From the August A.D. 1994
Our Lady of the Rosary
Michael Davies, The Order of
Melchisedech, Harrison, N.Y.: Roman Catholic
second edition, 1993, xxx+255 pp. HB, $16.95.
Readers of Michael Davies' earlier works know that his books always contain
something interesting. If nothing else, they provide the reader with otherwise
difficult to obtain source information. This new edition of an earlier work is
no exception. A great deal of space is devoted to the issue of Anglican Orders,
and Catholic - Anglican "ecumenical" efforts made since Vatican II. The discussion is relevant to the new Mass and new Rite of
Ordination, since the "reformers" of Vatican II in many ways followed
their Protestant counterparts. He
presents a chapter particularly
interesting in the light of the Holy See's recent permission for "altar
girls" on the blurring of the
distinction between priests and laymen.
Davies' primary thesis is that the new Rite of Ordination is valid in
spite of all its alterations and omissions.
He cites Pope Pius XII's instruction Sacramentum ordinis, which states
the minimum matter and form required for the validity of the Sacrament.
The new rite contains almost all of the prescribed form, lacking but one
word, and Davies holds that this omission makes no substantial change. He points out that this form is identical with that given in
the older Leonine Sacramentary. While
the matter and form alone are required for validity, Pope Pius did demand that
the auxiliary ceremonies the
handing over of a chalice and paten holding bread and wine, and a second
imposition of hands indicating the reception of the power to forgive sins be
retained. Nonetheless, the new rite
would seem to possess the minimum needed for validity.
Unfortunately, Davies tries to bolster his fairly good argument for the
validity of the new rite by claiming that the Church, being indefectible, is
incapable of issuing an invalid sacramental formula.
He ignores the obvious contrary example in the rubrics of the Novus
wherein the priest is directed to "read the narrative of the
institution" rather than "consecrate" the bread and wine certainly an invalid rite if the priest follows the directions
of the conciliar church.
This charism of indefectibility, unlike infallibility, is not vested
solely in the pope but is promised by Christ to His Church as a whole.
By falsely locating indefectibility in the person of the pope, Davies
unwittingly gives credence to an argument used by those who claim that John
is not really the pope. Following
Davies, the Sedevacantists agree that the pope is indefectible but since John Paul II has defected from the faith on so many
matters, he must not be the pope. Davies,
of course, is not a Sedevacantist, but has worked himself into this position by
trying to remain on the fence that separates a Modernist papacy from Catholic
One last complaint is that the Introduction to The Order of Melchisedech
reads as though it were written by Rush Limbaugh a
long "See, I told you so," about things written in the first edition.
But complaints notwithstanding, The Order of Melchisedech is worth its
price, the time to read it, and the space to keep it around for reference.