From time to time, Traditionalists will hear their clergy attacked as "invalid" or "illegitimate." Having been a member of the True church since 1981, I've heard these stories rise up, again and again, like a monster in a horror movie that can't be killed. No matter how well the arguments and objections against Traditionalist clergy are refuted, they come back to haunt us. The danger lies in those new to the Church, who might have their Faith jeopardized by specious arguments.
Recently, I came across a website by one "Bishop Joseph Marie," who questions the validity of his Orders obtained through the Old Catholic sect. Why doesn't he get conditional ordination/consecration from a Traditionalist Bishop? Well, "Bp. Joseph Marie" doubts all their Orders as well! I sent him the following anonymous email:
After reading your articles, am I correct that you don't consider yourself a priest or bishop (having derived your orders from the Old Catholic sect)? You also reject all orders coming from Abp Levebvre and Abp Thuc. To whom do Catholics go to for valid sacraments?"
His reply to me:
" I am convinced that the proof of the validity my Holy Orders does not meet the Church's criteria of moral certitude. I may very well be a bishop, but moral theology is clear - one may not exercise Holy Orders unless they can be established as morally certain. To whom do Catholics go to for the Sacraments? I wish that I knew, but I don't.
In Jesus and Mary,
I've decided to write a post against his article entitled, "Traditional Catholics - Do Your Clergy Possess Valid Orders?" (See http://bishopjosephmarie.org/doctrine/invalidorders.html#no authority). I have discussed some of these objections in the past. I will collect everything here. I will answer his objections to Abps.Thuc and Lefebvre's orders. There are those who only attack a specific episcopal lineage (Lefebvre, Thuc, Mendez, Dolan), those who attack the validity of all lineages, and those who attack all lineages as being "valid but illicit" due to a perceived lack of jurisdiction. I will limit myself to the two archbishops' validity. In so doing, I hope I may preserve the Faith of those Traditionalists who are given false and unreasonable doubts about their clergy. As "Bp." Joe's article is prolix, I will present the crux of his arguments with refutations. I provided the web address above for anyone interested in reading the whole monograph.
The Case Against Abp. Lefebvre
As per usual, Lefebvre's Orders are attacked on the supposed lack of intention "to do what the Church does" on the part of his ordaining and consecrating bishop, Achille Cardinal Lienart, an alleged Freemason. For the sake of argument, I will concede that he was a Mason (but there is plenty of doubt if he was a member of the Lodge).
First False Principle: Freemasonic membership = positive contrary intention
"Bp." Joe writes, "So the question naturally arises: If Liénart was a Freemason, what about Lefebvre’s Orders? Wouldn’t there be doubt concerning their validity? Fortunately, it is not necessary to “divine” the intentions of those who are Freemasons as to whether or not they would confer Holy Orders with the “intention to do what the Church does,” because nearly every pope since 1738 has published warnings about the Freemasons and their objectives. Here’s a sampling (emphases supplied):
“[T]hey [Freemasons] declare repeatedly that Christ is either a scandal or foolish; indeed, not rarely, that there is no God, and they teach that the soul of man dies together with the body: the codes and statutes, by which they explain their goals and ordinances openly declare that all the things which We have already mentioned, and which pertain to the overthrowing of Legitimate Rulers and totally destroying the Church come forth from them. And this has been ascertained and must be considered as certain, that these sects, although in name different, nevertheless have been joined among themselves by an impious bond of filthy goals.” (Quo Graviora – Apostolic Constitution of Pope Leo XII, March 13, 1826) ..."
There follows many more citations, NONE of which state that Masons have a positive contrary intention (i.e. not intending to do what the Church does when conferring a sacrament).
Compare the teaching of the Church about sacramental intention: When a bishop confers Holy Orders using correct matter and form, he must be presumed to have had a sacramental intention sufficient to confect the sacrament — that is, at least "to have intended to do what the Church does."
This is the teaching of Pope Leo XIII in his pronouncement on Anglican orders: "Now, if a person has seriously and duly used the proper matter and form for performing or administering a sacrament, he is by that very fact presumed to have intended to do what the Church does.”
(Bull Apostolicae Curae, September 13, 1896; Emphasis mine)
The theologian Leeming says this passage recapitulates the teachings of previous theologians who "...all agreed that the outward decorous performance of the rites sets up a presumption that the right intention exists.… The minister of a sacrament is presumed to intend what the rite means… This principle is affirmed as certain theological doctrine, taught by the Church, to deny which would be at least theologically rash." (Leeming, Principles of Sacramental Theology
[Westminster MD: Newman 1956], 476, 482.)
