From a reader…
I was wondering if the ordinations of priests and bishops in schismatic and or sedevacantist groups valid? They would be such priests like “Fr.” Anthony Cekeda and “pope” Michael and groups like the Congregation of Mary, Immaculate Queen, etc. Also, are their Masses and sacraments valid, too?
An ordination of a man capable of being ordained (e.g., a man who is free of any impediment to Holy Orders) performed by a validly ordained bishop, who intends to ordain a sacrificing priest according to the mind of the Church, and who uses the correct form for the ordination, is assumed to be valid.
We should not look upon Apostolic Succession merely as some sort of a communicable disease. At some point, the right order of the Church required that the intention of the ordaining prelate be weighed in a balance with his proximity to the Church of Jesus Christ.
Many schismatics and sedevacantists trace their ordination lineage (or pedigree, if you will) back through some pretty strange folks.
Arnold Harris Mathew, for example, who claimed to be the Earl Landaff of Thomastown and Count Povoleri was a baptized Roman Catholic man who was ordained a priest in 1877, who apostasized in 1889, then became an Anglican, married, reconciled with the Catholic Church in 1892 (but continued to officiate at Anglican weddings without a license), left the Church again to be ordained as a bishop of the Old Catholic Church (which has putatively valid orders), left the Old Catholic Church and began ordaining several men to the priesthood and episcopate under his own authority, was formally excommunicated vitandus by St. Pius X in 1911, who described him as a “pseudo-bishop” in his decree, was formally excommunicated by the Anglican Church in 1913. In August 1911, he was received into the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch by a patriarchal legate, who did not have the authority to receive him. Towards his death in 1919, he petitioned Rome for reconciliation, but was informed that he would only be received “quasi laicus“, as a layman. He then tried to reconcile with the Anglican Church instead, but the Archbishop of Canterbury similarly refused to recognize him as a priest, let alone a bishop. He died in 1919 and was buried out of the local Anglican parish.
Specific to the ones you mention, Fr Anthony Cekeda is undeniably a validly ordained priest, though he is not in communion with the Catholic Church. He had been a member of the Society of St. Pius X, left that in 1983 to help form the Society of St. Pius V, then left that group in 1989 (but did not, as many were expecting, form the Society of St. Pius 2.5). He remains, technically, a vagus, that is, a priest without allegiance to any hierarchical superior but himself, though he is involved with Bishop Donald Sanborn, who traces his pedigree back to Archbishop Thuc, formerly of Hue, Vietnam. Thuc ordained four men bishops during his retirement, though he did not have a papal mandate to do so. (BTW… the Holy See often receives men ordained through bishops of the Thuc line “ut laicus”
Regarding David Bawden, who calls himself “Pope Michael”, there is no available information regarding his ordination. Until proof is forthcoming, he should be presumed to be a layman. He is certainly not in communion with Rome.
The “bishop” of the CMRI traces his pedigree back to Arnold Harris Mathew, whose checkered life is outlined above.
Judging the validity of some of these schismatics’ ordinations is complicated business. It should best be left to the proper authorities (that is, the Holy Father or someone he delegates). In the meantime, the faithful should steer far away from those who’ve willfully separated themselves from Our Holy Mother, the Church.