Catholics depend on Catholic priests to give them the sacraments, both for the beginning of the life of grace, as well as for its increase. Thus, in practice, the salvation of Catholics depends on having valid priests to absolve sins, to provide the spiritual nourishment of Mass and Holy Communion, and to assist in countless other ways in the Catholic spiritual life.

For this reason, it is crucial to the welfare of any Catholic that his priests be validly ordained. Because the conciliar revolution is now fifty years old and because this revolution is a bad tree, from which can only come bad fruit1, this article aims to foster discussion, and arrive at the truth, concerning one of the bad fruits of the post-Vatican II revolution: i.e., the modern ordination rite instituted by Pope Paul VI in 1968.2

The issue presented here will affect some readers more than others. Some readers might attend the novus ordo Mass, at least sometimes. Very many other readers attend exclusively the traditional Latin Mass but, in many places, this Mass is offered by priests who were ordained in the novus ordo rite and later “came to tradition”. This situation might become even more common in the future, due to the pope’s 2007 motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum.

This article focuses only on the validity of the Form of the modern ordination rite when that rite is used under the “best conditions”, viz., apart from translation problems; and apart from problems arising from one-of-a-kind deviations from the modern ordination rite.

The argument

Valid Sacraments Require Valid Matter, Form and Intention

The Catholic Church teaches that valid sacraments require valid Matter, Form and Intention.3 Very generally, the sacrament’s Matter is an object or action which is necessary for the sacrament’s validity. Id. The required Intention is the intention of the persons administering and receiving the sacrament. Id. The sacramental Form is the essential words required for the sacrament’s validity. Id. Just as this article does not address the particular problems of vernacular translations and one-of-a-kind aberrations in the modern ordination rite (as explained above), this article also does not address problems arising from invalid Matter or a defect in the required Intention. Again, as stated above, this article examines only the validity of the Form of the modern ordination rite when that rite is used under the “best conditions”.

Standard for Requiring Conditional Ordination

At the outset, it is important to know the standard the Catholic Church uses to determine when a priest should be conditionally ordained. Conditional ordination is required anytime there is any positive reason at all4 to doubt the validity of the ordination, not merely when the doubt is very great or where invalidity appears very likely. Thus, the question posed in this article is whether there exists even the smallest reason to doubt the validity of the modern ordination rite itself (i.e., even under the “best conditions”). If there is such a doubt, then all priests ordained in the modern rite must be conditionally ordained in the traditional rite, to remove this doubt.

A Serious Problem with the Modern Ordination Rite: The Conciliar Church has a Different Understanding of the Word “Priest”.

Archbishop Lefebvre wrote that, in the conciliar church, “the definition of the priesthood given by Saint Paul and by the Council of Trent has been radically altered.” Open Letter to Confused Catholics, p. 52. The Archbishop also taught that, in the conciliar church, a priest is “an intermediary rather than the holder of the ministerial priesthood and the offerer of a sacrifice. The conception is wholly different.”5 Id., p. 54. Archbishop Lefebvre also taught that the conciliar church has a “new priesthood”.6 The appendices at the end of this article outline many reasons why Archbishop Lefebvre is right that the conciliar church has a different conception of “priest”.

The Meaning of “Priest” is Key to the Meaning of the Form of Ordination.

In Latin, the Form (i.e., the essential words) of the modern ordination rite, is almost the same as the infallibly certain and valid Form used in the traditional ordination rite.7 These words of Form, in the modern and traditional ordination rites, each ask God to “give the dignity of the priesthood” to the man to be ordained. Id. On a superficial level, it would seem that the modern rite has a certainly-valid Form, since it is almost the same as the traditional Form.

However, more careful reflection shows that a Form is valid not from the use of the same words, but from use of words with the same meaning. For this reason, an accurate translation of the Form (into the vernacular) does not render the Form invalid, because the meaning is the same, even though the words are different. But, as quoted in the section immediately above and as shown in the appendices, the conciliar church has a different definition of “priest”.

When using the word “priest” in the modern rite, the Form means something different than when that same word is used in the traditional ordination rite. In the traditional rite, the Form asks God to “give the dignity of the priesthood”. This is equivalent (in the traditional ordination rite) to saying “give the dignity of the Catholic priesthood, which offers the propitiatory sacrifice of the Mass for the living and the dead, etc.”

