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During June 29 Sermon

SSPX Bp. Tissier Reignites Debate over Validity of Novus Ordo Ordinations

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Every year on June 29, the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, the Society of Saint Pius X confers priestly and diaconate ordinations at its main seminary in Econe, Switzerland.

This year, Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais was the main celebrant ordaining 10 new priests and 12 deacons, assisted by the Superior General, Bp. Bernard Fellay, and Bp. Alfonso de Galarreta.

During his sermon, Bp. Tissier spoke on the touchy subject of the validity of the Novus Ordo rite of priestly ordination, originally promulgated in 1968 by “Pope” Paul VI. Further below, we have produced a careful English translation of the relevant parts of the sermon, based on the original text found in full on the official web site of the French SSPX district, La Porte Latine.

We would like to use this opportunity to raise awareness once again regarding the problems with the new ordination rite of Paul VI, not only with regard to priestly ordinations but most especially — and much more importantly — with regard to the consecration of bishops. For if the Modernist Sect does not have valid bishops, then it does not matter how valid in itself the ordination rite of priests might be, since a valid bishop is absolutely necessary for the valid conferring of holy orders.

Here, then, a quick reality check:

The following is the relevant part of Bp. Tissier’s sermon in English. While the SSPX bishop speaks about those parts of the Novus Ordo rite of priestly ordination that, strictly speaking, are irrelevant to validity, since, as he himself admits, they occur in the rite after the sacrament has already (supposedly) been conferred, the big story here is not whether his arguments are sound or not, but simply the curious fact that the French bishop is once again broaching a very touchy subject that could put an insurmountable barrier into the ongoing reconciliation efforts between the SSPX leadership and the Vatican:

…The Fraternity uses all available means today, in light of the situation in the Church, to transmit to all priests of the Church this truth of the priesthood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the reality of Christ, Priest and King, to communicate this to the whole Church.

This nature of the priest as mediator seems to me to be very simply illustrated in the priestly ordination ceremony.

By the anointing of the priest’s hands, by the tradition of the chalice and the paten, and by the second imposition of the hands accompanied with the power to absolve sins. Now these three rites are accomplished at the end of the ordination when the ordinands are already priests by the silent imposition of the bishop’s hands and the consecratory preface. They are already priests. Nevertheless, the Church insists, through these three secondary rites, on specifying the nature of the priest’s power.

First of all, the anointing of the hands, so beautiful, so meaningful. The priest is no longer a man like others, he is a consecrated man because he receives the anointing of his hands. Anointing the two hands of the ordinand, of the ordained, the priest [bishop] pronounces these words: “Consecrate and sanctify, O Lord, these hands by this unction and our blessing so that whatsoever they shall bless and consecrate be consecrated and made holy, in the name of the Lord.” From now on, dear candidates to the priesthood, you will work wonders, you will consecrate and sanctify. Consecrating at mass, of course, holding the chalice that will become the chalice of the Precious Blood, and holding the paten that will become the paten holding Our Lord Jesus Christ, His immolated Body. Thus, you will consecrate the Holy Eucharist, you will renew sacramentally the sacrifice of the Cross. And you will sanctify souls through your hands, through all the blessings of the Church, through baptism, and through the Holy Communion you will give.

But, dear faithful, this marvelous anointing of the priest’s hands was tampered with [truqué] by the Conciliar Church 46 years ago. Paul VI instituted other words, which say nothing of consecration or sanctification. That is why we preciously safeguard the treasure of these ordination prayers.

The second rite is the rite of presenting the young priest with the chalice and the paten, with these very clear words: “Receive the power to offer sacrifice to God.” These words you will not find in the other parts of the ordination. Nowhere. It is in this secondary rite that you will ultimately find specified what this priesthood is you are going to receive. “Receive the power to offer sacrifice to God,” and it continues, “and to celebrate masses for the living as well as for the dead, in the name of the Lord.”  To celebrate masses, this is quite clear, for the living as well as for the dead.

Not only a sacrifice of praise for the living, but also the sacrifice of expiation and propitiation for the souls in purgatory, who are no longer spoken of in the Church today. Your priesthood is a priesthood having effects for eternity, not only on earth but in Heaven for admitting in souls, and in purgatory for the deliverance of souls.

Archbishop Lefebvre would tell us: “The priest is a man of eternity, who lives not only in time, but whose priesthood has eternal effects.”

But this prayer, once again, was tampered with by the Conciliar Church—the new ordination rite where the bishop presents the chalice and the paten, with the wine and the host, yes, simply saying: “Receive the gifts of the faithful, to offer them to God.” So, what does that mean? You are receiving the gifts of the faithful to offer them to God? Is that all? We are not receiving the gifts of the faithful, we are receiving the gift of God, which is Our Lord Jesus Christ sacrificed on the Cross, to offer Him anew to God the Father. This is the truth! Obviously, we cannot accept this new, tampered with ordination rite, which casts doubts on the validity of numerous ordinations [done] according to the new rite.

And finally, the third beautiful rite—secondary, it is true, but still so important—the power to absolve sins. The priest [bishop] says to the ordinand, as he spreads open his chasuble to signify he shall thenceforth be able to exercise his priesthood and all of his priestly functions: “Receive the Holy Ghost, whose sins thou shalt forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins thou shalt retain, they are retained.” These beautiful words of Our Lord to the Apostles on Easter, on Easter evening, what could be more beautiful? To express this power, which the young priests have already received by the silent imposition of hands and the preface, this is true, but expressing it in an explicit manner, that the priest has the power to forgive sins. You will say but only God can forgive sins. Exactly—the priest is the instrument of God, Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of sins.

