Saturday, October 19, 2013

A Hands-On Application Of Sacramental Theology For The Culpably Ignorant

The blog "Pistrina Liturgica" (PL) is obsessed in their futile attempt to "prove" priestly ordination conferred with one hand to be "doubtful" and requiring conditional re-ordination. What this is really about concerns their near pathological hatred for Bishop Daniel Dolan (whom they insultingly refer to as "One Hand Dan" because of his alleged ordination with only one hand by Archbishop Levebvre) and Father Anthony Cekada (known as "The Blunderer" or "Bonehead" due to his alleged lack of learning and their unproven "erudition"). I have posted on this issue several times as I called them out to refute Fr. Cekada's article "The Validity of Ordination Conferred With One Hand" available at (For the background, please see my posts of 4/22/13, 6/8/13, and 7/14/13).

 They failed miserably to refute Fr. Cekada's contention that one handed ordinations ARE VALID.
Now, after a self-imposed "hiatus" PL is back with an alleged refutation they will publish on-line. They want you, the Traditionalists reading it, to be the judge. Fair enough. This post will be my last word on the subject. I will lay down the points that must be directly proven and/or refuted for PL's case against one-handed ordinations to be successful. The latest post from them tells us nothing, except that the soon to be published "refutation" is going to be translated into French, Spanish, Italian, and German. It should really be made readily available in Braille, because there are none so blind as those who refuse to see. I can hardly wait to see the sophistry on parade. In this post of 10/17/13, PL informs us of an alleged "lively discussion with a very lucid 89-year-old Dominican in Milan, an erstwhile student at the Angelicum, who concurred that one-handed conferral of priestly orders was sufficiently dubious as to call for conditional ordination." Unless his identity is made known, and the citations he used to draw his conclusion fully discussed, this is a fallacious appeal to authority. An elderly Dominican whose identity and scholarship are unknown proves zilch. Also, I must ask, "Is he a Traditionalist?" If not, he's an apostate who clings to the Vatican II sect,  and obviously incapable of seeing pernicious heresy under his nose. Nevertheless, here are the principles and issues that must be addressed, and the principles will be enumerated first :

1. For every valid sacrament there must be:
  •  proper matter (sensible signs, e.g. water for baptism)
  • proper form (words that determine the form, e.g. THIS IS MY BODY over the bread at Mass to become the Holy Eucharist)
  • proper administrator (e.g. priest for Extreme Unction, bishop for Holy Orders)
  • proper intention (the one who administers the sacrament must intend to do what the Church does in the administration of the sacrament e.g., in Penance the priest must intend to absolve the penitent from sin)
  • there must be no obex of the sacrament on the part of the recipient which renders the sacrament null and void (e.g., the female sex renders Holy Orders invalid).
2. For a sacrament to be deemed invalid on the grounds of the matter or the form, there must be a SUBSTANTIAL change.

"A substantial change takes place when in ordinary usage and prudent estimation the matter no longer remains of the same species and name as that determined in the sacrament (e.g. to use milk in baptizing)...A change is accidental when the matter remains the same in usage and name but altered in some accidental quality (e.g. to use leavened bread or a square host)." (See Halligan, Nicholas, The Administration of the Sacraments, (The Mercier Press) 1962, pg.8)

3. Sacraments conferred by a Catholic minister, including Holy Orders, must be presumed valid until invalidity is proved.

This is “the queen of presumptions, which holds the act or contract as valid, until invalidity is proved.” (F. Wanenmacher, Canonical Evidence in Marriage Cases, [Philadelphia: Dolphin 1935], 408.)


“When the fact of ordination is duly established, the validity of the orders conferred is naturally to be presumed.” (W. Doheny, Canonical Procedure in Matrimonial Cases [Milwaukee: Bruce 1942] 2:72.)
4. The Church can not change the substance of the sacraments
"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." (See Leeming, Bernard, Principles of Sacramental Theology (The Newman Press:1962), pg. 420).





