50. Jahrgang Nr. 7 / Juli 2020
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The Episcopal Consecration of Fr. Guerard des Lauriers
The Episcopal Consecration of Fr. Guerard des Lauriers

Eberhard heller
translated by Emilia Vaiciulis
When theological research on post-conciliar ordination rites revealed that they were invalid because they were dogmatically defective or extremely doubtful at the least, our greatest concern was to maintain the apostolic succession. In fact, this can only be maintained if there is an uninterrupted succession of valid ordinations and of episcopal consecrations. Now, when several members of our group expressed this anxiety to Mgr. Lefebvre, he sent them away, saying sarcastically that at Lima he knew of a married bishop… maybe he could do something for us. Subsequently we contacted Mgr. Ngô-dinh-Thuc. We referred to his Declaration made at the time of the episcopal consecrations at Palmar de Troya, Spain, in which he brought up the subject of the emergency situation in the Church resulting from its general breakdown. Rev. Otto Katzer, doctor of theology, very much appreciated in Europe as a theologian and a spiritual guide by conservative Catholics and sedevacantists, had engaged in a discussion with Mgr. Thuc, M. Hiller and myself about the problem of the vacancy of the apostolic See and the danger of the apostolic succession disappearing. We concluded by asking Mgr if he eventually agreed to consecrate a bishop. Unfortunately because Fr. Katzer, who was a candidate for episcopal consecration died suddenly, we had to find another suitable candidate who enjoyed a good reputation amongst the faithful. It was Fr. Guérard des Lauriers, formerly a professor at the Gregorian in Rome, then a professor in Econe for a certain time. He made a name for himself as co-author of Critical examination of the Novus Ordo issued by the cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci. We wrote and asked him if he accepted to become a bishop. Fr. des Lauriers  sent an extraordinarily concerned and frank personal letter back: in which he too commented on the present condition of the hierarchy. For example, he knew the Italian bishops because he had pre-viously had them as students at the papal University. There was a discussion about the general situation and the necessity of an eventual episcopal consecration  at Etiolles, near Paris, at the house of Fr. des Lauriers. Also present were prof. Lauth and M. Hiller. They agreed on most of the points discussed. But there was one controversial point: the problem of the vacant Holy See. Fr. des Lauriers had decided to overcome this problem by his "Papa materialiter, non formaliter" thesis.

To discuss the theological value of an abstract thesis is one thing, but its practical application in the present combat of the Church for those who take a firm stance on sedevacantism like us, and later Mgr. Thuc is another. So, if we were to work together these divergencies would have to be resolved. We were convinced that Fr. des Lauriers’ thesis was erroneous.

