Pierre-Martin Ngo-Dinh-Thuc is an object of great polemic within the Catholic Traditional movement. By some he is ridiculed as a doddering old prelate consecrating anything that moved a bishop. For others, he is an unqualified saint without blemish. As St Thomas wisely observes, virtue stands in the middle, and the facts concerning the life of this Archbishop are no exception.
It is difficult to peel back the layers of vitriolic diatribe that have silted up these past two decades to reveal the true Archbishop. What we find, is a fallen, broken and rejected man, a man whose life began in glory and faded out in ignominy.
This was a man acquainted with opprobrium – the figure of the dumb lamb is played out here.
In a world turned upside down, and finding himself upon the streets, one lonely man is sought out for the only thing he has left – the power of ordination – the episcopacy. Thieves and scoundrels of all kinds, and, as the adage goes – a few good men and true come to visit him.
In the imagination of his mind’s eye, he sees the church rebuilt, a seminary, a world restored – he is important again !
What countless lines have been written about this man, a man forgotten in his day but no longer so as the years pass. Through him, and in a sense despite himself, the Church continues through his hands. Through whatever good he has done, may his errors be reduced.
In imitation of his master, even in this life, he learned the message of the Savior who declared that his were they who carried a Cross.
As he passed from us, he left as he had lived with a crown of thorns.
Archbishop Peter-Martin Ngo Dinh Thuc was born at Hue, on October 6, 1897, of profoundly Catholic parents. His father had wished to be a priest, and had undertaken studies with this end in view.
His mother, born of a petite bourgeoisie family in Quang-ngai (south Vietnam) was considered to be a saint by her confessor. During a very prolonged illness from which she died, she inspired the adoration of all who knew her.
His father, Ngo Dinh Kha, was an excellent Latinist and worked very hard to introduce French into Central Vietnam. After having been the preceptor to the young king Thant Thai, and then Minister of the Imperial Household, he fell into disgrace because he refused to vote against his sovereign.
As a young man Thuc had entered the junior seminary in Anninh at the age of 12. He spent 8 years there before going on to study philosophy at the major seminary in Hue. After his ordination, December 20, 1925, he taught at the Sorbonne in Paris. He was then selected to study theology in Rome and returned to his country in 1927 after being awarded three doctorates, one in philosophy, one in theology, and the third in canon law from the Gregorian.
His bishop successively nominated him to the rank of professor at the College of Vietnamese Brothers in Hue, a professor at the Major Seminary in Hue, and Dean of the College of Providence.
In 1938, at the age of 41, he was chosen by Rome to direct the Apostolic Vicariate at Vinhlong. He was appointed as the titular bishop of Sesina on January 8, and was consecrated on May 4, 1938 by Mgr Dumortier, Apostolic Vicar of Saigon. He took as his episcopal symbol "Miles Christi -Soldier of Christ." He was the third Vietnamese priest raised to the Episcopate. A pastor to his flock
The new pastor immediately dedicated himself to the organization of his Vicariate.
Given the reverses that Christianity was sustaining in this part of the world, Pope Pius XI, understood the urgency of opening a Catholic university in South Vietnam for the formation of Christians of the former French protectorate. The Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith informed the local bishops of the Pontiff's heart-felt desire and further informed them that the Holy Father wished that one of the official languages of this University should be French in order that the ancient proteges of France, the Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians could all go there for their formation. The local bishops designated Bishop Martin Ngo Dinh Thuc as the person who could best accomplish the wishes of the Holy Father.
Where could the necessary funds for such an enterprise be found in a country engaged in a subversive war? Apart from the blessing of the Pope and the bishop of Vinhlong, all he had was a good will. This is hardly enough to establish a University, even in a mission country. Without being discouraged, the good bishop set to work. Thanks to the support he was able to count on, he was granted by the government of Diem, the authority to exploit an ancient forest. Thus, it was by his own industry, his efforts and his tenacity, that Bishop Ngo rapidly accumulated all the necessary funds to bring the task he had undertaken to completion, thus fulfilling the desire of the Pope and providing his country with a Catholic university. One last detail worthy of being underlined: by means of his industry, disinterest and foresight he provided this university with sufficient income to guarantee its ability to persist as an independent enterprise.
On November 24, 1960, John XXIII, who succeeded Pius XII, transferred the Apostolic Vicarage of Vinhlong to the head of the Metropolitan See at Hue, the city where Bishop Ngo was born. He was named Archbishop of Hue and Assistant to the Pontifical Throne.
Casualties of the Vietnamese Communist Takeover November 1 1963
Thuc's elder brother, Ngo Dinh Khoi, was an excellent Christian. Because of his refusal to become a minister in the first communist government, he, along with his son, was buried alive.
The three other children of Ngo Dinh Kha are Diem, the father of the Vietnamese Republic, Nhu and Can, his close collaborators. They were assassinated. After having received Holy Communion on All Soul's Day, 1963, Diem, who in 1955 had become president of South Vietnam, was assassinated with his brother Nhu as they left St. Francis Xavier Church in Saigon. These men both knew that the Communion that they had just received was to be their last, and thus they did not hesitate in meeting what they knew to be their certain fate.
Ngo Dinh Can was not with his older brothers at the time they were murdered. He was successful in hiding himself in a shelter provided by the Redemptorist Fathers in Hue. He was betrayed and delivered into the hands of rebellious generals. Before executing him, the communists imprisoned him in a cage for over a year. He was, despite this, able to receive holy communion every day, thanks to the devotion of a Vietnamese Redemptorist Father. He died very courageously with the rosary in his hand.
Of all the children of Ngo Dinh Kha, only two were able to escape annihilation, Ngo Dinh Luyen and Ngo Dinh Thuc. The first who had graduated from the Central School for Engineers in Paris was at the time ambassador in London. Thuc narrowly escaped the same fate. A few days prior to the assassinations in Saigon Thuc had been ordered to Rome to attend the Second Vatican Council. He had hesitated in attending the sessions of the Council earlier because he knew that once he left his country he would most likely never return. Such was the case.
After the Council, Archbishop Thuc found himself unable to return to his duties in his diocese. For him a life of exile now began. He later wrote of this in his autobiography (Misericordias Domini) in the following words: "Here began my Via Crucis - in which the Good God indicated to me the turning point of my life"
The Nature of Archbishop Thuc's Powers
An important issue needs to be raised here. It is often objected that the "Thuc" consecrations are illicit (i.e. contrary to the law of the Church). This is because, if any bishop consecrates another bishop without papal permission, they receive an excommunication reserved to the Holy See. In Archbishop Thuc's case, this is not so. Pius XI had conceded special powers to Thuc to perform consecrations without referring to Rome for approval (powers we should point out which were never revoked). In 1987 the traditionalist publication "Sous la Bannière" published the text of this "Motu Proprio": Translation of the Latin Original (over.)
By virtue of the Plenitude of the powers of the Holy Apostolic See, we appoint as our Legate Pierre Martin Ngo Dinh Thuc, titu lar bishop of Saigon, whom we invest with all the necessary pow ers, for purposes known to us. Given at Rome at Saint Peter's, on 15 March 1938, the seventeenth year of our pontificate. Pope Pius XI,
Explanation of these powers
What does this document mean ? Let us examine a parallel case in which Pius XI conceded identical pwoers to another prelate. On 10 March 1920, the same pope Pius XI dictated the same motu proprio for Mgr d'Herbigny (S.J.). The account is recorded in the book of Father Paul Lesourd, published by Lethielleux Editions under the title "Le Jesuite clandestine"
Here is the translation: Motu Proprio By virtue of the plenitude of the Apostolic power, we appoint as our Delegate Michel d'Herbigngy (S.J.), titular bishop of Troie, whom we invest with all the appropriate and necessary powers, for purposes known to us. Given at Rome at Saint Peter's, on 10 March 1926, the fifth year of our pontificate. Pius XI, Pope
The two cases are analogous. With this Act of the Holy See, the two bishops received pontifical powers, those of Patriarchs. The details of these powers are explained by Pius XI himself, as reported by Father Lesourd in the following terms: "Orally, the Holy Father first enumerated in detail all the powers which he conferred, including the selection of priests to be or dained and to confer on them the epicopate without the need for them to have pontifical bulls, nor therefore to give their signa tures inviting them to act accordingly on the strength of the oath.
"Then, after having at length set out in detail by word of mouth all the powers which were really extraordinary, the Pope resumed them most solemnly as follows:
"In one word, we grant to you all the pontifical powers of the Pope himself, which are not of incommunicable divine right."
After the Council had finished, like bishops from every country, those from South Vietnam returned to their own dioceses. However the Archbishop of Hue was unable to obtain permission to return to his See. In his Autobiography Archbishop Ngo informs us that "The Americans forced the Government of South Vietnam to refuse me permission to return."
He then approached Paul VI, thinking that he would in this way obtain the necessary authorization. Did Montini intervene? Once again, the Archbishop tells us in his autobiography that on February 17, 1968: "Paul VI used my inability to return to my See to force me to resign and to name as my replacement one of his favorites, Bishop Dien." From that time forward he led an uprooted life.
The Archbishop was not the kind of person who could remain idle, and before concerning himself with his own needs, this man who spoke fluent Italian looked in Italy for some ministry. He wished to be useful and to support himself in a decent manner. But he who no longer belonged to any diocese was also a stranger in the House of his Mother.
Thanks to a prelate who had been apostolic delegate in Vietnam, Archbishop Ngo was able to find food and lodging in a reception center in Rome, but he had to pay a fee for this. In order to obtain the funds to do this, he offered his services to a cure in the parish. This priest was only too happy to accept his offer ... and to exploit him.
Despite his priestly efforts he was unable to earn enough to pay his bill at the Reception Center. Archbishop Ngo asked the cure to provide him with an empty room at the vicarage, but the cure refused. He was jealous of the Bishop who because of his kindness and availability ended up seeing his confessional besieged by all the penitents that formerly went to the cure. Despite everything he did, he could not help but antagonize the head of the parish who became increasingly unpleasant, and thisto such a degree that the Archbishop finally had to leave.
As he had previously known Dom Nivardo Buttarazzi, the Reverend Abbot of the Monastery of Casamari in the center of Italy, the ancient Archbishop went and knocked at his door. He was received as a brother and given a room in the guest house. For about one and a half years the Archbishop stayed there contentedly. He made himself useful by confessing the faithful of the parish which was dependent on the Abbey and the monks who came to him. Unfortunately, one day, these religious decided to organize an exhibition of nudes in the library of the Monastery. The Bishop showed his disapproval with the greatest of discretion. But this was more than they could accept and they asked him to leave the place as soon as he could make other arrangements.
Where could he go? The local bishop who had made his sympathies known to the Archbishop on several occasions, asked him to preside over certain ceremonies and to share his meals. The Archbishop then went to the bishop's house. He begged his confrere to give him a small church that had no priest where he could serve, provided that it had a sacristy where he could place a bed and stay.
The Bishop was agreeable and appointed him to the village of Arpino which consisted of a dozen families. The titular priest was happy to accept the assistance which Providence had provided him through the bishop. "I was happy to stay there with the small flock over which I was the secondary shepherd,"he tells us in his biography, and I thought that Arpino would be my last resting place in this world."
Palmar de Troya a place not far from Seville in Spain was the site of supposed "apparitions" of the Virgin in the late 1960s and the 1970s. The "messages", were particularly anti-modernist in nature, and warned the faithful against the New Mass and the Conciliar reforms. The visionary and founder of the sect, one Clemente Dominguez Gomez staged mock ecstasies and received the "stigmata" of Our Lord (photographs of the liberal application of ketchup to his torso exist).
The Lefebvre Connection
It was thanks to the intervention of another luminary of the Traditional movement, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, that the whole debacle began. Fr Noel Barbara, relates he heard this from Lefebvre's own lips at table one day at the seminary in Econe.
Archbishop Lefebvre knew Archbishop Ngo Dinh Thuc quite well from the Second Vatican Council. He considered him to be a bishop with good doctrinal views. Like himself, this bishop belonged to the conservative group. It was because he considered him to be a Catholic bishop, committed to the faith, devoted to Mary, and having nothing to do, that he encouraged him to work with the emissaries of Palmar de Troya who had come to Econe in order to solicit his episcopal services. I heard these facts directly from Archbishop Lefebvre.
One day a canon of Saint Maurice named Father Revas arrived at the seminary in Econe. He was accompanied by a priest who spoke English. A lover of the extraordinary, both had come from the location of the Apparitions. They came straight from Palmar to beg Archbishop Lefebvre to come to this location immediately because the Blessed Virgin was waiting for him. She was insisting that a Catholic bishop come in order to confer the episcopacy on those she planned to designate.
The Archbishop excused himself and advised them to "approach Archbishop Thuc. He is orthodox and he is not at present occupied. Go and seek him out. He will most certainly agree with your request." The two messengers immediately left and had no difficulty in convincing the elderly Vietnamese Archbishop to respond to the Virgin's request.
Archbishop Thuc also refers to the episode in his autobiography:
"At that time a priest came to me who I had formerly known in Econe, Switzerland. He said to me point-blank: "Your Excellency, the Holy Virgin has sent me to bring you at once to Spain in order to render her a service. My car is waiting for you at the door of the presbytery and we will leave immediately so as to reach there by Christmas." Thrilled by this invitation, I said to him: "If it is a service demanded by the Holy Virgin, I am ready to follow you to the end of the world."
On January 11 1976 the Archbishop elevated Gomez and four others to the episcopacy after having first ordained them priest several weeks earlier
Having been immediately "excommunicated" by Paul VI for his actions, Archbishop Thuc promptly broke with Palmar. Clemente and Co. proceeded to perform mass ordinations and consecrations setting up a parallel church.
Upon the death of Paul VI, (whom they consider to have been a saint) Gomez claimed to have been mystically crowned “Pope” in a jail only hours after the death news reached him. Upon his return to Spain, the mystical crowning became “reality”.
After the Palmar fiasco, Archbishop Thuc moved to Toulon in southern France where he lived in extreme poverty. Fr Barbara who visited him twice there in the early 1980s describes the scene
“I personally never knew the Vietnamese Archbishop before the time of my two visits to his residence at 22 rue Garibaldi, Toulon, in the district of Var, in France.
The first time was in March of 1981 when I went to ask him about a Father Garcia who wished to work with me and claimed to have been ordained by Archbishop Ngo.
The second time was on January 7, 1982, at which time I was ac companied by Father Barthe, an elderly priest connected with the association "Union pour la Fidelity." We had asked for a meeting because a Mexican priest friend had come and told us about the episcopal consecration of R. P. Guerard des Lauriers and Fathers Carmona and Zamora. We were desirous of having some infor mation about their consecrations.
We arranged a meeting by telephone for Monday, the 5th. of January. Arriving at Toulon, we presented ourselves at his home at 8 o'clock in the morning. "The Archbishop lived in a very poor and dirty apartment on the first floor of an old tenement building. In appearance, it was a simple flat that was longer than wide, with a small side kitchen. On the right was a modest bed. In the corner was a table on which he celebrated the traditional rite as codified by Saint Pius V every morning. There were many pious images, a pile of "pocket books," two chairs and five cats that appeared to be eve rywhere. As he only had two chairs, the Archbishop sat on his bed and Father Barbara sat opposite him. The room was so small that Father Barthe had to place his chair behind the Archbishop.
"Archbishop Thuc informed us that he celebrated Mass in his apartment early every morning, and always in the traditional rite
During the period from 1977 – 1981 Archbishop Thuc is alleged to have consecrated various individuals of dubious character. Most seem to have been false, and certainly the modern church in declaring his excommunication a second time in 1982, is content with treating of only those consecrations of Catholic priests ordained within the Roman Church before the Council.
In 1977, he re-consecrated sub conditione, in secret, Jean Laborie of Toulouse. A notorious Old Catholic and the recipient of multiple consecrations beforehand. He also ordained a certain Garcia of Marseilles although Thuc refused to consecrate him as Fr Barbara relates:
Archbishop Thuc informed us that he regretted having done so, because he had come to know that the Father in question was mentally unbalanced. "He wished me to consecrate him a bishop. I refused. But," he added, "why does everyone wish to be a bishop?"
Several years later he entered into contact with a Traditionalist group in Munich which introduced him to Fr Guérard des Lauriers, O. P.
Archbishop Thuc was personally convinced of the vacancy of the Apostolic See. It was precisely upon this condition that Fr Guérard accepted episcopal consecration on May 7 1981. On October 17, 1981, he consecrated two Mexican traditional priests: Bishop Carmona who was parish priest of Acapulco and Bishop Zamora.
Fr Barbara testifies to the veracity of these claims from his interview which we have been citing: "Father then explained to him the reason for our visit. A Mexi can friend, Father Marquette, had informed us that he had conse crated the cure of Acapulco, Father Moses Carmona, and another Mexican, Father Zamora. The Archbishop admitted that such was the case. I didn't know them. There were two Germans, Hel ler and Hiller, who brought them to me and asked that I conse crate them. I had confidence in these two gentlemen because I knew Mr. Heller. He is a very fine person. I knew him because he asked me to confirm his little daughter and I had confirmed her. These Germans are very generous. The two Mexican priests were consecrated here. I was able to speak with them in Latin. Father Carmona spoke much better Latin than did Father Zamora. The two Germans assisted. They had brought along everything that was necessary for the consecration. During the ceremony, they held the candles.
"Father Barbara then explained that we had also learned from Mexico that he had consecrated Father R. P. Guerard des Lauri ers, O.P. - "The Dominican?" - "Yes" - "It is true. I did indeed consecrate him. He is very knowledge able." He then went on to explain that it was Father des Lauriers who had himself come and asked to be consecrated. The Germans supported his request.
This piece of testimony from Fr Barbara is of the greatest importance:
"Evaluation. Archbishop Ngo Din Thuc appeared to us as a poor, simple, but good person. He did not seem to have understood the crisis the Church had faced subsequent to Vatican II. Also, per haps he was unwilling to see that some individuals were imposing on his goodness. Beyond this, he gave us the impression that matters of licitness were not very important for him."
It shows two things: firstly, Archbishop Thuc was quite clearly in possession of his faculties, simplicity must not be mistaken for insanity as we shall see later in appendix 1. Secondly, his answer to the crisis of Vatican II – was in character – overly simplistic. He evidently saw the problem as being hierarchical in nature – the hierarchy had defaulted in their duty – he by consecrating bishops would assure the Apostolic Succession in the Church. This says volumes of his ability to distinguish between good and bad candidates for the episcopacy. Clearly the Archbishop is guilty of error – in judgement not in intention.
Even when valid, an Episcopal Consecration does not have the power to reconcile anyone with the Church who knowingly had separated himself from it. We should not forget that the absence of Authority hinders the reconciliation of repentant heretics and schismatics IN THE EXTERNAL FORUM. Therefore, when it comes to bishops consecrated by Archbishop Ngo Dinh Thuc, or those consecrated by bishops whom he consecrated, it is necessary to DISTINGUISH IN AN ABSOLUTE MANNER BETWEEN:
1 - Catholic priests that have asked for the Episcopacy or have been willing to be consecrated in order to serve the Church and to preserve the Catholic priesthood which is the source of the sacramental life.
Those who were Catholic priests before their consecration have become Catholic bishops after their consecration to the same degree as have those bishops consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre.
