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The strange case of David Bell and the 1,000 illicit bishops

There are as many as 1,000 illicitly ordained bishops - properly known as episcopi vagantes - and this one is gaining more and more attention.

  • Andrea Tornelli
  • International
  • August 2, 2012
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The media often report on news to do with the negotiations between the Holy See and the Society of St. Pius X, founded by Mgr. Lefebvre, who in his lifetime only consecrated four bishops without a papal mandate, in 1988. Their excommunication was lifted by Benedict XVI in January 2009.

Even less is said or known about the hundreds – some say a thousand – of “episcope vagantes” wandering around the world: bishops who have been illicitly consecrated as Christian bishops and who thus have apostolic succession but are not in communion with the Pope and as such are formally schismatic.

The Diocese of Fiesole has come under the spotlight in recent weeks because its Bishop, Mario Meini issued a decree for the dissolution of the private association of faithful, the “Clarisse del Cuore Immacolato di Maria” (Clares of the Immaculate Heart of Mary), a new monastic community founded in 2008 and based in the convent of St. Francis, in San Giovanni Val d’Arno, Italy, offered by the Franciscans.

The decree outlines the gripes of faithful and Franciscans and refers to real estate projects that have “raised a great deal of confusion.”The nun’s collaborators have responded by presenting a letter signed by Bishop Meini, himself, in which authorises them to help the new community. They say the real reasons for the dispute are quite different and are to do with affairs relating to the diocesan clergy.

What really brought the case into the limelight was the hospitality the nuns showed to Bishop David Bell - who uses the title “Eminence”, reserved for cardinals, referring to himself also as “Archbishop of London” – superior of the Roman Catholic Society of Pope Leo XIII, a traditionalist group that celebrates the Tridentine Mass and has numerous bishops, at least twenty of which were consecrated by Bell himself.?....(continued below)


 

....?The “Archbishop of London” celebrated a diaconal ordination in the monastery of San Giovanni Val d’Arno, conferred the Orders to two Italians: Michael Upmann (journalist and spokesman for Leo XIII in Italy) and Antonio Fabbroni.?Both were apparently also ordained priests later on by the congregation’s superior.

Bishop Meini responded almost immediately. After verifying with the Vatican Secretariat of State and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he issued a communiqué stating that Bell is not a Catholic bishop in communion with Rome, quoting the words of the former Holy Office. He pointed out that Bell has “committed a schismatic act” and that both he and the two ordained priests have incurred excommunication.

Bishop Meini’s communiqués do not question the validity of “Mr. David Bell’s” Episcopal ordination but recall that it does not constitute communion with the Pope. London also sent an immediate, sour and tough response, saying that in the space of a few hours “Archbishop” Bell has indeed prepared a “curse” against Bishop Meini, asking God to “forgive his mistakes,” reeling off the Council of Trent Canons on the validity of Episcopal ordination.

Full Story: The strange case of “His Eminence” Bell

Source: Vatican Insider/La Stampa
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