A. Why Traditionalist “Clerics” Never Received Valid Orders

© Copyright 2014, T. Stanfill Benns (This text may be downloaded or printed out for private reading, but it may not be uploaded to another Internet site or published, electronically or otherwise, without express written permission from the author. All emphasis within quotes is the author’s unless indicated otherwise.)

Supplied jurisdiction, for all intents and purposes has ceased to be an issue because the suppletory source no longer exists. Only a canonically elected pope possesses the power to supply jurisdiction because he is the supreme holder of jurisdiction and has always been the only source of the supplying power in the past, (Pope Pius XII was the last of these popes). Once it was made clear that no one can supply jurisdiction during an interregnum, and Pope Pius XII’s infallible constitution Vacantis Apostolica Sedis leaves no room for doubt, all the claims to possess such jurisdiction became groundless. The task left to those who wish to puzzle out the full consequences of the jurisdiction muddle is to determine what acts trace back to jurisdiction and who possessed it following the election of Angelo Roncalli. The easiest way to do this is to study the conferral of Orders, because bishops cannot validly function unless they receive their jurisdiction (office, confirmed and conferred by papal mandate) from a valid pope. They cannot delegate jurisdiction unless they have received this mandate. Ordinary jurisdiction comes with the office and if there is no office there is no jurisdiction.

Ordinaries and other bishops are responsible not only for delegating jurisdiction to priests but also for making candidates for the priesthood actual clerics by conferring first tonsure. “Those who have been assigned to the divine ministry at least by the first tonsure are called clerics,” (Can. 108). Can. 118: “Only clerics can obtain the power of either orders or ecclesiastical jurisdiction…” And following it, Can. 147: “An ecclesiastical office cannot be validly obtained without canonical provision. Canonical provision means the grant of an ecclesiastical office by competent ecclesiastical authority, made according to the sacred canons,” (Can. 147). Rev. Charles Augustine, commenting on Can. 118 explains that the nature of first tonsure clearly indicates that it arises from the Ordinary’s office as an act issuing from his jurisdictional faculties granted by the Pope and not specifically the power of Orders, since tonsure is not an order but a ceremony or rite. According to Can. 949, tonsure is not listed among the rites to be given according to the power of orders. Can. 950 includes it among the terms of order, ordination, and sacred ordination, but this is for ease of reference and does not indicate any real inclusion as an actual order. Revs. Stanislaus Woywod and Callistus Smith, (“A practical Commentary on the Code of Canon Law,” 1957) explain in their history of ordination that, “Tonsure is not an order but a sacred ceremony by which young men are enlisted in the ranks of the clergy before they receive any orders.”

If tonsure is not an order, and the laws of the Church indicate it is not, then heretical and schismatic bishops who have no jurisdiction cannot validly convey it, anymore than they can validly absolve penitents when they hear confessions. When Revs. Woywod-Smith explain what validly consecrated bishops can do in regards to actual Orders, they state only that they can validly “confer all orders from the minor orders to the episcopate inclusively,” (commentary on Can. 951). This does not include tonsure although it presupposes it, since one becomes a cleric only through tonsure and only clerics can receive Orders. Even if Traditionalists could claim missionary status and pretend they were acting in the stead of an actual ordinary, (not possible according to Can. 147), Can. 957 states they could only administer tonsure to those of their own territory, which they cannot and do not possess! No bishop of any description can administer tonsure to those outside their territory and if they do, Revs. Woywod-Smith note in comments on Can. 294, they must produce dimissorial letters from the proper Ordinaries. If they cannot and do not produce these, tonsure is not valid. The offices of these Ordinaries do not exist, the Ordinaries themselves do not exist and so neither could any jurisdiction exist issuing from these offices that would allow these men to validly tonsure subjects. This is especially true seeing that their own “episcopal” status is doubtful, issuing from schismatics whose Orders and/or intention in receiving them and conferring them were questionable at best. Having established this foundation, we proceed to the next section.

