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Bp. Mendez, SSPV and Hypocrisy

Introduction

Bp. Mendez’s secret consecration of Bp. Kelly in 1993.

In early 1995 the Society of St. Pius V (SSPV) an­nounced that the Rev. Clarence Kelly had been secretly consecrated a bishop on October 19, 1993 by the re­tired Bishop of Arecibo, Puerto Rico, the Most Rev. Alfred F. Mendez CSC, who had just died on January 28, 1995.

      Up to this point, traditional Catholics in the U.S. had heard nothing from Fr. Kelly and Fr. William Jenkins about Bp. Mendez — but an awful lot from them about Archbishop P-M. Ngo-dinh-Thuc, the retired Archbishop of Hué, Viet-Nam.

      By 1995 Frs. Kelly and Jenkins had conducted a lengthy campaign impugning the validity of the episcopal con­se­crations Abp. Thuc had conferred on two traditionalist priests (Guérard des Lauriers and Moises Carmona) in 1981. Frs. Kelly and Jenkins portrayed Abp Thuc as a crazy and erratic old geezer with unsavory connections, who for those reasons — lay readers were meant to conclude — could not be trusted to confer episcopal consecration validly.

      Fr. Kelly’s own consecration by the aged Bp. Mendez, however, cast an entirely different light on his anti-Thuc tirades. Bp. Mendez, it soon emerged, had engaged in a lot of fairly erratic conduct of his own, some of it extremely disedifying. In conferring an ordination for SSPV in 1990, moreover, Bp. Mendez had actually mispronounced the essential sacramental form in such a way that the validity of the ordination was doubtful.

      Below you will find a list of facts, notes and questions about Bp. Mendez, most of which I circulated in this form in the early 1990s. The picture of Bp. Mendez that emerges is that of a worldly prelate with some strange ideas, not very devoted to the traditional cause, who behaved very bizarrely more than a year before he consecrated Bp. Kelly and whose mental competence was challenged by his own sister just eight days before the con­se­cration.

      My purpose in raising these points is not to denigrate an old bishop, but to demonstrate that Bp. Kelly and Fr. Jenkins’ repeated condemnations of Abp. Thuc’s actions are a case of what is these days politely called “cognitive dissonance,” and in a more forthright era, was referred to as “hypocrisy.”

      This should set off alarm bells for the younger clergy and laity in the SSPV orbit who have been indoctrinated into the “Thuc Bad-Dirty/Mendez Good-Pure” myth­ology, and seen families di­vided, relationships ruined and sac­raments refused.

      The facts of the “Mendez affair” should lead this new generation to research the “certitudes” they have been handed by Bp. Kelly, just as we did in the 1980s, and to reject them once they inevitably discover (as we did) that they have no basis in Catholic theology or canon law.

— A.C. September, 2001

———

Who was Bishop Mendez?

  • A Holy Cross Father (the order that runs Notre Dame University.) Conse­crated bishop 1960 for Arecibo, Puerto Rico.
  • Retired early 1974. Lived in Carlsbad CA, near San Diego. Died January 1995, age 87, Cincinnati.

How did he first get involved with Fr. Kelly & SSPV?

  • His long-time secretary/housekeeper was Natalie White, writer of anti-Novus Ordo articles in 1960s.
  • Miss White was a close friend of Fr. William Jenkins’ parents, hence the initial connection.
  • A number of American traditional priests in Pius X met Mendez in late 1970s. He talked a somewhat conser­vative line, but never did anything.

Bp Mendez in ’73: “Married priesthood” is the “ultimate solution” to the vocations problem. 

When he headed his diocese, was he an anti-Modernist like Abp. Lefebvre?

  • No. Evident from eulogy in his dioce­san newspaper:
  • As a priest in 1950s, Mendez pro­moted pre-Vatican II nuns’ lib move­ment — sending sisters to study at Notre Dame where liberals would cor­rupt their faith.
  • After Vatican II “he supported the ini­tiatives of sis­ters who were looking for new horizons.”
  • In 1960, Mendez became first bishop in world to make a Cursillo “retreat.” (Cursillo = political-religious move­ment which originated in Spanish-speaking countries before Vatican II. A leftist/modernist oper­ation which used Communist mind-con­trol/indo­c­trin­ation techniques on par­ticipants: sleep deprivation, exhaus­tion, emo­tionalism, public confes­sion of sins, group criticism of individual partici­pants. Also notorious for gross litur­gical abuses. Those involved in Cursillo became leaders of mod­ernist program during and after Vatican II.)
  • As a new bishop in 1961, Mendez “began the Cursillo movement in Puerto Rico, and he made the Diocese of Arecibo its pioneer.”
  • Mendez promoted other liberal initia­tives which would “laicize” Church and undercut priest’s role. From be­ginning of Vatican II, “he dedicated himself to the restoration of the per­manent [married] dia­conate,” and he “opened horizons and positions for the laity well before Vatican II ended.”
  • Was member of CELAM, leftist South American bishops’ organiza­tion.

