I have written many times in the past, as have much better people than myself, about the inability of any person to abrogate the ancient Mass. It is not possible. It is not licit, nor is it valid. The timeless Mass is handed down over ages; it is of immemorial custom. It has the force of law.

I have also written many times in the past, as have much better people than myself, about the putative abdication of Pope Benedict XVI and whether it was valid, noting that there are, AT LEAST, LEGITIMATE QUESTIONS concerning its validity. If the Pope did not abdicate, there was no vacancy of the See. If there was no vacancy of the See, there was no lawful conclave and Bergoglio could not have been elected Pope. Please tell me I’ve mentioned this before?

And yet, here we are, seemingly led by sleepwalking or worse prelates who all believe, or pretend to believe, that Bergoglio is pope. But, but I’m a father of 8, you may say. What difference does it make to my duties of my state of life just who is the pope? I need to focus on my salvation, my own personal holiness!

In the most basic sense, of course, that sentiment is true– whether we have a good pope, bad pope, or antipope, we need to remain in the state of grace, have faith, hope, charity and final perseverance. The identity of the pope matters not in many areas of our lives, whether we sin, whether we pray, etc.

But that is not the entire story by a long shot. Leaving aside the defined doctrine that it is absolutely necessary for salvation for every human being to be subject to the Roman Pontiff (Unam Sanctam), let me list a few questions that may convince you that it may in fact matter very much whether Bergoglio is or is not the pope. These quesions, at the moment, are hypothetical:

Can the pope forbid a priest from ever celebrating the traditional Mass, or the faithful from assisting at it?

Can the pope excommunicate a priest for celebrating this Mass, or a layman for assisting at it?

If the pope places under interdict or excommunicates an Order, Society of Apostolic Life, a Diocese, a Parish, or a Priest or Bishop, is it permissible for a layman to assist at a Mass celebrated by such person or group? Does it satisfy my Sunday obligation?

If the pope excommunicates such a group, is it valid? What effect does it have?

If the pope excommunicates YOU for assisting at the timeless Mass, is it valid? What effect does it have?

Will a person under a sentence of excommunication for celebrating or assisting at the traditional Mass go to hell for that?

Let’s pause.

Do I have your attention? Because I think we can all agree that any order or rule or disciplinary action or exercise of raw power by an antipope has zero effect morally. That all of the above questions, if “antipope” is substituted for “pope”, could easily be answered with a resounding “NO”.

And yet, if we assume arguendo that Bergoglio is pope, we are going to be made very uncomfortable indeed. And we will be reliving the journey of the priests and faithful who followed Archbishop Lefebvre. They had to face these questions a generation ago.

I will not speculate on the response of anyone else, whether layman, priest, bishop or institute. But I wish the College of Cardinals OR MEMBERS of the College OR EVEN ONE MEMBER of the College had done a serious study on the question of the abdication– you know, the thing that doesn’t matter in our daily lives. Because now, should the response be to finally declare a belief in the abdication’s invalidity, it will seem a matter of convenience. And if one still maintains the legitimacy of the abdication and subsequent conclave, who will have the courage or moral authority to resist?

I submit that any monster who has the unmitigated temerity to try to destroy the Mass will have no qualms in destroying an order, an institute, a diocese, a bishop, a priest, or a layman who stands in the way.

Christ help us.