24 January 2017

Intention yet again UPDATED

Yet again, I repeat these old posts about Sacramental Intention because, yet again, there seem to be readers who do not understand what the Catholic Church teaches in this matter.

 In this morning's thread [September 4], there are two entries which express the common mistake that the 'intention' a minister needs to have is something which must include a correct orthodox doctrine of the Sacrament ("If a Bishop doesn't believe in Sacrificing priests, how can he intend to ordain them?"). This error is so grave (you'd never know for sure whether any sacrament was valid because you could never be sure that the bishop's or priest's views were orthodox) that I have, below, wearied the patience of regular and long-time readers by reproducing posts dating from 2010 9 August, 2013 21 November, 2014 1 March.

PS There is far too much of the waspish schoolmaster in me ... which is why I have, I am afraid, been refusing comments from those who, it seems to me, have simply not read the three old pieces I reproduced yesterday. There is, of course, no reason why anybody should read anything I write. But if you decline to do so and then write comments, there is no reason why I should consider them useful contributions.

I don't see how I can express myself any more clearly than I have, more than three times now, attempted to. But one last try ...

Simple rule: (1) If someone says that a Sacrament is invalid and that this invalidity results simply and solely from some mistake, or some heresy, in the mind of the Minister, then he is wrong. This is contrary to the Church's teaching.

(2) If, however, someone says that, because of his mistake or heresy, the Minister used Form [words] or Matter [physical things or actions] which are not adequate to convey the Sacrament [this was the argument in Leo XIII's bull Apostolicae curae], then Catholics can discuss in detail about the adequacy of the Form and Matter which the silly fellow did use.

This discussion might lead to all competent people being 100% sure that what he did was inadequate; in which case the Sacrament must be repeated absolutely. If, on the other hand, competent people disagree or entertain differing degrees of probability, then the Sacrament is to be considered doubtfully conveyed and should be administered conditionally. 

If the Magisterium gives a ruling, that, while not being infallible in terms of Pastor aeternus of Vatican I, provides a judgement which should in practice be followed because Sacramental validity matters.

That's it!


Anselm said...

I presume you are referring to me Father in this post. If you read my comment again carefully you will see that I referred very particularly to 'intention' and not 'belief'. I say this as I don't want to be labelled with the distinction of 'grave error' unnecessarily.

UnanimousConsent said...


I understand the issue of validity, but what of a minister that uses the right matter and form but intentionally does NOT intend what the Church intends.

c.f. 'DUBIUM'on the validity of baptism conferred by «The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints»,
called «Mormons»

The form the Mormons use is as follows:

"The person who is called of God and has authority from Jesus Christ to baptize, shall go down into the water with the person who has presented himself or herself for baptism, and shall say, calling him or her by name: Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

"Then shall he immerse him or her in the water, and come forth again out of the water."[8]

I have never really been able to understand this dubium in light of the other teaching.

Sadie Vacantist said...

Father, do not be afraid to treat us as school children. Many of us require repetition before getting it.

A suggestion might be a reiteration of Church teaching within the context of Apostolicae Curae. I had always understood that AC was about reassuring converts rather than a technical statement on the invalidity of orders per se.

Tony V said...

Could it be that some of this confusion over 'validity' started not with claims about the validity of the sacraments but with claims about the validity of the Mass: you know, 'the Novus Ordo isn't a valid Mass because it implies this Protestant doctrine and omits reference to that Catholic doctrine' and 'therefore it doesn't fulfill your Sunday obligation'?

And then, fallen creatures that we are, the notion sort of seeped into other parts of our brains until we thought we were talking about sacramental validity? I'm sure Bp Williamson must have heard of the Donatists whilst he was at EcĂ´ne.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

repetitio est mater studiorum

Never tire of repeatedly teaching the truth

Pax tecum, good Father

Calvin Engime said...

The Mormons don't intend to perform Christian baptism, they intend to perform Mormon baptism. They believe it was not instituted by Christ but began with Adam. Neither does their Trinitarian invocation truly refer to the Trinity, due to their belief that the Father is a contingent being who was elevated to his present divine status after a human life like ours, and produced the Son and the Holy Spirit by natural procreation with a fourth divinity called the Heavenly Mother. This is not a misunderstanding of Christian doctrine like Arianism, but something completely new and different, even if all the words are the same.