But, dear faithful, this prayer, this rite of transmitting the power to forgive sins, was simply suppressed in the new rite of ordination. It is no longer mentioned. So this new rite of ordination is not Catholic. And so we shall continue, of course, to faithfully transmit the real and valid priesthood through the traditional rite of priestly ordination.

(Source: “Sermon de Mgr Tissier de Mallerais le 29 juin 2016 à Ecône: qu’en est-il de la validité du nouveau rite d’ordination?”La Porte Latine; translation by Novus Ordo Watch.)

A Church that can promulgate for the entire Roman rite an ordination ritual that is of doubtful validity, or, as in the case of the ordinations of bishops, definitely invalid, is most certainly not the Roman Catholic Church, for in this matter the Church is infallible through the special assistance of the Holy Ghost:

Assertion 3: The Church’s infallibility extends to the general discipline of the Church. This proposition is theologically certain.

By the term “general discipline of the Church” are meant those ecclesiastical laws passed for the universal Church for the direction of Christian worship and Christian living. Note the italicized words: ecclesiastical laws, passed for the universal Church.

The imposing of commands belongs not directly to the teaching office but to the ruling office; disciplinary laws are only indirectly an object of infallibility, i.e., only by reason of the doctrinal decision implicit in them. When the Church’s rulers sanction a law, they implicitly make a twofold judgment: 1. “This law squares with the Church’s doctrine of faith and morals”; that is, it imposes nothing that is at odds with sound belief and good morals. This amounts to a doctrinal decree. 2. “This law, considering all the circumstances, is most opportune.” This is a decree of practical judgment.

Although it would he rash to cast aspersions on the timeliness of a law, especially at the very moment when the Church imposes or expressly reaffirms it, still the Church does not claim to he infallible in issuing a decree of practical judgment. For the Church’s rulers were never promised the highest degree of prudence for the conduct of affairs. But the Church is infallible in issuing a doctrinal decree as intimated above — and to such an extent that it can never sanction a universal law which would be at odds with faith or morality or would be by its very nature conducive to the injury of souls.

The Church’s infallibility in disciplinary matters, when understood in this way, harmonizes beautifully with the mutability of even universal laws. For a law, even though it be thoroughly consonant with revealed truth, can, given a change in circumstances, become less timely or even useless, so that prudence may dictate its abrogation or modification.

Proof:

1. From the purpose of infallibility. The Church was endowed with infallibility that it might safeguard the whole of Christ’s doctrine and be for all men a trustworthy teacher of the Christian way of life. But if the Church could make a mistake in the manner alleged when it legislated for the general discipline, it would no longer be either a loyal guardian of revealed doctrine or a trustworthy teacher of the Christian way of life. It would not be a guardian of revealed doctrine, for the imposition of a vicious law would be, for all practical purposes, tantamount to an erroneous definition of doctrine; everyone would naturally conclude that what the Church had commanded squared with sound doctrine. It would not be a teacher of the Christian way of life, for by its laws it would induce corruption into the practice of religious life.

2. From the official statement of the Church, which stigmatized as “at least erroneous” the hypothesis “that the Church could establish discipline which would be dangerous, harmful, and conducive to superstition and materialism” [Pope Pius VI, Bull Auctorem Fidei, error n. 78; Denz. 1578].

Corollary

The well-known axiom, Lex orandi est lex credendi (The law of prayer is the law of belief), is a special application of the doctrine of the Church’s infallibility in disciplinary matters. This axiom says in effect that formulae of prayer approved for public use in the universal Church cannot contain errors against faith or morals. But it would be quite wrong to conclude from this that all the historical facts which are recorded here and there in the lessons of the Roman Breviary, or all the explanations of scriptural passages which are used in the homilies of the Breviary must be taken as infallibly true. As far as the former are concerned, those particular facts are not an object of infallibility since they have no necessary connection with revelation. As for the latter, the Church orders their recitation not because they are certainly true, but because they are edifying.

(Mgr. Gerard van Noort, Dogmatic Theology II: Christ’s Church [Westminster, MD: The Newman Press, 1957], nn. 91-92; italics given; underlining added.)

Besides, the Council of Trent hurled an anathema at the view that the Church can give evil in the ceremonies of her Masses: “If any one saith, that the ceremonies, vestments, and outward signs, which the Catholic Church makes use of in the celebration of masses, are incentives to impiety, rather than offices of piety; let him be anathema” (Council of Trent, Session 22, Canon VII).

The invalidity of the new rite of episcopal consecration, therefore, is one of the definitive proofs by means of which all Catholics can know that the Vatican II Church is not the Roman Catholic Church, for the simple reason that it cannot be, as it has thereby demonstrated. This is Catholic theology.

By contrast, the theology of the Society of St. Pius X is a gigantic confused and confusing mess. We have demonstrated this many times before, and perhaps nowhere as succinctly as in this challenge:

May all SSPX clerics and adherents finally come to realize that if the “Pope” is manifestly not a Catholic, then he cannot be the head of the Catholic Church, any more than Jack can be a bachelor if he is married.

Yes, it really is that simple (sorry, Michael Matt!).