Fr. Joaquín Sáenz y Arriaga, S.J. (born Joaquín Sáenz Arriaga on October 12, 1899 - died April 28, 1976) was a Mexican Jesuit and Catholic theologian. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1916 in Barcelona, Spain and left it in 1952 in Mexico, at fifty three. Because of his continuous attacks against the Second Vatican Council and the post-conciliar popes he was declared excommunicated in 1972 by the Roman Catholic bishops' conference of Mexico. He is known for being the spiritual father of sedevacantism.


As a young man Sáenz Arriaga was brought up in the spirit of the Cristero pressure group, Miguel Pro and other Catholic martyrs who fought against the Freemasonic and Communist government of Mexico in the 1920s, when some Catholics faced up to firing squads with the cry ¡Viva Cristo Rey! ("Long live Christ the King!").

Like Fr. Denis Fahey, Fr. Sáenz y Arriaga placed great emphasis on the Catholic doctrine of the "Kingship of Christ", which militates against secularism and the separation of church and state. When the Vatican II reforms began to be implemented in Mexico and North America, it was Fr. Sáenz y Arriaga who led the fight against the neo-modernists.

His uncompromising traditionalism led to a rejection of the "New Church" and he became the first to propound the doctrine of sedevacantism, which maintains that, since the death of Pope Pius XII, there has been a sede vacante in Rome because the following popes espoused the heretical teachings of the Second Vatican Council.

Fr. Sáenz y Arriaga later incorporated these ideas in his books La nueva iglesia montiniana (The new Montinian Church) (1971), and Sede Vacante: Paulo VI no es Papa legítimo (Sede Vacante: Paul VI is no longer a legitimate Pope) (1973). In these books he stated that Pope Paul VI had forfeited his papal authority through public, pertinacious and manifest heresy, a position which he had reportedly held for some time. He was a catalyzing influence on lay and clerical Catholic traditionalists who opposed the Vatican II reforms in Mexico and North America, persuading them to go independent, setting up independent chapels and churches and soliciting and procuring consecrations to create alternative lineages of bishops.


In reaction to his activities, the Mexican Cardinal Miranda officially declared that Fr. Sáenz y Arriaga had incurred excommunication. In response, Fr. Moisés Carmona, his associate and disciple wrote:

They excommunicated you for your fidelity to Christ, His teachings and His Church. Blessed excommunication! As long as it is for this reason, may all (such) excommunications come upon me![1]

In the 1970s Fr. Sáenz y Arriaga founded, together with Frs. Adolfo Zamora and Moisés Carmona, the Unión Católica Trento during which time he also advised American Catholic traditionalist recusants to form their own organizations, which resulted in the conservative Fr. Francis E. Fenton's founding of the Orthodox Roman Catholic Movement.

Illness and death

According to his biographer, Antonio Rius-Facius, Fr. Sáenz died of prostate cancer on April 28, 1976.[2]

In his last testament, written three days before his death, Fr. Sáenz y Arriaga wrote: "My life and all that is most precious to me I have sacrificed for Christ, for the Church, and for the Papacy" and he added, "May the last cry of my soul be that of our Mexican martyrs — Long live Christ the King! Long live the Virgin of Guadalupe."[3]

After his death, Fr. Sáenz y Arriaga's work was continued by Frs. Adolfo Zamora and Moisés Carmona in Mexico; by Fr. Francis E. Fenton and his associates in the Orthodox Roman Catholic Movement, and Fr. Burton Fraser, S.J. in the United States. In today's Mexico (2007), the Sáenz movement as a challenging traditionalist Catholic movement, is essentially dead. However, sedevacantists of the Unión Católica Trento still maintain several churches, chapels and one monastery.

See also


  • Rius Facius, Antonio (1980). ¡Excomulgado! [Excommunicated! - trajectory and thought of presbyter Dr. Joaquín Sáenz Arriaga]; México: Costa Amic Editores (endnotes are taken from the 1983 edition).


  1. "A usted lo excomulgaron por su fidelidad a Cristo, a sus enseñanzas, a su iglesia. ¡Bendita excomunión! Como sea por eso, que me vengan todas las excomuniones" - quoted in Rius-Facius, p. 155.
  2. See Rius-Facius, pp. 180-89.
  3. "Mi vida y todo lo más precioso que ella pudiera tener para mí la he sacrificado por Cristo, por la Iglesia y por el Papado [...]. Que el último suspiro de mi alma sea el de nuestros Mártires mexicanos: Viva Cristo Rey, Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe!" - quoted in Rius-Facius, p. 185.
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Joaquín Sáenz y Arriaga. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.