21 December 2008

Comments on the Blog

Some well-meaning Comments seem to be rather way-out. The suggestion that a right-thinking person might hope for Anglican Orders to be invalid so as not to have to be pained by what would otherwise be sacrileges, puts me in mind of the Inauguration of our present Holy Father, and the scrimmages in the mob at Communion time. I was not surprised to read later of Hosts being found trodden into the piazza. This should not make us hope that Benedict XVI's orders are invalid so that we need not be pained (unless we are sede-vacantists). Being pained by sacrileges is a decent Christian reaction but we know that by giving himself in the Sacraments our ever suffering Lord exposes himself endlessly to this. And that every time I receive communion unworthily I am probably a worse offender that some poor theologically illiterate dunce who doesn't know what he's doing.

And it is very easy to be off the mark with regard to the Doctrine of Intention. Saying that so-and-so cannot be validly administering the sacrament because he has completely erroneous views about the Sacrament sounds at first sight like common sense but is quite contrary to the tradition and praxis of the Western Church. I can supply lots of chapter-and-verse if anyone needs it. Cardinal Franzelinus took an incident in seventeenth century Marseilles in which a nutter believed that by baptising he was devoting someone to a devil to show that even this mistake 'non impediret virtutem et efficaciam sacramenti'. The Holy Office laid down that some Methodists in Oceania who actually declared in their Baptism services that Baptism did not regenerate were still capable of baptising validly. All that is needed is the most general intention to 'do what Christians do', not an accurate understanding of what it is that they do or indeed a conviction that the sacraments effect anything at all or even who 'Christians' are. There is nothing invalid about ordinations performed by Talleyrand after he became an atheist.

Provided always that adequate Form and Matter are used. So a Moslem doctor who, to comfort a Christian woman whose newlyborn baby was dying, poured water over it and said 'I baptise you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit' would validly baptise, while the Sussex Anglican priest who appeared last year on telly 'baptising' with the formula 'I baptise you in the name of the Spirit' would not.

Honest. If this seems so preposterous as to be manifest nonsense, I suggest you do quite a lot of homework before you contradict me, because I know that you wouldn't want by accident to assert heresy.


Unknown said...

Fr Hunwicke, I apologise it I offended you with my earlier comment about sacrilege. All I really meant to say is that the ONLY comfort that one can find in Anglican Orders being invalid is that it means we needn't worry about sacrilege. As you have pointed out this is not much of a comfort. I agree, but it was still the only one I could think of.

Regarding intention, I am actually part of the minority on this one and do not consider intention to be of much importance at all (though, in response, I could quote to you the case of the Holy Office declaring invalid the ordinations of some South American clergy on the grounds that the ordaining bishop specifically intended not to ordain any who have Inca blood).

The rub really is the point about the context of the ordinations.

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Dear Christian, don't ever apologiseto me. My own style is so knock-about that I have no real right to complain about anything anybody else writes.

The 'anti-Inca' case you mention is very interesting and it would be fun to see the small print.

Wm Riley said...

Wasn't this issue resolved with the Donatists and baptisms administered by lapsed clergy during the persecutions?

Pastor in Monte said...

Something which hasn't yet been raised, it seems, concerns the fact that the Church herself has the right to declare what is the matter and form of the sacrament of Orders. Pope Pius XII himself changed the form for the consecration of a bishop.
So, should the supreme Magisterium of the Church declare that the Anglican rites can't do it, does not the very declaration make it so?
I, by the way, am not among those who would positively WISH to see this. I find that attitude unchristian and distasteful. My dubium is intended as a genuine contribution to the debate.

Anonymous said...

Cheers, Father for pointing out the little known fact of the Methodicals "valid despite their intention" baptisms! This is the modern case study in in sacramental theology that the Church, in the time of the Donatists, so clearly understood.

So, we find ourselves with(as you point out) cause to make reparation for sacrilege against Christ's Body by hasty Roman Catholic mobs. Truly, even Novus Ordo consecrations are valid despite the personal intent of so many priests and bishops.

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Pastor in valle: Hi! Perhaps you would be amused to read my earlier post in which I did indeed discuss the problems arising from the Roman habit of changing the 'form' for episcopal ordination once a generation (because, of course, Dr Bugnini abolished and replaced what Pius XII had said to be the Form).
The supreme authority in the church has never, as far as I am aware, declared that some particular form is incapable of conferring a sacrament simply by virtue of its own performative declaration. What she does is sometimes to declare that some particular form about which a question has been raised is inadequate or adequate. That is what Leo XIII did.
Baptism and Eucharist are a bit different because Dominical forms are on offer; but you will recall the recent decision on Addai and Mari.

Pastor in Monte said...

Yes, I remain very uneasy about Addai and Mari: Uwe Michael Lang has a book on it, which I intend to get. We discussed it at the time Cardinal Kasper approved A&M, and I would be very interested to see what his matured thought is on the matter. I know what Aquinas would have said, anyway!

Fr John Hunwicke said...

This seems like pointscoring, and perhaps is; and pastor in valle is someone whose friendship I would appreciate and whom I admire greatly. But here goes: he apparently has doubts about the binding force ... upon himself ... of a magisterial decision with regard to the adequacy for validity or otherwise of a sacramental formula of a Church not in full communion with the Holy See. Doesn't this put him a position similar to that of Anglicans who 'remain very uneasy about' Apostolicae curae? I mean it when I say 'similar'; he could reply that while his doubts with regard to Addai and Mari err in the direction of caution in the area of sacramental validity, such Anglicans are erring in quite the opposite direction. And, that, with regard to the sacraments, it is best to be sure. And, further, that the Armeniabn tradition is not infected with heresy with regard to the Sacrament of the Eucharist, while Anglicanism has been. He would be correct in all this. But 'similar', surely; since he appears to be prepared to assume for himself the right - having carefully studied a matter - to differ from a Roman decision. Yes?

Perhaps, pressing this matter a little further, I could suggest that an outsider to this dialogue might suspect that the real difference in both cases was in the state of ecumenical politics: in the Addai and Mari case those considering it were determined, by hook or by crook, to cobble together some reasons for not deeming Armenian Eucharists to be invalid; in the matter of Apostolicae curae, the determination was, by hook or by crook, to cobble together some reasons for not deeming Anglican ordinations valid. In both cases the attitude of the critics is to say 'This decision does not in fact fit with the traditional praxis and case-law and theology of the Western Church'- Pastor says this with regard to the Armenian business, Anglicans from Lacey onwards have said it in the Apostolicae curae question.

Ttony said...

Dear Father, I have buried this way down in your Archive so that you can ignore it if you want and nobody is ever likely to see it..

Have you thought about writing a piece about not celebrating Mass? What is it like after so many years (and let's leave aside the ontological significance of whatever exactly you were doing in favour of what it means in your spiritual life) to stop celebrating the Eucharist daily?

If it's none of our business, then apologies for asking the question, and please delete this.