How can you ordain [consecrate] bishops without a mandate
from Pope John Paul II [now Pope Benedict XVI] ?
The answer to the Most Reverend Bishop's question is twofold:
(1) Historically, the Old Roman Catholic Church claims the right
of its clergy to elect their bishops because this was the right of the
Church of Utrecht at the time of Archbishop Peter Codde's death and
the consecration of his successor by Bishop Varlet in 1739. The
Church in the Netherlands
(2) In justice, we claim the same right because of the failure of the
post-Vatican II Church to provide the Sacraments to the faithful on a
reliable basis, and the failure of its leaders to teach the
traditional tenets of faith and morals. Letter to
a New Convert on Why Modernism Must be Resisited
For many years the Holy See recognized the election of bishops as
a prerogative of the people and/or clergy of the diocese in question.
In its origins, the College of Cardinals, was an expression of this
tradition, being composed of the suffragan bishops of the Archdiocese
of Rome (cardinal bishops), the priests of the Diocese of Rome
(cardinal priests), and its deacons (cardinal deacons). For a long
time it was fixed at 53 or 54 members, reflecting the number and Roman
character of the electors.
Lateran II more or less standardized the election of bishops by
the cathedral chapter of the diocese. ("More or less," because there
were often political concordats to be dealt with, modifying the
accepted norm -- even in Papal elections.) Gratian's Decretals
recognize this right, and the Decretals, in turn, were recognized
by Pope Gregory VIII.
During the first thousand years of the Church the Holy Father's
influence over the Church was primarily doctrinal. The politics of
the Roman Empire and its successor governments, and the general
difficulties in communication and transportation preserved the
traditional situation until some time around the first millennium.
The pre-millennial Popes depended on favorable alliances with secular
princes and kings to preserve the unique status and property rights of
the Papal States.
For a brief time after the millennium, the Papacy exercised
genuine political power relative to the secular rulers of the Western
Empire. Innocent III actually exercised the power about which
Gregory VII only dreamed. But even at the zenith of Papal power --
or, perhaps, as the means by which that zenith was reached --
individual dioceses and bishops retained a great deal of autonomy.
Bishops politically answerable to no one, who "ran their own show,"
so to speak, were as valuable to the Pope as they were dangerous to
the Emperor or to the King. Outside of his own Metropolitanate and
the Papal States, the Pope was content to let people and dioceses and
bishops determine their own organizational destinies.
Papal power peaked somewhere in the 13th century. At its
beginning, most historians recognize Pope Innocent III as the most
powerful man on earth -- at its close nearly everyone recognizes the
pontificate of Pope Boniface VIII as "the beginning of the end." At
least some of Boniface's bishops in France sided with King Philip the
Fair against the Pope as tax collector. By the end of Boniface's
pontificate it beginning to be seen that the civil governments of
Europe could no longer be relied upon to support the Church as they
had for the past few centuries.
The reaction of the Church was mixed. The Papal government at
Avignon became much more "centrist" than ever before. A decree from
Avignon became necessary to occupy many of the benefices of the
Church. (There was even a "futures market" in that one could
purchase an "expectative" on a benefice that would become available
later on.) Under Pope John XXII, Avignon instituted a profitable
system of charges for a variety of papal services. Yet the captivity
of the Papacy at Avignon probably did more to return the government of
the Church to the bishops. It led to a Council being necessary to
depose the three men who claimed to be Pope. The conciliar movement
might have been successful were it not for continued threats by Islam,
and the progressive secularization of civil government. The threat of
having the Church dismembered by infidels and nationalists motivated
the previously independent bishops to accept and defend a strong
central government of the Church in Rome. The 1917 Code
institutionalized the requirement for a papal mandate to consecrate a
bishop, under penalty of suspension. The penalty was changed to
excommunication in 1958, in reaction to the establishment of the
"Peoples' Church" in Communist China.
The issue of Jansen's false condemnation having become a dead
letter by the 1950s, the Old Roman Catholic Church was prepared to
stop ordaining new priests and bishops. It seemed no longer to
fulfill any purpose. However, within twenty years, a new purpose
became clear. The Second Vatican Council, by its own account acting
without dogmatic authority, issued several documents in direct
conflict with the Catholic Faith: Religious indifferentism, a
distortion of the ends and indissolubility of marriage, and a sort of
utopian socialism were championed by the Modernist church. The
authority of the Church was severely undermined by the example of a
Council called in response to a "voice in the ear of the Pope," the
subsequent spread of "Catholic" Pentecostalism, the poorly defined
notion of "collegiality," and numerous demonstrations that not all
bishops were not honorable men. After the Council, the Mass and the
sacraments were modified along Calvinist lines, making most of them
doubtful from the traditional perspectives of matter, form, minister,
Our Lord died for us on the Cross that we might know His Truth
and receive His Sacraments in order to work out our salvation. No one
-- not even the Pope in Rome -- has thee authority to take these things
away from us.