P.B., Corpus Christi, TX
Our Bishop, Bishop Louis Vezelis, O.F.M., and The Seraph have been following the activities of (Rev.) Nicholas Gruner claiming to be an apostolate of the Roman Catholic Church almost from its inception.
This was not done out of malice, but as the duty of a Bishop faithful to his office of guarding the faith and supervising the religious activities within his territory.
Past attempts to contact and speak with Nicholas Gruner in order to ascertain his genuineness were always met with evasive tactics. He, apparently, is a person just too important to speak to anyone except through his female `representatives.'
Failing to reach Nicholas Gruner, the Bishop of the territory in which he resides and operates was contacted. This Bishop resides in St. Catherine's, Ontario. According to this Bishop, Nicholas Gruner had at first been given faculties to function as a priest, but when his activities conflicted with the intent of the faculties, they were not renewed. Nicholas Gruner, therefore, was not functioning as a Catholic priest in good standing in the Diocese of St. Catherine's in which Gruner has his headquarters.
Nicholas Gruner has been engaging in ambiguities from the start. Take, for example, the use of titles.
Return addresses are labeled "Servants of Jesus and Mary." Invariably, if you were to ask any Catholic what is understood by this title, the answer would be: "A Religious congregation." Yet, the "Servants of Jesus and Mary" turned out to be a man and his wife living in their log cabin in Constable, NY. A sign on the lawn proclaims: "Nazareth Homestead."
Are the "Servants of Jesus and Mary" a `religious congregation?' If they are, it would be good to know who instituted this congregation and when. Who is the Bishop that authorized it and by whom it is supervised so as not to deviate from Catholic doctrine and discipline?
It did not take long for Gruner to declare himself the `leader' of an `international' Fatima crusade. While decrying the abuses of the apostates in Rome and all the way down the line, Gruner made sure he got himself photographed with the people whom he used to create the impression of authenticity.
A careful study of his style reveals a deliberate intention to identify himself with the Blessed Mother in the minds of his targeted victims. Note: An `attack' upon Gruner is the same as an attack upon the Blessed Mother. Gruner's `enemies' are now "Our Lady's enemies." This is the abominable tactic of the Talmudists and Freemasons to brainwash people into accepting their lies as truth.
We will take the trouble to examine this entire question because it concerns the Church. It concerns every member of the Church: hierarchy and faithful. The hierarchy: because it is only to the hierarchy (sacred authority) that the Holy Ghost has been given to teach, sanctify and govern the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ. It concerns the faithful: because they are urged to `pray and help' this seemingly authentic `apostolate.' It is not so much the prayer that is asked for as the material support, and this for reasons that will become self-evident as we go along.
We will not judge Nicholas Gruner. We will let the Church's doctrine and discipline stand as the measure of truth in his case. It is Nicholas Gruner who will judge himself. We will merely supply the needed information in keeping with objective fairness and propriety.
The very first thing, it seems, would be to establish who Nicholas Gruner really is. Is he a Roman Catholic priest? Is he a Roman Catholic priest in good standing? Are his claims to being `attacked' and his `rights' violated really true? Is he, in a word, the innocent victim of malicious forces, and therefore, worthy of every good Catholic's sympathy and support?
If Nicholas Gruner is the innocent victim of `ecclesiastical beauracracy' as he claims, then we ought to support him. He says `they' are liars. Then he must be telling the truth. If `they' are not the liars, then Nicholas Gruner is the liar. And, the consequences necessarily follow: How can you support a liar who uses the name of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Her apparitions to enrich himself and set himself up as an independent religious leader using the name of the Roman Catholic Church? You cannot.
Nicholas Gruner graduated from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, with a degree in Marketing. At least, this is what we have been led to believe from articles in his publication.
How is it that he went to Italy in order to become a priest? His proper Bishop would be the Bishop in whose territory (diocese) he has his domicile (residence).
Before even bringing up the point of who is Nicholas Gruner's Bishop, it is necessary to establish whether or not he is a valid Roman Catholic priest.