2 - The others. All those who have profited from the crisis of the Church and from the good will of the elderly Archbishop to obtain valid Sacerdotal or Episcopal Consecration,
Subsequent to the affair of Palmar de Troya, the only Catholic priests that were consecrated by Archbishop Ngo Dinh Thuc were Father Guerard des Lauriers, O.P and Fathers Carmona and Adolfo Zamora. Unfortunately the three have passed away, but they have passed on the Episcopate to:
- BISHOP GUERARD DES LAURIERS to Fathers Gunther Storck (now deceased), and Robert McKenna, O.P.
- BISHOP MOISES CARMONA to Fathers George Musey (now deceased), Benigno Bravo (now deceased), Roberto Martinez and Mark Pivarunas.
Before asking Archbishop Ngo Dinh Thuc for consecration, Father R. P. Guerard des Lauriers explained the "Thesis of Cassiciacum" to him. It was only after the Archbishop gave him the assurance that he also held to such a position was the consecration of the Dominican Father decided on.
Nor was Archbishop Ngo Dinh Thuc only willing to declare this vacancy of the Holy See privately. As much as he could he made his position clear in the public forum.
The official letter of excommunication (second time) (Prot. N. 7/76) from Rome dated February 1, 1983 and addressed to His Excellency Archbishop Pierre-Martin Ngo Dinh Thuc, the titular Archbishop of Bulla Regia, from “Cardinal” Joseph Ratzinger, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, it is explicitly mentioned that: "A public declaration published in Munich on February 25, 1982 under your own signature affirms that according to you, `THE SEE OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH IS AT THIS TIME VACANT,' and that it is necessary for you `AS A BISHOP TO DO EVERYTHING YOU CAN IN ORDER THAT THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH CAN CONTINUE TO GUIDE SOULS TO THEIR ETERNAL SALVATION'." (Review "Einsicht," March 1982, page 8).
This Declaration is of the greatest possible importance with regard to what we are discussing. It manifests the primary condition which would allow Archbishop Thuc to presume an Apostolic Mandate, a condition without which he could not use the principal of Epikeia. The consecrations performed under such circumstances are not only perfectly valid, but also perfectly licit.
WHAT DOES TODAY'S CATHOLIC CHURCH LOOK LIKE ? AT ROME "POPE" JOHN PAUL II REIGNS SURROUNDED BY CARDINALS AND MANY BISHOPS AND PRELATES, OUTSIDE ROME THE CATHOLIC CHURCH LOOKS FLOURISHING WITH HER BISHOPS AND PRIESTS. THE NUMBER OF CATHOLICS IS IMMENSE, EVERY DAY MASS IS CELEBRATED IN SO MANY CHURCHES. SUNDAYS THE CHURCHES RECEIVE MANY FAITHFUL FOR HEARING MASS AND RECEIVING HOLY COMMUNION.
BUT IN THE SIGHT OF OUR LORD, WHAT DOES TODAY'S CHURCH LOOK LIKE? THESE WEEKDAY AND SUNDAY MASSES - DO THEY PLEASE OUR LORD? NOT AT ALL BECAUSE THIS MASS IS THE SAME ONE FOR CATHOLICS AND PROTESTANTS - THAT IS WHY THIS MASS DOES NOT PLEASE OUR LORD AND IS INVALID. THE ONLY MASS THAT PLEASES OUR LORD IS THE MASS OF SAINT PIUS V, WHICH IS CELEBRATED BY ONLY A FEW PRIESTS AND BISHOPS. I MYSELF BELONG TO THEM.
THAT IS WHY I WANT - IF POSSIBLE - TO OPEN A SEMINARY FOR CANDIDATES FOR THE PRIESTHOOD, WHICH PLEASES OUR LORD.
BESIDES THIS 'MASS', WHICH DOES NOT PLEASE OUR LORD ARE MANY THINGS, WHICH ARE REJECTED BY GOD, FOR EXAMPLE THE NEW RITES OF ORDINATION OF PRIESTS, CONSECRATION OF BISHOPS, CONFIRMATION AND EXTREME UNCTION.
MOREOVER THESE "PRIESTS' APPLY THEMSELVES TO: 1) MODERNISM, 2) FALSE ECUMENISM, 3) WORSHIP OF MEN, 4) LIBERTY OF RELIGION; 5) THEY REFUSE TO CONDEMN THE AUTHORS OF HERESIES AND TO EXPEL THE HERETICS.
AS A BISHOP OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH I JUDGE THE SEE OF ROME TO BE VACANT AND IT IS MY DUTY, TO DO EVERYTHING TO ASSURE THE PRESERVATION OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH FOR THE ETERNAL SALVATION OF SOULS.
MUNICH, 25TH FEBRUARY 1982
His closing years
After the events in Munich, Archbishop Thuc returned to France where he consecrated Bishop Datessen on September 25, 1982 and then a short while afterwards he departed for the United States at the invitation of Bishop Louis Vezelis in whose monastery he took up residence.
At this point the story becomes confusing. It is alleged (by the Vezelis group in particular) that the Archbishop was abducted by a Vatican II Vietnamese group while in New York and was taken to Missouri and hidden away from the contact of his friends. There he was subsequently held incommunicado by Vatican II priests. (There are even tales of FBI investigations as well).
Like his Divine Master in all things, Archbishop Thuc died in exile and under uncertain circumstances while here in the United States. After being kidnapped Worn out with fatigue and the harassment of his Modernist captors, Archbishop Ngo Dinh Thuc died December 13, 1984
The Vatican II establishment church waited until well after the Archbishop's death (July 11 1985) to announce that he had "recanted" his errors, repented of his actions, and called upon those he had consecrated to return to the "unity of the Church."
Fortunately, however, amongst the myriad of pretenders to the episcopacy, two of his progeny survived him and continued the work of entrusting the Apostolic Succession to men of worth.
Bishop Guérard des Lauriers
Bishop Michael Louis Guérard des Lauriers was, even in the opinion of his detractors a great Dominican theologian. The positions he took as regards authority in the Church have doubtless added to his notoriety. He was a sincere man, careful above all for the pursuit of truth.
He was born in 1898 at Suresnes, near Paris. His family was very devout. In 1924, he obtained is degree in math. In 1926 he entered the Dominican order to pursue his vocation. On July 29 1931 he received priestly ordination from Mgr. Rasneur, Bishop of Tournai. In the 1950s Fr Guérard des Lauriers was a brilliant adversary of modernism, and the errors of Teilhard de Chardin. In 1969 he authored the brief critical examination of the New Mass (known as the Ottaviani Intervention) signed by Cardinals Ottaviani et Bacci.
Having received permission from his superiors to live "extra conventum" Fr Guérard became a professor at Écône. Nevertheless he had to leave the seminary in 1977 having been chased away from the “Seminary of Tradition” by the Lefebvrist authorities for Sedevacantism (an opinion which holds that the Chair of Peter is vacant.)
However Fr Guérard’s position on the Holy See is not the same as pure sedevacantism : for him, Paul VI and his successors, by professing the modernsit heresy were no longer popes “substantially” but only “materially” (a kind of empty-shell pope) He set forth this fine and complex point of theology in the “Cahiers de Cassiciacum” whence the name “Cassiciacum Thesis” is derived.
In 1981 Fr Guérard accepted the episcopacy from the hands of Archbishop Thuc "in order to save the Church". Bishop Guérard des Lauriers would in turn perform three episcopal consecrations from 1984 to 1987. It would appear that at the end of his life he was himself tempted by sedevacantism. In a letter dated April 18, 1984 he wrote: “I begin to think that even the election of W [Wojtila, that is John Paul II] might have been “phoney” ; so that he could never have been pope….not even materialiter (materially).“ Bishop Guérard des Lauriers passed away on February 27, 1988, aged 90.
Bishop Moises Carmona was born in Quechultenango, Guerrero, on the 31st of October, 1912. He died on November 1,1991.
When the changes came to his Mexican parish, he refused to adapt to the spirit of the times. He received his first wound from the Conciliar Church by means of a letter dated April 30, 1977, signed by Bishop Raphael Bello Ruiz, Bishop of Acapulco, in which he communicated to him the sentence of excommunication, suspension a divinis and his removal from the parish.
On May 5, 1977, he received the declaration of the penalty in an official manner. These documents were signed by the same Bishop that had named him Irremovable Pastor of the Parish of Divine Providence: "having proved to us his doctrine, pastoral zeal and prudence...with all the rights, privileges, obligations and faculties that, in accordance with the Sacred Canons and approved customs, correspond to it, both in spiritual matters as well as in temporal ones."
The love that his parishioners professed for their pastor motivated them to respond in a letter to Bishop Raphael Bello Ruiz, dated May 15, 1977, and signed by more than 2,000 persons, from which we quote the following portions: "The Catholic faithful of the Divine Providence Parish in Acapulco, make use of this means, to express our most energetic protest agains the constant aggression that you and other Bishops are bringing against our dear pastor, Rev. Fr. Moises Carmona y Rivera, whom you threatened some time ago with excommunication, after declaring the parish vacant; and, as none of these dispositions intimidated Fr. Carmona, you, making use of priests docile to your 'authority,' organized a boycott against our parish and Fr. Carmona, a boycott that failed, as have all the 'audacious' means of yours with which you want to submit us to the modernist and anti-Christian church of Vatican Council II, that is writing such a sad history in Mexico and the whole world... Making use of our rights, we declare that our pastor is and will continue to be Fr. Carmona... You lack the authority to declare the Divine Providence Parish vacant, to remove Fr. Carmona, and to impose on us a modernist priest...."
On July 22, 1979, Bishop Bello Ruiz described Fr. Carmona in a letter as proud, rebellious and disobedient, adding: "The People of God have realized it; therefore, they consider you as a branch torn out of its vital trunk; as a ghost ship-anchored to the year 1500." Obviously, it is another people of God that Bishop Raiz is referring to, because the Church of Christ openly reproached his impious attitude.
The Bishop maintained his parish as it should be. Likewise, he condescended to respond to one who, compared to himself, was only a midget, juridically and morally speaking: ''The mitre blinds you, Raphael. What authority do you have, or did you have, to excommunicate me from the true Church of Christ, you who have separated yourself from her when you sank yourself in Modernism, 'the synthesis of all heresies,' as Pope St. Pius X titles it?... I am not anchored in the year 1500, but in the year 33, because it was then that the DIVINE TRUTH--THE SACRED DEPOSIT--was confided to the Church to be guarded, defended and diffused; but the TRUTH is not a sun flower, the TRUTH never changes, the DIVINE TRUTH is immutable and it has to be transmitted immutable to all men of all times and places. I desire to be anchored in this Truth, even though everything around me goes on changing and everything also goes to ruins. You modernist bishops, cardinals and priests are considered as 'reeds shaken by the wind,' as weathercocks moved by the air, as ships that sail without direction. It is true that I solemnly promised to obey my Bishop and his legitimate successors, but I never promised to obey the demolishers of the Church... You say that it is little that separates us, and I say that it is an abyss that sepa-rates us. You say that you want to help me get out of my isolation, and I ask--what isolation? Do you believe I will find myself better with heretics, col-aborating with them in their work of destruction? NEVER!! I prefer anything to that! I heed what St. John, the Apostle of Love, says in his second Epistle: "If any man come to you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into the house nor say to him, God speed you" (2 John 1:10).
Bishop Carmona Rivera has shown us the road to Calvary. He voluntarily mounted the Cross, as Christ our Lord did, and remained there through ridi-cule, scorn and mockery, with his heart firmly set on that which is essential--anything that was not Christ Jesus, was for him simply nothing. With that disposition of soul, he received the episcopal dignity on October 17, 1981, from the hands of Arch-bishop Pierre Martin Ngo-Dinh-Thuc: "On October 17 of last year (1981), Fr. P. Zamora and I were consecrated by Bishop Thuc in a true catacomb, with no more witnesses than two illustrious doctors. We were both conscious of the furious tempests that were going to be raised against us, but the words of our Divine Master animated us: 'Amen, amen, I say to you, that you shall weep and lament but the world shall rejoice; and you shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy' (John 16:20)" (Letter to Mr. Alvaro Ramirez Arandigoyen).
The decree of "excommunication" was promulgated February 1, 1983. The following is a portion of Bishop Carmona's reply: "Second warning: 'that he who ordains and he who is ordained remain automatically excommunicated...' From what Church, Msgr. Almeida-from that of always--or from the new one? You apostates, eminent representatives of the Vatican II Church, do you have power to excommunicate those who remain in the CHURCH OF ALWAYS?... It is a glory for us to be excommunicated for our loyalty to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church; we desire that more excommunications come and to have the good fortune to die excommunicated by that Church, which is not the CHURCH OF CHRIST nor assisted by the Holy Ghost" (Letter in response to the Archbishop of Chihuahua, Adalbert Almeida Merino, May, 1985).
The Bishop obtained the grace to die in communion with the Church of Christ and excommunicated from the synagogue of Satan by the apostates who carry forward the most profound revolution ever realized against the Mystical Spouse of Christ.
His Excellency died in the School in which he was formed, that of the Resistance, that of Fr. Saenz Arriaga, who was, as the same Bishop Carmona often stated, "he who taught me to combat." He died "outside of Jerusalem," as did Christ our Lord.
1983 Declaration of Archbishop Thuc made together with Bishop Carmona
The following was issued jointly with the Mexican bishops (he had consecrated) on May 26, 1983:
"The Roman Catholic Bishops, united with His Excellency Archbishop Ngo Dinh Thuc, declare: That we support him in his valiant public declaration made regarding the vacancy of the Apostolic See and the invalidity and illicitness of the New Mass. We hold with him that the Apostolic See has been vacant since the death of Pope Pius XII by virtue of the fact that those who were elected to succeed him did not possess the canonical qualifications necessary to be legitimate candidates for the Papacy.
"...Based upon the Bull Cum Ex Apostolatus Officio of His Holiness Pope Paul IV, we hold that Angelo Roncalli was never a legitimate Pope and that his acts are completely null and void,
"We declare that the New 'Mass' is invalid.... We declare that the introduction of this New 'Mass' also signals the promulgation of a new humanistic religion in which Almighty God is no longer worshipped as He desires to be worshipped... Those who have accepted this New 'Mass' have, in reality and without taking notice of it, apostatized from the true Faith; they have separated themselves from the true Church and are in danger of losing their souls, because outside the Church founded by Jesus Christ no one can be saved. For this reason, we invite the faithful to return to their Faith from which they have strayed.
"We reject the heretical Decree on Religious Freedom which places the divinely revealed religion on an equality with false religions. This decree is a clear and evident sign of the denial of our holy traditions by the apostate and schismatic hierarchy.
"We declare that no one can oblige us to separate ourselves from the true Church, from that Church instituted by Christ Himself and which is destined to last until the consummation of the world just as He instituted it.... We give thanks to God for the integrity of our Faith and we beseech His grace that we may be able to persevere in it. We pray for those who have lost this Faith by accepting the heretical changes that have given rise to a new Church and to a new religion."
A Commentary on the Ordinations of Archbishop Thuc
by Rama P. Coomaraswamy, M.D.
Dr. Rama Coomaraswamy is a psychiatrist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, he has been in the practice of medicine for over thirty years and is a member of the American Psychiatric Association.
February 27, 1994 I have been asked me to comment on the diagnostic acumen of those who declare Archbishop Ngo-Dinh-Thuc to be senile. Before doing so, I should like to make a few brief comments.
As you know, I have been acquainted with many of the traditional priests in this country from the inception of what has been called the "traditional movement." Who of us can claim that we were not confused during the upheavals initiated by Vatican II?
I have seen practically everyone involved grow and change opinions on major issues. Such is normal and a process that we have all gone through and continue to go through, for the very nature of the struggles in which we are engaged demands that we constantly clarify our thinking as we try to bring our hearts and minds into conformity with the heart and mind of the true Church. This being the case, decrying acts committed and quoting opinions expressed years and often decades ago reflects nothing other than the spirit of controversy engaged in for its own sake or for some lesser motive. If there is no traditional priest alive today who has not changed his mind about issues of major importance such as the authority of the post-Conciliar "popes" or the validity of their sacraments, it seems an arrogance for us to demand of Archbishop Ngo-Dinh-Thuc that he should have had, from the moment he was exiled from his country, the perspicacity to understand the entire nature of the post-Conciliar subversion. Let it be noted in passing that almost every party to the present controversy was at one time a staunch supporter of the Lefebvrist deviations.
The Archbishop is accused of scandal. I know of no priest today who is not guilty of scandal--the very nature of the current controversy is, to say the least, scandalous, and those with any sensus Catholicus left are more than weary of it. There are, of course, different degrees of severity with regard to scandal, and I for one refuse to engage in any debate as to which individual is guilty of the greater offenses. However, while on this issue let two things be quite clear:
1) Scandal, regardless of degree, does not and never has invalidated a sacrament. As Pohle Pruess states, the thesis that "The validity of a sacrament does not depend on the personal worthiness of the minister," is a proposition that "embodies an article of faith."
2) For every scandalous act that Archbishop Ngo-Dinh-Thuc is accused of, I can match an equally serious scandal on the part of Archbishop Lefebvre--including that of celebrating in the Novus Ordo rite and performing inappropriate ordinations. In fact, some of the theological opinions officially embraced by him and his Society go well beyond the realm of scandal.
Much has been made of Archbishop Ngo-Dinh-Thuc's consecrations at Palmar de Troya. These, we are told, "caused initial observers to wonder about his mental competence." What are the facts? Allow me to quote from Father Noel Barbara's Forts dans la Foi:
"Archbishop Lefebvre knew Archbishop Ngo Dinh Thuc quite well from the Second Vatican Council. He considered him to be a bishop with good doctrinal views. Like himself, this bishop belonged to the conservative group. It was because he considered him to be a Catholic bishop, committed to faith, devoted to Mary, and having nothing to do, that he encouraged him to work with the emissaries of Palmar de Troya who had come to Econe in order to solicit his episcopal services. I heard these facts directly from Archbishop Lefebvre.
"One day a canon of Saint Maurice named Father Revas arrived at the seminary in Econe. He was accompanied by a priest who spoke English. A lover of the extraordinary, both had come from the location of the apparitions. They came straight from Palmar to beg Archbishop Lefebvre to come to this location because the Blessed Virgin was waiting for him. She was insisting that a Catholic bishop come in order to confer the episcopacy on those she planned to designate.
"The Archbishop excused himself and advised them to 'approach Archbishop Thuc. He is orthodox and he is not at present occupied. Go and seek him out. He will most certainly agree with your request.' The two messengers immediately left and had no difficulty in convincing the elderly Vietnamese Archbishop to respond to the Virgin's request.
"As I explained, I have these explanations directly from the mouth of Archbishop Lefebvre. He informed me of these facts on the occasion of a visit I made to Econe when someone brought up the name of Archbishop Thuc at the dinner table."
It is my understanding that the professor of Canon Law at Econe accompanied Archbishop Thuc on this venture. If this episode is to be used as the basis of demonstrating the "senility" of Archbishop Ngo-Dinh-Thuc, then one must argue that Archbishop Lefebvre and his canon lawyer must have been equally senile. Of course, Father Noel Barbara is elderly and occasionally forgetful. Perhaps he is also senile. And what are we to say of Bishop Guerard and Bishop Carmona's inability to recognize that they were being consecrated by a doddering old fool? (Quod absit.) Are we then to consider anyone whose thoughts or actions we find offensive as senile?
