By Bryon Harries

"The order of the priesthood... is pre-eminently the power to consecrate and offer the true body and blood of the Lord in that sacrifice which is no mere commemoration of the sacrifice performed on the Cross." — Pope Leo XIII, Apostolicae Curae, 25.
"The priesthood is essentially the power of consecrating and offering the true body and blood of the Lord and of forgiving and retaining sins." — Leeming, Principles of Sacramental Theology, 1956, pg. 136.
Texts used:
  1. Roman Ordinal, Dublin, 1955,
  2. New Roman Ordinal, ICEL Version, 1969 [The Latin text of the new ordinal is not available at the time of writing this article].
The Roman Ordinal expressed in two ways the conferring of the power to offer the Holy Sacrifice:
  1. By explicit statement of conferring the power;
  2. By a clear statement of the continuity of the Catholic Priesthood with the sacrificing priesthood of the Old Testament and with the priesthood of the Apostolic Age.
  1. I discuss first the conferring of the power.
    1. The great prayer Deus sanctificationum omnium auctor which was recited by the Bishop after the vesting of the candidates contained these words:
      "... et in obsequium plebis tuae, panem et vinum in corpus et sanguinem Filii tui immaculata benedictione transforment..."
      ("... and for the service of thy people, may they change bread and wine into the body and blood of thy Son with undefiled blessing...")
      This prayer is omitted entirely from the new ordinal.

    2. The form of the anointing of hands:

      Roman Ordinal:
      "Consecrare et sanctificare digneris, Domine, manus istas per istam unctionem et nostram benedictionem. Ut quaecumque benedixerint, benedicantur; et quaecumque consecraverint, consecrentur et sanctificentur, in nomine Domine nostri Jesu Christi. Amen."
      ("Deign to consecrate and sanctify, O Lord, these hands, by means of this oil and our blessing. May whatever they bless, be blessed, and whatever they consecrate, be consecrated and sanctified, in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen")
      The New Roman Ordinal:
      "The Father anointed Jesus Christ as Lord through the power of the Holy Spirit. May Jesus keep you worthy of offering sacrifice to God and sanctifying the Christian assembly."
      Apart from the fact that the new form omits a clear reference to the power to confer blessing, note that the new prayer asks God to "keep you worthy of offering sacrifice." It does not confer the power to offer sacrifice as the earlier prayer did ("quaecumque consecraverint, consecrentur"). The significance of the prayer has been changed.

    3. The form of the presentation of the paten and chalice:

      Roman Ordinal:
      "Accipe potestatem offerre Sacrificium Deo, Missasque celebrare tam pro vivis quam pro defunctis. In nomine Domini. Amen."
      ("Receive the power to offer sacrifice to God, and to celebrate Masses fo the living and the dead. In the name of the Lord. Amen.")
      New Ordinal:
      "Accept the gifts from the people to be offered to God. Be conscious of what you are doing, be as holy as the actions you perform, and model your life after the mystery of the Lord's cross."
      Again, the new form confers no power, but simply admonishes the candidate. Note the difference between 'Receive the power' and 'Receive the gifts'. The significance of the presentation of the chalice has become detached from the offering of sacrifice.

    4. The blessing of the newly-ordained by the Bishop according to the Roman Ordinal:
      "Benedictio Dei omnipotentis, Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti, descendat super vos; ut sitis benedicti in ordine Sacerdotali, et offeratis placabiles Hostias pro peccatis atque offensionibus populi, omnipotenti Deo, cui est honor et gloria, per omnia saecula saeculorum."
      ("May the blessing of Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, descend upon you; that you may be blessed in the order of the priesthood, and that you may offer unblemished victims for the sins and offences of the people to Almighty God, to whom belongs honor and glory forever and ever.")
      This blessing, with its explicit reference to the function of the High Priesthood of Christ as described in the Epistle to the Hebrews, is omitted entirely from the new ordinal.

