Some months back Kathleen Plumb, editor of The Four Marks, asked me to interview Fr. Michael Oswalt. I had heard about his story in March when I was in Florida to interview Bishop Sanborn. In brief, he is formerly of the Diocese of Rockford, via Mundelein Seminary in Chicago. He has doubts about the new rite of ordination that have caused him to stop celebrating Mass concurrent with the day he left Rockford, which was earlier this year. He is getting ready to leave for Mt. St. Michael, where he plans to pray, study, and work until a time he deems fit for conditional ordination, which will be granted to him by Bishop Pivarunas.
Father and I coordinated our schedules and we met in Des Moines, Iowa, one weekend in September. Father is straightforward and kind and in listening to his experiences I relived so much of what I disliked about the Novus Ordo while I was still "in it." As dysfunctional as the internal workings of the robber church he describes are, the path of his discovery is fresh and insightful in the familiar ruts it runs.
One issue that I did not broach in depth during the interview and which needs explaining now is the question of the validity of Fr. Oswalt’s ordination. He does not consider himself a valid priest and no longer says Mass. Now, while not every Traditionalist knows about the various positions regarding the validity of the new forms of Episcopal consecration and priestly ordination, it is blatantly clear to anyone even attending Indult/Motu parishes that there is an inherent suspicion and distrust of the new sacraments among the faithful. Some give the standard lame boilerplate: “Well, I’m just a layman, so I can’t speak to sacramental validity and efficacy.” Well, this is patently false as any Catholic worth his salt can tell you what makes Baptism, Communion, Confession, etc. valid, and what makes them invalid. Part of being a Catholic is knowing your faith, and knowing your faith is, in part, knowing what makes valid sacraments. On the other hand, given that such cases of doubt regarding sacraments were normally referred to Rome, and that Traditionalists range from thinking that the Pope is “sick” (SSPX) to MIA (sedevacantists), there can be no authoritative pronouncement regarding an opinion on the invalidity of orders. No Traditionalist priest or bishop possesses a mandate from Rome to rule on these issues, and further epikeia, as in the case of annulments, cannot be invoked here. We are in an unfortunate, strange position.
Given the grave concern for valid sacraments, I agree that Novus Ordo priests who come to Tradition owe it to everyone to be conditionally ordained. Bishop Tissier de Mallerais implied as much in a recent interview: "It is necessary to begin by the liturgy; that would be the simplest [issue], because it will be possible to point out the deficiency of the new rite of priestly ordinations, for example. A deficiency which, on the other hand, when we speak of the new mass, includes much contradiction, pure and simple; because it is a new theology which is expressed, hence a new religion." The Vatican II religion is non-Catholic and should, especially regarding sacraments, be treated as such.
I also want to mention that Father Oswalt mentions reading a website which we have taken care never to mention by name on TR, but which I want to make clear that I consider to be a hubristic rag, penned by a dubious priest, which features writing of the lowest, trashiest, most salacious order. I believe Father Oswalt is new to some of these sites, and as such, is not yet familiar with their respective histories. Suffice to say, we do not endorse that website at all.
Please enjoy this interview with Fr. Michael Oswalt. He is a good and brave priest who has left the security of the usurpers of our churches for the uncertainty of the Traditionalist wilderness. One more priest forever, according to the order of Melchisdech, to serve faithful who want true sacraments. Deo gratias.
This interview was originally printed, in part, in the October 2009 The Four Marks. For more information, please visit http://thefourmarks.com/
Note: If you would like to help support Fr. Oswalt, 50% of the sales of the DVD of this interview will go directly to him. You can purchase the DVD at http://truerestorationpress.com/cddvd/fr_oswalt_interview. (Edit: Now found here: https://www.truerestoration.org/oswalt/)