Let us now turn to the issue of senility, or to use the more precise psychiatric term, dementia. Here we indeed have an example of fools stepping where angels fear to tread. Few things are more difficult to determine that the presence of minor and subtle degrees of dementia. Moreover, when and where dementia is present, there is obviously a spectrum of deficit reflected in memory and cognitive function. Consider memory. It is suggested without any evidence whatsoever, that Archbishop Thuc suffered from loss of "short term memory." Technically, this means not the forgetting of what one ate for breakfast or where one misplaced one's glasses, but the inability to remember three items at five minutes on a mental status exam. Kaplan and Sadock define it as "the reproduction, recognition, or recall of perceived material within a period of up to 30 seconds after presentation." Absolutely no evidence for short term memory loss has ever been presented in the case of Archbishop Thuc.
Polemicists speak of the necessity of the "full command of reason." If by this phrase one understands that the individual is at all times logical, then almost everyone involved in the current controversies-where lack of reason is so often manifested--would be administering invalid sacraments. I would suggest, however, that what is meant by this phrase is not that a priest at all times be some paragon of reasoning ability, but that he know what he is about when confecting a sacrament. There is absolutely no evidence that Archbishop Thuc did not know what he was doing or that he was acting unwillingly. It is absurd to suggest that a person can go through a three-hour relatively public and highly-demanding ceremony such as an episcopal consecration, and not know what he is doing. What makes this criterion particularly offensive is that those who insist on it are perfectly willing to accept orders administered by an elderly bishop (Alfred Mendez) who is in full communion with the post-Conciliar establishment, a person who refuses to publicly avow his actions, and an individual who, I am informed by a most reliable source, has a special penchant for girly shows. So much for the "full command of reason."
How the forces of subversion must enjoy our absurdities! Perhaps God allows us to repeatedly shoot ourselves in the foot so as to discourage others from shooting us in the head.
Most offensive is the suggestion that Archbishop Ngo-Dinh-Thuc was actually "insane." Quoting Msgr. Pohle, the good Archbishop is listed as among "lunatics, children and others who have not the full use of reason." We are told that "a moment's reflection is all that is needed to grasp the ramifications this has on the Thuc consecrations." To make matters worse, "Dr." Weiskittel's diatribe distorts Father Sanborn's comment about the Archbishop being "guile-less and somewhat naive" as supporting evidence that he had the "mind of a child" as used in the above quotation. Is it possible that he has forgotten Christ's admonition, "Unless ye become as little children..."
Only slightly less offensive, though actually rather humorous, are the following statements with regard to Archbishop Ngo-Dinh-Thuc. Having listed "loss of short-term memory, loss of long-term memory, paranoia, depression, diminished judgment, isolation, etc.", our author contends (with absolutely no evidence) that "Msgr. Thuc most definitely exhibited some of these symptoms." He goes on to inform us that "considered alone they mean little, but when taken as a whole they are compelling proof that he [Msgr. Thuc] was assuredly not compos mentos (that is, of sound mind). Although senile, his impairment was relatively mild, else he would not have been able to compose his autobiographical reflections (written between 1982 and 1984 [he passed away in 1984, RIP]). And he never displayed the symptoms of full-blown senility. But it must be remembered that the mildly senile person is still one who, however slowly, is losing his mind. The 'full command of reason' required of her priests by the Church is not present." Such a series of non sequiturs strongly suggests that the author is suffering from what could be called a "formal thought disorder" and/or is indulging in "projective identification."
"Dr." Weiskittel seems somewhat confused about the distinction between senescence(aging) and senility. He informs us that senescence typically involves the "shrinking of the brain." He seems unaware that the process of senescence starts about or before the age of thirty, which means that we are all in the same degenerating boat. He is also unaware of the fact that despite this defect, "the belief that old age is invariably associated with profound intellectual and physical infirmity is a myth. Most aged persons retain their cognitive ability and physical capacity to a remarkable degree." One is tempted to suggest that those who are willing to make firm psychiatric diagnoses without evidence and without training are suffering from a different condition--namely, swelling of the brain.
Allow me to conclude by stating that the diatribes asserting that Archbishop Ngo-Dinh-Thuc was suffering from "senile dementia," "mental impairment," "doubtful lucidity," or "lacked the full command of reason," to say nothing about their declaring him "insane," are patently absurd and the supposed evidence offered for such affirmations only exists in the minds of those who would use insinuation and innuendo to assassinate his character. Even if appropriate testing had been performed and some mild loss of memory or cognitive function demonstrated, there would be no grounds for declaring him incompetent. What is at issue is competence and in psychiatry, as well as in theology, an act is considered "sane" or "rational" (sacramental theology would add "human'') when the person who performs it knows what he is doing and freely wills to do it.
Not having examined the Archbishop personally, I am not in a position to give any psychiatric opinion as to the state of his mentation. However, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, it seems patently obvious that we must consider him to have been fully aware of what he was doing and in no way either "conned" or coerced. In essence, we are forced to assume that he acted in his right mind and was fully competent, We simply cannot go around declaring those whose actions, judgments and thoughts we find personally abhorrent are somehow mentally defective. To do so is plain and simple calumny.
During a conversation with Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1980, I hinted about my worries over finding a bishop after his death who would ordain traditional Catholic priests and confirm our children.
The archbishop - at that time he hadn't indicated whether he would one day consecrate bishops - tactfully replied that the question worried him, too, and that "Deus providebit"-God will provide. He added, with one of his trademark French chuckles, that each time he had a coughing or sneezing fit in the seminary chapel at Econe, he could almost hear the 8o seminarians silently change their prayer to just one fervent petition: "God, let him live - at least till he ordains me!"
The amusing anecdote highlights a serious issue: As traditional Catholics, the sacraments are the center of our spiritual life and the key to our salvation. We know that if we want to hear Mass, receive Holy Communion, have our sins absolved and be fortified by the Last Rites, we need priests. And we know that only bishops can make priests.
Where, then, can we go to find bishops who will ordain traditional Catholic priests, and thus ensure that the traditional Latin Mass will continue to be celebrated at our altars?
The laity and clergy connected with the Society of St. Pius X (nervous seminarians in particular) need worry no longer. On 30 June 1988 Abp. Lefebvre and the retired bishop of Campos, Brazil, Antonio de Castro-Mayer, consecrated four bishops for the Society of St. Pius X, These bishops have since ordained more priests for the Society and recently consecrated a bishop to succeed Bp. Mayer in Campos.
The Lefebvre bishops limit their episcopal ministrations only to those chapels and clergy who accept unquestioningly all the Society's theological opinions and who surrender legal control of their property to the Society. Likewise, these bishops will ordain to the priesthood only those seminarians who swear fealty to the Society's positions.
Many traditional priests disagree with the Society's positions and policies. We can hardly look to a Lefebvre bishop if we want children from our chapels to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. Still less could we found a seminary to train the clergy who will one day succeed us, and then imagine that the Lefebvre bishops would ordain to the priesthood the seminarians we would train.
But Lefebvre bishops are not the only option. In the U.S. at present there are six traditional Catholic clergymen who are commonly referred to as the "Thuc" bishops. Unlike the Lefebvre bishops, the Thuc bishops are not connected in a single organization. They operate independently of each other (like most traditional priests), though some of them do co-operate together in certain apostolic works.
Like traditional Catholic priests, too, the six Thuc bishops are a diverse lot. Five are older men who were trained and ordained to the priesthood before the disastrous post-Vatican II changes hit; one (a younger man) received a traditional formation and was ordained a priest in the old rite well after Vatican 11. Three were diocesan priests; three were members of different religious orders. Four of the bishops graciously cooperate with traditional Catholic chapels and clergy outside their own particular milieu; two bishops are definitely off in separate orbits. Of the six bishops, one has a reputation as a notorious troublemaker, another is not particularly well known one way or the other, and the other four (two of them recently consecrated) are well regarded in the circles where they pursued their apostolate, either through their writings or their sacramental ministry.
The Thuc bishops in the U.S. all trace their episcopal consecrations to one of two men:
- Bishop M.-L. Guerard des Lauriers O.P, formerly a professor at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome and at the Society of St. Pius X's seminary in Econe, Switzerland (he was one of my teachers), and the author of the famous Ottaviani Intervention.
- Bishop Moises Carmona Rivera, a diocesan priest from Acapulco who for years offered the traditional Mass for sizable groups of the faithful in various parts of Mexico.
In 1981Bps. Guerard and Carmona were consecrated bishops by one man: Archbishop Pierre Martin Ngo-dinh-Thuc (+ 1984), former Archbishop of Hue, Vietnam.
Abp. Thuc, appointed by Pius XI and consecrated a bishop in 1938, founded the Diocese of Vinh-long and was named Archbishop of Hue in 1960. In 1963, while Abp. Thuc was in Rome for the Second Vatican Council, his brother, Ngo-dinh-Diem, President of South Vietnam, was overthrown and murdered in a coup. Unable to return to Vietnam and treated by the Vatican as an outcast, Abp. Thuc eked out a meager existence serving as a substitute Assistant Pastor in various parishes near Rome.
His interest in the traditional movement appears to have begun in early I975 when he visited Abp. Lefebvre's seminary in Econe, Switzerland. The event would turn out to be a mixed blessing. There Abp. Thuc struck up an acquaintance with Father M. Revaz, former Chancellor of the Swiss Diocese of Sion and professor of Canon Law at the Econe seminary. Later in 1975, Father Revaz convinced Abp. Thuc that the solution to the Church's problems were to be found in alleged "Marian apparitions" at Palmar de Troya, Spain, and he urged the Archbishop to consecrate bishops for the Palmar supporters, who wished to preserve the traditional Mass. Abp. Thuc agreed and performed the consecrations in December. The next year, however, Abp. Thuc repudiated his connections with the Palmar group. (1)
Traditional Catholics who discuss Abp. Thuc's subsequent activities in the traditional movement seem to fall into two opposing camps. The first group canonizes him by portraying him as a valiant hero who consistently rejected all the errors of the post-Conciliar Church. The second group insults him by painting him as an old fool who lacked enough presence of mind to confer a valid sacrament.
Both groups are wrong. On one hand, while Abp. Thuc did say the traditional Mass, he was hardly another Athanasius. His actions and his statements on the situation in the Church were, like Abp. Lefebvre's, often contradictory and mystifying. And like Abp. Lefebvre, he too apparently accepted a deal with the Vatican and later changed his mind. On the other hand, theological zigzagging and errors of practical judgement prove only that a given archbishop (take your pick) is human and fallible. They do not prove that he's lost the tiny mental minimum which the Church says makes his sacraments valid.
But we've digressed a bit. Our purpose here is not to review the ins and outs of Abp. Thuc's career. Rather, we want to determine whether or not the six Thuc bishops in the U.S. are validly-consecrated bishops-that is, whether or not they possess the sacramental power possessed by all Catholic bishops to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation, to ordain priests who are real priests, and to consecrate other bishops who are real bishops.
This sacramental power, called the Apostolic Succession, passes from one Catholic bishop to all the bishops he consecrates. They in turn pass this sacramental power on to all the bishops they consecrate, and so on.
To pursue our inquiry, therefore, we must look to the episcopal consecrations of the two prelates to whom the six Thuc bishops in the U.S. trace their consecrations: Bps. Guerard and Carmona. If the episcopal consecrations of the latter two must be regarded as valid, then the line of orders which proceeds from them is likewise valid.
Now, as we shall demonstrate below, the pertinent facts and the pronouncements of popes, canonists (canon law experts) and Catholic moral theologians all lead to one unavoidable conclusion: we are obliged to regard as valid the episcopal consecrations Abp. PM. Ngo-dinh-Thuc conferred on M.-L. Guerard des Lauriers and Moises Carmona Rivera.
Since the consecrations of Bps. Guerard and Carmona were valid, we are likewise obliged to regard as valid the line of orders which proceeds from them, and thus to hold that the priests ordained in this line are truly priests and that the bishops consecrated in this line are truly bishops.
1. SOME NOTES ON THE INVESTIGATION
In 1982 two Americans made their debuts as Thuc bishops in the U.S. The circumstances surrounding their appearance, put mildly, did not bode well for the future.
One of them was a priest then relatively new to the traditional movement, and the details of how or why he had been selected for episcopal consecration were never entirely clear. The other all but jumped through hoops pursuing his miter. As a priest in February 1982, he boasted of his support for John Paul II. Shortly thereafter, word of the Thuc bishops and their hard line against John Paul II began to spread. In June he embraced the sedevacantist position. In August the other American consecrated him a bishop.
Thereafter, the two bishops cranked out denunciations, split several chapels, issued "excommunications," pretended to set up dioceses, and otherwise pursued the sort of follow-me-or-die program so endemic among traditional clergy.
In January 1983 I published a lengthy article exposing these goings-on, together with a warts-and-all portrait of Abp. Thuc. I did not examine the issue of whether the consecrations were valid, but noted that "further research would be needed to ascertain what theologians and canonists consider sufficient evidence for validity in such a case." (2)
Absent such research, I was personally inclined to view the consecrations as doubtful. So too my fellow priests in the North-east. Moreover, even after we had been expelled from the Society of St. Pius X in April 1983, the activities of the two American Thuc bishops rendered the idea of cooperating with them morally impossible. And there the matter rested for about two years.
In 1985 one of my confreres, the Rev. Donald J. Sanborn, suggested that our group approach Don Antonio de Castro-Mayer, the retired Bishop of Campos, Brazil, to see if he'd be willing to ordain priests for us, or at least offer some advice. This prelate had taken a strong stand against the New Mass, and his position on John Paul II was said to be much harder than Abp. Lefebvre's.
Father Sanborn visited Campos in April 1985 and spoke at great length with Bp. Mayer. The bishop, it turned out, confined his apostolate to Brazil.
When Father Sanborn broached the topic of who could ordain priests for us, Bp. Mayer said: "Go to Guerard!"
Father Sanborn said that he doubted the validity of Bp. Guerard's episcopal consecration. The bishop replied: "If it's valid for Guerard, it's valid for me." Father Sanborn explained some of his hesitations. Bp. Mayer answered: "Guerard is the most qualified person in the world to determine if the consecration was valid."
On his return, Father Sanborn suggested that some of us research the principles moral theologians employ to determine whether an episcopal consecration is valid. Since I was skeptical of the consecrations, I volunteered to work along with him.
The investigation turned out to be a formidable task. Since 1985 Father Sanborn and I have spent between us at least a thousand hours on research, much of it in the theology and canon law sections of Catholic university and seminary libraries throughout the U.S. (3)
The conclusion which began to emerge was, I admit, contrary to my initial expectation. There are no "special" or "extra" proofs which must be made before one can say that an episcopal consecration is valid. Canonists and theologians treat a consecration as they would any other sacrament. Once it's been performed, it's regarded as valid, and the "burden of proof" (if any) rests on those who attack its validity.
At a September 1988 priests' meeting, Father Sanborn distributed a brief internal report to the priests on the theological principles to be applied. Father concluded that we had to regard the consecrations as valid. Overall, I found the report convincing. In particular, Father's comments corresponded with what I had uncovered in Pope Leo XIII's Bull Apostolicae Curae. A heated discussion ensued. Later that day, I spoke with the Rev. Clarence Kelly, the leader of our group. I mentioned that Leo XIII's pronouncement seemed to demolish my objections to the validity of the consecrations-and his as well. He replied: "We can't say that the consecrations [of the Thuc bishops] are valid-or some of our priests will want to get involved with them."
At this point I concluded that the arguments against the validity of the consecrations might be based on something other than objective norms of sacramental theology.
After I left the Society of St. Pius V in July 1989, Father Sanborn and I, continued to compare notes on our research. What follows is the product of our collaborative efforts. The lion's share of credit belongs to Father Sanborn, who tracked down theological sources and papal decrees with fierce determination.
2. THE FACT OF THE CONSECRATIONS
We begin our inquiry by asking two simple questions:
- On 7 May 1981in Toulon, France, did Abp. Thuc perform the rite of episcopal consecration for Guerard des Lauriers using the traditional Catholic rite?
- On I7 October 1981 in Toulon, France, did Abp. Thuc perform the rite of episcopal consecration for Moises Carmona using the traditional Catholic rite?
The answer to both questions is yes. But note that we've used a clumsy phrase. We've asked if Abp. Thuc performed the rite of episcopal consecration for two people, rather than asking if he consecrated them. Why?
To call attention to an important distinction between two things:
-The fact of a sacrament - i. e., did a ceremony take place? and
- The validity of a sacrament - i.e., did the ceremony work.?
Catholic canonists and moralists such as Fathers Cappello, (4) Davis, (5) Noldin, (6) Wanenmacher, (7) and Ayrinhac,(8) take such a distinction for granted. So, too, do Church tribunals convened to rule on the validity of a marriage (9) or an ordination.(10) Facts first, validity later.
In this section, therefore, we will not address the issue of validity (Did the consecrations work ?), but merely the issue of fact (Did the ceremony take place; did Abp. Thuc perform the rite ?)
Clearly, the Thuc consecrations took place. But since a few traditional priests have claimed that the fact of the consecrations is not "proven" or "certain," or can't be "acknowledged," we'll take a few moments to prove the obvious.
A. Legal Limbo
When things were normal in the Church, it was easy to ascertain the fact that an episcopal consecration took place. You went to someone with authority. He looked up the particulars in an official register. If an authorized church official had duly recorded the consecration in the register, church law regarded it as a fact-"proven" in the eyes of church law. The same goes for baptisms, confirmations and priestly ordinations.
If these official registers were lost or accidentally destroyed, you took another route. You brought the evidence to someone with authority-a diocesan bishop or a judge in a Vatican tribunal, say. The official examined the evidence and issued a decree stating that so-and-so had received the sacrament.
These officials enjoyed a legal power called ordinary jurisdiction - authority, deriving ultimately from the pope, to command, make laws, punish and judge. Part of that authority consisted in the power to establish in the eyes of church law the fact that a given sacramental act took place - to function as a sacramental ,counterpart to the Registrar of Deeds.
In both cases - that of either official registers or hierarchical decrees - someone with ordinary jurisdiction was exercising his power. He judged he had sufficient legal evidence that, say, a particular ordination had been performed. He entered it into the official register, or issued a decree. The fact of the ordination was then, established before the law. In contrast to this, consider my own ordination. It's a fact that Archbishop Lefebvre ordained me to the priesthood in Econe, Switzerland on 29 June I977. But that fact has not been legally established. It's not recorded in the ordination register of the Diocese of Sion, as church law would require. Should normalcy return to the Church in my lifetime, I'd go to someone with ordinary jurisdiction. He would then rule on the evidence and issue a decree which would legally establish the fact of my ordination.
Where does this leave the fact of the Thuc consecrations? In the same place it leaves my ordination, the Lefebvre consecrations and all sacraments traditional Catholic clergy confer: in a sort of legal limbo. Since no one in the traditional movement possesses ordinary jurisdiction, no one has the power to rule on the legal evidence that a particular sacrament was performed and then establish it as a fact before church law. That's a function of church officials who have received their authority from a pope.