Mendez concelebrates the Novus Ordo for the 1974 Holy Cross Centennial.

Was Bp. Mendez a traditional­ist after he retired?

  • Did weekend help-outs & weddings for Novus Ordo.
  • Raised funds for ultra-Modernist Notre Dame University, celebrated public Masses there.
  • In 1981–82, ordained priests at Notre Dame using new rite.
  • Said mutilated Paul VI version of tra­ditional Mass (parts missing), but even this only because of influ­ence of his traditionalist housekeeper.
  • Never took public stand against Novus Ordo and Vatican II.
  • Is never once known to have of­fered old Mass in pub­lic at traditional chapel.
  • Promoted compromise initiatives to pull traditional Catholics into Novus Ordo church: Indult Masses, special Tridentine Ordinariate under JP2, and Fraternity of St. Peter.
  • At same time, also encouraged semi­narians to join “conservative” Novus Ordo organizations such as Legion­naires of Christ.
  • Dressed in coat and tie when traveling & visiting laity.
  • In 1985 observed 50th ordination an­niversary by being “principal concele­brant” of a Novus Ordo at Notre Dame.
  • In 1989 sits silently by as Miss White and a visitor argue about the teachings of Fr. Leonard Feeney. Then the bishop informs his somewhat per­plexed vis­itor: “She’s a theologian.”
  • In June 1989, when told by traditional priest that traditionalists should not work with modernists, Mendez replied: “Don’t be against the new. Just be for the traditional.”

The Pontifical that Bp. Mendez used for the 1990 ordination: The prayer is actually for ordaining just ONE priest instead of two, and Bp. Mendez garbled the form.

Didn’t Bp. Mendez show he was a tra­ditionalist by ordain­ing two priests for SSPV in September 1990?

  • Had no wish to be identified publicly as traditional Catholic or even associ­ated with ceremony.
  • Arrived, as usual, in lay clothes.
  • Performed ordination ceremony in se­cret.
  • Followed Novus Ordo rules and did not ordain can­didates to subdiaconate before. (Subdiaconate is when semi­narians take on celibacy obligation.)
  • Refused to wear all the traditional vestments.
  • Insisted ceremony not be videotaped: “Get that thing out of here!”
  • When he arrived at Preface of Ordin­ation, which contains the essen­tial sacramental form, sud­denly began rac­ing through it so quickly that it was incomprehensible.
  • Became angry when asked to repeat es­sential part.
  • Then repeated it in way that prompted following exchange: Fr. Kelly: “Did he get it right that time?” Fr. Thomas Zapp: “I think so.”
  • Ceremony continued on basis of “Think so.”
  • Fr. Zapp says he cannot vouch for cer­tain that Mendez finally said essential words properly.
  • Bishop’s conduct during ceremony was such that af­terwards in sacristy Fr. Kelly shook his head, told Fr. Zapp: “Never again. I’ll never do this again.”
  • Mendez used a false name to disassoci­ate himself from ordination: “Bishop Francis Gonzalez.”
  • Lied and denied in writing that he per­formed ordi­nation, calling it “an ugly rumor.” (Letter to Fr. Scott, 17 October 1990)

Description of a Bp. Mendez “Mass” in 1992: No crucifix, no chalice (he used an anniversary trophy cup); no chasuble, cincture, maniple. Just Novus Ordo garb. He handled hosts “like poker chips.”

Didn’t this involvement with SSPV at least influ­ence Bp. Mendez in a more traditional direction after 1990?