How is this done? Very simply. If he was properly baptized, and was ordained according to the valid rite of the Roman Catholic Church, Nicholas Gruner would be a valid priest in the Roman Catholic Church.
How was he ordained? From all appearances, it would seem that Nicholas Gruner was ordained according to the mutilated, invalid rite of Paul VI which was foisted on the Church in 1968. This ritual does not transfer the supernatural powers of the priesthood, but only makes a Protestant minister to preside at the Protestant Communion Service called the `Eucharist.'
The same is even more true in the `ordination' of a bishop. The changes are even more glaring and definitively invalid. Pope Pius XII, invoking his ordinary teaching authority definitively declared what words were essential for the valid consecration of a bishop. Paul VI, one would even surmise, changed every word, thus rendering episcopal consecrations invalid.
Conclusion: If Nicholas Gruner was ordained according to the New Rite, he cannot be considered a validly ordained priest. Should anyone attempt to explain this simple fact away by appealing to abstruse argumentation, then such a person should know what the practice of the Church is in doubtful situations of this kind: The Sacrament of Holy Orders must be reiterated for the sake of certain validity.
Since Nicholas Gruner has been saying the New Order Mass, which is invalid as a Sacrifice according to the teaching of the Church, it follows that he is nothing more than a Protestant Minister not much different from an Anglican.
So much for his validity as a priest: It is at best doubtful. As such, his ministrations must be avoided by all Catholics.
If he is a validly ordained priest, he would have the title `Reverend.' We would refer to him as "Father Gruner."
Supposing him to be a member in good standing with what he thinks is the `Roman Catholic Church,' we would likewise suppose that he is aware of his status in that Church. Hypothetically speaking, then, here is what his true situation would be:
Incardination: This means the affiliation of a secular cleric to his diocese. From very early times the custom became recognized that clerics be not ordained except for definite service in a certain territory. Unattached clerics were called acephali, or headless, and were forbidden to exercise the sacred ministry. Bishops were forbidden to dismiss their clerics and thus render them headless. During the middle ages, however, there was a considerable number of unattached clerics, not without some scandal and detriment to the Church. The Council of Trent decreed that "no one hereafter be ordained who is not attached to the church or pious place for whose necessity or benefit he is received."1 The same provision is made in the Church Law (c.111§1).
By first tonsure a cleric becomes incardinated in the diocese for whose service he was promoted to the clerical state (c.111,§2).
One must be ordained by his own proper Bishop, or upon a dimissorial letter from him (c.956).
The proper Bishop for ordination in the case of nonreligious candidates is the Bishop of the place where the candidate has a domicile and origin, or a domicile without origin; in the latter case an oath to the candidate's intention to remain permanently in the diocese is usually required (c.956).
Nicholas Gruner's proper Bishop is the Bishop of Avellino, Italy. As such, his proper Bishop cannot give him what Gruner claims: Permission to work outside of the diocese of Avellino.
This is where the first deception lies. By pretending that the Bishop of Avellino has given him permission to work in another Bishop's diocese without that Bishop's authorization is a falsehood. It is a falsehood because Gruner would certainly know that he cannot work in any other Bishop's diocese without first receiving permission from the Bishop of the diocese where he seeks to function as a priest.
It is a deliberate falsehood and not a simple `misunderstanding' because Gruner's apologists must certainly have had to clear with Gruner whatever they had written before publication. Actually, in past issues of his publication, Gruner seems to repeat the `interpretation' of his proper Bishop's words.
Gruner certainly agrees with the misrepresentation of fact because he has sent copies of his `defense' and urges all recipients to "PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE read the news article I've enclose with this letter, then help us send it to all the bishops and to thousands of priests and laypeople. It tells the real story behind this new campaign of lies and distortions."
Note well what is being urged: Two things: Read the article from which we are quoting, and secondly, send money. How many people realize how much money it takes to send a letter "to all the bishops and to thousands of priests and laypeople"? The printing and postage costs are huge.
