Candid Admissions of Bishop Tissier de Mallerais


The Candid Admissions of Bishop Tissier de Mallerais by Father Francesco Ricossa

IN AN "INTERVIEW" given by Bishop Tissier de Mallerais (one of the bishops consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre and by Bishop de Castro Mayer) in the French magazine of the Society of Saint Pius X, Fideliter, (n. 123, pp. 25-29), candid and baffling admissions were made. Bishop de Mallerais confronts one of the first difficulties, which is that of jurisdiction. Bishop de Mallerais admits that his consecration was "accomplished against the will of the Pope" and that he has not received jurisdiction either from Archbishop Lefebvre ("he was not able to give it to us") neither from the Pope ("the Pope refused to give it to US"). He claims to have jurisdiction from the Church. "It is the Church which gives it to US" as if there could be opposition between the Church ( which concedes the jurisdiction) and the Pope (who denies it), or as if the hierarchical Church were not, in the ultimate analysis, the Pope.

Nevertheless, for Bishop Tissier de Mallerais, there is a problem yet more serious than that of jurisdiction. Let us hear Bishop de Mallerais speak: "Are these bishops who are not recognized by the Pope legitimate? Do they enjoy formal apostolic succession? Are they, in a word, Catholic bishops?" This problem, Bishop de Mallerais explains, "concerns the very constitution of the Church, as all tradition teaches: there cannot be a legitimate bishop without the pope, the head by divine right of the episcopal body. Therefore the answer is less clear, and in fact it is not absolutely clear..." Bishop Tissier de Mallerais, therefore, ten years after his consecration, does not know whether his consecration or his being a bishop is a legitimate act!

For a moment, he seems to evoke the sede vacantist "solution." "...unless one were to is necessary to recognize that if we were able to affirm that owing to heresy, schism, or some secret problem in the election, the pope would not be truly the pope, if we were able to pronounce such a judgement, then the response to the delicate question of our legitimacy would be clear..." If, according to Bishop de Mallerais, ''sede vacantism'' is the only clear explanation to justify his own consecration, we would expect a public adherence to sede vacantism, or a reasoned refutation. But such is not the case. Sede vacantism is refuted only because Archbishop Lefebvre refused it: "The problem, so to speak, is that neither Archbishop Lefebvre nor my confreres, nor I myself, have been or are sede vacantists....Archbishop Lefebvre was not of this opinion, nor did he have the sufficient principles in order to make such a judgement. It is very important to take this into account."

At this point, even the interviewer is a little baffled: if we cannot make bishops against the will of the Pope, and if John Paul II is the Pope, and if John Paul II was against the consecrations done by Archbishop Lefebvre, and if there are no other "clear" solutions,... "Then how did Archbishop Lefebvre solve the dilemma...?" Bishop de Mallerais, who has no theological or doctrinal responses, baffles once again the reader with a response which we could term ''charismatic'': "...Our founder confronted the problem from above and resolved it at the same time in a manner more concrete than it is here. It is the sign of supernatural intuition which was proper to him and of an action in him of the gift of wisdom, the gift of the Holy Ghost...Only Archbishop Lefebvre was able to make such a judgement [that is, Pope John Paul II is no longer Catholic]! He was also the only one who had the moral authority to decide 'I will do the consecrations.' There were no others. Thus it was not according to my own lights that I accepted the consecration, my consecration, understand! Only Archbishop Lefebvre was able to decide this consecration, he alone received grace to decide. We had the grace to follow him. And it is with these very simple and very beautiful words, which belong to one of my confreres in the Society of Saint Pius X, that I must conclude: they represent my most intimate conviction, my most firm security of being on the right path."

Bishop Tissier de Mallerais, in his sincere and moving affection for Archbishop Lefebvre, does not realize how erroneous his thinking is. He substitutes a bishop for the pope as a criterion of catholicity. He condemns those who are blindly submissive to the Pope, who has the charism of infallibility, and then follows a bishop in a decision contrary to the Pope, without finding any other motive for the decision than the charismatic infallibility of this bishop. In this way, Bishop Tissier de Mallerais overturns completely the divine constitution of the Church, by opposing the charism of a (presumed) sanctity to that of papal authority.