  • We merely reproduce points from writ­ten ac­counts given by three traditional Catholics who had no ax to grind against the bishop. These accounts re­late Mendez’s actions and statements when he came to visit them in Detroit on July 1–3, 1992. Among other things, Bp. Mendez:
  • Arrived dressed as layman (blue suit). Hinted he dressed this way because someone wanted to kill him. Dressed in lay clothes during entire visit.
  • Said he wouldn’t consecrate a bishop for SSPV, adding: “They should patch up their differences with the Society of St. Pius X, and Williamson can make them their bishop.”
  • For saying traditional Mass during visit, Mendez used no altar stone, no crucifix, no altar cloths, no amice, no cincture, no maniple, no stole, no chasuble, no chalice, no chalice veil, no Prayers at Foot of Altar, no Last Gospel, no linen purificator for Precious Blood (used paper towel). Vested à la Novus Ordo in only alb & stole. Used metal wedding sou­venir cup for chalice, Vaseline jars for cru­ets. Handled hosts “like poker chips.”
  • Said that the vernacular Mass was for the poor, but that the Latin Mass was for the rich.
  • Told a nun in traditional garb that her habit should be “more simple,” and said he favored short habits.
  • Told nun he didn’t want her to accom­pany him to airport lest be identified as a religious, much less a traditional­ist.
  • Said the Church “has too much doc­trine,” and that Fr. Sanborn pays too much attention to doctrine, “which is not so important.”
  • Mentioned how he went on cruises and serves as a chaplain “for all denomina­tions.”
  • Proudly related how he lobbied bish­ops at Vatican II to approve married deacons.
  • Volunteered to ordain his host a priest if his wife dies.
  • Analysis of an old-time trad who spent three days with Bp. Mendez in 1992: “I fear he would not have the right intent mentally if he were to consecrate a priest to a bishop today … he is 100% liberal Novus Ordo… like my spiritually dead children who adore the world… uses profanity… sign of a feeble mind.” This visit occurred 15 months before Bp. Mendez consecrated Bp. Kelly in Oct. 1993

    Boasted about worldly Hollywood connections. Mendez himself related following anecdote: he went a Las Vegas dinner dressed (as usual) in coat and tie. A few days later, he ran into actor Tony Curtis who was at the din­ner. Seeing the bishop dressed for a change in a clerical collar, Mr. Curtis told him: “I’m not the actor, Bishop! You are!”

  • Sprinkled his conversation with hells and damns.
  • Claimed he had a secret organization of priests num­bering 300 to 400, and secret seminaries training priests to in­filtrate the Vatican II church.
  • Stated that Cardinal Ratzinger was re­ally working for him (Mendez).
  • Began to weep, and said that if God wanted him to admonish John Paul II, God would have to prove it with a miracle. Mendez thereupon asked a sis­ter present to perform a miracle by lighting a candle miraculously — a re­quest he repeated to her on two other occasions during his visit.
  • Written comments in 1992 from horri­fied host and his wife, both long-time traditional Catholics, and both reliable and sensible people: “Mendez is a mod­ernist bishop. He is aware of the traditionalists, but is very much in tune with the go­ings-on in the Novus Ordo Church.” “I am in fear that the Bishop would not have the right intent mentally if he were to con­secrate a priest [to be] a bishop today. There is not a traditional bone in his body. He is 100% liberal Novus Ordo. He is equal with my spiritually dead chil­dren who adore the world and all the evil in it.”

There was a controversy sur­round­­­ing Bp. Mendez’s death. What were the details?

  • In January 1995, SSPV brought him to Cincinnati to show him a church property they hoped he would buy for them. During stay, bishop took ill, went into hospi­tal, was released, died suddenly on Saturday, January 28, at age of 87.
  • Because of their extensive involve­ment with him, SSPV wanted to bury Mendez as if he were really a tradi­tional Catholic. They hur­riedly orga­nized a traditional Requiem for Tues­day, and planned a quick burial at Fr. Kelly’s convent in Round Top NY.
  • Bishop laid out in SSPV school chapel in Cincinnati. Was first time he is known to have appeared in vest­ments at a public Mass in traditional Catholic chapel.
  • Mendez’s family strenuously objected, obtained an injunction against burial and in­stituted lawsuit (Laugier vs. Jenkins, Common Pleas, Hamilton Cy., A95–507, Judge Nay).
  • Case heard February 7. Number of in­teresting points:
  • Bp. Mendez: Promotor of the leftist Cursillo movement, married deacons, and nuns’ lib.

    Mendez’s sister testified that Fr. Jenkins and Miss White (bishop’s housekeeper, friend of Jenkins family) tried to keep family from seeing bishop.

