Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

The Angelus, December 2005-January 2006.
On the Validity of the New Rite of Episcopal Consecration.

4 March AD 2006
Saturday of Our Lady
First Saturday of Lent

Mr. ######## #. ########,
#### #####, ##  #####

Dear #######:

Significant Links (chronological):

Apostólicæ cúræ

Dr Rama Coomramaswamy,
The Post-Conciliar Rite of Orders

The December 2005 & January 2006 Angelus 
SSPX has removed this from its website

Dr. Coomramaswamy's reply to The Angelus


    Thank you for sending the December and January copies of the Angelus, and for asking my opinion on the article dealing with “The New Rite of Episcopal Consecration.”  (Originally in Sal de la Terre, #54, Autumn 2005, by Fr. Pierre Marie, OP)  I receive the Angelus, so I’ll return your copies if you would like.  I do appreciate your interest in my point of view.

    Just before I received the December 2005 Angelus, I received a piece written by Bishop Williamson, in which he expressed a critique of sedevacantism very much like my own.  If I may paraphrase the good Bishop, we both agree that sedevacantism and papalotry are opposite sides of the same coin—logical enough conclusions, either of which may be reached using the incorrect premise that papal infallibility is at work in everything the Pope does:

“The Pope has done a lot of strange things lately,
but the Pope is infallible in everything he does,
so, therefore, the strange things must all be holy and Catholic.”
“The Pope has done a lot of strange things lately
but the Pope is infallible in everything he does,
so, therefore, the Pope cannot really be the Pope.”

    The problem is that the Pope is not infallible in everything he does, and indeed this premise is entirely at odds with the crystal clear definition of the First Vatican Council.[i]  In practice, the problem actually goes a little deeper, for the erroneous premise is extended beyond infallibility, making the Pope indefectible as well—a virtue which can be attributed to the Church alone.  That the Church is indefectible means that it will survive until the end of time, with “the gates of hell not prevailing against her”—but the Popes come and go; good ones and bad ones; but the Church will last forever—although not necessarily with the same numbers or the same splendor She has enjoyed for so many centuries.

    Again, I agreed with what Bishop Williamson had to say about sedevacantism.  But, it immediately dawned on me that he failed to address the more compelling argument that “the seat might be vacant because the last man elected to fill it is not a bishop.”

    If memory serves, Archbishop Lefebvre did conditionally ordain a few men who came to him from the Novus Ordo, but he did not do so as a blanket policy, doing so only when these priests themselves had reason to doubt the validity of their ordinations in the Novus Ordo rite.  The January 2006 Angelus (p.4) quoted the Archbishop expressing doubt about the validity of an episcopal consecration in which everyone prayed that the bishop-elect would “be an apostle like Gandhi ... like Luther ... like Martin Luther King....”  Over the years the Angelus has mentioned two or three Novus Ordo bishops who had “returned to tradition” or were at least sympathetic.  But I do not recall ever seeing them address the validity of the new (1968) rite for episcopal consecration itself.

    It was a bit suspicious, therefore, to see the December and January articles, coming just while the Vatican publicized its meetings with Bishop Felley as a prelude to some sort of Campos style compromise on the part of the SSPX.  The December Angelus (p.10) says that Archbishop Lefebvre “never called in question the validity of the new rite of episcopal consecration as published by Rome.”  Perhaps not, but for most of the time between the establishment of the SSPX and the consecration of its four bishops, the Archbishop was hopeful of finding his own compromise with the Vatican, just as his successors appear to be doing today.  And when one is seeking to compromise with a very powerful opponent, it is often best to leave many legitimate criticisms unspoken at least for the time—one does not call attention to the proverbial “nine hundred pound gorilla sitting in the opponent’s living room”!  Perhaps this is the present motivation—but, if so an unwise motivation, for while Archbishop Lefebvre merely failed to comment on the new rite, his successors seem to be giving it positive approval.  It will be very hard to “back-track” on that approval.

    And it hardly seems appropriate to claim—based on the writings of Annibale Bugnini—that the late Cardinal Ottaviani approved the text based on the rite of Hippolytus.  By November of 1967, the Cardinal was within weeks of retirement due to his physical ailments which included blindness—not a great qualification for someone expected to comment on the suitability of ancient manuscripts. In any event, it is unclear whether the Cardinal approved the text of Hippolytus, or the “form” extracted from it by Pope Paul VI—we will see that the two are not one and the same.    The December Angelus (page 15-16) points out that the question of the adequacy of Pope Paul’s “form” was raised the previous year by Msgr. Jean Hervas y Benet, and answered with nothing more substantial than insult.