    5. The optional form of instruction to the candidate contains the only clear reference in the new ordinal to the conferring of the power to offer the Holy Sacrifice:
      "By consecration they will be made true priests of the New Testament who will... celebrate the sacred rites, especially the Lord's sacrifice. is your ministry which will make the spiritual sacrifices of the faithful perfect by uniting them to the eucharistic sacrifice of Christ. That sacrifice of Christ will be offered in an unbloody way through your hands."
      But it must be stressed that this instruction, whether it is used or not, cannot be regarded as an integral part of the rite, as the rubric clearly makes it an option. If it is optional, it cannot be essential to what the authors of the new ordinal regard as necessary for the adequate fulfillment of the rite.
  2. I next discuss the continuity of the Catholic priesthood with the sacrificing priesthood of the Old Testament and with the priesthood of the Apostolic Age. The Roman Ordinal expresses this important concept in two forms, each carrying a different emphasis. By association these two forms express both the continuity with the biblical priesthood and also our dependence on the prayer and example of the biblical models. In the new ordinal the first of these two forms, which clearly expresses the continuity, has been entirely omitted, while the second, as we shall see, has been emended to give quite a different sense. I shall present both forms, comparing the second with its appearance in the new ordinal:
    1. The first form in the Roman Ordinal occurs in the instruction to the candidates:
      "Tales itaque esse studeatis, ut in adjutorium Moysis et duodecim Apostolorum, Episcoporum videlicet catholicorum qui per Moysen et Apostolos figurantur, digne, per gratiam Dei, eligi valeatis."
      ("And so may you strive to be such that you may be worthy with the grace of God to be chosen as helpers of Moses and the twelve Apostles, that is, of the Catholic bishops, who are prefigured in Moses and the Apostles.")
      Note the explicit emphasis on the continuity of the priesthood with Moses and the Apostles. They are the 'figura' or 'type' of the Catholic bishops, who, like them, choose and consecrate their helpers in the priesthood.

      This form has been entirely omitted from the new ordinal.

    2. The second form, which has a different emphasis, is in the Preface of Ordination in the traditional ordinal but is now placed in the Prayer of Consecration, following the imposition of hands.

      Roman Ordinal:
      "Sic eremo per septuaginta virorum prudentium mentes, Moysis spiritum propagasti; quibus, ille adjutoribus usus, in populo innumeras multitudines facile gubernavit. Sic et in Eleazarum et Ithamarum, filios Aaron, paternae plenitudinis abundantium transfudisti, ut ad hostias salutares et frequentioris ifficii sacramenta, ministerium sufficeret Sacerdotum. Hac providentia, Domine, Apostolis Filii tui Doctores fidei comites addidisti, quibus illi orbem totum secundis praedicationibus impleverunt. Quapropter infirmitati quoque nostrae, Domine, quaesumus, haec adjumenta largire, qui quanto fragiliores sumus, tanto his pluribus indigemus."
      ("So in the desert Thou didst propagate the spirit of Moses by the minds of the seventy wise men, by whose assistance he was enabled easily to hold sway over innumerable multitudes of the people. So too Thou didst transfer to Eleazar and Ithamar, the sons of Aaron, the fullness of their father's power, so that the ministration of priests might suffice for the offering of the saving victims, and for the ritual of the ordinary service. With the same wise purpose, O Lord, Thou didst join to the Apostles of Thy Son teachers of the faith, by whose aid they filled the whole world with their preaching. Wherefore, we beseech Thee, O Lord, grant these supports to our weakness, for the weaker we are the more we need these many helpers.")
      New Ordinal:
      "So also in the desert you extended the spirit of Moses by infusing that spirit into the minds of seventy wise men, who were his helpers among the people and whom he employed to govern that great multitude. You filled the sons of Aaron with their father's power, to make them worthy priests for the offering of saving victims and the celebration of sacred rites. By your providence, Lord, your Son's apostles had companions of the second rank, to help them preach the faith to the whole world. We cannot compare with the high priests, with Moses, Aaron and the apostles. Weaker than they, so much the more are we in need of help. Grant us that help, O Lord."
      This form does not in itself express continuity, but does so by association with for (i), which is now, of course, omitted. The emphasis in this form (ii) is rather on the example which they biblical models provide of God's providential care of his people, and on their intercession in support of our weakness. The concept of continuity is of course an implicit part of all this, but it is strange that the prayer which makes explicit mention of the continuity should have been omitted.

