In the following sermon, Fr. David Hewko implicitly admits that he doubts whether or not Jorge Bergoglio is a true pope. Father states, “Pope Francis, he may be valid, his priesthood, his consecration. It may be valid. It may not be.” I have demonstrated in this post that by doubting Jorge Bergoglio’s episcopal consecration, it necessarily follows that his being a true pope is doubtful as well. Here, again, is the argument:
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.
Now Fr. Hewko does not state in this sermon the same about Benedict XVI. However, at about the 8-minute mark of this sermon, Fr. Hewko leans towards the Church in the future condemning the New Rites as invalid because of a defect of intention. If Fr. Hewko applies this to the case of Benedict XVI, who was consecrated in the New Rite, then Fr. Hewko doubts whether or not Joseph Ratzinger is a true pope as well.
Fr. Hewko condemns the idea that this doubt automatically makes one a Sedevacantist; he is correct. First of all, Sedevacantism is traditionally understood to mean one who holds, whether as an opinion or with moral certitude, that the Chair of Peter has been vacant since 1958. However, Fr. Hewko accepts John Paul II as a true pope. Secondly, as you can see from the above syllogism, the most that can be concluded is doubt, but not “opinion” or “moral certitude” about whether or not the Chair of Peter is vacant. Nevertheless, Fr. Hewko’s doubt allows him to hold that the Chair of Peter has potentially been vacant1 since 2005 (i.e., 15 years), if he doubts Benedict XVI’s consecration, or since 2013 (i.e., 7 years), if he doubts only Jorge Bergoglio’s consecration. He leaves it up to the Church to finally decide in the future.
Let us analyze Fr. Hewko’s position more closely on a scale of certainty from one proposition to its opposite:
1. I am morally certain that Benedict XVI and Jorge Bergoglio are true popes. Fr. Hewko denies this proposition.
2. I am of the opinion that Benedict XVI and Jorge Bergoglio are true popes. Fr. Hewko denies this proposition.
3. I am of the opinion that Benedict XVI and Jorge Bergoglio are not true popes. Fr. Hewko denies this proposition.
4. I am morally certain that Benedict XVI and Jorge Bergoglio are not true popes. Fr. Hewko denies this proposition.
Fr. Hewko’s position lies somewhere between 2 and 3. It would be fair to state that his position is the following, assuming he doubts both Benedict XVI and Jorge Bergoglio’s episcopal consecration and that he leans towards the invalidity of the New Rite of Consecration:
I doubt whether or not Benedict XVI and Jorge Bergoglio are true popes with a leaning towards the position that they are not true popes.
What I cannot accept is that Archbishop Lefebvre would hold Fr. Hewko’s same position regarding Benedict XVI (again, assuming what I wrote above). Archbishop Lefebvre never raised a doubt about the validity of the episcopal consecration of Joseph Ratzinger, with whom he had intimate dealings. Therefore, I have no doubt that Archbishop Lefebvre would hold this position:
I am morally certain that Benedict XVI is a true pope.
If Fr. Hewko, however, clearly acknowledges the validity of the episcopal consecration of Benedict XVI, then all is good because, after all, Benedict XVI is the true pope!
The video will automatically start and stop at the relevant section after clicking the “Play” button. The section is 4.3 minutes long.
- Here “vacant” is understood to be the case where a man elected by the cardinals has yet to be invested with the full powers given by Jesus Christ to the office of the papacy because he is not a validly consecrated bishop.