QUERY GROUP II: Part 2
(10) Why do so many Catholic web sites, traditional ones, have different ideas from each other?
How do I know who or what to believe?
(11) What is sedevacantism? How come they preach different things? Are there different kinds of sedevacantism?
Who is Richard Ibranyi?
(12) What do I teach my children about these times?

Catholic sites on the worldwide web are no different than other sites in format, design, and the opportunity to promote the ideas of those who have the sites. The internet has become the alternative to the standard media monolith. Catholics who uphold the Tradition of the Church now have the ability to defend Tradition by bearing witness to it beyond their parishes. This is the good news. The bad news is the vast universe of the internet and the time it takes to become familiar with the galaxy of planets otherwise known as the Catholic web. A change can occur in minutes if not hours or days. Your local newspaper is printed and delivered once a day, usually in the morning. By the time you read it, some of the headlines are either obsolete or do not highlight the unfolding story as well as they may have done when the paper "was put to bed". Similarly Catholic papers are not dailies, but weeklies up to quarterlies. Weekly news is not the focus, but in-depth look at issues affecting Catholics. This can't be helped. It is the opposite for web sites, especially blogs that can cover hot-button events the same day they arise. It is a mixed blessing of bounty and bewilderment. And the web sites and blogs keep proliferating, although like today's periodicals, they are niche driven by a sharpened interest or subset of a topic or series of related topics as with the "mag trade". 

This is particularly the case with those sites that advocate a position or strategy for Catholics in the pews who are without much trustworthy guidance from the pulpit. There is no new evangelization despite the attempt by the hierarchy to tell the people there is one. Dioceses are shrinking along with the smaller and smaller Catholic family. Some dioceses have growth---those that have Bishops who encourage Tradition, sound formation in their seminaries, and show the utmost respect for the sanctity of human life and do their best to curb abuses. Father John Hardon predicted before his death that: "Entire dioceses would disappear in the U.S."  He also said "only a handful of Bishops were entirely faithful (six) and only about 60 others were 'mostly' faithful.' "  He was sadly, accurate. A study by the Pew Center reveals that as Catholics in America prosper in the professions and in business they become Americans who are Americans first and Catholics second; the practice of the Faith is declining. The only growth, which is still small is among Traditionalists. Pew did not do a study of Traditionalists; however this is a fact based on seminaries, religious vocations, and the increase in Latin Mass communities throughout  most  of the united States. These families are open to the children God wills for them, not what society tells them is best as good Americans.

The so-called new evangelization is the old disastrous RENEW program repackaged. I took a look at one of  the manuals for the faithful in our diocese.  Just like with RENEW the emphasis was on inducing lay Catholics who form little study groups led by another lay person, to believe that the Bible is not always true, that there is another way to interpret it. One of the main line of attacks by the early Modernists was on Scriptural exegesis. The innocent faithful participate in this revision by answering a series of sophomoric questions related to "what do they think?" As with RENEW, what you think is okay because judgments are out.  RENEW leaders actually told the participants that every view was equal. NE does not say this as directly; one perceives this by the context of each lesson plan and the open-ended discussion format. These sessions are not designed for adult catechesis or an authentic catechism refresher course. The Book of Genesis, the first study session, was instructive. It is right out of the "catechism" of Modernism; the errors of Modernism were condemned by both Bl. Pope Pius IX and Pope St. Pius X, in the Syllabus and Pascendi. Doctrine on Adam and Eve, creation, easily found in Denzinger, THE SOURCES OF CATHOLIC DOGMA were denied! Incredible but true! Ergo, the "new evangelization" is really the resurrection of RENEW, the gift that keeps on giving beyond the grave. This, too, will die the well-deserved death of RENEW. Not because the laity are such skilled exegetes but because even the least educated Catholic would be insulted by the banality of the exercises. I said sophomoric because this is a descriptive idiom in formal writing for the silly and the banal. Actually no sophomore I ever knew would be able to sit through one session without bursting out loud with laughter, if he was a serious Catholic. Only it isn't funny. Piety and a Catholic instinct are not intellectual, they are acts of grace. An intellectual life can enhance that instinct and devotion, it  will increase one's knowledge of God, but it is not necessary for salvation certainly. At least this latest round of "RENEW" does not pretend to be an intellectual undertaking. I did not purchase a copy so I can't quote verbatim. I was curious and did not expect to write about it because it was the same old poison. The first page, I grabbed my Denzinger because I could see the drift. The first page. No time to chance a lay person might figure out the scam. They need not have worried. The kind of Catholics who attend these gatherings are already too far gone save a miracle of God. Turnout to date has been low, very low.  Here and there a bright spot. And like RENEW, the NE requires a steam engine chugging along to keep interest up, mention at every Mass, bulletin notices and facilitators. In the  Novus Ordo structure Catholics are all facilitators now or harassed by them if not. A facilitator is a hand-picked "volunteer" who is malleable for retraining in Modernism 101 under a series of disguises. RENEW was so trite and enervating that the establishment had to have facilitators to motivate facilitators. It conked out when the engine ran out of facilitators to facilitate facilitators.  Thanks be to God! Sometimes you just have to think that God has a sense of humor.

 Catholic web sites are out there to try to explain the decline of the Faith and what you might want to do about it, to save your own soul. They serve as ports in the storm and there is a port for every kind of vessel. The flock is scattered and fractured, instead of one Ark, hundreds, maybe thousands. Although the name of the boat may read Catholic still,  most American Catholics sail under the flag of Protestantism, they simply do not know it, like the Anglicans before them and the Arians before them all. Traditional Catholics are divided, too. Not on beliefs, but how to navigate the choppy seas; the difference about navigation is itself a great divide, sedevacantist and non-sedevacantist. Cautious hope or hard-core realism awaiting the worst. This is the divide among non-sedevacantists. Between both there are some who aren't sure. This is why you feel overwhelmed and uncertain.  Part of the problem, ironically, is the technology itself.

