Bishop Dolan during the Asperges
I have been getting some inquiries about when I am going to go back to the Katholic Krazies and in particular about a fellow named “Mundabor”—he takes his self-chosen sobriquet from the Asperges me Domine, the antiphon which is sung during the sprinkling rite before High Mass in the Extraordinary Form (Tridentine Rite) of the Catholic Liturgy. It is Latin for “I will be cleansed.” It is a pious aspiration from a most impious krazie, but we will get to him in a few entries. I still have one of the more flamboyant sedevacantists to introduce to you and that is Bishop Daniel Dolan of West Chester Ohio.
Daniel Lytle Dolan was raised in Detroit where he entered the archdiocesan seminary. Alas it was the days of heady Vatican II liberalism in the Detroit of Cardinal Dearden and Dolan left the seminary to try his vocation with the more conservative Cistercian Monks of the Common Observance. The Cistercians of the Common Observance, not to be confused with the Cistercians of the Strict Observance (Trappists) are a community composed primarily of monks who fled Hungary after the 1956 uprising. They have and maintain a tradition of high scholarship and while somewhat lax in monastic observance are quite traditional. (The Cistercians of the Strict Observance or Trappists, on the other hand, tend to the liberal side of things but maintain a much stricter monastic life.) As traditional as the Cistercians were, however, they were not sufficiently tradition bound for young Dolan. He left them to study at Archbishop Lefebvre’s seminary at Écone. He was ordained there in that first group of priests of the Society of Saint Pius X by Archbishop Lefebvre in 1976.
But even Archbishop Lefebvre proved not to be traditional enough for young Father Dolan. Almost immediately after ordination he began propagating the idea that the Decrees of the Second Vatican Council and the Novus Ordo of the Mass issued by Paul VI in 1970 were clear indications that Paul had forfeited the papacy. When in 1983, in an effort to build some bridge of reconciliation with the papacy under a more amenable John Paul II, Archbishop Lefebvre insisted that all the priests of the Society of Saint Pius X use the 1962 Missal of John XXIII to conform with John Paul’s decree Ecclesiae Dei, and furthermore to publicly declare their allegiance to John Paul, Dolan and nine companions refused to do so and broke with Lefebvre and the Society of Saint Pius X. Dolan had established almost three dozen Tridentine Latin Mass centers in the United States and when he broke with Lefebvre he took most of his followers with him. He and the others established the Society of Saint Pius V and Dolan used his parish of Saint Gertrude the Great in West Chester Ohio as his base of operations. Dolan later broke with the Society of Saint Pius V and went rogue, as if the Society of Saint Pius V were not itself rogue as if Lefebvre’s Society of Saint Pius X were not rogue. This is what happens in schisms; they have babies. Then they eat their young. In 1993 schismatic Bishop Mark Pivarunas of Mount Saint Michael’s in Washington State—whom we have covered in previous postings on Katholic Krazies—consecrated Dolan a bishop.
Anthony Cekada is several years younger than Dolan and had studied at the Archdiocesan seminary in Milwaukee as Dolan had in Detroit. And as Detroit had the liberal Dearden for an Archbishop Milwaukee was blessed—and I do mean blessed—with the equally progressive William Cousins. Cekada left the seminary and studied music as the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music before, like Dolan, joining the Cistercians. Disappointed that the monks weren’t more rigidly conservative, Cekada joined Dolan at Écone where he was ordained by Archbishop Lefebvre the year following Dolan. The two men seemed to have formed a fast friendship that has lasted through the years as they are more or less inseparable and Cekada assists Dolan at West Chester. Both men have broken with the Society of Saint Pius V, the sedevacantist group that had broken with Lefebvre’s Society of Saint Pius X, and gone independent. Dolan is the administrator; Cekada the apologist. Cekada is an avid writer and has written multiple books justifying the sedevacantist position and attacking Papal Catholicism. He usually publishes with TAN books, a publisher that handles many of the schismatic publications while it tries to straddle the great divide. Theologically Cekada is a sort of jack of all trades and master of none as his writings, while broad in topic, tend to the polemical and betray an ignorance not only of the patristic sources but even authentic Thomism. Nevertheless he is a force to be reckoned with and seems at times to be omnipresent on the internet.
As long as we are on the topic of the Lefebvrists who went rogue we should bring up Clarence Kelly. Kelly was one of Lefebvre’s first disciples at Écone and when the nine Americans broke with Lefebvre to form the Society of Saint Pius V, Kelly was the first superior. Kelly, Cekada, Dolan et al were not only convinced that the papacy had fallen empty due to the heresies of the Second Vatican Council, they rejected the validity of marriage annulments being granted by the Church after Vatican II and they claimed that not only was the Novus Ordo Mass invalid, but the ordination rites of priests and bishops reformed after Vatican II were invalid and that thus valid orders and apostolic succession had ceased in Roman Catholic Church. Kelly, like everyone else in this movement, had himself consecrated a bishop.
What motivates these people? Well, to begin with, krazies don’t need reason to be motivated—that is what makes them krazy, but I honestly think it is an ego thing. In the post-Vatican II Church priests aren’t all that special. When I was a kid our house was filled with priests—diocesan priests, Colombans, Franciscans, even the odd Precious Blood or Holy Ghost Father. Life came to a crashing halt when the clergy showed up at the door. No matter the time of day or night, Father—or Fathers, as they liked to travel in packs—were poured a drink, cooked a meal, and given an “Irish handshake” when they left. (An Irish handshake is the custom of slipping the priest 20 bucks when you shake his hand.) We loved our priests and forgave them their faults. (Way too often forgave their faults as we see now but didn’t then.) I remember when Monsignor X came to our house at the Lake one summer. By 4 pm he was shitfaced drunk, so drunk that he urinated in the mirror in my parents’ room thinking he was in the bathroom. That didn’t matter. He was a priest. We needed him for the sacraments. When we went to Church he was there. He came into the classroom to distribute our report cards. He gave us school holidays. We laughed about his pissing in the mirror, but my parents would shush us and tell us not to judge. Then too, we lived in a culture in the 1950’s where everyone seems to have gotten drunk a lot and done things that embarrassed their wives and children. We saw in their flaws a rare glimpse into their humanity hidden so well behind the robes and the titles and the formality that surrounded them.
Nowadays, of course, the priest is just another guy doin’ his job. They are “Joe” or “Mike.” We like ‘em well enough but the pedestal is gone. Some priests are comfortable with that; others aren’t. But for those men who need the external boosts of special collars or being called “Father,” it just isn’t fun anymore. And if you think the right-wing clergy are the only ones standing on their own pomp, by the way, just try calling your doctor by his first name.That is only part of the problem, of course. I remember when Monsignor George Augustus Stallings, the brilliant African American preacher in Washington DC, suddenly up and founded his own Church and got himself made a bishop. It wasn’t to “preserve the Mass of the Ages”—to the contrary. Stalling’s liturgies were dynamic three hour “tabernacle meetin’s” with gospel music and the dance ministry in full drama and the ushers doing that strut thing down the aisle. Ol’ George was a rock star in the African American Catholic community. And everyone, including ol George himself, was sure he was going to be a bishop. And he would have been. But then there were some serious accusations of tax evasion and of sexual abuse. George was washed up for a future in the papal Catholic Church, so he started his own African American Catholic Church and declared himself an Archbishop. I think Dolan and Pivarunas, Kelly and others realized they weren’t going to be bishops in the mainline Church, if for no other reason than they refuse to accept the Council which is a denial of magisterial authority. Each succeeding schism left their group smaller but their own position higher. I am not saying that they weren’t sincere but to quote Shakespeare’s Satan: “better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven.”