Q. 1. I met a man in my city who claims to be a Roman Catholic Bishop. He was dressed like a Bishop. He appeared to be very knowledgeable about the Catholic faith. He has his own Church that he administers. He even showed me documents as proof of the validity of his ordination as a Bishop, such having an authentic apostolic succession. How do I know if he really is a Bishop or not?
A. 1. Since the 1960's, there has been a gradual growth of men who claim to be authentic "Roman Catholic Bishops" or "Catholic Bishops." These are found in many countries, Canada, the United States, South America, to name a few, and their number continues to grow. Some have Churches and some do not.
Are they true Roman Catholic Bishops?
Here I will provide a set of guidelines for you to use in determining if a Bishop is truly a Roman Catholic Bishop as he claims to be:
A. A true Roman Catholic Bishop is appointed by the Pope. A false bishop is appointed by another bishop of his false religion or he is self-appointed. (This will be explained further down.)
TIME FRAME FOR CONSECRATION
B. A true Roman Catholic Bishop has his episcopal consecration within three months of the arrival the papal bull of his appointment. A false bishop can be elevated as a Bishop on the same day that the decision was made or a year later if it required travelling oversea. It depends on the private arrangements made by the false "Bishop to be."
BOUNDARIES OF THE DIOCESE
C. A true Roman Catholic Bishop administers a Roman Catholic Diocese. The boundaries of that Diocese were established by the Vatican. The boundaries of a true Roman Catholic Diocese do not overlap with another Roman Catholic Diocese. A false bishop always operates within the boundaries of a truly appointed Roman Catholic Bishop, making it appear as if there are two, or even 10 bishops within the same Diocese.
CHANCERY OFFICE AND CATHEDRAL
D. A true Roman Catholic Bishop manages his Diocese from the Diocesan Office (Chancery Office) that is usually associated with the local Cathedral. A false bishop has no Diocese or Chancery Office. He usually works from his established Church or from his home.
PROOF OF APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION
E. A true Roman Catholic Bishop, having been appointed by the Pope, does not have to prove to anyone that his episcopal appointment is authentic. A false bishop will provide you with one or more alleged lines of apostolic succession to support the validity of his consecration as a bishop. Such a line will include Catholic and non-Catholic names of alleged Bishops, Archbishops and Cardinals of a number of different religions.
F. A true Roman Catholic Bishop is consecrated once as a Bishop. A false bishop will be consecrated as a bishop as many times as it is necessary to convince everyone that he is a bishop. He will have himself consecrated as bishop by bishops of different religions in the hope that one of them is authentic, not being sure that any of them are authentic. If he was sure that the first one was authentic, why would he have himself consecrated two, three or even seven different times to make sure that his consecration is valid?
JOY VERSUS AUTHENTICITY
G. A true Roman Catholic Bishop is usually consecrated by only one Roman Catholic Bishop. In some instances, more Roman Catholic Bishops may participate in the liturgical ceremony to rejoice at the elevation of one their own as a Bishop. False bishops usually insist on the presence of at least three bishops during the consecration to ensure that the apostolic succession of one of the three bishops present is authentic.
NUMBER OF SACRAMENTS
H. A true Roman Catholic Bishop manages a Diocese that believes and administers Seven Sacraments. A false bishop may believe in Seven Sacraments but may administer anywhere from 4 to 7 of them. One common excuse for not performing marriages is that it involves too much Government paper work.
I. A true Roman Catholic Bishop, who is faithful to the Pope and the Vatican, will teach and defend uncorrupted Catholic Doctrines. A false bishop will rejects some of the Catholic Doctrines. Some of the rejected doctrines concerns the marriage of priest and the ordination of female priests.
J. A true Roman Catholic Bishop does not have to make any efforts to recruit Catholics. He already has a number of parishes under his authority and thousands of Catholics. A false bishop has to recruit and deceive believers in Jesus Christ, leading them to believe that they are joining the Roman Catholic Church. Such is often done by recruiting immigrants who do not speak the local language so they cannot question others about the authentic Roman Catholic Church. Recruitment also takes place in hospitals, senior lodges, and similar places that impress the lonely and the abandonned who perceive such visits as a true christian love as taught by Jesus. This is a perfect example of wolves dressed as good shepherds.
While the above guideline is but the tip of the iceberg, there are many signs that clearly identify a false bishop from a true Bishop of the Roman Catholic Church. The faithful are advised to stay away from these false bishops who are usually heretics (who corrupt Catholic dogmas) and / or who belong to schimatic groups (that have broken away from the Catholic Church).
No one can serve two masters. You are either with the Roman Catholic Church or you are against it!