Hi, guys —
My question is regarding the New Rite of Episcopal Consecration, promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1968. I need to provide some background before getting to the question I would like to ask.
After a forty-year, theological study on Holy Orders, the findings were presented to Pope Pius XII in 1947. The Papal document he published regarding the issue is called Sacramentum Ordinis.
The traditional rite of consecration of a Bishop had many surrounding ceremonies that pointed towards the actual sacrament and its meaning. Pope Pius XII finally defined the essential form of the Sacrament which is within the rite, (the part that actually confers the grace) by teaching that:
". . . the form consists of the words of the Preface, of which the following are essential and so required for validity".
The traditional Form of the Sacrament of Orders to the Episcopacy is as follows:
"Complete in Thy priest the fullness of Thy ministry, and adorned in the raiment of all glory, sanctify him with the dew of heavenly anointing.”
Because a sacrament is an outward sign, the form of the sacrament must both signify what it effects, and effect what it signifies.
According to Pope Pius XII, there are two essential requirements required for the validity of the Sacrament of Orders:
- The power of the Order being conferred.
- The Grace of the Holy Ghost.
The fullness of Thy ministry and Raiment of all glory
- in the traditional form refers to the power of the Episcopacy.
- — This meets the first requirement.
The dew of Heavenly anointing
- in the traditional form refers to the Grace of the Holy Ghost.
- — This meets the second requirement.
Pius XII said that the terms for both the power of the Order and the Grace of the Holy Ghost must be univocal i.e. having only one allowable meaning within the form.
Now, the New Rite of Episcopal Consecration promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1968 has the following as the essential Form of the Sacrament:
“So now pour out upon this chosen one that power which is from you, the governing Spirit whom you gave to your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, the Spirit given by Him to the Holy Apostles, who founded the Church in every place to be Your Temple for the unceasing glory and praise of Your Name.”
This new form uses the term governing Spirit, which has many theological usages, and is not univocal.
Apart from that, the New rite of 1968 does not mention both the power of the Order being conferred, and the grace of the Holy Ghost. At best, it only refers to one or the other, and even then, is quite ambiguous.
- If governing Spirit refers to the power of Episcopal Orders, (i.e. the spirit to govern the Church) then it cannot also mean the Grace of the Holy Ghost, because this would contradict the necessity for the terms to be univocal.
- If governing Spirit is a reference to the Grace of the Holy Ghost, then the form doesn't mention the power of Episcopal Orders, as again, it would contradict the necessity for the terms to be univocal.
Pius XII said that the mention of both the power of the Order being conferred and the Grace of the Holy Ghost are required for validity, and both must be univocal. One cannot double-dip on the meaning of governing Spirit, i.e. we can't use it to mean two different things in the same phrase.
Some have suggested that the New 1968 form was lifted from an Eastern rite which the Church regards as valid, but this exact Form is not found in any Eastern Rite. It may have been reconstructed by liturgical experts in the 1960's from parts of various Eastern rites, but at best, there is evidence that, even then, it was only used in the installation of a Metropolitan.
The installation of an Eastern rite Metropolitan or Patriarch is not a Sacramental formula, however, as the man being installed as a Metropolitan or Patriarch, what, we in the West might equate with an Archbishop, would have already received the Sacrament of Order to the Episcopate prior to his installation.
Until 1947, the essential form of the sacrament had never actually been defined by a Pope. Since 1947 however, we have Pius XII teaching definitively and exactly what is required for validity. Such a teaching is irrevocable.
Another response might be that Paul VI, as Pope, can change a rite of the administration of any Sacrament he wishes; this is undoubtedly true, but he cannot change what is essential to a Sacrament itself, once it has been defined, by removing something that was taught as necessary for validity by a previous Pope.
He could not change the Form to, e.g. I think I will go for a walk, and say it is valid because he is the Pope. It has to meet the criteria already laid down and defined by his predecessor.
I know this is a complex preamble, but the question in light of it is very simple:
- Does the New Rite of Episcopal Consecration promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1968 meet the necessary criteria for validity as irrevocably defined by Pope Pius XII in 1947?
- If so, how and why?
Thanks very much for your time.