Status of those ordained and/or consecrated under Pius XII:

So clearly it is of the utmost importance for Catholics solicitous for their souls to determine how this affects the Sacrament of Orders these suspected vitandus have conveyed since the death of Pope Pius XII. Because some have implied that we are impugning the validity of orders conferred by heretical and schismatic bishops, although we have never denied that ordinarily they can validly confer these orders while a Roman Pontiff reigns, it will be helpful to examine the chronology of those receiving orders since the death of Pius XII. For as Rev. Adolphe Tanquerey, whose works were used as seminary texts reminds us, “The power [of supreme jurisdiction] over the universal Church is given immediately by God to the Roman Pontiff once he is [canonically] elected and accepts his office [Canons 109, 219]; this power comes to an end at the time of his death or of his resignation,” (“Manual of Dogmatic Theology,” Vol. I, p. 152; 1959) And we have in the articles list Pope Pius XII’s constitution Vacantis Apostolica Sedis that backs this up: No one may usurp papal jurisdiction during an interregnum, and this declaration is infallible. A chronology of the orders mentioned is addressed in the numbered headers listed below.

Those priests and bishops validly and licitly ordained and consecrated

before the death of Pope Pius XII:

These bishops were not held culpable until the death of Pope Pius XII and before they realized the imposture of John 23rd or Paul 6. Had they at that time remained in their respective dioceses and chosen to begin the work to elect a true pope; had they never engaged in the V2 council or accepted the changes to the Mass made by John 23, or at least left the minute they realized that these changes violated Divine tradition, they would have retained full faculties. Francis Shuckardt, who started out as a lay worker for the Blue Army in the 1960s, was one of several early Traditional bishops. He held the Novus Ordo Missae as invalid, renounced Vatican 2 as a false council and rejected Paul 6 as an antipope. He was ordained in October 1971 and consecrated a bishop only days later, in November of the same year. His consecrator was an Old Catholic bishop who abjured his heresy, professed Catholicism, ordained and consecrated Schuckardt, then shortly thereafter, returned to the Old Catholics. Did he validly tonsure Shuckardt? No, because the jurisdictional power needed to convey valid tonsure was lacking, and no pope existed at that time to supply for it.

Did he possess the proper intention to ordain Shuckardt given the fact that he returned to his heresy? This poses a positive doubt that he did not, and as Pope Innocent XI decreed in DZ 1151, probable opinions about the validity of the Sacraments cannot be used to confer or receive them. Innocent XI’s proposition is one of many listed by the Catholic Encyclopedia under excommunications deserving of censure, (see excommunications). And it is the unanimous opinion of theologians, cited as infallible by Pope Pius IX (DZ 1792) and by moral theologians such as Davis and Prummer that probable opinions cannot be used to receive the Sacraments. Shuckardt was the founding Father of Mt. St. Mary’s in Spokane, Wash., later taken over by the CMRI. He ordained a number of priests and several bishops, and some have claimed he considered himself the true pope.

Scandals involving drugs, sex and weapons, also large amounts of money, made the news at one point, and many consider Schuckardt to have been a cult leader. He died in 2006.

Abp. Marcel Lefebvre and Bp. Peter Martin Ngo-dinh-Thuc signed Vatican 2
documents; this is a public fact. For years Lefebvre’s apologists denied he had
signed them. At that point both suffered the consequences of Can. 1258, lost all jurisdiction according to the censures for heresy and schism and incurred infamy of law. For all intents and purposes, Lefebvre and Thuc never left the Novus Ordo church, with Thuc reportedly hearing confessions and assisting at the NOM right up to the time he issued his declaration and consecrated des Lauriers, as Patrick Henry noted in his My Petition for Spiritual Help refuting the claims of the late “Bp.” Louis Vezelis, (http://www.jmjsite.com).  See also http://bishopjosephmarie.org/doctrine/wolvesamongthesheep.html , (although inclusion of this link in this document is in no way whatsoever to be considered an endorsement of the site, its content or the Traditionalist who operates it). But really their signing of Vatican 2 documents, while telling of course, is not the only evidence of their cooperation with schismatics. Communicatio in sacris is proven by their other connections to the false church in Rome; Lefebvre in his negotiations with them and recognition of popes after Pope Pius XII as valid, and Thuc for the same reason For regardless of any pretended denouncement of them and supposed founding of sedevacantism, in the end he returned to his vomit.