For example: Having contacted a certain Bishop concerning Gruner's priestly status in his diocese where Gruner claims to have faculties, that Bishop replied in the negative. Can you imagine what that single Bishop would have to do in order to reach the hundreds of thousands of people on Gruner's mailing list to expose the untruth? Who could afford such a thing?
It remains to be seen how much of the article defending Gruner is true. We do not have any testimony on the part of Bishop Pierro.
The article which Nicholas Gruner urges his supporters to read and spread around contains very little fact, but a lot of hyped up emotionalism, clearly designed to excite a desired unreasoned response. Where calm reason should prevail, the reader is constantly side-tracked from objective fact to deceptive, ambiguous suggestions: Gruner is portrayed as the `martyr' of Mary; the dutiful priest who says "his Masses in Latin." Yet, when his office was contacted and the simple question asked: "What Mass does Fr. Gruner say?" this simple question was evasively answered: "He says a very pious Mass." Which Mass he says - the New Order Mass, the sacrilegious `Latin Mass' which is a transitional `Mass' or the true Latin Tridentine Mass - the answer was: "We cannot tell you." If it cannot be told which Mass is said, the next question is: "What do you have to hide?"
But we digress. Let us return to the canonical status of (Rev.) Nicholas Gruner. It is reported in the article which Gruner urges everyone to read, there we find that "Father Gruner was told that incardination in a local Canadian diocese would be arranged for him, but only if he pledged to close down his Apostolate and cease his work on behalf of the Fatima Message. If he refused, Pierro noted sadly, he would be forced to immediately return to Avellino."
We are then instructed by B.L. Drake that "Father Gruner traveled to Italy with his friend, Father Paul Kramer, whose knowledge of Canon Law and Church tradition is legendary."
Perhaps the trouble with Fr. Kramer's knowledge of Canon Law and Church tradition is nothing more than legend, because he seems to be ignorant of the laws and traditions expressed in Canon 111 §1 etc.
In Italy Gruner and Fr. Kramer went to Avellino and there met Bishop Pierro who supposedly admitted that "if I were to suspend you, it would be a mortal sin, but if the Vatican tells me to do it, I will do it."
This is a very peculiar statement, indeed. The first question comes to mind: Why would Bishop Pierro suspend (Rev.) Gruner? Would it be for disobedience to a lawful command? If so, why would this constitute a `mortal sin' for the Bishop? The sin of disobedience would be on the part of Gruner, not the Bishop who is forced to do his tasteless duty.
How does the author of this article, B.L. Drake, know that this is what Bishop Pierro actually said and what was this
Bishop's true sentiment when he "noted sadly, he (Gruner) would be forced to immediately return to Avellino" ? Does this mean
the Bishop was in such great sympathy with Gruner, or does it mean that this Bishop dreaded Gruner's return?
Keeping in mind that Gruner is always claiming authority in those occupying the Vatican, it follows that he must be willing to respect and obey that same authority. If he defies that authority, then he is truly contumacious and scandalously disobedient. These are certainly grounds for a Bishop to suspend a priest.
Or, are we to take as a guide the scandalous example of Marcel Lefebvre and his alleged `Society of St. Pius X' who was excommunicated by the `Holy Father' whom he not only disobeyed but flaunted his disobedience? Is it any wonder that religious anarchy is rife!
Once we finish with this question of obedience, we will return to the question of the `Apostolate' itself. By that time, however, it should become clearer to the reader that such an `Apostolate' cannot be inspired by the Holy Ghost nor the Blessed Virgin Mary.
We are told that all this took place in 1990. But, it is now 1996 and Gruner still seems to be in Canada from all appearances. What happened to Bishop Pierro's alternative that if Gruner refused to cease his `Apostolate,' he would be forced to immediately return to Avellino? It would seem that the adverb `immediately' indicates no intermission between the time a refusal was given and the command to return to his diocese.
It is obvious that Gruner did not obey his Bishop's command to return immediately to Avellino. While still in Avellino with Father Paul Kramer, we are informed that "the Bishop formally - before two witnesses - reconfirmed his permission for Father Gruner to work outside of the diocese of Avellino while he sought a new bishop. Four months later, he restated this permission in a letter to Gruner and again encouraged him to find a bishop to incardinate him outside of Avellino."
