26 Oct 2015

Archbishop Lefebvre’s ordination not also Valid?

                                                      An Enquiry

                                          By Jonathan Ekene Ifeanyi
                   
                                                      



Just two days ago, one of my brothers asked me: “What's all this I hear from Sedevacantists about the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre not being ordained properly as a priest because of his ordaining bishop admitting to being a Freemason? Also the Sedes allege that Archbishop Lefebvre had signed all Vatican II documents, and that he was a part of the plan to contain the "opposition" they anticipated after Vatican II.”

Well I will start by pointing out one major problem noticeable in some Sedevacantists, namely the fact that some of them are actually possessed by the devil, albeit without their knowledge. And how? Among them there is this spirit of jealousy, as well as hatred—too diabolical indeed—directed to all non-Sedevacantists who seem to be “doing well”, and great Sedevacantists don’t believe that any Catholic who is not a Sedevacantist  can do well. In fact, some of them stupidly assert that all non-Sedevacantists are not even Catholic, to start with! Where then, do we start to address such a group?

First, without wasting much time, let's look at the second charge raised, namely that Archbishop Lefebvre "had signed all Vatican II documents”. The so-called Catholic News Agency also said something like that, in an article published in 2009, which reads:

“Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who died in 1991 and was excommunicated for ordaining four bishops in 1988 without the Pope’s permission, did indeed sign every document of Vatican II—the same documents he would later harshly criticize, according to a recent article in the Italian magazine Panorama.

“The article entitled, “In the Secret Heart of the Vatican,” written by Ignazio Ingrao, states that among the documents kept at the Vatican Secret Archives “are those of the Second Vatican Council, which unmasked an historic falsehood spread by the traditionalists,” led today by schismatic Bishop Bernard Fellay, who several months ago rejected a proposal by the Holy See to return to full communion with the Catholic Church.

“ ‘Marcel Lefebvre, the archbishop who contested the conciliar reforms and was excommunicated for having ordained four bishops without the Pope’s permission, in reality signed the documents of Vatican II with his own hand, beginning with the constitution Gaudium et Spes, which he later would harshly criticize,’ Ingrao wrote in his article. ‘The signature of Lefebvre appears at the bottom of the Council documents,’ said historian Piero Doria of the Vatican Secret Archives, who helped Ingrao in the research.

“In exclusive statements to CNA, Ingrao explained that this was “the first time a photographer and journalist were allowed to photograph and describe” the vast area “where letters relative to the two thousand year history of the Church are conserved.”

Ingrao also told CNA: “In reality, historians and experts already knew that Lefebvre had signed the Council documents. But many people were not aware of this, and traditionalist propaganda spread the belief that Lefebvre had always opposed the documents. The original copies of the Vatican II documents show the contrary and for many this has come as a surprise.” (Rome, Italy, Jan 13, 2009 / 01:54 pm, CNA)

Those spreading this falsehood are certainly doing so because they feel the Archbishop is not alive to defend himself. Well we need not join issues with them, rather I will simply invite the Archbishop—even from his present abode in the spiritual world—to speak for himself on the issue. But before then it must be noted that the evil Vatican II Council was actually legitimately called, and that Archbishop Lefebvre was involved. He was one of the Council Fathers—one of the conservatives. He “revolted” only when he saw that the Council had been hijacked by the enemies of the Church.

Here is a part of an interview with the Archbishop which was to have been published in 1978 by a leading American Catholic publication. However, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops threatened the publication's publisher with excommunication and decreed virtual extinction for the publication itself if the interview were run. In fact, the bishops ordered that no Catholic publication could run this interview with Archbishop Lefebvre.

An edited version of the interview was finally published in The Spotlight, a weekly newspaper in Washington, D.C., in its issue of July 18, 1988. Below is a part of the unedited interview. Here, among other issues, Archbishop Lefebvre responds to the charge that he signed all Vatican II documents. The questions asked of the Archbishop are in dark type; his responses in light type.

Excerpts:

Question:

You have debated and taken part in the deliberations of the second council of the Vatican, have you not?

Archbishop Lefebvre:

Yes.

Question:

Did you not sign and agree to the resolutions of this council?