If you are an avid gardener there are thirty magazines or so you can subscribe to, some of them special issue only. There are ones for gardeners who also like to attract birds; those who only do patio or container gardening; wild flower enthusiasts or roses only and on and on. Still, there are a limited number of printed publications. Over the years we know which ones we want to read and those we prefer to ignore. Some have been around for a while. Every year there are a few arrivals while others have folded. It takes major backing to develop, promote and sustain the launch of such a publication, even a small newsletter. One has to have a physical plant with an investment and an advertising budget. Postage is climbing.

The web? This is the new frontier. Almost anyone with a tiny nest egg can develop his own web site. Sometimes he can practically do it for free if he only needs 10-100 meg of space and doesn't care about his own URL or web address assigned to him with the name of the site describing what his "spot" is about. This is the nature of the beast or bonanza, depending on your point of view.

Catholic web sites are no different and neither are their web masters and or owners. A web master is the person who maintains the site, updates it, etc. Most web sites of over 1 gig are handled by a web master who is part of the enterprise but may not be the main contact person; he may be under contract or just a friend with time and skills. Smaller sites are usually maintained by the same person who actually has the site. It is more like a hobby or avocation. That person updates the site when he can after work.

Catholic Tradition is a little different, we are a 3 gig site, not as large as major businesses, but in the non-profit Catholic stratosphere, this is considered huge. I am the owner of the site and its web master, too. We [my husband contributes as do some of you] did not start out this way, but the site took on a life of its own. We have more or less settled in now, although the challenges remain as they always do whenever technology and human beings intersect.

Since almost anyone with a few computer skills can put up his own site or simple web page, someone with a gripe or who is an eccentric, a crank or even dangerous can do so. A web site has multiple pages or directories. A web page consists of a single URL or universal resource locator, another name for web address--- www.tomsmith.com, let's say, which sells a Christmas mug and only that. The owner only requires the one page since he uses it to spark interest from surfers who are looking for mugs. He lists a phone number where you can call him to arrange a purchase. There are companies that design and set up these cyber shops for people looking to make some extra money. Generally Catholic one pagers pose no challenge. The page is for a devotion usually. Everything else, especially the blogosphere, takes a while to navigate in order to familiarize yourself. Even when you think you know a web site well enough to link to it on your own site, there are problems. A Catholic site that wasn't an apologist for Medjugorje one day can suddenly be just this the very next day. You haven't visited there for a while and have no idea. A reliable site that offers Church documents along with columns and links can become sedevacantist before you know it. It's a weird trek, if you only look at things from this vantage point, which is a necessity, but only one of several.

Even without the ongoing crisis in the Church, Catholic web sites would be exploding onto the scene if for no other reason than that the webster who has the site has a field of expertise that he thinks is helpful to other Catholics, or is filling what he perceives is an unmet need. He now has an affordable forum with lots of free publicity if he wants it. His local diocesan paper does not appeal to him and others like him and he knows it.

The problems in the modern, "updated" Church cry out for an alternative source of Catholic information and inspiration. Many diocesan newspapers or bulletins are worthless as we all know. So are their web sites. Unfortunately too many lay Catholics are now their own theologians. I don't necessarily blame them, if Rome was a more certain trumpet, more forceful with our local prelates, there would be less noise here on the web.

As the Church externals declined in proportion to its neglect of Tradition, so did the local Catholic shops where we used to go to buy those wonderful little novena books, picture books for our children and grandchildren, those breathtaking holy cards that told a story in one little image, the expression of the internals. Now so many stores sell warmed over Modernism and it is not a pretty sight. Traditional sites attempt to remedy the paucity. They are limited in their resources, too, and have also been affected by the crisis and may not always have good judgment. Every effect causes an opposing effect is a law of nature. We are not immune from nature because we are a part of it. Nobody is immune from misinformation and even disinformation. The web guarantees its multiplicity.

Catholic sites that call themselves Traditional are very serious about the Faith and the issues in the Church just as sites who do not use the term, Traditional, are.  Traditionalists come from as many perspectives as you would find in any Catholic parish where the faithful are struggling to hold on. There is very little guidance except conscience and example; and just as some people have spiritual discernment, others suffer from a severe case of credulity. Nature indeed abhors a vacuum. The mess with the Mass---and the decline of solid Catholic devotions---are the impetus for "Marian chasers"---those Catholics who are so desperate for "that old time religion"---Tradition---that any outlandish apparition or inner locution seems to suffice---not all apparitions being equal. Too many starving Catholics do not realize it is the Church, either through the local Bishops---the usual authority---or the Vatican directly---that must give approval.  If the local Bishop finds that the occurrence is of no supernatural origin, the case is closed and Rome defers. Sometimes this can take decades or more. As long as either the Holy See or the local Ordinary do not say no, provided the authorities have been notified and are looking into the matter, one can continue interest, on the basis of uncertainty. The local Bishops have said no to Bayview in the US, for instance. There is a web site dedicated to promoting the cult anyway. There are so many.

If not Marian chasers, some others cling to arcane or esoteric theories why this and that has happened. Rumors are as numerous as computer viruses and sometimes more deadly. Instead of a computer crashing, the person does. It is really a shame that Traditional Catholics who uphold the Papacy and have some expertise by way of education and practice could not band together to offer a service to act as a clearing house for Catholic surfers. There are some, but they tend to be Novus Ordo sites run by people with traditional morals and conservative ideas about liturgy, not actual Traditionalists as we understand the term. They are very good people and very good Catholics, but have little understanding about Tradition and what Traditionalists are about. This is not their fault, this is just the way it is because of the demarcation lines in the sand that Catholics have felt compelled to draw since the deluge. The Ark is divided, a sign that Vatican II was not of the Holy Ghost as in the past. Before, Catholics were just Catholics and all were Traditionalists because the very definition of a Catholic includes Tradition. Many of us resent the need to have to append the term Traditionalist to our identity as Catholic at all. We have done so out of sheer necessity because so many Catholic sites are a hybrid of Catholic teaching and devotions and various other religious ideas mixed in for good measure, some of which includes superstition and just bad judgment. The people who have the sites are in all likelihood mostly well-intentioned. They are ignorant and confused, and I don't blame them actually. An example. One priest, who is a Traditionalist has a bio-sketch on his blog that includes his astrological sign. I am not kidding! Now, does anyone honestly think he rises in the morning and checks his chart? Of course not. The pagan culture has crept into his lexicon and part of his mentality. He just does not think about it because it is so much a part of modern life.