  • Also testified Miss White completely took over bishop’s life in later years. “She bossed him. Took care of every­thing. Disposed of his money. Dis­posed of everything.”
  • When Mendez visited relatives in Puerto Rico, every Mass he celebrated for them was in Spanish. His last visit there: April 1993.
  • Bishop’s family had doubts about Mendez’s mental compe­tency for pe­riod from October 1, 1993 onwards.
  • On December 6, 1994, shortly before bishop’s death, he signed new will making Fr. Kelly’s group the benefi­ciary of his $1 million-plus fortune.
  • On January 26, only two days before bishop’s death, Fr. Kelly typed up a document for bishop to sign, request­ing burial at Round Top.
  • Judge said bishop’s supposed signature “looks like some sort of Japanese hi­eroglyphics to me.” In decision, judge added: “If this were a probate court, I think the Probate Court may have said this was not knowingly, intelligently, voluntarily entered into. Could have been undue influence, could have been completely unappreciative of what he was doing; the word he was doing or anything else. As far as I’m concerned, Exhibit Number A is of no value to this Court.”
  • Judge gave bishop’s family custody of body.
  • On February 11, Mendez buried in Arecibo Cathedral with Novus Ordo.

When and how did SSPV an­nounce that Bp. Mendez made Fr. Kelly a bishop?

  • Announcement first made February 8.
  • SSPV priests called special parish meetings at chapels to explain.
  • Image of Mendez presented to laity: a traditionalist.
  • Supposed proofs: Some correspon­dence between him and Lefebvre. Stories told of “signs from God” indi­cating consecration should proceed, angels singing be­fore Mendez’s death, and how his episcopal lineage can be traced to St. Pius X.
  • Reaction: Some laymen quite uneasy. Suspect Mendez not really traditional, full story not being told.

What information has come out so far about the supposed consecra­tion itself?

  • Ceremony held October 19, 1993 at Mendez’s house in Carlsbad CA.
  • Was a secret ceremony held at altar set up in a bed­room.
  • In addition to Mendez and Fr. Kelly, the 5 SSPV priests were present. Apparently no one else.
  • Photos taken, but no video.

Why was the consecration per­formed in se­cret?

  • Mendez wasn’t really a traditional Catholic. Still believed in Vatican II church. Wanted to remain in good graces with Novus Ordo colleagues. Had he acted publicly, Novus Ordo au­thorities would have declared him ex­communicated.
  • Also, had consecration been public and announced while Mendez was alive, faithful in SSPV chapels would have wanted to meet the heroic prelate who honored their leader. But had devout lay people en­countered at any great length the reality of the Novus Ordo Mendez (rather than the image pre­sented after his demise), they would have been hor­rified.

One of FIVE different certificates — but this one is mistakenly cobbled together based on an ordination certificate for a PRIEST. Why didn’t Bp. Mendez spot the difference?

Did Bp. Mendez issue a proper certificate?

  • SSPV circulated five different ac­counts or documents:
  • First, SSPV informed laity that Mendez issued a cer­tificate — but that he signed it “Gonzalez.”
  • Second, document headed “Si Diligis Me.” Mendez states he conferred epis­copal con­secration, but does not iden­tify who he conse­crated, nor where and how.
  • Third, 20 October 1993 document ti­tled “Attestation of Episcopal Conse­cration.” Appears to be signed by Mendez, and says he consecrated Fr. Kelly. Also signed by Frs. Jenkins and Skierka who attest that Mendez signed document.
  • Fourth, 10 November 1993 document, with slightly different title: “Declar­ation of Episcopal Consecra­tion.” Appears to be signed by Mendez. Text similar, but not iden­ti­cal, to document three. Signature wit­nessed by house­keeper Miss White, (!) Frs. Jenkins & Baumberger.
  • Fifth, 20 October 1993 Latin docu­ment apparently signed by Mendez, but neither witnessed nor bearing a visible seal. Text was from a priestly ordi­nation certificate, doctored up for the occasion.
  • None of the documents attest (as Fr. Kelly earlier claimed was necessary to accept valid­ity of a “secret” consecra­tion) that “due matter and form” were used, that “qualified witnesses” to the rite were present, etc.
  • Successive appearance of five different accounts or documents seems rather fishy, particularly given fuss Fr. Kelly made over documentation of Thuc consecra­tions. Are some documents “improved” versions, for­mulated under technicalities of mental reser­va­tion? It is fair to wonder.

“No time”? Or SSPV priests fear that Bp. Mendez’ conduct would horrify trads?

