Γραμμῆς δὲ πέρατα σημεῖα ("the ends of a line are points"). Euclid
If you follow PL on a regular basis, you know how often the lineage of Tradistani "bishops" pops up, both in posts and in comments. That's understandable because THE central issue of traditional Catholicism is — and has been for several decades — validity of holy orders. On it hangs everything. Without validity, any claim to offer the true sacraments —no matter how earnest — is empty. Safer to stay home alone than sacrilegiously adore bread or trust your confession to a malformed layman.
Better than most, the Tradistanis have grasped the P.R. value of pretending to have cornered the market on valid "clergy." Throughout their decades-long misinformation campaigns, they've impugned not only the validity of Novus-Ordo clergy but also that of their rivals in tradition. We got a fresh example of the tactic last week in the comments section: A pesthouse timeserver was reported to have alleged the orders of a priest at a competing Florida chapel were "'hugely' doubtful" (see first comment at 4/14, 8:14 PM here).
Often, when the tables are turned, in defense against a counter charge of invalidity, one of the "clerical" cult apologists will trot out the kingpin's episcopal lineage to silence the skeptical. When that ploy fails, in a move either to get even or get control, sectarian "clergy" front ill-educated lay partisans to stir up "validity trouble" among their competitors (e.g., 2015 in Tampa). The whole point is to cast doubt upon others so as to keep their own cultlings from jumping ship.
Unfortunately, the institutional memory passed down from saner times has wrapped today's trads in a false security blanket. They believe a valid bishop at the head of a line alone is enough to underwrite validity throughout. But the misled creatures are very mistaken, for in barren Tradistan the old safety nets are either missing or perilously compromised. Take, for example, the question of being a valid priest before reception of episcopal orders. While consecration per saltum ("by a leap") may be, as Pohle-Preuss says, "a point in dispute," we must still bear in mind what J. Tixeront wrote in his 1925 L' Ordre et Les Ordinations ("Holy Orders and Ordination"):
Theologians and canonists hold ex communi sententia that episcopal consecration is not valid if it has not been preceded by priestly ordination. This is notably the opinion of St. Thomas. [Our literal translation.]*
Assuming Thục was in possession of all his mental faculties and performed the rite decorously with the intention to do as the Church does, then both Carmona and des Lauriers were valid. We may with due caution then state that Pivvy and McKenna were validly "consecrated" by Carmona and des Lauriers respectively. However, sublineage breakdown occurs (1) doubly with Dannie, whom Liénart-tainted Lefebvre ordained with one hand and (2) singly with Big Don, whose priestly orders are hugely doubtful by reason of his Liénart liability.
Observe that in the Thục ➤ Carmona ➤ Pivarunas ➤ Dávila sub-line in Mexico there is no such break because Dávila was "ordained a priest" by Carmona and "consecrated" by the Pivmeister. Note, too, that Junior's recent "consecration" was saved from invalidity because (1) McKenna had "ordained" him a "priest" and (2) Geert Stuyver, one of his "co-consecrators," had been "ordained a priest" and "consecrated a bishop" by McKenna.PL cannot emphasize enough that there is no straight line of descent from Thục. To speak of "the Thục line," as many trads do, is deceptive. Each man Thục directly "consecrated" established a sub-line, e.g., Thục ➤ des Lauriers or Thục ➤ Carmona. Thereafter each succeeding individual also founds a separate sub-line, e.g., Thục ➤ Carmona ➤ Pivarunas ➤ Dolan (the end point of the sub-line, resulting in hugely doubtful "priests" and "deacons" ) and Thục ➤ Carmona ➤ Pivarunas ➤ Dávila (continuing sub-line, resulting in putatively valid "priests" and "deacons"). It's therefore easy to conclude that an avouchment of Thục ancestry must be carefully evaluated on its own internal merits before Catholics may tentatively accept a claimant as valid.
That process can get frighteningly complex as more and more "consecrations" occur down a sub-line, virtually guaranteeing the likelihood of lineage corruption. For instance, let's look at two successors of the Thục ➤ des Lauriers ➤ McKenna lineage. The Jellyfish, who years ago got rid of his Liénart liability, is OK, but Sinburn is not. Thus laypeople piously adhering to the pars tutior rule would be advised to reject as hugely doubtful any "priest" ordained from the deeply suspect Thục ➤ des Lauriers ➤ McKenna ➤ Sanborn sub-line.
Now the Thục ➤ des Lauriers ➤ McKenna ➤ Sanborn ➤ Selway sub-line, by contrast, ought to be rejected at face value; however, since co-consecrator Stuyver is a presumably valid "bishop" (supposing Thục's sanity, that is), then effectively Junior belongs to an ostensibly valid Thục ➤ des Lauriers ➤ McKenna ➤ Stuyver sub-line. Fortunately or unfortunately, that fact may never be made known to laity in the future, since the custom is to cite the principal consecrator in a sub-line, not a co-consecrator. (N.B. Most Tradistani "consecrations" have only one consecrator. The Kid lucked out ... big time. Well, maybe it wasn't sheer happenstance: Papa's in charge down in the swamp. Let's see if Junior leverages his advantage in the future.)