By contrast, because the conciliar church has a different definition, these same words in the modern rite: “give the dignity of the priesthood” are as if it were said in the modern rite: “give the dignity of the conciliar priesthood to preside as a president over the community meal, work for social justice, etc.”8 Because the conciliar church has a “new priesthood”9, when it asks for the “dignity of the [new] priesthood”, the result is not the old priesthood.

Thus, there is an objective reason to doubt that the essential words (viz., the Form) of the modern ordination rite have a Catholic meaning objectively, because the conciliar church means something “wholly different”10 by the word “priest”. In short, the modern ordination rite’s Form doesn’t do the same thing because it doesn’t mean the same thing as the Form of the traditional Catholic ordination rite. But the Catholic Church requires that doubtful ordinations be conditionally re-done. Thus, all priests who have been ordained in the modern rite, should be conditionally ordained in the traditional rite to remove all doubt.

I here make one further point in case any reader might think that this doubt can be eliminated by a conciliar bishop’s intent to ordain Catholic priests in the traditional meaning of that word. A bishop’s intent cannot cure the problem set forth above because his intent does not change the fact (or the doubt) that the word “priest” means something objectively different in the conciliar church. This same principle prevents a list of names out of the phone book, from being used as a valid Form of ordination, even if the bishop were to sincerely intend that this list would mean the same thing (and do the same thing) as the Form used in the traditional Catholic ordination rite.

Although the validity of the sacrament requires that the bishop have the proper intention, nonetheless, his proper intention cannot cure an objective defect in the meaning of the Form, any more than use of the proper Matter can cure a defect in the Form.

The above article does not require the reader to hold that the conciliar church definitely has a different meaning of “priest”. The reader only needs to grant that there is (at least) the smallest positive reason to doubt that the conciliar church has the same meaning of “priest”.11 Any smallest doubt would necessarily result in a similar doubt that the modern rite’s Form means (and does) the same thing as the traditional Catholic ordination Form. Thus, it appears that all priests ordained in the modern ordination rite, must be conditionally ordained in the traditional Catholic ordination rite, to remove all doubt.


Giving Evidence That The Conciliar Church Has A Different Definition of “Priest”

Appendix 1

An Example from Recent History: The Anglicans Changed the Meaning of the Word “Priest” by Omission, just as the Conciliar Church has Done in Its New Rite.

The Anglican ordination rite does not deny Catholic doctrine on a single point but does omit all expressions of Catholic doctrine which cannot be understood in a Protestant sense. See, The Order of Melchisedech, Michael Davies, Augustine Publishing Co., ©1979, p. 62 (hereafter “OOM”). Pope Leo XIII ruled, once and for all, that Anglican ordinations are invalid, because of what had been removed from the Catholic ordinal, not based on what the Anglican ordination rite affirmatively said. As Pope Leo XIII declared in 1896:

[L]et this argument suffice for all: From [the Anglican ordination rite] has been deliberately removed whatever sets forth the dignity and office of the priesthood in the Catholic rite. ... [I]n the whole Ordinal not only is there no clear mention of the sacrifice, of consecration, of the priesthood (sacerdotium), and of the power of consecrating and offering sacrifice but, as we have just stated, every trace of these things which had been in such prayers of the Catholic rite as they had not entirely rejected, was deliberately removed and struck out. Apostolicae Curae, ¶¶ 27, 30 (emphasis added).

Davies comments: “The outstanding Catholic historians of the English Reformation (Gasquet, Bishop, Estcourt, Barnes, Messenger, Hughes, Clark) all lay special emphasis on Cranmer’s technique of introducing doctrinal innovation through the liturgy, not by explicit heresy but by the omission of prayers and ceremonies which could not be reconciled with Protestant belief. Their judgment on such omissions is unanimous—that what is not affirmed is considered to be denied.” OOM, p. 44. As sketched in appendices 2 & 3, the conciliar church uses the same method of doctrinal innovation, which worked so well for Cranmer and which caused Pope Leo XIII to declare the Anglican ordination rite invalid.

Appendix 2

Examples Of How The Conciliar Church Removed From The Modern Ordination Rite, All Clear References To What A Catholic Priest Is Essentially.

Michael Davies gives the following overview of the conciliar church’s ordination rite:

The traditional rite of ordination has been remodeled in the most drastic manner, and, following Cranmer’s example, this has been achieved principally by the subtraction of prayers and ceremonies in previous use, prayers and ceremonies which gave explicit sacerdotal signification to the indeterminate formula specified by Pius XII, as the essential form.... This formula does indeed state that the candidates for ordination are to be elevated to the priesthood—but so does the Anglican. Within the context of the traditional Roman Pontifical there was not the least suspicion of ambiguity—within the new rite there most certainly is. OOM, p. 74.