Again, it is necessary to return to the meaning of Bishop Pierro words in the proper context. Bishop Pierro certainly knows that his jurisdiction is limited to his diocese. Every Bishop knows that. And, if he doesn't, he will find out without delay.
Therefore, Bishop Pierro's `permission' - formal or not, with witnesses or not - cannot be reasonably construed to mean that this Bishop of the diocese of Avellino, Italy, is giving authorization to one of his priests to work outside the diocese absolutely. That is, without the authorization of the Bishop in whose diocese he would be working. Besides, what kind of work could a priest do that pertains to the Church in a diocese where a Bishop is either ignorant of it, has not given his permission for it, or has outright refused it? The only priests doing such things that come to mind are those who style themselves "Traditionalists." Only they brazenly flaunt their independence of all ecclesiastical authority, whether it be the Modernist Church's allegedly `recognized' authority, or the Roman Catholic Church's authority represented in the Bishops that were validly consecrated either by Archbishop Ngo or with his approval or that of his legitimate representative.
There is no other alternative: Either a validly ordained priest recognizes the authority of those who have ordained him (even if these are heretics), or he must submit to the authority of that Bishop who is not a heretic nor a schismatic. To our knowledge, there seem to be only two Bishops who are neither heretics nor schismatics: Bishop Louis Vezelis, O.F.M. of the United States and Bishop Roberto Martinez of Mexico.
Consequently, if Nicholas Gruner recognizes those Bishops of the Conciliar Apostate Church headed by John Paul II and his heretical hierarchy, then he is bound in conscience to obey them. If he does not recognize them, then he is likewise bound in conscience to obey the Bishop of the remnant Roman Catholic Church.
This holds true for every clergymen and all the laity who claim to be Roman Catholics. As you can see, we are often obliged to defend even that much of the true Church structure that remains in the apostate Church and is also held by the Roman Catholic Church. Often, The SERAPH is obliged to defend the same position as the Conciliar Church but for opposing reasons. The Conciliar Church uses our laws to control priests and laity of the great apostasy; we use the laws of our Church because they are guides toward right order and personal sanctification.
The author of the article under discussion makes the mistake of concluding from Bishop Pierro's words that they imply Nicholas Gruner's supposed `good standing' as a priest: "Despite having achieved this important reconfirmation of his good standing as a priest." But, Bishop Pierro's words could never be understood as a statement of Gruner's `good standing as a priest.' This Bishop's words are being twisted.
On the contrary, objective truth dictates that if anything, Nicholas Gruner was displaying the conduct of a priest who
be considered not in good standing because he refused to obey his Bishop's order to return to his diocese. There does not seem to be any intention on the part of Nicholas Gruner to spend his `priestly life' working in the diocese of Avellino to which he must have promised to belong. An empty promise, perhaps? A deceptive promise , perhaps?
Why should there be such an outcry of supposed righteous indignation when an authority of the Church to which Gruner adheres informs the clergy of the diocese in which Gruner is `working' his `Apostolate' not to be involved with the man?
For the sake of avoiding recriminations or outcries of discrimination, why don't we quote the entire passage as it appears in THE SENTINEL:
"In June 1990, Monsignor McCormack, chancellor of the archdiocese of Toronto sent an `advisory' memorandum to every parish in the archdiocese, attempting to turn priests and laypeople alike against Father Gruner and his Fatima Apostolate."
"According to McCormack, Father Gruner's status was `irregular,' in other words, he was not a priest in good standing and implied his Apostolic work was not worthy of support."
"The local Catholic press immediately picked up on McCormack's memo and several articles went so far as to suggest that Gruner was a vagus, a polite term for a renegade priest without a bishop. After repeated attempts to discuss the matter with the chancellery office were rebuffed, Father Gruner strongly felt there was no other way to clear his name but to file a libel action in the Canadian courts. That case is still pending at this time."
