AAS 40-5. Volume 3, Canon Law Digest, 1954
Constitution by Pope Pius XII on the Essential Rites of Ordination for Diaconate, Priesthood, and Episcopacy with the valid
and only words and form for Ordination, without
which one is not ordained either a deacon, a priest or a bishop.
Considering that Paul VI illegally changed this in his own
Roman Pontifical, it brings up the necessary question: In light of this,
are all cardinals entering the conclave who were
ordained after 1968 actually ordained priests? If not, then they
could not only not be cardinals and are therefore legally
ineligible to vote, but hold no authority whatsoever in the Church
Christ founded. His Holiness' most certain words below give credence to this.
1. The Catholic Faith professes that the Sacrament of Order
instituted by Christ, by which are conferred spiritual power and grace to
perform properly ecclesiastical functions, is one and the same for the
universal Church; for, just as Our Lord Jesus Christ gave to the Church but
one and the same government under the Prince of the Apostles, one and the
same faith, one and the same sacrifice, so too He gave her but one and the
same treasury of efficacious signs of grace, that is, Sacraments. For these
Sacraments instituted by Christ Our Lord, the Church in the course of the
centuries never substituted other Sacraments, nor could she do so, since,
as the Council of Trent teaches (Conc. Trid., Sess. VII, can. 1, De Sacram,
in genere), the seven Sacraments of the New
Law were all instituted by Jesus Christ Our Lord, and the Church has no
power over "the substance of the Sacraments," that is, over those
things which, as is proved from the sources of divine revelation, Christ
the Lord Himself established to be kept as sacramental signs.
2. As regards the Sacrament of
Order, of which We are now speaking, it is a fact that, notwithstanding its
unity and identity, which no Catholic has ever dared to question, in the
course of time, according to varying local and temporal conditions, various
rites have been added in its conferring; this was surely the reason why
theologians began to inquire which of the rites used in conferring the
Sacrament of Order belong to its essence, and which do not; it also gave
rise to doubts and anxieties in particular cases; and as a consequence the
humble petition has again and again been addressed to the Holy that the
supreme Authority of the Church might at last decide what is required for
validity in conferring of Sacred Orders.
3. All agree that the Sacraments of the New Law, as sensible
signs which produce invisible grace, must both signify the grace which they
produce and produce the grace which they signify. Now the effects which
must be produced and hence also signified by Sacred Ordination to the Diaconate, the Priesthood, and the Episcopacy, namely
power and grace, in all the rites of various times and places in the
universal Church, are found to be sufficiently signified by the imposition
of hands and the words which determine it.
Besides, every one knows that the Roman Church has always held as valid
Ordinations conferred according to the Greek rite without the traditio instrumentorum;
so that in the very Council of Florence, in which was effected the union of
the Greeks with the Roman Church, the Greeks were not required to change
their rite of Ordination or to add to it the traditio
instrumentorum: and it was the will of the
Church that in Rome itself the Greeks should be ordained according to their
own rite. It follows that, even according to the mind of the Council of
Florence itself, the traditio instrumentorum is not required for the substance
and validity of this Sacrament by the will of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Himself. If it was at one time necessary even for validity by the will and
command of the Church, every one knows that the Church has the power to
change and abrogate what she herself has established.
4. Wherefore, after invoking the divine light, We of Our
Apostolic Authority and from certain knowledge declare, and as far as may
be necessary decree and provide: that the matter, and the only matter, of
the Sacred Orders of the Diaconate, the
Priesthood, and the Episcopacy is the imposition of hands; and that the
form, and the only form, is the words
which determine the application of this matter, which univocally signify
the sacramental effects - namely the power of Order and the grace of the
Holy Spirit - and which are accepted and used by the Church in that sense.
It follows as a consequence that We should declare, and in order to remove
all controversy and to preclude doubts of conscience, We do by Our
Apostolic Authority declare, and if there was ever a lawful disposition to
the contrary We now decree that at least in the future the traditio instrumentorum
is not necessary for the validity of the Sacred Orders of the Diaconate, the Priesthood, and the Episcopacy.
5. As to the matter and form in the conferring of each Order, We of Our
same supreme Apostolic Authority decree and provide as follows: In the
Ordination to the Diaconate, the matter is the
one imposition of the hand of the Bishop which occurs in the rite of that Ordination.
The form consists of the words of the
"Preface," of which the following are essential and therefore
required for validity:
"Emitte in eum, quaesumus, Domine, Spiritum Sanctum, quo
in opus ministerii tui fideliter exsequendi septiformis gratiae tuae munere roboretur."
In the Ordination to
the Priesthood, the matter is the first imposition off hands of the Bishop
which is done in silence, but not the continuation of the same imposition
through the extension of the right hand, nor the last imposition to which
are attached the words: "Accipe Spiritum Sanctum: quorum remiseris
peccata, etc." And the form consists of
the words of the "Preface," of which the
following are essential and therefore required for validity:
omnipotens Pater, in hunc famulum tuum Presbyterii dignitatem; innova in visceribus eius spiritum sanctitatis, ut acceptum a Te, Deus, secundi meriti munus obtineat censuramque morum exemplo suae conversationis insinuet."
we beseech Thee, Almighty Father, invest this Thy servant with the dignity
of the Priesthood; do Thou renew in his heart the spirit of holiness, so
that he may persevere in this office, which is next to ours in dignity,
since he has received it from Thee, O God. May the example of his life lead
others to moral uprightness."]
Finally in the
Episcopal Ordination or Consecration, the matter is the imposition of hands
which is done by the Bishop consecrator. The form consists of the words of the "Preface," of which the
following are essential and therefore required for validity:
"Comple in Sacerdote tuo ministerii tui summam, et ornamentis totius glorificationis instructum coelestis unguenti rore santifica."
in Thy priest the fullness of thy ministry and, clothing him in all the ornaments
of spiritual glorification, sanctify him with the Heavenly anointing."]
All these things are
to be done as was determined by Our Apostolic Constitution "Episcopalis Consecrationis"
of 30 November, 1944.
6. In order that there may be no occasion for doubt, We command
that in conferring each Order the imposition of hands be done by physically
touching the head of the person to be ordained, although a moral contact
also is sufficient for the valid conferring of the Sacrament.
Finally, what We have above declared and provided is
by no means to be understood in the sense that it be permitted even in the
slightest detail to neglect or omit the other rites which are prescribed in
the Roman Pontifical; on the contrary We order that all the
prescriptions laid down in the said Roman Pontifical be religiously
observed and performed.
The provisions of this Our Constitution have not
retroactive force; in case any doubt arises, it is be submitted to this
These things We proclaim, declare, and decree, all
things to the contrary notwithstanding, even those worthy of special
mention, and accordingly We will and order that in the Roman Pontifical
they be clearly indicated. Let no man therefore infringe this
Constitution which We have enacted, nor dare to
contravene the same.
Given at Rome from Saint
Peter's, on the thirtieth of November, Feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle,
in the year nineteen hundred and forty-seven, the ninth of Our Pontificate.
AAS 40-5; Pius XII, Apostolic Constitution,
30 Nov., 1947 Cf. Periodica, 37-9 (Hurth): Commentarium
pro Religiosis, 1948, p. 4 (Pujoiras).