Nevertheless, we traditional Catholics can and do establish the fact that we have conferred or received sacraments. The means we use is moral certitude, a simple concept we'll apply to the Thuc consecrations, just as we do to any other sacrament.
Unlike the Lefebvre consecrations in 1988, the Thuc consecrations received little or no publicity in the United States. Nevertheless, it's easy to document the fact that the ceremonies took place. Here are some sources:
- Published photographs of Bp. Guerard's 7 May 1981 consecration. (11)
- Published photographs of Bp. Carmona's and Bp. Adolfo Zamora's 17 October 1981 consecration. (12)
- Accompanying captions stating that Abp. Thuc performed the consecrations according to The Roman Pontifical (1908 edition). (13)
- A February 1988 interview, conducted under oath, with Dr. Kurt Hiller, who was present at both consecrations and who held the ritual book (The Roman Pontifical) for Abp. Thuc as he performed the rite of consecration. (14)
A sworn affidavit of Dr. Eberhard Heller, who was also present at both consecrations, attesting that Bps. Guerard, Carmona and Zamora were consecrated bishops by Abp. Thuc and that "The consecrations followed The Roman Pontifical (Rome: 1908)." (15)
- A letter from Josef Cardinal Ratzinger to Abp. Thuc, which speaks of the Vatican's "well-founded inquiry" into the consecrations, and which specifically notes that Abp. Thuc consecrated Guerard, Carmona and Zamora. (16)
- A 1983 Vatican statement which mentions by name those who were consecrated, and (as one would expect) denounces the consecrations. (17)
- A published letter of Abp. Thuc, dated 11 July 1984, in which he acknowledges that he conferred the episcopate in 1981 on "several priests, namely Revs. M.-L. Guerard des Lauriers, O.P., Moses Carmona, and Adolfo Zamora." (18)
- A published interview with Bp. Guerard in which he attests that Abp. Thuc consecrated him on 7 May 1981, that "the consecration was valid," that "the traditional rite was followed integrally (except for the reading of a Roman mandate)," and that "Abp. Thuc and I had the intention to do what the Church does." (19)
- An interview with Bp. Guerard where he again affirmed he had been consecrated on 7 May 1981, and that the rite was followed integrally. (20)
- An interview with the Rev. Noel Barbara, conducted under oath, in which Father Barbara stated that he visited Abp. Thuc in 1982, and that Abp. Thuc then acknowledged that he did, in fact, consecrate Bps. Guerard and Carmona. (21)
All these sources, of course, agree on the key issue: the fact that Abp. Thuc performed the rite of episcopal consecration for M.-L. Guerard des Lauriers on 7 May 1981, and again for Moises Carmona and Adolpho Zamora on 17 October 1981.
The statements of Dr. Heller, Dr. Hiller, Bp. Guerard and the photo captions (written by Dr. Heller), moreover, are in accord on another key issue: the fact that Abp. Thuc used the traditional rite to perform the consecrations.
C. An Established Fact
Faced with this documentation, the reader sensibly concludes that it is a fact that Abp. Thuc performed these consecrations and a fact that he used the traditional Catholic rite. Why? The documentation all points to the same basic facts. The parties involved never changed their stories on these facts. It "rings true."
The "sound of truth" we hear, when considering facts about this or any other matter, results from moral certitude, a commonsense standard we employ all the time. Catholic moral theologians say that moral certitude occurs when we realize it's impossible for us to be wrong about a particular fact, since the opposite of that fact is so unlikely that we know it would be imprudent to believe it. (22) It therefore involves considering the opposite of something to see how likely it is.
An example will help here: I did't see Elvis Presley die. But his wife, the doctor, the sheriff and the undertaker all say he died. I then consider the opposite: that Elvis lives and stalks the aisles of my supermarket. But that would mean that the four people who saw his dead body and who say he's dead are all liars, involved in a massive conspiracy. This is all so unlikely that I couldn't possibly believe it. I've therefore arrived at moral certitude about a fact: Elvis - "The King"- is indeed dead.
To arrive at moral certitude about the Thuc consecrations, therefore, we consider whether the opposite of the evidence we have is likely enough to be believable: i.e., that Abp. Thuc did not perform either Bp. Guerard's or Bp. Carmona's consecration, or that, if he did, he did not use the traditional rite.
This presupposes scenarios like the following: (1) That Abp. Thuc, Bp. Guerard, Bp. Carmona, Bishop Zamora (now deceased), and,two arch-sedevacantist laymen lied, faked photos on two occasions, committed perjury in two instances, and engaged in a complex and well-orchestrated conspiracy. (2.) That the six different people most directly involved were completely mistaken about the fact that two episcopal consecrations took place. (3) That Guerard, Carmona and Zamora subsequently conferred ordinations and episcopal consecrations they knew were null and void. (4) That Guerard, Carmona and Zamora, aided and abetted by Drs. Hiller and Heller, allowed Abp. Thuc to consecrate them bishops with some rite other than the traditional Catholic rite. (5) That the persons involved with the consecrations also deceived Vatican officials about the event, or got the Vatican to participate in the conspiracy.
These scenarios, obviously, are preposterous and absurd, and no evidence whatsoever exists to support them. But they're the only kind of theories someone can put forward if he wants to say that we have no moral certitude about the fact of the Thuc consecrations.
And if someone finds these alternatives believable or likely, all I can tell him is: Keep your eyes open in the supermarket.
This leaves us with moral certitude about the fact of the Thuc consecrations, certitude "which excludes all fear of error and every serious or prudent doubt." (23) This is all that theologians require for any sacrament. Since we have no serious or prudent ground to doubt that the consecrations took place and that the old rite was used, we must regard both occurrences as established facts.
3. THE VALIDITY OF THE CONSECRATIONS
We now turn to the question which occasioned this study:
- Are we obliged to regard the Thuc consecrations as valid i.e, as having worked ?
Based on the principles church law and moral theology apply to all the sacraments, we are obliged to answer yes.
To understand why, we have but to recall how little is required to perform a valid episcopal consecration, and how church law and moral theologians consider those requirements as met in a given case, unless there is positive evidence to the contrary.
A. A Recipe for Validity
Among the many beautiful ceremonies of the Catholic Church the Rite of Episcopal Consecration is surely the most splendid and the most complex. It takes place on the feast of an Apostle, usually before a large gathering of the faithful. In its most solemn form, the bishop who performs the rite is assisted by two other bishops (called "Co-Consecrators"), 11priests, 20 servers and 3 Masters of Ceremonies. (24) To perform an episcopal consecration observing all the elaborate ceremonial directions takes about four hours.
On the other hand, to perform an episcopal consecration validly takes about 15 seconds. This is about the length of time it takes a bishop to impose his hands on a priest's head and recite the 16-word formula the Church requires for validity.
The foregoing may startle the lay reader. But the case is akin to something we all learned in catechism class. All you need to baptize someone validly is ordinary water and the short formula (I baptize ,thee, etc.). It was so simple that even a Moslem or a Jew could get it right -if someone really wanted to be baptized. And once the water was poured and the short formula was recited, you'd be just as validly,baptized, and just as much a Christian as if the pope himself had done it in St. Peter's Basilica.
The recipe the Church lays down for a valid episcopal consecration is equally simple. Other than a validly-consecrated bishop to perform the rite and a validly-ordained priest who intends to receive consecration, there are just three ingredients essential for validity:
(1) The imposition of hands by the consecrating bishop (technically called the matter of the sacrament).
(2.) The essential 16-word formula recited by the consecrating bishop (technically called the form of the sacrament). (25)
(3) A minimal intention on the consecrating bishop's part "to do what the Church does" (called ministerial intention). Though all the ceremonies prescribed in the rite should be observed, the three foregoing elements are all that is required for an episcopal consecration to be valid. B. Burden of Disproof
Once you're certain of the fact that a real bishop performed a consecration using a Catholic rite, is it then necessary to prove positively that the bishop did not omit one of these essential elements during the ceremony?
No. The mere fact that a bishop used a Catholic rite is of itself sufficient evidence for validity, which thereafter requires no further proof. Validity becomes a "given," which can only be disproved.
And this can only be achieved by demonstrating that one of the ingredients essential to validity was either absent (or probably absent) when the ceremony was performed.
This applies to all the sacraments and is evident from:
1. Ordinary Pastoral Practice. Day-to-day sacramental record keeping takes for granted that the minister of a sacrament fulfilled the essential requirements for validity. Official baptismal and ordination registers say nothing whatsoever about technical terms such as "matter," "form" or "ministerial intention." And sacramental certificates merely state that so-and-so received a sacrament "with all necessary and fitting ceremonies and solemnities," or simply "according to the rite of the Holy Roman Church." They say nothing more, because church law requires nothing more. Such sacraments are regarded as valid without further proof
2. Canonists. Canonists speak of "the queen of presumptions, which holds the act or contract as valid, until invalidity is proved." (26) It is applied to the sacraments in the following way: If someone goes before a church court to challenge the validity of a Catholic baptism, (27) marriage (28) or ordination, (29) the burden of proof is on him. He must show that something essential was lacking when the sacra- ment was conferred.
3. Church Law and Moral Theology. These sources forbid readministering a sacrament conditionally unless there is a "prudent" or "positive" doubt about validity. (See 4.A below.) As an example of a doubt which would not fall into this category, the Dominican moral theologian Fanfani speaks of a priest who does not recall whether he recited the essential sacramental formula. "He should repeat nothing," says Fanfani. "Indeed, he sins if he does so - for everything that is done must be supposed to have been done correctly, unless the contrary is positively established." (30) That the essential parts of the rite were performed is once again simply taken for granted.
The canonist Gasparri (later a cardinal and compiler of the 1917 Code of Canon Law) offers a general principle: "....an act, especially one as solemn as an ordination, must be regarded as valid, as long as invalidity would not be clearly demonstrated." (31)
4. Even Unusual Cases. Canonists and moralists even extend these principles to cases where someone other than the usual Catholic minister employs a Catholic rite to confer a sacrament. If a midwife who says she performed an emergency baptism is serious, trustworthy and instructed in how to perform baptisms, says the theologian Merkelbach, "there is no reason to doubt seriously the validity of a baptism." (32)
Finally, so strongly does the Church hold for the validity of a sacrament administered according to a Catholic rite, that she extends the principle not only to Catholic clergymen, but also even to schismatics. Thus ordinations and episcopal consecrations received from Orthodox bishops, and from Old Catholic bishops in Holland, Germany and Switzerland "are to be regarded as valid, unless in a particular case an essential defect were to be admitted." (33)
The foregoing, of course reflects the Church's reasonableness. She doesn't ask us to disprove convoluted negative accusations "Prove positively to me that you did not omit to do what you were supposed to do to make the sacrament valid." Otherwise, hordes of specially-qualified witnesses would have to be trained to do an independent validity check each time a priest conferred a sacrament.
It is easy to see, therefore, why a sacrament administered with a Catholic rite must be regarded as valid till the contrary is positively established.
The requirements for a valid episcopal consecration, then, are minimal. And when a Catholic rite is employed for this or any other sacrament, ordinary pastoral practice, canonists, church law and moral theologians require no further proof for a sacrament's validity - even when it is administered by a midwife or a schismatic. Validity, rather must be disproved.
When we turn to consider the consecrations of Bp. Guerard and Bp. Carmona, three key facts are absolutely certain:
(1) Abp. Thuc was a validly-consecrated bishop.
(2) He performed the rite of episcopal consecration for Bp. Guerard on 7 May 1981and for Bp. Carmona on I7 October 1981.
(3) Abp. Thuc employed a Catholic rite for both consecrations. We have a validly-consecrated bishop. He performed the rite of episcopal consecration. He used a Catholic rite. No further proof is needed. Therefore:
We are obliged to regard the episcopal consecrations Abp. P.M. Ngo-dinh-Thuc conferred on M.-L. Guerard des Lauriers and Moises Carmona Rivera as valid.
4. DUBIOUS OBJECTIONS
As noted above, Bishop Antonio de Castro-Mayer accepted the validity of Bp. Guerard's consecration. Likewise the Papal Nuncio to the U.S., Archbishop Pio Laghi. While condemning Guerard's con- secretion as "illicit," he too acknowledged that it was "valid." (34) A query to either prelate about Bp. Carmona's consecration presumably would have prompted similar responses.
Although churchmen as far apart theologically as the traditionalist prelate of Campos and John Paul Il's official representative in the U.S. can agree on the validity of the consecrations, a few traditional Catholic priests remained wary. Some honestly found certain issues puzzling. Others aggressively denounced the validity of the consecrations as "doubtful."
We'll deal with the latter group here. Each of their objections has been based on one of two things: (A) A gratuitous assertion which theologians would characterize as a "negative doubt," which as such cannot be employed to impugn the validity of a sacrament. (B) A supposed "requirement" of church law or moral theology which turned out to have been invented by the objectors.
A. "Negative" Doubts
The only way a sacrament can truly be said to be doubtful is if you establish a positive (or prudent) doubt about its validity. A doubt is positive when it possesses a basis which is clearly objective and firmly rooted in reality. In the case of a sacrament, it must be founded on solid evidence that something essential to validity was probably omitted.
To establish a positive doubt about the validity of the'Thuc consecrations, therefore, you'd have to prove that, when the rite was performed, a substantial defect either did occur or probably occurred in one of the following essential elements:
- The imposition of hands.
- The essential 16-word formula.
- The minimal intention of the bishop "to do what the Church does."
Now no one who was present at the Thuc consecrations has ever said one of these defects occurred.
Absent any evidence whatsoever for such a defect, the objectors raise personal speculations, musings, conjectures, hypotheses and - a favorite device - rhetorical questions about what may or may not, or possibly could or could not, have occurred during the "essential I5 seconds" of the consecration.
The chief characteristic of such objections, however, is that they are subjective - i.e., rooted not in a knowledge of what occurred during the rite, but in the objector's lack of personal knowledge of what occurred. Such objections are what moral theologians call negative (or imprudent) doubts. And negative doubts don't render a sacrament "doubtful."
We'll limit ourselves to a few of the more frequently-repeated negative doubts.
Objection 1. What if something essential were omitted and we don't know about it? Wouldn't it be terrible? Shouldn't we want to be really sure? Isn't it prudent to wonder? Isn't it prudent to doubt? Don't we need more proof ?etc.
Here we see a whole herd of negative doubts thundering along at full gallop. Observe how the procedure works: Lots of questions. Oodles of dark hints. But no pertinent and verifiable facts. And no underlying principle drawn from canon law or moral theology.
The response is simple: Catholic canonists, moral theologians and popes have told us what makes the validity of a sacrament morally certain. These are the prescriptions we must follow. We are engaged in making up our own religion when we pretend we can ask for more.
Objection 2. I question whether Abp. Thuc "Intended to do what the Church does," so the consecrations must be considered doubtful.
- A priest or bishop who confers a sacrament doesn't have to "prove" that he intends to do what the Church does. He is automatically presumed to intend what the rite means. This is certain theological doctrine, taught by the Church. And to deny it is "theologically rash." (35) Leo XIII specifically confirmed the principle with regard to Holy Orders when he said that someone who seriously and correctly uses the matter and form "is for that very reason deemed to have intended to do what the Church does." (36)
We quoted above the canonist Gasparri's statement that an ordination must be regarded as valid till invalidity is demonstrated. He also says that a bishop who confers Holy Orders is never presumed to have the intention of not ordaining someone as long as the contrary is not proved. For no one should be presumed to be evil, he adds, unless he is proven as such. (37)
Attacking Abp. Thuc's ministerial intention, therefore, is impermissible.
- The mere attempt to do so, moreover, betrays an epic spirit of presumption. Investigating and trying cases where ordinations are impugned for lack of intention was the job of a Vatican court called the Holy Office. The pope himself then specifically confirmed the court's decision.
Floating traditional clergy, therefore, have neither the right nor the authority to attack the ministerial intention of a validly-consecrated Catholic archbishop. The very idea is silly.
Objection 3. I think Abp. Thuc was insane or senile, so the consecrations must be considered doubtful.
This is a variant of Objection 2, since it attacks Abp. Thuc's ministerial intention. From what we've said above, it's likewise impermissible. The objectors, please note, produced not even one witness or document to support their charge that Abp. Thuc was "insane" or "senile" when the consecrations took place. Merely by raising this issue, of course, they hint that there might be a factual basis for it: Prove he was not insane or senile. It's like saying: Prove you don't beat your wife.
- The minimum "level" of intention required to confer a sacrament validly is virtual intention. A lengthy discussion of this technical concept isn't possible here. All we need say is that virtual intention guarantees that a sacrament is valid, even if the priest or bishop is internally distracted before and during the whole sacramental rite.
Virtual intention, says the theologian Coronata, "is certainly present in someone who regularly performs sacramental actions." (38) The mere act of putting on vestments and going to the attar is considered sufficient evidence for virtual intention.
Abp. Thuc celebrated the traditional Mass regularly before and after the consecrations - and very devoutly, said one of my lay friends who once witnessed him do so. It's ridiculous to imply that, when he vested and performed the three-hour-long episcopal consecrations, Abp. Thuc suddenly couldn't manage the bare minimum of a virtual intention.
-Those who actually knew him dismiss these accusations anyway. Dr. Eberhard Heller, who was present at both consecrations, attested under oath that Abp. Thuc "conferred the consecrations in full possession of his intellectual powers." (39) Bp. Guerard likewise stated Abp. Thuc was of "sound mind," "Perfectly lucid," (40) and "had the intention to do what the Church does." (41) The Rev. Thomas Fouhy, a traditional priest from New Zealand, spent two days in Toulon, France with Abp. Thuc in 1983. The archbishop, Father Fouhy related, was "nobody's fool," and discussed with competence various issues in theology and canon law. He even regaled Father Fouhy with details about his trip to New Zealand in 1963. Father Fouhy added that there was no doubt that Abp. Thuc was competent.(42)
So too, even the Archbishop's enemies in the traditional movement. The Revs. Noel Barbara and Gustave Dalmasure visited Abp. Thuc separately in January i982. Both opposed the consecrations and are still critical of Abp. Thuc. But both still attest that he was in perfect possession of his faculties.
Father Barbara says that the validity of the consecrations is beyond question. He believes the Conciliar Church started the rumor attacking Abp. Thuc's sanity.(43)
- I received photocopies of four documents written in Abp. Thuc's own hand. All originated after the consecrations. His handwriting is clear, firm and more legible than my own. The documents are clearly the work of a man who is coherent and whose competency to confer a valid sacrament is unassailable.
One document is a 30 July 1982 letter to Bp. Guerard forwarding some correspondence. Two are declarations: one, that he broke off connections with the Palmar de Troya group, (44) the other, declaring his position on the vacancy of the Holy See.(45) The last document is a 1982, letter (in Latin) responding to an inquiry from Bp. Guerard. Several months after his consecration, Bp., Guerard heard that Abp. Thuc had once previously concelebrated the Novus Ordo on Holy Thursday, 1981 with the Bishop of Toulon. The Archbishop admits it was true - but closes with this touching phrase: "I hope that God has not judged me so cruelly, for I erred in good faith." (46)
A man who could write such a statement clearly had all his wits about him.
