The Instigator
Pro (for)
1 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points


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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/30/2014 Category: Religion
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 780 times Debate No: 59766
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (5)
Votes (1)




As Pro, I will be arguing that there have been no true popes since 1958. First round is for acceptance by a Catholic only.


Accepted. I look forward to it.
Debate Round No. 1


  • The most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the eternal fire which was prepared for the Devil and his angels, unless before death they are joined with her[...](1)

  • [T]hat meaning of the sacred dogmas is ever to be maintained which has once been declared by Holy mother Church, and there must never be any abandonment of this sense under the pretext or in the name of a more profound understanding.(2)

The following decree from the Second Vatican Council contradicts the previous decrees; thus, it is heretical:

  • The separated churches and communities as such, though we believe they suffer from the defects already mentioned, have been by no means deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fulness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church.(3)

Specifically, the phrase “Christ has not refrained from using [separated churches] as a means of salvation” is in direct conflict with the Council of Florence decree. The Council of Florence said that “none of those existing outside the Catholic Church[...] can have a share in life eternal”, yet the Second Vatican Council calls separated churches a “means of salvation.” Put another way:

Premise 1: Something that cannot achieve it's own end is not a means (e.g. If separated churches lead to damnation, they cannot be used as means of salvation).

Premise 2: The Council of Florence said that no salvation exists outside of the Catholic Church, but The Second Vatican Council called separated churches a means of salvation.

Conclusion: The Second Vatican Council contradicts the Council of Florence.

According to the Council of Trent:

  • [I]f at any time it will be found that[...] a Roman Pontiff had deviated from the Catholic Faith or fallen away into some heresy, before his promotion or assumption as Cardinal or as Roman Pontiff, that promotion or assumption concerning him, even if made in concord and from the unanimous assent of all the cardinals, is null and void and worthless[...](4)

Now it has been estalished that any so-called 'Pope' who had become a heretic (e.g. by promoting heresy) before his election, is actually not a true pope. I will assume that both Con and I agree that all so-called 'popes' since 1958 have promoted the decrees of the Second Vatican Council, even before their supposed election as pope.

Premise 1: All so-called popes since 1958 have promoted the decrees of the Second Vatican Council before they were elected. (Con, let me know if you accept or deny this)

Premise 2: The Second Vatican Council was heretical.

Conclusion: All so-called popes since 1958 were heretics even before they were elected; thus, none of them are or ever were popes.

(1) Council of Florence

(2) First Vatican Council

(3) Second Vatican Council

(4) Council of Trent



Thanks Pro! Onto the rebuttals. I'll also throw a few words against sedevacantism as well.

To recap Pro's argument, he states that:
- The Second Vatican Council contradicts the decrees in the Council of Florence and the First Vatican Council
- That is Heretical
- All Popes since 1958 have endorsed the Second Vatican Council prior to their election
- All Popes since 1958 are heretical
- All Popes since 1958 are not real Popes as per the decree at the Council of Trent.
Which is a valid line of reasoning if true.
But there are a number of points I want to bring up that make this argument hard to uphold.

Who is to judge whether a Pope is Heretical or not?
I think this is the main reason to reject sedevacantism. According to the Code Canon Law of 1917 (the operative law for sedevacantists), the authority lies with the Pope and only the Pope as the absolute authority to deal with Cardinals concerning doctrinal or disciplinary matters.

It belongs entirely to the Roman Pontiff to judge...Cardinal Fathers.”-Canon 1557 par.1-2
In the causes of which canon 1556, 1557 treat, the incompetence of any other judge is absolute.” -Canon 1558

So when the Council of Trent rightly states that some “Cardinal...prior to his elevation as Roman Pontiff, has deviated from the Catholic Faith or fallen into some heresy.”, the authority to determine this lies with the Pope and only the Pope, as per Canon Law. The Council of Trent tells us what to do when a Cardinal is a heretic. The Canon Law of 1917 tells us who is to determine it. And it isn't the lay person, not even Cardinals: it is under the jurisdiction of the Pope that determines whether some cardinal is heretical.
Let's go back to the Sedevacantist's claim, that Cardinal Roncalli (Pope John XXIII) was invalidly elected in 1958 as he was a heretic. According to Canon Law, only Pope Pius XII could determine this under absolute authority. But he didn't! And the same is true of all other Popes after 1958: none of them, while Cardinals, were deemed heretic by the Pope at the time. So, we have no choice but to render each Pope's election was valid.
We now have a de facto case against Con's argument.