Example 1

The Tradition (i.e., Delivery) of the Paten and Chalice to the Newly Ordained Priest. In the traditional Catholic ordination rite, the Bishop gives to each priest a chalice containing wine and water, and a paten with a host upon it. Each new priest takes these between the fore and middle finger, so as to touch both the paten and the chalice, while the Bishop says to each: “Receive the power to offer sacrifice to God, and to celebrate Mass, both for the living and the dead, in the name of the Lord.” This prayer shows what the priesthood essentially is and it has been abolished from the modern rite.

The modern ordinal keeps this ceremony but substitutes the following prayer for the one quoted immediately above: “Accept from the holy people of God the gifts to be offered to him. Know what you are doing, and imitate the mystery you celebrate: model your life on the mystery of the Lord’s cross.” Modern ordination rite, ¶26. The traditional Catholic prayer is completely incompatible with the conciliar understanding of “priest”. The modern ordinal’s replacement prayer fits comfortably with this conciliar meaning.

Davies comments: “It is of great importance to note that Evangelical Protestants, who deny any distinction in essence between priest and layman, are prepared to accept a “tradition” of the chalice and paten provided it is not accompanied by any prayer suggesting that the newly ordained presbyter has been invested with a ministerial (external) priesthood giving him powers denied to the layman, particularly that of offering sacrifice. ... The [Protestant] Reverend Peter Toon writes that such a ceremony would indicate that the Church has given the new presbyter the right to “preside at the Holy Communion. If there is no hint of ministerial priesthood in the rest of the service, then no ministerial priesthood could be read into the delivery of the chalice.” OOM, p.87.

Example 2

The Post-Vesting Prayer in the Traditional Ordination Rite is Incompatible with the Conciliar Church’s Definition of “Priest” and thus, is Eliminated from the Modern Rite. In the traditional Catholic ordination rite, the Bishop says a prayer which includes reference to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass during which a priest “change[s] by a holy benediction bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Thy Son for the worship of Thy people.” This prayer is incompatible with the conciliar church’s definition of “priest” and has been abolished.

Example 3

The Traditional Final Blessing. In the traditional Catholic ordination rite, the bishop gives this blessing: “May the blessing of the almighty God, the ✠ Father, the ✠ Son, and the Holy ✠ Ghost, descend upon you, that you may be blessed in the priestly order, and offer up the sacrifice of propitiation for the sins and offenses of the people to almighty God, to whom be honor and glory forever and ever.” This blessing is not consistent with the conciliar definition of “priest”, because it refers to “priestly order” which offers the “sacrifice of propitiation for the sins and offenses of the people”. The modern ordinal abolishes this blessing.

Example 4

The Ceremonial Bestowal of the Power to Forgive Sins. In the traditional Catholic ordination rite, each new priest kneels before the Bishop who lays both hands upon the head of each in turn and says: “Receive the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.” The modern ordination rite abolishes this ceremony which clearly manifests a power of a priest, which separates him from laymen.

Example 5

The Changes Made in the Bishop’s “Charge”. In the traditional Catholic ordination rite, the bishop “charges” the new priests to bear in mind that offering Holy Mass is “beset with considerable danger” and that they should learn everything necessary from diligent priests before undertaking so fearful a responsibility. See, traditional rite’s Bishop’s “Charge”. This admonition is incompatible with the conciliar notion of “priest” because there is no “danger” in offering a mere memorial meal. This charge has been abolished in the modern ordinal.

Example 6

The Anointing. In the traditional Catholic ordination rite, the Bishop anoints the hands of the new priests emphasizing the thumbs and index fingers, which will touch the sacred host. While anointing each priest he says: “Be pleased, Lord, to consecrate and sanctify these hands by this anointing, and our blessing.” Then the bishop makes the sign of the cross over the hands of each priest and continues: “That whatsoever they bless may be blessed, and whatsoever they consecrate may be consecrated and sanctified in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ.” This prayer has been abolished from the modern ordinal because it is incompatible with the conciliar church’s view of the priesthood. The modern ordination rite calls for the anointing of the palms with no special mention of the thumbs and index fingers. See, modern ordination rite at ¶24. Again, by omission, this removal of the Catholic focus upon the “priestly fingers”, further conveys the conciliar church’s view of the priesthood.