Catholics are also afraid, most understandable, and some won't budge to look around; better to cling to some possible mistakes than go too far. Commendable as far as it goes. I know the feeling and the inclination. Taking a stand that one has to defend can lead some personalities to go "off the deep end", right out of the Church, such as into sedevacantism or another religion or one of their own devising or total apostasy and atheism. A friend of mine embraced sedevacantism [definition below] because he could not understand the modern Papacy. He needed within himself to fashion some theme that vindicated his disbelief  and shock and gave what he presumed was a coherent mode of thought and action. He cited one of the priests, now a "bishop" of one wing of the movement as his mentor. I was familiar with that priest and knew it was trouble. I cautioned him, telling him that he would lose his faith. He replied, "Oh no, not me!" Famous last words. Well, one day we were having a cup of coffee---the visit had only just begun---and he blurted out: "I have lost my faith. I am not even sure if I believe in God at all." I was devastated but not surprised. Every effect has an opposite effect and the combination of effects serve as a trajectory or path that propels the effects in a predetermined direction. Once you believe there is no Pope and few valid priests to effect the Sacraments, one has to devise other themes for rationalizing the effects of this for you in your mind and so forth. By definition, one is led from schism to unbelief, if one pursues matters far enough long enough. Once you become your own "pope" by default all bets are off. A worldwide apostasy hovers all around us and we are not exempt, just because we think we are.  Friends who one year analyzed the situation in the light of Church history and teaching, the very next year asserted opposite arguments without foundation. Two friends I know say the Rosary devoutly. One woman insists that Mary led her into sedevacantism; the other said the Rosary for discernment about the same group, which she visited and felt compelled to flee. Mary cannot teach error or contradict Tradition. Our Lady of Fatima spoke about the Pope, that it would be late, but he would consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart. If no Pope, where is the authority to declare a consistory to elect one to do the Consecration? If no Pope how does she gain a plenary indulgence from the recitation of the Rosary? Between the death of one Pope and the election of another, that authority remains in the deceased Pontiff which passes to the ongoing assembly of Cardinals. Christ named the first Pope, the Apostles and Bishops the rest in an unbroken line. Antipopes did nothing to interrupt the line of succession---there was always a validly elected Pope. Faulty reasoning combined with heightened feelings could happen to us. We aren't any better than anyone else. If we think we are, we are in more trouble than someone else might appear to be. This ought to be rule #1 on the web just as it is in spiritual combat. Trust not yourself, weak man, full of concupiscence and the cares of the world.

Another problem is personal identification. A newspaper has a masthead, a magazine the same. The publisher, the editor, the contributors are listed. A physical address and phone number are provided. Not always so the internet. One reason is perfectly sound. Magazines and other periodicals, and web news outlets, too, are in business, they have actual offices with staff. A crank can go to that office or dial the number or send a letter and be a meddlesome irritation, but there is a bulwark of layers to protect the enterprise. A lone web master does not have this luxury. He is alone or if with a small group, the group is alone. Try publishing your number on the web and see what happens if you are non-profit. Try the address, sometimes worse if some local nut sees it on the web. You are a target. Look at the volume of junk mail or spam we receive! It is the ever unknown out here. Unfortunately, this makes it difficult to sort through and decide who is who and what is what. Again, the nature of the beast. The upside is that you have a place to go where once you felt isolated or marginalized.

Another positive is the reduced ads. Regular sites may have lots of popup ads and other such irritations, Catholic sites that are not commercial have a minimum if any at all. The pop culture cannot intrude for a brief moment in an otherwise dreary anti-purity day if it did. Just think, no girls in bathing suits selling you toothpaste, no rock music, no grinning faces with body piercings in every spare place in the face; no commercials making fun of Dad, the butt of every joke. Something to read or watch, no ads other than the few sites that have no choice because of their web host, nothing like in the other media.

So what do you do, realistically, given your limited time and perhaps limited experience? All anyone can do is give guidelines because things change at the speed of light in cyberspace. Catholics have different needs because their circumstances are different as is their state of life. Here are the 12 cardinal rules for Traditional Catholic surfers. Please note well that they will be somewhat self-serving, by definition, I can't help that. There is no other way, if there were, I would gladly avail myself of the means. Also note well that the rules are for content and tone, not graphic style, the bells and whistles. This has nothing to do with actual content. A good animation will not save your soul, although it might perk you up if you are having a bad day. This is a personal preference and no one needs guidance here. If you don't like a lot of graphics, you tend to avoid those sites; if you are looking for visuals because your local parish church has been stripped bare, you will enjoy the sites that attract you with imagery, not only content. Many of the rules are basic for any web site and or visitor. Blogs are discussed separately below.

If you ask a web master this question, How do I know which site is good? you may not realize it, but you have already placed your trust somewhat in him or her. Otherwise you would not have asked. Use the skills you did for coming to trust that web master for any other. Before you begin, pray, I mean it, say a prayer to your Guardian Angel or St. Gabriel. Do not go anywhere on the web without relying on his hand on yours.

