Monday, October 13, 2014

Pius XII & Episcopal Consecration

A few days ago, someone asked me what Pius XII did to the rite of episcopal consecration after his encyclical Sacramentum Ordinis. Unlike his tinkering with the kalendar or hatchet job on Holy Week, his modifications to the Pontificale Romanum were relatively modest, if unfortunate. In the Acta Apostolicae Sedes for 1950, one can find a decree from Cardinal Micara "mandating the following changes and additions to the rubrics of the Roman Pontifical" to conform with the Pope's letter which "determined the form of the Sacrament of Orders" for Deacon, Priest, and Bishop.

The changes were modest, but did reflect the increasing shift towards receiving liturgy from Papal commissions who ensured the rites of the Church reflected the Pope's theology rather than the older paradigm.

Previously, an episcopal consecration employed one consecrating bishop, who would, with two other co-consecrators, lay hands on the episcopal candidate(s), but would say the prayers of the rite alone. Much like concelebration in the Byzantine rite, co-consecration of a bishop was meant as an act of brotherhood in which each participant did his own part. In the Greek rite, the concelebrants can sing litanies, distribute Communion, participate in the incensations and the like, but only the bishop says the anaphora. Similarly, the consecrating bishop carried out the elevation of the candidate and the other bishops attended as a fraternal sign; psalm 134 Ecce quam bonum was sung during the rite. after all. They laid their hands on the one who would join them among the successors to the Apostles, who Scripture called the "brethren" many times, but that was the extent of their place. In the revised form the co-consecrators carry out all the essentials of the rite along with the [now primary] consecrating bishop.

The revised rite calls for all consecrators to lay their hands on the candidates, say the words Accipe Spiritum Sanctum with the intention of consecration, and to say the preface which includes the words Pius XII decided constituted the absolutely essential form "Complete/perfect in Your priest the fullness of Your ministry and sanctify him with celestial anointing, clothing him with the ornaments of spiritual glorification." In the Roman tradition, anything about to become consecrated or sanctified in a special way is blessed with a preface: the palms on Palm Sunday, the Eucharist (prior to the silent Canon), priestly ordination, the Baptismal font, the Paschal candle, and churches when consecrated. Sadly, this changed people's association of the preface with sanctification and the "form" became the focus as though it is a stand alone prayer. 

Here is a picture of William Cardinal Godfrey's Pontificale Romanum, now owned by the esteemed Mr. Rubricarius, revised according to the Pian changes.

The chanted form was suppressed in favor of recitation by all three bishops

Again, the alterations were not drastic, but they do reflect the imbalance of liturgy and theology that came to a head during the 20th century, the centralization, and the gearing up towards a reform. I wonder, would Paul VI have been able to change the rites had his mentor not limited the essential forms to one line?
"Among the other documents of the supreme Magisterium dealing with sacred Orders, We judge worthy of special mention the Apostolic Constitution Sacramentum Ordinis, published by Our predecessor Pius XII on November 30, 1947, in which it is declared that "the matter, and the only matter, of the Sacred Orders of the Diaconate, the Priesthood, and the Episcopacy is the imposition of hands; and that the form, and the only form, is the words which determine the application of this matter, which univocally signify the sacramental effectsnamely, the power of Order and the grace of the Holy Spiritand which are accepted and used by the Church in that sense." (9) After this the same document decrees what imposition of hands and what words constitute the matter and the form in the conferring of each Order.
"Since in the revision of the rite it was necessary either to add, delete or change certain things whether to restore to the texts greater fidelity to the ancient texts or to express better the effects of the sacrament, We have deemed it necessary, both to clear up all controversy and to obviate anxiety of conscience, to declare what things in the revised rite are to be said to pertain to the essence of the rite. Hence, in virtue of Our supreme Apostolic authority, We decree and determine the following, with regard to the matter and the form in the conferring of each sacrament....." Pope Paul VI, November 18th, 1968 in Pontificalis Romani 

If anyone wants to read the old consecration rite in English, they can find it here. Interestingly, the translator puts a note within a note (not found in the Pontifical), correcting the notion that the laying of hands "was the essential rite" by citing Sacramentum Ordinis's teaching that the laying of hands is essential matter and the last words of the preface-turned-said prayer are the essential form.

Does it matter? I doubt anyone has used the pre-Pius XII rite of consecration since 1950. The last [canonical] consecration in the old rite was that of Bishop Rifan in Campos by Cardinal Hoyos. Before that was, of course, Archbishop Lefebvre at Econe. Both would have been done according to 1962. The sedevacantist bishops tend to follow Pius XII until he touched Holy Week. Daniel Dolan received his orders from bishop Mark Pivarunas of Pius XII-devout CMRI. Unlike Holy Week or the Office, this is a minor subject in my book and I doubt we will be revisiting it.

Spoken preface/essential form at 11:50


  1. Thank you so mcuh, Mr. Rad Trad! Those changes were a crime against God and His Tradition!

    K. e.

    PS: An interesting thing about this matter is that the recongition of a co-consecration before those changes were made, actually imply that concelebration does exist when only the main celebrant pronounces the words (at Mass, the Anaphora). So Pius XII's magisterium actually goes against most ("learned") traddies, who insist that concelebration never existed, and that it does not exist nowadays among Byzantines, because only the bishop/main celebrant says the Anaphora!

    1. That's funny. The first concelebration I ever saw in person was a Byzantine one... just this last year (my normal priest and a visiting one from Canada, plus the deacon). It was beautiful.

    2. Actually, in the traditional Roman rite, the tradition of concelebration never died out in the diocese of Lyon where it continued on certain feasts up until Vatican II.

