Bishop + Francis K. Maria – Validity and Liceity of Orders

Bishop Francis K. Maria Schuckardt was consecrated a bishop on November 1, 1971 by Bishop Daniel Q. Brown. Bishop Brown had obtained his Sacramental Orders through the Old Roman Catholic Church, a more orthodox version of its European counterpart, the schismatic Old Catholic Church of Utrecht, sometimes simply referred to as “Old Catholics.”

Old Catholics Possess Valid Orders

It is fundamental that some Christian sects that have separated from Roman Catholicism have retained valid Sacraments, including the Sacrament of Orders:

“Every validly consecrated bishop, including heretical, schismatic, simonistic or excommunicated bishops, can validly dispense the Sacrament of Order, provided that he has the requisite intention, and follows the essential external rite (set. Certa). Cf. D 855, 860; CIC 2372.” Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma by Dr. Ludwig Ott, 1952, p. 456.

The fact that the Old Catholic Church has valid Sacramental Orders is virtually contested by no one conversant with sacramental theology and in possession of even a modicum of neutrality:

"A validly consecrated bishop can validly confer all orders from the minor orders to the episcopate inclusively ... For this reason the ordinations performed by the bishops of the Old Catholics are consider valid." A Practical Commentary on the Code of Canon Law, revised and enlarged edition, by Rev. Stanislaw Woywod, OFM, LLB. Vol. 1, Sec. 881 P. 558, 1948.  
"They [Old Catholics] have received valid orders." Roman Catholic Dictionary, by Addison Arnold.  
"The Old Catholic Church has received valid episcopal consecration." Christian Denominations, by Rev. Konrad Algermissen, 1945.  
"Their [Old Catholic] Orders and Sacraments are valid." A Catholic Dictionary, by Donald Attwater, 1958, 1997.  
"These [Old Catholics] Orders are valid." The Far East Magazin, June, 1928, published by the Saint Columban Fathers of St. Columbans, Nebraska, in reply to any inquiry about the Old Catholic Church.
"The Roman Church recognizes the validity of Old Catholic Orders and other Sacraments." 1974 Catholic Almanac, by Felician A. Roy, OFM, page 368.   
“Ordinations conferred by dissident Oriental bishops, Jansenists and Old Catholics are generally valid, because of a validly consecrated hierarchy. (cf. Pius IX, Ency. Etsi multa, 21 November 1873)” – Halligan, Rev. Nicholas, O.P., The Administration of the Sacraments, 1963, p. 393, footnote 19.
“In our days, certain Anglicans have gone to Holland to be ordained by the Jansenist [Old Catholic] bishop, which ordination is almost certainly valid...” Synopsis Theologiae Dogmaticae, Tanquerey, Vol. II, 1905, p. 618.
"We have no reason to doubt that the Old Catholic Orders are valid. The Apostolic Succession does not depend on obedience to the See of Peter but rather on the objective line of succession from Apostolic sources, the proper matter and form, and the proper intention ... likewise Old Catholic bishops are bishops in Apostolic Succession ... The Old Catholics, like the Orthodox, posses a valid priesthood." Separated Brethren, William J. Whalen, 1958, 1966, pp. 204, 248.

The Old Roman Catholic Church

The founder of the Old Roman Catholic Church, Arnold Mathew, obtained his episcopal Orders in 1908 from an archbishop of the Old Catholic Church, Gerardus Gils. Assisting and co-consecrating with Gils were two other Old Catholic Bishops, J.J. Van Thiel and J. Dremmel.

In 1910, Arnold Mathew declared autonomy from the Old Catholic Church and founded his own church, the Old Roman Catholic Church. He then published his declaration of beliefs which adhered very closely to the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church, excepting, among other things, papal infallibility and the primacy of Rome:

The Old Roman Catholic Church continued to hold fast to their traditional beliefs and traditional Sacraments throughout the years, even decades after the close of Vatican Council II and the new doctrines promulgated by the new “Vatican II Catholic church” in the early 1960’s. Below are some excerpts from an article published by the Old Roman Catholic Church in 2002, which bear this out:

“Regrettably, however, Vatican II and its postconciliar developments were a serious disappointment to all those Catholics concerned with preserving the Deposit of Faith and Morals given to Peter and the Apostles by our Lord.   The greatest tragedy was the disruption of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the other Sacraments. Radically corrupted by "ecumenism," and poorly translated into modern languages, the liturgical books no longer guarantee the Catholic Faith…
“Among the Vatican II era bishops there were only a handful who resisted the movement away from Catholicism. In the early days of the resistance there were a fair number of priests who remained orthodox, a number of Catholic men hoping to study for the priesthood, and even a bishop or two who promised to ordain them. But no conciliar bishop was willing to provide for the Church's future by consecrating truly Catholic bishops. One European bishop [Marcel Lefebvre] tried to arrange for an Old Catholic bishop to ordain the future priests of his Society (an idea quickly rejected by his membership). An Asian bishop [Thuc] found a mad man or two upon whom to lay hands; quickly retreating back to the New Order as one of his creations claimed then to be pope…
“The doctrinal position of the Old Roman Catholic Church has often been unknown, misunderstood, or misrepresented by many who are not of this Communion. There have even been those who have deliberately distorted our theological and canonical position -- for reasons known only to themselves. To correct any misinterpretation of what we Old Roman Catholics believe, our bishops and priests, meeting as the Twelfth General Council of the Old Roman Catholic Church, held at the Benedictine Abbey of Saint Paul (Roman Catholic) in Newton, New Jersey, on April 27-28, 1973, made the following unanimous declaration:

‘This General Council reaffirms that it holds and teaches all that is held and taught by the Roman Catholic Church on matters of Faith and morals.

Clearly, then, lest there be further misunderstanding, we hold and teach the Catholic Faith without any reservations, condemning all heresies condemned by Rome, and teaching even those doctrines which have been declared by Roman Pontiffs since this Communion has been cut off [i.e., the separation of the Old Roman Catholics from the Catholic Church] from the spiritual ministrations of our Holy Father the Pope: The Immaculate Conception of our Lady, and Papal Infallibility, and the Assumption of our Lady.’”

As the reader can readily see, the Old Roman Catholic Church has not only retained its traditional beliefs long after the Vatican II Catholic Church abandoned true Catholicism and destroyed the Sacraments, but they even corrected some of their former errors concerning papal infallibility and their teachings regarding the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was to this Church that Daniel Q. Brown sought and obtained what the new Vatican II Catholic Church could no longer provide for him: a valid consecration to the episcopacy.

Bishop Brown – Consecration and Beliefs

In 1969, Daniel Brown was consecrated a bishop by the then reigning Primate of the Old Roman Catholic Church, Bishop Hubert Rogers. Bishop Rogers consecrated three men in his lifetime, two of them in 1969 – Bishop Brown and Bishop Edward Payne. Bishop Mark Plested, a witness to the consecration of Edward Payne, attested in writing and swore under oath on July 11, 2006, that the Pontificale Romanum [official liturgical book of the Roman Catholic Church] was used at the consecration of Edward Payne. While this writer has no knowledge of who witnessed the consecration of Bishop Brown and is therefore unable to obtain their testimony, there is no reason to believe that Bishop Rogers would have conferred episcopal consecration on Daniel Brown in a different manner than he conferred episcopal consecration on Edward Payne – given the nearly identical circumstances surrounding both consecrations.

But despite the fact of Bishop Brown’s error of going to the Old Roman Catholic Church for valid Sacramental Orders, he nevertheless professed that he was not an Old Catholic, but rather a Roman Catholic:

“We have no connections or intercourse with any other church or group and especially not with ‘Old’ Catholics. It is true that our Apostolic Succession was obtained from a bishop descended from the Church of Utrecht, but this was done because we knew that there was no question as to the validity of their Orders. As a matter of fact, the Roman Catholic Church (pre—Vatican II, that is [and post-Vatican II as well if that be of any value]) has recognized the validity of Holy Orders emanating from the Church of Utrecht. We are Roman Catholics who feel obligated under pain of mortal sin to make sure that the Church founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ continues to the end of time as He promised. We believe that the ‘new’ Church is not only heretical but is also fast plunging into a form of Unitarianism if not worse. We question the validity of the present Pope since many of the things he has done—as well as things he has left undone—are not indicative of a valid Pope. We are not, however, anti-Papal. As a matter of fact, we commemorate the Pope (without naming the present one) in every Mass we say. We, indeed, look forward to the day when a valid Pope once more occupies the Chair of Peter (and this shall come-whether in ten years or a hundred) and on that very day we shall submit wholeheartedly to the Vicar of Christ on earth.” Bishop Brown, September 17, 1970.

And again:

“We are Roman Catholics, nothing more, nothing less, who are forced by circumstances to function temporarily without a Pope. We follow the doctrine, dogma and liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church as She existed prior to the death of Pope Pius XII. Our Holy Orders are descendent from the Church of Utrecht (Holland) whose Apostolic Succession, Holy Orders and Sacraments have been recognized as valid on numerous occasions by the Roman Catholic Church. We are not schismatics, apostates or heretics—on the contrary, we look forward to the day on which we can be united with the valid Holy See. We are not in communion with any other church or denomination.” Bishop Brown, July 10, 1971

So it is clear that Bishop Daniel Brown was in possession of valid episcopal Orders and that he publicly professed Roman Catholicism.

