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“Novus Ordo Presiders are Probably Priests”
“Novus Ordo Sacraments are Probably Valid”

    It is a fundamental principle of moral theology that one may not follow a probable (but not certain) opinion in conferring the Sacraments--if there is a more certain way, it must be followed.  Only in dire emergency might one follow a probable opinion.  E..g. someone will die without Baptism unless he is baptized with a liquid that is probably water.

SECTION I: Probable Opinions of Validity

In conferring the Sacraments ( as also in the Consecration in Mass) it is never allowed to adopt a probable course of action as to validity and to abandon the safer course. The contrary was explicitly condemned by Pope Innocent XI. To do so would be a grievous sin against religion, namely an act of irreverence towards what Christ our Lord has instituted; it would be a grievous sin against charity, as the recipient would probably be deprived of the graces and effect of the Sacrament; it would be a grievous sin against justice, as the recipient has a right to valid Sacraments, whenever the minister, whether ex officio or not, undertakes to confer a Sacrament. In the necessary Sacraments there is no doubt about the triple sin; in Sacraments that are not necessary there will always be the grave sacrilege against religion.

Henry Davis, S.J.
Moral and Pastoral Theology
London: Sheed & Ward, 1935
Volume III, page 27

Various Errors on Moral Subjects
Condemned by a degree of the Holy Office, March 4, 1679

1. It is not illicit in conferring sacraments to follow a probable opinion regarding the value of the sacrament, the safer opinion being abandoned, unless the law forbids it, convention or the danger of incurring grave harm. Therefore one should not make use of probable opinions only in conferring baptism, sacerdotal, or episcopal orders. (Denzinger 1151)

Innocent XI (1676-1689


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