One of the common arguments I hear from the Catholic Resistance against the fact that Benedict XVI is still the true pope is that if Benedict XVI dies before Jorge Bergoglio I would become a Sedevacantist. I wrote in this post that the use of the term “Sedevacantist” is an equivocation in this matter. Rather, I would simply hold that the Chair of Peter is vacant (i.e., sede vacante). Nevertheless, let us look more closely to which segment of the Catholic Resistance is at this point in time, while Benedict XVI and Jorge Bergoglio are both living, closer to holding the position of “sede vacante”.
There is a segment of the Catholic Resistance that holds that the Novus Ordo Rite of episcopal consecration is doubtful. Some within this segment do not realize the logical conclusion of holding this position, that is, that Benedict XVI was a doubtful pope and that Jorge Bergoglio is currently a doubtful pope. The argument in syllogistic format is as follows:
Every true pope is a validly consecrated bishop.
But Jorge Bergoglio, elected by the cardinals in 2013, is doubtfully a validly consecrated bishop.
Therefore, Jorge Bergoglio is doubtfully a true pope.
The conclusion that “Jorge Bergoglio is doubtfully a true pope” logically follows from the major and minor premise.
Proof of the Major Premise
A “true pope” is a Catholic man who has accepted his election to the papacy and is a valid bishop.
The 1917 Code of Canon Law (emphasis mine):
§1. The Roman Pontiff, the Successor in primacy to Blessed Peter, has not only a primacy of honor, but supreme and full power of jurisdiction over the universal Church both in those things that pertain to faith and morals, and in those things that affect the discipline and government of the Church spread throughout the whole world.
§2. This power is truly episcopal, ordinary, and immediate both over each and every church and over each and every pastor and faithful independent from any human authority.
The 1983 Code of Canon Law (emphasis mine):
The bishop of the Roman Church, in whom continues the office given by the Lord uniquely to Peter, the first of the Apostles, and to be transmitted to his successors, is the head of the college of bishops, the Vicar of Christ, and the pastor of the universal Church on earth. By virtue of his office he possesses supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church, which he is always able to exercise freely.
Canon 332 §1
The Roman Pontiff obtains full and supreme power in the Church by his acceptance of legitimate election together with episcopal consecration. Therefore, a person elected to the supreme pontificate who is marked with episcopal character obtains this power from the moment of acceptance. If the person elected lacks episcopal character, however, he is to be ordained a bishop immediately.
Proof of the Minor Premise
This is the premise held by the segment of the Catholic Resistance in question.
So this segment of the Catholic Resistance doubt (whether they realize it or not) whether we have had a true pope since the death of Pope John Paul II in 2005! Yet they worry about what would be the result (i.e., sede vacante) if Benedict XVI were to die before Jorge Bergoglio. So who is closer right now to holding the position of “sede vacante”?
But does this segment follow in practice the consequence of their position (logically deduced) that Jorge Bergoglio is a doubtful pope? Nope. Rather than accepting that a doubtful pope is no pope, they go around speaking and acting like they have moral certitude that Jorge Bergoglio is a true pope ascribing to him all the powers of a true pope (e.g., primacy, universal jurisdiction, infallibility, etc.). Yet, inconsistent with their practical attitude toward Jorge Bergoglio, when it comes to doubtful sacraments (because of the doubt of whether one is receiving them from a true priest or bishop), they (correctly) say, “Stay away!”