Last month in this post I asked four questions of Fr. Joseph Pfeiffer to which he answered (not directly to me) in a conference he gave on July 28 in St. Mary’s, Kansas. Here are the four questions and the answers in my own words along with some commentary.
1) Why did Fr. Pfeiffer have Fr. Poisson conditionally ordained by Ambrose Moran if Fr. Pfeiffer believes that the new rite of episcopal consecration is valid?
Fr. Poisson was conditionally ordained by Ambrose Moran to put at ease the minds of the faithful.
First of all, a conditional ordination ought not to be done for the sake of the faithful. It ought only to be done when there is positive doubt about the first ordination. Otherwise, a sacrilege, objectively speaking, is committed. Here are the words of Archbishop Lefebvre in a conference he gave in 1983 to the seminarians of St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary (full text can be downloaded from this post; note that the “NB” and the words that follow in parentheses were added and hence are not the words of Archbishop Lefebvre):
Now Fr. Pfeiffer himself acknowledged that he had no doubt about Fr. Poisson’s ordination administered by the Novus Ordo bishop and yet he proceeded to have Ambrose Moran conditionally ordain Fr. Poisson for the sake of the faithful. Therefore, Fr. Pfeiffer, objectively speaking, participated in an act of sacrilege. Nevertheless, did Fr. Pfeiffer succeed in putting at ease the minds of the faithful? No. Fr. Pfeiffer admitted that this act backfired. My question is, “How could Fr. Pfeiffer not think otherwise beforehand?” He quietly brought back onto the scene a man who he disassociated from back in November 2015 because of the concerns of the faithful. How then was this supposed to put at ease the minds of the faithful???
2) If Ambrose Moran is a valid bishop, and since he conditionally ordained Fr. Poisson, why is the argument now directed towards proving the validity of the new rite of episcopal consecration?
Fr. Pfeiffer visited again the cathedral in Chicago in January 2019 where Ambrose Moran was allegedly consecrated a bishop in 1976 and spoke to the same Orthodox priest he spoke to in October 2015. This time Fr. Pfeiffer got the runaround which caused his certainty about the 1976 consecration to become a doubt. This doubt caused Fr. Pfeiffer to “can” Ambrose Moran.
Despite this, Fr. Pfeiffer still states that Ambrose Moran is a valid bishop. My question is, “Considering that Ambrose Moran’s alleged 1976 consecration is now doubtful in Fr. Pfeiffer’s mind and considering that Ambrose Moran’s alleged consecration by Cardinal Slipyj is even more doubtful in Fr. Pfeiffer’s mind, then what are the grounds for Fr. Pfeiffer still accepting Ambrose Moran as a valid bishop?”
Note that at about 1:29:00 of the conference Fr. Pfeiffer admits that Ambrose Moran was consecrated (allegedly) in an “Orthodox” cathedral in 1976. Yet all this time Fr. Pfeiffer has been saying that the principal consecrating bishop and the cathedral were both Catholic in 1976. Hmm.
3) If Ambrose Moran is a valid bishop, what is the paperwork problem that now prevents Fr. Pfeiffer from using Ambrose Moran to ordain the OLMC seminarians?
See the answer to Question 2.
4) If there is a now a paperwork problem that prevents Fr. Pfeiffer from using Ambrose Moran to ordain the OLMC seminarians, why was this paperwork problem not a problem at the time that Fr. Pfeiffer used Ambrose Moran to conditionally ordain Fr. Poisson?
Fr. Pfeiffer was certain that Ambrose Moran was consecrated a bishop in 1976 based on his first visit to the cathedral in Chicago.
Now we come to the question asked in the title of this post, that is, is Fr. Pfeiffer still part of the True Resistance? First, let us define the True Resistance. The True Resistance is the Catholic response in the line of Archbishop Lefebvre to the errors promoted by the neo-SSPX. More broadly speaking, the True Resistance is the adherence to Catholic Tradition and the countering in the line of Archbishop Lefebvre the errors of Vatican II and the erroneous responses to the crisis caused by the errors of Vatican II. The Fake Resistance, unofficially led by Bishop Richard Williamson, can fall into either of these two definitions. Second, let us list a few principles of the True Resistance that are in accord with the Catholic Faith and the line of Archbishop Lefebvre, but that Fr. Pfeiffer has violated:
- A sacrament that places an indelible mark on the soul ought not to be repeated unless there is a positive doubt about the validity of the first administration of that sacrament.