Archbishop Lefebvre:

No. First of all, I have not signed all the documents of Vatican II because of the last two acts. The first, concerned with "Religion and Freedom," I have not signed. The other one, that of “The Church in the Modern World”, I also have not signed. This latter is in my opinion the most oriented toward modernism and liberalism.

Question:

Are you on record for not only not signing the documents but also on record to publicly oppose them?

Archbishop Lefebvre:

Yes. In a book, which I have published in France, I accuse the council of error on these resolutions, and I have given all the documents by which I attack the position of the council—principally, the two resolutions concerning the issues of religion and freedom and "The Church in the Modern World.”

Question:

Why were you against these decrees?

Archbishop Lefebvre:

Because these two resolutions are inspired by liberal ideology which former popes described to us-that is to say, a religious license as understood and promoted by the Freemasons, the humanists, the modernists and the liberals.

Question:

Why do you object to them?

Archbishop Lefebvre:

This ideology says that all the cultures are equal; all the religions are equal, that there is not a one and only true faith. All this leads to the abuse and perversion of freedom of thought. All these perversions of freedom, which were condemned throughout the centuries by all the popes, have now been accepted by the council of Vatican II.

Question:

Who placed these particular resolutions on the agenda?

Archbishop Lefebvre:

I believe there were a number of cardinals assisted by theological experts who were in agreement with liberal ideas.

Question:

Who, for example?

Archbishop Lefebvre:

Cardinal (Augustine) Bea (a German Jesuit), Cardinal (Leo) Suenens (from Belgium), Cardinal (Joseph) Frings (from Germany), Cardinal (Franz) Koenig (from Austria). These personalities had already gathered and discussed these resolutions before the council and it was their precise aim to make a compromise with the secular world, to introduce Illuminist and modernist ideas in the church doctrines.

Question:

Were there any American cardinals supporting these ideas and resolutions?

Archbishop Lefebvre:

I do not recall their names at present, but there were some. However, a leading force in favour of these resolutions was Father Murray.

Question:

Are you referring to Father John Courtney Murray (an American Jesuit)?

Archbishop Lefebvre:

Yes.

Question:

What part has he played?

Archbishop Lefebvre:

He has played a very active part during all the deliberations and drafting of these documents.

Question:

Did you let the pope (Paul VI) know of your concern and disquiet regarding these resolutions?

Archbishop Lefebvre:

I have talked to the pope. I have talked to the council. I have made three public interventions, two of which I have filed with the secretariat. Therefore, there were five interventions against these resolutions of Vatican II.

In fact, the opposition led against these resolutions was such that the pope attempted to establish a commission with the aim of reconciling the opposing parties within the council. There were to be three members, of which I was one.

When the liberal cardinals learned that my name was on this commission, they went to see the holy father (the pope) and told him bluntly that they would not accept this commission and that they would not accept my presence on this com- mission. The pressure on the pope was such that he gave up the idea.

I have done everything I could to stop these resolutions which I judge contrary and destructive to the Catholic faith. The council was convened legitimately, but it was for the purpose of putting all these ideas through.

Question:

Were there other cardinals supporting you?

Archbishop Lefebvre:

Yes. There was Cardinal (Ernesto) Ruffini (of Palermo), Cardinal (Giuseppe) Siri (of Genoa) and Cardinal (Antonio) Caggiano (of Buenos Aires).

Question:
                                                                                          
Were there any bishops supporting you?

Archbishop Lefebvre:

Yes. Many bishops supported my stand.

Question:

How many bishops?

Archbishop Lefebvre:

There were in excess of 250 bishops. They had even formed themselves into a group for the purpose of defending the true Catholic faith.

Question:

What happened to all of these supporters?

Archbishop Lefebvre:

Some are dead; some are dispersed throughout the world; many still support me in their hearts but are frightened to lose the position, which they feel may be useful at a later time.

Question:

Is anybody supporting you today (1978)?
Archbishop Lefebvre:

Yes. For instance, Bishop Pintinello from Italy; Bishop Castro de Mayer from Brazil. Many other bishops and cardinals often contact me to express their support but wish at this date to remain anonymous.