1. First in the list but not first in importance. Look for a contact, phone, e-mail, whatever is there. If no contact person is provided this is a bad sign. They want to remain hidden or aloof. An e-mail address is not too much to ask. They may think they have a good reason, but this is not good enough for you. Stay away. This sort of thing is found more in secular surfing, but I have run into it on Catholic sites. If your e-mail is answered but the tone of the response is not welcoming or evasive, an indicator that something else is floating about. One example. When I was new to the web I e-mailed the first "Traditionalist" I landed on. I asked a serious question about an article I had read there. The web master and owner answered. He condemned all priests who were not "independent"; when I asked for his "credentials" such as what Bishop he was ordained by, he was irate and refused to tell me. I figured if a priest is spurning almost every ordination of others, he ought to at least be forthcoming about his own. A chef is never afraid to disclose his culinary training and experience. And neither is a good priest. He as much as told me it was none of my business, then dismissed me. It turns out he is a sedevacantist, a belligerent one. I learned to stay away before I knew. It was his tone, the attitude, the "food" smelled bad. My instincts were correct. Our instincts won't always be because we are not infallible, but they are a good start sometimes.

E-mail replies, how prompt? If not within a few days, is it because the web master was on vacation, ill, or is this a regular problem? This could be a sign of a character flaw; that webster might be better off on his knees than on the web perhaps.

2. If there is a bio read it. Most websters do not include this unless they are bloggers and then only limited. The nature of the material they provide, especially if they do their own columns usually discloses their background and purpose. Websters are cautious to list a lengthy bio for the same reason they do not give a phone number, too much info could mean identity theft or ideas for hackers. Bloggers face less threat because most bloggers are in a combine of blogs handled by a large blog clearing house, a blogspot.com kind of arrangement or are subsidiaries of larger sites. One can always write and ask for the background. People who intend to do harm do not want to send e-mail with their address which can be traced, thus, most websters will tell you something you want to know. If they refuse or give you a confusing account or seem suspicious of you, be suspicious of them, avoid their site. Always remember anyone can post a bio, but is it accurate? The real story is in the integrity of the material, which takes time to acquaint yourself with.

3. Does the web site have a statement of purpose? If not, ask what it is. Perhaps the nature of the site is simply self-explanatory to begin with. In fact, most are, actually. A web site devoted to Padre Pio is the statement of purpose.

4. How long have they been on the web? If they don't say, ask. It isn't necessary to announce this statistic because time itself is not an indication of anything except the tenacity of the webster. Businesses are something else. But at least you might be able to determine with some probability if they are going to be here today, or gone tomorrow, death not withstanding. If a site fits your needs you might want to estimate longevity, if you count on the material. If you want to be sure, and you are able to store data, download it and save it; this way if you have bookmarked the page or site and it comes up something else, you at least have the material. This happens a lot with small sites with one owner. Circumstances change, ill health, job loss, discouragement. The majority of small Traditional web sites will not be on the web within two years of their debut; others will fill the void, maybe.

5. What is the general tone of the site? Is is suggestive that some group of Catholics are not as good, maybe deserve Hell? I don't mean pointing out differences that are valid, that is the reason to have the site, an unmet need. I mean the nasty kind, the scurrilous kind. Do they suggest that if you do not do as they say or share their ideas you are not a good Catholic---apart from actual Church teaching, that is. Even then they ought not rush to judgment, many Catholics just don't know they don't know and want to be as faithful as possible. Nobody should think he is "better" than someone else. This is God's call not ours. There is a world of difference between someone who thinks he is right because he thinks he is and someone who is right because he knows right from wrong. The pharisee and the publican. The trouble with Traditionalists is there seem to be many pharisees who don't know it, at least in tone if not by intent.

People write almost in tears sometimes because they have a tender conscience and they are feeling needless guilt about something that isn't even a sin.  One example. An older woman with a malady that causes severe feet and leg spasms cannot wear dress heels, flats are all she can manage at that. One well-meaning but over the top do-gooder pointed out that women should wear heels for Mass. There is nothing in Marylike modesty that dictates this. There isn't even anything in proper social etiquette dictating this. It is the material of the shoe, not the specific height. One does not wear dirty sneakers to Mass unless that is the only pair one really has. Sneakers can be cleaned. Dress flats are fine, especially for young ladies of minority age and old women. Our Lady was barefoot, is barefoot in most approved apparitions. This was the custom which she maintained. The standard of the times, the culture and circumstances, within the proper context of Marylike modesty---are the guide, not the personal preferences of others. The one doing the pointing had no understanding at all. An over reaction to a real problem, immodest dress at Mass, compounding the problem by causing some people to perhaps stay away, a real tragedy.  A pharisee, burdening the people with man-made rules that weary, not build up the Body of Christ. And I am certain that the one in question is clueless, with nary a malicious bone in her body. Honest.  St. John Vianney wrote a little piece on propriety for church, a much more sensible guide. And he was a stickler for decorum before the Tabernacle, too. But no pharisee. The pharisees among us make all of us look bad.

6. This is the second most important. We place it here because the others above are filtering processes before you need to arrive at this point. What is the content? If you are looking for novenas, are they traditional or updated with language where God is lowercase and the like? This might mean they are well disposed but getting their material from Novus Ordo sources, which are not all bad, in fact some are excellent, while others' the novenas and litanies can be on the silly side. I will always remember one site devoted to St. Francis of Assisi. It could have been done by Al Gore. Do not be lulled by the word, Traditional. If you want Catholic news, is it a news site or only commentary? Or both? Where do they get their news? Are the articles that are links from reliable news sources? Many sites are some kind of combination, others are devotional only. If you want spiritual reading, is the selection in the classical mode? That is from recognized authors? Are imprimaturs noted? Is the opinion portion clearly labeled or otherwise presented in such fashion that you know it is an opinion? What is the background for the opinion? Is the writer a crank in your estimation? Use the same good judgment you do when you meet someone for the first time. Does the writer welcome another point of view within the ambit of fidelity to the Faith? No Catholic site should want to give credence to an abortion advocate, for instance. But Catholics can disagree about many problems in life; everyone has his own ideas or theories, it is the way the human mind works. We could not stop this if we wanted to. Not all opinions are of equal import and no one should give every opinion he has ever had. Self-control and modesty are an asset. A sense of humor can't hurt. Just remember there is something disordered about people who cannot accept another opinion where divergence is permitted, they have to be right all the time. I repeat, it is not important who is right and who is wrong and sometimes we will never know, it is only important to know what is right and wrong, the best course of action for your circumstances and if it comports with common sense. There is a distinction between people who are argumentative and those who like to argue. The first is about them, the debate is window dressing; the second is about the issue itself. I know you know what I mean, now that I have raised it. Be wary of people who dismiss all "conspiracy theories" since history has shown there have been plenty. Be just as wary of people who think everything they can't "pin down" is a conspiracy. A lot of outcomes stem from simple human misery, bungling, bad ideas, and hubris, joined together with others who are similarly disposed. This is life, not a conspiracy. There has to be some reason for a probability, not just a far-fetched possibility. Anything is possible not always likely, given the limitations people have. Always ask for motive. Could there be another reason? How do they know what they think they know?