Most priests began functioning as Traditionalists after 1969, setting up their own chapels independently or under the banner of such organizations as the Orthodox Roman Catholic Movement or the Catholic Traditionalist Movement. Lefebvre, of course had his “priories.” And Thuc was a notorious schismatic even before he laid hands on des Lauriers. Even the Novus Ordo church rightly saw his Palmar ordinations and consecrations as schismatic. After establishing a seminary in Econe, Switzerland in 1971, Lefebvre went on to ordain priests, beginning in 1976. He had to have known that without jurisdiction or papal mandate from Paul 6, he acted outside the law. Thuc also ordained and consecrated several men, beginning in 1975. Did they validly tonsure these men? No, because the jurisdictional power needed to convey valid tonsure was lacking, lost by communicating with the schismatic anti-Church in Rome. Furthermore, no pope existed at that time to supply for it, as was the case with Shuckardt as well. By these acts, Shuckardt, Lefebvre and also Lefebvre’s friend Thuc incurred the ipso facto excommunication under Can. 147 and should be considered as suspected vitandus, for the very reason that they repeatedly and contemptuously violated Canon Law.

Those priests acting quietly in their own jurisdictions privately for the good of the faithful and not joining these other schismatic groups also lost all jurisdiction they might have had at one time when the time or case limit for that jurisdiction ran out. A very few had missionary faculties or other special grants of power that would have allowed them to minister privately to the faithful indefinitely, as long as they did not join a schismatic group, venture outside their jurisdiction, or commit schism or heresy some other way. It must be remembered that some 10,000 men in America abandoned the priesthood between 1963-1976 and France lost nearly half of her priests, (Catholic Research Centre brochure, Brisbane Australia; circa 1980s). So in reality, there were very few indeed left to even consider the Traditional “alternative.”

Those priests in the seminary at the time of Pope Pius XII’s death receiving ordination/consecration after the death of Pius XII from bishops consecrated before the death of Pope Pius XII:

Those receiving valid tonsure were called by the proper bishop, and are assumed to have already received tonsure from these bishops before Pope Pius XII’s death. They also are assumed to have been ordained before the rites changed in 1968. These men actually became clerics. By all appearances, they were later validly but illicitly ordained and consecrated. Their first Masses, however, were said in communion with an antipope; also those in communion with an antipope assigned the offices they received. They basically were in the service of a non-Catholic Church by the time they received ordination, whether they understood this or not. And even though a few later left this church, they did not do so to elect a true pope but to set up yet another schismatic, non-Catholic church. These men incurred infamy of law and were barred from celebrating divine services and fulfilling their other duties. Their consecrating bishops signed V2 documents and remained in the NO church. Therefore their intention to do what the Church does in ordaining these men was suspect, making their ordinations doubtful.

Those already in the seminary at the time of Pope Pius XII’s death who received priestly or Episcopal orders after the death of Pius XII, from bishops consecrated after Pius XII’s death by bishops validly and licitly ordained and consecrated before Oct. 9, 1958.

The men in group (3) are assumed to have been “called” by bishops who were established in office under John 23. These bishops did not receive episcopal office according to Pope Paul IV’s bull “Cum ex…” although they appeared to do so. For Pope Paul IV’s bull states that once the heresy of an antipope becomes manifest: “To any so promoted to be Bishops, or Archbishops, or Patriarchs, or Primates or elevated as Cardinals, or as Roman Pontiff, no authority shall have been granted, nor shall it be considered to have been so granted either in the spiritual or the temporal domain.” This law is retained in the 1917 Code as a Fontes under Canons 188§4 and 2314 so is the parent law concerning heresy and loss of office — the old law — to be followed according to Can. 6§4. They therefore could not call men to the priesthood and their administration of first tonsure was invalid. This is true because the bishops creating these priests (prior to 1968) were not directly ordained by bishops in group (1) but received orders from second-tier bishops — bishops not validly and licitly ordained under Pius XII but validly and illicitly (no papal mandate) created after his death by those in group (1).

