top of page

Brownson Refutes Sedes

john c. pontrello

December 26, 2019


Introduction:  Earlier this year a Sedevacantist apologist posted a link to writings of Orestes Brownson, which the Sedevacantist claimed "annihilated" Orthodox convert Guettee’s book “The Papacy.” At that time I pointed out that the very next chapter in his link on "The Constitution of the Church" annihilated Sedevacantist schismatics.  This oversight is what happens to deluded sedevacantists who cannot perceive that the very works they cite in defense of Roman Catholicism often destroys their own positions.  Like all schismatic sects, sedevacantism attacks the constitution of the church. 

Originally I had inserted my own comments throughout the attached PDF but I have since removed them so as not to interrupt the flow of Brownson’s piece.  I have replaced them with this introduction.  Besides, there is no need to explain how each highlighted segment pertains to Sedevacantism.  The only people who will not understand this are Sedevacantists and most of them are too far gone to reach anyways.  Moreover, readers of my book will notice that Brownson corroborates my work to the tee.  He begins by emphasizing the church’s foundation in the papacy. “ we still hold the church to be essentially papal in her constitution” writes Brownson.  Indeed it is. Sedevacantists do not know this, which is why they cannot tell you what the Church’s foundation is when asked the question.  Consequently we see Sedes engaging in YouTube debates displaying their stupidity on the most fundamental doctrine of the RCC. 


Brownson goes on to name all four components of the papal system which include Peter, the Primacy, the Roman Pontiff & Rome.  It is necessary here to remind readers that the Sedevacantist have not one of these essential components.  Not one.  Brownson continues on with another essential mark of the Roman Church – visible unity.  I dedicated an entire chapter of my book to this critical subject.  As Brownson makes clear, schismatics cannot possess unity.  Again this is detrimental to Sedevacantists who have at best an aggregation, multiplicity, or composition of like believers whose episcopacy (for the Sede sects who still claim one) derives from the laity, not the Holy See. Sedevacantism itself is a lay movement that derives from and ends with the laity.  He crushes the idea that these lay ministers who stole the sacrament of Orders could re-create the very unity that is inherent in the true Church from her conception and which could never be lacking.  The entire piece is an excellent treatment of Roman Catholic teaching on the doctrine of the papacy and just wrecks Sedevacantism. 


Brownson delivers the knockout blow when he writes, “This established, the reason becomes evident why the constitution of the church is papal, not simply Presbyterian or episcopal, and why the church of Rome must be regarded as the mother and mistress of all the churches.  The Church as visible must have a visible centre of unity, a central visible life from which all in the visible order takes its rise.  But without the pope and the Roman see, made one in spiritual marriage, this visible centre, this visible central life is not conceivable. Without the papal constitution, there would be nothing in the visible order to represent the invisible unity; which would be tantamount to saying that there is no visible church at all.  But this again would, on the principles we have established, be saying that there is for us no medium of access to the invisible church, and therefore there is and can be no spiritual regeneration or new birth.  We should be as to the spiritual life, practically, as if Christ had not been incarnated, and there were no church.  It follows from this that the papacy is fundamental, essential to the very conception of the church in the visible order; and without it, the visible church could neither be nor be conceived.”  RIP Sedevacantism. 


I also pulled out some of his other ideas that run contradictory to Sedevacantism, such as the Church’s role in the world.  In the finale to this piece, Browson sums it all up in these words, as if intended for Sedevacantists, which sect did not yet exist in his time: “We believe it is of the very last importance in a practical point of view, that the people should understand that, where Peter is, there is the church, and nowhere else; that the church is inconceivable without unity, that the unity of the visible church is inconceivable without the papacy; and therefore that he who separates himself from the pope, separates himself from unity, from the church, from the Christian religion, from Christ himself…”  (all emphases in the PDF are mine)   

bottom of page