Approval of New Ordination Rites, Part 2: On Bishops

We continue Pope Paul VI’s apostolic constitution on the approval of new ordination rites. This post, the Holy Father covers the bishops. First, a long quote from Lumen Gentium, on which we blogged about two years ago.

The holy Synod teaches that “by episcopal consecration the fullness of the sacrament of orders is conferred, that fullness which is truly called-in the Church’s liturgical usage and in the language of the Fathers-the high priesthood, the apex of the sacred ministry. But together with the office of sanctifying, episcopal consecration also confers the offices of teaching and governing. These, however, of their very nature can be exercised only in hierarchical communion with the head and members of the college [of bishops). From tradition which is expressed especially through liturgical rites and through the practice of the Church in both East and West, it is clear that by the laying on of hands and the words of consecration the grace of the Holy Spirit is so conferred and the sacred character so impressed that bishops undertake Christ’s own role as Teacher, Shepherd, and Bishop in an eminent and visible way and that they act in his person.” (Lumen Gentium 21)

Liturgical reform was largely about making the rites more understandable, and more explicit in their connection to doctrine. Paul VI cites one reason why the reform mined the rich traditions of the ancient Church. It was not about old things for old things’ sake, but to search for precision of expression. Another advantage of searching the liturgical treasures before Trent, before the Schism, and deep into the past is that these represent a time of harmony between East and West.

To these words should be added a number of important doc­trinal statements [of the Council] concerning the apostolic succession of bishops and their duties and functions. Even if these matters are now found in the rite of episcopal consecra­tion, still it seems that they should be better and more pre­cisely expressed. To achieve this, it appeared appropriate to take from ancient sources the consecratory prayer which is found in the document called the Apostolic Tradition of Hip­polytus of Rome, written at the beginning of the third century. This consecratory prayer is still used, in large part, in the ordination rites of the Coptic and West Syrian liturgies. Thus the very act of ordination is witness to the harmony of tradi­tion in East and West concerning the apostolic office of bishops.

Thoughts to add?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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