A Defence of Pope Michael
I had the following exchange with a member of the Catholic Resistance, a cleric:
"With respect for your person and your obvious enthusiasm for the Catholic faith, I have to be honest with you. I feel you are making a mistake in your determination to recognise the Papacy in one of the various eccentrics pretending in one way or another to bind the consciences of millions of baptised souls. I find the idea absurd.
I know little about Mr Bawden, apart from the fact he was once a seminarian - but I have no judgement to make about his honesty, sincerity or good intentions. Faced with such a prospect of a "lay church" - I would much prefer to be an honest Methodist or Lutheran than such a mess."
If I were to advise him, I would say he should stand down right now and devote his intellectual talents to the unity movement as a simple layman, or in whatever Minor Orders he might have received at seminary. Such an act would bring him more credibility, and his humility would not go unnoticed by God.
Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. It was just this fear, a fear of damning myself to hell, if I made an excuse for not leaping in (and I have leapt into the middle of several things), I would find myself in exterior darkness.
There is certainly, in the Economy of Salvation, the calling of certain persons to fulfill critical functions and roles. And that it often happens that if the one so chosen fails or refuses his/her call, then the plan of God would be, humanely speaking, set back... thus putting, by one wo/man's failure and/or refusal, the salvation of millions at risk.
We know that Salvation History had to await the coming of the Blessed Virgin Mary, as the chosen one to bear our Lord, the Theandric Incarnation, and that it is possible that the failure of many Jewish maidens to measure up to God's standards, caused His plan to be, humanely speaking, set back until the coming of our Lady...
Imagine, for example, the fate of Eire, if Saint Patricius had failed or refused his calling.
Imagine, for example, the fate of France, if Saint Joan had failed or refused her calling.
Imagine, for example, the fate of the Church, if Saint Catherine of Siena had failed or refused her calling to be instumental in castigating and pushing the popes to end the 'Babylonian Captivity' in French-dominated Avignon and returning to their rightful seat, Rome!
And so on, and on.
Imagine if, in our own time, Frs. Zamora and Carmona, Fr. Saenz y Arriaga, etc., failed to correspond to their callings...
We have one outstanding failure before us, and the grave, immense consequence of his sorrily culpable failure: Allegedly, Joseph Siri, elected pope, succumbed to blackmail and surrendered the papacy to the wolves...
Certainly, in 1996, at a time when I was not aware of Mr. Bawden, I had written a tract, Repair My Church, wherein I had stressed on the same point: That God requires us to work on this matter urgently; if however we fail, God will find others to do His work, for the Work of God, His Economy of our Salvation, is not delayed, Divinely speaking, because of the refusal or failure of one or some; yet, nevertheless, those whom He had called, and had failed Him, would certainly know His wrath and His punishment for their treason...
It is sad that having read Mr. Bawden's (& Mrs. Stanfill-Benns') book, the cleric in question has failed to apply his mind. It was nowhere indicated that it was their intention to establish a "lay church," whatever animal that may be.
Mr. Bawden has, for very good reasons, refrained from soliciting and receiving ordination and consecration from any Resistance cleric, or any other cleric, for that matter, because, by principles, he will not accept unless the ordinator/consecrator sincerely submit to him beforehand. And that is the proper Catholic way. It would have been hypocritical of Mr. Bawden to have done otherwise, and a gravely sinful act, one that could cast into doubt his claim to the papacy.
But it is wrong to misconstrue this just refusal as a total or categorical - and necessarily heretical - refusal to receive orders, period.
An unjustified presumption is always a sin.
Again, having read the Benns-Bawden work, my correspondent could have hardly failed to notice the urgent reasons for proceeding with an election and supplying the Church with a legitimate Pope, or to paraphrase my correspondent: "determining the Papacy in one of the various 'eccentrics' pretending in one way or another to bind the consciences of millions of baptised souls." [See Benns & Bawden: Justifying an Urgent and Extra-Ordinary Election]
[I think it callous and against piety to cavalierly dismiss Mr. Bawden, without applying one's mind to his claims and exposition of reasons, as an 'eccentric'.]
It is the central premise of Bawden's work, that he and his cooperators proceeded only because they were convinced that this work was both urgent and necessary - nay, even obligatory! And their action was entirely according to the norms of the Church, and therefore, it is certainly binding on all sincere souls: souls who wish to be saved.
And now coming to the last matter: my correspondent's suggestion that Mr. Bawden stand down from his claim to be the Pope.
I wish to merely point out that this cleric has, like nearly every other cleric of the Catholic Resistance, sought and obtained ordination or consecration in violation and even in often an factual defiance of the set, established and very well known norms and procedures of the Church. And yet if I or anyone else would so much as suggest that they should therefore refrain from exercising these orders, they take offense and feel insulted, and would insist on refusing to cease, and insist on continuing to exercise these orders...
We, of the Catholic Resistance, whatever be our ideological or factional affinity, are all acutely aware of the grave scandals that surround these reception of orders and the resultant 'clerics,' so much so, that a great number of souls have actually seceded from the Resistance into isolation, calling themselves the Home-Alone movement. Certainly, all those who temeraciously and selfishly, without good reason, and improperly put themselves forward to receive orders are the most culpable for this sorry state of affairs...
I ask: Why is it then, that you, when you have done so, and are painfully aware of having done so, ask Mr. Bawden, who committed NO IRREGULARITY whatsoever in organizing the election and accepting his election as Pope, to step down?
What rational reason can there be for this?
And how does such a request or suggestion, or whatever you call it, jell with your own status as an irregular recipient of orders?
We have a saying, "Folk who live in glass houses should not throw stones at others." Are you not in exactly the same position? And yet you throw stones at Mr. Bawden!
I would suggest that you, and all who think like this, seriously rethink.
I would suggest that you seriously start integrating your thoughts, your ideas and concepts, for there seems to be a major contradiction here.
As for Mr. Bawden, it is entirely for him to decide whether he wants to step down or not: But it remains true that the same grave and urgent causes that moved him in the first place still obtains.
The merely unthinking and even frivolous refusal, and I will even describe this as being a mala fide refusal, to assent, admit, acknowledge and submit to Mr. Bawden as Pope, does not, in any manner, negate his legitimacy, which rests, not on the consent of numbers, but on propriety, morality and law.
If Mr. Bawden should heed the 'advice' of such as you, and resign for what is so obviously a frivolous reason, he would be positively failing God at a crucial time in Salvation History, and would be commiting a grave and mortal sin, in my estimation, by resisting the known will of God, harming His Church and putting millions of souls in grave jeopardy of eternal damnation.
This is not a course that I would lightly urge upon him, and for foolish and selfish reasons...
Prax Maskaren, Bombay. India.