Ecclesiastical Law
i) All Elections are Valid
It seems that there are at least two decrees that are issued by popes, that deny the validity of the argument.
Pope St. Pius X stated:

None of the Cardinals may be in any way excluded from the active or passive election of the Sovereign Pontiff under pretext or by reason of any excommunication, suspension, interdict or other ecclesiastical impediment” [2]

And Pope Pius XII:

None of the Cardinals may, by pretext or reason of any excommunication, suspension, or interdict whatsoever, or of any other ecclesiastical impediment, be excluded from the active and passive election of the Supreme Pontiff” [3]

From these two decrees, it seems that sedevacancism can be rejected on these grounds, for any heretic can still, upon the Papal Conclave, be elected Pope, for "None of the Cardinals may, by pretext or reason of any excommunication... be excluded from the active and passive election of the Supreme Pontiff". It is also important to differentiate between 'active' and 'passive'. In this sense, 'active' refers to giving votes for some Cardinal and 'passive' refers to the receiving of votes from other Cardinals. So it holds that that even heretics can be subject to the receiving of votes at the Papal Conclave and elected Pope, contrary to Pro's argument.

ii) Changes
Now it may be objected that these decrees constitute change to divine law and thus is in itself heretic. But it seems that at least some decrees that are changeable over time by the Church. [4]
Now this isn't to simply put all Canon Laws into doubt and remove all binding authority from them. Most are immutable. But there are some, like women wearing veils at mass, that are changeable. The task then is to determine whether the mentioned decrees from the said councils are among those immutable laws. This gives the objector to Sedevacantism a de jure reason to reject it: while it may be preferable not to strip the decrees of authority, it isn't a necessary doctrine for the Catholic to hold to.
Moreover, if one takes a view of divine superintendence over the church (see below) then it doesn't seem change is an issue, for it is all justified by God's actions.
So we have a de jure case to reject Pro's argument. We have sufficient reason to think that the Popes are i) not heretical and ii) validly Popes.

Finally, I see there to be some Theological difficulties in affirming that no Popes after 1958 are valid. I think both me and Pro are on the same page when it comes to God being perfect, and that God guides the Catholic Church in all it's operation [5][6]. It then seems that if one questions the authenticity of the Pope, you are in turn questioning the adequacy of God's actions, for God is responsible for superintending the Church and preventing corruption. If you assert that corruption is present (from sedevacantism) then you are doubting God's adequacy and power, which is in itself sinful and heretic.

I have given both a de facto and a de jure case against Sedevacantism. We should therefore render it heretical in itself.

[2] Vacante Sede Apostolica, 1904
[3] Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis, 1945
[5] Matthew 16:18
Debate Round No. 2


Con quoted, “It belongs entirely to the Roman Pontiff to judge...Cardinal Fathers.”-Canon 1557 par.1-2
In the causes of which canon 1556, 1557 treat, the incompetence of any other judge is absolute.” -Canon 1558

I can't argue with that.


'Twas nice debating with you.
God Bless
Debate Round No. 3
Debate Round No. 4
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by GarretKadeDupre 2 years ago
I'm glad he did, I didn't want to be a Sedevacantist anyways xD but some sedevacantist sites were very convincing
Posted by Ajabi 2 years ago
I sent this debate to Tobi, I knew he would ace it. :)
Posted by GarretKadeDupre 2 years ago
Envisage, my argument was basically heretical cardinals can't become popes, and the past 6 'popes' were actually heretical cardinals before their elections, making their elections invalid.

But my opponent cited a church doctrine that says only a pope can judge a cardinal... and since I'm not pope, that means church doctrine says I'm incapable of making the argument I was making xD
Posted by Envisage 2 years ago
*rubs eyes*

Da hell just happened?????
Posted by WileyC1949 2 years ago
Matthew 16:19
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Ragnar 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:13 
Reasons for voting decision: Concession.