Notes Concerning

The "Episcopal Consecration" Of Father Dolan


John Kenneth Weiskittel

The Athanasian -- December 1, 1993


The article that follows, taking as it does a definite stand on a very controversial matter, is bound to receive mixed reviews. We expect as much. A few readers will probably write wishing to know why The Athanasian has insisted on carrying it, because such a study: 1) takes space away from articles concerning more important subjects; or 2) is unnecessary, since the issue has already been settled. Generally, those expressing the first of these objections are Catholics who have read for the past year or more tracts from priests either defending or attacking topics closely connected to the issue at hand. We certainly can sympathize with all who have grown weary from the experience, but the disputed consecration of a traditional bishop has now taken place and it is vital that others know where we stand on this.

As to the second of objections, it comes from critics who have read what they believe are conclusive arguments in favor of the consecration. And why shouldn't they believe them; after all, priests they trust have told them that the hundreds upon hundreds of hours spent researching the critical question "all lead to one unavoidable conclusion: we are obliged to regard as valid the episcopal consecrations of Archbishop P. M. Ngo--dinh-Thuc conferred on M L. Guerard des Lauriers and Moises Carmona Rivera." (AC2, p. 4. See list of works following this introduction.) This study will show that a subject vital to settling the issue was neglected in their research, a topic about which they have even sought to stifle open discussion.

One last point. The consecration controversy has primarily been debated between two main groups: the Fathers Dolan and Cekada camp (pro) and the Fathers Kelly and Jenkins camp (anti). Lest our opposition be misconstrued, the following clarification needs to be made. We at The Athanasian in no way seek to enter into what amounts to the equivalent of partisan politics -- the truly lamentable division of priests who should be united for the good of the Church. Where some of our articles have been critical of other traditional Catholics, we have always tried to do so in a constructive way. We have always assumed the good intentions of those with whom we disagreed -- and have said so! We feel that the step Father Dolan has taken is one he sincerely believes will benefit the church. In short, our opposition here, as elsewhere, is not the product of favoritism toward one camp at the expense of the other (it should be recalled that we have also taken exception to certain policies of Father Kelly and his Society of Saint Pius V), but based solely on upon our perception as to the most prudent course for Catholics to take, as well as the perils to avoid, when crossing the post-Vatican II minefield.

A number of frequently cited works are abbreviated (using authors' initials) as follows:

AC1 &emdash; Father Anthony Cekada, "Two Bishops In Every Garage." (October / November, 1990 Roman Catholic reprint of a January, 1983article in the same journal under the pseudonym "Peregrinus").

AC2 &emdash; Father Anthony Cekada. The Validity Of The Thuc Consecrations,"(1983 Catholic Restoration reprint of an article in the Spring 1992 Sacerdotium).

WJ &emdash; Father William Jenkins, The Thuc Consecrations: An Open Appeal To Father Donald Sanborn, (November, 1993 Society of Saint Pius V Booklet).

CK &emdash; Father Clarence Kelly. Tragedy and Travesty, (The Bulletin. October. 1993)

DS &emdash; Father Donald Sanborn. The Thuc Consecrations: A Postscript, (a September. 1993 Catholic Restoration pamphlet).

Throughout the Christian Era the consecration of a bishop -- the elevation of a priest as a successor to the Apostles -- has always been an occasion for great rejoicing in the Church. But today, in a time of terrible crisis, there is reason for the faithful to be even more jubilant at word of such an event, since a truly traditional Catholic bishop is so desperately needed. And we here at The Athanasian, along with so many others, have long hoped and prayed that a strong, courageous, and thoroughly orthodox bishop, free from any ties to the Conciliar "Catholic" Church, would emerge to lead the cause of restoration.

On the evening of November 30, 1991 a solemn ceremony took place at Saint Gertrude the Great Church in the Cincinnati suburb of Sharonville that has given some of the faithful what they believe is reason for rejoicing. For it was there that Father Daniel L. Dolan was consecrated a traditional Catholic bishop. Or was he? As with so many issues facing us today, the apparent consecration has proven to be controversial. Many of Father Dolan's followers are trumpeting it as a great triumph for traditionalism, but other supporters speak in less enthusiastic terms. One of the best-known of these, Father Donald Sanborn, editor of Catholic Restoration (CR), declares that Catholics should both "rejoice and lament" in it (that is, be happy to get a bishop, but sad at the circumstances surrounding the act).

