Rama Coomaraswamy, MD



                                 I indeed am of Paul; and I am of Apollo; and I of Cephas… Is Christ divided?

                                                                                                                                      I Cor. 1, 12.

                                 For they bind heavy and insupportable burdens, and lay them on men’s shoulders

                                                                                                                                      Matt. 23, 4


Under normal circumstances the Sacraments of the Catholic Church are the most powerful and effective manner in which one can receive Sanctifying Grace – hence the common term “Sacramental Grace.” It is a given that for valid Sacraments one requires a properly ordained priest. With the demise of older priests – those ordained prior to 1968, the number of validly ordained priests must of necessity decline.


This is because the post-conciliar ordinations are dubious if not completely invalid. (See the article on Orders on this web page.) It makes little difference whether one considers them dubious or invalid because the Church has always taught us not to accept dubious sacraments. In fact, all the Novus Ordo Sacraments are at least dubious. This is especially true of the consecration of Bishops by the new rites. A non-Bishop cannot ordain a priest even if he uses the correct rite. For example, Cardinals Ratzinger and Myer who are ordaining priests in the Society of St.Peter, do not themselves have the Apostolic Succession.


Now traditional priests come in all sorts of varieties. Some are saying the Indult Mass with the understanding that everything in Vatican II is acceptable and the new sacraments are valid. Others are saying the Tridentine Mass and have been ordained by bishops who were themselves consecrated by the new and almost certainly false rites. And still others have been ordained by traditional bishops, and it is among these that we unfortunately have so much bickering.


We indeed live in confusing times and we know who is the author of confusion. One of the issues that increases this confusion is the matter of ordination. Individual priests or groups – often consisting of little more than four or five individuals - proclaim their ordination as valid and refuse to recognize the orders of others.


For example, the members of the Society of Pius V claim that only they are properly ordained – but there are those who question this because of the mental status and secrecy surrounding Bishop Mendez through whom their orders derive. On the other hand the Society of Pius V denies the validity of any ordinations or consecrations that derive from Archbishop Thuc. There are those who like Bishop Thomas Fouhy cast suspicion on all the ordinations deriving from Archbishop Lefebvre because of the high Freemasonic connections of Lienart who ordained Lefebvre. And then there are those who cast doubt on Bishops and priests that derive from the so-called Brazilian line which was at one time schismatic, but which reconciled to Rome. Currently the most significant individual in this line is Bishop Patrick Taylor. And then there is Bishop Vezelis who holds that any bishop (or priest) who does not accept his primacy and what he calls his “universal jurisdiction” has any right to distribute the Sacraments.


And to make matters still more confusing, there are those who reject any priest who is married, whether or not he is celibate and whether or not he was ordained after his marriage. There are some who will not accept any priest who has not gone through formal seminary training. And there are even those who condemn traditional priests who have had to take secular employment (as did St. Paul) to support themselves.


Other examples of this aberrant behaviour are provided by the city of Cincinnati where two rival traditional groups refuse even to speak to one another and refuse intercommunion to each other’s congregations. Again, I have come across situations where traditional priests have gone to communities and publicly denounced a traditional priest whose orders they do not respect.


Take the Society of Pius X. Despite their own theological confusions, they hold that only they are the true Church – While they do not explicitly say so, one senses that they embrace the dictum that “Outside of the Society of Pius X there is no salvation.” They are well known for denouncing priests and bishops that are not affiliated with them while they are willing to accept Novus Ordo priests without further conditional ordination and foster them on the laity. They of course hold that all the post-Conciliar sacraments are valid.


Or the case of one group in Michigan who will not give communion to someone who goes to a CRMI service even if it be to a family funeral. Again, Bishop Sanborn who once stated that he would refuse communion to anyone who went to Bishop McKenna’s Mass,  subsequently accepted consecration from this Bishop.


Add to this the number of laymen who consider themselves theologians and canon lawyers. Some claim that traditional priests who lack formal jurisdiction have no right to function. They refuse to accept the principle of Epikeia which they claim can only be used in an emergency – as if today is not such an emergency. They do not understand that jurisdiction from Rome (whether old or new) means obedience to Rome which has forbidden the use of the Tridentine Mass, and has become, for all practical purposes, “the seat of Antichrist” (to use the words of Our Lady of LaSalette).


