The Vacancy of the Apostolic See, the non-papacy of Francis, and for that matter of Benedict XVI, John Paul II, John Paul I, Paul VI, and even of John XXIII, is an issue which has divided traditionalists perhaps more than any other over the past forty years.
Of those who have taken the path of resistance to the reforms of Vatican II, the majority profess to be sedeplenists, that is, they hold that Francis is a true Roman Pontiff. They do so usually under the direction of the Society of Saint Pius X. Others, a minority but not an insignificant one, are sedevacantists, that is, they say that Francis is not a true Roman Pontiff, nor are his Vatican II predecessors.
On the Fatima Center website, Mr. Ferrara attacked the sedevacantists for what he calls self-contradiction, a “fatal ﬂaw” in their thinking. He first accurately sums up the sedevacantist position:
So, according to sedevacantist thinking, one cannot legitimately recognize yet resist a true Pope because while not every papal magisterial act is infallible, every papal magisterial act is (1) authoritative, (2) binding on consciences, (3) safe to follow, and (4) free from pernicious error. [emphasis added]
He then proceeds to attack this position as containing a contradiction.
What the sedevacantists are really saying, then, is that a Pope who errs in his teaching on a matter of faith and morals, even once, ceases to be Pope (or never was Pope) because every exercise of the papal magisterium must be free from error.
Notice that the word pernicious has disappeared. In leaving this word out, Mr. Ferrara has manifested that he does not understand the whole point of the sedevacantist argument.