As a ‘conditio sine qua non’ of an eventual consecration of Fr. des Lauriers it was important for M. Hiller, M. Lauth and myself that he understand that his thesis was wrong, and that he would only be proposed as an epsicopal candidate on condition that he renounced the thesis. So Prof. Lauth returned to Etiolles to thoroughly re-interview the candidate to see whether this last obstacle could be lifted. When Lauth returned to Munich he assured M. Hiller and me that Fr. Guérard des Lauriers had abandoned his bizarre thesis and that he had adopted our position: that the apostolic See was vacant. Thereupon we informed Mgr Ngô-dinh-Thuc who trusted in us because we had collaborated together in different matters in past years, and so a meeting with him and the episcopal candidate G. des Lauriers was arranged. But immediately after the consecration on the 7th of May 1981, it seems that Prof. Lauth had falsely informed us: the new bishop made it clear to us that he was not embarrassed to be found in schism from now on. When he was asked, why he considered himself in schism, we learnt that he not abandoned his ‘Papa materialiter non formaliter’ thesis, and that he therefore still rejected the sedevancantist position. It must be clearly stated: Had we known of this beforehand, M. Hiller and I would never have recommended Fr. des Lauriers as an episcopal candidate. And when we remarked that in the beginning Mgr. Guérard des Lauriers did not want to exercise his episcopal powers, we contacted Fr. Carmona and Mlle Gloria Riestra de Wolff who published the periodical TRENTO, through the mediation of M. Moser to verify whether Fr. Carmona would eventually agree to become a bishop in order to assure the apostolic succession. He accepted, and it is known that he and Fr. Zamora were consecrated on the 17th October 1981. The consecration of Fr. des Lauriers did not work out from several points of view, like some other consecrations he did too. Firstly Mgr. des Lauriers boldly challenged Mgr. Thuc (who had fled Toulon and had come to live with us because he feared persecution) and tried to impose his “Papa materialiter non formaltier-the-sis on him. Furious, the archbishop tore up the thesis and threw the scraps of paper out the window. Secondly, Mgr. Guérard  participated in a public forum some time after with the bishops Carmona and Zamora on the subject of what was considered ‘right and just’ in this crisis of the Church, and he was rude enough to make offensive personal insults to them. In the bulletin Sous la Bannière he referred to us - Gloria, M. Hiller and me - as schismatics. It is not that I reproach Guérard des Lau-riers for having written the thesis “Papa materialiter non formaliter”, for anyone can be mistaken,  but I think it is really appalling to attack the very ones who had helped him become a bishop, in such an offensive way. It is absolutely incomprehensible how he attacked the Declaratio of Mgr. Ngô-dinh-Thuc, which he disowned by overtly making propaganda for his own thesis.

The campaign against his consecrator reached such a point that, as I recall, he spread the rumour that it was not Mgr. Thuc who was the author of this Declaratio, but MM. Hiller and Heller! Even now I feel that this provocation justifies my threatening certain people with lawsuits if they continue to maintain that Mgr. Thuc allowed himself to be thus “corrupted” in drawing up the Declaratio…

After that, Mgr. des Lauriers conducted a shameless campaign to promote his thesis of which I had sarcastically said at the time that it upheld the existence of a “Half-Holy Father”. He then denigrated his consecrator in front of those of his confraters who, instead of following his thesis, followed the Declaratio about the vacancy of the apostolic See… This had the effect of considerably weakening our combat for the Church. And even today, his former students follow him with the same insensitivity of feeling.

Apart from such unscrupulous behaviour and such lack of consideration,  Mgr. G. des Lauriers dealt a grave blow to our combat by consecrating episcopal candidates of his own choice without consulting his fellow-bishops and deciding together- nay, without even having previously examined the suitability and identity of the priests concerned, and without even taking into account any reservations  expressed about candidates for the episcopate…Because of this, he bears the blame for what I term the “Internal Schism” (cf. Einsicht XXXI/2, p. 32 ff.). In this spirit of independence he consecrated Fr. Storck, very gifted, a graduate in philosophy and a doctor in theology, who as a priest had been involved with Ecône  and with some itinerant ( vagantes ) clergy despite objections raised by Mgr. Vezelis. And what comment can be made about his consecration of Fr. McKenna o.p., simply on the recommendation of an elderly lady in Switzerland? This explains why several weeks before his impending consecration, this priest switched his theological stand, adopting the Mgr. Guérard’s thesis, which he continued to adhere to. He consecrated Fr. McKenna despite the protestations of certain faithful, and again, without acting in concert with the bishops Musey and Vezelis who were active in the U.S.A. In the same way, he also decided to consecrate Munari, formerly of Ecône, independently and without duly  consulting the other bishops. (Note: Munari has since defrocked and has returned to the lay state.)

Perhaps what could be said in favour of Mgr. Guérard des Lauriers, who was almost 90 when he died on 27th February 1988, was that he, contrary to other bishops tried to find a clear-cut solution to the problem of jurisdiction in which we find ourselves. Also, that at the end of his life, he chal-lenged the justice of his thesis after it had been the cause of so much disenchantment and was close to assuming the sedevacantist position expressed in the Declaratio of Mgr. Ngô-dinh-Thuc. (SAKA-Informationen, May 1988).
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