Now, dear and patient reader, you are invited to study what has been related above and kindly, objectively, compare it to what you have thus far learned about right order in the Church. Don't allow your pious sentiments and genuine devotion to the Blessed Mother obscure the facts and the truth of the matter. Keep in mind that you have been led to believe things hidden behind the veil of piety and devotion to the Blessed Mother and loyalty to Her apparitions at Fatima. These are accidental circumstances. We are looking at the essence of the matter.
Monsignor McCormack was not guilty of any wrong - doing by warning the priests of the archdiocese of Toronto concerning Nicholas Gruner and his true status. The Monsignor was perfectly correct. In fact, he was extremely kind in merely saying that Gruner was `irregular.' In fact and in law, Gruner is irregular.
Gruner's entire conduct and procedure are reprehensible in the light of Church Law and Catholic custom. There is no need to even `suggest' that Nicholas Gruner is a vagus. It is a fact which only he and other renegade clergy refuse to accept.
The fact that Gruner would have recourse to a civil court which could only delight in such goings on is sufficient evidence to establish his true motives. To indignantly call `libelous' that which is simple truth is far more reprehensible than anything he has attempted so far. What he wants, actually, is for a civil court whose judge may well be an anti-Catholic Freemason, to find in his favor so that with the power of a civil court to silence all legitimate protest of his doings, he may continue with even greater boldness.
We are told that Bishop Pierro again wrote to Gruner after the events related above, again urging Gruner to find a new bishop and another diocese in which to be incardinated. Quite honestly, anyone knowing the least bit about personnel problems in any organization, would already see through all the efforts of Bishop Pierro not as support for Gruner's activity, but as an effort to dissociate himself from Gruner's activity.
Judging from the article in THE SENTINEL, Gruner is misinforming the author by giving his own meaning to the words of Bishop Pierro: "With the permission once more renewed, Father Gruner continued on with his work and his efforts to find a new bishop."
Any objective evaluator would be bound to ask: "When will this repetitious pretense to a non-existent and impossible "permission" give way to truth? When will this "Father" Nicholas Gruner find a new bishop? Shall we tune in to this soap opera 10 years from now and find the aged "Father Gruner" still looking for a "new bishop"? Still claiming Bishop Pierro's "permission to `work' outside his diocese and to look for a new bishop?
It comes as a surprise to learn that the first Bishop, Bishop Pierro, had been replaced (By death or retirement, is not mentioned). The third Bishop of Avellino, Bishop Forte, is the new element in Gruner's game.
Why would Gruner decide to take steps after 17 years to find a `new bishop' "as the direct result of Father Gruner's meeting this bishop at the Fatima Bishops' Conference"?
Keep in mind that Gruner has met his ecclesiastical superior. Was this the first time? If so, what kind of order did Gruner observe as a "good Roman Catholic priest"? There isn't even a word concerning the second Bishop of Avellino to whom Gruner would owe obedience.
The conclusion from reading this paragraph under the heading of A New Bishop is that Gruner sees the hand writing on the wall and must be frantically trying to find a Bishop whom he could control. This is the only conclusion flowing from this whole scenario. The claim is made that Gruner had received word from a "friendly" bishop that he would be glad to incardinate him if he could obtain the necessary decree of excardination from the new Bishop of Avellino.
One can only speculate on the reasons why Bishop Forte delayed contacting Gruner concerning the requested excardination. It would not take much to conclude that Gruner surmised that he could not take advantage of Bishop Forte the way he seems to have taken advantage of Bishop Pierro. Bishop Forte must have `laid down the law' to Gruner. Otherwise, why would this first meeting with his Bishop suddenly prompt Gruner to take active steps to distance himself from his Bishop?
It would seem that Gruner is now a big executive, commanding great respect and intolerant of inconvenient delays. He is annoyed at a purported three month delay in hearing from his Bishop, although Gruner probably never bothered to keep his Bishop posted or showed other signs of respect and submission. Who knows?
The next paragraph reads: "Throughout the autumn of 1993, Father Gruner attempted to communicate with Bishop Forte." (Question: How earnestly?)