    The choice of the Hippolytus text is puzzling in itself.  For centuries the text was referred to as the Egyptian Church Order, and was presumed to be the work of Monophysite heretics.[ii]  Modern scholarship attributes it to the anti-Pope Hippolytus, under the title Apostolic Tradition.  It should strike everyone as odd that the “reformers” found it necessary to forsake the venerable Roman rite for one that almost certainly originated with a heretic or a schismatic.  Dom Botte’s explanation (December 2005 Angelus p. 12-13) is preposterous in light of the way the post-Vatican II rites all developed.  While he dwells on pedantic matters of style, finding fault with centuries of Roman tradition—“Could we, after Vatican II, retain such a poor formula?”—we know all too well that “after Vatican II,” banality and inaccuracy ruled every aspect of the liturgical enterprise.

    The Angelus goes wrong in the assumption that if the rite of Hippolytus (or whoever) is valid, then the Novus Ordo version of it is valid.

    Pope Leo XIII’s pronouncement on the invalidity of Anglican Orders in Apostólicæ cúræ is both authoritative and logically compelling.[iii]  It is available in print and at a number of locations on the internet, though (surprise) not on the Vatican Website.  Even if he had never been Pope, his explanation of the relationship of sacramental matter to form is irrefutable.  According to Pope Leo, the signification of the Sacrament is more in the form than in the matter: “the ‘matter’ is the part which is not determined by itself, but which is determined by the ‘form.’”[iv]   Water, for example, can be used for any number of things, it is only the form “I baptize thee....” that clearly designates its use for the spiritual cleansing of the Sacrament of Baptism.  Pope Leo applies the same idea to Holy Orders: “in the Sacrament of Order, the ‘matter’ of which, in so far as we have to consider it in this case, is the imposition of hands, which, indeed, by itself signifies nothing definite, and is equally used for several Orders and for Confirmation.”[v]  For the sacramental rite to signify anything, the form must unequivocally denote that one of these four (Confirmation, Deaconate, Priesthood, or Episcopate) is intended.

    Following the logic of Pope Leo’s pronouncement, it is clear that the form for episcopal consecration must unequivocally denote that Order.  What distinguishes the episcopate from all else is what Leo refers to as “the sacerdótium in the highest degree, namely, that which by the teaching of the Holy Fathers and our liturgical customs is called the Summum sacerdótium, sacri ministérii summa”—the high priesthood, the fullness of the sacred ministry.[vi]  Bishops may do many things, but their greatest importance for Christ’s faithful is that they possess the priesthood so fully that they may not only exercise it, but also transmit it to other men.

    The traditional Catholic Roman rite satisfies Pope Leo’s precept by asking God to “Fill up in Thy priest the perfection of Thy ministry....”  By extension, one could imagine this same sacri ministérii summa being denoted by a list of its major powers—particularly the power of ordination, for he is presumed to have the power required for the other Sacraments from the fact that he posses “the dignity of the Priesthood ... which is next to [the episcopate] in dignity” (from the traditional Roman form for the ordination of priests).  Perhaps Pope Leo would have conceded the validity of the later Anglican forms in which the phrase “for the office and work of a priest (or bishop)” was added to strengthen the signification of the form—he did not, primarily because the words “priest” and “bishop” were no longer used by the Anglicans with the same meanings that Catholics apply to them.  We will return later to question whether or not the Conciliar church uses them with their Catholic meanings intact.[vii]

    But, for a moment, let us go back to the possibility that the rite of Hippolytus might be valid, and the Novus Ordo rite invalid.  (I am using the term Novus Ordo to refer to the entire panoply of post-Vatican II rites, not just to their Eucharistic rite.)  The traditional rite as mandated by Pope Pius XII in Sacraméntem órdinis in 1947, and the new rite mandated by Pope Paul VI in Pontificális Romani in 1968, have an important feature in common.[viii]  Both spell out the exact matter and form for each of the three grades of Holy Orders.  In both rites, for each grade, the form consists of a specific set of words, no more, no less, no other.  This has the beneficial effect of allowing all concerned to know with certainty that the Sacrament has been conferred or not conferred.  If some other words are omitted the Sacrament is still received, and there is no question of misplaced intention or attention.  But there is a down-side—the group of words assigned to such a specific form had better signify the sacramental Order quite independently of every other word in the ceremony, for all other words have been excluded from the form!  This becomes particularly important when, for grave necessity, simple laziness, or trendiness, the prayers surrounding the defined form are omitted or replaced with something like the “Gandhi-Luther-Martin Luther King” litany.

