True Catholic News

In Today's Catholic World News Blog

Image of Pope Innocent XI


(Question received 26.03.2013 17.51):


"Hi, what would you say against the SSPX argument about French Mason Talleyrand who ordained Bishops later accepted as valid by Rome?" 

(Answer): Hello. First off, the Hierarchy of the Catholic Church, now in exile, says Marcel Lefebvre never was validly ordained a priest and continuing in the long-standing tradition of the Church, repeated, "one must first be a priest before they can be a made a bishop". It follows then, that all his attempted ordinations/consecrations never occurred. They are 100% null, void, and worthless.

Regarding your question about Talleyrand the following information drawn from various sources, including the Catholic Research Center located near Tampa, FL - addresses your inquiry in detail.


The Papal Restoration Staff


      " ... unlike Liénart, Talleyrand left us written evidence of his intention."

This question (on the validity of Lefebvre's orders) is perhaps too much to contemplate for those

who have pinned all their hopes on Marcel Lefebvre and his “society” of “priests” who have come on the scene with great fanfare as the saviors of the remnant faithful, amid a cleverly orchestrated media campaign, prepared by the Church’s adversaries. If such a grim scenario seems too horrible to be allowed by God, consider this: Pope Leo XIII declared Anglican Orders invalid because of defective intention, 350 years after introduction by the Church of England. Millions of souls over many generations were adversely affected before Rome rendered a definitive judgment in the matter.


Likewise, priestly ordinations which have been attempted with the counter-church’s “reformed” ordination rite, (a near carbon-copy of the Anglican rite) in use today, will surely come under a sweeping declaration of nullity by the true Catholic Church in a future, saner day (They have 100% indeed -ED of TCW). But in the meantime, the Lefebvre “Society” continues to recognize the priestly orders of the counterfeit “Catholic” church, even to the point of incorporating into some of its

chapels, “priests” ordained in the Novus Ordo rite, without even going through the motions of “correcting” these ordinations.




Lefebvre’s apologists contend that because the Church has always accepted the orders conferred by the Freemason Talleyrand, then those of Liénart (see exposure of Liénart's Freemasonry) must also be acknowledged. But this is false, as can be easily demonstrated. Talleyrand, was consecrated bishop of Autun, France, in 1789, the same year as the French Revolution. He initially opposed the revolt because it had “dismembered France,” but two years later, he capitulated to the democratic movement, and publicly endorsed the revolutionary civil constitution of the clergy, which led to the forfeiture of his see in 1791, and excommunication by Rome, later lifted because of his deathbed contrition.

Talleyrand, who is also alleged to have entered the lower echelons of Freemasony, had consecrated several bishops, which nevertheless were recognized by the Vatican. Neither before nor after his own consecration, was there evidence that Talleyrand sought to carry out a masquerade in episcopal robes while plotting the overthrow of the Church, as his actions were out in the open and were motivated by mere expediency. Rather than a dedicated covert agent for the Church’s enemies, Talleyrand was a consummate opportunist who changed hats as it suited his political ambitions, only to recant his errors on his deathbed. His tenure as a functioning bishop lasted just two years, allowing time only for an apprentice’s introduction to Freemasonry, before he consecrated any bishops. Thus the bishops consecrated by Talleyrand and his co-consecrators (who were not Freemasons), were rightly presumed valid, and legitimately ordained as priests years before, since no outward appearances of priestly deficiencies were ever attributed to them that would suggest otherwise." ...


Noted Theologian Augustin Lehmkuhl: "The Fabricius Case"

This issue of Masonic Sacramental intention was indirectly addressed by a respected theologian, Augustin Lehmkuhl, in an actual case regarding a priest named Fabricius, who had become a member of a secret society. While Lehmkuhl does not specifically mention Masonry by name, that Masonry is a secret society is beyond dispute: “The fact that the Freemasons is a secret society is alone sufficient to make membership illegal for Catholics.” (A Catholic Dictionary, Attwater). And so Lehmkuhl’s conclusion on the sacraments conferred by someone who had joined a secret society is justifiably and appropriately applied to Masonry as well, for no rational argument can be made as to why it would not apply.

“Lehmkuhl gives an interesting case of conscience on the point. A certain priest had lost his faith and had joined a forbidden society, after which time he began to perform his priestly duties in an external manner only. He religiously observed the correct and exact performance of the matter and the form in the sacraments he administered, but inwardly he intended not to do what the Church does and what Christ instituted. The solution of the case declares that the sacraments conferred by the priest were null and to be repeated absolutely.” (The Dogmatic Theology on the Intention of the Minister in the Confection of the Sacraments by Rev. Raphael De Salvo, O.S.B., S.T.L. 1949, referencing Casus Conscientiae, Vol. II, p. 14, Casus 7, Augustin Lehmkuhl, 1903)

There are two notable points of interest here.

