It is not surprising that the elimination of the Roman Prayer of Episcopal Consecration caused, and causes, some disquiet. It has, of course, been a godsend to sedevacantist controversialists. I imagine they thank God for it daily. But scholars of today, far beyond that narrow constituency, have good reason to feel some discomfort when they contemplate the replacement Consecratory Prayer which was inserted by Coetus XX of Hannibal's post-Consiliar Consilium.
Coetus XX was headed by Dom Bernard Botte, a liturgist of considerable distinction. Unfortunately, however, Botte was the man who had edited - and thus had some personal stake in - the Traditio Apostolica. This is an early third century work which Was written by Hippolytus, a claimant to the See of Rome, and which Does give us a pretty fair picture of the early liturgical tradition of the Roman Church. Except that it Wasn't and it Doesn't. We need not blame Botte for what he believed about 'Aptrad'. Our own beloved Dom Gregory Dix thought the same, and had himself edited this 'venerable' text. Frankly, everybody then thought that it was the bee's knees. But few scholarly revolutions can match the complete reversal in academic consensus, between the 1960s and now, about what Aptrad actually is. My sermon to you today: it is profoundly unwise to gather every egg one can lay one's hands on and cram them all into one single risky basket ... which is what the self-confident liturgical committee-men of the 1960s did. Mesmerised by 'Hippolytus', under the leadership of a scholar who personally and academically had invested a great deal in 'Aptrad', they allowed 'Hippolytus' to provide them with Eucharistic Prayer 2 which, because of its brevity, became overnight the Prayer almost universally employed by celebrants of the 'Roman Rite'. And, from this same dodgy source, they foisted upon the Roman Church Aptrad's Prayer of Episcopal Consecration. Annibale and his turba punica committed the cardinal error of assuming that the scholarly assumptions of their own age were a definitive certainty which would never be overturned. And, in this preposterous over-confidence, they 'Hippolytised' the Roman Rite.
Let me be clear. I do not blame Botte and his collaborators for being wrong. They were bigger men than I am, and I am probably wrong about more things now than they were then. I blame the structures of authority and the assumptions of 'conciliar' omnipotence which allowed the wholesale imposition of the flawed academic fashions of one brief period. As Cardinal Ratzinger did, I blame a post-conciliar pope ... a man who was more than un' poco Amletico.
So are episcopal consecrations according to the 'Hippolytised' Pontifical valid?