Example 7

The Traditional Bishop’s Sermon. In the traditional Catholic ordination rite, the Bishop addresses the ordinand in a mandatory sermon including the following: “For it is a priest’s duty to offer sacrifice, to bless, to lead, to preach and to baptize.” This admonition has been abolished and replaced by a “homily” of the bishop’s choice, on the duties of a priest.


Davies assesses the modern ordination rite as follows: “As the previous section made clear, every prayer in the traditional rite which stated specifically the essential role of a priest as a man ordained to offer propitiatory sacrifice for the living and dead, has been removed. ... Paramount among the reasons which prompted Pope Leo XIII to pronounce Anglican Orders invalid was the systematic elimination of every reference to the sacrificial nature of the Mass from Cranmer’s Communion and Ordination rites. This is a fact which I have documented in very great detail in Cranmer’s Godly Order and will not repeat here. The Reformers were prepared to accept that the Eucharist was a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving and nothing more. ... If the new Catholic rite is considered satisfactory, then the entire case put by Apostolicae Curae is undermined. If the new Catholic rite, [having been] shorn of any mandatory prayer signifying the essential powers of the priesthood, is valid, then there seems no reason why [various Anglican ordinals declared invalid by Pope Leo XIII] should not be valid too.”12 OOM, pp. 64 & 97.

Appendix 3

The Conciliar Church Manifests, in Many Other Ways, that the Conciliar Meaning of the Word “Priest” Differs Radically from the Traditional Catholic Definition.

This appendix gives only a quick sketch of a few examples outside the modern ordination rite itself, showing that the conciliar church has a different definition of “priest”. Many Catholics who have suffered through the conciliar “reforms” could no-doubt add a great many of their own examples to this list, based on their own experiences living through the post-Vatican II apostasy.

  1. The Vatican’s General Instruction for the New Mass defines the Mass as the “People of God” gathered together for the “Lord’s Supper” with the “priest presiding”. Paragraph 7. This conciliar notion of the priesthood is that of a president, i.e., of one who “presides” over the “People of God”.

  2. Vatican II confuses the difference between the priests and laymen by saying that it is merely a diversity of function:
    Hence it is that the People of God is not only an assembly of various peoples, but in itself is made up of different ranks. This diversity among its members is either by reason of their duties - some exercise the sacred ministry for the good of their brethren - or is due to their condition and manner of life - many enter the religious state and, intending to sanctify by the narrower way, stimulate their brethren by their example”.
    Lumen Gentium §13.
    Vatican II again:
    “Therefore the eucharistic celebration is the center of the assembly of the faithful over which the priest presides. Hence priests teach the faithful to offer the divine victim to God the Father in the sacrifice of the Mass and with the victim to make an offering of their whole life”. Presbyterorum Ordinis §5.

    Comment: Notice, therefore, the function of the priest in the Holy Mass is reduced to that of teaching the faithful to offer the divine victim and themselves in union with that victim. Does this mean that the priest must “teach [the faithful] to offer the divine victim” and remain silent about the fact that, above all, the priest makes the offering in persona Christi on behalf of sinful men for the expiation of their sins?!
    Also manifested here is the idea of the concelebration of the priest and the people, expressly condemned by the pre-Conciliar Magisterium. This is an idea based on the Protestant false conception that the faithful are strictly all priests of the New Testament by reason of baptism, from which it follows that there can be no real distinction between the “priesthood of the faithful” and the “hierarchic priesthood.” As Martin Luther taught: Whoever comes out of the water of baptism can boast that he is already a consecrated priest, bishop, and pope, although of course it is not seemly that just anybody should exercise such office.” Quoted in German Humanism and Reformation, Reinhart P. Becker, editor, Continuum Publishing, N.Y., 1982, p. 154.

  3. The Liturgy Commissions of the various conciliar dioceses have this same notion of priest-as-president. For example, here is what the Liturgy Commission for the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales had to say about the role of the priest: “In accordance with the hierarchic nature of the Church, an accredited leader must be appointed, one who is sensitive to the needs and aspirations of the community and is open to the Spirit. In the eucharistic [sic] assembly he has to lead the community in its praise and thanksgiving and in its celebration of the wonderful works of God”.13

  4. On this side of the Atlantic, the results are the same. For example, the Liturgical Commission of the Milwaukee Archdiocese explained the priesthood this way: “The celebrant’s priesthood is distinguished from that of the congregation not by way of dignity but by way of office. In the Eucharist his function is to serve, to lead, to unify and to teach. He calls the congregation together that they might exercise their office”.14

