A man so various that he seemed to be/Not one, but all mankind's epitome./Stiff in opinions, always in the wrong:/Was everything by starts, and nothing long:/But in the course of one revolving moon,/Was chemist, fiddler, statesman, and buffoon. Dryden
Last weekend, the Readers viewed a newly posted video interview with Anthony Cekada on the Thục consecrations. What we found of interest was not the thin account of his change of heart about the line’s validity, but rather one of the arguments he offered to defend the archbishop’s lucidity: To our choking amazement, Cekada argued that Thục’s writing out a consecration certificate in “correct Latin” (minute 12:31) should disprove in “the mind of any reasonable man” (minute 27:21) the claim that he was “a crazy old geezer who…didn’t know what he was doing” (minute 27:02).
Whoaaaa! That’s a real volte-face from the position taken in the anti-Thục-line screed "Two Bishops in Every Garage," where “Peregrinus” characterized the archbishop’s Declaratio as “extremely crude.”
If you’ve read a number of such documents over the years, it doesn’t take much presence of mind to mimic them. Most people without a day in law school or an understanding of specialized and often archaic vocabulary can generate some decent-sounding text by stringing together oft-heard snippets like "party of the first part...," "Be it known by these presents.....," "I give, devise and bequeath all of the residue and remainder...." Moreover, the archbishop may have copied directly from a model, perhaps even his own litteræ. Therefore, before reaching so important a conclusion regarding a consecrator’s mental health, the Readers would demand a very different sample of continuous prose (such as, for instance, the patently intelligible, original Latin of the archbishop’s 1983 Declaratio, which “Peregrinus” so roundly –- and wrongly -- condemned).
Someone (say, a more educated latter-day “Peregrinus” with an old axe to grind) might argue that malformation of the nominative plural for so common a word as doctor is a sign of diminished capacity.
To be sure, “any reasonable man” wouldn’t arrive at that conclusion. The certificate was doubtlessly drawn up in haste at one sitting. The error may have resulted from distraction or the pressure to put to bed a mundane task as quickly as possible. We’ve all been in a similar situation and made similar slips in writing our mother tongue, especially when we’re at the end of a perfunctory duty and want to get it over and done with. Moreover, anyone who has learned Latin well enough to write it with some degree of fluency can testify to like mistakes when called upon to draft text on the spur of the moment. Nevertheless, we must admit that, in this case, the Latin form is definitely not correct.
....in the video interview, the Blunderer made much ado about the certificate as “paper proof” of valid consecration (minutes 12:54-13:11). Here we enthusiastically agree with him. Therefore, we call upon all wandering bishops to post their certificates online so any layman can view tangible proof of their valid consecration.
On a personal note, we’d also like to clear up a very nasty rumor that one or two of these episcopi vagantes didn’t receive "paper proof" at the time of consecration and may not be able to produce a document on demand.
Are Traddie prelates courageous enough to submit to the Blunderer's test of validity?
If our wandering bishops don't post their certificates, the people who foot the bills should demand to inspect the original. If they do post them, we'd be happy to make any necessary corrections so they can get them re-signed and backdated while their consecrators are still alive. Better late than never, just in case they meet a "Peregrinus Redux."
*We’ve seen a minor-order ordination certificate so incoherent despite the use of formulas that, if you looked to its contents for insight into the writer's mental health, you’d have to say he belonged in a straightjacket. Of course, we know the prelate to be ignorant of Latin (among other things) rather than non compos mentis.
**Bonus points certainly are due for filling in the blanks with the correct forms of the Latin words supplied; v.g., Thục Latinized Carmona's given name in the appropriate oblique case (although the Reader would have preferred the Vulgate spelling Moysi rather than Moisi). Notwithstanding his winning extra credit, a prudent man would still need a very different writing sample to make a probable inference as to the writer's competence.