7. If the web site makes an innocent error or typo or some similar mistake, is it prompt to correct it? Prompt means within 7 to 10 days. Not every one has DLS; dialup connections can be a bother. Not everyone is on line 24 hours a day. Visitors have to be reasonable, too. Does he thank you by e-mail, if that is how you contacted the web master? If by phone, he ought to thank you before the call is concluded. Make a mental note, if not, that site is lax and this could be an indicator.

8. Links---to other sites. This rule is very general and the least likely to be a good source of integrity, unless the site has a full time web master to check links and update regularly. Most websters wear a zillion hats just like you do at home and can't do it all. In general, are the links updated periodically, are they reliable for what you need? If you find a bad link or a link "gone bad", does the webster remove the link when the problem is brought to his attention? If he does not seem to care, this means he is sloppy in other matters, remove the bookmark for that site unless you are willing to tolerate this.

9. If you require assistance within the competency of the site's focus does the person who has this position do his best to help if possible? If not, does he try to steer you to another site to help you if that is at all possible depending on his knowledge? If not, see # 8 above.

10. Do you have questions that keep nagging you, are you suspicious a lot of the time; does the site keep you only angry or does it also feed your faith more than it saddens you? Does it help you to put matters into perspective that does not leave you always unnerved and touchy? [An occasional instance is to be expected, normal.] Is your prayer life better? Does this site cause you to spend too much time fretting or otherwise take you away from the practice of the Faith, and duties in life, rather than toward it? Are the images pure? And so forth. If this site were someone's living room would you feel truly invited and at home? This is intuitive and dependent on your own skill, I can't help you with this. But these are the sort of questions you ought to think of if you are just beginning to use the web. You likely have some I have not thought of.

11. How does this site compare with others of its specific kind? Are their facts really facts, if I am not sure can I find facts that I need elsewhere to substantiate? This is a bit tricky, experience will be your guide here. Why? Because a lot of web sites share material, if one site has a "bad" fact, it can get passed around and repeated and look like fact. E-mail, ask questions, search; after a while you will get the idea and your instincts will be honed. Always remember that just because something is repeated on the web it can not confer truth on something that is false.POPE ST. PIUS V

12. Last but not least since it must be first and I want you to remember it, is the web site in union with Rome? By this I mean, does the site acknowledge the Pontiff as one, not the notion of a Papacy only? Does the site accept all the doctrine of the Church, do they practice Catholicism as you do? If not, all of the above are no longer necessary, with one exception, documents or articles by the Saints, etc. A treatise by Alphonsus Liguori that has not been altered is still the work of the Saint and profitable for growth in sanctity. An encyclical by Pope St. Pius X is still Catholic Truth. Prudence, yes, rank stupidity, no.

A little hint here. Some sedevacantists do not say they are in so many words. The main clue is that when they reference the Pope, they always say John Paul or Benedict XVI---always. In the Catholic writer's lexicon of usage, if a paragraph is referring to a specific Pope by name several times, at least once the title, Pope, will be appended or the Pontiff, etc. The rest of the paragraph may say Benedict or Benedict XVI. This is not the same thing at all. The variation in a paragraph is just that, writing variation for style, not a slight or insult. If that site never calls the Pope, Pope, you know what you are dealing with. This is how I eventually caught on.

BLOGS

A blog is a bio-log or web page [site] that is a running conversation with those who have registered with the blog, like an open bulletin board, combined with updates daily or more. It is a personal page, thus the bio part. It is a share in the life of the person on the web who runs the blog to engage others in debate or the promotion of ideas and to inform about news that would be of interest to the people who log on. The interests of blogs tend to be more narrow, by design since it is a journal, not only an informational site. Some blogs do not have a moderator, the owner is his own. Others have someone designated to moderate loggers on who engage in the discussion. They act as gatekeepers if the exchange becomes unruly, for instance. It takes an investment of time to blog. I link to them and visit them if an item attracts my attention, but as a web master I do not have the time myself.  Some media commentators find blogs problematic, the interests are too parochial and can become too personal or intense. Because of the running contribution a lot of the opinion is bothersome to sort through. Facts can be hard to ascertain often. Some people prefer this approach.  Many many blogs are part of a constellation of similar sites, overseen by an entity that has established the blog center. The blog can also serve as the web hosting company itself. People who participate as blog members in this arrangement have an URL but it is not their own domain. Some blog centers are free, others have a fee. Other blogs are self-sustaining web sites or pages that function like a blog but are part of a non-blog super site, such as FOX News. The comments  posted are for the public to peruse; one does not need to be a member for this. There are web sites that do the same, but they are not updated daily and have more content archived. Technically they are not blogs because the updates are less frequent. CT thought of having its own blog but decided to remain as is for now. I would not have the time to devote to it. Blogs tend to link to other blogs, although regular sites are also linked. Blogs are a network within the overall network called the world wide web. Catholic blogs work the same way. Some are part of a Catholic constellation, others secular. Bloggers tend to spend more time on the web. MY SPACE, YOU TUBE,  and other web centers that  "rent" space or offer free space to others have blogs in the sense of the commentary and the personal bio-sketches. You have to be a registered [free usually] member to log on to a blog to participate.  There are blogs for stay at home mothers, priests, you name it.