Why was there no video?

  • Fr. Jenkins stated that events devel­oped quickly and that there was no time to arrange for one.
  • Explanation doesn’t seem credible. All you needed was camera and videocas­sette. A baby could have done it.
  • More reasonable to believe that SSPV feared video would demonstrate either that (1) Mendez did not act like a tradi­tional Catholic clergyman, or (2) at time of the consecration there was evi­dence of men­tal impairment. (See be­low.)

Fr. Kelly made many charges against the Thuc consecrations. Couldn’t these same charges also be made against his own?

  • First objection of Fr. Kelly against Thuc consecra­tions: charge that they were supposedly always open to ques­tion because they were “secret.” Also claimed they were performed under “sordid” circumstances which de­meaned the sacrament.
  • Fr. Kelly’s consecration: Performed in secret in a chapel set up in a bedroom.
  • Fr. Kelly subsequently claimed main reason for con­sidering Thuc consecra­tions “dubious” was that Thuc never issued a proper certificate. (Claim was for­gotten when Latin certificate written out in Thuc’s own hand was pro­duced.)
  • Fr. Kelly’s consecration: Five different documents, none with identical con­tents, one signed with a false name, none of them meet­ing criteria Fr. Kelly claimed were necessary to accept validity.
  • Other charges from Fr. Kelly: Thuc had unsavory connections, was sup­posedly not tradi­tional Catholic.
  • Fr. Kelly’s consecrator, Bp. Mendez: Connections with Cursillo, Notre Dame, sundry Novus Ordo organiza­tions. Public and private cele­brations of Novus Ordo, said mutilated version of traditional Mass. Big on married deacons, nuns’ lib, shortened habits, wearing lay clothes, interde­nomina­tional chaplaincy, Hollywood, and be­ing “for the traditional,” but not “against the new.”

Bp. Kelly’s anti-Thuc book: His hypocrisy in the Mendez affair was so obvious that he had to write a 323-page BOOK defending Bp. Mendez.

In Fall 1993, Fr. Kelly began pub­lishing a multi-part arti­cle, at­tack­ing Abp. Thuc’s com­pe­­tency. What of the “mental state” of Bp. Mendez?

  • Should be noted, first of all, that Fr. Sanborn published sworn testimony from Thuc’s friends and enemies alike, all of whom unan­imously attested to Thuc’s complete competence.
  • Members of Mendez’s own fam­ily, however, testified under oath in court that they believed bishop’s com­petence was ques­tionable after October 1, 1993.
  • Court testimony: From Oct. 1–11, 1993 Mendez was in San Diego hospi­tal for stroke, pneumonia, operation. Uncon­sci­ous for 5 days.
  • Mendez’s sister visited him in hospi­tal in October 1993. Testified Mendez didn’t recognize her for 3 days. After that: “Then he recognized me, and he didn’t recognize me. It was so funny. He was mixed up.” “Afterwards he went, and then they took him out of the hospital, and they would not let me go near him or anything.”
  • Consecration took place October 19, 1993, only 8 days after Mendez re­leased.
  • In spring 1994, Fr. Ebey, Provincial of Holy Cross Fathers, visited Mendez in California. He testified: “I found the Bishop to be very confused, I thought it could be Alzheimers. I’m of course, not a doctor and not eligible to make medical opinions, but I do have mem­ories of my family who have suffered from this; and I was worried about it.”
  • Fr. Ebey also phoned Mendez in November, 1994: “I can tell you he was confused in November of 1994.”
  • Testimony of Mendez grandnephew: He visited bishop in January 1995. “It was difficult and unsettling to have to continuously remind a per­son who he was and who his family was; and how he used to visit them… I knew he was in ill physical and mental state, defi­nitely.… I just didn’t think he was all there… Well, I would say that even af­ter spending an hour, hour and a half there, he, you know, may have re­membered my name after repeating to him enough times.”
  • No motive for family or Fr. Ebey to lie about Mendez’s mental state. They all testified before Fr. Kelly’s con­secra­tion was revealed. Further, grand­nephew stated that family had no in­terest in bishop’s will.
  • Other strange behavior before this pe­riod: In 1992 Mendez visit to tradi­tionalist family in Detroit, odd busi­ness about “miracle of the candle,” strange statements (as­sas­sin­a­tions, se­cret net­works, etc.)
  • During same visit (at age 85), Mendez asked to be taken to restaurant for cocktails and dancing with his host’s wife, whom he just met, and whom he ad­dressed as “Honey” and “Dear.” Constantly pointed out beautiful women in airport and during a visit to a mall. Talked about how many good-looking women there were in his vis­its to Las Vegas. Made a scan­dalous comment to a girl in a travel agency. Hosts were appalled.
  • Strange behavior/obsessions of this type (sexual) sometimes appear in older men losing control of facul­ties.
  • Consider what SSPV’s advice to the laity would have been, had even half the foregoing been said of Abp. Thuc.
  • Sad but ironic. Accusation Fr. Kelly falsely made against “mental state” of Thuc now boomerangs against Mendez, Fr. Kelly’s own supposed con­secra­tor.

