Rorate Caeli

A historical-introductory note is available, as well as a declaration of the Holy See Press Office.


Interesting excerpts:

In the Church – the People of God – only the sacred ministers, duly ordained after sufficient instruction and formation, may exercise the office of ''teaching, sanctifying and governing''. The lay faithful may, with a canonical mission from the Bishop, perform an ancillary ecclesial ministry of handing on the faith.

...there are certain Bishops – a very small number of them – who have been ordained without the Pontifical mandate and who have not asked for or have not yet obtained, the necessary legitimation. According to the doctrine of the Catholic Church, they are to be considered illegitimate, but validly ordained, as long as it is certain that they have received ordination from validly ordained Bishops and that the Catholic rite of episcopal ordination has been respected. Therefore, although not in communion with the Pope, they exercise their ministry validly in the administration of the sacraments, even if they do so illegitimately.
...
Concerning Bishops whose consecrations took place without the pontifical mandate yet respecting the Catholic rite of episcopal ordination, the resulting problems must always be resolved in the light of the principles of Catholic doctrine. Their ordination – as I have already said – is illegitimate but valid, just as priestly ordinations conferred by them are valid, and sacraments administered by such Bishops and priests are likewise valid. Therefore the faithful, taking this into account, where the eucharistic celebration and the other sacraments are concerned, must, within the limits of the possible, seek Bishops and priests who are in communion with the Pope: nevertheless, where this cannot be achieved without grave inconvenience, they may, for the sake of their spiritual good, turn also to those who are not in communion with the Pope.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Does anybody know what faculties the Holy Father is revoking at the end of the letter?

New Catholic said...

It is one of the most relevant portions of the letter: they refer to faculties granted by his predecessors, particularly Pope John Paul II, who granted to some underground Bishops special faculties to ordain successors a well as bishops for vacant seats of neighboring dioceses, in order to preserve Apostolic Succession in wide areas of the country.

Anonymous said...

I think the relevance of the withdrawal of faculties -- for the clandestine Church -- is the practical legitimization -- on account of changing circumstances -- of the "official" Church. In this sense, the same principles have found "new application."

schoolman

Woody Jones said...

All their sacraments are valid. As with the Orthodox, as I understand it. OK, so no more sniping by the local bishops and others here about the validity of SSPX weddings and confessions, then, I trust.

humboldt said...

The revoking of of these especial faculties signals a real change in the situation of the Catholic Church in the People's Republic of China. It is clear that the situation of necessity is no longer required.

Anonymous said...

"...there are certain Bishops – a very small number of them – who have been ordained without the Pontifical mandate and who have not asked for or have not yet obtained, the necessary legitimation. According to the doctrine of the Catholic Church, they are to be considered illegitimate, but validly ordained, as long as it is certain that they have received ordination from validly ordained Bishops and that the Catholic rite of episcopal ordination has been respected. Therefore, although not in communion with the Pope, they exercise their ministry validly in the administration of the sacraments, even if they do so illegitimately."

Interesting how the Vatican, unlike with the SSPX, did not say that the bishops of the 'official' Communist-supervised Chinese Church incurred automatic latae sententiae excommunication (or did they??). Apparently they fear the wrath of a Politburo more than the Divine King.

Jim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jim said...

I think that this sentence is very important to the traditionalist position: “Therefore the faithful. . .where the eucharistic celebration and the other sacraments are concerned, must, within the limits of the possible, seek Bishops and priests who are in communion with the Pope: nevertheless, where this cannot be achieved without grave inconvenience, they may, for the sake of their spiritual good, turn also to those who are not in communion with the Pope.”

To me this means that if a Catholic is unable to attend a holy and sacred Novus Ordo Mass without the usual abuses, “for the sake of their spiritual good” they may attend Masses of the Society of Saint Pius X. SSPX bishops are validly consecrated, their priests are validly ordained, and the fullness of their communion with Rome is a debatable subject based on varied Vatican documents.

This statement from Pope Benedict also fits in with his desire to reconcile with the SSPX. If the pope would declare the excommications of the four SSPX bishops invalid, along with the forthcoming Moto Proprio freeing the Latin Mass, then real discussions on doctrinal issues could begin with the SSPX leadership. It may well be that His Holiness knows that he needs the help of the SSPX to save the Church and he is reaching out to obtain that help. Of course, Bishop Fellay must proceed very carefully because he is not just dealing with the pope, but with the entire Vatican apparatus which has been less than trustworthy in the past. May God give His Excellency the graces to do what needs to be done.

Anonymous said...

Okay, folks, time to switch to decaf: as soon as going to an SSPX Mass entails the risk of a trip to a labor camp instead of the risk of a sermon denouncing the "Sound of Music" because it casts the Nazis as bad guys, you can derive some comfort from the status of the truly heroic Catholics in Communist China. Until, then, get a grip. There are undoubtedly circumstances under which adherence to the Society can be justified, but it is an obscenity to compare them to the threat of actual martyrdom.

New Catholic said...

It seems that "grave inconvenience" suggests much less than the threat of martyrdom.

Interestingly enough, a possible link between both situations has been explored before by the most unexpected source.

boredoftheworld said...

"All their sacraments are valid."

Am I missing something or did the very concept of jurisdiction just go out the window? I know I'm missing something, I just don't know what.

Anonymous said...

The notion of jurisdiction does not go out the window. I think what we are seeing is the Pope giving (at least tacit) jurisdiction due to the abnormal circumstances. I recall that this has some historical precendent with the Orthodox.

schoolman

Woody Jones said...

Jurisdicton is one thing, holy order is another. I agree that the matter as to confession is confusing, though. Maybe Ecclesia Supplicet after all?

I also think the grave inconvenience has always been understood to be less than possible martyrdom. Moral impossibility is what I have heard is the key. Of course it can be carried to an extreme, but I wonder whether that is the kind of thing that any of us, me included, is capable of judging in respect of another person?

Anonymous said...

Cardinal Journet explores the delicate question of Jurisdiction in the dissident Churches. The Holy Father certainly seems to be invoking these principles to the situation in China. See link for details:

[url]http://www.universalindult.org/forum/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?p=5396#5396[/url]

schoolman

Pascendi said...

I too was struck by the statement on validity of all sacraments prior to the letter. This letter really is a bomshell re: the SSPX argument for the validity of ALL their sacraments. I believe that following this publication, the argument has turned very strongly infavour of full SSPX sacramental validity.

I agree that following this letter, the Moto Proprio should (to be just and fair) create a "breathing " space for the SSPX - accept their sacramental validity etc.