Read the rest here:

Now on the first charge raised, namely that the Archbishop wasn’t even a priest in the first place let alone a bishop because he was ordained by a Freemason and hence his ordination was invalid: Some Sedevacantists assert that his ordination and Consecration were “invalid” because the person administering them, Cardinal Leinart, was (supposedly) a Freemason seeking to infiltrate the Church, and because he was a Freemason with malign intentions, he could not have possibly intended to ordain Marcel Lefebvre or anyone else, thus meaning that Archbishop Lefebvre was never a legitimate priest.

Indeed, what a madness!

It is interesting to notice that this is similar to the charge against Novus Ordites, raised by the same Sedevacantists—namely that all of them are invalidly ordained! See the following piece which addresses the matter: 
http://traditionalcatholicisminnigeria.blogspot.com.ng/2015/08/is-novus-ordo-missae-invalid-must.html

Now on the charge: It is, firstly, worth noting that most of the proponents of this theory are those who simply do not like Archbishop Lefebvre, those who are jealous of his good (worldwide) reputation as a defender of the Catholic Faith. Most adherents to this position are dogmatic Sedevacantists who have some sort of axe to grind with the Archbishop. Their intense disdain (if not outright hatred) towards him can be attributed largely to the fact that he was not a Sedevacantist, for, as I said earlier, for some Sedevacantists no one can really be a traditional Catholic who is not a Sedevacantist! Hence, because these dogmatic Sedevacantists cannot stand to see this “recognise and resister” portrayed by traditionalists as a hero, they will go to extreme lengths to tarnish his image.

Ironically, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre himself was one of those who first raised the alarm over Cardinal Liénart being a Freemason, although the evidence of his source has been seriously questioned. It has not been convincingly proved. Here is it: In March of 1976, Chiesa Viva No.51, a magazine published in Rome, reproduced the story from the book L’infaillibilité Pontificale claiming that Achille Liénart was a high ranking Freemason, followed by another Italian periodical, Si Si, No No.

In response to the article carried by Chiesa Viva, Lefebvre—always too eager to expose the Church’s enemies—publicly acknowledged that Liénart was a Freemason on at least two different occasions. The first occasion occurred in a public speaking engagement on May 11, 1976, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Speaking in broken English, Lefebvre introduced Liénart as the leader of the progressives at Vatican Council II and as a Mason. He said:

“[I]n the first day of the Council, Cardinal Liénart was the chief of all of the liberals in the Council… in Rome, the published the photo of Cardinal Liénart in the review Chiesa Viva, Chiesa Viva, it’s a traditionalist review, a good review, in Rome, that published the picture with all, all the appurtenances Freemasonic, the day of his inscription in the Freemasonians, the day of the 20th degree, and after the 30th degree of Masonry, and the place where he stood admitting of Masons, the chief of the liberal Cardinals of the Council. That is my Cardinal, he gave me the ordination of the priesthood and the consecration as bishop. He is my Cardinal. I am, I am, I burn in his legacy. And now it is published, it is public, nobody can answer to this publication.”

Again, in a speech given in Montreal on May 27, 1976, Lefebvre said:

“Two months ago in Rome, the traditionalist periodical Chiesa Viva, published — I have seen it in Rome with my own eyes — on the back side of the cover, the photograph of Cardinal Liénart with all his Masonic paraphernalia, the day of the date of his inscription in Masonry, the grade to which he belonged, then the date at which he rose to the 20th, then to the 30th degree of Masonry, attached to this lodge, to that lodge, at this place, at that place. Meanwhile, about two or three months after this publication was made, I heard nothing about any reaction, or any contradiction. Now, unfortunately, I must say to you that this Cardinal Liénart is my bishop, it is he who ordained me a priest, it is he who consecrated me a bishop. I cannot help it... Fortunately, the orders are valid... But, in spite of it, it was very painful for me to be informed of it.”

In fact, it was these last words of the Archbishop—“Fortunately, the orders are valid... But, in spite of it, it was very painful for me to be informed of it”—that later drew the attention of his foes when he became famous for opposing Vatican II errors! They ague that he was already aware of the implication, hence his concern: Fortunately, the orders are valid... But, in spite of it, it was very painful for me to be informed of it.”

