Epithets, by Mr. Timothy A. Duff

[Publisher-Editor’s Foreword: Mr. Timothy A. Duff, who took many years to do a careful correction of the English translation of the Venerable Mary of Agreda’s The Mystical City of God, resulting in the publication of The New English Edition of The Mystical City of God, has given me permission to publish an article he wrote on the way in which many of those who are opposed to sedevacantism use epithets to dismiss even the possibility what appears to be the Catholic Church, she who is the spotless, mystical bride of her Divine Founder, Invisible Head and Mystical Bridegroom, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, but is actually her counterfeit ape.

[We must pray for all of our fellow Catholics in this time of apostasy and betrayal. It is only by the graces won for us by the shedding of every single drop of Our Lord Jesus Christ’s Most Precious Blood that flow into our souls through the loving hands of Our Lady, she who is the Mediatrix of All Graces, that any of us who see the true state of the Church Militant in this time of apostasy and betrayal have been able to do so.

[I know that I took far, far longer that I should have to come to a recognition of the truth of our situation at this time. Nearly ten years have passed since I began to write publicly about matters that had been under study for three years beforehand. [Stating such a position publicly can cause one to be criticized severely and to lose friends and financial support. This is simply part of what one must expect.

[Indeed, we must expect criticism and rejection, if not even castigation and scorn, as this is what our sins deserve. It is what a Catholic must be willing to suffer with joy for the sake of the truth, but it does not make anyone who suffers such consequences one whit better than anyone else, which is why we must pray for one and all during this when Catholics lack the Principle of Unity represented by a true and legitimate Successor of Saint Peter.

[Nevertheless, however, it is still remarkable how clichés and slogans are bandied about very freely as though such epithets represent rational thought. Mr. Duff’s reflection thus serves a very good purpose, and I thank him for permitting me to publish it on this site.

[Please do pray for Mr. Timothy A. Duff and his very large Catholic family, and for his superb work to promote The Mystical City of God.]


by Timothy A. Duff

The Gospel for Passion Sunday holds an extremely important clue regarding why so many self-proclaimed zealots who believe they are defending the Catholic Church against sedevacantists behave as they do.

Having given objective, public and undeniable evidence that He was indeed the Son of God and Savior of the world, what reply is given by His bitter enemies?

Do not we say well that Thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? (Jn. 8:48)

Besides the fact that the horrendous depravity of this insult cannot be fathomed, we cannot fail to see the last resort of those who refuse to admit the known truth: They hurl an epithet.

And how serious is it to resort to such an insult? According to Christ, in a serious matter such as this it involves nothing less than the grave danger of eternal damnation.

In the Gospel for Pentecost V Christ makes a statement which until recently I did not quite understand.

And whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. (Mt. 5:22)

What, after all, could be so bad about calling someone a fool? For example, saying “you’re a fool for believing your team will win this game” is certainly not what Our Lord was speaking of; He must have been speaking of a serious issue involving salvation or damnation. His very warning of hell fire proves this.

Hence I believe Our Lord was primarily speaking of a situation in which someone charitably tries to help another see and adhere to the known truth, and the only result is an insult. The hurling of an epithet in such a situation involves a very serious rejection of the known truth.

So what does this have to do with sedevacantists?

It is this: When trying to help others see the reality that one cannot call someone a true Pope and yet refuse to obey him, when one admits he has to resist this “Pope” to save his soul, the reply is:

“Do I not say well that thou art a sedevacantist?”

In other words, such blind people do not view sedevacantism for what it is, the only defensible and sane theological position which explains the reality around us. No; they hurl the term sedevacantist as a mere epithet, an insult, in order to close their minds to the known truth, preferring to adhere to a fantasy “Papacy” of their own creation, one which is diametrically opposed to the infallible Magisterium of the Church, and yet one which preserves their indefensible fantasy.

So this is the point of this article: The use of the term sedevacantist as an epithet rather than a theological position.

A prime example

Though it will lengthen this article, I must give this personal example.

Awhile back I emailed a man well known in the “Recognize and Resist" camp, and inquired about his stance on the Pope issue (without letting him know mine). He admitted that while the Vatican II Popes [sic] have “gone against the Faith”, they nevertheless have been true Popes.

I emailed him back with a Scripture quote pertinent to his position. Speaking of priests, St. Paul said:

Here now it is required among the dispensers, that a man be found faithful. (I Cor. 4:2; Epistle, Advent IV)

I then asked him a simple question: What is it about the word required that you do not understand?

This question really set him off, since by it he suspected I was one of those nasty sedevacantists. His reply was full of the typical specious reasonings why my position was untenable. But the point is this: He did not answer my question.

I do not take kindly to this. Basic reason and justice (and kindness) dictate that when one side asks a reasonable, pertinent and simple question that it be answered honestly and sincerely. Such is how reasonable men act.

Hence I emailed him back, thanking him for his reply, yet repeating the question I asked, specifically asking for a response. In his reply he once again refused to answer the question.

Refusing to back down and allow him to side-step such a simple question, I responded by asking the same question, this time in all caps, demanding an answer.

His reply this time was absolutely classic. He said: “You are a sedevacantist; why am I wasting my time arguing with you?”

And there you have it. He had already made up his mind, and refused to deal on a conscious level with my simple question. Why? Perhaps he did not want to face the consequences of the truth. Indeed there are two kinds of people: Those who are afraid they might lose the truth, and those (like this man) who are afraid they might find it.

Indeed, those who are faced with their own error will often not want to admit it, nor allow such a thought to be truly processed in their conscience, so they try to bury it by hurling an epithet, as if to say, “thou fool, why would I even debate with you?”.

Sin against the Holy Ghost

But whatever the reason for the obstinate refusal to admit the known truth, the law of cause and effect cannot be broken (except by a miracle); hence it follows that actions must have proportionate consequences. And what are the consequences of rejecting the known truth?

The first is quite dire, and I believe in some instances gives the reason for such obstinacy: Resisting the known truth is a sin against the Holy Ghost, and thus deprives the soul of His grace necessary to adhere to the truth with constancy and fortitude.

Second, by grieving the Holy Ghost by opposing the known truth God is justified in allowing that person to fall into error, often the very error they think they are opposing. This is especially true of Modernism, which is not so much a single error but the operation of error, since it does not deny a single truth but the very existence of objective truth. Regarding our time of the Great Apostasy St. Paul wrote:

God shall send them the operation of error, to believe lying; that all may be judged who have not believed the truth, but have consented to iniquity. (II Thes. 2:10-11)

Hence as I have so often witnessed, those who obstinately defend Modernists eventually fall into Modernism themselves. How? By rejecting the true Catholic definition of the Papacy and inventing a pseudo-Papacy to their own liking, something right out of Disneyland. It is thus they can call someone a true Pope and yet act as if they must resist him in faith, morals, government and worship to save their own souls. Do they really believe Christ instituted a Papacy which we must resist to save our souls? This is insanity, indeed blasphemy.

Let us bear His reproach

In summary, those who resort to epithets show a dire prejudice of mind and an unwillingness to follow the truth whithersoever it may lead, even if it means (gasp!) that they may lose popularity, prestige and friendships.

But as it says in Scriptures, in speaking of how Christ was crucified outside the city walls of Jerusalem:

Let us go forth therefore to Him without the camp, bearing His reproach (Heb. 13:13).

If the hurlers of epithets want to remain in Babylon and wallow in the mire of their impossible, insane, and indeed blasphemous position, then all we can do is accept their insults, grow in humility, and forgive those who trespass against us. 

But budge an inch from the truth? Never!