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The ’68 Consecration Rite and Lutheran Orders

ON JUNE 26, 2008, the conservative Novus Ordo website Rorate Coeli published an article criticizing those modernist theologians who promote the notion that Lutheran ministers may indeed possess valid apostolic succession. (This would mean that the sacraments they confer are all valid.)

This came on the heels of Rorate’s 14 June 2008 article, “Got a Revolution, Got to Revolution,” a withering critique of the modernist innovations in the 1968 ordination rites promulgated by Paul VI. The article alluded to the controversy over the new form for episcopal consecration, which, as I have demonstrated in my study “Absolutely Null and Utterly Void” does not sufficiently specify the order being conferred and therefore renders the whole rite invalid. A 17 June article by Brother Ansgar Santogrossi OSB went on to defend the new form on grounds of “context.”

Now all this is a very interesting juxtaposition, because the principles of post-Vatican II sacramental theology do indeed seem to allow its adherents to maintain that Lutheran orders are valid.

The reason is that the notion of a readily-identifiable essential sacramental form has been replaced with “context” — in the “particular church” or community, and in the sacramental rite itself.

This principle is the basis for the Vatican’s 2001 statement declaring valid an Assyrian anaphora (canon) that contained no words of consecration. General drift and context were sufficient.

(For a discussion, see Bishop Sanborn’s article “O Sacrament Unholy“.)

At the time, members of the modernist theological establishment pointed out that the document could be used as a starting point to declare protestant orders valid.

This “context” argument, of course, seems to be the same one Br. Ansgar used in his earlier thread to defend the validity of the 1968 Rite of Episcopal Consecration — if “spiritus principalis” in the essential form is vague, well, the “context” makes it specific.

All of this, though, is impossible to reconcile to the standard principles of pre-Vatican II sacramental theology.

Might as well just admit that the old rules don’t apply.