tradition of the Archbishop and the priestly society he founded -
which has always rejected the error of Sedevacantism! Fr. Cekada even appeals to a statement that the Archbishop allegedly made to him in 1979 (37 years ago!) in a private conversation, which he also displays as a quotation, surrounded by a border and a photo of Lefebvre, as further “official evidence” for the Archbishop’s Sedevacantist stance (and which, like the other quotations, proves nothing). Frankly, the entire presentation is a sad and disturbing spectacle to behold, especially because it comes from a priest (and who, given his make-believe dialogue with the late Archbishop, does not appear to be in his right mind).

Of course, wrenching quotations out of their native context is precisely what Protestants do when they attempt to interpret the Scriptures contrary to the meaning the Church gives them. But Cekada’s technique is a great example of how the spirit of Sedevacantism is the same as that of Protestantism, where the Sedevacantist/Protestant tells us what the quotation/Scripture
really means, even though it is contrary to the true meaning, according to the very source they are quoting.

As anyone who watches the video can see, in
none of the quotations that Cekada handpicked (and we assume he handpicked the “best” ones) does Archbishop Lefebvre adopt the Sedevacantist view. In none of them! The quotations merely show that the Archbishop, like most Traditional Catholics at one time or another, was in the questioning phase (the First Stage) of whether a true Pope could do the things that the conciliar Popes had done. But he never went past this stage, as Fr. Cekada must know. In fact, Fr. Cekada’s presentation is so ridiculous that he himself may have had a pang of conscience, since he was forced to admit at the end of the video that “it would be possible, of course, to assemble a collection of quotes entitled: Marcel Lefebvre: Anti-Sedevacantist, or Marcel Lefebvre: Recognize and Resister; and one would find an equal amount of material.” (NB: Actually, one would find much more material from Archbishop Lefebvre explicitly supporting the Recognize and Resist position.)

But by making this incredible admission, Fr. Cekada openly concedes that the very evidence he marshals (the quotations) in an effort to prove his case,
does not actually prove his case! Could a more damaging, shoot-yourself-in-the-foot, presentation be conceived? If a lawyer presented such a case in court, he would be laughed out of the courtroom and sued by his client for malpractice.

Archbishop Lefebvre Rejected the Sedevacantist Position

As part of his presentation, Fr. Cekada criticizes us for not including his selected quotations from Lefebvre in our book, as if they would have had any impact on the book’s conclusion. But we
do present Archbishop Lefebvre’s position, at the very beginning of our book, in the Preface. In fact, we refer to Archbishop Lefebvre’s most damning indictment of John Paul II, in which Lefebvre speculated in 1986 that if the Pope continued with his interreligious worship (like at Assisi 1986), he could possibly be considered a public heretic (which Fr. Cekada, of course, included in his video).

We then pointed out that Archbishop Lefebvre lived to see John Paul II’s continued and ongoing participation in pagan worship which took place in Kyoto (1987), Rome (1988), Warsaw (1989), Bari (1990) and Malta (1990), and the Archbishop
still refrained from declaring the Pope a manifest heretic (which Cekada also knows but completely omitted from his video). We also noted that Bishop Tissier (who was consecrated by Lefebvre and was much better acquainted with the Archbishop’s theology than is Cekada, who actually knows little theology) clearly articulated the Archbishop’s position: “But for himself, he preferred to consider them as popes. This supposes that he did not feel that he possessed sufficient knowledge of the pertinent facts nor the necessary power for making such a judgment. This is of critical importance to bear in mind."2

This only confirms that the Archbishop never went past the first stage (questioning), since the second stage requires a
judgment, which, as Bishop Tissier said, the Archbishop did not feel competent to render. And this is indeed of critical importance to bear in mind, especially for those like Fr. Cekada, who have no shame in recklessly accusing the late Archbishop of holding a position that he actually rejected, and which the Church itself, at the Fourth Ecumenical Council of Constantinople, condemned. Fr. Cekada’s assertions are truly despicable, especially since he well knows that the Archbishop even required all the seminarians at Ecône to sign a “statement of position” document affirming that they were not Sedevacantists before he would ordain them. The reason he took this measure is because some of those he ordained were secret, “Stage 2” Sedevacantists who only came out of the closet, so to speak, after they were ordained; a practice that Lefebvre wanted to quash through the written agreement.

