To be quite honest, I don't enjoy getting involved with needless controversy within Traditionalist Catholicism. Remember well the words of Galatians 6:10, "As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith." I especially abhor those with an ax to grind against good clerics. However, times will arise when we must make our Catholic way the best we can with no Magisterium in place during this time of near universal apostasy.
After putting to rest the unsubstantiated accusations and fallacious reasoning of the boors at the blog Pistrina Liturgica regarding the ordination of Bp.Daniel Dolan, I never thought I would revisit the case of an ordination called into question again. A reader of this blog has recently moved to Cincinnati and wants to attend Immaculate Conception Church run by the Society of St. Pius V (SSPV). The Church is run by Frs. William Jenkins and Joseph Greenwell. This person does not feel comfortable receiving the sacraments from Fr. Greenwell due to an article written circa 2006 by Fr. Anthony Cekada (for whom I have the greatest respect and admiration). The article, "Bishop Mendez and the 1990 SSPV Ordinations," takes the very serious step of calling into question the validity of the ordination of SSPV Frs. Paul Baumberger and Joseph Greenwell by Bishop Alfred Mendez. I had remarked on another site that I did not believe this to be the case, and the reader of my blog asked if I would write a post explaining my reasons.
Some preliminary remarks are in order:
- I am not a theologian, nor have I ever claimed to be such
- I am not beholden to any Traditionalist order or priest, especially those with a "follow me or die" mentality
- I'm expressing an opinion which is my own on a matter that is not of Faith, and I would never expect anyone else to hold it because of any authority on my part. I have no authority, and if you agree with me fine, if not, that's OK too.
- I hold no animosity against any of the clerics mentioned herein.
- Some remarks which are aimed at Traditionalist priests are not done with malice; we cannot fall into the trap of treating them as those endowed with Magisterial authority--and worse, treat them as above any/all reproach. Many did just that in the 1950s and it enabled the heretics and perverts to take over at the parish level easily with nary a whimper of protest
With all that in mind, I do consider the ordinations of Frs. Greenwell and Baumberger to have been valid. I recommend to all reading this to first read Fr.Cekada's article referenced above at www.traditionalmass.org. In this way I need not rehash any background information, but may proceed directly to the crux of the issue.
The arguments of Fr. Cekada boil down to these:
- There was a change to one of the words of the essential form ("quaesumus") by Bp. Mendez, thereby substantially altering and invalidating the rite
- There were conflicting reports as to mode of pronunciation, number of times the form was pronounced, the grammatical number, and which ritual book was used.
As to the first argument of Fr. Cekada, the word "quaesumus" (part of the form defined by Pope Pius XII) was pronounced as "quae" "sumus" due to a hypenation that occured because the word began on one line and continued on the next. If the word was made into two words, it changes the meaning of form substantially, thereby invalidating it. Bp. Kelly admits to hearing a separation of syllables in his book The Sacred and the Profane (pgs.210-212, hereinafter SP)
Assuming, ad arguendo, that a separation of syllables was made, does that ipso facto render the sacrament null and void? According to theologians McHugh and Callan, Moral Theology Vol.2, #2655:
"Rules on the Invalid Use of the matter Form of the Sacraments. (b) Since the matter and form are parts of a single composite sign, it is sacrilegious to invalidate a Sacrament by substantial separations, which destroy
the continuity or unity of signification.There is a substantial separation within the form when such long
intervals occur between the pronunciation of its syllables or words that it is not in common estimation
a united sentence or proposition; for example, if the celebrant says, "Hoc est cor -," then sneezes two or
three times, and (instead of repeating the words) concludes "-pus meum," or says "Hoc est. corpus" and
after an interruption of several minutes (instead of repeating) finishes with: "meum." "
"Long intervals," it says. The separation of syllables startled Bp.Kelly because by his own admission in SP, he was "being too careful." Fr. Jenkins, and Bp. Mendez said everything was pronounced correctly. Fr. Zapp had no problem with the ordination for over two years! Apparently, he thought everything was said correctly as well. It reminds me of several clerics who brought up a "problem" with Bp. Dolan's priestly ordination fourteen (yes, that's 14) YEARS after working with him and the "problem" was allegedly apparent from the start! If there was a separation, it appears to have been only slight and therefore not a substantial change.