Add to this chaotic mix of crossed lines the horror stories of "bishops" who can't understand Latin, suffer from eyesight or other health problems, don't use an official edition of the Pontificale Romanum, lack able assistants, have no adequate formation, and/or struggle with educational deficits: You've then got the current powder-keg validity crisis upon which TradWorld uneasily sits. It doesn't matter how elaborate a succession tree is, or how nice-'n'-neat it may appear on paper: without punctilious due diligence, you can never really trust a sede line once you go beyond the last bishop who officially belonged to the institutional Catholic Church.
In our consultancy practice, we've evaluated a number of lineages, many with attached certificates of consecration. Some of the packages look impressive if you only leaf through them, specifically when someone has bought snazzy software to generate his line of succession. But when you drill down deep and discover amateur documentation with bad Latin and/or questionable formation, you begin to doubt whether the parties involved in the "consecration" knew enough to assure validity.
For instance, take the cases of des Lauriers and Carmona. We may assume with some certainty that the Dominican's' solid knowledge of theology and Latin ensured no serious defects occurred during his consecration. But can we say the same for Carmona? ** And if such a question can surface about Carmona, what do we say about the dozens of others who had no formal training in a Church-approved institution of higher learning?
The well-informed trad is all too aware that the current state of affairs is an unholy mess, the author of which is the Prince of this World. Wherever the beleaguered Catholic turns in today's endlessly proliferating alphabet-soup religious wasteland — NO, ICRSS, SSPX, SSPV, FSSP, $GG, MHT (= †R¢I), even CMRI, if we heed Thục's critics old and new — the threat of invalidity casts its dark, sinister shadow.
Behind the chaos lie questions that are either political or supernatural in their dimensions: Why doesn't the Masonic Vatican Establishment do more to suppress all organizations not attached directly to the Novus Ordo? Why did they allow their own FSSP to celebrate the old rite of Holy Week this year? Aren't all these groups sheep stealing? Don't those outside the FSSP or ICRSS rob the Establishment of money and numbers? Aren't the insurgents responsible for a lot of the bad press worldwide and the turmoil in Rome?
An active, aggressive campaign to drive them out, to discredit them all, would seem to be the smart, Realpolitik move. Plenty of ammunition is available; the Vatican insiders have their well-thumbed dossiers like any other high-stakes power players. What's more, they have solid connections in government and the media.
So, yes, suppression would be the expected move, if it were exclusively a matter of hardball politics. But PL doesn't think it is, at least not at the higher echelons of power. If Rome is truly in the grips of committed Freemasons, and if their goal is the destruction of the Church through the obliteration of the sacraments, as many trads say, then those calling the shots don't care how much cash these splinter groups siphon off or how many souls they attract.
Look at it this way: If the sacraments administered by the rebels are invalid, then the overarching Masonic aim will still be achieved. Consequently, why waste time and legal fees hounding the dissidents, when they're already cooperating in the fulfillment of international Freemasonry's larger objective? Permitting the sede recusants to agitate with impunity is the equivalent of locating a theater's single fire exit at the edge of a cliff. Besides, apart from the SSPX, the many trad groups outside the Vatican Establishment, like $GG, are small fry not worth bothering about.
The angelic intellect masterminding this diabolical scheme counts on — and perhaps inflames — the pride and stubbornness of the sede "clergy" so they reject the only way out of the mess — re-ordination and re-consecration. If Lefebvre could ignore Thục's plea (click here), why should anyone expect the lesser vessels that sail in his wake to behave differently?
The doubts about sede successions have cut a deep, distinct line in the sand of the Tradistani desert. On one side are hugely dubious sacraments. On the other, the bright promise of valid sacraments, provided the "clergy" humble themselves by accepting conditional orders from undoubtedly valid bishops of the Eastern rites or from "bishops" with multiple lineages. (Preferably the latters' lines should be validated by an Eastern-rite bishop).
For those prudent enough to seek conditional orders, they need to act quickly. A strong gust of wind can quickly erase a line in the desert sand.
*Les théologiens et canonistes tiennent ex communi sententia que la consécration épiscopale n'est pas valide si elle n'a été précédée de l'ordination presbytérale. C'est notamment l'opinion de saint Thomas (p. 233).
** From "Two Bishops in Every Garage" by You-Know-Who, we offer the following two exhibits in support of our contention:
(1) Father Carmona writes that [his "consecration"] was performed "without witnesses, but two illustrious doctors." He does not say whether these two "illustrious doctors" know the ins and outs of the fearfully complex Rite of Episcopal Consecration found in the Roman Pontifical, and whether they can attest that Mgr. Ngo did not substantially alter the rite. The question is a disturbing one — further research would be needed to ascertain what theologians and canonists consider sufficient evidence for validity in such a case. Under such rather extraordinary circumstances, however, it seems that the burden of proof for the validity of the consecrations must be placed upon those directly involved (p. 299 in Kelly's Sacred and the Profane).
(2) On April 1, 1982, Father Carmona signed an 85-word Latin document attesting that he performed the Rite of Episcopal Consecration for Father George Musey. A friend of ours who holds a doctorate in classical languages claims it contains at least a dozen grammatical errors (p. 301 in Kelly's Sacred and the Profane).