    Looking at the various rites excerpted in the January Angelus, it is not difficult to see how each one of them could be used to confer valid episcopal consecration under Catholic circumstances, where the form had not been predetermined by the Pope.  Each contains a form of words which, together with the imposition of hands, seems to adequately signify that the episcopate is being conferred.  The form from the Coptic rite (page 22) is given below, but something quite similar is found in each.

Grant therefore this same grace to Thy servant N. whom Thou hast chosen to be a Bishop, that he may feed Thy holy flock, that he may serve Thee without fault, praying to Thy Goodness day and night, gathering in the number of those saved, offering to Thee the gifts in the holy churches.  Therefore, Almighty Father, through Thy Christ, grant to him oneness with Thy Holy Spirit, that he may have the power of forgiving sins according to the command of Thine only-begotten Son Jesus Christ our Lord, and the power of consecrating priests for the sanctuary according to His command, and the power of loosening all ecclesiastical bonds, and may he please Thee in mildness and with a humble heart, offering to Thee with innocence and blamelessness, the unblemished sacrifice, the Sacrament of this New Covenant in the odor of sweetness.

    (In the 1968 rite and the rite of Hippolytus, the Angelus translation (page 8) of “et ófferat (offérre) dona sanctæ Ecclésiæ tuæ” has God presenting gifts to His holy Church instead of the other way around.  My 1975 ICEL translation of the 1968 rite has “and offer the gifts of your holy Church.”)

    The problem, though, with the 1968 rite as it was presented by Pope Paul VI, is that the form is defined as ending just before the passage which would seem adequate to be the form!  In the absence of some explicit declaration by the consecrating bishop, one would have to assume that he intends to do what the Conciliar church does, following the instructions of Pope Paul, uttering a “form” which doesn’t signify the grace which the Sacrament conveys.  Even though he later uttered an adequate group of words, we must believe that he didn’t take them to signify the graces of the Sacrament.  We must believe that he did not, based on the 1968 Apostolic Constitution of Pope Paul VI.  It is significant to note that the 1968 “form” is recited by the co‑consecrators, but the words which actually signify the episcopal office are not—certainly a problem if they were to be counted on to supply some defect in the consecrator.

    The defenders of the new rite would quickly interject that since the words excluded from Pope Paul’s form are still recited they would validate the defective form through the principle of signifcátio ex adjúnctis —they would be wrong.  The principle refers to the idea that even for a valid form, fuller signification of the Sacrament may be found by examining other parts of the rite.  The ordination of priests is a good example—even thought the newly ordained priest has received the priesthood with all of its powers though the laying on of hands and the recitation of the Sacramental form, there are other parts of the rite which signify what those powers are:  that the priest has the power to offer holy Mass is further signified through the ceremony of handing him a chalice and paten containing wine and an altar bread;  that the priest has the power to forgive sins is further signified through the ceremony of the second laying on of hands.  But none of this suggests that an invalidly ordained man would receive the power to offer Mass or forgive sins by receiving these adjunct ceremonies.  Valid ordination (or valid reception of other Sacraments) is an absolute prior requirement for the principle of signifcátio ex adjúnctis.

    The idea that a signifcátio ex adjúnctis could confect a Sacrament in the absence of a true sacramental form, is precisely the error that led the Vatican to claim that the liturgy of the schismatic Assyrians which has no words of consecration at all is a valid Mass.  This is a theology of wishful thinking—the magic of existentialism in which anything can be as long as we dialogue about it long enough.  It is alien to Catholicism.

    There is, in fact, the possibility of a negative signifcátio ex adjúnctis.  As Pope Leo pointed out, a form that quite positively asked God to make a man a priest or a bishop would be ineffective among people who had repudiated the Catholic meaning of words like, priest, bishop, Mass, sacrifice, and so forth.  “Being fully cognizant of the necessary connection between faith and worship, between ‘the law of believing and the law of praying’, under a pretext of returning to the primitive form, they corrupted the Liturgical Order in many ways to suit the errors of the reformers.”[ix]  Pope Leo could have been speaking about the “reformers” of the post‑Vatican II liturgical establishment equally as well as he spoke about the Anglican “reformers.”  The entire milieu of the Novus Ordo does just what Leo XIII condemned—is there anything of immemorial Catholic tradition that they have not put their hands on and attempted to change since 1960?  The Mass, the Office, all of the Sacraments, the Roman Ritual, the Pontifical, indulgences, the Vulgate Bible, the Catechism, right on down to the Stations of the Cross and the Rosary—everything had to be recast in the image of Modernism.  Pope (perhaps “Pope-elect”) Benedict XVI claims to be part of a “living tradition” that has somehow taken what was sinful fifty years ago and made it virtuous today.  Above all, for our purposes, we must keep in mind that all three of the rites for ordination, and the entire rite of Mass itself—not just little bits and pieces here and there—were re-crafted in such a way as to minimize their expression of the Catholic Faith.  Virtually the same people, under the same leadership, brought about the supposed liturgical “reform,” so all of it constitutes a unified whole, which must be analyzed as such.