Firstly, Lehmkuhl makes no exception for validity regarding any of the Sacraments: “the sacraments conferred by the priest were null.” Every Sacrament that this priest ostensibly confected since his membership in the secret society was invalided. None of them took place.

Secondly, and more importantly, he declares that all of the Sacraments conferred by this priest to be repeated “absolutely.” In stating that they are to be repeated “absolutely” rather than repeated “conditionally,” Lehmkuhl is making it clear that he considers the Sacraments conferred by Fabricius, since his membership in a secret society, to be not simply doubtfully valid, but rather certainly invalid. For according to Church law, if there was a prudent doubt as to their validity, then they would be repeated “conditionally,” not “absolutely”:

“The Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Orders which imprint a character cannot be received a second time. If, however, there is a prudent doubt whether they have been conferred at all, or whether they were validly conferred, they may be conditionally repeated.” (Canon 732)

More In-Depth on Talleyrand Case



As noted Lefebvre’s apologists often cite the case of Talleyrand, a Masonic bishop of 18th century revolutionary France, as proof of the validity of Masonic Sacramental Orders. Talleyrand, along with two co-consecrators, consecrated bishops for the new Constitutional Church of the French revolutionary government in 1791. Of interest is when Napoleon and Pope Pius VII signed the Concordat of 1801, in which Concordat Pius VII did not (at least publicly) require the “re-consecration” of the bishops of the Constitutional Church before assigning them to their respective dioceses. Because of this, the SSPX argues that Talleyrand demonstrates that if not in doctrine, then at least in practice, the Church accepts Masonic consecrations as valid.

That Talleyrand was a scoundrel is beyond question. But to draw from his history the conclusion that Masonic consecrations are deemed valid by the Church is nothing more than wishful thinking. There are actually many possible explanations as to why the Constitutional bishops were not publicly re-consecrated besides the SSPX's “Masonic Orders are therefore valid” conclusion. For example:

•Does one know that neither of the two co-consecrators (one of whom was personally consecrated by Pope Pius VI) didn’t supply the necessary matter, form and intention like co-consecrators are supposed to?

•Does one know that even if Talleyrand invalidly consecrated other bishops, that he didn’t mention this to someone before his death, thereby allowing the Church to take corrective action?
Because unlike Liénart, who died in the false church he helped to create; Talleyrand actually died reconciled to the Catholic Church. He received the Last Rites and was in communication with Pope Gregory XVI shortly before his death. If he had done something so insidious as to have withheld his Sacramental intention, upon which the validity of all of the bishops of France depended upon, don’t you think he would have said something to someone? To Pope Gregory XVI, to his confessor, to someone? To me it seems highly improbable that Talleyrand would have gone through the public display of being reconciled with the Church and at the same time have kept silent about botching his consecrations, if indeed, he had botched them. As a bishop/priest, he knew that he could not withhold confessing such a sin and possibly hope for forgiveness from God. It would have rendered his Confession invalid and have made reconciliation a farce. So unless we presume evil of the part of the publicly penitent Talleyrand, his reconciliation with the Church is strong evidence that if there had been an invalidating issue concerning his consecrations of the Constitutional bishops, that the Church would have been made aware of it and therefore enabled to take any corrective measures it may have deemed necessary.

•Does one know that even if Talleyrand’s consecrations were questionable, that the Church didn’t quietly correct them?

These are but a few of the possible explanations as to why the Church didn’t require a public re-consecration of the Constitutional bishops.


Talleyrand Testifies


But, in fact, there is no need to “divine” the Sacramental intention of Talleyrand when he consecrated bishops for the Constitutional Church, because unlike Liénart, Talleyrand left us written evidence of his intention:

“He only remarks that in 1790 France was in danger of becoming presbyterian [i.e., a Church with priests but no bishops] if nobody could be found in the episcopate to invest a constitutional prelate with the bishop's office, ‘for in that case France might have been lost forever to Catholicism, the hierarchy and rites of which are in harmony with the monarchical system.’” (Talleyrand, Lady Blennerhassett, 1894; quoting from Talleyrand’s Memoirs)

So Talleyrand wrote in his memoirs that his intention in performing these consecrations was to preserve Catholic apostolicity in France, not to destroy the Church. Considering this, it is of course no surprise at all that the bishops he consecrated were not conditionally re-consecrated. In fact, it would have been contrary to Church law to have done so.

So we see that the Talleyrand case does not demonstrate that the Church considers Freemasonic Sacramental intention to be valid. His case actually brings no light to this issue at all.