How can these issues be resolved? For myself, as a result of my close association with Malachi Martin who had access to Roman documents regarding the validity of Bishops, there was no problem. I recognize that many will not accept his authority, or even that of Roman documentation, but that is, from my point of view, their problem. However those who reject his authority must either turn to some other individual as an authority, or else have recourse to the paper trail which every Bishop and priest is obliged to provide. Paper trails can of course be forged, and I know of at least one example where false paper trails can be taken of the internet.


Malachi Martin, who made inquiries on my behalf in Rome about the validity of various traditional Bishops – Rome up to recent times having maintained strict records about such matters – assures me that the ordinations and consecrations of Archbishop Thuc are beyond any question valid. The same is true of the ordinations of Bishop Patrick Taylor. (Bishop Taylor comes from a Brazilian line – a group that was initially schismatic but which reconciled to Rome before Vatican II. (I have in my possession and hand written letter from Malachi Martin affirming the validity of Bishop Patrick Taylor.) I never discussed with him the issue of the Lefebvre ordinations, but I assume from other comments that he considered them valid. Again, I never discussed with him the position of Bishop Vizelis, but since he derives his Orders from Archbishop Thuc, one must assume them to be valid. The other Bishop about which I asked him to make inquiries was Bishop Thaddeus Alioto in Mexico which again he assured me was valid. (Bishop Alioto was a Dominican who was ordained in 1950 by Pius XII and was consecrated by a Bishop Maxi before the changes.)


It should be clear that a Bishop does not have to be a saint, or even wise, for his powers are not dependent upon these qualities. One might accuse Archbishop Thuc of a lack of prudence, but under the circumstances in which he operated this almost becomes a calumny. He may have consecrated individuals that were poor candidates, but functioning in an emergency situation, with his lack of linguistic ability, and dependent upon the advise of others, it is understandable that he may have consecrated some individuals who were less than appropriate. (It was at the request of Archbishop Lafebvre and with the assistance of a Canon Lawyer from Econe that he consecrated Palma de Troya.) It should be kept in mind that every Bishop who ordains innumerable individuals to the priesthood, will inevitably confer orders on some who are unworthy or who become unworthy with the passage of time.


Before declaring that a given priest lacks proper orders, one must be certain of the facts, for such an accusation involves stating that said individual is a false priest and almost certainly will damn his soul by impersonating a priest. The risk of calumny is high.

Of course, a paper trail can be faked, just as Rome can lie. However my limited experience is such that individual priests are ready to provide such information on request. I know of one Bishop who has simply posted his derivation in the back of his Church and refuses to further engage in any further discussion.


Given the above behaviour, is it any wonder that laymen are disgusted and that some of them have become “home aloners”? That individuals who are presumably dedicated to the saving of souls should forget the admonition of the Apostle John to “love one another” is to say the least, rather extraordinary. How is it possible for priests to believe they are saving souls when they behave in such a manner.


A further problem arises. When one brings a soul to accept the teaching of the Church, one has to immediately warn him that should he go to a traditional Mass in one parish, he better not attempt to do so in a neighbouring parish lest he be refused communion. Where he asks is that unity of which Our Lord spoke so often. For me at least, this has always been a somewhat difficult matter to explain. Traditional Catholics are used to this, but converts become bewildered.


If a priest accuses another priest of lacking proper orders, charity demands, or so it seems to me, that the accuser offer to arrange for the individual involved to be conditionally re-ordained (consecrated). That is, unless in the judgment of the accusing priest, the individual is not worthy of his calling. It has been argued that to accept re-ordination or re-consecration is to admit that one’s Masses and other priestly functions were defective. This is by no means the case. Given the times we live in, such actions can be seen as based on charity as they are aimed at reducing confusion, increasing the confidence of the laity, and above all at reducing the internecine warfare that plagues the traditional movement. 


Recently just such a move has been made by a group of Bishops and priests (including Bishop Taylor) who have joined with each other. Meeting together, they all conditionally consecrated each other. By conditionally consecrating each other – it only requiring that one of them be validly consecrated, they all become valid. In the near future others plan to join in this activity. Of course the exclusivists will not accept this and will consider such action sacrilegious. There are some who are so committed to their exclusivity that nothing will change their mind.


What above all needs to be remembered is that none of us are here to save the Church – that is God’s task. We are here to fulfill the function of priests – however poorly – and the primary function of the priests is to save souls.


Thou didst sit down and speak against thy brother, and against thine own mother’s son didst thou lay a stumbling-block; these things thou didst, and I kept silent.


                                                                               Psalm 49

R. Coomaraswamy +


©Rama Coomaraswamy, MD 2004