  5. This conciliar notion of priest-as-president was (and is) taught in the seminaries, so that the conciliar priests would understand their role from the beginning of their formation. For example, one of the leading British seminaries15, Ushaw College, explained that it strives: “to develop sensitive leaders of Christian worship. The priestly ministry is a public office demanding certain ‘performing skills’. As president of the liturgical assembly, the priest should stimulate, articulate and co-ordinate the response and involvement of the congregation.”16

  6. In its November 30, 1971 paper on the Ministerial Priesthood, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops taught:
    The mission of the Church, Christ's Body, far from being obsolete, is therefore rather of the highest relevance for the present and the future: the whole Church is the witness and effective sign of this union, especially through the priestly ministry. The minister's proper task in the Church's midst is to render present, by the word and sacrament, the love of God in Christ for us, and at the same time to promote the fellowship of men with God and with each other. All this of course demands that we should all, especially those who perform the sacred office, strive to renew ourselves daily in accordance with the Gospel. [Section #6, p.3 (bold added)]. ... Priests are sent to all men and their mission must begin with the preaching of God's word. Priests have as their duty the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ to all ... For through the saving Word the spark of faith is struck in the hearts of unbelievers and fed in the hearts of the faithful. The goal of evangelization is that all who are made sons of God by faith and baptism should come together to praise God in the midst of his Church, to take part in her sacrifice17 and to eat the Lord's Supper. [Sections #36-7 (bold added)]. ... Together with the entire Church, priests are obliged, to the utmost of their ability, to select a definite pattern of action, when it is a question of the defense of fundamental human rights, the promotion of the full development of persons and the pursuit of the cause of peace and justice; the means must indeed always be consonant with the Gospel. [Section #44, p.11; internal quote marks and citations omitted].

    Finally, it is telling that the U.S. Bishops concluded their revolutionary paper by saying: “Forgetting the past let us strive for what is still to come.” See, Conclusion, p.20 (bold added).

  7. Fr. Yves Congar, one of Pope John Paul II’s favorite theologians, received the Cardinal’s red hat in 1994, as a reward for faithfully serving the post-Vatican II revolution. His teaching concerning the priesthood includes this: “In our opinion, faithfulness to the Holy Scripture and sound theology requires that priesthood be defined as that quality which enables a man to come before God to gain his [sic] grace, and therefore fellowship with him [sic], by offering up the sacrifice acceptable to him [sic].... the fact that [this definition of “priesthood”] happens to agree pretty exactly with Calvin does not seem a good reason for giving it up.” Yves Congar, Lay People in the Church, Christian Classics, 1985, pg. 154-155 (bold added).

  8. Cardinal Francois Marty, Archbishop of Paris, stated: “It is our duty to safeguard ... the priesthood as the Council described it.” Concerning which, Bishop Tissier de Mallerais commented that “The avowal was clear: the Council had conceived of a new priesthood that was endangered by Econe.” The Biography, Marcel Lefebvre, Bernard Tissier De Mallerais, p. 475.

  9. Archbishop Lefebvre taught that the Vatican II document, Presbyterorum Ordinis, “moved the emphasis away from the priest’s role of offering sacrifice and on to his role as preacher.” The Biography, Marcel Lefebvre, p. 331. Archbishop Lefebvre explained that the new conciliar theology “holds that the priesthood of the faithful and the priesthood of priests is the same; that everyone is a priest and that the People of God must offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.” Ibid, p. 389.

  10. The Joint Anglican/Catholic Commission’s Agreed Statement (in 1973) reflects the Anglican view of the priesthood, couched in ambiguity. OOM, pp. 62 & 64. The Joint Statement on the Priesthood makes no mention of a priestly character and no mention of the priest offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in an unbloody manner. Id.,, p. 63. The Joint Statement on the Priesthood makes no mention of a priest’s power to forgive sins but only of the priest’s role to declare that God has forgiven the sin. Id.,, p. 66. Not a single Catholic bishop in England or Wales condemned this Anglican/Catholic Joint Statement. Moreover, Bishop Butler, who played a leading role in the Joint Anglican/Catholic Statement, commented that what the Joint Statement says must be unobjectionable because the Vatican appointed the Catholic members of the Joint Commission and has remained silent in the years since the Joint Statement was published. Id.,, p. 58-9.

  11. Cardinal Walter Kasper:
    “concerning the Mass and the priesthood that “it is not the priest who works the transubstantiation: the priest prays to the Father in order that He become present by the operation of the Holy Spirit. [...] The necessity of the ordained ministry is a sign that suggests and gives a taste of the gratuity of the Eucharistic sacrament.”