At his priestly ordination of 1976, it is alleged that Archbishop Levebvre used only one hand to confer the priesthood. Bp. Dolan's orders are now called into question by PL.
A) There is no positive proof that a one handed ordination ever took place.
  • PL supplies no known witnesses who were at the ordination. We have only their word that these anonymous witnesses exist. There are no known signed, sworn declarations by anyone.
  • There is no video or photographs to show a one handed ordination
  • A letter signed by nine priests in 1990, asked Fr. Dolan to stop all priestly functions until he was conditionally re-ordained due to his alleged one handed ordination. These priests were not present and saw nothing. They also had an axe to grind with Dolan for leaving them. One has to wonder what motivates them to write the letter 14 YEARS later! It was never an issue while he was working with them.
  • PL has a serious contradiction with which to contend. PL wrote "First-hand reports from former seminarians at Écône and Winona relate it was common knowledge that the '76 ordinations had been performed with one hand. At least one of these men, who later received his own priestly orders from one of the '76 ordinati, underwent conditional ordination as a safeguard against any future impeachment of his orders." It is clear that they contend that the ordinations (plural) were done with one hand. Bp. Richard Williamson was a member of that ordination class, yet PL does not impeach his orders or those subsequently ordained by him. In the comments section of the 9/1/13 post, "The Reader" states, "As for Bp. Williamson, we have no asseveration about his orders from the nine priests who signed the 1990 letter to "One Hand Dan," and therefore, what we cannot talk about we will pass over in silence." Really? What about the other alleged witnesses and the "common knowledge" that the ordinations were conferred with one hand? Now you claim your sole evidence is a letter written by priests who were not there?  Which is it? It's contradictory. One priest, Bp. Sanborn, retracted his name.
  • The fact that Bp. Dolan did not publicly denounce the charge proves nothing. Nor does the fact that Fr. Cekada researched the issue. Neither ever claimed it happened. Lefebvre never denounced the assertion that his ordaining bishop was a Freemason, yet that does not prove he was one. This is the fallacious appeal to ignorance, i.e. "You can't prove one hand wasn't used, so it must be so."
It's clear that in the absence of clear and compelling evidence that one hand was used, it must be dismissed as false. (See principle # 3 above). If PL wants to prove its case they MUST:
Bring forth photographic and/or video proof of a one handed ordination, OR have signed sworn testimony by people whose identity is made public that they witnessed same. They must also clear up the confusion as to whether one hand was used on Dolan alone, or on everyone as PL made contradictory assertions. If it was on everyone that one hand was used, when will PL go after Bp. Williamson and those ordained by him, since they are motivated by their zeal for the salvation of souls and the greater glory of God (wink, wink).  If getting ordained with one hand were a crime, no jury in this nation could convict Bishop Dolan.

B) It must be proven that ordination with one hand to the priesthood and episcopacy is a substantial defect.
If the use of one hand is only accidental, the sacrament is valid--period. (See principle # 2 above). Yet "The Reader" at PL writes in the comments of the 7/17/13 post:"Besides, we have scrupulously avoided saying the defect is substantial, so your premise is wrong to begin with." Well if it's not substantial (or "essential" in the non-technical terminology they employ) WHAT'S YOUR PROBLEM? You must think it MIGHT be substantial or there is no question of doubt.
Looking at the words Pope Pius XII used in Sacramentum Ordinis, defining the matter and form of Holy Orders: In paragraph #4 we read: "Wherefore, after invoking the divine light, We of Our Apostolic Authority and from certain knowledge declare, and as far as may be necessary decree and provide: that the matter, and the only matter, of the Sacred Orders of the Diaconate, the Priesthood, and the Episcopacy is the imposition of hands;.."(plural)
Pope Pius XII knew full well that ordination to the diaconate is given by the imposition of one HAND. Yet, he clearly places ordination to the diaconate alongside with ordination to the priesthood and episcopacy which employ both HANDS. This unambiguously shows that the phrase "imposition of HANDS" may refer to one OR two hands.
Theology manuals written by great pre-Vatican II theologians of the highest erudition and orthodoxy (and which were used by the Church to train Her priests) use "imposition of hands" to mean one or two hands. These theologians knew that the diaconate is conferred with one hand only, yet refer to it as an imposition of HANDS.
Examples: According to theologian Henry Davis, "The diaconate is more probably conferred by the imposition of HANDS of the ordaining bishop together with the Preface which is the form..." (See Davis, Henry Moral and Pastoral Theology, Volume IV (1935), pg. 15 Emphasis mine).