Now before proceeding, let us quickly consider the third charge, namely that “Archbishop Lefebvre was “a part of the plan (of the enemies namely the Freemasons) to contain the "opposition" they anticipated after Vatican II”. If so, why then is the same Archbishop—as seen above—publicly denouncing Cardinal Liénart as a Freemason?  In other words, if Lefebvre was part of the enemies—namely the Freemasons—why then did the same Lefebvre acknowledge—even publicly—that Liénart was a Freemason on at least two different occasions? Our Lord tells us in the Gospel that a kingdom that fights against itself cannot stand. Was Lefebvre then—contrary to the words of Our Lord—fighting against his own kingdom?

Having said that, we now face the main question: If Liénart was a Freemason, what about Lefebvre’s Orders? Wouldn’t there be doubt concerning their validity?

One of the most outspoken critics of the Archbishop and the SSPX is Hutton Gibson, the father of the Traditional Catholic celebrity Mel Gibson. Hutton is one of those who just can’t stand the Archbishop, and, like others, is simply using this absurd argument against the validity of his orders to persuade people to distance themselves from the Archbishop and the Society of St. Pius X. He’s using it to fuel his own hatred for him, his determination to damage his reputation. Hutton’s hatred for the Archbishop is quite evident from reading his book ‘The Enemy is Still Here’, in which he not only claims the Archbishop wasn’t a valid priest, but goes as far as to accuse him of “Masonic entanglement”, while even admitting he couldn’t provide any proof! It is an incredibly scandalous book, and one which should be avoided.

Now as many truthful, learned theologians have rightly observed, the problem with this theory about the Archbishop’s “invalid” ordination held by Hutton and others is that it is contrary to both logic and Church teaching. First of all, it has never been proven—despite Archbishop Lefebvre’s testimony—that Cardinal Liénart was really a Mason. And even if he was, would that mean he couldn’t have had the proper intention, and therefore all of his Sacraments were invalid? The answer, according to sound Catholic doctrine, is NO.

In responding to this charge, we must answer three questions:

(1) What is the evidence that Cardinal Liénart was a Freemason, and how much confidence can we place in this evidence?

(2) If Cardinal Liénart had been a Freemason, would this have invalidated the ordination and consecration of Archbishop Lefebvre? (This has been answered already but will be answered again for the sake of clarity).

(3) What was the Church's practice in the past in the case of Holy Orders conferred by a prelate who unquestionably was a Mason?

Rama Coomaraswamy, MD, has answered these questions convincingly in his brilliant piece ‘Cracks in the Masonry’. I will rather invite him to answer the three questions raised.

On the first question raised, the most specific source of our opponents is the same book mentioned earlier, the same book which is the source of the article published by Chiesa Viva, with which Archbishop Lefebvre himself tried to expose "Liénart the Freemason"!—the book entitled Papal Infallibility (L'lnfaillibilit Pontificale) by the French writer Marquis de la Franquerie.

Rama Coomaraswamy writes:

“This individual (Marquis de la Franquerie) is said to be "a papal Secret Chamberlain who lives in Lucon, Vende, France," and "a learned historian with special knowledge in the field of penetration of the Catholic hierarchy by Freemasonry in France." He is said to be a traditionalist, and a friend of Archbishop Lefebvre.

“On page 80 of his book, during the course of a discussion of the modernist maneuverings in preparation for Vatican II, the Marquis mentions, almost in passing, that Cardinal Liénart  was a luciferian who attended "black Masses." Toward the end of a lengthy footnote on another topic that continues onto the following page, the Marquis adds:

‘This attitude of the Cardinal could not surprise those who knew his membership in the Freemasonic and Luciferian lodges. This was the reason why the author of this study [i.e., the Marquis de la Franquerie] always had refused to accompany Cardinal Liénart in the official ceremonies as Secret Chamberlain.

‘The Cardinal had been initiated in a lodge in Cambrai whose Venerable was Brother Debierre. He frequented a lodge in Cambrai, three at Lille, one in Valenciennes, and two in Paris, of which one was in a special way composed of parliamentarians. In the year 1919, he is designated as Visitor (18th Degree), then, in 1924, as 30th degree. The future Cardinal met in the lodges Brother Debierre and Roger Solengro. Debierre was one of the informers of Cardinal Gasparri who had been initiated in America, and of Cardinal Hartmann, Archbishop of Cologne, a Rosicrucian.