    Cardinal Walter Kasper, 30 Jours dans l’Eglise et dans le Monde, nº 5 / 2003, pg. 22.

  12. The attack on the priesthood was also accomplished in ways that are practical and demonstrative. The conciliar revolution sought to make the priest a mere leader of the congregation, by bringing him down to the people’s level in various ways, including but not limited to:
  13. The conciliar church has been very successful in expunging the concept of the Catholic priesthood from even the clergy. Bishop Fellay reports that, frequently, even the most conservative conciliar priests (viz., the ones coming to Catholic tradition) don’t know what the Catholic priesthood is:
    These poor priests arrive [at the SSPX] with nothing, and they discover a new world. Their transformation does not happen in one day. They need help, not only to celebrate correctly, but to understand the Catholic theology that goes with the Mass. We have many testimonies from priests who tell us, “By celebrating the Tridentine Mass, I have discovered what a priest is!” They had an idea, of course, of what the priesthood entailed, but with this Mass, they suddenly realized that they stand between God and man to offer a sacrifice and work for the salvation of souls.

    Conference of Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the SSPX, February 17, 2008, Angelus Reprint (June 2008), p. 9.
    Bishop Fellay stated elsewhere: “starting with the Council there was a new concept of the priesthood and that it demolished the role of the priest.” 6-8-12 DICI interview.

  14. Analyzing the thought of Pope Benedict XVI, from sources some of which predate his ascension to the papal throne, Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais writes:
    Joseph Ratzinger declares, “from the revolution in the idea of expiation, the Christian cult receives a new orientation”. J. Ratzinger, The Christian Faith of Yesterday and Today, p.199.

    The priesthood reduced to the power of teaching

    This new cult will be the new mass.

    The mass becomes, according to the request of Dom Odo Casel, Benedictine monk of Maria Laach, the common celebration of faith. It is no longer a thing offered to God; it is no longer an action separate from that of the people; it is an action of interpersonal communion. It is a common experience of the faith, the celebration of the high deeds of Jesus. ‘It is only a matter of making remembrance,’ says the Missal for the flower of faithful French speakers in 1972.

    On the other side, in parallel, according to Joseph Ratzinger, the priesthood ‘has surpassed the level of polemic’ which, at the council of Trent, had shrunk the vision of the priesthood by seeing in the priest a mere maker of sacrifices (Session XXIII, Decree on the Sacrament of Orders). The council of Trent shrunk the global vision of priesthood; Vatican II broadened the perspectives.

    Joseph Ratzinger tells us: ‘Vatican II has, by chance, surpassed the polemical level and has drawn a complete and positive picture of the position of the Church as regards the priesthood where were equally welcomed the requests of the Reform.’ J. Ratzinger, The Principles of Theology, p. 279. You read aright: the requests of the Protestant ‘Reform,’ which saw the priest as the man of God’s word, of the preaching of the Gospel; this one point is all.

    So then, Joseph Ratzinger continues: ‘In the last analysis, the totality of the problem of priesthood comes down to the question of the power of teaching the Church in a universal manner.Ibid.

    Thus he brings the whole priesthood back to the power of teaching the Church. He will not deny sacrifice, simply he says: ‘Everything comes down to the power of teaching the Church.’ Logically, even the offering of the mass by the priest at the altar must be reread in the perspective of teaching the word of God. The priesthood must be revisited, as also sacrifice, as also consecration: this is nothing other than the celebration of the high deeds of Christ, his incarnation, his passion, his resurrection, his ascension, lived in common under the presidency of the priest, as Dom Casel pretended. The priesthood has been revised. The priest is become the organizer of the celebration and of the communal life of the faith.

    This is Benedict XVI's hermeneutic, by Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, pp. 38-9. Bold emphasis in original; italics added.

  15. The Society of St. Pius X district superior for the United States, stated in this way the conciliar change in the understanding of the priesthood:
    Vatican II gives a new definition of the priest. ... The Second Vatican Council plays with a deficient definition of “priest”. Priests are defined, above all, in terms of their being the bishops’ “cooperators” ([Presbyterorum Ordinis] - §4). ... Vatican II seems to have wanted, so to speak, to compress the figure of the priest into the “People of God,” by erasing, to the extent possible, his difference from the faithful, and on the other hand, above all, by picturing his main quality as that of being the bishop’s subordinate “cooperator.” As Archbishop Lefebvre used to say, [the priest is a victim of the Council] ... by merely becoming a “president of the assembly”.

