Saturday, June 8, 2013

When Theology Gets Out of Hand (Part II)

In part one of this post, I began tearing down the blog "Pistrina Liturgica's" (PL) so-called refutation of Fr. Cekada's article "The Validity of Ordination Conferred with One Hand" available at I will now pick up where I left off.

6. From East to West the Matter Remains the Same

The most absurd "rebuttal" to Fr. Cekada's work, occurs when PL attempts to refute his arguments that one handed ordinations are routinely used in the Eastern Rite Catholic Churches. They do not claim his translation is wrong and that two hands are used. They do not claim he simply made stuff up. Their "argument" (I'm being kind in referring to it as such) is as ridiculous as it seems:
"SO WHAT!" (sic)

Remember, PL thinks that the plain meaning of SO is all that counts, so they go on to declare:

"Therefore, it seems to us very simple: after April 28, 1948, the only valid matter for priestly ordination in the Roman rite is the imposition of the bishop's (two) hands. Nothing else matters, so to speak. All this business about Byzantine, Coptic, or Maronite rites is not germane. If you're going to be an undoubted priest of the Roman rite in the wake of the promulgation of Sacramentum Ordinis, you must receive the imposition of (both) the bishop's hands. In light of the explicit definition found in Pius's apostolic constitution, one-handed conferral of priestly orders can only be viewed as a defect in the Roman rite of ordination. Whether one-handed conferral is an essential defect or not must wait until the Church decides the question, an event that may not happen for quite some time. In the meanwhile, a deeply solicitous regard for the salvation of souls demands that one-handed priestly orders be considered, for safety's sake, an essential defect. "

This is sheer ignorance at its worst. The underlying assumption PL makes is that it is possible for the Roman Pontiff to subtantially (i.e. "essentially") change the matter of a sacrament, so that what is valid in one rite might become invalid in another. Pope Pius XII could not declare that use of leavened bread for the Eucharist is an "essential" or "substantial" defect in the Latin/Roman Rite, so that a properly trained and validly ordained priest of the Roman Rite using it at Mass would not confect the Eucharist but an Eastern Rite priest would do so. Illicit, yes. Invalid, no. Likewise, to say that one handed ordination might be illicit is one thing, but not invalid.


  • "It is well-known that to the Church there belongs no right whatsoever to innovate anything on the substance of the Sacraments" Pope St. Pius X, Ex quo nono, 1910

  • "The Church is forbidden to change, or even touch, the matter or form of any Sacrament. She may indeed change or abolish or introduce something in the non-essential rites or "ceremonial" parts to be used in the administration of the Sacraments, such as the processions, prayers or hymns, before or after the actual words of the form are recited..." Pope Leo XIII, Apostolicae Curae, 1896

  •  Theologian John de Torquemada declared (1) that the Church had no power over the matter and form of the sacraments and (2) that the sacraments must be the same in the whole Church, since 'the unity of the Church is necessarily founded in the unity of faith and the unity of sacraments, in what concerns the substance of the sacraments.' Pope Eugene IV immediately approved this language. Further, the substance of a sacrament must at the very least convey Christ's meaning, so it would seem fully within the power of the Church to say that this or that form does or does not sufficiently express the meaning....In Extreme Unction, the Church never doubted the validity of the sacrament in the Orthodox Church, although the words of the form are various (See Leeming, Bernard Principles of Sacramental Theology (1962), pgs 420, 430).

  • It's clear that Pope Pius XII, could NOT have changed the substance (essence) of the sacrament so as to make the matter for the Latin Rite differ in validity from the Eastern Rites. It would result in this absurdity: A Latin/Roman Rite Bishop attempts to ordain a man to the priesthood using one of the Eastern Rites. Is it invalid? If the pope allows him to become a Bishop in the Eastern Rite, is it now valid? Or is it the subject (Roman or Eastern) whom determines what matter must be employed for validity? Bottom line: If it's valid in one Rite, it is valid matter for all Rites and can not be substantially different.

    7. Summary and Conclusion

    • The use of one hand on Dan Dolan remains speculation at best. It is unproven.

    • PL uses a "Feeneyite Hermenutic" which rejects the consent of the theologians in determining what the Church's understanding is when a document was promulgated. This leads to confusion and error.

    • Even the "plain meaning" of Sacramentum Ordinis in no way shows one handed ordinations to be invalid; to the contrary, it shows that an imposition of hands can be with one hand or two.

    • The unanimous consent of the theologians gives us moral certainty that one handed ordinations are valid.

    • The Church has no authority to change the substance of the sacraments. What is essential matter in one Rite is sufficient for validity in all Rites. Many of the Eastern Rites confer ordination with one hand, thus proving that using one hand in the Roman Rite might be illicit, but is NOT invalid

    •  Regatillo assures us in an appproved theology manual that the Holy Office declared ordinations with one hand valid.

     In PL's fourth post on the alleged rebuttal, they ask me in the footnotes, "Whaddya say Mr. Introibo ad Altare"? Since you asked, here's what I think:

    When a group of uncharitable boors whose opinion of themselves vastly exceeds their intellectual abilities are requested to give a point-by-point refutation of an article, all you can expect is what they gave: a pseudo-intellectual screed posing as "scholarship." The "Reader" should try reading moral theology regarding charity and and use his act of contrition for casting doubt where none should exist regarding ordinations by Bishop Dolan.

    If you want serious examination of questions, don't waste your eyesight on PL's puerile name-calling, ad hominem attacks, and poor reasoning skills. However, when it comes to causing strife where none should exist, and casting derision on good clergymen, I have to hand it to them. (And one hand will suffice for validity).

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