Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Pope and his Invalidity "Doctrine"

The Editor of the Vox Cantoris Blog wrote an interesting post last year which got me thinking about the Pope's latest ill-considered remarks about marriage validity, certainly an issue which is going to pop up regularly now with the "streamlining" (aka debasement) of the annulment process in full swing.

So half of Catholic marriages in the world are invalid, suggests the Holy Father in Rome.  Only half ? Maybe one-third ?  A couple ?


How he has arrived at this conclusion may be one of the world's great mysteries.

So given the man's startling statement on marriage validity let us go forward with the Pope and that notion of his and make the following observations which seem far more believable than the Pope's unsubstantiated claim about Catholic marriages.  The Pope has opened the door, therefore good, logical thinking requires that we examine other Sacraments and their validity.  I will gladly stand corrected by any theologian who might happen to see this post and will be kind enough to comment and correct where necessary.

So regarding invalidity, I offer the following cases.

1.  A large number of Consecrations at circus atmosphere Novus Ordo Masses, as practiced now, very definitely appear to be invalid. (Yes I am aware of the Indefectability doctrine, but I do wonder sometimes how far that can be taken given the extreme shall we say "individualism" of many priests.)

2.  How many priestly ordinations could also be invalid ?  Again, can the indefectability concept cover all the various contingencies that make up a valid ordination ?

3.  Very many penitents have unquestionably received invalid absolution for their sins. I know I have. I was so certain of this in one instance that I went to Confession again and re-confessed to another priest at another church.  (There are also historical precedents in the history of the Church for this outrage, like the scandal in Spain in the 15th Century.)

4.  How many other Sacraments are invalidly administered ?  A very good question considering the poor formation of many priests.

5.  This writer has personally witnessed a number of examples of Extreme Unction that stray so far from the words and meaning (and matter) of the Sacrament that their validity could also be seriously and rightly questioned.

Had these things crossed your mind, Holy Father, when you made your statement about invalid marriages ?

The late, great Michael Davies once wrote an excellent article for The Remnant newspaper suggesting that the doctrine of Indefectability would cover a multitude of priestly inadequacies or even deliberate tampering when administering the Sacraments.  It was a fine explanation of the doctrine but, to me at least, not altogether convincing.  Fritos and grape juice do not a Holy Communion make, indefectability or no indefectability.  A sinister priest in 15th century Spain who deliberately and with malice aforethought gave invalid absolutions in the Confessional - which eventually prompted a papal order that all penitents who confessed to this man confess again to another priest - would in my view not be a candidate covered by that indefectability doctrine. [The whole story of this incident is well told in William Thomas Walsh's Isabella of Spain.]

So how far, Francis, are you willing to explore this "invalidity" business vis-a-vis the other Sacraments ?

I know that to ask for clarification from Francis would be met by his trademark "silence of the tomb" response.  Nevertheless I have to ask:  Any thoughts, Your Holiness?

1 comment:

Peter Lamb said...

The Catholic Church is indeed Indefectible and Infallible. These qualities are not synonymous with the valid confection of Sacraments, which depend on correct form and matter. A validly ordained Priest/Bishop who used faulty matter, or form, does not confect a valid Sacrament, even though the Church is Indefectible. The new novus ordo Episcopal Consecration is definitely invalid and novus ordo ordination is at least doubtful. Henry Patrick Omlor is well worth reading on the Sacramental theology. I am not a theologian. :)

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