      It is even more serious that the ICEL translation, with an 'imprimatur' from the Archbishop of Birmingham, should put a major obstacle in the way of seeing continuity as implicit in the theme of the prayer. For the quite innocent confession of human weakness — 'infirmitati quoque nostrae' — has been rendered by: 'We cannot compare with the high priests, with Moses, Aaron and the apostles', a translation which has no authority in the original and which, taken literally, destroys the implicit idea that the priests of the church are to be compared in their function with the biblical models, but need their example and support to fulfill that function worthily.

      Once this perversion of the meaning of the text has begun, it continues by eliminating the idea that it is the priests of the Old Law and the apostles of the New Law who are the example and support invoked in aid of the Catholic priesthood. This was stressed in the Roman Ordinal by the use of the plural forms 'haec adjumenta' and 'his pluribus', but in the new ordinal we find these rendered by the vague singular 'help'. No objective reader would deduce that Moses, Aaron and the apostles are the help we need.

      Thus, instead of attempting to repair the damage done by the omission of form (i), the new ordinal perverts the meaning of form (ii) by failing to draw the real implications.
  3. The Roman Ordinal contains the following formula by which the power to remit sins is conferred:
    "Accipe Spiritum Sanctum; quorum remiseris peccata, remittuntur eis; et quorum retinueris retenta sunt."
    ("Receive the Holy Spirit; whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.")
    This formula has been entirely omitted form the new ordinal and no substitute is provided.
What are we to make of these changes? The systematic removal from the basic text of every explicit reference to the conferring of the power to offer the Holy Sacrifice, to effect the trans-substantiation of the elements, to remit sins, presents us with a pattern of destruction quite frightening in its implications.

However, it might be thought that, provided the ordaining bishop has the intention to effect what the church has always intended, ordinations conducted according to the new rites remain valid despite the defect of form.

This does not seem to be the view of the church.

If the defect is due to deliberate omission or change of the traditional formulae, making them less explicit or ambiguous, then the church does not take into account the private intention of the bishop, but considers such ordinations invalid (c.f. Apostolicae Curae, 33: "Concerning the mind or intention in itself, which is something internal, the Church does not pass judgment; but she is bound to judge of it as it is externally manifested" Denziger 3318). Thus, if a person were ordained by a validly consecrated bishop who had the private intention to do what the church intends (e.g. Greek Orthodox, Old Catholic), the ordination would be invalid if the Anglican Ordinal was used, since the form would be defective by the deliberate act of its authors.

This matter needs to be very seriously considered by the church authorities, since the emerging pattern of change in the new ordinal is quite clear, blurring what should be distinctly stated, obscuring the truths which the church has defined regarding the sacerdotal character. It must be said that the Catholic church now has imposed on her an ordinal which gives much less than adequate expression to the Catholic doctrine of the priesthood.

Whatever the motives behind this may be, it is perhaps not too irrelevant to recall Pope Leo XIII's words about the authors of the Anglican (Edwardine) Ordinal:
"They knew only too well the intimate bond which unites faith with worship, the lex credendi with the lex supplicandi, and so, under the pretext of restoring it to its primitive form, they corrupted the order of the liturgy in many respects to adapt it to the errors of the Innovators. As a result, not only is there in the whole Ordinal no clear mention of sacrifice, of consecration, of priesthood, of the power to consecrate and offer sacrifice, but, as We have already indicated, every trace of these and similar things remaining in such prayers of the Catholic rite as were not completely rejected, was purposely removed and obliterated."Apostolicae Curae 30. Denz. 3317a.
This reminds us that an interesting parallel is to be drawn between the new ordinal and the new rite of the Mass.

Byron Harries, England.
Lucio Mas: I consider the New Ordinal form "The Father anointed Jesus Christ as Lord through the power of the Holy Spirit" as being suspect of heresy; at least, the heresy of Adoptionism is implied!
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