Mark Pivarunas, head of the CMRI, wrote an article: The Consecration of Bishops During Interregna.
During the interregnum from the death of Pope Clement IV on November 29, 1268, to the election of Blessed Gregory X on September 1, 1271, twenty-one vacancies occurred in various dioceses. During this time bishops were consecrated without papal mandate to fill these vacancies because of the spiritual necessity of the faithful and the impossibility of having recourse to the Holy See.
According to the document “Hierarchia Catholica Medii Aevi” by Fr. Conrad Eubel, O.F.M., S.T.D., printed in 1913, the following bishops were elected and consecrated during the period of the above-mentioned vacancy.
He then proceeds to list the Bishops elected and consecrated as Bishops of dioceses. However, we have seen the main argument against the excommunication of these men, when they are consecrated bishops is that they are not consecrated as bishop of some diocese. Instead they are mere sacramental bishops, whatever that means.
He also quotes The Church of the Word Incarnate, by Journet, who became Cardinal under Paul VI: 1 “The power of naming or instituting bishops belongs to the Roman Pontiff (Codex Juris Canonici, 329,2, and 332,1). But, remarks Cajetan in his De Romani Pontificis Institutione (cap. xiii, ad 6), we have to distinguish between the power of the Sovereign Pontiff (auctoritas) and the exercise of this power (executio), which has varied in mode down the centuries. Thus the ancient ecclesiastical discipline left to the Patriarchs of Alexandria or of Antioch the right to elect the bishops of their provinces. The elections of bishops effected during a vacancy of the Holy See and regarded as valid, are thus to be explained.”
“‘No one,’ says St. Leo the Great, ‘can be held to be a bishop who has not been elected by the clergy nor asked for by the people’ (Ibid., col. 2259). The Bishop of Rome did not directly intervene in the election; he was content to see it carried out properly.”
I have emphasized the word election, because what happened is that the Canons of the Cathedral elected a Bishop as was approved by Church Law at the time, but were unable to ask Papal permission, the papacy, being vacant. Traditionalist bishops have not been elected by any one, but usually chosen by their consecrator(s).
Should We Demand Miracles?
The priest in the early 1980’s demanded either appointment by a true Pope or true miracles, because the bishops were making an extraordinary claim to authority in the Church. Traditionalist priests and bishops are making the exact same type of claim. A claim to extraordinary authority in a time of emergency. Spiritual authors teach that someone claiming an extraordinary mission from God confirm such by true miracles, therefore we should demand traditionalist priests and bishops for such proof.
1 This does not make this work from the 1950’s any less valid, because it was duly approved by the Catholic Church.