As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves. A. Lincoln
Back on July 22, an anonymous commenter asked:
Tell us, what living bishop today would you recommend that Catholics move to his location, if they could, and put themselves under his spiritual guidance and care?At the time, PL wouldn't recommend a sede or independent "bishop" because none has a commission from the Church to guide and care for Catholics. However, we offhandedly suggested that an Eastern-rite bishop could prove a solution for some people.
Shortly thereafter, "Gene" informed us he'd just completed his in-depth research into the validity of U.S. bishops of ten Eastern rites. (Many of you will recognize the screen name from the incisive comments he's posted on these pages.) As usual, when "Gene" speaks, people with any sense listen.
He ranks among the top pundits of TradWorld, for he grounds his always original, usually transformative, thinking in painstaking documentation and careful analysis. (If only the sede "clergy" had his insight.)
After we read his post, we then realized he'd done much more than yeoman scholarly work: He'd given traditional Catholics a way out of the Tradistani madhouse — provided they're willing to do their homework and prepare for a cultural adjustment.
"Gene's" introductory remarks along with his list of Eastern-rite bishops can be found here (and also under IMPORTANT LINKS at the right hand side of this page). Realize, however, that it's only a beginning. As he cautions, you'll still have to perform your own due diligence to assure yourself of the faith of any of these men. (Must-reading is his "Disclaimer and Advice Regarding Eastern Rite Parishes" found here.) The Readers would also add that you'll have to ask yourself whether you can adapt to a markedly different liturgical and socio-linguistic tradition should you decide to attach yourself to one of these rites. We can tell you from personal observation that not everyone can make the transition, especially those with a sub-optimal education.
However, for those who can, we affirm that the reward — an authentic Catholic bishop — will be well worth the effort. Good, educated, and humble priests of the traditional Latin rite are hard to find. Furthermore, if they're sedes, you never know when they'll revert to type, hysterically screeching prohibitions about una-cum Masses, wantonly manufacturing new mortal sins and dogmas, spitefully withholding absolution* on flimsy premises, masquerading as genuine Roman Catholic clergy, uncharitably trashing rivals, etc. More serious by far is the frightening specter of invalidity lurking behind each one's orders, insofar as there's some kind of problem with every one of the traddie lineages and sub-lineages. (Just look at how the trad kingpins themselves cast doubt on their competition's orders.)
Accordingly, for someone who earnestly longs to escape the dissension, doubt, and deficiencies of Tradistan with its fake "bishops" — remember, they really can't even be called bishops** — Byzantium-on-the-fruited-plain may offer shelter during this prolonged, unprecedented nightmare. It may possibly become the unknown destination you set out for when you began your journey to tradition years ago.
To weather these radically different times, Catholics must free their minds from the bondage of the past, with its cherished memories and comfortable predilections. The West and its Latin rite are in deep crisis within both the Novus Ordo and Sedelandia. Unfortunately, there's no rescue on the horizon.
Therefore, if you trads in search of an undisputed shepherd are bold enough to think out of the box and act in ways you never imagined, it's quite possible you shall find refuge for your souls. Best of all, you might have a Byzantine-rite parish not too far from where you live now. That means you may not have to "move to [the bishop's] location" at all. Odds are that you're already be within an undoubted, genuinely Catholic bishop's eparchy!
* The issue of confession is crucial. Today's post isn't the place to discuss the sedes' disabilities in this regard, but for those interested in exploring the problem of confessional jurisdiction, click here. Some of us at PL found the arguments more than sufficient to begin looking for an Eastern-rite parish we could call home. (Fear not: we won't stop exposing the cult masters.)
** Unless, of course, we apply to these isolated "bishops" the term episcopi vagantes ("wandering, stray bishops"), irregularly consecrated itinerants in communion with no recognized see, whose microscopic sectlets appear to exist only for their own benefit. But without a see and without authority, that's no bishop at all. Although Western theology tends to accept such consecrations as valid, it hasn't always been so. There's a highly tantalizing, though unreferenced, remark in the Jesuit Bernard Leeming's Principles of Sacramental Theology, affirming that some 12th-century canonists refused "to accept as valid ordinations done by a bishop acting without authorization from any Christian community" (p. 548). It would be a worthy research project to bring those texts to light.