According to theologian Pohle, "The ordination rite for the diaconate contains only one imposition of HANDS..." and later, "According to all extant rituals the Holy Ghost is communicated when the bishop lays his HANDS upon a candidate to make him a deacon." (See Pohle-Preuss, The Sacraments Volume IV (1924), pg 70, 104 Emphasis mine).
If PL is claiming a substantial difference between the use of one handed and two handed ordinations (and they MUST or their argument collapses), they must explain why Pope Pius XII put the diaconate in the same plural category as the priesthood and episcopacy. They must explain why theologians did the same. They must show that ordination as a DEACON would be dubious if two hands were employed (if there is a substantial difference, then using two hands for a deacon must be as dubious as a one handed ordination for a priest). They must cite to pre-Vatican II theologians who unequivocally declare one handed ordinations to the priesthood as dubious or invalid. Good luck, you'll be needing it.
C) It must be proven that one handed ordinations are valid in the Eastern Rites exclusively.

The Syrians, Copts, and Maronites all employ one hand to ordain priests and/or consecrate bishops. That means that one hand alone is the substance of the sacrament of Holy Orders. Remember principle # 4 above: the Church can not change the substance of the Sacraments. Pope Pius XII can define the matter, but he can't alter it so that one hand remains valid for the Eastern Rites, but two hands are necessary for the Latin Rite. Using one hand may be illicit (like using leavened bread for Mass), but never invalid. If there is a substantial difference between one and two handed ordinations, PL must answer (with citations) these queries:

If an Eastern Rite bishop ordained a Latin Rite candidate to the priesthood using the one-handed Eastern Rite of ordination, would it be invalid? Why?
Is it the subject (Latin Rite) who somehow possesses an obex due to Sacramentum Ordinis?
What if a Latin Rite bishop ordains according to the Eastern Rite using one hand? Is it invalid because he is a Latin Rite Bishop, or would it be valid only on a candidate of the Eastern Rite because he wouldn't have an obex?
How does Pope Pius have the authority to change the substance of the sacraments which Pope St. Pius X and Pope Leo XIII decreed can not be done?
Since Pope Pius XII defined the form of Holy Orders, does the use of a different form by the Eastern Rites make them invalid if employed by the Latin Rite? Why? Why not?


If PL can't refute and respond to everything above, their case is lost. You be the judge. I really can't wait for PL's refutation of Fr. Cekada's article to come out. I want to get a hard copy and put it in its rightful place---in between the latest issue of the National Enquirer and the Charmin.



  1. "What this is really about concerns their near pathological hatred for Bishop Daniel Dolan". However, if this is all it was about, they could just tell people to avoid Dolan's chapels. I do agree distaste for Dolan is a motivator and they must have had bad experiences with Dolan (as have others). I don't think they should call them names, but neither should people call "pope Francis" names like "Chaos Frank" and so on.
    The prayer of St. Francis: "Lord, make me an instrument of your peace!"

    1. Telling people to avoid Bp. Dolan's chapels, while intellectually honest, is not good enough for them. No one would really care about their personal opinion. However, tell people that he might not be a valid priest or bishop (and by extension the priests he ordains), then they will scare people away.
      I agree with you about name calling, although in the case of those leading people to Hell (Francis), I believe it is justified. Remember that Our Lord was charity Incarnate, yet when it came to the Pharisees, He did not hesitate to call them hypocrites, liars, and "vipers."