- We therefore draw the appropriate conclusion: Catholic teaching forbids assaults on Abp. Thuc's sacramental intention. And, in light of statements from the Archbishop and those who knew him, Catholic moral principles dictate that one cease repeating the baseless calumny that he was incapable of conferring a valid sacrament.
B. Non-Existent "Requirements"
Time and again as we pursued our research, those who objected to the Thuc consecrations told Father Sanborn and me that "the Church requires" X or Y for an episcopal consecration to be considered valid, that the consecrations didn't meet the requirement, and that they were, therefore, "doubtful."
Most of these objections were somehow linked to the fact that, apart from Abp. Thuc and the bishops-to-be, only two laymen were present at the ceremonies.
Each time we'd eventually discover that the supposed "requirement" originated not with the Church, but merely with the objectors. Here is a sampler:
Objection 1. Without a signed certificate, an episcopal consecration is doubtful.
- There is no church law which says that failure to issue a certificate automatically renders an episcopal consecration doubtful. Moral certitude about the fact a sacrament took place is all that's required to regard it as valid. (See 2. A, C above.)
- In any case, the diocesan ordination register, and not the certificate from the consecrating bishop, is the official record of an episcopal consecration.
Objection 2. The consecrations were a "secret"fact, rather than a "notorious"fact. The burden of proof for a secret fact rests on those who assert it, and since that burden of proof has not been met, the consecrations are doubtful. This objection is pure mumbo-jumbo.
- Nowhere does church law say that an episcopal consecration performed with only two laymen present is a "secret" fact or that such a consecration is doubtful. The objectors made the rule up.
- Two witnesses suffice to make an act legally "public" under church law anyway. Marriage by its nature, for instance, is always considered a public sacrament. But it can be contracted behind closed doors (to avoid embarrassment, say) in front of two witnesses. Their presence makes it legally "public," even though the fact that the sacrament took place is not broadcast far and wide.
- The references to "secret" and "notorious" facts are drawn from rules of evidence in canon law which apply only when two adverse parties are fighting out a lawsuit, Perry Mason-style, before an ecclesiastical judge in a church trial.
Obviously, the court's not in session. It won't be in session till the hierarchy of the Church is restored. The court's power to rule on evidence, meanwhile, hasn't passed by default to the objectors.
And even if the court were in session, the objectors would be thrown out of the courtroom: Under church law, only three classes of people can challenge the validity of an ordination or consecration. (47) All other persons, says the canonist Cappello, lack the right to accuse.(48)
Objection 3. Without "qualified witnesses" an episcopal consecration is doubtful.
- No church law prescribes that witnesses, qualified or otherwise, must be present at an episcopal consecration-still less, that a consecration is doubtful without them. Again, the objectors fabricated a requirement out of thin air.
Objection 4. Without at least two priests present to attest that it was performed validly, an episcopal consecration is doubtful.
This "requirement" doesn't exist, and is directly contradicted by acts authorized by the Holy See. - The function of the priest-assistants is not, as the objectors seem to think, to attest to the validity of a consecration. Pope Benedict XIV says clearly that the reason for the priest-assistants is to add solemnity to the liturgical act and to carry out the prescriptions of the rites. (49)
- In mission countries, episcopal consecrations were often performed without pricst-assistants. (50) The practice was sanctioned by Pope Alexander VII, (51) Pope Clement X (52) and Pope Pius VI (53) Pius VI's brief, in fact, was addressed to bishops in what was then called Tonkin and Cochin China - the part of Vietnam where Abp. Thuc's dioceses were located.
- The Church did not merely allow episcopal consecrations to be performed without two priest-assistants, but in some cases specifically ordered it. In one case, Rome ordered that an episcopal consecration not only be performed secretly and without assistants, but even under the seal of confession.(54)
In a more recent case, Pope Pius XI in 1926 ordered that the Papal Nuncio to Germany perform a secret episcopal consecration without anyone present. The Nuncio was Eugenio Cardinal Pacelli, later, of course, Pope Pius XII. Pacelli petitioned Rome that he be allowed to have at least one priest present - not, please note, to serve as a "witness," but merely so the Cardinal could have someone to hold the Missal on the new bishop's shoulders as prescribed while the Preface was recited. (55)
- Pius XI sent the bishop whom Pacelli consecrated, Mgr. d'Herbigny, into Russia in order to consecrate bishops secretly. He conducted the first such consecration on 21 April 1926 for a certain Father Neveu. The consecration took place without priest-assistants and in the presence of two laymen - circumstances identical to those of the Thuc consecrations. Mgr. d'Herbigny issued no certificate'. (56)
The Church, obviously, would not allow - still less command a bishop to perform an episcopal consecration without priest-assistants if such were "doubtful." It is impossible, therefore, to maintain - that the Thuc consecrations are "doubtful" on such grounds.
Objection 5. Without a papal dispensation, an episcopal consecration.performed without two priest-assistants is doubtful.
- Once again, no law or canonist supports this.
- The teachings of the canonists directly contradict it. Bouix says flatly: "Even if there should be a consecration without any assistants and without obtaining a pontifical dispensation, it would still be valid." (57) Regatfllo, writing in a 1953 work, goes even further. He says that a consecration performed without a dispensation would be valid even if the bishop "is the only one who is present at the consecration." (58)
- Pope Alexander VII, (59) Pope Clement XI and, Pope Benedict XIV declared that consecrations performed without such a dispensation are valid. (60)
Traditional Catholics, long accustomed to controversies where the virtue or wickedness of persons or organizations stands at center stage, may find all the foregoing dry and bland. We've spent no time at all arguing over the personal qualities of the parties involved - whether or not Thuc, Guerard or Carmona were virtuous, wise, prudent, logical, consistent or theologically perspicacious.
Such discussions have no bearing whatsoever on the issue of whether or not a sacrament is valid. They concern what theologians call the Probity of the minister. And it is a truth of the Catholic faith that the valid administration of a sacrament does not depend on a priest or bishop's probity. (61)
The issue of whether the Thuc consecrations were valid, therefore, boils down to a few dry principles and a handful of facts:
(1)) All that is required to perform an episcopal consecration validly is an imposition of hands, a 16-word formula and the minimal intention "to do what the Church does."
(2) Once you establish the fact that a validly-consecrated bishop performed an episcopal consecration using a Catholic rite, the essential elements are taken for granted. The validity of the consecration requires no further proof, rather, it can only be disproved - and the burden of disproof is on the accuser. This is evident from ordinary pastoral practice, canonists, church law and moral theology. The principle is extended even to episcopal consecrations performed by schismatics.
(3) Three essential facts are beyond dispute: (a) Abp. Thuc was a validly-consecrated bishop. (b) He performed the rite of episcopal consecration for BP. Guerard on 7 May 1981and for BP. Carmona on I7 October 1981. (c) Abp. Thuc employed a Catholic rite for both consecrations.
We have a validly-consecrated bishop. He performed episcopal consecrations. He used a Catholic rite. We are obliged, therefore, to regard the episcopal consecrations Abp. PM. Ngo-dinh-Thuc conferred on M.-L. Guerard des Lauriers and Moises Carmona Rivera as valid.
Since these consccrations were valid, we are likewise obliged to regard the Thuc bishops in the U.S. as validly-consecrated bishops who possess the sacramental power to confirm, to ordain, and to consecrate bishops.
7 December 1991St. Gertrude the Great Church 11144 Reading Road Cincinnati OH 45241
CERTIFICATE FOR THE CONSECRATION OF BISHOP CARMONA.
Those who attacked the validity of Archbishop Thuc's episcopal consecrations at first based their arguments on the supposed absence of signed consecration certificates. Hence, I took pains in the foregoing article to demonstrate that the mere absence or unavailability of such a certificate does not permit one to impugn the validity of a sacramental rite.
It turns out, however, that the Archbishop DID, in fact, issue a certificate for at least one of the consecrations, that of Bishop Carmona.
After the foregoing article appeared, I received a photocopy of this certificate. Abp. Thuc had written it out himself in Latin in a firm, clear hand on his own stationery, and then had the document signed by the two professors who were present at Bishop Carmona's consecration.
In translation the document reads:
"We, Peter Martin Ngo-dinh-Thuc, Titular Archbishop of Bulla Regia, give notice of the following to all: on the 17th day of the month of October, in the year 1981, we conferred the episcopal rank of the Catholic Church on Father Moses Carmona Rivera, with all rights pertaining to said rank.
"Given on the 18th day of the month of October, in the year of Our Lord 1981.
"[signature] +Peter Martin Ng“-dinh-Thuc "The eyewitnesses were: "Doctor Kurt Hiller and Doctor Eberhard Heller "[signature] Dr. Kurt Hiller "[signature] Dr. E. Heller."
Objections to validity based on a supposed lack of a certificate, obviously, can no longer be sustained.
Further, the document also put the final nail into the coffin for the slander that Abp. Thuc's "mental state" rendered his sacraments doubtful.
The Archbishop, it turns out, did not merely sign a consecration certificate someone else had prepared. He composed the document himself IN LATIN, and wrote it out IN HIS OWN HAND. He did so, moreover, THE DAY AFTER the consecration. It is absurd to imply that anyone capable of all this was mentally incompetent to confer a valid sacrament the day before.
Thus, the ordinations and consecrations deriving from this consecration (including those of Bishops Mark A. Pivarunas and Daniel L. Dolan) cannot be impugned as doubtful. Catholics must regard them as valid.
1 Einsicht II (March I982), 12. "Je n'ai plus de relations avec Palmar depuis leur chef se proclame Pape. Je desapprouve tout ce qu'ils font."
2 The Roman Catholic, (5 January 1983), 8.
3 Among them: Catholic University, St. John's, Fordham, Xavier, Marquette, Detroit, Dunwoodie, Douglaston, St. Francis and the Josephinum.
4 F. Cappello, Tractatus Canonico-Moralis De Sacramentis, (Rome: Marietti 1961), I:21. 'Quoties rationabile seu prudens adest dubium de collato Sacramento necne aut de collati sacramenti valore." My emphasis.
5 H - Davis, Moral and Pastoral Theology. (New York: Sheed and Ward 1943), 3:25. The 'validity of a sacrament bestowed' My emphasis.
6 H. Noldin & A. Schmitt, Summa Theologiae Moralis Onnsbruck: Rauch 1940), 3:27. 'In sacramentis... dubium facti habetur, si dubitatur, an sacramentum reipsa collatum sit vel quomodo collatum sit, nempe cum debita materia, forma et intentione.' His emphasis.
7 F. Wanenmacher, Canonical Evidence in Marriage Cases, (Philadelphia: Dolphin I935), 500. "...when the fact of baptism has been established, but the validity remains doubtful...' My emphasis.
8 H. Ayrinhac, Legislation on tbe Sacraments (New York: Longmans 1928), 6. 'Should a prudent doubt exist as to the fact of their administration or their validity...' My emphasis.
9 Code of Canon Law, Canon 1O14. 'in dubio standum est pro valore matrimonii, donec contrarium probetur...'
10 See S.C. Sacraments, Decree 9 June 1931, Acta Apostolicae Sedis 23 (1931), 457ff.
11 Einsicbt 12 (May 1982), 4-6.
12 Einsicht 11(March 1982), 14-19.
13 Einsicht 11(March 1982), 14. "Bischofswcihc S.E. Mgr. M.-L. Guerard des Lauriers, O.P.: in Toulon am 7.Mai 1981; Konsekrator: S.E. Mgr. Pierre Martin Ngo-dinh-Thuc: nach dem 'Pontificalc Romanum summorum pontificum jussu editum a Benedicto XIV et Leone XIII. Pont. Max.' (Ratisbonac, Romae, etc. 1908)." 'Bischofsweihe S.E. Mgr. Moises Carmona und S.E. Mgr. Adolfo Zamora in Toulon am 17 Oktober 1981; Konsekrator: S.E. Mgr. Pierre Martin Ngo-dinh-Thuc: nach dem'Pontificale Romanum' (Ratisbonae, Romae, etc. 1908, S. 520 ff).
14 Clarence Kelly, et al., Interview with Dr. Kurt Hiller, Munich, February 1988, passim.
15 Eberhard Heller, 'Eidesstattlichc Erklarung zu den Bischofswcihcn von I.E. Mgr. M.-L. Guerard des Lauricrs, Mgr. Moises Carmona und Mgr. Adolfo Zamora," Einsicht 21 (July I991), 47. "Um noch bestehende Zweifel an den von S.E. Mgr. Pierre Martin Ngo-dinh-Thuc gespendeten Bischofsweihen, die z.B. von bestimmten Personen und Gruppen in den U.S.A. geaussert werden, und weil seine Excellenz inzwischen verstorben ist, er sich also dazu selbst nicht mehr aussern kann, erklare ich an Eides statt, da ich den betreffenden Konsekrationen durch Mgr. Ngo-dinh-Thuc personlich beiwohnte: Ich bezeuge, dass S.E. Mgr. M.-L. Guerard des Lauriers O.P. am 7 Mai 1981, I.E. Mgr. Moises Carmona und Mgr. Adolfo Zamora am 17 Oktober 1981 in Toulon, Frankreich von S.E. Mgr. Pierre Martin Ngo-dinh-Thuc zu Bischofen der hl. katholischen Kirche geweiht wurden. Die Konsekrationen erfolgten nach dcm 'Pontificale Romanum' (Rom 1908). Mgr. Ngo-dinh-Thuc spendete die Weihen im Vollbesitz seiner geistigen Krafte und in der Absicht, der Kirce aus ihrer Notsituation herauszuhelfen, die er in seiner 'Declaratio' uber die Sedisvakanz vom 25. Februar 1982 prazisierte. Miinchen, den 10. Juli 1991. E. Heller.'
16 Ratzinger to Thuc, Letter 1February 1983. 'Apres le delai necessaire aune enquete fondec, la S. Congregation pour la Doctrine de la Foi a pu s'assurer qu'au moins depuis 1981... vous avez egalement confere... l'ordination episcopale au religieux francais M.-L. Guerard des Lauriers, OP, ainsi qu'aux pretres mcxicains Moises Carmona et Adolfo Zamora.'
17 S.C. Pro Doctrina Fidei, Notificatio 12March I983, Acta Apostolicae Sedis (April 1983).
18 L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, 24 December 1984.
19 Sodalitium 4 (May 1987), 24. "Affermo che questa Consecrazione e valida... Atteso che: 1)ilrito tradizionale e stato integralmente osservato (fatto eccezione della'lettura del 'mandato romano'!): 2) Mons. Thuc ed io avevamo l'intenzione di fare cio che fa la Chiesa." His emphasis.
20 Joseph F. Collins, Notes of Interview with Guerard, La Charite (France), August 1987.
21 Clarence Kelly, et al., Interview with Noel Barbara, Greenwich, CT, May 1990.
22 See J. McHugh & C. Callan, Moral Tbeology, New York: Wagner 1929), I:643. "Judgments are morally certain, when error is impossible according to what is customary among mankind, the opposite of what is held by the mind being so unlikely that it would be imprudent to be moved by it."
23 McHugh & Callan, I:645.
24 J. Nabuco, Pontificalis Romani Expositio Juridico-Practica (New York: Benziger 1945), 1:218.
25 For validity, it is not even necessary that the bishop get all the words exactly right, as long as he does not change the meaning substantially. See E. Regatillo, Jus Sacramentarium (Santander: Sal Terrae 1949), 873.
26 Wanenmacher, 408.
27 Wanenmacher, 500. 'Similarly when the fact of baptism has been established, but the validity remains doubtful, there is a general presumption in favor of validity. This is especially true of Catholic baptism, and the presumption is elided only by a strict proof to the contrary."
21 Wanenmacher, 411. 'Under the Code marriage has the favor of law: hence when there is a doubt, we must hold to the validity of the marriage until the contrary is proved (c. 1014).'
29 S. Woywood, Practical Commentary on the Code of Canon Law (New York: Wagner 1952), 1905. 'A sacred order is presumed valid until its invalidity is established by proof to the effect that it was received with want of intention on the part of the petitioner.'
30 L. Fanfani, Manuale Theorico-practicum Theologiae Moralis (Rome: Ferrari 1949), 4:50. 'E contra minister qui leviter tantum aut negative tantum, dubitat, de bona administratione alicuius sacramenti, e.g. non recordatur se verba formae pronuntiasse, nil repetere debet, quinimmo peccat si facit: omne enim factum, supponendum est rite factum, nisi positive constet contrarium." My emphasis.
31 P. Gasparri, Tractatus de Sacra Ordinatione (Paris: Delhomme 1893), I:970. "...tum quia actus, praesertim adeo solemnis qualis est ordinatio, habendus est ut validus, donec invaliditas non evincatur."
32 B. Merkelbach, Summa Tbeologiae Moralis (Bruges: Desclee 1962) 3:165. 'Ubi ergo persona omnino seria, etiam mera: obstetrix, quae sit fide digna, circumspecta, et in ritu baptizandi instructa, assereret infantem a se rite baptizatum esse, non esset cur de valore Baptismi serio dubitaretur;..... "
33 U. Beste, Introductio In Codicem (Collegeville MN: St. John's 1946), 951. 'Hinc ordines collati ab episcopis schismaticis ecclesiae orientalis, iansenistis in Batavia (Hollandia), veterum catholicorum in Germania et Helvetia, validi habendi sunt, nisi in casu particulari vitium essentiale admissum fuerit."
34 P. Laghi [to E. Berry], Letter 28 September 1988. 'In response to your inquiry of September 23, 1988, the episcopal ordination of Guerard des Lauriers, while valid, was gravely illicit."
35 B. Leeming, Principles of Sacramental Tbeology (Westminster MD: Newman 1956), 482. "This principle is affirmed as certain theological doctrine, taught by the Church, to deny which would be theologically rash... the minister is presumed to intend what the rite means.." His emphasis.
36 Bull Apostolicae Curae, 13 Septembcr 1896. "Iamvero quum quis ad sacramentum conficiendum et conferendum materiam formamque debitam serio ac rite adhibuit, eo ipso censetur id nimirum facere intendisse quod facit Ecclesia."
37 Tractatus de Sacra Ordinatione, I:970. "Proinde numquam praesumitur ministrum talem intentionem non ordinandi habuisse in ordinatione peragenda, donec contrarium non probetur; tum quia nemo praesumitur malus, nisi probetur..." His emphasis. The foregoing principles likcwise defeat the arguments of those who believe that Lefebvre's consecrator, Lienart, was a Mason (a phony charge) and thus that Lefebvre's ordinations are 'doubtful.'
38 M. Conte a Coronata, De Sacramentis: Tractatus Canonicus (Turin: Marietti 1943) 1:56. "Virtualis enim intentio, ut iam vidimus, est intentio ipsa actualis quae cum distractione operatur. Talis intentio certe habetur in eo qui de more ponit actiones sacramentales."
39 "Eidesstattliche Erklarung...,' loc. cit., 'Mgr. Ngo-dinh-Thuc spendete die Wcihen im Vollbesitz seiner geistigen Krafte."