‘The Cardinal belonged to the International League against Anti-Semitism, where he met up again with Marc Sangnier and Father Violet.
     
‘It was given to us to meet in Lourdes a former Freemason who, on July 19, 1932, had been miraculously cured of a wound suppurating on his left foot for fourteen years, a cure recognized by the Verification Bureau on July 18, 1933. This miraculously-healed gentleman, Mr. B..., told us that, at the time when he frequented a Luciferian lodge, he met there the cardinal whom he recognized and was dumbfounded.

Another source cited, says Rama Coomaraswamy, is Archbishop Lefebvre himself. Well I have already cited this above. However, according to Rama Coomaraswamy, “the Archbishop's memory was faulty, for the photograph involved was a picture of Cardinal Liénart in ordinary ecclesiastical attire, and below this a drawing which shows a monumental entrance door to a building around which Freemasonic symbols are grouped. This second picture carried the designation: "Entrance door to a Freemasonic temple." The article, whose author is not named, says that the source of his information is pages 80 and 81 of Papal Infalibility, the same book quoted above.

Rama Coomaraswamy continues:

“Another Italian journal, Si Si, No, No, also informs us that Cardinal Liénart was a Freemason. Its source, however, also turns out to be the Marquis de la Franqueries Papal Infalibility. Now, gentle reader, this is the sum total of the "evidence" brought forth for Cardinal Leinart being a Freemason! And it all goes back to the assertions of the Marquis de la Franquerie.

“It may interest the reader to learn that according to a paper called The Sword of Truth: "From an irrefutable source, [Is there any other kind?], we learned recently that John XXIII was initiated into the Knights Templar Order of Freemasonry in 1935. Now we know why he took the name of the anti-Pope John XXIII.

“And for those who would prefer a pre-ConciIiar Masonic Pontiff, we have it on the authority of a Brother Joseph Mc-Cabe (A History of Freemasonry) that Pius IX was also a Freemason. According to this source Pius, "the most vitriolic critic of the Masons before Leo XIII, had himself been a Mason; and at one time the French put into circulation a portrait of him in full Masonic regalia Dudley Wright gives in his Roman Catholicism and Freemasonry the official proof that the charge is true. Pius was admitted to the Elerna Catena lodge at Palermo in 1839, when he was already a 46-year-old priest; and other documents show that as a Papal emissary in South America he was received in the lodges of Monte Video."

“Of course, in the first case, the "irrefutable source" remains unidentified. How convenient! In the second case, we are told that "a portrait was circulated." Lost now, perhaps? And "documents show" Pius was received as a Mason. And where are these documents? Did they go down with the Titanic?

“The Marquis provides a similar paucity of evidence a "Mr. B..." who knew of this matter in 1932, but, despite his gratitude to the Blessed Virgin for a miraculous cure, and despite the fact that he knew Achille Liénart was teaching in the Seminary of Lille, ordaining priests and consecrating bishops, decided not to share his precious secret. Nothing like an "irrefutable anonymous source!

“Was "Mr. B..." afraid the Freemasons would do away with him? But then, why share it at a later date when he had no greater immunity?

“I have been told unfortunately, not by an irrefutable source that the documents showing the Cardinal's signatures at these various lodges can be produced. Now I ask you, if one were a churchman obviously on the rise in the hierarchy and within a secret and diabolical organization, would one casually pop into the local lodge and place one's signature on the guest book? I rather doubt it. One should have far too much respect for the Freemasonic organization than to believe that a real "agent provocateur" would be even seen in a lodge. As for "documentation," in this day and age it can be easily produced by a variety of technical methods.
     
“What are the sources for the Marquis' assertions, you may ask? Other than the anonymous "Mr. B...," he does not give any. For his other factual claims about Masonic infiltration, the Marquis provides references in his book that can be verified; for the accusation against Cardinal Liénart, he gives no documentary sources at all. He just asserts something he does not offer proof or solid evidence.