We are to imagine great effort expended on the part of Gruner, perhaps even exhaustive effort because "In October, he finally tracked him down to a Bishops' Conference taking place in Colavalenza, Italy."
The Bishop is "tracked down" like some kind of animal or a lost parcel by UPS? Then we are informed that Gruner "quickly dispatched a colleague, Father Paul Trinchard who was on pilgrimage in the country, to see him " Who in his right mind would be so impertinent as to send a messenger to his own Bishop concerning a grave personal matter with that Bishop? One can only conclude that this entire matter is viewed by Gruner without the seriousness it requires. The reaction and response of Bishop Forte are predictable: He plays the part of the cultured cleric in the face of these ill-bred clergymen filled with their self-importance. He answers politely where truth would castigate impertinence. Bishop Forte excuses the impertinence of acephalus Father Paul Trinchard (A recent acquisition of Gruner's stable of wandering, bishopless priests) and writes a letter to Gruner "excusing himself from giving a decision."
What follows is a typical position that disobedient individuals embrace: Whatever anyone in authority says or does with regard to such individuals, this `recognized-but-ignored' authority is suddenly acting "beyond its authority!" Admitting the authority of Archbishop Sepe, Gruner claims that this Archbishop has no authority even though he is de facto in charge of the Congregation for the Clergy. Bishop Forte is blamed because he "apparently did not dare stand up to him" (Meaning, of course, Archbishop Sepe). It would be legitimate to ask: "Why would Bishop Forte have to `stand up' and defend a disobedient priest who is playing games with the Church?" And that's the picture that develops from the analysis of evidence provided by Gruner himself.
Gruner states that he "finally met with Bishop Forte face-to-face on January 13, 1994 in Avellino." It does not show must respect on the part of Gruner to require a `witness' to be present in his meeting with his own Bishop. This is obviously not a meeting of a `priest in good standing' with his respected Bishop. It's more of a confrontation requiring a `witness.' Under such strained and belligerent circumstances, one can only guess at the attitudes manifested.
Thus, if a persistent individual already having displayed a disrespectful attitude towards a recognized authority keeps pushing, the only thing to do is seek a diplomatic out. And so, who would blame a Bishop faced with such a person to tactfully patronize him? Why would Gruner be constantly cornering Bishops and extricating a statement of his "good standing"? As Shakespeare said: "Methinks the lady protesteth too much."
Aside from other considerations, it is easy to see that Bishop Forte was exercising the wise injunction: "Suaviter in modo, firmiter in re" - Firm in the matter, and gentle in the manner.
We are informed that "Father Kramer notes that Bishop Forte willingly acknowledged that Father Gruner was a priest in good standing." Actually, what does that mean? Heretic Father Charles Curran was publicly hailed as a "priest in good standing" by the Conciliar Bishop of Rochester, NY. Curran it will be recalled was dismissed from the Catholic University of America for his unorthodox doctrines. Catholics were outraged at Curran's undermining of moral values; yet, Matthew Clark, alleged-Bishop of the Diocese of Rochester publicly insisted that Rev. Charles Curran was a "priest in good standing" and was welcome to work and preach in any church of the diocese!
Once again we ask: Why the constant need for Nicholas Gruner to be identified by the people he crassly disobeys as a "priest in good standing"?
A priest who has not been arrested for robbing a bank or murdering his house keeper may be considered "a priest in good standing" as far as that goes. The term is too elastic to have any meaningful connotation.
Gruner apparently informed the writer for THE SENTINEL that Bishop Forte suggested Gruner return to Canada and to expect a letter from him.
My guess is that the Bishop already knew Gruner's attitudes and that it would have been a waste of time trying to convince him of his disobedience to recognized authority.
Anyone who carefully reads the article under consideration will form the suspicion that Gruner's first Bishop was truly trying to get rid of him. This is borne out inadvertently by the author of the article: "Although he had been pressured for more than 17 years to find himself a new bishop outside of Avellino, Father Gruner waited for more than three months in vain for a reply." What is strange about all this, is the fact that the Bishops of Avellino were forced to wait 17 years for Gruner to find a new bishop, and he was upset because they seemingly kept him waiting for only 3 months!