Pope Innocent III insists that only “By the tonsure given according to the form of the Church [is] the clerical status conferred,” (Woywod-Smith). Who must confer it? Pope Innocent III again tells us in his profession of faith proposed to the Waldenses (DZ 424) that the consecration of the Eucharist and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass cannot be performed by just anyone, “however honest, religious, holy and prudent [he] may be…Unless he be a priest, regularly ordained by a visible and perceptible bishop.” (The Waldenses were wont to allow those not ordained to handle holy things and administer the Sacraments.) Pope Innocent III defines such a priest as one who is “established by a bishop for that office; and those solemn words which have been expressed by the holy Fathers in the canon; and the faithful intention of the one who offers himself. And so we firmly believe and declare that whosever without the preceding episcopal ordination believes and contends that he can offer the Sacrifice of the Eucharist is a heretic and is a participant and companion of the perdition of Core and his followers and he must be segregated from the entire holy Roman Church.” Therefore, no one can become a cleric who has not validly received first tonsure from the hand of one possessing the necessary jurisdiction to so convey it, and only clerics can be “regularly ordained,” (Canons 118, 147, 154, 453).

Those trained in seminaries established by Pope Pius XII receiving:

• priestly or Episcopal orders in the ancient rite (before 1968), or

• from bishops consecrated after Pius XII’s death by those bishops validly and licitly ordained and consecrated before Oct. 9, 1958,
• who therefore believe they received both papal mandate and jurisdiction from John 23 are in the same boat as those in no. 3 above. They have not received certainly valid tonsure and therefore cannot be considered for ordination.

Not considered here are those who a) were ordained or consecrated in the new rites; b) in seminaries established by John 23 and operated by bishops who received both their papal mandate and “jurisdiction” from him or c) were tonsured/ordained/consecrated by Conclavist “popes.” Item (c) will be discussed at greater length below.

Those in group (4) essentially were incorporated into the NO and really do not differ
from those in group (5), or for that matter, those in group (3). There are, then, it seems, very few men who became actual clerics post-1958 and fewer still who became Traditionalists. Fr. Louis Vezelis was ordained in 1956. He was consecrated by “Bp.” Musey who was raised to the episcopate on April 1, 1982 in Acapulco, Mexico, by Bishop Moises Carmona, assisted by Bishop Adolfo Zamora. Musey consecrated Vezelis that same year. Both of these men received their consecrations from Bp. Thuc. Musey reportedly had connections to the autocephalous Traditional Byzantine Rite Church and
to the Old Catholics. Fr. McKenna was ordained in June 1958 and consecrated by
Guerard des Lauriers (deceased), who also received episcopal orders from Bp. Thuc. Unfortunately, all these men’s orders were doubtfully valid, coming as they did through the Thuc line, (see http://www.jmjsite.com as noted above; McKenna’s, Musey’s and Vezelis’ orders were even more doubtful than des Lauriers’). According to the criteria used by Pope Leo XIII to determine the validity of Anglican orders, these second-tier bishops do not enjoy the same presumption of validity enjoyed by the initial breakaway bishops, who themselves were validly ordained and consecrated. But in the end, it would matter little. All those mentioned in the first part of this paragraph were excommunicated under Can. 147 for seeking their orders from notorious schismatics to fulfill the at least implicit requests of the laity and suffered infamy of law.

In conclusion, owing to a lack of jurisdiction, those men tonsured after the death of Pope
Pius XII by bishops receiving jurisdiction from John 23 were never tonsured because
John 23 could not provide jurisdiction, either as a pope or a bishop. Those providing tonsure with jurisdiction received during the reign of Pope Pius XII but after his death gave valid tonsure before the insertion of St. Joseph into the Canon of the Mass and the first session of Vatican 2. Nearly all of the men acting as priests today did not receive valid tonsure because even those receiving jurisdiction from Pope Pius XII lost any jurisdiction they had by affiliating with the schismatic Vatican 2 church, (Can. 2314 no. 3; communicatio in sacris) and tonsure is a jurisdictional act. Nor was there a Supreme Pontiff who could supply it. Valid tonsure is required for valid and licit ordination. Therefore, juridically speaking, these men remain laymen. The few who were validly ordained or consecrated incurred the censure attached to Can. 1258, also infamy of law the minute they set up or were assigned to a chapel and/or established a Traditionalist sect. Here we have in mind Shuckardt, Vezelis McKenna and others. Everything they did from then on was nullified in advance of its performance; it never happened. Lefebvre and Thuc signed V2 documents as members of a non-Catholic sect, incurred infamy of law and also incurred other censures for their ordinations and consecrations, which, once again were nullified in advance and never happened. This is not a judgment but only the conclusions and consequences of those Canon Laws to which ipso facto penalties are already attached. The class of laws that govern Canons 984 no. 5, 985 no. 1 and 2294§1 on infamy of law is called invalidating and incapacitating laws, and these Msgr. Cicognani explains at length here from his “Canon Law,” (1935) in the next section.