Meanwhile, those questioning the consecration have also been divided as to details. Not only have some declared it invalid, decried it as scandalous, or even expressed doubts about Father Dolan's qualifications for the office, but Father Clarence Kelly of the Society of Saint Pius V has gone so far as to denounce it as a "sacrilege." (CK, p.8) The remainder of this article will reveal some of the factors that are causing this wide divergence of opinion, give Father Fenton's view of the consecration, show why the rite's validity is definitely suspect, and offer recommendations.

A "Rite" Confusing Mess

Over the past decade, two of the most divisive issues be-deviling traditional Catholics have been a group known as the CMRI (Congregation of Mary Immaculate) and the various lines of dubious bishops established in the mid-1970s to early 1980s by "Archbishop" Ngo-dinh-Thuc [1897-1894, RIP]. (Although he was made a bishop as early as 1938, the title Archbishop is in quotation marks because it came from a doubtful Pope &emdash; John XXIII &emdash; in 1960. I will refer to him as Monsignor Thuc.) The supposed consecration of Father Dolan has brought these controversies together as the inevit-able culmination of years of unsettled dispute, since the man from whom it is claimed he received the episcopacy, Mark Pivarunas, is both a "Thuc bishop" and the rector of CMRI's Mater Dei Seminary. Much ink has been spilled &emdash; and, unfortunately, much hostility generated &emdash; by those seeking to defend the validity of the Thuc lines and uphold the status of the CMRJ, and those who attack the same propositions.

It is the interweaving of these two elements (Thuc and CMRI) that has given rise to differences in both the pro- and anti-consecration camps. For example, while both Fathers Dolan and Sanborn agree on the validity of the rite, they do not do so regarding the CMRI. Father Dolan has hailed it as nothing less than the "wave of the future" for traditional Catholicism. (A remark made to JKW during a phone conversation in the late summer / early autumn of 1992.) Father Sanborn, however, while defending the group's involvement at the "consecration" as a "circumstantial evil" that is tolerable, refused to attend the ceremony due to its presence, and says he has changed neither his Communion rule prohibiting CMRI adherents from receiving the Blessed Sacrament at his chapels nor his pronouncement that because of its "bad reputation," the CMRI "should be dissolved for the sake of protecting the reputation of the Roman Catholic Church and of the traditional movement" (March-April, 1992 CR, p. 37, and November, 1993 phone conversation with JKW)

In the ranks of the opposition, as mentioned above, some foes deny the "consecration's" validity, while others protest Father Dolan's involvement with a group they charge with being schismatic or, at very least, checkered with scandals. Then there are naysayers who arrange these and other objections into various combinations. And between these pro- and anti-consecration camps are yet other faithful who have read the arguments batted back and forth by both sides, and still unable to decide between the respective merits, throw their hands up in frustration, crying: "What is a Catholic to think in such a matter? What is he to do?

A similar dilemma has faced Father Fenton when evaluating the position papers of the different sides. He has had to ask himself: "Which side has the preponderance of truth on its side? What response shall I give to Catholics who inquire about this? After a careful and unbiased examination, Father has concluded that neither the pro- nor anti-consecration side has provided conclusive proof concerning the validity or invalidity of the "Thuc bishops" (such as "Bishop" Mark Pivarunas, and his own "consecrator," Father Moises Carmona), which leaves the issue in a sort of theological limbo, the consequences of which will be covered at the end of this article. The specific word that Father Fenton used to describe the "consecration" of Father Dolan is "questionable." While Father also sees the status of the CMRI as unclear, this article will be limited to a specific facet of the validity question.

For anyone other than a dyed-in-the-wool supporter of the "consecration," Father Fenton's caution makes a lot of sense. Despite effusive assurances by its defenders of the open-and-shut case favoring its validity, opinion in Catholic circles is just as divided as when the debate commenced. If the validity of Mgr. Thuc's consecrations is crystal clear as they claim, why did the pro-consecration priests have to spend up to a thousand hours (their count &emdash; AC2, p. 6) searching the shelves of seminary libraries to prove the "obvious"? And if, despite their painstaking investigation, they neglected to examine adequately the plausible line of inquiry raised in the next sec-tion, what other areas may also have been overlooked? It is easy to see, then, why Father Fenton has reached his conclu-sion: For all the talk about definitively resolving the Thuc controversy, certain questions just have not been satisfactori-ly addressed. One of the biggest unanswered problems involves the disputed mental state of the monsignor.

Mgr. Thuc: Was There Madness To His Method?