Fr. Cekada also knows that the Archbishop suppressed those within the Society who publicly promoted the Sedevacantist position, and even dismissed Fr. Guerard des Lauriers in 1977 and Bernard Lucien in 1979 for their promotion of Sedevacantism. Where were these facts in the Cekada video? The Archbishop also refused to ordain members of Fr. Olivier de Blignières’ religious community who were openly Sedevacantist. Again, where were these facts in Cekada’s video? Omitted, of course, because Cekada’s video is not meant to convey the truth, but to deceive, in order to pass the buck to Archbishop Lefebvre as being the cause of him embracing the Sedevacantist position (and which, we suspect, he now realizes is false). Our book, on the other hand, faithfully presents the Archbishop’s position. If anything, we could be questioned for
not including the many anti-Sedevacantist quotes from Lefebvre, which we deliberately excluded so as to rest our case upon the Popes, Councils and classical theologians of the Church (upon which Lefebvre himself relied, and to which Fr. Cekada has been unable to offer any reply).

To show just how delirious Fr. Cekada is about this matter – a man who is clearly being driven by emotion (will) and not theology or Church teaching (intellect) - Cekada actually has an article on his website by his fellow Sedevacantist apologist, John Daly, in which Daly explicitly states that Archbishop Lefebvre
was never a Sedevacantist. That’s right. After an opening introduction by Fr. Cekada himself, Daly writes:

“So far as we know, Archbishop Lefebvre never formed a definite judgment that John-Paul II was not a true pope. So if we divide the ecclesiastical spectrum into two categories, those for whom the see is legally vacant and those for whom it is legally occupied, Archbishop Lefebvre will be in the non-sedevacantist camp."3

But let’s not take Sedevacantist John Daly’s word for it. As Fr. Cekada recommended in the video before he displayed his handpicked quotations, let’s have Archbishop Lefebvre “speak for himself.” Let’s do that, Fr. Cekada, by providing just one quotation from the Archbishop, which he gave before he kicked you and your Sedevacantist cohorts out of the Society. And let’s take it from November 1979, which is the time period that Cekada alleges Lefebvre was a “Sedevacantist” and “leading others to Sedevacantism.” In the Archbishop’s own words:

“Can a Pope be Liberal and remain Pope? The Church has always severely reprimanded Liberal Catholics, but she has not always excommunicated them. Here, too, we must continue in the spirit of the Church. We must refuse Liberalism from whatever source it comes because the Church has always condemned it. She has done so because it is contrary, in the social realm especially, to the Kingship of Our Lord.

"Does not the exclusion of the cardinals of over eighty years of ages, and the secret meetings which preceded and prepared the last two Conclaves, render them invalid? Invalid: no, that is saying too much. Doubtful at the time: perhaps. But in any case,
the subsequent unanimous acceptance of the election by the Cardinals and the Roman clergy suffices to validate it. That is the teaching of the theologians.

"The visibility of the Church is too necessary to its existence for it to be possible that God would allow that visibility to disappear for decades. The reasoning of those who deny that we have a Pope puts the Church in an inextricable situation. Who will tell us who the future Pope is to be? How, as there are no Cardinals, is he to be chosen? This spirit is a schismatical one for at least the majority of those who attach themselves to certainly schismatical sects like Palmar de Troya, the Eglise Latine de Toulouse, and others. Our Fraternity absolutely refuses to enter into such reasonings. We wish to remain attached to Rome and to the Successor of Peter, while refusing his Liberalism through fidelity to his predecessors. We are not afraid to speak to him, respectfully but firmly, as did St. Paul with St. Peter.