    In that the episcopate is the fullness of the priesthood, one must ask whether the Novus Ordo understanding of the priesthood and the nature of the Mass remains Catholic.  The hieratic priesthood has been eclipsed by the common priesthood of all believers; the emphasis has shifted to a presidential role at the expense of the sacerdotal role.  Pope Paul VI’s General Instruction on the [Novus Ordo] Roman Missal (GIRM) tells us that:

The narration of the institution: wherein by the words and actions of Christ the Last Supper is made present, in which Christ the Lord himself instituted the sacrament of his passion and resurrection when he gave the apostles his Body and Blood under the species of bread and wine to drink, and left them with the mandate to perpetuate this same mystery.[x]

    The presider now narrates what happened at the Last Supper, at the expense of doing what Christ did at the Last Supper in persona Christi—if the president takes this rubric seriously there is no Mass, at least according to Saint Thomas (Cf. CCC 1353 and GIRM 55d with Summa Theol III Q.78 a.5).[xi]  But the words put into the mouth of the narrator are false anyway—both in the vernacular translations of the Novus Ordo and in the Latin thinking of Pope John Paul II in Ecclésia de Eucharístia #2:

this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all, so that sins may be forgiven"— hic calix novum aeternumque testamentum est in sanguine meo, qui pro vobis funditur et pro omnibus in remissionem peccatorum" (cfr Mc 14, 24; Lc 22, 20; 1 Cor 11, 25)  [Emphasis mine.][xii]

Look in vain for the sanctum sacrifícium, immaculátam hóstiam—holy sacrifice, spotless victim—for now “we are the body of Christ.”  If Novus Ordo priests are ordained to not offer Mass, of what possible use could be a Novus Ordo bishop?

    One also finds a negative signifcátio ex adjúnctis in the rites for ordaining Novus Ordo priests.  As mentioned before, in addition to the conferral of the sacramental matter and form, which imparts the character of the priesthood, a few additional ceremonies elucidate what is involved in the Order of priest.  Placing them in parallel columns will help to see how these adjunct significations have been altered or purposefully removed from the new rite.  Removing the explicit significations of the power to offer Mass and the power to forgive sins suggests that these two most vital powers of the priesthood are now understood to be of lesser or no significance.  (The chart is large, so I have placed it at the end of this letter.)

    Remember that the Church and Her people exist in history.  There is a collective memory, and the removal of significant things is a much more powerful statement than making additions.  By way of illustration, here in these United States, the “Pledge of Allegiance” has been recited since 1892.  In 1924 the words “my Flag” were changed to “the Flag of the United States of America, and in 1954 the Knights of Columbus convinced Congress to add the words “under God” to describe the nation for which the Flag stands.  The additions of 1924 and 1954 were simple statements of fact, and drew very little notice.  The notion advanced in recent years that we should remove the words “under God” is absolutely scandalous—even though the words were not always there, their removal would be a denial of the reality that in 1776 we placed ourselves under the laws and protection of “nature’s God” at the very beginning of the Republic.

    If Americans are scandalized that the forces of secularism want to remove a reference to God that is only fifty years old, how much more should Catholics be scandalized that the “reformers” went about removing significations of the priesthood that went back a thousand years or more!

    If Novus Ordo priests are ordained to not offer Mass, and to not hear Confessions, of what possible use could be a Novus Ordo bishop?

    Of course, these ceremonies are part of the rite of priestly ordination, not episcopal consecration.  But how can one have the fullness of the priesthood—the episcopate—if the nature of the simple priesthood is denied?

    It is worthwhile considering just what Pope Paul VI’s defined form does signify.  Dom Botte is rather clear that the designers of the new rite understood the new form as conferring “the gift of the Spirit apt for a leader” he suggests that “principális must be correlated with the specific functions of the bishop,” which unfortunately the new form does not.  Receiving the Spíritus principális suggests receiving a delegation of authority rather than the full graces of the priesthood.  It sounds like the position of authority given to the leaders of Protestant churches; that of a Methodist bishop, for example.