- A sacrament ought not to be allowed to be administered or be received without a moral certitude regarding the validity of that sacrament and that the one administering the sacrament is faithful to Catholic Tradition and the line of Archbishop Lefebvre, except in circumstances where the Catholic Church has allowed it otherwise (e.g., receiving the Sacrament of Penance by a heretical priest due to an emergency).
- One ought not to unite in worship in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with a priest or bishop who holds to error or is silent on error (see In Defence of the Red Light Position, which was approved by Fr. Pfeiffer and Fr. Hewko at the time).
- One ought not to engage in tradecumenism (see a sermon on this topic here).
- When citing the Church’s canon law, one ought to first and foremost look towards citing the 1917 Code of Canon Law.
Regarding the first point, we have already seen above how Fr. Pfeiffer violated this principle.
Regarding the second point, Fr. Pfeiffer admits in the conference that he asked Bishop Williamson (and the other False Resistance bishops) to come and administer the Sacrament of Holy Orders before approaching Ambrose Moran. Then in having Ambrose Moran conditionally ordain Fr. Poisson, the validity of the sacrament is placed into question because Ambrose Moran was not ever consecrated by a Catholic bishop. Furthermore, Ambrose Moran seems to have the implicit approval to say Mass at (at least) one chapel where Fr. Pfeiffer does (see the story here and note that Fr. Pfeiffer’s latest disassociation from Ambrose Moran was only in regards to his episcopal powers and not his priestly powers). But remember that Ambrose Moran was not ever even ordained by a Catholic bishop. Hence, even the validity of his Masses is placed into question. To boot, we now have Ambrose Moran confirming Fr. Pfeiffer’s faithful with or without Fr. Pfeiffer’s approval (see here). And these inroads of Ambrose Moran amongst Pfeiffer’s faithful are happening despite the fact that Ambrose Moran has publicly placed into doubt the validity of the episcopal consecration of Archbishop Lefebvre himself (which by the way demonstrates Ambrose Moran’s poor knowledge of Catholic sacramental theology)! Incredible! Where is Fr. Pfeiffer’s condemnation of Ambrose Moran by name as he has often done so in the past of others???
Regarding the third point, uniting in worship in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with one who holds to error would most likely happen if Bishop Williamson were to come and ordain the seminarians because the Sacrament of Holy Orders is usually conferred during Mass. Nevertheless, in actuality, we have the case of Fr. Pancras Raja, who has been welcomed to be part of OLMC and celebrate Mass for nearly a year now despite the fact that he held (and perhaps still does) the position that one must attend, under pain of mortal sin, the Masses of the neo-SSPX when no Resistance Mass is available (hear here at 31:20 Fr. Pfeiffer’s weak defence when questioned regarding taking on Fr. Raja).
Regarding the fourth point, it is shown by what was said in the second and third points. Understand that associating in the sacraments with the False Resistance and/or those who do not red light the Masses of the neo-SSPX after all that has happened since 2012 are variants of tradecumenism, a term originally coined for the neo-SSPX’s association with the Indult/Ecclesia Dei communities.
Regarding the fifth point, after Ambrose Moran declared that I excommunicated myself, Fr. Pfeiffer got his seminarians together and defended Ambrose Moran’s statement by referring, as did Ambrose Moran, to the “Apostolic Canons” which have not had canonical force since the promulgation of the 1917 Code of Canon Law. Why was not the 1917 Code cited as Fr. Pfeiffer usually does?
There are others matters that Fr. Pfeiffer has contravened that simply deal with prudence and common sense. For example, Fr. Pfeiffer has stated to several people that even if Ambrose Moran was found to have lied about some aspects of his past (e.g., whether he was truly sacramentally involved with schismatics, whether he was truly guilty of complaints raised to police about him, etc.), he would still use Ambrose Moran because he is a valid bishop. Really? Is this the type of person we want in the True Resistance?
Given all that I stated above, I can no longer accept Fr. Pfeiffer as being part of the True Resistance. This would even be the case if he always acted in good faith because it would still demonstrate poor judgment over and over again on his part. As such, I cannot place my soul or the souls of those I love into his hands. The damage he has done to the True Resistance is significant by placing the good of his seminary and apostolate above it. The motto I see now guiding Fr. Pfeiffer is “if you are a valid priest or bishop and you are willing to help me, I will take you”. This is insufficient for a Catholic and a faithful follower of Archbishop Lefebvre to go by. I ask you instead to please support the apostolate of Fr. David Hewko. His sermons may be found here. Leaving Fr. Pfeiffer was a blessing as it got him back on track the path of the True Resistance. Nevertheless, please let us keep Fr. Pfeiffer and all priests in our prayers. We know that it is only through Our Lady that this mess in the Church will finally be cleaned up.