40 Collins, Guerard Interview Notes.
41 Sodalitium 4 (May 1987), 24. 'Atteso che... Mons. Tluc ed io avevamo l'intenzione di fare cio che fa la Chiesa.'
42 Conference, Cincinnati, 13 December 1991.
43 Joseph Collins, Notes of Interview with Noel Barbara, November 1989.
44 Declaration 19 December 1981, reprinted in Einsicht (March 1982).
45 Declaration 25 February 1982. The text was transcribed and reprinted in Einsicht (March 1982).
46 Thuc to Guerard, undated letter [early 1982]. "Excellentissime Domine: Recepi litteras tuas tantum his diebus, quia non sum in urbe Toulon jam ab uno mense. In illa epistola, voluisti cognoscere utrum concelebravi, anno praeterito, in die quinta Sanctae hebdomadae cum Episcopo hujus diocesis. Utique, cum illo Episcopo celebravi, quia illa die non potui celebravi in meo domo secundum legem Ecclesiae. Tu dixisti quod ego commisi peccatum, quia secundum te, Missa illius episcopi erat invalida. Spero quod Deus non me judicavit ita crudeliter, quia erravi in bona fide. + P.M. Ngo-dinh-Thuc.'
47 The recipient of the sacrament, his diocesan ordinary, and the ordinary of the diocese where the sacrament was conferred. See Canon 1994-1. "Validitatem sacrae ordinationis accusare valet clericus peraeque ac Ordinarius cui clericus subsit vel in cuius diocesi ordinatus sit.'
48 See Cappello 4:683. 'Aliae personae extraneae procul dubio jurc accusandi carent."
49 De Synodo Diocesana 13-13-7. 'Et utroque casu aliquid desideratur, quod ad ejusdem actus solemnitatem, et praescriptorum rituum observantiam pertinet; quandoquidem in prima facti specie deest duorum Antistitum praesentia a sacris canonibus statuta; in altera vero desideratur praesentia duorum Sacerdotum, quos Pontifex adhibendos voluit."
50 Z. Zitelli, Apparatus Juris Ecclesiastici (Rome: 1888), 23. "Siquando necessitas postulet vel impossibilitas adsit tres habendi Episcopos, Romani Pontificis erit indulgere ut consecratio ab uno fiat Episcopo cum assistentia duorum Sacerdotum, qui in dignitate ecclesiastica constitute sint, vel etiam a solo Episcopo absque ulla assistentia, ut saepe usuvenit in locis sacrarum missionum."
51 S. Many, Praelectiones de Sacra Ordinatione (Paris: Letouzey 1905), 519. "Alexander VII, brevi Onerosa, 4 Feb. 1664, concessit ut aliqua episcopalis ordinatio, apud Sinas, fieret ab uno tantum episcopo, cum assistentia duorum presbyterorum, et etiam, Si opus esset, sine illorum assistentia."
52 Brief Decet Romanum, 23 December 1673, 3. The Pontiff specifically confirmed the privileges granted by Alexander VII, among them, performing the "... munus consecrationis cum assistentia aliorum duorum presbyterorum, etiamsi non essent episcopi, nec in ecclesiastics dignitate constitute, si adessent, sin minus, etiam sine illorum assistentia..."
53 Brief Exigit Pastoralis, 22 July I798. '... munus consecrationis cum adsistentia aliorum duorum presbyterorum, etiamsi non sint Episcopi, nec in ecclesiastica dignitate constitute, si adfuerint, sin minus etiam sine illorum assistentia..."
51 J. McHugh, The Casuist (New York:Wagner 1917), 5:24l.
55 P. Lesourde, Le Jesuite Clandestine: Mgr. Michel d"Herbigny (Paris: Lethielleux), 70. In the account of his secret consecration, Mgr. d'Herbigny writes: 'Le Nonce expliqua que Rome lui avait d'abord prescrit d'etre seul avec le Pere d'Herbigny. II avait fait valoir que, sans la presence d'au moins un assistant, la ceremonie lui semblait irrealisable, ne serait-ce que pour maintenir le Missel sur les epaules du consacre."
56 See Lesourde, 76ff.
57 D. Bouix, Tractatus de Episcopo (Paris: Ruffet 1873), I:243. "Sed etiamsi fiat consecratio absque ullis assistentibus, et absque obtenta Pontificia dispensatione, adhuc valida erit.'
58 E. Regatillo, Interpretatio et Jurisprudentia Codicis JC (Santander: Sal Terrae 1953), 465. 'Unus episcopus sufficit ad validitatem consecrationis, dummodo ritum essentialem. cum"debita intentione ponat. Idque etsi sine pontificia dispensatione unicus sit qui consecrationi intersit." My emphasis.
59 Brief Alias, 27 February 1660. 'Quantum spectat ad sacramentum et impressionem characteris fuisse validam."
60 De Synodo Diocesana 13.13.9-10. '... consecrationem hujusmodi validam, licet illicitam, esse censuerunt.. ratam firmamque, sed illicitam Consecrationem pronuntiavit.' Benedict's emphasis, quoting Clement's dccree Of 26 November 1718.
61 Cappello, I:36. 'In ministro non requiritur nec status gratiae, ncc vitae probitas, imo nec ipsa fides, ad validam sacramentorum confectionem vel administrationem. Haec est veritas catholica de fide.' His emphasis.
[The following text appeared for the first time in the Italian Traditional Magazine: “Sodalitium” the official bulletin of the Institute of the Mother of Good Counsel in Verrua, Italy.]
Many Catholics, even amongst those who are faithful to Tradition and who recognize the necessity of episcopal consecrations, absolutely deny the legitimacy of those carried out by Mgr Pierre-Martin Ngo-Dinh-Thuc, the Vietnamese Archbishop who consecrated on May 7 1981 R. P. Michel Louis Guérard des Lauriers O. P.. From the other side the modernists also cast doubt and discredit upon these consecrations. The following article will consider these objections as objectively as possible and evaluate whether or not the attitude of the deceased Archbishop of Hué has made the consecrations illegitimate. (...)
Objections and Answers
Let us say first of all that we do not intend to judge Mgr Thuc : "Do not judge lest ye yourselves be judged”, the Gospel tells us. Our judgement will only be upon whether the objections made against Mgr Thuc are objectively sufficient to invalidate the ecclesial value of the consecrations he carried out since the council.
Our position is the same as Elle Mgr Guérard des Lauriers held in issue n° 13 of Sodalitium : the consecrations carried out by Mgr Thuc are, in themselves valid, legal as far as this is possible and licit.(...)
They are valid for they were carried out by a true bishop (minister) who fuly manifested thathe had the intention of doing what the Church does by seriously using the traditional rite, namely the matter and form (cf. Constitution Apostolique «Sacramentum Ordinis» of Pius XII. 30 Nov. 1947 Denz. 3001) ;
They are legal, for Mgr Thuc had personal authorization (not tied to his office of bishop) which had never been revoked, to consecrate bishops without receiving as a precaution the Roman Mandate (letter of March 5, 1938 which is quoted earlier in this book). It is evident that after the fact Mgr Thuc did not bring this to the attention of the requisite Authority, as he ought to have done in normal times, given the formal vacancy of the Apostolic See.
They are licit, because the law which requires the Apostolic Mandate for each episcopal consecration is presently deprived of executive force for the same reason of the formal vacancy of the Apostolic See.
In themselves, the consecrations are legitmate in so far as the consecrator Mgr Thuc is concerned. If certain bishops consecrated by him have deviated from the Faith, it is evident that they are no longer legitimate.
Objections come from various sides as we have said be they modernist, be they "lefebvrist", be they even some sedevacantists who admit the formal vacancy of the Apostolic See whilst at the same time denying the legitimacy of the bishops consecrated by Mgr Thuc.
Certain objections are common to all groups, others are held by only a particular group and they correspond to one or other of the positions held. It being a given that the question of legality is secondary (liceity suffices for the legitimacy of bishops), the main objections have to do with the validity or the liceity of the consecrations.
Are the consecrations vaild ?
Only one argument has been put forward to deny the validity of these consecrations: "Mgr Thuc was elderly, hence his reason was debilitated, as his actions which were at least bizarre prove. Hence we can doubt his intention, the correctness of the ceremonies and especially those required for validity. In addition the consecrations of Fathers Guérard des Lauriers, Carmora and Zamora did not take place in public so that we cannot even verify the validity of the rite..."
The least that one can say about this inconsistent objection is that it is as hateful as it ridiculous ! Mgr Thuc did not live in the clouds: for years numerous people saw him and knew him and not one of them has placed in doubt his mental stability or his reason. The large number of his writings which date from the period - letters and his autobiography published by Einsicht...etc - prove his lucidity. More than ever where the influence of age is suspected, proof of his incapacity of understanding or willing would be required if it is to be claimed that he did not know what he was doing whilst saying Mass and consecrating Bishops.
As for the correct observance of the rites, we are still awaiting the proof from the objectors for it is up to them to provide it. In the absence of proof we prefer to suppose that a seasoned Archbishop knew his "trade". The small number of witnesses at the consecration of Mgr Guérard has nothing at all to do with the simple and correct obervance of what is prescribed by the Roman Pontifical.
We note that the modernists for their part have implictly recognised the validity of these consecrations (it would have been in their interest to deny it which would have cut the problem at the roots) since censures have been thundered forth against them. In any case censures would not have been brought against people who had lost the use of their reason. Besides Mgr Thuc's "retraction" and the Vatican letter published by the Osservatore Romano speak of the illicit consecrations, and not of the invalid consecrations of Fathers Guérard des Lauriers, Zamora et Carmora in relation to the declaration made at Munich of the vacancy of the Holy See. This type of objection can only come from ignorance or bad faith. The bishops consecrated by Mgr Thuc are really bishops according to the power of order and they can in turn validly transmit the priesthood and episcopacy.
Are the Consecrations Licit ?
The answers are going to depend upon the point of view held. For the modernists they are absolutely illicit since they are carried out against their will - whether your name is Thuc or even Lefebvre. We have demonstrated that these modernists have been deprived of all authority (they are the "schismatics" cf. Sodalitium n° 13).
In passing we would like to say to some of those who would contradict us (the John Paul II supporters) who might be tempted to condemn and stone us... their "pope" has had the false anglican archbishop of Canterbury bless the congregation, he allowed the illicit and schismatic bishop of Constantinople to preach in St Peter's Basilica, he does not disdain to have negotiations and compromises with the Chinese Peoples' bishops (who are schismatics and communists) without mentioning the rabbis, the sorcerors, the lamas, the bonzes - these are they who hurl anathemas aagainst Mgr Thuc and the bishops he consecrated !
Let us leave the modernists to their meditations and pass on to the disciples of Mgr Lefebvre (they are distinguished again from the preceeding group). It seems that Mgr Lefebvre did not deny the liceity of the consecrations of Mgr Thuc : he declared to one seminarian (whose name we could mention) that Mgr Guérard des Lauriers was a true cathlic bishop. How could they deny to Mgr Thuc what Mgr Lefebvre himself declared licit a considerable number of times and which he himself did [in 1988]? This would be an evident contradiction. The only type of objection the Lefebvrist group can make is the lack of need for the consecrations or the deplorable choice of "consecrandi". We shall reply to these objections below. They do not attack the liceity.
Let us move on to the objections advanced by certain supporters of the vacancy of the Apostolic See - not just the formal but the total vacancy. This is their reasoning: "Mgr Thuc recognized the authority of Paul VI and even concelebrated once the "new mass"; therefore, by these facts, he became a heretic, schismatic and was excommunicated ! Not having retracted such errors before consecrating Mgr Guérard, this consecration was carried out "outside the Catholic Church" and it is therefore, necessary to consider it as schismatic."
Damnabilis sed non damnandum
We will reply that he who proves too much proves nothing, and is often taken for a mad-man. According to the rigors of the law we can agree with the objectors who treat Mgr Thuc as one with the plague for certain of his actions: recognition for a period of time of "Paul VI" and "John Paul II", the concelebration of the "new mass", (the failure to retract these things before the consecrations). However, we view their desire of seeking to judge the internal forum - which is reserved to God alone - as unacceptable. By what right and by whose authority do they presume to excommunicate and declare him outside the Church ? Have they perhaps received the charism to "supply" the authority of a Pope to one they do not recognize, for in truth it is the Pope alone who excommunicates ? (...)
We cannot compare the case of Mgr Thuc to that of Mgr Lefebvre who accepted the authority of Wojtyla. Mgr Thuc consecrated Fr Guérard because of the formal vacancy of the See; Mgr Lefebvre on the contrary consecrated his bishops whilst explicitly recognizing Wojtyla. Yes, Mgr Thuc was wrong to wait until 1982 to break officially with "Rome". But he did it as did our detractors who, like us, were members of the Society of St Pius X , and in a certain sense recognized the "authority" of the modernists. Yes, a public declaration ought ot have preceded the consecration of Mgr Guérard, he recognized this himself afterwards, but the private character of the consecration prevented it. Once the fact became public, the motives which legitimized it were made public also. Is it a sin to correct one's errors ? Many of those who critcize us do it so easily for themselves.
The Bishop must be irreprehensible
St Paul says it, and it is, therefore, true. The objectors bring up this charge accusing Mgr Thuc of lacking this quality all together. What imprudence, for having consecrated subjects who proceeded to defect from the faith, as at Palmar, or else for having conditionally re-consecrated people such as the formerly doubtful bishop of the "Petite Église" of Toulouse. All this suffices to disqualify one who let himself be lead into these actions and the bishops consecrated by him including those subjects who were adequately prepared and worthy of the episcopate.
We could reply in detail examining things case by case, by bringing up for each one the circumstances, and the quality of the advisors, the good faith of Mgr Thuc and all those things which would excuse the situation if it were necessary. Did he not break immediately and definitively as soon as he saw the Palmar affair clearly ? The paternal love he bore Vietnamese refugees does not justify but it explains the relations he maintained off and on with the Vatican (which he no longer considered as legitimate) but this enabled him to aid some of these unfortunate ones.
Doubtless the "Old Catholic" bishop of Toulouse was presented to him as seriously desiring to convert; please God that it might be ! But then Mgr Thuc was Vietnamese; as he says himself in his autobiography... "that explains my character". It was a character more accustomed to the spiritual life than to the spirit of Canon Law, which, in former times, was the grandeur of Rome and, because it is misunderstood, leads many into modernism.
However, we do not find a fully satisfactory response in this. We have shown above that by consecrating Fathers Guérard des Lauriers, Carmona and Zamora, Mgr Thuc was a catholic Bishop: a Catholic Archbishop - a member of the hierarchy, he was persuaded of the vacancy of the Holy See. Moreover all the consecrations had a single, constant goal: the continuance of the Traditional Mass. Enough said one would think.
We have all wanted to have an irreprehensible bishop, without spot or stain, a Saint (and why not) whom we might follow in these times of darkness. God willed that our security should not rest in men but in Him. The traditionalists who are unrelenting in their attempts to discredit the memory of Mgr Thuc keep citing that there is not one irreprehensible bishop since the tragedy of the Council. We reply in the words of the psalm: "There is nobody who does good, there is not one". All of the hierarchy have adhered (at least officially) to the Council, except at certian moments three alone: Mgr Lefebvre, Mgr Castro-Mayer et Mgr Ngo-Dinh-Thuc. Where, then, are the irreprehensible ?
For the Lefebvrists, the Bishop of Ecône is the "Bishop", the "only faithful bishop" etc. But if we look closer, without passionate blindness, it is clear that defects are not lacking together with his merits. And these are the defects that are reproached in others ! He teaches a heresy on the ordinary and universal Magisterium (cf. Vatican I, De Fide, Denz. 1792) ; he agreed to ordain a priest in an abbey using the new rite of ordination "to avoid giving scandal", he actively assisted at the new mass, he signed all of the Council documents except two (contrary to Mgr Thuc who signed none of them) and we could go on - invalid priests were declared valid on his say-so, deacons who objected to saying Mass "una cum" were unceremoniously sent away, imprudent ordinations of unworthy subjects...
Is Mgr Lefebvre not in communion with the demolishers of the Faith ? Did Mgr de Castro-Mayer not personally install his modernist successor in his diocese of Campos ? We are sorry to have been placed in a position of revealing these dis-edifying facts but Truth has its rights, and Mgr Thuc his. Many priests, who have not the least complex in thinking that they owe their priesthood to Mgr Lefebvre, are scandalized that others may have received theirs from the hands of Mgr Thuc. How the modernist-masonic sect has done its work well ! How it would be lamentable to receive these calumnies. In the same fashion it is ridiculous and odious to judge Mgr Lefebvre on the fact that his consecrator, Cardinal Liénart, may have been a mason and was certainly a modernist, likewise it is absurd to judge Mgr Guérard des Lauriers by...Palmar !
We hope that the reader will not cry out in indignation, but will be reassured by the thought that God alone is Holy. Our battle is not founded on false personal charisms, but on the divine strength of the Catholic faith which we defend. It is a fact that God has willed that the Catholic Episcopate be transmitted through such an instrument as Mgr Thuc. Man cannot save the Church (God alone saves her) but we must resist with God's help until the day of salvation. As for Mgr Pierre-Martin Ngo-Dinh-Thuc, the subject of this short exposé, however, imperfect he may have been, may God grant that there be born in us one single thought, one duty: to pray for the repose of his soul. .
The transports of joy, patience in suffering, the mystery of the tomb wherein both a peace and glory are manifest. The life of the incarnate Word and of His Mother which is retraced in the mysteries of the Rosary shows how such events are inherent in very human life; and how, rather than being a constantly recurring failure, they are a providentially ordained fulfillment. Such a theme is easily demonstrated when we consider the life and pay our respects to the recent death of Mgr. Peter Martin, Ngo-Dinh-Thuc, a highly respected member of the hierarchy in the Church during the reigns of Pius XI and Pius XII and a witness to the persecution of the Faith during the times of Paul VI and Wojtyla. He was a sent forth as "sign of contradiction" (Luke II, 34) that "the thoughts of many hearts might be revealed" (Luke II, 35).
It is with regard to the second point that we offer these brief considerations. On the one hand, they presume the first, and become the basis for a third; and on the other, they allow for the exposure of truths that have been obscured by the malicious controversies which have surrounded this individual. Let us remember that Mgr. Peter Martin NGO DINH THUC was the victim of persecution (1); and that, contrary to general opinion, he never ceased to be a witness to the Faith (II). Let us also remember that Mgr. Thuc remained, even during his final days, an instrument which Christ our Chief used in order to govern His Church (III).
I Mgr. Peter Martin Ngo-Dinh-Thuc as a victim of persecution: Reviewing his early life we encounter a period of happiness, simplicity; a life full of providential events which redounded to the service of God
The principle facts related to his persecution are well known. Mgr. Thuc did not have an easy life. He left the city of Hue and came to Rome to participate in the Council. Every member of his family which included President DIEM (his brother ), with the exception of one sister (Oceanie) and a brother who lived in the suburbs of Paris, were savagely massacred by the communists, an affair in which the ambassador of the United States was traitorously involved. The Archbishop of Hue, enticed to Rome by Paul VI, found himself a refugee, first of all in Italy where he lived in a run-down convent, and then in Toulon in a run-down boarding house which was "charitably" provided by a communist family, while he was no less "charitably" denigrated by certain traditional groups.
Finally, Mgr. Thuc finished his life by being "abducted" in the United States and imprisoned by Vietnamese clergy attached to the Wojtylian "Church." The word "imprisoned" is appropriate, for, as many individuals are willing to bear witness to the fact that it was impossible to communicate with Mgr. Thuc during the last year of his life.