So is it “Bishop” Kelly now? What about his fu­ture confir­mations and priestly ordina­tions? Should we con­sid­er them valid or not?

  • As noted in discussion of Thuc conse­cra­tions, it doesn’t take much to con­se­crate a bishop validly. One must ob­jec­tively and fairly apply the same principles to this case.
  • But must admit that there is a real problem here: Mendez family mem­bers testified there was compe­tence question from Oct. 1, 1993. Conse­cra­tion took place on Oct. 19.
  • May indeed happen now that someone will challenge Mendez will. If after lengthy battle over estate, judge rules Mendez legally incompetent during period, va­lidity of Fr. Kelly’s consecration then open to ques­tion. Then also his ordinations, con­fir­ma­tions.
  • Advisable that potential sem­inarians and recipients of confirmation defer receiving Orders, Confir­mation, until issue of Mendez’s com­pe­­tency is resolved.
  • [Note from 2001: Information which later emerged demonstrated that, at the time of Bp. Kelly’s consecration, Bp. Mendez was indeed mentally competent to confer a sacrament.]

Concluding Note

If you are a dyed-in-the-wool SSPV sup­porter who still doubts the hypocrisy of Bp. Kelly and SSPV on the Thuc vs. Mendez question, I suggest this ex­per­iment: re-read the foregoing notes and sub­stitute the name “Thuc” each time “Mendez” appears above.

    Then imagine what conclusions Bp. Kelly would tell you to draw about “un­savory associations” and “doubtful sacraments.”

    “For with the same measure that you shall mete withal it shall be measured to you again… Hypocrite, cast first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to take out the mote from that of thy brother.”

Addendum

Bishop Mendez and “Bishop Lili”

 

Nothing rots like a “Lili”…

I COMPILED the foregoing fact sheet about Bp. Mendez in 1995 only because Bp. Clarence Kelly and Fr. William Jenkins had long engaged in a campaign to unfairly vilify Abp. P.M. Ngo-dinh-Thuc. This they employed as grounds for dividing families in my parishes and for publicly refusing members sacraments — based on nothing more than guilt by association (via yours truly) with things Abp. Thuc had (supposedly) done in the 1970s or 1980s.

Once SSPV revealed in January 1995 that it was Bp. Mendez who had consecrated Fr. Kelly, the hypocrisy of the Kelly-Jenkins campaign against the exiled and impoverished Vietnamese archbishop became obvious. Demonstrating that Bp. Kelly and Fr. Jenkins’ principles were false became merely a matter of showing that they themselves did not follow them.

Since the Kelly-Jenkins strictures against innocent laymen still continue nearly 30 years later, it will be useful to point out additional instances of SSPV’s hypocrisy over the Mendez affair as they come to light. Hence this “Addendum.”

One tale Bp. Kelly and Fr. Jenkins endlessly circulate against Abp. Thuc is that he ordained and consecrated Jean Laborie, a man with schismatic connections who was trying to work his way into the traditional movement in 1977, and who was allegedly a “known homosexual.”

Bp. Kelly employs the latter phrase at least seven times in his book The Sacred and the Profane, where he solemnly warns us: “Let us not forget that Archbishop Thuc fell so far as to consecrate a known homosexual…”

Repeating the story is meant to impugn the archbishop’s judgment and to reinforce the Thuc-was-tainted/Mendez-was-pure narrative. SSPV true believers can hold their heads high, and proudly proclaim, “No siree, our bishops are not tainted by connections to a bishop who consecrated a ‘known homosexual’!”

But not anymore, it seems, thanks to the 2018 media coverage of the clerical sex abuse crisis.