How do I know who or what to believe?

By trial and error, that is, you need to locate written sources that are in print or on the web that you can validate their original source, so you have some background to make comparisons with. A solid Traditional site relies heavily on the historical sources of Catholic instruction, the documents and encyclicals of the Popes, the writings of the Saints, spiritual tracts by priests and religious before  Vatican 2 in general---this is not a perfect guide, prayer cards and leaflets, and so forth. Web masters have a lot of difficulty because the copyright law has to be observed. The Catholic classics, once out of print have come back. Sometimes this means one can not publish them on the web without permission, because the publisher has reserved all rights. The fair use law lets one publish brief excerpts only. Older classics are exempt no matter if the publisher claims otherwise. An example. If a webster has a 1920 copy of a work by St. Alphonsus Liguori, the copyright has expired. If a publisher reprints it, he can reserve rights on the layout, the font, etc. The content cannot be copyrighted unless he has altered the translation or updated the work somehow.  This legality  is confusing to people. Websters are limited in the material that is not their own, so you get a lot of original writing, which means you need to be discerning. Even when a text is quoted from a Church Council, you have to locate the original source to validate it unless you are familiar with the site and know it quotes accurately. All significant declarations of dogmatic Councils are in Denzinger's SOURCES OF CATHOLIC DOGMA.  This tome is handy to have. It has three indices, Scriptural, Systematic, Alphabetical by Subject and Title. A good catechism prior to Vatican II is also useful along with the Bible. There are sites that feature the Douay-Rheims Bible, the Council of Trent, encyclicals, etc. One notorious sedevacantist had published a supposed quote from the Council of Florence, I don't recall offhand which one, defining the validity of the Consecration in such a way that it appeared to confirm his own theory. Who has read the Council of Florence for bedtime reading? I knew the Church has accepted St. Thomas Aquinas' doctrine on validity. This is the rule. So I checked up on Florence. No such definition. Denzinger would have had it because of the importance. It carries all the significant definitions of the Council of Trent, for instance. He had fabricated it or gotten it from someone else. It was a lie somewhere down the line.  I wrote back asking for elaboration, but he never answered, that was my answer. If I were mistaken he would have jumped at the chance to make his case. Most do not tell lies or make things up. They may rely on others too often who do not have facts straight and like gossip, the thing becomes a whopper before you know it. Human nature.

What is sedevacantism? How come they preach different things?
Are there different kinds of sedevacantism? Who is Richard Ibranyi?

Sedevacantists are in schism necessarily, not in heresy, depending. The word means "the Chair [of Peter] is vacant." There is no Pope in Rome they insist. Sedes is Latin for seat or chair. I will have to oversimplify because it takes a 100 page book to explain every variant and cause and subsequent approach. There many kinds of sedevacantism, but this is the essential definition. Schism means a break with the Holy See or the Pope. There are two kinds: the schismatic removes himself from the jurisdiction and authority of the Pontiff because of some dispute or other concern that is paramount to the one in schism. The schismatic recognizes the Holy See as being there, not vacant. The other kind is sedevacantism.

How did they come to believe and promulgate this notion? The errors of Vatican II caused many to doubt. Some people thought that the Popes since Vatican II must be heretical. Those errors they object to, as we all do, are not dogmatic, no one is obliged to believe them. They are opinions and notions from one of the most unusual, unprecedented events in the history of the Church, along with the Avignon Papacy. Surely a chastisement from God for our own sins and laxity. There have always been intellectual discourses on the possibility of a prelate or a Pope who is a heretic. There are two kinds of heresy, material and formal. The first is a fact but the Church does not declare the person a formal heretic because either he is not brought before the authority that can do something or because the Pope is weak and chooses not to. Remember a bad decision is not an act of infallibility. To not do something that can and ought to be done does not involve infallibility, which is for the definition of that which is certain truth. If I declare to you that Susie has five children, that my source is infallible, the existence of the family, this is truth. If I don't care enough about Susie to inquire about her family and do not relate to you anything about her other than there is someone named Susie, the fact that I either do not know she has five children or don't care is not a falsehood. I did not tell you she has 4 instead of 5. I simply did not discuss her family because I did not know. This is how infallibility works, the Church never formally proposes for belief under anathema that which is not truth. Until inspired by the Holy Ghost, the Church may not declare all that could be declared revealed truth at any given time; it is only protected from error on that which it does teach formally.  If a teaching of the Church has always been taught by the Church and universally believed, whether formally declared or not it is considered the equivalent of formal definitions.

Throughout history weak Popes have made errors of judgment and in their opinions. Perhaps the most notorious was Pope Honorius during the Arian heresy . The people recognized his errors, they knew he was a material heretic, although he did not promulgate them as binding for belief. He was never held by the Church to be an antipope. He is held to be a true Pontiff, the line of Peter intact. It is the rule of Tradition that no one may judge the Pope, only Christ.  We can judge his actions, we cannot declare him a heretic formally speaking, because he is the highest authority. We may have to admonish him for the good of the Church but we cannot judge him as such. St. Thomas Aquinas tells us if need be we are to admonish a prelate to his face in public. We cannot go further. The Church through the Pope and Councils can decide if a Pope was invalidly elected as to holding office---more than one claimant at a time, for instance, but no one can judge the Pope himself as to his orthodoxy as a juridical declaration.

One of the theologians who discussed the possibility of a Pope being a heretic was the theologian, St. Robert Bellermine. Some sedevacantists like to point this out. They take that paragraph of his out of context. The Saint admitted further on in his work in which this topic was brought up that he was merely speculating, that he and not anyone else had the authority to actually judge the Pope as to his holding the office. Moreover, in the speculation portion he never said, leave the Holy See. He was engaging in an intellectual exercise, not writing a plan of action for the members of the Church. Sedevacantists avoid the part of his treatise that is inconvenient.