It is certainly true that many other bishops, priests and faithful were or are at present being persecuted. None of these are unknown to God. It is we regard to each and every one of these witnesses that it is said that "the death of his saints is precious in the eyes of God" (Ps. CXV. 15).
II Mgr. P.M. Ngo-Dinh-Thuc was a witness to the Faith.
I - his problems: Many of the faithful, especially among so-called traditionalists, raised doubts as to whether Mgr. Thuc was an authentic witness to the faith. Let us first of all make it clear that with regard to this matter we are in full possession of the truth.
The First difficulty: Mgr. Thuc, at least by his actions and in the external forum, even if he didn't intend to, juridically, recognized Paul VI as the supreme "authority" of the Church militant.
This is clear from three considerations, namely: aa) Mgr. Thuc submitted his "resignation" as Archbishop of Hue to Paul VI. (We will provide the history of the outrageous circumstances surrounding his second "resignation" which occurred on the 17th of March, 1982.)
ab) Mg. Thuc concelebrated the Novus Ordo (a single time, on Holy Thursday, 1981) with the Bishop of Toulon.
ac) Whenever Mgr. Thuc officially signed a document, he used to follow his name with the title, "Former Archbishop of Hue, and now Bishop of Bulla Regia": to do so is to twice over, at least "materialiter," recognize Paul VI as the supreme "authority" in the Church.
On these grounds it is argued that, based on his personal acts, Mgr. Thuc OBJECTIVELY participated in the schism of Paul VI. As a result, IN LAW, ipso facto, in conformance with Cannon 188, Section 4 (which retains its normative force even though it is currently not enforced), Mgr., Thuc lost the office which he had ; and that in the Church militant which is currently in a state of privation (i.e., temporarily lacking a pope that can govern), and no one can give this office back to Mgr. Thuc. On the contrary, Mgr. Thuc retains the munus (function) of this office because the procedure carried out after said privation by a pseudo-authority is in law, completely null. We therefore hold that, until he passed away, Mgr. Thuc was, as such, MATERIALITER, but not formaliter (MATERIALITER TANTUM, sed non formaliter) Archbishop of Hue.
Some "traditionalists" have affirmed that Mgr. Thuc, despite his "resignation," also conserved his office, and they have attempted to justify this opinion on the basis of "epikeia." It is opportune to explain why, under the present circumstances (i.e., in view of justifying the retention of ordinary jurisdiction by Mgr. Thuc), such cannot be based on epekia. In essence, epikeia consists of not being held to the letter of the law in a situation which was not foreseen by the legislator, when in actuality the letter of the law finds itself running counter to the good which was envisioned by the law. It follows that epikeia only applies for human laws. It cannot be applied to those laws which are formally and explicitly divine. Now, it is Christ Himself who in Person expressly established, with regard to SESSIO, the monarchical nature (Monos-arche = unique principle) of the Church militant: "You are Peter, and on this rock..." (Matt. XVI, 18). Every jurisdictional power in the Church has its origin, and hence normally proceeds from no other source than the Pope, the Vicar of Christ. Epikeia does not allow for any deviation from this principle.
b) Second difficulty: The illegal Episcopal Consecrations and Sacerdotal ordinations. (By "illegal" one means whatever supports the opposition, be it by impeding or by contradicting, the letter of the law. By "illicit" one means whatever supports the opposition, be it by impeding or contradicting the good which the law has in view, and from which it draws its justification.) aa) The Consecrations or Ordinations conferred on subjects not previously consecrated or ordained.
Such illegal acts were consummated By Mgr. Thuc at Palmar de Troya on the 21st of January, 1976; and at Toulon in May, October and December 1981.
These events have been skillfully utilized by Mgr. Thuc's adversaries to attack both his person and those who derive their orders from him. Some even go so far as to pretend that Mgr. Thuc and "Gregory XVII" are working together. However, as against these constantly repeated calumnies of Mgr. Lefebvre, the author of the present essay has never been to Palmar de Troya; and he has directly obtained from Mgr. Thuc, early in 1981, the assurance that he had broken off all connections with Clemente as of August 6, 1978, the date when Clemente believed he received the function (munus) and the office (officium) of Pope (under the name of Gregory XVII). There is therefore no basis at this time, for distinguishing between the Consecrations and Ordinations confected at Palmar from those accomplished in 1981. The former, followed by the rupture between Mgr. Thuc and Clemente as of August 6, 1978, far from having a schismatic character, actually conform the fact that, by proceeding with all these consecrations, Mgr. Thuc in no way recognized the supreme Authority of the reigning Pontiff, and in no way envisioned the creation of a "parallel Church". Mgr. Thuc has always maintained and implemented the same design: to promote the good of souls, which is, according to Pius XII, the "supreme norm in the Church militant."
bb) The conditional re-Consecrations, conferred on subjects already consecrated.
The most notorious of these re-Consecrations was that of Mgr. LABORIE, in Toulon. Mgr. LABORIE and the others whose consecrations were considered valid but illicit by Rome, desired by this means to assure themselves of a proper ecclesiastical relationship.
c) Third difficulty: This difficulty results from the confusion on the part of Mgr. Thuc, at least subconsciously, between the two motivations which are directly connected with the first two difficulties.
That Mgr. Thuc illegally Consecrated and ordained in such an open manner, shows that he clearly wished to do so; his instinct for the Faith and his observation of the "machinations" accomplished during the course of Vatican II gave him a clairvoyance with regard to the state of the Church. But the illegal actions at Palmar resulted in Mgr. Thuc being excommunicated, and as a result, being deprived of all financial support. And those who he had assisted did little to help him. Overcome by these problems, and perhaps also by his isolation which so many sorrows made even more difficult, Mgr. Thuc sought and received reacceptance into the official "Church."
However, the imperious demands of the Light remained active and immanent in the conscience of Mgr. Thuc. I am myself the proof of this. In effect, what finally induced Mgr. Thuc to confer the Episcopal consecration on me was (and continues to be) my clear understanding of the situation with regard to nature of the existing "authority" in the Church; this is the position which Mgr. Thuc asked me about and assured me that he agreed with (April-May of 1981); it is moreover the position which is confirmed by the declaration which Mgr. Thuc made in Munich in March of 1982. Mgr. Thuc was once again excommunicated. And then, a second time, at least MATERIALITER and only in the EXTERNAL FORUM, Mgr. Thuc sought and received reacceptance into the "official Church." (July 1984) These are the facts which can be observed in the EXTERNAL FORUM, facts commented on by certain Canadians who pretend to have their eyes open, or by others greatly enamored of Canon Law ("Times feminam unius libri"): "Thuc frequently changes his mind, it is crazy to trust him." Such is in substance (if one can put it that way) of the third difficulty.
II - Mgr. P.M. Ngo-Dinh-Thuc was an authentic witness to the faith despite these difficulties which appear to contradict this statement.
a) The facts considered in the light of Authority: Every day makes the demands of truth more clear. True witnesses to the faith are not only those who speak about the Truth, but even more those who act in conformity with the truth, and by so doing it make It manifest. In the Church under normal circumstances, the real witnesses to the truth are those who do the works of Truth in those situations and places where they find themselves placed by a true mandate of properly established Authority, which is to say, a mission established by the Incarnate Word. Such was clearly the case with Mgr. Thuc. Pius XI had confidence in him as did Pius XII. He was the individual who under these two Pontificates consecrated each and every bishop in Vietnam; and was as a result, ipso facto in a certain sense the father of a large segment of Christianity, a segment which by the grace of God was very prosperous.
In the post-Conciliar Church which is deprived of any Pontifical Authority. the witness to whom is confided the Mission [of witnessing to the Truth ] because "he has been established by the Holy Spirit in order to feed the sheep" (Acts XX.28), finds himself confronted with a demanding situation which is at one the same time both doctrinal and pastoral, a situation in which these two entities have become not only antagonistic, but in fact diametrically opposed to each other.
In effect, the witness who is truly a witness is such by his conformity and resemblance to "He who is The Witness" (Apoc.I, 5). Such a person becomes at one and the same time the Bonus Pastor - Good Pastor (John X, 1,16) and the Magister Docens -Teaching Master (Matt. VII, 29; John XIII, 11).
On the one hand this witness should guard the integrity and assure the perpetuity of the OBLATION: which being the Mysterium fidei recapitulates concretely and in fact the integrity of the Deposit of the Faith. Such, with regard to Witnessing, is principial, and the authentic witness should resonate with an inward awareness of this. This inner resonating is so obfuscated by the "profane sacrifice" [i.e., the Novus Ordo] that it should cause a cry of distress to pour fourth from our lips - Misereor super SACRIFICIUM - which plea alone can give expression to the reality of our agony.
On the other hand this authentic witness ought to be the faithful steward, and even more, have the gentle qualities of the Bonus Pastor. This second function, even though subordinate to the first, is no less essential for authentic witnessing. This is shown by the crowd that followed Our Lord in order to hear from His own lips the list of Beatitudes who Himself said "Misereor super turbam" (Mark, VIII, 2).
Now, after Mgr. Thuc was forced to renounce his intent to return to his diocese in Hue, so close to his heart, he found himself, more subconsciously than by force of reason, shaken, or more precisely torn apart by the underlying cadence of these two cries.
Misereor Super SACRIFICIUM: from this follows the Consecrations and Ordinations. If they were in a certain sense illegal, they were never illicit. Jesus Himself transgressed the Sabbath in order to heal (Mark, III, 11) and in order to feed [the apostles] (Luke VI, 1); would He not approve the bypassing of the law for the sake of the OBLATIO MUNDA? The Sabbath is "for man" (Mark II, 27); the OBLATIO is for God. It follows - it must follow that the OBLATIO MUNDA be perpetuated.
Misereor super turbam: here we have the "submission" "for the form" (or, in more precise language, "materialiter, tantum". (Mgr. Thuc had no sympathy for Paul VI, especially after he was played the fool by him.) He did this in order to some degree supply for the immense needs of the exiled and destitute sheep [the Vietnamese community in France], a flock mired in misery and without hope.
Misereor, Misereror... As a result of the machinations of official Rome, the one Misereor excludes the other. This is the real reason why Mgr. Thuc, a dispossessed Archbishop and desolate Pastor, went back and forth. He was always ardent, both with regard to his serene faithfulness in prayer, and to his tireless concern for each of his sheep. We do not justify this vacillation in which he gave precedence, sometimes to one and at other times to the other of these two Misereors. We believe we satisfy the needs of justice by exposing the dramatic origin, in the depths of a heart always moved by Love, even though terribly wounded, anguished, and humanly reduced to a desperate state; a heart that despite this constantly repeated "Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo - I will sing forth the mercies of God in eternity" (Ps. 88.2). And we can only stigmatize the stupid and niggardly criticisms of detractors whose hateful cunning and overwhelming pride, make it impossible for them to discern in the "shocking" vacillations of Mgr. Thuc anything other than the meanderings of a senile old man.
Let us briefly sketch, in contrast to this, a situation which helps to clarify the issues:
Those who brandish anathamas by demanding the conditions of a false orthodoxy based on excessive legalism be fulfilled, while paying no heed to the needs of the faithful which this arbitrary intransigence deprives of sacraments, are no authentic witnesses to the Faith. They proclaim the form of "Misereor super SACRIFICIUM" but do not practice it in their lives. And in the last analysis, at least objectively, and perhaps in defense of their own cliques, they go on as if they were totally ignorant of the "Misereor super turbam."
Those who submerge every doctrinal norm under the satanic slogan "we must change nothing" are not authentic witnesses to the Faith. Nor are those who flock to every location where the traditional form of worship is established in order to recruit partisans; who attack those who, because they have no alternatives, assist at a Mass which is said "una cum Wojtyla" and declare that such are guilty of sacrilege - at least objectively, and who then, in one way or another, induce said partisans who become fanatically faithful followers to nourish attitudes of duplicity in themselves every time they participate in the most sacred of realities. Such sectarians are not authentic witnesses to the Faith because they are not pure reflections of the Witness who is the Truth (John XIV, 6). They refer to Miserior super turbam"; but they are ignorant of the repercussions and the profound demands [of this concept] because in their lives and in reality they have profaned the OBLATIO MUNDA, and in so doing demonstrate concretely and essentially that they are, to say the least, stangers to "Misereor super SACRIFICIUM." (A)
There are then two Misereors which are immanent in the Church militant just as there are two commandments. "Misereor super SACRIFICIUM", and "Misereor super turbam." In the present state of privation in which the Church militant finds itself, these two Misereors are immediately affected and their essential unity made tragically and fearfully clear. Whosoever concretely and in their daily life ignores one of them, in reality sees neither.
We therefore conclude that Mgr. Thuc was an authentic witness to the Faith.
Notwithstanding his defects which we will discuss below, Mgr. Thuc has shown, by his actions which constitute the single most important criteria for judging an individual's real thoughts, that it is clear that that his sentiments were those of Jesus Christ (Phil. II.5); The mind of the Witness who was the Author and consumator of the Faith (Heb. XII,2); Priest and Victim of the OBLATIO MUNDA consumated "for the redemption of a great many." It is in Him, and by Him, and by His Mother united with Him, that the authentic witness to the Faith should sweetly unite, in a single living soul the two modalities which are in reality those of Love crucifying and crucified: Misereor super SACRIFICIUM", Misereor super turbam."
Such indeed was the ideal which inspired Mgr. Thuc throughout his life and which in a prudent manner, radiated from him, especially towards the end of his life when Jesus Himself, the same Jesus who was scoffed at and mocked, deigned to affix the Archbishop with the seal of His own Agony. "Arise, good and faithful servant, and enter thou into the joy of the Lord" (Matt. XXV, 23).
b) The Resolution of difficulties - what exactly is their significance? We say "difficulties" in the sense that the facts discussed above appear to preclude Mgr. Thuc being an authentic witness to the Faith. We will see that in reality these facts reveal themselves to be only a minor obstacle that, on a deep psychological plain Mgr. Thuc could not overcome; this because it is the reverse side of a quality.
ba) Examination of the third difficulty (1c above) This is the most spectacular difficulty... seeming for all the world like the Roman crowds who bowed down derisively to Christ decked out in royal robes (Marc XV. 16-19).
And indeed, this difficulty could not but be spectacular. And this because the so-called petition of July 1984 in which Mgr. Thuc had to ask for reintegration into the "official church" was imposed on Mgr. Thuc. That Mgr. Thuc submitted to such a violation under conditions that appeared non violent, is clear from several indications. We will consider three:
1) It was impossible to communicate with Mgr. Thuc after he was gratuitously "abducted" and sequestered . (The Seraph, Catholic Forever, reviews published in America).
The "New Mass" was celebrated at his funeral despite the fact that he had always made clear, in both word and deed, and apart from Holy Thursday in 1981 without any vacillation, his most faithful attachment to the traditional rites.
The document spelling out his submission to JP-II, and said to be signed freely by Mgr. Thuc in July of 1984, was followed by an "exhortation." This exhortation was addressed to the three bishops (of which I am one) consecrated in 1981 by Mgr. Thuc urging the three bishops to follow in the footsteps of Mgr. Thuc and submit to JP-II. Now if Mgr. Thuc really had such sentiments and was not under pressure, he would of told me so himself. But, the fact is that Mgr. Thuc did not respond to the letter which I sent to him at this time and I still don't know if he received it. Let me add that Mgr. Thuc, even if less than candid, was sufficiently perspicacious to be capable of knowing that an exhortation coming directly from him would impress me, while one coming from the mediation of official Rome could not in my eyes appear other than ridiculous! This exhortation "via Wojtyla" (who Mgr. Thuc abhorred even more than Paul VI if such is possible!) was a joke! The production of Ratzinger, this exhortation smells of cosmic falsity - and this because it emanates from hell. It is signed "pseudo- Thuc" or by the "ectoplasm of Thuc" - every aspect of Thuc but the real Thuc.
It is futile to insist on this third difficulty.
It is nothing other than a blow struck by Satan such as he produces from time to time. Canadian eyes have failed to see what is going on. But there is still time! Yes, the time to reconsider the facts: Mgr. Thuc, at the beginning of 1981, after the events in Palmar de Troya, was aware of having made a error in requesting reentrance into the post-Conciliar Church . He was increasingly firm in his determination to have nothing to do with said "church"; and it was this determination which he made public in Munich in February of 1982. And after this, as long as he remained "compos sui," he continued to hold to the same position, as can be confirmed by his remaining in the Franciscan Monastery in Rochester (A Monastery of strict observance, faithful to Tradition, of which the superior is Mgr. Vezelis). It was from this location that he left in order to "preside over a ceremony" in honor of his assassinated brother; a situation which led to his being "abducted" and sequestered (19 January 1984. Cf. The Seraph, September 1984). This episode put an end to his liberty and led to the other actions falsely attributed to him. So much then for the third difficulty.
bb) Consideration of the second difficulty (1b). The illegal Episcopal Consecrations and priestly Ordinations performed by Mgr. Thuc raise two questions; the first with regard to the very principle of the sacred act, and the second to the choice of those consecrated or ordained.
1) The Principles which govern the status of sacral acts. These principles have been discussed in B.O.C. No 84. What follows is a summary of the details which is presented in three parts.
First: to illegally consecrate or ordain raises up the issue of epikeia. And this in turn being admitted, raises the issue of a clause which we have always insisted on, namely: The bishops illegally consecrated do not have ordinary jurisdiction, even though, according to the hierarchy of orders, they have the fullness of the priesthood and the power to communicate this fullness.
Christ Himself has reminded us of this (1a, at the end), for He established for the Church militant the supreme norm of SESSIO: "To es Petrus..." ( Math. XVI. 18); et similarly for MISSIO: "Euntes, docete..." (Matt. XXVIII. 19-20.
On the other hand, Christ gave to the Church the responsibility for determining the modalites and manner in which these two, MISSIO and SESSIO, should exist. It follows that the laws governing MISSIO and SESSIO are divine. As such they exclude any recourse to epikeia. However the laws dealing with the connection between MISSIO and SESSIO are, as far as their modalities are concerned, ecclesiastic and as such totally human. It follows that the [normal] application of these modalities can be considered as suspended in virtue of epikeia.
Secondly: the recourse to epikeia is not justified excerpt when there is (such is sine qua non) the intent of assuring, even though minimally, the good which is normally envisioned by the law.
Under the circumstances the good which is envisioned by the laws of the Church is the perpetuation of the MISSIO. This perpetuation necessarily requires (divine law) that Bishops be consecrated. And this function of assuring that such consecrations occur is incumbent on the Church. The manner in which this occurs is part of ecclesiastical law. Under normal circumstances the Pope has jurisdiction over the entire Church, and it falls upon him to designate those who should be consecrated. For example, the Pope who is bishop of Lyon, as he is Bishop of every other diocese, in order to rule the diocese of Lyon (the extent of the diocese being designated by him) chooses another Bishop to rule this diocese with him; another bishop who is ipso facto established over the sheep of this diocese, established not by the Pope, but by "the Holy Spirit" (Acts XX, 28). In the Church in a state of deprivation (which is the result of the "formal" vacancy of the Apostolic See), this ecclesiastical law whereby the Pope designates those priests who are to be candidates for the episcopacy, is not applicable because there is no Authority having the power to do so. It is therefore necessary to ignore the letter of the law (Epikeia consists of this), if such is unavoidable in order to realize that good which is envisioned and normally assured by the law, namely the perpetuation of the MISSIO.