For the supposedly “pure” Bp. Alfred E. Mendez himself committed the same “sin” as the tainted Abp. Thuc, when in March 1974, he “consecrated” the Most Rev. Miguel Rodriguez as his hand-picked successor to episcopal see of Arecibo, Puerto Rico,

Bp. Mendez praises his successor’s “vocation program.”

Let us first hear Bp. Mendez lavish praise on Bp. Rodriguez in an article entitled “The Priesthood Today.”

“The last class ordained was the largest in the Island’s 475-year history. And this year [1979] my successor, Bishop Miguel Rodriguez, CSSR has 44 natives in Philosophy and theology, almost half the entire number of seminarians of Puerto Rico. Indeed, prayer is the answer, and vocations the answer to prayer!” (The Jesuit, Summer 1979)

An investigation tracing the long history of clerical sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Miami, however, reveals another facet to the vocations promotion program that Bp. Mendez’ successor had so enthusiastically undertaken:

“Two unrelated sources, both priests, speak of a flamboyantly gay bishop in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, named Miguel Rodriguez Rodriguez, who was known to his pupils as ‘Lili.’ These sources claim that during the 1970s and 80’s, Lili treated Arecibo like his own personal harem, urging cute young men into the priesthood and plying them with gifts and money in exchange for sexual favors. Rome allegedly interceded in 1990 and banished Lili to a secluded monastery, where he remained until his death 20 years later. Several of Lili’s erstwhile pupils landed in Miami in the 80’s and 90’s. Naturally, they were disinclined to take their celibacy oaths too seriously.” (Brandon Thorp, “The Catholic Church’s Secret Gay Cabal,” Gawker, 7/28/11)

Most Rev. Miguel Rodriguez: Bp. Mendez’ own “Jean Laborie.”

If we were to give these revelations the full Kelly-Jenkins treatment reserved for Abp. Thuc, we would now remove our glasses, slowly shake our heads and solemnly intone in our best basso profundo voices: Surely, Bp. Mendez knew how depraved Rodriguez was! Shouldn’t he have investigated Rodriguez thoroughly before consecrating him? Or even publicly opposed the consecration? Doesn’t this show Bp. Mendez’ complete lack of judgment in conferring Holy Orders? Or was early-onset Alzheimers’ perhaps the real reason for Bp. Mendez’ unusually early retirement at age 66? Did this affect his attitude towards Rodriguez? Can’t you see? Bp. Mendez’ consecration of the “known homosexual,” Bishop Lili, taints the all the ordinations and consecrations that Bp. Kelly performs, even 45-years later! Who would want to be associated with that?

You get the drift.

But since we are Christians, we’re not supposed to keep on throwing stones at someone over his past sins — still less, impose the darkest and vilest interpretation imaginable for a person’s actions where a more charitable and likely explanation is possible.

So, in the case of Bp. Mendez with Bishop Lili, as in the case of Bp. Thuc with Jean Laborie, it is likely that both prelates had been deceived somehow about the character of the persons they were consecrating. (Abp. Thuc, in fact, said as much later.) It is difficult to imagine that a Catholic bishop of the pre-Vatican II generation would have knowingly and willing acted otherwise.

But even if both prelates had known the real character of those upon whom they laid hands, their episcopal misdeeds would not descend with the orders they conferred, forty years later, to successive generations of clergy — still less, in such a way as to allow Bp. Kelly and Fr. Jenkins to refuse sacraments to Catholics associated with them.

Am I engaging in “moral equivalence” here? Not exactly.

For Abp. Thuc’s supposed consecration of a hole-in-corner schismatic — who was never heard from again, by the way, until Bp. Kelly and Fr. Jenkins spread his name everywhere — was imprudent and objectively evil, to be sure.

Not like the rest of men… nor even this publican!

But it was moral small potatoes when compared to Bp. Mendez’s consecration of Bishop Lili. Bp. Mendez’ successor corrupted a generation of young clergy, and his misdeeds, now nearly forty years later, are part of an ongoing clergy sex abuse scandal that will probably bankrupt the archdiocese of Miami and scandalize Catholics in Florida for generations to come.

Thus the tale of Bp. Mendez and Bp. Lili.

The moral, for Bp. Kelly, Fr. Jenkins and others like them?

Those who, as the Gospel says, “trusted in themselves as just and despised others” may one day well discover that their condemnations of someone else’s “sins” have come back upon their own heads.

May their young colleagues in SSPV learn the lesson, even if their elders do not.

— December 9, 2018