    Perhaps that is not too far from reality in the Novus Ordo church.  What does a Novus Ordo bishop do?  Well, apart from his making sure that the true Mass and the Sacraments are unavailable in his diocese, his functions are mostly administrative.  He administers closing down churches.  He administers the protection of the diocesan wealth, a sort of shell game played in which funds are moved back and forth between parish ownership and diocesan ownership as the current scandal dictates.  He administers the transfer of problematic priests from parish to parish.  He administers the annulment of marriages.  He administers!  How many Novus Ordoites would identify him as a successor of the Apostles, let alone as the chief other-Christ in their lives?

In exercising supreme, full, and immediate power in the universal Church, the Roman pontiff makes use of the departments of the Roman Curia which, therefore, perform their duties in his name and with his authority for the good of the churches and in the service of the sacred pastors.   CHRISTUS DOMINUS, 9.[xiii]

    Walter Cardinal Kasper is the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, a member of the Roman Curia.  His views on ordination, then, unrepudiated by higher authority, ought to reflect pretty closely the Conciliar church’s understanding:

... it is not a question of apostolic succession in the sense of an historical chain of laying on of hands running back through the centuries to one of the apostles; this would be a very mechanical and individualistic vision, which by the way historically could hardly be proved and ascertained.

The Catholic view is different from such an individualistic and mechanical approach. Its starting point is the collegium of the apostles as a whole; together they received the promise that Jesus Christ will be with them till the end of the world (Matt 28, 20). So after the death of the historical apostles they had to co–opt others who took over some of their apostolic functions. In this sense the whole of the episcopate stands in succession to the whole of the collegium of the apostles. To stand in the apostolic succession is not a matter of an individual historical chain but of collegial membership in a collegium, which as a whole goes back to the apostles by sharing the same apostolic faith and the same apostolic mission. The laying on of hands is under this aspect a sign of co-optation in a collegium.

(At Saint  Alban's Abbey, Hertfordshire, England, on May 17, 2003)[xiv]

    Well, if there really is no apostolic succession, as this Prince of the Conciliar church says, and the episcopate is nothing more than “collegial membership in a collegium,” the “episcopal ordination” of the New Order really doesn’t need any kind of matter or form!  The secretary general of the “collegium” (a.k.a. the Pope) could just mail out membership cards—the new bishop would know he had been “co-optated” when the mailman arrives.  Note that this foolishness has not been confined to one Cardinal.  A great deal of time has been spent by other Catholic bishops and their Anglican counterparts producing a number of “Agreed Statements” which minimize the Catholic understanding of the Mass and the priesthood, among other subjects.[xv]

    That Catholic bishops, and a fortiori, a Curial Cardinal, could go uncorrected for nonsense like this is a strong indication—when coupled with the Paul VI “form,” the removal of the priestly significations from the ordination rite, the sacrificial significations from the Novus Ordo Missæ, and the general understanding of what priests and bishops do in the Modernist church—that the Conciliar church no longer has a Catholic understanding of words like “priest” and “bishop,” and is in roughly the same position as its Anglican counterpart described by Pope Leo XIII.

    28. The same holds good of episcopal consecration. For to the formula, "Receive the Holy Ghost", not only were the words "for the office and work of a bishop", etc. added at a later period, but even these, as we shall presently state, must be understood in a sense different to that which they bear in the Catholic rite. Nor is anything gained by quoting the prayer of the preface, "Almighty God", since it, in like manner, has been stripped of the words which denote the summum sacerdotium.

    30. For the full and accurate understanding of the Anglican Ordinal, besides what we have noted as to some of its parts, there is nothing more pertinent than to consider carefully the circumstances under which it was composed and publicly authorized. It would be tedious to enter into details, nor is it necessary to do so, as the history of that time is sufficiently eloquent as to the animus of the authors of the Ordinal against the Catholic Church; as to the abettors whom they associated with themselves from the heterodox sects; and as to the end they had in view. Being fully cognizant of the necessary connection between faith and worship, between "the law of believing and the law of praying", under a pretext of returning to the primitive form, they corrupted the Liturgical Order in many ways to suit the errors of the reformers. For this reason, in the whole Ordinal not only is there no clear mention of the sacrifice, of consecration, of the priesthood (sacerdotium), and of the power of consecrating and offering sacrifice but, as we have just stated, every trace of these things which had been in such prayers of the Catholic rite as they had not entirely rejected, was deliberately removed and struck out.[xvi]

[Revision: 24 April AD 2009

   Looking for the various negative signifcátio ex adjúncti of the Novus Ordo may well be an endless task.  As Catholics we are used to thinking and reasoning with a reality based philosophical system—the perennial philosophy which has its roots in antiquity, which the Catholic Church holds to have flowered in the scholasticism of Saint Thomas Aquinas.  Catholic philosophy holds that there is an objective truth—men may have trouble discovering the truth, and may argue about it, but it exists, nonetheless, in the mind of God.  A few of these truths have been communicated to us from God’s mind in the form of divine revelation.  The philosophy of Saint Thomas is no longer considered normative by the Conciliar church.[xvii]