Of the various controverted points surrounding the "Thuc bishops," none is so delicate as the one concerning the pre-late's mental state between 1975 and his death in 1984. Doubts have been raised about his habitual lucidity then, which in turn would cast definite doubts about the validity of the consecrations he attempted during those years. It is a line of inquiry upon which pro-consecration writers have said very little. Interestingly, they have also sought to render others silent on the subject by suggesting it is somehow wrong for Catholics to even consider the possibility that Mgr. Thuc suffered mentally from the ravages of old age.

It is the position of Fathers Cekada and Sanborn that there is absolutely no basis in fact for this contention. Father Cekada files it under "dubious objections," and "negative" doubts. He maintains that "the objectors have produced not even one witness or document to support their charge that Abp. Thuc was 'insane' or 'senile' when the consecrations took place." (AC2, p. 22). He then spends a couple pages defending Mgr. Thuc's sanity', and after satisfying himself of it, ominously warns that "Catholic moral principles dictate that one cease repeating baseless calumny that he was incapable of conferring a valid sacrament" (p. 24) Father Sanborn echoes this, but takes the premise to its logical conclusion: "It is a mortal sin [italics added] to continue to repeat it" (DS, p. 8) By declaring it off limits, they seek to impose a gag rule on the subject.

Certainly what the reverend fathers are saying would be accurate if there were no witnesses or evidence to support assertions of mental imbalance. Then it would be a negative doubt, upon which we are forbidden to act. But it is not accurate, because their research is not complete. Father Cekada cites a number of witnesses in defense of Mgr. Thuc's reason, but not one questioning it. The reader is led to believe there were none, because surely one would have been mentioned if there had been. What is provided is a theory from French traditionalist Father Nöel Barbara that "the Conciliar Church started the rumor attacking Abp. Thuc's sanity." (AC2, p. 23) What could that sect possibly gain from doing this? Challenge the validity of his consecrations and ordinations? That would be a plausible explanation considering the source, but four pages earlier Father Cekada quotes a Novus Ordo official who speaks of a Thuc consecration being valid. (p. 19) On the other hand, Father Sanborn gives a couple of flawed witnesses as being representative of the poverty of the argument (DS, p. 5) Neither priest comes even close to the whole story.

Before getting to the evidence, a few words are in order to show the Church's teaching concerning the mental state of her priests. Insanity is considered an "irregularity... [which] is a canonical impediment of a permanent nature which directly renders it unlawful to receive ordination and indirectly forbids the exercise of orders received." (Rev. Heribert Jone, Moral Theology, Newman Press, 1953, pp. 454, 458). Not only does the Church insist upon mental integrity as an absolute obligation for those men seeking the priesthood and for those already ordained to continue functioning as priests, but the same is required before it is even possible for them to administer the sacraments validly. In The Sacraments: a Dogmatic Treatise, the Rt. Rev. Mgr. Joseph Pohle writes that the confection of a valid sacrament "require[s] a minister who has the full command of reason. Hence lunatics, children, and others who have not the full use of reason are incapable of administering a Sacrament." (Cited, CK p. 5). A moment's reflection is all that is needed to grasp the ramifications this has on the Thuc consecrations: If a prudent (or positive) doubt about his rationality is established, then the doubt is carried over to his sacraments.

Monsignor Thuc's activities are in themselves sufficient reason to begin an inquiry of this sort: When a person advanced in years displays erratic behavior on many different occasions it warrants investigation, especially when such behavior could have detrimental effect on his episcopal powers. Considering these many horrid acts (attempted ordination and/or consecration of a felon, a sexual deviate, two false mystics, several men belonging to non-Catholic sects, etc.), Father Jenkins counters the "calumny" charges by stating that it may, in fact, be charitable to believe that Mgr. Thuc was not lucid at the time he performed them; otherwise, he is to some degree culpable of unspeakable crimes against the Church. (WJ, p. 12).

Curiously, none of the priests writing on either side of this de-bate saw fit to avail themselves of any texts dealing with psy-chiatry or geriatrics. I am dumbfounded that while the term senile was tossed freely about, no one saw fit to consult those texts that pertain to that condition. True, everyone has a gen-eral idea of what it entails, but that idea often includes inac-curacies. I decided to find out how close (if at all) Mgr. Thuc's behavior fit the clinical profile of someone suffering from that malady. Did he or did he not exhibit textbook symptoms?