Pope Innocent XI "... it is never allowed to adopt a probable course of action as to validity."

[I]n applying this doctrine to the facts surrounding Liénart and Lefebvre, I cannot see how one can get past the fact that the necessary requirement of moral certitude is lacking in both of them. According to Catholic doctrine, therefore, at least in the practical order of things, we must reject these consecrations and proceed as if they had never taken place.


What must Catholics do during this frightful crisis? 

Again, the Catholic Research Center:

[A]mong an ever-widening circle of Catholics, the possible invalidity (correction 100% invalidity -ED) of the clergy of the “Society of St. Pius X” is being considered as the best explanation for the instability of these “priests” and the high drop-out rate from their own group (as in the new “church”). Scandals involving divisive infighting, womanizing, destructive lawsuits over property, slander and alienation of good families, contentious factions, irregular procedures, and Jansenistic tendencies have been characteristic of this body of “priests” from nearly the very start of the society’s missionary activity, which began in the mid-1970s. These attendant ills are invariably passed off as the effects of “youth” or “poor training,” but it is now plainly evident that there is something far deeper that is flawed and profoundly wrong with the society "clergy".

This is most probably not a “fluke” or “accident,” but is likely a masterstroke of the enemy, who, in the political arena, has always intrigued to set up his own phony opposition; a similar ruse in the ecclesiastical realm would only make sense. There could be no more effective means of neutralizing the traditional Catholic movement than by the establishment of a near monopoly on the Tridentine “Mass,” by a “society” of bogus priests and bishops. Centers of Catholic resistance manned by invalid priests would soon self-destruct. The intellects, and perhaps the souls, of those they serve would eventually be darkened. The faithful would be “set-up” for a takeover by a cult, while the conciliar church could continue its ruination of souls unimpeded.

In the process, good but older priests, whose sound training and experience predates the dreaded "council", are often passed over by naive and desperate lay people, for the soothing reassurances (of a continuity of priests and sacraments) by a society, which may only have been created to “pull the rug out from under” the remnant Catholic Church at an opportune moment in the future, when most all the valid clergy will be dead, and further resistance seems hopeless.

What must Catholics do during this frightful crisis? First, avoid anything that is questionable regarding the sacraments. Pope Innocent XI declared that in the conferring and reception of sacraments, it is never allowed to adopt a probable course of action as to validity, and to abandon the safest course. (See: Denzinger, #1151; Moral and Pastoral Theology, Vol. 3, “The Sacraments, The Use of Probable Opinions,” page 27) Secondly, receive sacraments only from the remaining older priests who offer the True Mass (in union with the Holy See in exile), and whose orders are unquestionably valid. Thirdly, have faith in Almighty God, Who knows all things and will protect His Church from oblivion in His own way and in His own time. Finally, pray to Heaven unceasingly, that for the sake of the elect, these days will be shortened, and the “Church of Darkness” will leave Rome.


One other important note. The Hierarchy of the Church (now in exile) in regards to the question of validity, of so called Thuc "consecrations", is that they are, quote, "at best doubtful". Thus, the doctrine of Pope Innocent XI of avoidance must be applied. -TCW


Church Authority. "Those who are received into the ecclesiastical hierarchy are not chosen by the people, or by secular authority, but are placed in the degrees of power of orders by sacred ordination. In the supreme pontificate the person lawfully elected, and freely accepting the election, receives the power of jurisdiction by divine right. All others receive jurisdiction by canonical mission

(c. 109)." (Text: "A Dictionary Of Canon Law", Second, Revised Edition, 1919 Imprimatur)

Relevant Links:

The Supreme Crisis "Yet many Christians will remember that this was all foretold of Antichrist for centuries past and perceive the fraud of Satan and refuse to be deceived. They will stand firm and enlighten the faint-hearted and console them." -Venerable Bernard de Bustis

Dogmatic Canons And Decrees Authorized Translations Of The Dogmatic Decrees Of The Council Of Trent, The Decree On The Immaculate Conception, The Syllabus Of Pope Pius IX And The Decrees Of The Vatican Council (The Devin Vin-Adair Company, New York 1912, Imprimatur)

 "And I say to thee, 'Thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the

gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give thee the keys to the kingdom of heaven.'"

Blessed be St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles!

The Papal Restoration Staff

Ecclesiastical Approbation

 In Today's Catholic World ( carries the approbation in writing of the Holy See in exile. It faithfully adheres to the rules for Catholic Journals mandated by Leo XIII in the Apostolic Constitution Officiorum ac Munerum, January 25, 1897 - so heavily re-stressed by Pius X in Pascendi Dominici Gregis, September 8, 1907. 

Apr. 22, 2013