    Even early Protestantism was reality based.  We might have argued with the Lutherans or the Anglicans, or the Presbyterians about the real presence or the sacrificial nature of the Mass, but we would have been arguing questions of fact within a philosophical system that recognized the reality of truth—arguing about the facts of what God had revealed, but not at all about the fact that the reality was known in the mind of God.  By way of illustration, men might argue that the milk bottle in the refrigerator was empty, full, or somewhere in between, but all reality based people would agree that the objective truth of the answer could be found in the mind of God—even if it were not possible to open the refrigerator.

    Novus Ordo Modernism, on the other hand, has no such grounding in reality.  It pretends to determine reality by consensus—we will determine the amount of milk in the bottle, or determine the mode of Christ’s existence in the Communion host by “dialoguing” about it.  Pope John Paul II identified

the areas in need of fuller study before a true consensus of faith can be achieved.... 2) the Eucharist, as the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ, an offering of praise to the Father, the sacrificial memorial and Real Presence of Christ and the sanctifying outpouring of the Holy Spirit; 3) Ordination, as a Sacrament, to the threefold ministry of the episcopate, presbyterate and deaconate....[xviii]

    In applying Pope Leo XIII’s concern about how non-Catholics assign meaning to words like “priest,” “bishop,” “Mass,” and so forth, we must recognize that the constantly changing meanings assigned by the Conciliar church put it farther from orthodoxy—and consequently from validity—than the Anglicans of Apostólicæ cúræ.

    The Angelus writer (December, p. 10) claims that the new rite must be valid because “if the new rite is invalid the Roman Church is deprived of a hierarchy, which would seem contrary to the promises of Christ (‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against her’).”  Others speak of a (non-existent) “rite of the Universal Church,” which God would not allow to be invalid.  The idea is essentially that “it can’t happen because it can’t happen”;  an argument akin to the rationalist’s “miracles can’t happen therefore they don’t.

    The Church is indefectible—not the Pope, or even a Pope and most of the bishops.  Claiming that the men and not the Institution are the seat of indefectibility can only strengthen the sedevacantist case.  After all, these same men—valid Orders or not—have already utterly failed at the task of governing the Church in a Catholic manner: churches are closing, dioceses are going bankrupt, people are losing their Faith and staying away from Mass in droves.  Under their leadership—valid Orders or not—by their own accounting, the number of “priestless parishes” has multiplied almost six-fold in the United States since Vatican II, up from 549 in 1965 to 3,251 in 2005, with no slow down in sight.[xix]  The indefectible Church survives in spite of them and not because of them;  It survives in its orthodox bishops, priests, and faithful.

    The idea that the Roman rite is synonymous with the Universal Church is naive in the extreme.  The Pope is the head of the Universal Church, to be sure, but that Church worships (and to a lesser extent is governed) in a dozen rites or more.  If the use of the Roman rite was synonymous with the governing Papacy, the sedevacantists could again make a good case that there has been no Pope since Paul VI abandoned the “rite of the Universal Church.”  Monsignor Klaus Gamber makes the point clearly: “the liturgical reforms of Pope Paul VI created a de facto new rite”—and, at least in the French edition, the preface to his book was written by then Cardinal Ratzinger.[xx]  This new rite—first the new ordination rite, and then the new mass—was cobbled together by the liturgical progressives who made up the Concílium.[xxi]  The new rites were developed with the guidance of a half dozen Protestant ministers, and then presented to the bishops of the Catholic Church as normative.  The few conservatives of the Concílium were stonewalled, and the Protestants had more influence on the development of the new rites than the vast majority of Catholic bishops!

    With no offence intended to the Presbyterians, since Paul VI the Popes have followed the rite of Calvinist Geneva, not that of the Universal Church headquartered at Rome.  I don’t know if they are still doing it, but a lot of the liturgical books I saw printed in the early Novus Ordo days even scrapped the “Roman” typeface in favor of “Helvetica,” a typeface named for the official title of the Swiss Confederation![xxii]

    So far, I have been concerned strictly with the defective “form” of the 1968 episcopal ordination rite.  There is also some concern about the matter being separated from the “form” by the ceremony of placing the Book of the Gospels on the head of the bishop elect.

