4 January 2019

Are they really bishops? (3)

Sedevacantists have argued that the words in the post-Conciliar Form for consecrating Bishops, spiritus principalis, are insufficiently univocal (unambiguous) to denote the ordo episcopalis. I have pointed out that the same problem could be urged against the corresponding words which Pius XII declared to be the Form: ministerii tui summam. This phrase could perfectly well have applied to the Ministry of the Roman Pontiff himself; and, since the Rite we are speaking of was Roman, quite possibly this is what it originally did mean. And there is a manuscript variant mysterii tui summam ... what exactly would that 'unambiguously' refer to? Did your sedevacantist indoctrinators tell you how to explain that away?

In any case, before 1947, the communis sententia among approved manualists (this is summed up by Cardinal Gasparri, 1852-1934, Secretary of State under Benedict XV and Pius XI) saw the Form for episcopal Consecration as being three quite different words: Accipe Spiritum Sanctum. Bishops, when consecrating a new bishop before 1947, intended to consecrate him when they opened their mouths and said these words, not when they uttered the words which Pius XII subsequently selected and declared to be the Form. 

Are those three words sufficiently precise to indicate, univocally, the Episcopate? By your standards, O thou sedevacantist, surely not; they actually appeared also in presbyteral ordinations according to the pre-Conciliar rites (they were said over me in 1968) and they are found in the Tridentine rite of ordination to the Diaconate, and might even without  inappropriateness be used in Confirmation. If (like popes, bishops and theologians for hundreds of years) you are happy with these vague words Accipe Spiritum Sanctum as the Form for episcopal consecration, why do you have such a problem with the rather more explicit, distinctly less vague, words calling for the granting of the Spiritus principalis?

Cardinal Gasparri (this is a most compelling point) also raised the hypothetical question of whether a consecrand would be validly consecrated if the whole of the ancient consecratory prayer were omitted and so all the candidate had said over him were the three words Accipe Spiritum Sanctum. He concluded ("admittimus cum communi sententia") that this would be valid: "quia licet illa sola verba in se inspecta sint indeterminata, et non satis exprimant collationem ordinis episcopalis, tamen satis determinantur ... ipsamet caeremonia sine praefatione".

Is your competence in these matters, O sedevacantist, really so much greater than that of the towering scholarly figure who masterminded the production of the 1917 Code of Canon Law, Gasparri the Great? Are you so much more soaked in the writings of the Fathers, the Scholastics, the Manualists, than he was? Perhaps you write him off, together wih the popes he served, Benedict XV and Pius XI, as proto-post-conciliarists? As Crypto-Modernists?

Dear me, you really do live in a narrow little world of your own. No wonder you never sound happy.

The sedevacantist arguments so glibly urged against the validity of Consecrations performed with the post-Conciliar Pontifical do not hold a drop of water in them ... not a millionth of a molecule. These arguments are shown to be baseless, not by deploying what some might dismiss as modernist, specious, flabby post-Conciliar arguments, but by considering the standard texts and praxis of the pre-Conciliar Church, its popes, and its great teachers. The Magisterium of nearly two millennia.

I would have some sympathy with you, O sedevacantist, if the only argument you desired to press went something like this:
"It was in the highest degree deplorable for the 1960s revisers, without any Conciliar mandate, to eliminate the ancient Roman Prayer for making a bishop (the theology of which can be traced back to the Letter to Corinth of Pope S Clement I in the 90s of the first Christian century) and to replace it by a distinctly unfortunate Oriental prayer of unknown origin, which happened to be fashionable in the 1960s because of a now-exploded theory about its authorship and origins. Its adoption was proposed and carried by the chairman of the coetus concerned with the Pontifical, Dom Bernard Botte, who had himself produced an edition of it and thus may be thought to have had a vested interest. What a totally improper and irresponsible way to carry on in such an important matter!!!"

A Catholic is not forbidden to entertain such a highly critical view of what was done in the 1960s. In fact, I confess that I hold it myself. And I hold it strongly.

But that action, however deplorable, did not come within a million, million miles of rendering the Orders of the Catholic Church invalid. The Gates of Hell have not prevailed.


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