    3. Dale: of course you are right! So the only thing you can feel is shame when listening something like this (in Spanish, I'm sorry):

      K. e.

    4. Sorry, I did my Candidatus in France, so no Spanish! But, I can only imagine. Although I am very much a traditionalist I shudder when I meet most Roman Catholic Traditionalists, their ignorance is simply shocking; and their liturgical knowledge is appalling, often anyway, as well. I find it strange that they actually think that a married man can never be a priest and that orders don't take if a man is married. Once, when speaking to a member of the Society, I mentioned married Eastern rite priests, his only reply was that they were not real priests! Truly bizarre. Once when speaking to a member of the Society (I now do not waste my time), I mentioned that in the Ukraine the Society actually had several married clergymen, he simply called me a liar, in front of quite a few people, and that I was out to destroy the faith and that I was a Protestant. Of course, these are also people who accept, through the use of the 1962 Missal, the very ideals of liturgical change and "reform."

    5. You also had this great quote: "So Pius XII's magisterium actually goes against most ("learned") traddies, who insist that concelebration never existed, and that it does not exist nowadays among Byzantines, because only the bishop/main celebrant says the Anaphora!" Do these people not understand the theology of Intent? Even if the main celebrant is the one who actually pronounces the Words of Consecration (one can debate if this constitutes simply the Verba, or the Supplices te rogamus [the opinion of St. Nicholas Cabasilas], or the whole canon [my own take on it]), if the concelebrating clergy have the intent to co-consecrate...well, one can see where I am leading.

    6. Dale: You don't miss anything important by not listening to it. Actually the whole conference is rubbish! That priest's ultimate conclusion, though not openly sponken, is that the Church of Patristic age had the same quantitativistic mindset mainstream Traddieland nowadays has... And the main problem with all this is that with such a mindset (quite anti-traditional!) the work for restoration of Tradition is doomed to fail for a long long time.

      K. e.

      PS: Of course, these are also people who accept, through the use of the 1962 Missal, the very ideals of liturgical change and "reform."

      In Spain we call that attitude "poner tronos a las causas y cadalsos a las consecuencias" (to put a throne for the causes, and a gallows for the consequences)

    7. Jeez, wait until they hear of the East Syriac custom of giving the entire congregation a general absolution so everyone present can receive the Eucharist...

      A prime example of traddie ignorance:

    8. Or, a friend of mine, a Greek Catholic, moved to an area without a Greek rite parish, the local Roman novus ordo parishes were simply horrible so he considered attending a Traditionalist parish; the priest told him his still very children could not receive communion since they had not received their first communion nor confirmation, when he explained that they had been confirmed at baptism by the priest and had received communion since that time, he was told that their confirmations were invalid for the reception of communion in the Roman rite (this is truly bizarre since in some areas of even the Latin rite the confirmation of children by priests was a living tradition until not too long ago); but the ignorance is simply appalling.

    9. Yeah... at that point I'd have checked in with an Orthodox church in the area.

    10. Yes, but be careful. The Orthodox can be very ignorant in their own special way as well; often tinged with ethnic bigotry. The things that they think are believed by western believers is really even worse sometimes!

    11. Definitely. I once sat through a sermon by an OCA priest about how St.(?) Mark of Epheseus took a stand against the "Roman Heresies" of Double Procession, Purgatory, and Papal Supremacy (ok, I'll kinda concede that third one to an extent).

      It's like he had never heard of St. Maximos the Confessor or St. Tarasios ("The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father THROUGH the Son").

      I've found the Greeks to be generally more reasonable.

  2. What I object to is the attitude of someone who used ball-point pen and glued bits of paper into a fine liturgical volume. I bought them from the charming John Bevan way back in the early 1990s. In those days when the John Bevan catalogue arrived in the post one dialled the number as one opened the envelope to order the goodies that were bought up almost instantly.

    When referencing the Pacelli changes to ordination rites that great guru of Traddieland Michael Davies, writing with typical sarcasm and ignorance, replying to comments of a certain Fr. Bonaventure Hinwood said 'Here, to put things as charitably and moderately as possible, one can only say that Father Hinwood is raving! Pope Pius XII did not change one word, capital letter, period or comma in the Ordination Rite. He simply stated definitively in which part of the rite the matter and form of the sacrament were located.' (Davies, M., 'The Legal Status of the Tridentine [sic] Mass', Angelus Press, 1982, p.15. I suppose coming from someone who also stated that Pius X made a reform of the music not of the texts of the Breviary at least he was consistent.

    Taft, in his inimical style, lambasts the Pacellian change and the mentality of having to say certain words for concelebration to be real: ‘Thus for centuries the three bishops that imposed hands at episcopal ordination were rightly considered true ‘co-consecrators’. It would be a distortion of the whole tradition to consider them anything else, though only one said the formula of consecration. But since Pius XII all three co-consecrators have to recite the formula.’

    Of course in Rome it had long been standard praxis for the co-consecrators to say the words in a low voice.

    1. From Davies' "Order of Melchisedek":

      "On 30 November, 1947, Pope Pius XII promulgated his Apostolic Constitution Sacramentum
      Ordinis specifying what constituted the matter and form of the Sacrament of Order. He made no
      change whatsoever in the traditional ordination rite contained in the Roman Pontifical. In fact, Pope
      Pius XII laid considerable stress upon the fact that no change whatsoever was to be made in the
      traditional rite. At the conclusion of Sacramentum Ordinis he wrote:

      'Finally, it is not lawful to understand what We have above declared and established in the sense that
      other rites contained in the Roman Pontifical may be neglected: in fact, We command all that is
      prescribed in the Roman Pontifical to be religiously maintained and observed'."

  3. Hm...
    The rubric for the form itself says "dicit" which is singular.