    Catholic Family News interview with Father Arnaud Rostand, posted Feb. 4, 2011 (also in Feb. 2011 print edition).

  16. “The present acts of John Paul II and the national episcopates illustrate, year by year, this radical change in the conception of the Faith, the Church, the priesthood,” Archbishop Lefebvre & Bishop de Castro Mayer, Declaration Against Assisi, December 2, 1986 (emphasis added).

  17. Archbishop Lefebvre: “And the New Mass is ... the expression of this idea that authority is at the base, and no longer in God. This Mass is no longer a hierarchical Mass; it is a democratic Mass. And this is most grave. It is the expression of a whole new ideology. The ideology of modern man has been brought into our most sacred rites. And this is what is at present corrupting the entire Church. For by this idea of power bestowed on the lower rank, in the Holy Mass, they have destroyed the priesthood!” 6-29-76 Ordination Sermon.

  18. In conclusion, Archbishop Lefebvre summed up the reaction every Catholic should have to the new sacraments, including especially the “new priesthood”, viz., a “categorical refusal to accept” them:
    Because of this adherence we refuse and have always refused to follow the Rome of neo-Modernist and neo-Protestant tendencies, such as were clearly manifested during the Second Vatican Council, and after the Council in all the resulting reforms. ... The lex orandi (law of prayer) cannot be profoundly changed without changing the lex credendi (law of belief). The New Mass is in line with the new catechism, the new priesthood, new seminaries, new universities, and the charismatic or Pentecostal church, all of which are in opposition to orthodoxy and to the age-old magisterium.

    This reform, since it has issued from Liberalism and from Modernism, is entirely corrupt. It comes from heresy and results in heresy, even if all its acts are not formally heretical. It is thus impossible for any faithful Catholic who is aware of these things to adopt this reform, or to submit to it in any way at all. To ensure our salvation, the only attitude of fidelity to the Church and to Catholic doctrine is a categorical refusal to accept the reform.

    The Biography, Marcel Lefebvre, by Bernard Tissier De Mallerais, Appendix V, The Declaration of November 21, 1974, [emphasis added].

  1. St. Matt., 7;18: “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit.”
  2. Bishop Tissier De Mallerais characterizes the modern ordination rite as being “poisoned with the same venom” as the novus ordo mass. The Biography, Marcel Lefebvre, Bishop Tissier De Mallerais, Angelus Press, 2004, p. 466.
  3. See, e.g., Council of Trent, Session VII, On the Sacraments, Canon XI, et al., Summa Theologica, St. Thomas Aquinas, III, Q. 60; Q. 64, aa. 8, 10; My Catholic Faith, H.E. Louis Morrow, ©1949, p.250, #2; p.251, #2.
  4. See, e.g., Outlines of Dogmatic Theology, Hunter, S.J., Benziger Bros., 1896, vol. 3, p. 219 (requiring conditional ordination wherever there is even the “smallest doubt” about the validity of the ordination); see also, Fr. Peter Scott, Ought Priests of the Conciliar Church to Be “Re-Ordained” When They Come to Tradition?, Angelus, September 2007, p. 28 & 30; (“it is forbidden to accept a likely or probably valid ordination for the subsequent conferring of sacraments. One must have the greatest possible moral certitude, as in other things necessary for eternal salvation .... not even a slight doubt is acceptable.”) Cf., Denzinger 1151 (Condemnation by Pope Innocent XI in 1679 of those accepting probably-valid sacraments and not taking the safer course).