According to theologian Gasparri, a bishop is never presumed to have a positive contrary intention unless proven by those who assert such. "In performing an ordination the minister is never presumed to have such an intention of not ordaining, as long as the contrary would not be proved. For no one is presumed evil unless he is proven as such,
and an act — especially one as solemn as an ordination — must be regarded as valid, as long as invalidity would not be clearly demonstrated." (Gasparri, Tractatus de Sacra Ordinatione
[Paris: Delhomme 1893], 1:970--Emphasis mine). Gasparri does not state that Masonic membership is a presumption of evil such that the minister would be "clearly demonstrated" as having a positive contrary intention.
Furthermore, a cleric enjoys the presumption of validity whenever the Catholic rite is employed:
“When the fact of ordination is duly established, the validity of the orders conferred is naturally to be presumed.” (See W. Doheny, Canonical Procedure in Matrimonial Cases
[Milwaukee: Bruce 1942] 2:72.)
"Bp." Joe counters: "The defenders of Lefebvre, however, would have us believe that if an enemy of Catholicism visibly used proper matter and form in their ordination and consecration ceremonies, then we have no choice but to accept that intention as good and the Sacrament as valid. This is not sound sacramental theology and a highly dangerous proposition, because in accepting this line of reasoning, one would have to enslave and subordinate the intention of the minister to the matter and form employed. Taking this line of reasoning to its logical conclusion, then if Anton LeVey, the founder of the Church of Satan, were to consecrate someone (supposing that he himself had obtained valid consecration, as Satanists sometimes did) by using proper matter and form, then we would have to accept that consecration at face value as being valid. But what intelligent person would accept this? What serious-minded Catholic would go to such a person for the Sacraments or entrust the welfare of their souls to him?"
As to the hypothetical concerning Anton LeVey, if he seriously performed the Catholic rite, we must accept him as having the requisite intention unless he specifically states the contrary. Is it crazy to think so? Hardly. Why wouldn't he want priests to confect the Eucharist so as to desecrate it? Why not ordain a priest that he knows to be unworthy and will bring scandal to the Church?
Second False Principle: "Wish upon a star" theology
"Bp. Joe" tells us: That "wish upon a star" theology is "...the certain truths we know about Masonry from the teachings of the Church:
Masonry is evil (and all that this entails) and the destruction of Catholicism is one of its main objectives.
Those who become Freemasons are automatically excommunicated from the Church.
Beyond this, the Church is essentially silent regarding Masonry. But the pro-validity group has determined that this silence is actually proof of something, i.e., that it proves that Masonic ordinations and consecrations are in fact valid. An interesting conclusion, but one void of merit.
Silence has evidentiary value, granted, but silence alone is proof of nothing except silence. That is why no court of law in any civilized country will ever convict a person based on silence alone. It is inconclusive.
That presumption favors the validity of a Sacrament is not debated. This is the general rule and I am unaware of anyone who denies this. The fact that the pro-validity group keeps making this an issue is bewildering and seems to serve no other purpose than to provide them with a straw-man to beat up. No one denies that in the ordinary course of events, that when a bishop performs ordinations and consecrations, that they are to be accepted as valid – that’s the norm. But many rules admit of exceptions; and as has already been noted in this article, Freemasonry is one such exception. This exception to the rule has not been directly stated about Freemasons, true; but that it can be derived from certain principles is obvious. In fact, it is so obvious that I am not in the least surprised that it has rarely been addressed – it is a self-evident truth.
Without repeating everything in the above article, I will try to demonstrate this by giving a short synopsis of the pertinent controlling issues:
It’s so simple: Liénart, as a Mason, was a declared enemy of Catholicism. He had the capacity to destroy the Sacramental Orders of Marcel Lefebvre."
- Every minister of the Sacraments has the capacity to destroy the validity of the Sacraments by an adverse intention alone.
- Freemasons, as declared enemies of Catholicism, must be presumed to have an adverse intention to Catholicism.
- In the normal course of events, one who possess the capacity to carry out his intentions, does so.
Keep in mind Modernism also seeks the destruction of the Catholic Faith:
"Still it must be confessed that the number of the enemies of the Cross of Christ has in this days increased exceedingly, who are striving, by arts, entirely new and full of subtlety, to destroy the vital energy of the Church, and, if they can, to overthrow utterly Christ's kingdom itself." (See Pope St. Pius X, Pascendi Dominici Gregis, 1907). Therefore, if the Modernists want to "overthrow utterly Christ's kingdom itself," they too wish the destruction of the Church, like the Masons. Should we therefore consider any Modernist as having a positive contrary intention? Considering that a majority of the prelates in 1962 were Modernists (suspected of heresy, or "in the closet" until Vatican II) what doubt would that place on most sacraments the world over? Cardinal Frings was the de facto leader of the Modernist faction at Vatican II. Must we consider all his sacraments as being invalid for having a positive contrary intention since Modernists wish to destroy the Church also? Replace "Freemasons" with "Modernists" in his above syllogism, and we would necessarily have to hold all their sacraments "dubious" or "invalid" as well. This would mean that the hierarchy would be suspect beginning in the latter half of the 18th century. Does he really expect any thinking person to accept this nonsense?
