Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

From the August A.D. 1994
Our Lady of the Rosary
Parish Bulletin

Michael Davies, The Order of Melchisedech, Harrison, N.Y.: Roman Catholic Books, 
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 Ordo, 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 Paul II 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 tradition.

      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.


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