22 February 2011

Rape, Ordination, Bugnini (3)

If one believes that the the Catholic Church subsists in those ecclesial communities which are in full communion with the See of Peter, one can have no doubt whatsoever that episcopal consecrations according to the Botte-Bugnini Pontifical are valid. If they were not, Christ would have allowed his Church to fail. And we have his guarantee that it cannot fail. Ergo. But what would our conclusion be if we set aside this overarching consideration? If we forgot about the Wood and concentrated exclusively upon the Trees?

What eventually convinced Archbishop Lefebvre (contrary to his original gut instinct) that the post-conciliar rite for episcopal consecration is adequate validly to confer the episcopal order, is the fact that the sentence which the Pontifical describes as the essential form is found in use in Eastern bodies which are in Communion with Rome or which are dissident bodies whose orders immemorial Roman praxis accepts. And this is compelling. However, a problem can be introduced here by recalling the Apostolic Constitution Sacramentum Ordinis of Pius XII, which laid down that the Form must "univoce" signify the sacramental effects; that is, the power of the Order and the grace of the Holy Spirit. And the post-conciliar Form for episcopal consecration has at its heart these words: " ... effunde ... eam virtutem, quae a te est, Spiritum principalem ...". These words are found in Aptrad and a number of Oriental forms of episcopal consecration. And critics can show that Spiritus principalis, pneuma hegemonikon, when used liturgically, has in its history not always univocally refered to the episcopate. Indeed, Dom Gregory Dix held the view that in the Apostolic Tradition this formula was said over presbyters as well as over bishops. So: is the Order, sc Episcopate, univocally indicated in the words which the current Roman Pontifical declares to be the essential Form?

Frankly, I do not consider that such a narrow reading of these words of Pius XII is viable. Those who do wish to read them so narrowly will find that they are hoist with their own petard if they look at the Mozarabic Form for the Ordination of a presbyter; they will find that it appears to be taken from the ancient Roman Form in the pre-Botte-Bugnini Roman Pontifical of Pius XII for ... the Consecration of a bishop! Whoever did that little bit of Mozarabic borrowing evidently did not consider that this form of words 'univoce' signified episcopate. Liturgical texts, in the real Tradition, were not composed by lawyers and are not constructed with a minute desire to exclude any remotely conceivable confusions, ambiguities, and misunderstandings. I do not believe that we are intended to have our spiritual lives constantly disturbed by the use of intricate pedantries to introduce 'doubts about validity'. And, as I will explain, the giant figure of Cardinal Pietro Gasparri thought the same as I do. Or, rather, I think the same as he did.

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