Fact: Not all Masons wanted to destroy the Church. Of the many French clergy involved with Masonry, historian Henri Daniel-Rops says: "There is no reason to think all were, or considered themselves to be, bad Catholics. On the contrary, there must have been a great many of them who saw no incompatibility between their faith and their Masonic membership, and who even regarded Freemasonry as a weapon to be employed in the service of religion. One of these, in Savoy, was Joseph de Maistre, orator of his lodge at Chambéry; he dreamed of creating within the bosom of Masonry a secret staff which would have made the movement a papal army at the service of universal theocracy." (Church in the Eighteenth Century, 63.)
No citation is given to the alleged death bed "confession" of Lienart wherein he asserts he held a positive contrary intention. The only place I found such stated (unsourced) was in a blog by Hutton Gibson, father of actor Mel Gibson, and one of the first "Home Aloners." I would put this in the same category as the supermarket tabloids with pictures of Bigfoot on a UFO. Abp. Thuc is alleged to have doubted Lefebvre's Orders at one point, but even if true, it merely shows that Thuc was fooled by those claiming Masonic membership equals a positive contrary intention--in much the same way he was fooled for a time by the false apparitions at Palmar de Troya, Spain. Translation: "Wish upon a star" means that he has not one pre-Vatican II theologian to back up his false presumption about Masonry and defect of intention.
If the fact of Masonic membership makes sacramental intention lacking, one would expect theologians (especially the French where Masonry was virulent), making this argument or at least debating the issue. Instead we find nothing. French theologians and canonists such as Billot (De Ecclesiae Sacramentis, Rome: Gregorian 1931, 1:195-205), Many (Prae. de Sacr. Ordinationae 585-591), and Naz ("Intention" Dictionnaire de Droit Canonque, Paris: Letouzey 1953, 5:1462), who otherwise discuss sacramental intention at length, have NOTHING to say about doubtful/invalid sacraments from Masons. However, good ol' "Bp. Joe" knows better than they do! In this case, Joe, silence screams.
Yet Another Falsehood: Distorting the teachings of the theologians
"Bp." Joe is taking citations out of context to "prove" something the quoted theologians never taught. He writes: "According to the almost general opinion of modern theologians, an inner intention is necessary for the valid administration of the Sacraments… The mere external intention is not compatible with the concept of doing what the Church intends, or with the status of the minister as a servant of Christ, or with the religious determination of the sacramental sign…" (Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Ludwig Ott, 1955)
What he conveniently left out was this, "Objectively considered, the intention of doing what the Church does suffices. The minister, therefore, does not need to intend what the Church intends, namely, to produce the effects of the sacraments, for example, the forgiveness of sins; neither does he need to intend to execute a specific Catholic rite. It suffices if he has the intention of performing the religious action as it is current among Christians (Catholics)." (See Ott, pg. 344--page number left out by "Bp" Joe!--word in parenthetical mine)
Why would Joe do this, you ask? Simple:It gives the lie to a later passage when he claims that consecrating bishops without Ordinary Jurisdiction would produce a defect in intention! He writes:
We have already covered earlier in this article the Church’s minimal requirement for a valid sacramental intention, that of simply intending "to do what the Church does." This is not a difficult hurdle to get over. In fact, it is such a low hurdle, that one does not even have to know what is the Church’s intention regarding any particular Sacrament, it suffices simply to intend “to do what the Church does” in bestowing that Sacrament. That’s all that is required.
Nevertheless, "to do what the Church does" in conferring a Sacrament means to do it according to the mind of the Church. That is self-evident. If one intentionally does something differently than the mind of the Church, he cannot claim that he has the intention of "doing what the Church does."
Now the undisputed theological truth that the Sacraments "signify the grace which they effect and effect the grace which they signify" (Apostolicae Curae, Leo XIII, 1896) forces us to conclude that the Sacrament of Episcopal Consecration, which signifies the bestowal of the power to teach and to rule, actually bestows these two powers, else it would not effect what it signifies. Therefore, it follows that all validly consecrated Latin Rite Catholic bishops posses the three powers of sanctifying, of teaching, and of ruling. (The distinction between possessing the power and to have the authorization to exercise the power is not germane here because our Sacraments only bishops not only deny authorization [another topic], but they further deny possession.)