The Consecration of Bishop Francis K. Maria Schuckardt

In 1970, Bishop Brown became acquainted with “Brother Francis” (Bishop Francis Maria) and wrote him that “in view of the fact that we cannot exist for long as Catholics without the sacraments, I would propose to ordain to the priesthood a qualified member of your group (from the information I have, this would probably be yourself)...” (Bishop Brown to Francis Schuckardt, 9/17/70.) It was later decided to advance Brother Francis beyond the priesthood to the episcopacy.

Initially Brother Francis refused the offer of consecration from Bishop Brown, because Bishop Brown had separated himself from the Roman Catholic Church by his acceptance of episcopal consecration from a schismatic church, the Old Roman Catholic Church, a deed which he had publicly lamented, but had never officially corrected.

But due to the vacancies of the Holy See and of the Catholic episcopacy, the prescribed remedy provided by Canon Law for someone in Bishop Brown’s circumstances (i.e., an abjuration of error before the local bishop), was impossible to fulfill. There was simply no known Catholic hierarchy capable of restoring Bishop Brown to the Roman Catholic Church, as provided by law. So recourse was had to an approved pre-Canon Law Code practice of abjuring one’s error and making a public profession of one’s faith as a Roman Catholic. This method of professing one’s faith as a means of returning to the Catholic Church received approbation from Pope St. Gregory the Great:

“From the ancient institutions of the Fathers we have learned that those who are baptized in the name of the Trinity, although amid heresy, whenever they return to the Holy Church, may he recalled to the bosom of their Mother the Church either with the anointing of chrism, or the imposition of hands, or with a profession of faith alone... Therefore, without any hesitation your holiness may receive in your assembly all whoever return from the perverse error of Nestorius… make no opposition or difficulty in regard to their own orders.” Qui Caritati, to the bishops of Spain, Denz. 249.

So this is exactly what Bishop Brown did. He made a public abjuration of error and profession of faith before witnesses. Upon completion of these acts, he was restored to good standing in the Roman Catholic Church. It was then and only then that Brother Francis agreed to proceed to receive episcopal consecration from the hands of Bishop Brown, which in fact he did on November 1, 1971.

Licitness of Bishop Francis Maria’s Consecration

Many accede the validity of Bishop Francis Maria’s consecration, but charge that it was illicit, thereby demonstrating a lack of basic knowledge of the most fundamental concepts of Catholic doctrine.

As noted above in Bishop Brown’s letter of 9/17/70, Brown felt “obligated under pain of mortal sin to make sure that the Church founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ continues…” Since all of the “legal” avenues for preserving Apostolic succession had been cut off by the Vatican II Catholic Church, Bishop Brown and Brother Francis found themselves in a situation without historical precedent – they knew of no valid and orthodox Catholic bishops and the Chair of Peter was vacant. Were they to abandon all of the traditional Catholics, who were begging them for the Mass and Sacraments, in favor of a pharisaical following of the “letter of the law,” which forbade episcopal consecrations without a papal mandate? Or were they to accept that which all Catholic theologians teach, namely “that the Church, by reason of her very purpose, must always take into account the salvation of souls, and therefore is bound to provide everything which depends on her power." F. Cappello, Tract. de Sacramentis  (Rome: Marietti 1944), 2:349. After all, didn’t Pope St. Pius X teach that “the supreme law of the Church is the salvation of souls”? Were Bishop Brown and Brother Francis to subordinate the supreme law of the Church to an inferior law – to a legal technicality? The answer should be obvious – they neither could have nor should have. So in receiving episcopal consecration, Bishop Francis Maria’s conduct was in complete and total conformity with the mind of the Church and perfectly legal, because as was taught by Pope Gregory I, “necessity makes licit what is illicit.”

In fact, if Bishop Francis Maria and Bishop Brown had acted otherwise, not only would the welfare and salvation of many souls have been put at risk because of inaccessibility to valid Sacraments, but they also would have justly incurred the condemnation of Pope Boniface XIII, who taught that “it is true that one sins against the rule who adheres to the letter and leaves aside the spirit.”  The spirit of Church law was neatly summarized by Pope Pius XII on June 14, 1939: “Canon law likewise is directed to the salvation of souls; and the purpose of all its regulations and laws is that men may live and die in the holiness given them by the grace of God.”

In conclusion then, it should be abundantly clear to all (except for those who have pre-conditioned themselves to deny certain truths at all costs), that the Old Roman Catholic Church possessed valid Sacramental Orders, and that Bishop Daniel Brown received valid Orders from them. And that after Bishop Brown’s restoration to the Roman Catholic Church through his profession of faith, he could and in fact did, validly and licitly consecrate Bishop Francis Maria a bishop of the Roman Catholic Church.