There are various groups of sedevacantists: [1] There is no Pope since Ven. Pope Pius XII; one subset goes further and says maybe before this, too. [2] There is no visible Pope but he is there somewhere waiting to emerge; [3] There is a Pope, but we have him here in our midst, not in Rome---some unhinged man usually claims the title of Pope. Since Vatican II, we have had or have Pope Pius XIII, Pope Stephen, Pope Gregory something, among others; [4] We are not sure if there is a valid Pope but to be safe we will avoid all Sacraments confected by priests and bishops since such and such date---different scenarios for each group in this category; and [5[ Not only is there no Pope there are no bishops or priests, period. This is called the Stay at Home thesis or something like this, as I recall; Catholics are to stay home on Sunday, read their missals and say the Rosary. Richard Ibranyi is the leading figure of this claim. He has a long history. He started off calling Pope Pius XII a heretic because he suspended for a time Father Feeney,  the penalty lifted by the same Pope later. This was a disciplinary measure and not doctrine. Why? The claim was doctrinal, but when Fr. Feeney was "reconciled", the Holy See did not ask him to retract his statements. It could not because he merely stated what Pontiffs had decreed in their Bulls. One is free to disagree if it was wise or not,  to suspend him. Infallibility was not involved in the disciplinary measure. From there Ibranyi went on to debate Gerry Matatics who was not a sedevacantist at the time. Then he lapsed into full-blown schism and into his species of sedevacantism. Matatics is now a sedevacantist, too. We need to pray for each other so much. Most sedevacantists consider Ibranyi a nut. Pay no attention to him. Some of the errors he points to are indeed errors, but they are erroneous opinions that some of the hierarchy promote as doctrine. This does not make the Pope a heretic. This is what can occur with a weak Papacy that does not crack down on abuses. However, the Church is Christ's---He must ultimately judge. If He permits a weak Papacy we know He must have a reason. My opinion is what I have already posited, our chastisement for a purification of the Church in anticipation of the Consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart. I could be dead wrong. I know one thing for certain, no one on earth can judge the Pope as not being the Pope in his worthiness. This is Tradition.

Now that you have explained why sedevacantists think like they do, how did they go this far, if they claim to be Traditionalists?

By picking and choosing what aspects of unchanging Tradition they liked and discarding those they did not. I mentioned two already---St. Robert Bellermine and the Tradition that commands that only Christ can judge the Pope in his fitness to hold office. The others are from Vatican Council I.  Recall that Church Councils are called for doctrinal reasons, to rule on heresies, to settle disputes that involve these essentially. Vatican I took up several urgent matters, one of which was the notion about the Pope's authority, which some in the Church were disputing. Until then there was not a great need to have a formal declaration because Catholics generally and universally, up to this time, accepted the teaching on the Pope, implicitly, in the way the Council would determine and declare explicitly, just as The Council of Trent did with the Mass and other Sacraments after the Protestant Revolt.

This is what Vatican I teaches infallibly on the Papacy: Note I reference only that which pertains to the claims of sedevacantists.

CHRIST THE KING

SESSION IV July 18, 1870
FIRST DOGMATIC CONSTITUTION
ON THE CHURCH OF CHRIST PIUS, BISHOP,
SERVANT OF THE SERVANTS OF GOD,
WITH THE APPROVAL OF THE SACRED COUNCIL FOR PERPETUAL REMEMBRANCE

The Eternal Pastor and Bishop of our souls, in order to continue for all time the life-giving work of His Redemption, determined to build up the Holy Church, wherein, as in the house of the living God, all who believe might be united in the bond of one faith and one charity. Wherefore, before He entered into His glory, He prayed unto the Father, not for the Apostles only, but for those also who through their preaching should come to believe in Him, that all might be one, even as He the Son and the Father are one. [John xvii. 20 f.]  As then He sent the Apostles whom He had chosen to Himself from the world, as He Himself had been sent by the Father; [Ibid., xx. 21] so He willed that there should ever be pastors and teachers in His Church to the end of the world. And in order that the episcopate also might be one and undivided, and that by means of a closely united priesthood the multitude of the faithful might be kept secure in the oneness of faith and communion, He set Blessed Peter over the rest of the Apostles, and fixed in him the abiding principle of this twofold unity and its visible foundation, in the strength of which the everlasting temple should arise, and the Church in the firmness of that faith should lift her majestic front to Heaven. [From Sermon iv, chap. ii, of St. Leo the Great, A.D. 440, vol. 1, p. 17, of edition of Ballerini, Venice, 1753; read in the eighth lection on the feast of St. Peter's Chair at Antioch, February 22] And seeing that the gates of Hell with daily increase of hatred are gathering their strength on every side to upheave the foundation laid by God's Own hand, and so, if that might be, to overthrow the Church: We, therefore, for the preservation, safe-keeping, and increase of the Catholic flock, with the approval of the Sacred Council, do judge it to be necessary to propose to the belief and acceptance of all the faithful, in accordance with the ancient and constant faith of the universal Church, the doctrine touching the institution, perpetuity and nature of the sacred Apostolic Primacy, in which is found the strength and solidity of the entire Church; and at the same time to proscribe and condemn the contrary errors so hurtful to the flock of Christ.

CHAPTER I
On the Institution of the Apostolic Primacy in Blessed Peter

We therefore teach and declare that, according to the testimony of the Gospel, the primacy of jurisdiction over the universal Church of God was immediately and directly promised and given to Blessed Peter the Apostle by Christ the Lord. For it was to Simon alone, to whom He had already said: "Thou shalt be called Cephas," [John i. 42] that the Lord, after the confession made by him, saying, "Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God," addressed these solemn words, "Blessed art thou, Simon, Bar-Jona, because flesh and blood have not revealed it to thee, but My Father, Who is in Heaven. And I say to thee that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church; and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of Heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in Heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in Heaven." [Matt. xvi. 16 ff.] And it was upon Simon alone that Jesus, after His resurrection, bestowed the jurisdiction of Chief Pastor and Ruler over all His fold in the words, "Feed My lambs, feed My sheep." [John xxi. 15, 17]  At open variance with this clear doctrine of Holy Scripture, as it has ever been understood by the Catholic Church, are the perverse opinions of those who, while they distort the form of government established by Christ the Lord in His Church, deny that Peter in his simple person preferably to all the other Apostles, whether taken separately or together, was endowed by Christ with a true and proper primacy of jurisdiction; or of those who assert that the same primacy was not bestowed immediately and directly upon Blessed Peter himself, but upon the Church, and through the Church on Peter as her minister.