Before analyzing the monsignor, a bit of clarification about senility (Or senescence), is in order. While the term is broadly related to old age and its various infirmities, it is mental deterioration &emdash; senile dementia &emdash; that most associate with the word. (There are other senile psychoses, such as Pick's Disease and Alzheimer's Disease, but the symptoms are not suggested in Mgr. Thuc's case.) Senility is fairly rare &emdash; one estimate puts the number of all people over 65 years of age suffering mild senility at ten percent, and five percent having a severe form of it (See Siegfried Kra, M.D., Aging Myths, McGraw-Hill, 1986, p. 10.) Senescence typically involves (to use a lay term) the shrinking of the brain, but researchers dif-fer as to the cause: theories vary, from poor diet to a specific disease, from abnormal brain chemistry to a lack of mental "exercise." Better known are the symptoms, a few of which include (though not necessarily all in the same person): loss of short-term memory, loss of long-term memory, paranoia, depression, diminished judgment, isolation, etc.

My contention is that Mgr. Thuc most definitely exhibited some of these symptoms. Considered alone they mean little, but when taken as a whole they are compelling proof that he was assuredly not compos mentis (that is, of sound mind). Al-though senile, his impairment was relatively mild, else he would not have been able to compose his autobiographical reflections (written between 1982 and 1984). And he never displayed the symptoms of full-blown senility (such as deliri-um, erosion of motor skills, vegetative state, etc.) 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.

What follows is evidence found to back his contention, uniting testimony, Mgr. Thuc's actions, and the pertinent symptoms.

I. "In and out of lucidity"

According to one priest at the time who met him, Mgr. Thuc "went in and out of lucidity." (Cited, DS, p. 5) Although Father Sanborn raises reasonable doubts about that cleric's talent at psychiatric diagnosis, the "in and out of lucidity" is consistent with senility in its early stages and also with the monsignor's perplexing caprices (outlined below). For example, Dr. Lawrence C. Kolb, in Modern Clinical Psychiatry, a standard text in the field, states: "The transition from usual old age to senile dementia is ordinarily gradual, and any decision as to when the imaginary line is passed must often be an arbitrary one." (Ninth ed., W. B. Saunders, 1977, p. 251) Giving the case history of a successful artist's descent into senescence, KoIb notes that "the failure in his mental functioning proceeded slowly," distinguished by "periods of disorientation" and "some beginning failure of memory." (p. 255) Florence Safford, D.S.W., a specialist in geriatrics, similarly writes of a "gradual disintegration." (Caring for the Mentally Impaired Elderly, Henry Holt, 1986, p. 2). Kra talks about "progressive" memory loss. (p. 26) And Professor Alexander Pilcz, in an article in The Catholic Encyclopedia, refers to "increasing dementia." ("Pathology," Vol. XI, p. 544) It is quite possible, then, that Mgr. Thuc seemed normal to the untrained observers cited by Fathers Cekada and Sanborn. Yet those witnesses labored under three disadvantages: they 1) saw him only for short visits, which prevented them from getting a real feel for his condition; 2) knew him only as an old man, so they had no way to directly assess whether his current mental state differed greatly from earlier years (it did as will be shown directly); and 3) regarded him as strange but lucid, because of their failure to recognize subtle but unmistakable signs of senility. Hence, the testimony of those claiming his lucidity must be measured against the gradual, episodic, almost imperceptible nature of early stage senescence, and against the whole matrix of his behavior.

II. Faulty judgment

Late in 1975, when he was living in the Italian village of Arpino, Mgr. Thuc was visited by a priest who came to him unannounced. The monsignor recounted their conversation:

"Your Excellency [the priest said], the Holy Virgin sent me to bring you to Spain at once to render her a service. My car awaits you at the door of the rectory, and we shall depart at once to be there for Christmas." Flabber-gasted by this invitation, I said to him: "If it is a service requested by the Blessed Virgin, I'm ready to follow you to the ends of the earth..."(Cited, AC1,p. 18)

As it turns out he went no farther than Palmar de Troya, Spain, where he complied with the service requested by the "Holy Virgin." What "she" was telling him, writes Father Cekada, "[was] that he should ordain laymen to the priest-hood (whom he had just met, and who had done no ecclesi-astical studies) and then consecrate them as bishops &emdash; all in three weeks time. [italics added] (AC1, p. 18) Father Cekada aptly describes this as "a truly colossal lack of common sense). In 1978, one of these men demonstrated the "authenticity" of the apparition when he announced to the world that he was "Pope Gregory XVII." It is difficult to say which aspect of this incident is the greater manifestation of Mgr. Thuc's credulity: His lack of discernment in trusting a dubious apparition or his lack of prudence in attempting to pass on Holy Orders to total strangers! Whatever the case, this is but one of numerous occasions in which the monsignor demonstrated an utter lack of good judgment. Again, quoting Father Cekada:

While everyone is entitled to a few mistakes, one is forced to say that those made by Father Ngo [Thuc] were very grave indeed &emdash; objectively, they were inexcusable, especially for a bishop with great pastoral experience and a brilliant academic background in theology, philosophy and canon law. [italics added] (AC1, p. 20)

On the same page is a quote from a newsletter backing the monsignor; that accounted for his aberrant behavior by calling him a "timid [A]siatic who was easily influenced," "psychologically worn out," and who had "acquired some complexes." And it added, "[his] age doesn't help things" (In some cases, timidity can be a personality change brought on by senility. Kolb relates causes for this that mirror Mgr. Thuc's double agony: Vatican II and the Communist takeover of his beloved Vietnam. See p. 253) This same impression is evident when Father Sanborn relates that two men acquainted with Mgr. Thuc said he "had the mind of a child," meaning that "he was guileless and somewhat naive in dealing with others, a fact which explains why he did certain consecrations which he later regretted." (DS, p. 7) The expression "mind of a child," in the sense Father Sanborn interprets it, cannot reasonably be used to describe the intellect of a man who had three doctorates in very demanding disciplines, and taught at seminaries and universities (including the Sorbonne, recognized as one of the world's greatest institutions of higher learning). When this truly formidable intellect is combined with "great pastoral experience" it is impossible for any objective person to believe their possessor capable of being either "naive" or "easily influenced" in such vital matters as the determining of worthy candidates for the priesthood or episcopacy. The fact of the matter is that it was not the same intellect at work, but a mere portion of that intellect. The passages above are all clues to solving the mystery, but only if one knows what they are looking for. In particular, the "mind of a child" expression is instructive, for it unintentionally conveys a sense similar to second childhood," the term used to describe elderly who have passed into dotage. When senility is allowed as an explanation, Mgr. Thuc's acts immediately become fathomable, because diminished common sense is one of its symptoms. Describing the different ways the senile person's judgment becomes impaired. Kolb notes: "He may become the victim of unscrupulous persons, particularly if their technique involves an appeal to the patient's vanity, in matters of either competence or sex." (p. 254) In Safford we read:

People can make mistakes in judgment all through their lives, but when poor judgment reflects errors based on normally simple associations, it is then a symptom of an illness. [italics added] This mental loss affects such po-tentially hazardous areas as the ability to drive a car, to handle finances. or to protect oneself from crime. p. 26)

Finally, Filcz observes: "By reason of the disturbance of memory and ... suggestibility, these patients often fall victim to unprincipled scoundrels, who swindle them out of their entire fortunes, induce them to make foolish wills, etc." (p. 544) The only reasonable explanation for why this prelate with "great pastoral experience" and a "brilliant academic background" allowed himself to fall prey again and again to the suggestions of spiritual cranks and swindlers (only to later rue these unsavory associations) is that his mind had become addled.

III. Impulsiveness

Closely related to the loss of judgment is impulsiveness. Safford writes: "When someone who has usually behaved in a mature and rational manner begins to behave impulsively, it may also be a symptom of mental change. The change may not be noticeable unless it is related to imprudent decisions... [italics added] (p. 41) What could prompt a bishop, on impulse, to drive across Europe with a stranger simply because he is told of an apparition, and then attempt to ordain and consecrate other total strangers, based not on his knowledge that they had vocations, but merely because an alleged apparition told him to do so? A bishop, I submit, whose mind has lost its cutting edge.

Answering three objections will help clarify the degree of Mgr. Thuc's mental impairment Father Cekada brings up the fact that the facsimiles of the bishop's handwriting from late in life revealed a hand that was "clear, firm and more legible than my own." (AC2, p. 23) This he advances as a proof of mental competence. It is true that the "handwriting becomes tremulous" in the senescent, but only in those suffering from "advanced forms" of the illness. (Kolb, p. 254) The monsignor does not appear to have ever been anything worse than mildly senile, and would thus not be notably affected in his motor skills. But how, some may ask, could Mgr. Thuc have written his autobiography if he were senile. The "autobiography" mentioned, lest anyone get the wrong idea, was really a series of fragments covering no more than fifty pages or so. But be that as it may, mild senility only disturbs short-tern memory, so recollections from years back would be no problem. (See Kra, p. 25) Again, Father Cekada quotes the prelate's regrets for having taken part in a Novus Ordo service as demonstrating that he "clearly had his wits about him." (AC2, p. 24) In senility's early stages there is no deadening of the capacity for remorse, and, "periods of reactive depression following some specific event are common." (KoIb, p.251)