Gruner is depicted as registering "surprise," "shock" and is "scandalized" when he received a letter from Bishop Forte two weeks later. In this letter, Gruner is ordered to give up his `Apostolate' and return to Avellino. The other alternative would be to face suspension as a priest.
Nicholas Gruner distracts the mind from a most fundamental obligation which he freely accepted when he became a priest: obedience to his Ordinary.
Nicholas Gruner appeals to the uninformed masses for support and justification of his disobedience to his Bishop. What he may have wrote "privately" to a friend, he certainly had to make public to THE SENTINEL: "According to Canon Law, you don't have a suspension without a court case; you don't have a suspension without a hearing; you don't have a suspension without a crime being committed; you don't have a suspension without all these things happening and yet that is exactly what they are trying to do to me! Not a single one of these things has happened"
What about his arguments? Are they valid, or are they simply a subterfuge to confuse the issue - a smokescreen to distort the truth?
The first thing to establish (hypothetically assuming Gruner is a priest) is the extent of the obedience he owes to his Ordinary, Bishop Forte.
The Canon Law which both he and his `legendary' Canonist, Father Kramer use, also states the following in regards to a secular priest:
Canon 127: All clerics, but especially priests, are bound by a special obligation to show reverence and obedience each to his own Ordinary.
The source of this obligation, canonists say, is this: 1. For clerics in general, this obligation arises from their incardination, by which they have a proper Ordinary who has jurisdiction over them.
Priests have made a special promise of obedience in their ordination: "Promittis mihi et successoribus meis reverentiam et obedientiam?" Promitto." This means: "Do you promise reverence and obedience to me and to my successors?" and, the newly ordained priest answers: "I promise."
For those whose title for ordination was the service of the diocese, there is an obligation of justice.
The extent of the obligation is of a two-fold nature: That which is required as a minimum by law; and that which comes under the title of virtue.
Again, we refer to Canonists for our information: The legal or canonical obligation of obedience has the same limits as the power or authority of the superior.
It includes: (a) whatever is already obligatory by either the common or the particular law; (b) whatever is lawfully imposed by precept, even beyond the law, for the good of the Church.
It excludes things that are merely private, or purely temporal, or in which the law itself gives the inferior a choice. Even these may, of course, be laudably performed in a spirit of obedience, and thus the virtue of obedience will be practiced; but they are not within the strict juridical obligation of obedience which the canon defines.
Canon 128: As often and as long as, in the judgment of their own Ordinary, the needs of the Church require it, clerics, unless they are lawfully excused by some impediment, must accept and faithfully execute the duty which shall be entrusted to them by the Bishop.
It is not for (Rev.) Gruner to decide his duties, but for his Bishop to do so. Otherwise, we have a situation where the tail is wagging the dog (A situation, unfortunately, not uncommon today!).
Gruner's Bishop is manifestly ordering him to return to his diocese where, according to Canon Law, Gruner is bound to reside: Canon 143: Clerics, even though they have no residential benefice or office, must not absent themselves from their diocese for any notable time without at least the presumed permission of their Ordinary.
Canon 144: One who, with the permission of his own Ordinary, has gone to another diocese, remaining incardinated in his own, can be recalled for just cause and with regard for natural equity; and the Ordinary of the other diocese also, unless he has conferred a benefice upon him, can for just cause refuse him permission to remain longer in his territory.
You don't have to be either a `legendary' Canonist nor a `world class canonist' to understand the words and the meaning of the words as well as the intention behind the words.
They apply eminently to Nicholas Gruner, to his new-found friend, Rev. Paul Trinchard and to the `legendary' canonist, Fr. Paul Kramer.
Refusal to obey his Bishop's orders is certainly a violation of Church Law and Catholic custom. To accuse his legitimate superior of being `scandalous,' is too much like the man who murders his father and mother, then, throws himself upon the mercy of the court pleading that he's an orphan!
