23 February 2011

Rape, Ordination, Bugnini (4)

It is not surprising that one sedevacantist attack upon the adequacy of the Botte-Bugnini Pontifical validly to confer the Episcopate is headed with words from Leo XIII's bull condemning Anglican Orders: "Absolutely Null and Utterly Void". Nor that it draws the methodology of that bull into its argument. There is material for understandable Anglican amusement in this. But the entire approach to 'validity' which is employed by such sedevacantist writers is excessively, grossly, legalistic and fails to take account of the older, broader, more humane approach of earlier Catholic theologians. In order to summarise this tradition, I will quote from the well-judged words of Cardinal Pietro Gasparri, the great and massively erudite Father of modern Canon Law. Perhaps I should explain that he was writing at a time when the universal opinion was that the Form of Episcopal Consecration was the formula Accipe Spiritum Sanctum, said by the consecrator as he imposed hands; but a time also when scholars had become aware that, in the ancient Roman Sacramentaries, the Form had been the ancient prayer structured as a Preface.

"Among all these rites which the Roman Pontifical prescribes in Episcopal Consecration, the common opinion is that the Matter is the imposition of the hands of the consecrating bishop (rather, of the consecrating bishops) and the Form is the related words Receive the Holy Spirit.

"We think ... that, in the hypothesis of the imposition of the bishop's hands with the Preface alone, without those words Receive the Holy Spirit, the Consecration is valid, just as it was valid in the ancient liturgy; for how could you prove that the Church had taken its consecratory power away from this Prayer?

"Equally, in the hypothesis of the imposition of the bishop's hands with those words alone Receive the Holy Spirit, without the Preface, we admit, with the common opinion, that the ordination is valid, since, although those words alone, considered in themselves, are indeterminate and do not sufficiently express the conferring of the episcopal order
, nevertheless they are made sufficiently determinate not only by the Preface but by the caeremonia itself without the Preface."*

That generously sensible approach is, I think, more than sufficient to put paid to scaremongering nonsense about the orders of the post-conciliar Church. But it is not enough for us simply to be able to dismiss a sedevacantist argument. There is a great deal more to be said.

It ought never to have been made so easy for a small group of disaffected schismatics to mount such a plausible attack. It ought never to have been made possible for the ancient and venerable sacramental formulae of the Roman Church to be dumped like so much rubbish by a committee of opinionated and self-important academics. It ought never to have happened that the transient scholarly opinion of a single academic generation became the basis of a liturgical revolution. It ought never to have happened that one man, Bugnini, was able to manipulate and deceive a Roman Pontiff and thereby debauch the euchology of the Roman Church. Credence should never have been given to the notion that a Roman Pontiff, even if working on the basis of a conciliar mandate, could do anything.

Now ... where have I read that view before? And from whose pen?


*This common sense approach is not, I think, a million miles from the attitude of Fr Eric Mascall; that a rite is a means of doing something, not a theological statement of the nature of what is being done [for example, the word baptizo says nothing about regeneration or the deletion of Original Sin]; that a valid ordination rite can be recognised by its declared purpose of conferring a specified one of the three orders of the historic ministry. Perhaps I might also add that the argument which Cardinal Gasparri here deploys is also, of course, the reason why this same Mgr Gasparri had so much trouble understanding why the Order for Consecrating Bishops in the Anglican Ordinal should be thought incapable of validly conveying the Order of Episcopate (he was less positive about the Anglican forms for the Presbyterate and Diaconate.) Come to think of it, the sedevacantist attack on the validity of post-conciliar Roman Orders, historically, has similarities with Cardinal Vaughan's campaign against the validity of Anglican Orders. In each case, if the allegation of invalidity can be substantiated, this in itself renders the ecclesial body concerned a mere pseudo-Church, and renders superfluous the much more complex ecclesiological considerations which would otherwise be necessary. Both approaches are convenient polemical short cuts.


Tawser said...

I don't mean this question to be provocative. I really would like an answer. But what shouldn't have happened did happen because of the modern Roman conception of the unlimited scope of papal authority over the liturgy. And despite what he might have written as a cardinal, I don't see Benedict XVI scaling back on his authority(in theory at least if not in practice). So that unless limits of some kind are placed on that authority what sort of solution is there? Paul VI set the precedent. What can the current pope do that his successor can't simply roll back and abolish? Can any RC allow himself to love the liturgy the way Catholics used to love the Mass, since for all he knows it might be swept away and replaced with something radically different in a few years time?

Anonymous said...

St. Piux X by rearranging the Psalms of the Divine Office was the very first Roman Pontiff to ever radically substitute the handed-down liturgy with a made liturgy. This had no effect upon the laity, however. And so, in the RC Church, the thereunto accepted concept that the Liturgy, in its organically developed and matured form was long stable and unchangeable, began to faulter. Under Pius XII the Mass not only the Divine Office, but also teh Mass became object of drastic modification. The concept of ever-changing Liturgy, of Liturgy by Papal will, of Liturgy invented by committees, entered into the Roman Catholic consciousness. We became more and more used to a make-shift, temporary liturgy. Since Vatican II the concept seems to be: what is holy, good and valid today, will be declared unfit and be scrapped tomorrow. So why bother to learn rubrics? how can a Catholic love and become attached to an artificial Rite which will be certainly changed again or even totally discarded within his very own lifetime? This question is of utmost importance, for today we have a Catholicism without a Centre. Pope John Ppaul II tried to substitute his own personality for the lost Centre. But that could not work for long. The present Pontiff understands the problem well, but does he have an answer? Is he willing to apply the answer and save the Catholic religion from becoming just one more protestant sect with an absolute ruler claiming infallibility ?
One should read Michael Davie's book on the priesthood. The preface of the ordination to the priesthood was the only traditional ordination prayer not to be scrapped in 1968, when the ancient Roman Ordination Rites were either totally annihilated (minor orders and subdiaconate) or drastically reforned (diaconate, priesthood, episcopacy) by Paul VI to make them resemble protestant ministries, divesting them of their sacramental and priestly character. And yet under John Paul Ii, even this last remaining ancient prayer was mutilated by leaving some things out, changing othere and adding non-pertinent expressinos from Vatican II docements to it. None of which in any way re-instated the sacramental and sacerdotal character of the ordination Rite.
It looks as if the Vatican deliberatly wished to equate the new Catholic priesthood with protestant ministreis, using the Ordination Rites as a means to further oecumenism, without any thought to the loss in theology, history, ecclesiology, sacramentology, piety and - in the eyes of some - even validity.
Our Ordination Rites need to be universally reinstated even before the Traditional Roman Rite of Mass is universally reintroduced!

Священник села said...

Can any RC allow himself to love the liturgy the way Catholics used to love the Mass

how can a Catholic love and become attached to an artificial Rite which will be certainly changed again or even totally discarded within his very own lifetime?

The problem is that there people who not know such love. They are strangers to it. They cannot understand it. They see it as an obstacle to what they think are the really important things. Theirs is a failure of love, of imagination, of enchantment. They know not the importance of the familiar and the loved.

I think it was David Jones who wrote about the increasing barbarism, vulgarity, the tinkering progressive spirit in the Church (something like) put up with it - and live in the Mass. But of course that was then - even that possibility seems to have been for the most part stolen.