Invalidating laws

“An invalidating law is one that renders invalid, that is of no value, acts which by the natural law and the general principles of positive or human law would otherwise be valid…Such acts should be termed unperformed acts or acts that are null and void in themselves. For the Latin irrito means the same as irritum reddo, that is, I make invalid or of no value…A disqualifying law is one that renders a person incapable of performing certain acts…It does not directly affect the act, but the person. Thus if a cleric in major orders attempts marriage, the contract is null, for Can. 1072 imposes this disability on clerics in major orders…If the laws forbid and at the same time nullify an act, they oblige in conscience to omit the act…[Invalidating and disqualifying laws] demand that certain acts are not to be upheld as valid, nor are they to be considered as a source of rights or emoluments…The Roman law considered a law perfect when it both forbade something to be done, and if done, rescinded it. (This is exactly what Pope Pius XII declares in Vacantis Apostolica Sedis.) A less perfect law was one which forbade something to be done, and if done did not rescind the act but imposed a penalty on the transgressor.” Roman law, officially interpreted by the lawmakers, decreed that if prohibited acts were performed they were “to be considered as having never taken place, even though the lawgiver only forbade them. Canon Law adopted this law by making it one of the [Rules of Law] in the Liber Sextus: ‘That which is done against the law must be considered as not done at all.’”

“Canon 1680 declares that an act is null and void when either the essential constituents of the act are wanting, or some formalities or conditions are lacking which the Sacred Canons require under nullity. So too Can. 1148§ 2 declares that consecrations and blessings …are invalid if the formula prescribed by the Church is not employed.” Cicognani makes it clear that the law “must decree that the act is null, that the person is disqualified and this it must state either explicitly or equivalently. There is explicit invalidation when [it is] declared in clear and manifest terms; implicit when equivalent terms are used.” Canons 147, 153, 154 and 453 above all are invalidating laws. Canons 147 and 153 seem to satisfy this demand; that the person is disqualified and the act null and void. Canons 154 and 453 mention only that certain acts performed without the necessary requirements when appointing clerics to office are invalid. Can 1680, however, declares that, “An act is null and void only when either the essential constituents of the act are wanting or some formalities or conditions are lacking which the Sacred Canons require under pain of nullity.” And what is wanting in both these canons are men who actually received tonsure and validly and licitly became priests.


What we have today, if we believe the teachings of the Popes and Canon Law, are men who never became priests dressing up in cassocks and simulating the Sacraments. Traditionalists can choose to believe their erstwhile “priests” and phony bishops if they like but they are disobeying the popes and denying the papacy. No one is permitted to usurp papal jurisdiction during an interregnum. No one may violate the laws and teachings of the popes during a vacancy of the Holy See. If we do not accept this with a firm and irrevocable assent we are automatically outside the Church. That no one recognizes this fact proves beyond a reasonable doubt that they never understood what the Catholic Church was really all about in the first place.

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  1. Linda

    My “husband” was ordained in. June of 1958.Later in 1969 he was “lavished” by Paul VI. He left the priesthood and got married. In 2000 he got an annulment and married me . I had just gotten an annulment after a 26 year marriage and3 children. I know this cannot be a valid marriage. We have lived as brother and sister for the past 11 years.

  2. Stephan

    I agree that we Catholics are widely betrayed. But in this regard it’s obvious that the question of the Tonsur does not lead to invalid Holy Orders. If it would be so then why is Leo XIII at length investigating the question of the validity of the orders of the Anglican Church? He could have saved his efforts and just pointing to the Tonsur..
    Another reason: the Catholic Church always recognized the Holy Orders of the Orthodox Churches as valid (also after the schism) as long as they use the valid rite that is recognized by Rome. So also here it’s not a question of actual jurisdiction but only of the valid rite itself.
    God bless


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