    However, this smallest doubt (which requires conditional ordination), must be a real, (i.e., an affirmative) doubt. In other words, there must be a reason to doubt the validity of the ordination. A doubt for no reason at all, that is, a wholly negative doubt (“dubium est mere negativum”), is not sufficient. See, H. Nolin, S.J., Summa Theologiae Moralis, Oeniponte, 1920, vol. III, p.27; see also, Fr. Scott, Angelus Sept. 2007, p. 28. When Fr. Nolin contrasts a real (i.e., affirmative) doubt , which requires conditional re-ordination, with a purely negative doubt, which does not require conditional ordination, he describes the negative doubt as “entirely imprudent and empty” (“omnino imprudens atque inane”). Id. Thus, the Catholic Church’s test (and the test used in this article) for determining the need for conditional re-ordination, is whether there is the smallest reason to doubt, but (of course) excluding any doubt for no reason at all.
  5. Commenting on these words of Archbishop Lefebvre, Fr. Peter Scott, SSPX, states that it was the Archbishop’s intention “to point out that it is the Catholic notion of the priesthood that is destroyed” in the conciliar church. September 2007 Angelus, p. 29. (Father Peter Scott is the Former District Superior for the SSPX’s U.S. District. He served a twelve-year term in that office and then as the rector of the SSPX’s Holy Cross Seminary.)
  6. I Accuse the Council!, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, Angelus Press, 1982, p. xiii.
  7. Cf., Modern ordination rite, ¶22; traditional Catholic ordination rite at the Preface; Pope Pius XII’s Apostolic Constitution Sacramentum Ordinis, ¶5.
  8. Similarly, as used in a Jewish rite, the word “priest” would have an objectively Jewish meaning. So if a Jewish rite used the words “Give the dignity of the priesthood”, those words would have the same objective meaning as if it were said: “Give the dignity of the Jewish priesthood”.

    This difference in meaning is objective because the Jews have a different definition of “priest”. The word “priest” could not reasonably (and objectively) be given the Catholic meaning in a Jewish rite, even if the person who spoke those words were to subjectively intend that those words be given a Catholic meaning when said in the Jewish rite. Similarly, the word “priest” has a different objective meaning in the conciliar church’s ordination rite, as compared to this same word used in the traditional Catholic ordination rite.
  9. I Accuse the Council!, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, p. xiii.
  10. Open Letter to Confused Catholics, p. 54.
  11. The present article focuses on the conciliar church having a different meaning of the word “priest” than the traditional Catholic definition. Fr. Peter Scott makes this same point on a broader scale, concerning the conciliar church’s use of many Catholic terms: “It is truly a diabolical inversion and mockery of the truth, that the movement of adoration has been deviated from the Creator to the creature. Without changing any words, the content of the doctrines of Faith has been emptied out —whether it be the Holy Trinity, Jesus Christ, sin, grace, the Church, the sacraments —and prayer has become a vague kind of awareness or self-appreciation. For now God is present in man, or immanent, as the modernists would say.”
    District Superior’s Letter Sept. 2000 (emphasis added).
  12. After reviewing some of the most important changes in the conciliar ordination rite, Archbishop Lefebvre asked himself: “Is not the meaning of the essential rite thereby corrupted ‘ex adjunctis’?” Biography of Marcel Lefebvre, Bishop Tissier De Mallerais, Angelus Press, p. 467. (Ex adjunctis refers to the effect of the prayers and ceremonies surrounding the essential words of the Form. OOM, pp 124-6.) The Archbishop raises the very doubt raised by this article, viz., that the meaning of the ordination Form is corrupted, even though the conciliar rite’s Form contains almost the same words as the traditional rite (although with a new meaning).
  13. Pope Paul’s New Mass, Michael Davies, Angelus Press, 1980, President as Actor, p. 161.
  14. Id.,, p. 158.
  15. It would miss the point for a novus ordo priest to say that his diocese or his seminary was better than this. The point of this whole appendix is not that every single person in the conciliar church held (and holds) these views. Rather, my point is that this new definition of “priest” was (and is) part of the general milieu of the conciliar church.
  16. Pope Paul’s New Mass, Davies, President as Actor, p. 162.
  17. As explained in Appendix 2, the problem with the conciliar church’s language is not that much of it cannot be understood in a Catholic sense. The problem is that the conciliar church expunged virtually all statements about the priesthood which cannot be also understood in a Protestant sense. As Appendix 1 outlines, this was the method used by the Anglican revolutionaries to change the understanding of the priesthood. The conciliar revolutionaries, like the Protestants, do not have any problem with the word “priest”. What they reject is the Catholic priesthood. Similarly, they don’t have a problem with the word “sacrifice”. What they reject is the propitiatory Holy Sacrifice of the Mass which is the same Sacrifice as our Lord’s Death on Calvary, offered in an unbloody manner. As Luther taught: “[T]he Mass is not a sacrifice for others, living or dead, to take away their sins...” Luther, Augsburg Confession, art. 24, § 34. “[In the Mass] once a conscience has been uplifted by faith and realizes its freedom from terror, then it fervently gives thanks for the benefits of Christ and ... [i]n this way the ceremony becomes a sacrifice of praise.” Apology of the Augsburg Confession, one of the confessional writings of the Lutheran church, written by Philip Melanchthon and included in the Book of Concord. Art. 24, ¶74.