But our Sacraments only bishops don’t believe that this power to rule and to teach applies to them. They openly proclaim that they do not posses it. Therefore it stands to reason, that when they confer or receive episcopal consecration, that they do not intend to bestow or receive these two powers. This calls into question the sufficiency of their intention. The mind of the Church is to bestow the three powers of sanctifying, teaching and ruling, as the Sacrament of Consecration clearly shows. The mind of our Sacraments only bishops is simply to bestow the power of sanctifying while omitting the other two powers of teaching and ruling. In so doing, they clearly intend something different than what the Rite itself intends.
But, wait a minute--if you don't need to intend to produce the effects of the sacraments (such as forgiving sin in confession) as theologian Ott teaches, why would you need to intend to give bishops the power to teach and rule?
He falsifies theologian Lehmkuhl:
This issue of Masonic Sacramental intention was indirectly addressed by a respected theologian, Augustin Lehmkuhl, in an actual case regarding a priest named Fabricius, who had become a member of a forbidden society. While Lehmkuhl does not specifically mention Masonry by name, that Masonry is a forbidden society is disputed by no Catholic, and so Lehmkuhl’s conclusion on the sacraments conferred by someone who had joined a forbidden society is justifiably and appropriately applied to Masonry as well, for no rational argument can be made as to why it would not apply.
"Lehmkuhl gives an interesting case of conscience on the point. A certain priest had lost his faith and had joined a forbidden society, after which time he began to perform his priestly duties in an external manner only. He religiously observed the correct and exact performance of the matter and the form in the sacraments he administered, but inwardly he intended not to do what the Church does and what Christ instituted. The solution of the case declares that the sacraments conferred by the priest were null and to be repeated absolutely." (The Dogmatic Theology on the Intention of the Minister in the Confection of the Sacraments by Rev. Raphael De Salvo, O.S.B., S.T.L. 1949, referencing Casus Conscientiae, Vol. II, p. 14, Casus 7, Augustin Lehmkuhl, 1903)
There are two notable points of interest here.
Firstly, Lehmkuhl makes no exception for validity regarding any of the Sacraments: "the sacraments conferred by the priest were null." Every Sacrament that this priest ostensibly confected since his membership in the forbidden society was invalided. None of them took place.
Secondly, and more importantly, he declares that all of the Sacraments conferred by this priest to be repeated “absolutely.” In stating that they are to be repeated "absolutely" rather than repeated "conditionally," Lehmkuhl is making it clear that he considers the Sacraments conferred by Fabricius, since his membership in a forbidden society, to be not simply doubtfully valid, but rather certainly invalid. For according to Church law, if there was a prudent doubt as to their validity, then they would be repeated "conditionally," not "absolutely"
I have fully referenced the citations. Lehmkuhl appears in DeSalvo's work on page 103 as an example of a merely external intention being insufficient to confect a valid sacrament. Lemkuhl NEVER declares sacraments conferred by those in secret societies to be invalid or dubious.
In the case of Fabricus ("fabricating" sacraments? Sorry, I couldn't resist!) of course all his sacraments were invalid; not due to his membership in a secret society or even his loss of faith, but because he withheld his intention and manifested it!
He once more conveniently omits DeSalvo, pgs. 23-24:
" in the Sacrament of Matrimony the contract cannot have validity in the internal forum without the intention of the contracting parties. Even the internal withholding of the consent of one of the parties would be sufficient to vitiate the contract in the sight of God, though in the external forum it would be considered valid UNLESS THE SECRET LACK OF INTENTION COULD BE PROVED." (Emphasis mine)
Furthermore, the theologian DeSalvo does not draw the same conclusion as the ersatz "theologian" "Bp" Joe. Having cited Lehmkuhl, he concludes on page 107 with this following principle:
" Provided the minister seriously performs all the sacramental rites, there is no need for being doubtful about the validity of the sacraments, for it is presumed that the minister has the requisite intention, unless he externally manifests the contrary."
I'll go by DeSalvo's conclusion over Joe and the pseudo-theologians whom also go around propagating this nonsense. They also commit the logical fallacy of "post hoc, ergo proper hoc" ("after this, because of this"). They wrongly assume that it was Fabricus joining the secret society that caused his contrary intention. This is analogous to saying, "The rooster crowed when the sun rose, so it was the rooster that caused the sunrise." No such principle of membership in secret societies and automatic lack of intention was stated by either Lehmkuhl or DeSalvo.