    Of all the Sacraments, Holy Orders is the one in which the matter and form may be separated by the largest interval.  The ordaining/consecrating bishop(s) (and priests, in the case of priestly ordinations) lay hands on the ordinands, and several prayers are recited before the form itself is recited.  In the traditional rite of episcopal consecration the opened Gospel book is placed on the neck and shoulders of the bishop-elect, and it remains there until it is presented to him after he receives both matter and form, his head and hands have been anointed, and he has received the crosier, miter, and ring.  The book seems to symbolize the burden of the episcopacy as the bishop elect receives the Order and the adjunct rites of consecration.  In the traditional rite it is not an interruption.

    One can only speculate why the new rite has the Gospel book placed on the head rather than the shoulders, and only while the prayers surrounding the “form” are recited.  Perhaps, in line with Cardinal Kasper’s thinking, this is to symbolize power flowing from the Gospels rather than from the consecrators—or, less charitably, we might speculate that it is to shield him from any possible sacramental effect of the prayers.  No doubt, some antiquarian will find evidence that this was the custom among early Boharic-speaking Christians, or some others.  In practice, though, it seems like just one more purposeful attempt to make the rite more ambiguous—so that a little more doubt may be introduced into the minds of the faithful.

    Since it is missing from this part of the ceremony, one might also ask why the bishop’s hands are not anointed in the new rite.  In the traditional rite this is another of those adjunct significations, in this case pointing to the promotion of the bishop from the simple priesthood—the hands, already anointed with the Oil of Catechumens in the priesthood, are anointed with Holy Chrism, and the accompanying prayer refers to the episcopal functions of using those hands to ordain, consecrate, and confirm.

    The confusion of the past fifty years ago has, on occasion, given rise to concerns about invalidly conferred Sacraments.  Sometimes these concerns have been raised due to ignorance;  sometimes due to malice.  I was once accused of offering Mass invalidly because the vestment set lacked a maniple—another time because he didn’t drink all the wine in the cruet!—clearly concerns stemming from ignorance. The schismatic notion that “there is no salvation outside of my little group of traditionalists”(or outside of the Modernist church) has been accompanied by malicious charges of invalidity—“Bishop A’s ordinations are invalid because he once ordained a crazy man”—“Bishop B is not really a bishop because he was ordained by a Freemason”—“Bishop C is not, because he was ordained secretly.”  At least one Modernist priest went around telling people that the Baptisms of traditional priests were invalid because they were not “approved” by the Modernist bishop!  This sort of thing is as heretical as it was centuries ago, when condemned as the Donatist heresy by Pope Saint Melchiades in 312.[xxiii]

    Nonetheless, it is possible for the Sacraments to be conferred invalidly—if, and only if, one of the essentials is omitted or mutilated.  The remedy is simple—an invalid Sacrament must be repeated.  Even the Sacraments of indelibility may be repeated—conditionally if some aspect of the validity is prudently doubted; unconditionally if some essential was certainly missing.

    Most critiques of the new rites approach them from the perspective that invalidity will deprive the faithful of the Sacraments which our Lord instituted and desires us to have.  It is necessary, as well, to recognize that the purposefully invalid confection of a Sacrament is a terrible sacrilege.  That the highest authorities of the Church would conspire with non-Catholics to develop mutilated and possibly invalid rites is a sacrilege of the greatest magnitude.  It is not the sin of one who receives unworthily;  not the sin of a few who combine to desecrate a church;  not the sin even of an entire nation which chooses to reject the law of God—it is the sin of the wicked who have conspired together in the vain hope of enabling the gates of hell to prevail against God’s Church.  A vain hope to be sure, but one that will bring about the ruin of many souls before it is extinguished.

    We are talking here about the fact that within the Conciliar church virtually everything has changed—almost always in a way that compromises the teaching of the Faith as it has come down to us from the Doctors of the Church, the Fathers, the Apostles, and Jesus Christ Himself.  Whatever little has not changed is up for discussion—the endless “dialogue with our separated brethren.”  And we are talking about the possibility that those who follow the Conciliar lead will quickly find themselves with no Sacraments other than Baptism and Marriage.  The doubts are prudent, so the interested parties ought to be joining in well reasoned discussion, rather than pontificating about the errors of the “opposition.”  There should be no thought of an “opposition”—only of other Catholics who may have considered things that have been missed.

    In summary, we have seen that the venerable Roman Rite has been cast off in favor of an Eastern sourcenot just any Eastern source but one always associated with schism or heresy. From that source, in which words are found that could validly signify the meaning of the “matter,” a group of words which do not so signify, have been declared to be the “form” of the Sacrament in the Conciliar church, excluding those words which do. There has also been a studied effort to remove the sacrificial and sacerdotal significations previously found in the rites of Mass and ordinationsterms like “priest,” “bishop” and “sacrifice” receiving Protestant meanings. Priests of the Conciliar church are made to offer a Mass of dubious validity with falsified words of consecration. Conciliar bishops, and even a Cardinal of the Roman Curia have remained uncorrected after making statements denying the reality of the Apostolic Succession, and the Roman Pontiff has indicated that the theology of the Mass and Holy Orders are matters in which the truth is yet to be found by discussion with our "separated brethren.” There would be little exaggeration in saying that Pope Leo XIII as already condemned this state of affairs and spoken to the invalidity of the new rite.