Nowhere has Gruner been able to show that he has received permission from his Bishop to engage in what he calls `his Apostolate.' Nowhere has Gruner been able to clearly show that he has received such a mission from any Bishop in whose territory he has been `working.'
From beginning to end, practically speaking, we are faced with ambiguities, half-truths, innuendoes, etc.
When God calls someone to a particular kind of apostolate, the first thing He inspires in that soul is humility and a supernaturally deep sense of obedience to legitimate authority. Such a person knows, one might say, instinctively with the instinct of divine grace, that nothing pleasing to God can be done outside the order established by God. The essence of Protestantism is not false doctrine; it is a will that is perverted to serve the devil by serving itself. False doctrine is the visibly `acceptable' reason hiding the disordered self-love which uses religion to further its own worldly ambition.
Truly, what could be more insidious than using religion itself to further one's pride and greed?
Like the politician who makes certain that he is photographed next to the American flag and a picture of George Washington,
Nicholas Gruner stands in front of a statue of Our Lady of Fatima and the Crucifix, piously holding a rosary in his hands.
After reading both his own letter and the article in THE SENTINEL, one feels more sympathy for the superiors whom Gruner drags through the press, portraying them as cowardly, scheming bureaucrats persecuting this one, holy and dedicated priest.
The title of the article which Nicholas Gruner wishes everyone to read (and believe!), hoping to get thousands and thousands of dollars to support him in his disobedience and disservice to the Church of which he claims to be a `priest in good standing' leaves more questions asked than answered:
Father Nicholas Gruner
The Facts Behind the Controversy
We would add to this tragic-comedy a fundamental observation: Gruner and his associates are as much heretics as those whom they accuse of thwarting his `Apostolate.' Gruner should not pretend to be scandalized because his Bishop threatens him with suspension if he does not obey a lawful order, the fact is, he is already excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church by virtue of the fact that he condones and associates himself with heretics.
On page 4 of the document under consideration, we find Gruner apparently attempting to circumvent his Superior's orders: The claim is made that "When Bishop Forte did not reply within 30 days of receipt of Father Gruner's letter, he was forced by Canon Law to appeal the Bishop's command in a matter of days again or lose all right of appeal. As a result of this Canonical appeal, by law, the Bishop of Avellino's order to Father Gruner became immediately null-and void until a determination was officially received from the Vatican based court, thus freeing him to continue his work as before." (THE SENTINEL, March, 1996).
The first thing that comes to mind, as was probably already stated elsewhere, is that Gruner's Bishop has the right to have Gruner return to his diocese.
Gruner has refused to comply with his Bishop's orders to the point that the Bishop is actually forced to threaten Gruner with a censure. As far as it can be determined, Gruner's Bishop has not yet censured him. However, what is quite clear is that Gruner has no intention of honoring his commitment to his Bishop, a commitment he freely made when he was ordained for the diocese of Avellino.
What we seem to have here is a case of the tale wagging the dog, and when the dog refuses to be wagged, the tale indignantly accuses the dog of contumacy. Now, it should be noted that contumacy is a state of mind and will against authority: It is an act of insolence and defiance of authority. So, to insolently print "To date, the Vatican bureaucracy has contumaciously refused to discuss the real agenda behind their attacks on Father Gruner." We have witnessed the use of the term "bureaucracy" on several occasions in the course of the cited article in reference to the authorities whom we can only assume Gruner respects and obeys. Does he call John Paul II a "bureaucrat"? Insolence and defiance of legitimate authority are not the kind of attitude one would expect to be displayed by a dedicated servant of Jesus and Mary.
It is only too evident that Gruner has placed himself above His own Superiors and accuses them of being "bureaucrats" and contumaciously disposed towards him. This is something only a subject can be guilty of in relation to his Superior or Superiors. A General cannot be `contumacious' towards a Corporal, but a Corporal can be contumacious towards a General. And, such contumacy is summarily dealt with in any well-ordered institution.
To be continued:
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