Finally: Distorting history
"Bp." Joe comes up with all kinds of fanciful theories as to why the Church accepted the bishops consecrated by Freemason Talleyrand; e.g., he was reconciled to the Church and then Church authorities secretly re-ordained/consecrated them, he allegedly declared before he died that he did not withhold his intention, etc. As to the fanciful theories (hypotheticals, actually) advanced regarding Talleyrand, a few comments are in order:
Talleyrand died reconciled to the Church. But isn't it possible he lied about not withholding his intention to make it SEEM like he was reconciled to the Catholic Church, thereby fooling people into thinking his consecrations must have been valid, and thereby better serve Satan?
Possible explanations do not equal probable ones. Its possible that Elvis is still alive at 81, but I won't be trying to see if I can locate him in my local supermarket. This idea of various "solutions" to save invented principles is pure speculation. The practice of the Church is in conformity with Her teachings, as in this case.
Finally, Bp. Saurine of France never wrote about having the requisite intention, yet the Church considers him a bishop without reconsecration, and the orders and sacraments that derive from him to be valid, even though he belonged to the most Catholic-hating Masonic Lodge in Europe.
The Case Against Abp. Thuc
The case he presents against Abp. Thuc is easier to refute since he concedes him to be a true bishop. The entire case boils down to (a) his mental state and (b) his integrity because he allegedly "simulated" sacraments. He writes: Much of what I present below is an attempt to counter-balance the factual misinformation which seems prevalent everywhere regarding Bishop Thuc. So far, it's been amply demonstrated that all the misinformation has been coming from you, "Bp." Joe.
1. Abp. Thuc's Mental State
Almost all Traditionalist bishops in the Thuc lineage derive from the consecrations of Guerard des Lauriers and Moises Carmona, both in 1981.The fact that he consecrated unworthy candidates has nothing to do with the issue. Abp. Lefebvre ordained Fr. Juan Fernandez Krohn, who was seriously disturbed and attempted to assassinate John Paul II with a bayonet. This has no bearing on the validity of the archbishop's sacraments.
We must ask:
- Did the Catholic ceremony take place? (It did, and no one seriously disputes it.)
- Did Archbishop Thuc have enough mental awareness? (Yes. Only a virtual intention is necessary. You must perform the sacramental action intentionally, even while being distracted/not paying attention. This suffices according to all pre-Vatican II theologians. That Abp. Thuc was lucid in 1981 was testified to by Fr. Noel Barbara and by Dr. Rama Coomaraswamy, a Board Certified psychiatrist, among others)
- Conclusion: The Archbishop validly performed the consecrations of these worthy and properly trained candidates.
2. Did he simulate sacraments?
In a word; No. The only proof offered for his alleged simulation of a consecration is a hearsay statement made in The Angelus, an anti-sedevacantist publication of the Society of St Pius X (SSPX). As to his simulating the Novus Bogus, a false charge. He refused to receive "communion" at the service and therefore, "simulated" it. Thuc simply misspoke. He NEVER claimed to have withheld his intention or had a positive contrary intention. As a matter of fact, since the service was concelebrated by a Vatican II bishop (validly consecrated), assuming ad arguendo that the Novus Bogus is vaild, there is nothing that Thuc could have done to invalidate it. The intention of the bishop alone suffices, and Thuc holds a doctorate in theology, so he knows this fact. He simply misspoke.
Summary and Conclusion
- There is no reasonable doubt as to the validity of the episcopal lineages of both Abps. Thuc and Lefebvre.
- We can therefore be morally certain of the orders derived from them through worthy candidates (Bps. Carmona, des Lauriers, Fellay, Williamson, de Galarreta, and Tissier de Mallerais)
- The Church will exist until the end of time. The gates of Hell shall not prevail.
- I'll write about jurisdiction at a later date. Please avail yourself of the sacraments from Traditionalist priests and bishops without worry.
Don't let "Bishop" Joseph Marie, and other "Home Aloners" keep you away from Christ in the sacraments. As theologian Halligan teaches, every sacrament "may possibly be invalid or valid." (See The Administration of the Sacraments, NY: Alba House , chapter 1, pg. 23--emphasis in original). We don't live in fear of mere possibilities; we act upon that which is highly more probable than not. It is possible that I could slip and fall in the shower and be paralyzed for life. Is it probable if I'm careful? Need I worry about it? We can have moral certainty of our Traditionalist clergy's orders, and that's all we ever need. Otherwise, you'll end up a sad person sitting at home, like "Bp." Joe, who is only certain about his doubts.