    The administration of the Sacraments requires certainty—particularly the Sacrament upon which so many of the others depend. The doubts are prudent, so no one has the right to take chances with the administration of the Sacraments, for a sure and certain and holy alternative exists.


Sincerely yours in Christ,

 Rev. Fr. Chas. T. Brusca


The Adjunct Significations and Negative Significations in the
Traditional and Novus Ordo Rites for Priestly Ordination


Traditional Rite[xxiv]

Novus Ordo Rite[xxv]

Clothing with priestly vestments; stole and chasuble Bishop rearranges stoles and clothes with chasubles:

“Receive the yoke of the Lord; His yoke is sweet and His burden light.”

”Receive the priestly vestment by which charity is signified, for God is powerful to increase unto thee charity and perfection of work.”

Prayer follows, including:

”O God, Author of all holiness.... may they change by a holy benediction bread and wine into the body and blood of Thy Son for the worship of Thy people.”

The vesting is conducted by the assistant priests and not the bishop.

No prayer is said. 
Anointing of hands. The bishop anoints the canonical fingers in the form of a cross, and then both palms:

“Vouchsafe, O Lord to consecrate and sanctify these hands by this unction and our + blessing.”  Amen.
“That whatsoever they may bless may be blessed, and whatsoever they shall consecrate be consecrated and sanctified, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Amen.

The bishop anoints the palms:

“The Father anointed our Lord Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.  May Jesus preserve you to sanctify the Christian people and to offer sacrifice to God.”
The handing over of the chalice and paten (technically called the “tradition of instruments”) “Receive the power to offer sacrifice to God and to celebrate Mass for the living as well as for the dead in the name of the Lord.”  Amen. “Accept from the holy people of God the gifts to be offered to him.  Know what you are doing, and imitate the mystery you celebrate: model your life on the mystery of the Lord’s cross.”
The second laying on of hands—signifying the power to forgive sins. The bishop lays hands on each new priest once again:

“Receive the Holy Ghost: whose sins thou shalt forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins thou shalt retain, they are retained.”

The bishop then unfolds the chasuble.

Omitted in the new rite.
Solemn blessing of the ordinands “May the blessing of almighty God, the Father, + Son, + and Holy Ghost, + descend upon you that you may be blessed in the priestly order, and offer up the sacrifice of propitiation for the sins and offences of the people to the almighty God, to whom be honor and glory forever and ever.” Amen. Omitted in the new rite.


Traditional Rite[xxiv]

Novus Ordo Rite[xxv]



[i]     Cf. Session IV, First Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Christ, 18 July 1870, Chap. 4;

[iv]   Leo XIII, Apostólicæ cúræ #24

[v]   Ibid.

[vi]   Ibid. #29.

[vii]   Cf. Apostólicæ cúræ #28

[ix]   Cf. Apostólicæ cúræ #28, 30.

[x]   Pope Paul VI, General Instruction on the Roman Missal, translation in The New Order of Mass (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1970) page 56.  Apparently there were complaints—the second or third iteration deals with the doctrinal problem by making it more ambiguous!  See

[xi];  See also footnote 29 in the "Short Critical Study of the New Order of Mass"  commissioned by Archbishop Lefebvre and presented to Pope Paul VI by Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci.

[xv]   See the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) “Interconfessional Dialogues” at

[xvi]     Cf. Aposstólicæ cúræ #28, 30.

[xvii]   Contrast 1917 Canon 1366§2 with Pope John Paul II’s 1983 Canon 253.

[xx]    Cf. Michael Davies, Latin Mass Society's November 2002 Newsletter, “Production Line Liturgy,”

[xxi]   Concilium:  the group that was supposed to be implementing the directives of Sacrosánctum concílium, the Vatican II constitution on the liturgy, but which got carried away with ecumenism to the detriment of Catholicism.

[xxiii]   Cf  Catholic Encyclopedia, s.v. “Donatists”

[xxiv]   Ordinations: Major and Minor Orders (Techny Illinois: Divine Word Publications, 1942) pp. 117, 122, 124, 148‑150.

[xxv]   The Rites of the Catholic Church (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1991) pp. 61-62.


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