Thirdly, the uses of epikeia It is necessary with regard to this, and conforming to what has been said above (1ba, bb), to distinguish the Consecrations and Ordinations conferred by Mgr. Thuc according to whether or not the subjects consecrated or ordained had already been validly consecrated.
With regard to those individuals not previously consecrated or ordained, the actions of Mgr. Thuc were necessary in order that the MISSIO be perpetuated. Such acts, far from compromising his witnessing to the Faith, were and remain an integral part of that witnessing. The bishops consecrated by Mgr. Thuc in 1981, and those who in turn were subsequently consecrated by these, incarnate, and indeed, they alone at this time do so - the living hope (the "hope against all hope" Rom. I, VI, 18), that the OBLATIO MUNDA will continue on this earth.
Concerning those individuals who had already been validly consecrated or ordained, the actions of Mgr. Thuc do not appear to us to be justified on the grounds of Epikeia. With regard to the perpetuation of the MISSIO, these conditional repetitions related entirely to "bene esse," and not to simple esse. It does not seem to us that this suffices for going contrary to an ecclesiastical law which even though it has been deprived of executive power, still conserves its directive value.
Mgr. Thuc, at least in the practical order, and without any excessive concern about Epikeia, based these actions on different grounds. One can, if not justify them, at least explain them on psychological grounds. a) Asiatic mentality, a transient urge, allergic to juridical attitudes, especially those of a Roman character.
b) The personal temperament of Mgr. Thuc: his open, good natured personality, his spontaneous desire to please others, to smooth away difficulties, and a tendency to circumvent problems.
c) Usury as a result of solitude for which the past had never prepared Mgr. Thuc. "vera dicentes solent persecutionem pati; nec tamen ideo Prophetae antiqqui timore persecutionis a veritatis praedicatione defecerunt" (St. Augustine, De Sermone Domini) (Whosoever affirms the truth is usually persecuted. However, the Prophets of old never failed to bear witness to the Truth for fear of being persecuted.) With a wealthy background, Mgr. Thuc was accustomed with regard to his interpersonal connections, to live in an atmosphere of comfort and prosperity. Solitude, which is the price of witnessing, therefore went against his nature. One can understand then that, spontaneously and without any calculation, he was inclined in these re-consecrations to "patronize" the individuals involved, and without any disproportionate psychological commitment, to "patronize" the halls of the wealthy which reflected his own apostolic soul, and which also gave sustenance to his great financial needs. Those who fight desperate battles find, in those who they vanquish, a reason to live which secretly sustains them. The supreme test is that of solitude which intrudes into the land of the Strong. Such was the lot of Jesus in His Passion, and of Mgr. Thuc in his final dereliction. If Mgr. Thuc on occasion succumbed to this insidious temptation, it is those who are with out sin who should cast the first stone and condemn him.
2) The choice of the persons who were illegally consecrated or ordained by Mgr. Thuc The choices were distinctly made by Mgr. Thuc himself. The proof in the fact that he said NON to a certain individual who sought him out, and who, being angry, repeated the refrain of Master Renard: "He is to green... the miter bestowed by Thuc is good for the schismatic, heretics, .... those excommunicated, by the laws of the Holy Church." The choices were thus primarily inspired by the motivations which we have indicated above (2a), precisely characterized by the two modalities "Misereor super Sacrificium," "Misereor super turbam."
That the decisions were influenced by "overtones" of a natural order, especially such as by what might be called "psychological usury" which we have alluded to above (1)c), possibly blended with other motivations in the subconscious of Mgr. Thuc, is certainly possible. But even if we suppose that such was the case, we could only conclude yet once again that "Errare humanum est - to err is human." And such in no way leads us to question the totality of his actions, and much less the correctness of his intention.
We by no means argue that all the choices of Mgr. Thuc were opportune, which is to say, effectively chosen for the ends he had in view. But on the other hand we denounce, as a grave injustice, any attempt to accuse Mgr. Thuc of schism and heresy under the pretext that he consecrated or reconsecrated individuals who are themselves charged with being "schismatics, notorious heretics or criminals." Considering that the Apostolic See is formally vacant, no one is qualified with absolute certitude (which is to say, without their immediate sensible perceptions assuming the authority of governance) to state that such and such a person is formally a heretic, or not a member of the Church
Those who claim the right to impose such affirmations with absolute certitude usurp Authority. It is impossible to have, with regard to these issues, absolute certitude, or even moral certitude (to do so would be to elevate one's immediate impressions to the level of a law). Even though they would defend the Church, their witness with regard to ecclesiastical realities is deprived of any reality.
bc) With regard to the first difficulty (1a); I.e. that Mgr. Thuc recognized Paul VI as having Authority.
The same reasons which we have already mentioned (bb) apply. That which above all applies is the need he had for support: partly personal, because of his fear of solitude, partly in order to help others.
To explain is not to justify. To recognize someone who is clearly in schism as having authority is clearly incompatible with witnessing to the Faith. But, we repeat, early in 1981, Mgr. Thuc renounced his errors. However he did not immediately hasten to correct his relationships with some of the individuals he associated with. Locked in misery, Mgr. Thuc was very receptive to human warmth such as the Bishop of Toulon showered on him, along with the most welcome income which he received from the Cathedral. This was in sharp contrast to the lack of logic demonstrated by the fact that he celebrated the traditional Mass every morning by himself. Mgr. Thuc succumbed to a seductive process in that he frequented said cathedral and on one occasion even concelebrated the Novus Ordo.
God alone can judge to what degree this lapse constituted a sin (the Church does not judge a persons inner intention). The other principal difficulty follows from the role that the state of his mentality may have played. That the intelligence be "rational" is certainly connatural with human nature. However, observation proves that different individuals, and even different ethnic groups, often fail to present the same efficacious spontaneity in their mental responses, especially with regard to the brilliance which reason should have. Indeed, at least in this respect the Vietnamese, (for they are excellent in linguistic skills as reflected in the "verbum oris"), are among the "poor relatives" of the human race; at least, they are not "born diplomats." Can one blame the Romans for this?
Whatever the case may be with regard to the GOD WHO IS, what would have been unpardonable for a "Cartesian" would not necessarily be a sin on the part of a person from Vietnam. "Noli judicare, si non vi errare." The witness to the Faith is prudent. It follows that this does not consist in excelling on every single issue: what is essential is doctrinal rectitude and activities that imply real charity. A witness to the faith combines both and in this way makes it clear that their origin is divine. This is why, despite a passing weakness which is explained though not excused by the great suffering he underwent, we hold that Mgr. Thuc was and remains an authentic witness to the Faith.
Did not Peter, whose name Mgr. Thuc carried, fall; and was he not raised up? "Being once converted, confirm thy brethren" (Luke, XXII. 32). This is precisely the situation with Mgr. Thuc who like Peter succeeded in his mission, at least at the time when lived on this earth.
III - Mgr. P.M. Ngo-Dinh-Thuc, designated by Christ Himself, and by His Mother and offered to the members of the Church who wend their way in this world Ecce positus est hic... in signum cui contradicetur" (For a sign which shall be contradicted (Luke II.34).
According to St. Ephrem who lived in the second century, "No one knows the earthly finish of the Mother of God." Similarly, no one knows the nature of the earthly finish of Mgr. P.M. Ngo-Dinh-Thuc who passed away in America on December 13, 1984.
Is such a comparison excessively bold" It appears justified to anyone who formally considers it and bases himself on what the facts reveal. Is it not possible that Mary, "she who had believed" (Luke I, 45), She who watches over the Faith of the Church (militant) till the end of time - the Church of which she is the Mother. She was wrapped around as a "great sign" (Apoc. XII, 1) when she left the earth in that obscurity which truly is appropriate to the earth. Is it not possible that Mgr. Thuc, witness to the faith in this time of torment, a witness who was predestined to bear with persecution, "to fill up in himself those things which were lacking" (Col. I. 24) showed by the darkness that surrounded his departure from this world, at least hypothetically, that dark cunning which is of the nature of the "Mystery of Iniquity" (II. Thes. II.7)? We will leave the problem of responding to this question up to the reader who is virtuously foreign to the opposing passions that prevail with regard to Mgr., and who aspires to wisdom in serenity.
Certain people obviously know the facts about the last few days of Mgr. Thuc in this world. They prove their complicity by their silence. They are like the guards who were payed off (Matt. XXVIII. 11-15). And as a result of their silence has it not happened that the one residential Bishop (materialiter tantum, alas!) who dared say NO to Wojtylian Rome has seemingly disappeared into thin air, and his sterility being, as it were, guaranteed under an official seal.
This voice, while not "formal," is real, and that is too much. It is necessary to silence him. The "official Church" has magisterially and satanically rejected him . Father Denifle O.P. has shown that Luther, in order to claim that tradition supported him, altered the texts by means of which traditional was transmitted. Since this time, Satan helping, many advances have been made. We are more sophisticated and now know how, not only to alter documents, but even living people. That which Luther tried to do to the Church, the "Conciliarists have succeeded in doing by annihilating Mgr. Thuc in July of 1984.
Defunctus, adhuc loquitur (Heb. XI. 4). Dead, he still speaks. He speaks, not by words which flatter and fly away in the breeze, but by actions which are effective and continue to be effective. Already there are many of these, and indeed, many more than those of LEFEBVRE and CASTRO MAYER and their colleagues, individuals who deplore what is going on in their words, but who go along with the desecrations by their acts, and who dared to introduce scandalous duplicity in the very heart of the most sacred realities? The bishops consecrated by Mgr. Peter Martin Ngo-dinh-Thuc are those who REFUSE to act like this and who continue, from the heights of heaven, to oppose the Wojtylian imposture. "Non possumus no loqui - it is not possible to remain silent "(Acts IV.20), It is the voice of the real Truth! that which is one and the same with BEING and not "minimized" or "intellectualized" ("Diminutae sunt veritatas a filiis hominum -Truths are decayed from among the children of men"(Ps. XI, 2). It is the voice of this Truth which delivers (John VII.32) the world and the Church from the snares concocted by the "father of lies" (John VIII,44). The sure sign of this is that this real Truth, the very nature of which demands witnessing, is that it never fails to arouse that very contradiction which opposes a "lesser truth" to that which is the Truth. One could have forgiven Jesus for his arguments, but only on condition that he did not live them out in his acts which demanded, beyond the level of reason, the need to witness.
And so, it is this necessity of witnessing (John XV.27) which Jesus "set for a sign of contradiction" (Luke II, 34), and thus "out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed" (Luke II, 35). Mgr. Peter Martin NGO-DINH-THUC was a "Miles Christi - a soldier of Christ" (such was his heraldic device), and had the honor of living out his life on earth after the pattern of his Commander in Chief.
May this voice of the real truth continue to be expressed until Victory is achieved. This is the grace which we ask for in memory of Mgr. Thuc, as a sign of his intercession. This is the highest honor we can render him. "Vera dicentes solent persecutionem pati; nec tamen ideo Profhetae antiqui, timore persecutionis, a veritatis praedicatione defecerunt" (St. Augustine, De Sermone Domini. Quot antiqui potuerunt, et non possumus… In Nomine DOMINI + M.L. Guerard des Lauriers, O.P.
The DECLARATION of Mgr. GUERARD DES LAURIERS
With regard to Mgr. Thuc's renunciation of the Archdiocese of Hue in 1970, being a recognition of Paul VI as having supreme Authority and a participation in his "great schism" (at least juridically, if not by intention), and as a result having ipso facto lost jurisdiction FOR HIS ACTS, I have both orally and in writing affirmed the following whenever opportune. These affirmations were and remain founded, not only on certain remarks, but also on information that prudence made it necessary for me not to spread them abroad. Certain lay people and even certain clerics have recently raised questions about these issues and because of this I believe it is my duty before God to declare the following.
1) The resignation of Mgr. Thuc: This fact was (and unfortunately still is) a matter of great importance for the ecclesiastical ordinance of the traditional remnant. Now, on Wenesday, March 161982, I responded with alacrity to the warm invitation of Mgr. THUC and went to Munich. I spent a long time with him. What follows is the substance of what he said to me (Thursday, March 17, 1982), and I sware to its accuracy before God.
"I was then (1970) in Rome facing the impossibility of returning to Hue which I wanted to do. Paul VI called me. Expressing great friendship, he offered me a very large sum of money (Mgr. Thuc never told me tha amount of the sum, and I never asked him). I was in great need of funds for the many [Vietnamese] refugees which I was obliged to help. I ended up by accepting his offer. As a result I was very happy and grateful to Paul VI. Fifteen days later Paul VI sent a Monsignor to my place of residence. This individual carried a prepared document with him: it was my resignation from the archdiocese of Hue. This Monsignor then placed this document on the table and said to me: (I quote the words which Mgr. Thuc used, words which made a great impression on me.) "I come as a representative of the Pope. You must sign the resignation at once." Mgr. Thuc avowed this with great sadness. It was pitiful. I was greatly moved by his simplicity and his humility.
We make this sole observation: consider the source !
1/ SACRED CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH
His Excellency and Most Reverend Mons. Pierre Martin Ngo-dinh-Thuc, titular Archbishop of Bulla regia, at midnight on the 31st day of December 1975 in the village of Palmar de Troya contrary to the express prohibition of His Excellency and Most Reverend Cardinal Archbishop of Seville, disregarding canon 955, ordained priests; moreover on 11 January 1976, contrary to the terms of canon 953, without pontifical mandate and, what is still more serious, without canonical provision, ordained five bishops; these bishops have themselves proceeded to perform recent priestly and episcopal ordinations.
After duly pondering the seriousness of these crimes, the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, by special mandate of His Holiness Pope Paul VI decrees the following concerning the aforementioned ordinations:
1) Bishops who ordained other bishops, as well as the bishops ordained, besides the sanctions mentioned in canons 2370 and 2373, 1 and 3, of the Code of Canon Law incurred also, ipso tacto excommunication most specially reserved to the Apostolic See as stated in the Decree of the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office of 9 April 1951 (AAS, XLIII, 1951, p. 217 f.). The penalty contained in canon 2370 applies also to assisting priests, should any have been present.
2) In accordance with canon 2374 priests illicitly ordained in this way are ipso facto suspended from the order received, and they are also irregular should they exercise the order (canon 985).
3) Finally, as regards those who have already received ordination in this illicit manner, or who will perhaps receive ordination from them, whatever about the validity of the orders, the Church does not nor shall it recognize their ordination, and as regards all juridical effects, it considers them in the state which each one had previously, and the above-mentioned penal sanctions remain in force until repentance. All things to the contrary notwithstanding.
Given in Rome, at the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on 17 September 1976. Francis Card. SEPER Prefect + Fr Jerome Hamer, O.P. Titular Archbishop of Lorium, Secretary.
2/ SACRED CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH
His Excellency Mons. Pierre Martin Ngo-dinh-Thuc, titular Archbishop of Bulla regia, in the month of January 1976 ordained several priests and bishops in the village of Palmar de Troya in Spain, in a way which was completely illicit. Consequently, the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on 17 September of the same year, issued a decree (cf. AAS, LXVIII. 1976, p. 623), mentioning the canonical penalties incurred both by himself and by the others who were thus illicitly ordained by him.
Later the same Prelate requested and obtained absolution from the excommunication most specially reserved to the Holy See which he had incurred. It has now come to the knowledge of this Sacred Congregation that His Excellency Mons. Ngo-dinh-Thuc, since the year 1981, has again ordained other priests contrary to the terms of canon 955. Moreover, what is still more serious, in the same year, disregarding canon 953, without pontifical mandate and canonical provision, he conferred episcopal ordination on the religious priest, M-L Guerard des Lauriers, O.P., of France. and on the priests Moises Carmona and Adolfo Zamora, of Mexican origin. Subsequently Moises Carmona in his turn conferred episcopal ordination on the Mexican priests Benigno Bravo and Roberto Martinez, and also on the American priest George Musey.
Moreover, His Excellency Ngo-dinh-Thuc wished to prove the legitimacy of his actions especially by the public declaration made by him in Munich on 25 February 1982 in which he asserted that "the See of the Catholic Church at Rome was vacant" and therefore he as a bishop "was doing everything so that the Catholic Church of Rome would continue for the eternal salvation of souls".
After duly pondering the seriousness of these crimes and erroneous assertions, the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, by special mandate of His Holiness Pope John Paul II, deems it necessary to renew the prescripts of its decree of 17 September 1976, which in this case is applied fully, namely:
1) Bishops who ordained other bishops, as well as the bishops ordained, besides the sanctions mentioned in canons 2370 and 2373, 1 and 3, of the Code of Canon Law incurred also, ipso facto excommunication most specially reserved to the Apostolic See as stated in the Decree of the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office of 9 April 1951 (AAS, XLIII, 1951, p. 217 f.). The penalty contained in canon 2370 applies also to assisting priests, should any have been present.
2) In accordance with canon 2374 priests illicitly ordained in this way are ipso facto suspended from the order received, and they are also irregular should they exercise the order (canon 985).
3) Finally, as regards those who have already received ordination in this illicit manner, or who will perhaps receive ordination from them, whatever about the validity of the orders, the Church does not nor shall it recognize their ordination, and as regards all juridical effects, it considers them in the state which each one had previously, and the above-mentioned penal sanctions remain in force until repentance.
Moreover this Sacred Congregation deems it its duty earnestly to warn the faithful not to take part in or support in any way liturgical activities or initiatives and works of another kind which are promoted by those mentioned above.
Given in Rome, at the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on 12 March 1983. Joseph Card. RATZINGER Prefect + Fr Jerome Hamer, O.P. Titular Archbishop of Lorium, Secretary.
We include this here for the sake of comparison. Both Archbishops believed they were acting in an emergency situation and both incurred the same "penalty"
DECREE OF EXCOMMUNICATION
From the Office of the Congregation for Bishops, 1 July 1988.
Monsignor Marcel Lefebvre, Archbishop-Bishop Emeritus of Tulle, notwithstanding the formal canonical warning of 17 June last and the repeated appeals to desist from his intention, has performed a schismatic act by the episcopal consecration of four priests, without pontifical mandate and contrary to the will of the Supreme Pontiff, and has therefore incurred the penalty envisaged by Canon 1364, paragraph 1, and canon 1382 of the Code of Canon Law.
Having taken account of all the juridical effects, I declare that the above-mentioned Monsignor Marcel Lefebvre, and Bernard Pellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson and Alfonso de Galaretta have incurred ipso facto excommunication latae sententiae reserved to the Apostolic See.
Moreover, I declare that Monsignor Antonio de Castro Mayer, Bishop emeritus of Campos, since he took part directly in the liturgical celebration as co-consecrator and adhered publicly to the schismatic act, has incurred excommunication latae sententiae as envisaged by canon 1364, paragraph 1.
The priests and faithful are warned not to support the schism of Monsignor Lefebvre, otherwise they shall incur ipso facto the very grave penalty of excommunication.
From the Office of the Congregation for Bishops, 1 July 1988.
BERNARDINUS Card. GANTIN