The fortieth anniversary of Pontificalis Romani has unearthed some old discussions. Brother Ansgar Santogrossi, O.S.B., sends us a small refutation of a recent criticism of the validity of the New formula for Episcopal Ordination (read his February 2007 article posted here):
In my article demonstrating the failures and self-contradictions in Fr. Cekada’s impugning the validity of the 1968 ordination rite of bishops, I showed, 1) that in the context of the Church, the manifest intention of the rite, and history, Paul VI’s “Spiritum principalem etc.” signifies the Catholic episcopate, and 2), Fr. Cekada’s implied rigorist definition of what constitutes univocal signification of the power of order (required for validity) would also “prove” the invalidity of the pre-1968 ordination forms. Since the original appearance of my article, I have put together further patristic and historical documentation.
First, however, a new point needs to be made. Fr. Cekada concentrates his fire on the “Spiritum principalem etc.” section of the consecratory prayer. Paul VI designated this short section as essential and necessary for validity, in order, he said, to take away doubts about validity. What needs to be said is that the very same Paul VI designated the entire consecratory prayer as the form of the sacrament.
Now, we all know that a form is what determines the matter (here, laying on of hands) and that it constitutes the sacrament together with the matter. When we read the entire form of ordination as decreed by Paul VI, we find the explicit mention of the office of bishop and the high priesthood. The conclusion against Fr. Cekada’s claim of universal sede vacante in the Latin rite is obvious: by his own criteria drawn from Tradition as decreed by Pius XII—namely that an ordination form must univocally signify the power of order conferred--, the consecratory prayer of Paul VI taken as whole is a valid form for the conferral of episcopal order. Even if Fr. Cekada could prove that the “Spiritum principalem” section does not univocally signify the episcopate, any priest ordained with the entire consecratory prayer would come out a bishop. We could also point out that nowhere does Paul VI directly decree that the “Spiritum principalem” section is essential, necessary and sufficient for validity. Of course, Paul VI openly supposes that it is sufficient, but he does not decree that it is sufficient. If someone had doubts about the sufficiency of this section for validity, he could pose a dubium to the Holy See asking whether Paul VI had defined it as sufficient. But there is no justification for saying that “they” are not bishops, given that the entire consecratory prayer, with its explicit mention of high priesthood, was designated as the “form”.
Brother Ansgar tells us that he will soon send the blog "further patristic and historical documentation to show that the 'Spiritum principalem' section does indeed signify the episcopate in the context of the 1968 consecratory prayer".