“Finally, the author, the Marquis de la Franquerie, informs us that he knew about this all for decades, and as a result would not accompany Cardinal Liénart "in the official ceremonies as Secret Chamberlain."...Now, I find it extremely strange that the Marquis, who received this high papal honour of being named a Secret Chamberlain, did nothing to expose this terrible situation when he had access to “Church authorities prior to Vatican II. Why did he also wait until the mid-seventies to provide the world with this information?

“It seems, then, that we cannot really take any of the evidence seriously. It is sensationalist tittle-tattle that proves nothing. We are therefore morally obliged to find the "defendant," Cardinal Liénart, not guilty of the charge.”

Now on the second question: “What if Cardinal Liénart had been a Mason?”  Purely for the sake of argument, let us assume the claim is true. The question then would be: Would this affect the validity of ordinations performed by Cardinal Liénart?

Answering this question, Rama Coomaraswamy writes:

“Those who have attacked the Archbishop claim it would, and they make much of the chronology of the alleged sequence of events. The sequence they give is the following:

“Cardinal Liénart: Born, 1884; ordained, 1907; became Mason, 1912; promoted to 30th degree, 1924; became bishop 1928; ordained Archbishop Lefebvre, 1929; became Cardinal, 1930.

“Now, the question of the validity of the ordination depends upon the usual criteria for the validity of any sacrament. The essential requirements are "intention, matter, form, minister, and disposition of the recipient."...We can presume that matter and form fulfilled the necessary requirements of the Church, for in such solemn and public ceremonies an error in this regard would not have escaped unnoticed....With regard to the minister, it is a teaching of the Church that neither faith nor the state of grace is required. Sinful, heretical, schismatic and apostate priests or bishops can still validly (though sinfully and illicitly) confect the sacraments, provided that they use the proper matter and form and have the necessary intention.

“The question (if Bishop Liénart had been a Mason) would NOT be whether he could have validly administered a sacrament at all, but whether in fact he did so. In other words, did he either withhold his intention, or have an intention contrary to that which is considered necessary?”

The obvious answer, writes Coomaraswamy, is that we do not know and cannot know because we cannot look back into his heart in 1929. The requirement established, or rather defined, at the Council of Trent is that the minister must "intend to do what the Church does." (Sess. 7, Can. 11)

Is it possible for a Freemason to intend to do what the Church does? The answer is yes. It is also possible for him to withhold this intention and to have a contrary intention but, then, it is possible for any priest or bishop to do the same with any sacrament.

To backtrack a little, says Coomaraswamy, intention can be characterized as "external" and "internal." External intention is reflected in performing the rites correctly, but it does not suffice. If the minister does not have the correct internal intention, he would be acting in his own name or by his own power, rather than in Christ's name and with Christ's power. He would be performing a purely natural act and not a supernatural one. The crux of the issue is: how can we know and recognise this "internal intention" on the part of the minister?

Pope Leo XIII spoke on this issue when discussing Anglican orders. He said:

“Concerning the mind or intention, insomuch as it is in itself something internal, the Church does not pass judgment; but insofar as it is externally manifested, she is bound to judge of it. Now if, in order to effect and confer a Sacrament, a person has seriously and correctly used the matter and form, he is for that very reason presumed to have intended to do what the Church does. It is on this principle that the doctrine is solidly founded which holds as a true Sacrament that which is conferred by the ministry of a heretic or a non-baptized person [as in Baptism] as long as it is conferred in the Catholic rite.’ (Emphasis supplied.)

“Perhaps it would be more correct to say that the Church cannot pass judgment purely on internal intentions for the simple reason that she cannot ever really know them”, continues Coomaraswamy.“...Thus, those who claim that Cardinal Liénart was a Mason and for this reason did not validly confer priestly ordination arrogate to themselves the right to do something even the Church has no power to do, pass judgment on the unexpressed intentions of the ministers of a sacrament....All this is not to say that the correct performance of the external rites, absent any intention at all, suffices for validity  indeed, this opinion was condemned by the Church.