"And so, far from refusing to pray for the Pope, we redouble our prayers and supplications that the Holy Ghost will grant him light and strength in his affirmations and defense of the Faith.

"Thus, I have never refused to go to Rome at his request or that of his representatives. The Truth must be affirmed at Rome above all other places. It is of God, and He will assure its ultimate triumph.

"Consequently, the Society of St. Pius X, its priests, brothers, sisters, and oblates, cannot tolerate among its members those who refuse to pray for the Pope or affirm that the Novus Ordo Missae is per se invalid. Certainly, we suffer from this continual incoherence which consists in praising all the Liberal orientations of Vatican II and at the same time straining to mitigate its effects.But all of this must incite us to prayer and to the firm maintenance of Tradition rather than to the affirmation that the Pope is not the Pope."

Here we have the true thinking of the Archbishop regarding Sedevacantism and the visible Church itself. He rejected the “schismatical spirit” of Sedevacantism, and “refused” to “tolerate” those who, like Anthony Cekada, embraced the position. In other words, Archbishop Lefebvre rejected Sedevacantism, both in theory and in practice. And yet Fr. Cekada, in his video, has the temerity to declare: “For Archbishop Lefebvre, Sedevacantism was a tenable position for a Catholic to hold.” It cannot be stated too strongly that Fr. Cekada makes mockery out of Archbishop Lefebvre and the truth itself, and yet has the gall to hold himself out as a Traditional Catholic priest. He is a man completely devoid of any credibility.

Interestingly, at the end of Fr. Cekada’s video, the perceptive viewer will notice that Cekada unwittingly admits he wasn’t really out to prove Archbishop Lefebvre was a Sedevacantist (he can’t, of course). Rather, Cekada reveals that the video’s purpose was to actually get people to stop listening to us (Salza and Siscoe), by painting us as the “bad guys,” while he and his comrades (including Archbishop Lefebvre!) are the “good guys.” He says the video and his handpicked quotations “suffice for our one purpose here: To shoot the hot air out of the Society of St. Pius X’s cynical attempt, through Messrs. Salza and Siscoe, to demonize Sedevacantism, and to paint those who adhere to it as the spawn of Luther. Don’t believe it, folks!”

In other words, by his own admission, the
sole purpose of Cekada’s video was a full-out, unmitigated act of damage control. Don’t believe it, folks! Don’t listen to the demonizers, Salza and Siscoe, folks! Of course, Fr. Cekada has good reason to worry that “folks” are “believing” what we (Salza and Siscoe) are saying about his sect, since he has been unable to offer a single theological rebuttal to our book or our feature articles exposing his many errors and dishonesty (for more information, go to, and see the “Sedevacantist Watch” and “From the Mail” sections).

Yes, Fr. Cekada, the “folks” are believing it, and your latest video, in which you attempt to pass the Sedevacantist buck to Archbishop Lefebvre because you cannot defend your own position, has only caused you further damage, if that were even possible. Indeed, the only one in this debate who is full of “hot air” is Fr. Anthony Cekada. And his balloon has just burst


1 “The Indefectibility of the Teaching Body [i.e., the legitimate hierarchy] is at the same time a condition and a consequence of the Indefectibility of the Church. … the Teaching Body as a whole could not die or fail without irreparably destroying the continuity of authentic testimony” Wilhelm, Joseph and Scannell, Thomas,
A Manual of Catholic Theology, vol. 1, 3rd Edition (New York, Cincinnati, Chicago: Benzinger Bros., 1906), pp. 45-46.
Fideliter, 1988 (emphasis added).
4 Text of Archbishop Lefebvre, “The New Mass and the Pope,” cited by Michael Davies, in
Apologia Pro Marcel Lefebvre, Volume 2, Chapter XL.

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True or False Pope? Refuting Sedevacantism and Other Errors

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