(Canon) If anyone, therefore, shall say that Blessed Peter the Apostle was not appointed the Prince of the Apostles and the visible head of the whole Church Militant, or that the same directly and immediately received from the same our Lord Jesus Christ a primacy of honour only, and not of true and proper jurisdiction; let him be anathema.

CHAPTER II
On the Perpetuity of the Primacy of Blessed Peter in the Roman Pontiffs

That which the Prince of Shepherds and great shepherd of the sheep, Jesus Christ our Lord, established in the person of the Blessed Apostle Peter to secure the perpetual welfare and lasting good of the Church, must, by the same institution, necessarily remain unceasingly in the Church, which, being founded upon the Rock, will stand firm to the end of the world. For none can doubt, and it is known to all ages, that the holy and Blessed Peter, the Prince and chief of the Apostles, the pillar of the faith and foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour and Redeemer of mankind, and lives, presides and judges to this day, always in his successors the Bishops of the Holy See of Rome, which was founded by Him and consecrated by His Blood. [From the Acts (session third) of the Third General Council, namely, that of Ephesus, A.D. 431, Labbe's Councils, vol. viii, p. 1154, Venice edition of 1728. See also letter of St. Peter Chrysologus to Eutyches, in life prefixed to his works, p. 13, Venice, 1750.] Whence, whosoever succeeds to Peter in this see does by the institution of Christ Himself obtain the primacy of Peter over the whole Church. The disposition made by Incarnate Truth (dispositio veritatis) therefore remains, and Blessed Peter, abiding in the rock's strength which he received (in accepta fortitudine petra: perseverans), has not abandoned the direction of the Church. [From Sermon III, chap. iii, of St. Leo the Great, vol. 1, p. 12.] Wherefore it has at all times been necessary that every particular Church----that is to say, the faithful throughout the world----should come to the Church of Rome on account of the greater princedom which it has received; that all being associated in the unity of that see whence the rights of venerable communion spread to all, might grow together as members of one head in the compact unity of the body. [From St. Irenreus against Heresies, book III, cap. iii, p. 175, Benedictine edition, Venice, 1784; and Acts of Synod of aquileia, A.D. 381. Labbe's Councils, vol. ii, p. 1185, Venice, 1721.] (Canon) If, then, anyone shall say that it is not by the institution of Christ the Lord, or by Divine right, that Blessed Peter has a perpetual line of successors in the primacy over the universal Church; or that the Roman Pontiff is not the successor of Blessed Peter in this primacy; let him be anathema.

In other words, the Papacy is in perpetuity, it is visible by necessity. No Pope, no Church to find to enter the ark of salvation.

These brief excerpts are so clear that only someone who does not want to know and believe would disregard them. Objectively speaking [I judge not the heart of any] sedevacantists are not Traditionalists, nor Catholic, they are a schismatic sect with doubtful orders pertaining to the priesthood. There is no unbroken line of succession from Peter as an authority for them from which to validate Holy Orders. If they know of this part of Vatican I, which is dogma, they are also heretics, materially speaking. End of discussion on this question. Avoid their "Masses" their confessionals, their company after the third time [Bible prescript] unless necessity dictates otherwise. They are anathema.

What do I teach my children about these times?

Use the Penny Catechism for young children. In addition to the truths of the Faith,.
and the Sacraments, it contains basic prayers.
The Cathechism of the Council of Trent or St. Pius X Catechism for older children.

That the world is in apostasy---older children.
Not to become attached to the world---its spirit mostly; the world is opposed to the True Religion.
The most important thing is eternity--- to save one's soul.
We must love our country, even if it seems to not love us. This is the virtue of patria.
The most patriotic act a Catholic can do is to be a holy Catholic because a fervent Catholic who
is becoming sanctified is the best citizen of any country.
The Social Reign of Christ the King---they should know about Quas Primas of Pope Pius XI
Love of Our Lady and St. Joseph; to pray to discern their vocations;
if marriage, boys and girls should begin prayer early for their prospective spouses.
if a religious calling, a good priest should advise. Boys who are called to discern
a vocation to the priesthood should be especially attentive to the Holy Virgin.
Consecration to both, especially the Holy Virgin.
Begin each day with the Morning Offering.
Never omit the daily Rosary---five decades for sure.
The Three Hail Mary's Practice, daily without fail.
To spend time with their Guardian Angels. To always ask their help and advice.
Love of their parents, respect and devotion---many graces flow from this virtue.
Modesty in dress a must and why---particularly girls and women.
That fathers are the head of the family---Based on St. Paul.
The virtue of holy humility and silence, according to one's state in life and one's duties.
Each child should develop a rule in life.
The dignity and power, the awesome graces of the Holy Mass.
Frequent Confession.
No dating until old enough for marriage---the importance of chastity and virginity, holy purity.
This is always difficult but more so today because of the impure culture. Custody of the eyes.

Three things parents are to avoid, taken from The Catechism of the Council of Trent:

1. By their words and actions they are not to be unduly harsh, so as to not provoke them to anger and discouragement.
2. When a fault needs correction it must be corrected and parents must be diligent; in avoiding harsness some parents become lax, the opposite fault. If one has difficulty determining the degree of moderation and strictness required, one should consult a good priest. If one has a good parent as a friend they can offer some guidance; your own parents if they were proper parents can also.
3. Propose to them worthy goals in life; success and wealth are the ambitions of the world. It is piety that must be fostered and duty to religion.

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