Valid Doubts = Doubtful Validity

As far as witnesses questioning Mgr. Thuc's lucidity, there is Father Barbara, who also defended it on another occasion. For reasons already outlined above, Father Barbara's two short visits (in 1981 and 1982) with the bishop are hardly suf-ficient for a verification of sanity. "What is needed to assure the habitual lucidity of Archbishop Thuc," writes Father Jenkins, "is not a couple of brief interviews, but the testimony of a reliable person who has spent enough time with him to judge his normal state of mind." (WJ, p. 12). Less than a year after his second visit, Father Barbara became incensed when he learned that Mgr. Thuc attempted to confer the episcopacy upon yet another non-Catholic, and openly stated in his publication Fortes in Fides that it was not rash to wonder about the monsignor's sanity: "Perhaps he was in possession of his faculties, and perhaps he was not. That would leave a doubt hovering over the censures incurred [from the Conciliar Church &emdash; JKW], but also over the validity of all these consecrations." [italics added] (Cited, WJ, p. 14)

Conciliar Bishop Gilles Barthe, with whom Mgr. Thuc once publicly concelebrated the New "Mass" and in whose diocese he finally settled, told in the French monthly la Documentation Catholique (February 21, 1982) of his concerns surrounding the elderly prelate's activities. "I voice the most express reservations about the value [validity] of these ordinations," he stated, then going on to question Mgr. Thuc's lucidity during the rites: "It is even less [clear] for the ordinations done in his house at Toulon. It is permitted to ask oneself up to what point he was well aware of the acts which he did and to what point his liberty went. . ." (Cited, WJ, P. 16. Mgr. Thuc's liberty of thought was surely markedly impaired as early as 1975, when he was drawn into the Palmar fiasco.)

Regarding many of Mgr. Thuc's scandalous misadventures, Father Jenkins writes: "Such erratic behavior certainly gives rise to a prudent doubt about Archbishop Thuc's mental lucidity." (WJ, p. 12) Even champions of the "Thuc bishops" have been known to say such things. Father Cekada actually once gave "advanced age" as a partial reason for the prelate's mistakes, and Father Sanborn, referring to his "bizarre behavior," declared: "It is true that Archbishop Thuc was either insane, senile, or extremely gullible in order to have done the things he did." (AC1, p. 20, and, cited, WJ, pp. 11, 17.) So how is it, with so much corroborative evidence strongly pointing to senility, that they can accuse their opponents on this issue of "calumny" and mortal sin"? After reading the proofs assembled here, it is hoped that they will cease to hurl such groundless charges.

On the contrary, they should be asking themselves if they can continue to argue for the validity of sacraments emanating from a mentally impaired bishop. Since serious doubt to his power of reason from 1975 has been established, then there is equally serious reason to distrust the power of his sacraments over the same span of years. It makes no difference whether he performed the rites; without "full command of reason" it was impossible for him to confect the sacraments in the first place. Such a "consecration" is as fundamentally flawed as the will a senile person naively rewrites at the request of a swindler. How, then, can the consecration of Father Dolan even begin to be considered valid so long as those performed by his "episcopal great-grandfather" are debatable?

Catholics are forbidden to approach a sacrament when there is prudent doubt about its validity. Although Father Dolan was undoubtedly sincere in this enterprise, it does not change its dubious nature. Because of this The Athanasian advises the faithful to abstain from attending St Gertrude's and affiliate chapels until such time as he is prepared to relinquish his ill-founded claim to the episcopacy. It is with a mixture of sadness and resignation that we reflect on "The Great Consecration Controversy of 1993." That disagreements arise in these times is inevitable, but let us pray that they not be at the expense of charity. Simply because there is a division over a controverted issue does not &emdash; or should not &emdash; mean that the other side is to be demonized. Unless confronted with clear evidence to the contrary, the good intentions of fellow traditional Catholics should always be assumed. Our motto should always be, to borrow from Lincoln: "With malice toward none, with charity for all." May we always continue to pray for closer unity within our ranks as a step toward the restoration of the Church, but never should we join in the activities of those who, out of desperation, have taken unacceptable means to reach this end.