Moreover, according to theologian Jone, Moral Theology, # 446:
"b) Separations of individual words and syllables constitutes a substantial change if the interval is
long enough to alter the meaning of the sentence. Thus, the form remains valid if one says" Ego te
baptizo," coughs and then completes the form. Similarly, if one interrupts the form by some
incidental remark, as" Turn the page," "Keep quiet,""This water is too cold." The formula of absolution is
likewise valid if the confessor, after saying: " Ego te absolvo," notices the penitent leaving the
confessional and says: "Come back! Always wait till the priest finishes! -a peccatis tuis."
The form is invalid if interrupted for several minutes, e.g., after saying: " Hoc est enim corpus,"
one has a coughing spell, after which he should add "meum." If individual syllables are separated a shorter
interruption makes the form at least doubtfully valid; thus, if after saying" Hocest enim cor- " one
should sneeze several times and then conclude "pus meum." In such cases the word begun should be
repeated. c) In judging whether a form has been altered substantially or only accidentally one must consider
whether the minister acted inadvertently, ie., mispronounced the form by mistake or whether he
intended to give the form a different meaning." (Emphasis mine).
Please notice that it is shown, in both of these references, that to render a sacrament invalid or
doubtful the "pause" or "interruption" must be more than just a brief one and according to Jone: "one must
consider whether the minister acted inadvertently,ie., mispronounced the form by mistake or whether he
intended to give the form a different meaning." Is there a doubt that Bishop Mendez didn't have the
intention to ordain? Even Fr. Cekada's own citation to theologian Halligan clearly says, "Substantial alteration may also be risked by faulty articulation or by clipping words through haste. In practice, where a complete word is de facto interrupted through a pause between syllables, it is advisable to repeat the word, unless the interruption is extremely slight." (The Administration of the Sacraments pg. 16; Emphasis mine). The interruption was slight enough that Fr. Zapp had no worries, Fr. Jenkins had no worries, nor the Bishop himself. Bp (then Fr) Kelly did, but this comes from someone who looks though video tapes looking for two handed consecrations. In other words, it disturbed him because he was guilty of scrupulosity.
What about the second argument of Fr.Cekada, the various conflicting reports? Since I see no merit to the mispronunciation in the first place, and personally spoke with one of the priests who was there, I'm satisfied that I don't need to reach the merits of the attempts (in my opinion) to save face by the SSPV due to an ordination that was done in private and a mistake (albeit non-invalidating) on the part of those who like to admit none. Maybe there was a third recitation of the form, but I'm satisfied with the first two anyway. This much is known:
- The ordination by Bp. Mendez took place; he would know best if the form was singular or plural, and if the form was pronounced correctly
- The separation of syllables was slight enough not to worry even a later detractor (Fr. Zapp)
- Bp. Kelly is know to be overly zealous, so even the briefest pause would give him concern
- Bp. Mendez had the intention to ordain, and this coupled with a brief pause does not constitute a substantial change
For the foregoing reasons, I'm satisfied with the validity of the ordinations of Frs. Baumberger and Greenwell. On a personal note, I believe (with no external evidence) that if any of the SSPV clergy had doubts, they would have performed a conditional ordination in secret with Bp. Kelly or Bp. Santay to avoid the scandal of disturbing the peace of mind of the faithful. Also on a personal note, I'm glad Fr. Greenwell is no longer on Long Island. Validity aside, the joke was that if your arrived five minutes late when he was offering Mass, he'd be at the Last Gospel. One of the bishops should speak to him about the slovenly and rushed way he offers Mass. He also is the ONLY SSPV priest who refused to answer if he used the name of the Antipope in the Canon. "It's MY Mass" was his response. No, Father, the Mass belongs to the Church, in whose name you offer it--in persona Christi ("in the person of Christ" for validity) and in persona Ecclesiae ("in the person of the Church" for efficacy). We faithful have a RIGHT to know if the name of an Antipope is inserted in a Mass we attend. The Mass is not your personal possession. Contrast this with the devotion and love with which Fr. Baumberger offers the Holy Sacrifice and edifies the faithful.
To my inquisitive reader, I suggest you go to Mass without fear of invalidity, but attend with Fr. Jenkins whenever possible. To all Traditionalist priests and faithful out there, let's be more discreet and charitable with each other whenever possible. The real enemy is Bergoglio and his ecumenical Vatican II sect monstrosity. Let's save our energy, whenever possible, so we can better fight him.