“In the absence of external evidence which clearly shows that the intention was withheld, the Church always presumes that the minister did in fact have the intention of doing what the Church does...And thus we find St. Thomas Aquinas teaching that "the minister of the sacrament acts in the person of the whole Church, whose minister he is; while in the words uttered by him, the intention of the Church is expressed; and that this suffices for the validity of the sacrament, except the contrary be expressed on the part either of the minister or of the recipient of the sacrament."(Summa, Part III, Question 64, 8 and 2).

“Now, it is not necessary for the minister of a sacrament to be either morally pure or orthodox. Augustine teaches that "the evil lives of wicked men are not prejudicial to God's sacraments, by rendering them either invalid or less holy." St. Thomas in discussing this states that "the ministers of the Church work instrumentally in the sacraments. Now an instrument acts not by reason of its own form, but by the power of one who moves it. The ministers of the Church do not by their own power cleanse from sin those who approach the sacraments, nor do they confer grace on them: it is Christ Who does this by His own power while He employs them [the ministers] as instruments." (Ibid., 6, ad 1).

“Putting this somewhat differently, the minister acts as a conduit for Christ's grace, providing he in no way obstructs Christ and the Church's intent by using his free will to intend a contrary purpose...We have also said that the minister need not be orthodox. As St. Thomas teaches:

"Since the minister works instrumentally in the sacraments, he acts not by his own, but by God's power. Now, just as charity belongs to a man's own power, so also does faith. Wherefore, just as the validity of a sacrament does not require that the minister should have charity, and even sinners can confer the sacraments, so neither is it necessary that he should have faith, and even an unbeliever can confer a true sacrament, providing that the other essentials be there. Even if his faith be defective in regard to the very sacrament that he confers, although he believes that no inward effect is caused by the thing done outwardly, yet he does know that the Church intends to confer a sacrament by that which is outwardly done. Wherefore, his unbelief notwithstanding, he can intend to do what the Church does, albeit he esteem it to be nothing. And such an intention suffices" (Ibid., 64,9).

“While we are on St. Thomas”, continues Coomaraswamy, “let us also note that illicit administering of the sacraments in no way invalidates them. He states that "if a man be suspended from the Church, or excommunicated or degraded, he does not lose the power of conferring sacraments, but the permission to use this power. Wherefore he does indeed confer the sacrament, but he sins in so doing." (Ibid., 64; 10 and 3)

“The recipient would of course sin in knowingly receiving the sacrament from such an individual "unless ignorance excuses him." And thus, as Pope Paschal II states, "instructed by the examples of our Fathers, who at diverse times have received Novatians, Donatists, and other heretics into their order [i.e., acknowledged the validity of the orders received in their heretical sects]: we receive in the episcopal office [i.e., as true bishops] the bishops of the aforesaid kingdom who were ordained in schism. . ."

“The Church, of course, presumes the normal intention on even the part of heretics, that is, the intention to do what the Church does”.

His Excellency Bishop Williamson also responds to our opponents in a similar manner. He writes:

“However, secondly, let us assume Liénart was a Mason. In that case, say the anti- Lefebvrists, Liénart cannot as a Mason have validly received and/or bestowed the sacrament of Holy Orders. Such a statement betrays a grave ignorance of Catholic doctrine of the sacraments. To receive or bestow a Catholic sacrament validly, the right sacramental intention suffices, an upright moral intention is not necessary. Just as, in the eating of an apple, whether I morally bought it or immorally stole it makes no difference to the validity of eating it — it fills my stomach just the same — so in the giving or receiving of a sacrament: whether my moral intention is lawful or unlawful makes no difference to the validity of my giving or receiving it so long as I fulfill the necessary sacramental conditions....Thus as far as intention goes, to receive validly the empowering character of Baptism or Holy Orders, I need only intend in undergoing the rite to receive the sacrament; to bestow validly the character I need only (as a qualified minister) intend in putting together the requisite words and acts to do what the Church does. This is because the sacraments' primary cause is God, and the human minister need only do the minimum necessary to make himself God's instrument....Thus immorality of intention need not invalidate the sacrament. Thus an unbeliever can validly baptize, an apostate priest can validly say Mass, and a Freemason can validly ordain or consecrate. Hence even if Liénart was a Freemason, he need not have given invalid Holy Orders to Archbishop Lefebvre.” See his piece:

And finally, writes Coomaraswamy: “...it should be noted that none of the lay popes who have spread the Masonry allegations have ever been able to cite even one Catholic theologian, still less a real pope who taught that Holy Orders conferred by a Mason must be presumed invalid on grounds of lack of proper intention.”

