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Matters Arising From the "ordination" of Sinéad O'Connor

Sinéad O'Connor went through a form of ordination in a Lourdes hotel bedroom. The ceremony was performed by Thucite "Bishop" Michael Cox, who claims to be bishop superior of the Irish Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church (cf. The Irish Times, May 5, 1999).

Cox's consecrator was "Bishop" Ciaran (Kevin?) Broadbery who, according to "Bishop" Pat Buckley (The Irish Times, April 29, 1999) was "laicised by the Bishop of Ferns and is now married."

"Bishop" Broadbery was consecrated by then "Bishop" Clemente Gómez who, upon the death of Pope Paul VI, declared himself to be Pope Gregory XVII of the Holy Palmarian Church.

Good Pope Gregory himself was consecrated by Archbishop Ngo Dinh Thuc, former Archbishop of Hue. Archbishop Ngo Dinh Thuc earned for himself and for all those consecrated by him and their consecrands ipso facto excommunication for consecrating a bishop without a papal mandate.

Bear in mind that these events in 1976 and the penalties were well known to Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. He could not later plead ignorance in 1988 when he too consecrated four bishops contrary to the express command of Pope John Paul II, and consequently also incur excommunication for himself, his co-consecrator, the bishops consecrated by him, the priests and deacons of the SSPX, and those lay people who adhere to the SSPX!

Oh yes, not to forget "Bishop" Buckley! Father Pat Buckley was a long term dissident Roman Catholic priest who was consecrated by "Bishop" Michael Cox. However, "Bishop" Pat beat "Bishop" Michael in the women's ordination stakes. He ordained a "67 year old English woman" (The Irish Times, Sept. 15, 1998.) When "Bishop" Pat allowed the filming of a BBC comedy in her Church she resigned her church position. (The Irish Times, April 24, 1999). Nothing lasts forever, eh?

Fr. Vincent Twomey SVD, lecturer in moral theology and editor of the Irish Theological Quarterly, Pontifical University, Maynooth wrote (The Irish Times, May 4, 1999) in conclusion: "Is Michael Cox a validly ordained bishop? In short the answer must be no."

It follows that neither does Sinead O'Connor (nor other's ordained or consecrated by these "Donald Duck" bishops) have valid orders.

In the USA there are hundreds of churches containing the word "Catholic" or even "Roman Catholic" in their titles, and others (like the SSPX) without those words in the titles who are NOT in full communion with the Holy See.

The two following letters are self-explanatory:

THE IRISH TIMES Tuesday, April 27, 1999
Theological difficulties raised by Ordination

The 'ordination' of Sinéad O'Connor as priest by a 'Tridentine bishop' is not recognised by the Catholic Church, and she remains a lay person, writes Vincent Twomey.

No wonder people are confused. The sensational news that Sinead O'Connor claims to have been ordained a priest by a "Tridentine bishop" raises all kinds of tricky theological and canonical issues which are difficult enough even for the expert in those areas disentangle, not to mention the man or woman in the street.

The most healthy reaction might be to treat the whole thing as a big joke. And yet the issues are undoubtedly serious, comparable to somebody setting himself or herself up as a judge of the Circuit or High Court. This would be seen as outrageous. The sad thing is that, due to the general collapse of our religious culture, almost anything in the realm of faith can be claimed by anybody - and be taken seriously by the public media. As a result, the issues themselves are inevitably, albeit unintentionally, trivialised.

Michael Cox bases his claim to be a bishop on a succession that goes back to an excommunicated Vietnamese archbishop. That bishop ordained several priests and bishops in January 1976 in the village of Palmar de Troya, in Spain, acting, it would seem, on instructions from somebody claiming to be a visionary.

The Vatican reacted almost immediately, drawing attention to the penalties - including excommunication - incurred by the archbishop and those he had ordained. Later, the archbishop requested and obtained absolution from the excommunication.

The repentance was short-lived. From 1981 onwards the archbishop attempted to ordain other priests and bishops, on the basis that "the See of the Catholic Church of Rome was vacant".

Since this was evidently not the case, evident, that is, to all but the devotees of Palmar de Troya, the Congregation for the Faith, "by a special mandate of His Holiness Pope John Paul II" reaffirmed in 1983 the original penalties incurred, including automatic excommunication of the archbishop and those he tried to ordain. They were forbidden to attempt to act as priests or bishops.

Most importantly, the Congregation for the Faith affirmed that "the Church does not nor shall it recognise their ordination".

Moreover, the document continues, the Church "considers them in the state which each had previously", in other words as laymen or priests. Thus, in the eyes of the Church, we are dealing with a Mr Michael Cox, a Father Pat Buckley, whom he attempted to ordain a bishop, and, most recently, a Ms Sinead O'Connor.

The document is one that is phrased in canonical terms, two of which have fascinated the public since last Saturday: "illicit" and "valid". The former means that a public and solemn act of the Church, such as the administration of a sacrament, was carried out in contravention of the legal conditions set down by the Church.

Validity in this context belongs to the sphere of sacramental theology and affirms that a sacrament, though not executed in accordance with the legal conditions set down by the Church is nonetheless effective as a sacrament, that is, God's intended effect takes place.

An example would be a priest who has been suspended from exercise of the priesthood, yet gives absolution or celebrates Mass. His act would be gravely evil, in fact sacrilegious, but the unsuspecting faithful would still have received absolution or attended a valid Mass.

The Vatican document quoted above does mention the question of the validity of those ordained by the excommunicated Vietnamese archbishop in an aside - effectively leaving it aside for further study. The Church is reluctant to deny the validity of any sacrament, irrespective of the circumstances, and generally takes its time before making an authoritative decision.

Central to the question of validity is the intention to do as Christ intended. It is unlikely that any sensible person could be persuaded that the antics of the Palmar de Troya cult could be seen to fulfil this condition.

Is Michel Cox a validly ordained bishop? In short the answer must be no.

Vincent Twomey SVD is a lecturer in moral theology and editor of the Irish Theological Quarterly, Pontifical University, Maynooth


Thursday, May 6, 1999


- There are several facts which should be put on the public record in response to the letter from Fr Pat Buckley (April 29th).

  1. On June 5th, 1998, the Bishop of Down and Connor, Dr Patrick Walsh, suspended Fr Pat Buckley from the exercise of his priestly functions after he had failed to give an assurance that he would accept the authority of the Church and wholly desist from his malpractice in respect of the Sacrament of Marriage. This assurance had been formally requested by Bishop Walsh in a letter to Fr Buckley on May 7th, 1998.

  2. On June 14th, 1998, Fr Buckley announced in the News of the World, that he was "ordained" a bishop a month earlier by Michael Cox. On behalf of the Irish Bishops' Conference, I have to state that there is no justification for considering as valid the "episcopal ordination" received by Fr Buckley. The Holy See has confirmed this judgment.

  3. The same judgment has been confirmed by the Holy See in relation to the supposed episcopal ordination of Michael Cox by a person who had himself been "ordained" by Clemente Gomez, leader of a breakaway sect of apocalyptic pseudo-visionaries based at Palmar de Troya, Spain. On the death of Pope Paul VI in 1978, Gomez declared himself to be his successor, styling himself Pope Gregory XVII.

  4. With regard to the "ordinations" associated directly or indirectly with the Palmar de Troya cult, from which Michael Cox derives his claim to legitimacy of orders, the Holy See formally declared in 1976, and again in 1983, that "the Church does not nor shall it recognise" them.

- Yours, etc.,

Communications Officer,
Irish Bishops' Conference,
Booterstown Avenue,
Blackrock, Co Dublin.