Now on the last question: “What was the Church's practice in the past in the case of Holy Orders conferred by a prelate who unquestionably was a Mason?”
Obviously, says Coomaraswamy, if the Church did not presume in the absence of contrary evidence that the minister always intends to do what the Church does, we would be in a serious state. We would always have to question the minister as to his intent, and still have to have faith in his word. How would any of us ever know the reality of any of the sacraments? Indeed, how would we even know if we were Christian? Perhaps the baptizing minister was a secret Freemason who withheld his intention!

“Let us look then to discover a historical precedent about a Masonic bishop”, he writes. “According to the Catholic Encyclopedia (1908), Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Prigord was born of good parentage in 1754, and owing to an accident that rendered him lame, was forced by his parents into the priesthood. "He went to St. Suplice and, against his inclination became an abbot [priest]. He then read the most revolutionary books, and at length, giving up his priestly life, plunged in the licentiousness of the period..."

“Despite this, he was given several wealthy benefices, including that of St. Denis, and continued to rise in the Church as well as in the government. Finally, through the insistence of his father (to whom the king was greatly indebted) he obtained the episcopal see of Autun and was consecrated Bishop on January 16, 1789. He continued to live his profligate life in Paris, and only went to Autun when he saw this as a means of being elected member of the tats-Generaux the French National Assembly which would eventually foment the Revolution.

“According to Talleyrand's biographer, Louis Madelin of the Academie Francaise (New York: Roy 1948), "He belonged to all the great masonic lodges, from the Philalatheans, whence sprang the Jacobin Club, to the Re-united Friends, where the great ringleaders of the future were already preparing the Revolution." He also had close ties to the Duc d'Orlans, the future Philippe Egalit, and one of the principal leaders of the French Revolution. As a member of the Constitutional Committee, he took part in the "Declaration of the Rights of Man." He was one of the most influential members of the Assembly, and was the individual most directly responsible for the confiscation of Church property; the taking over of education by the state, and the establishment of the "Constitutional Church," a schismatic body set up by the Masons to serve the ends of the state.

“Talleyrand publicly said sacrilegious Masses. After most of the traditional and loyal bishops fled France, it fell his lot to consecrate (together with the infamous apostate, Bishop Gobel) all the "Constitutional Bishops" that replaced them. After this act, he took off his ecclesiastical attire and never wore it again. His own priests, the Cathedral Chapter of Autun, described him as deserving "infamy in this world and damnation in the next."

Now we must not imagine that Freemasonry was an unknown entity in those days. Popes Clement XII (1730-1740), Benedict XIV (1740-1758) and Clemenr XIII (1758-1769) had already clearly condemned it.

Coomaraswamy continues:

“Talleyrand was excommunicated by a pontifical brief in April, 1791. This excommunication was later lifted, on condition that he lived a life of celibacy. He promptly married, then exiled his wife to England and formed a series of "alliances from which several illegitimate offspring resulted. He was a bad priest, an apostate bishop, a Freemason, a Christian barred from communion and an individual who for forty-nine years could not receive the sacraments of the Church.

“Now, the point of all this is that most of the bishops of France derived their Apostolic Succession through Talleyrand and his two associates (also supporters of the Revolution). Not only were all Talleyrand's episcopal consecrations recognised, but when the Concordat between Napoleon and Pope Pius VII was signed, the exiled bishops who had remained loyal to Pope Pius VI were asked to resign.

Rome allowed the bishops of the Constitutional Church, all of whom derived their orders from the Mason Talleyrand, to remain in their positions, as diocesan ordinaries. The fact that Talleyrand was a Mason and a revolutionary made no difference.


It is, then, ridiculous to argue that Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre was not a valid priest, or a valid bishop simply because he was ordained by Achille Liénart, a cardinal who was (even merely) suspected to be a Freemason. Can we, now then, put these nonsensical arguments to rest once and for all, or should we just continue the babbling?  
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