A Defence of the Catholic Priesthood
by Michael Davies
1979 AND 1993

Author's Introduction

The Order of Melchisedech was first published in 1979 and was very soon out of print. There has been a continual demand for a second edition since that time, but it is only now in 1993, fourteen years later, that I have been able to complete all the revisions and additions necessary to make this possible. Each time that I thought that this had been done some new development would take place relating to one of the key topics in the book which necessitated yet further revision. All of these developments have vindicated a position that I adopted in the first edition, in some cases in a very dramatic manner.

The Nature of the Priesthood

On the occasion of Holy Thursday, 1979, Pope John Paul II sent a letter to the bishops and priests of the world reaffirming the traditional Catholic doctrine of the priesthood. I am much encouraged by the fact that the explanation of the priesthood given in this book, which remains unchanged from the first edition, corresponds exactly with the teaching of the Holy Father, and, like the teaching of His Holiness, is completely incompatible with that contained in the Agreed Statements of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC).


In March 1966 Pope Paul VI and the Archbishop of Canterbury agreed to initiate a serious ecumenical dialogue. This resulted in the establishment of ARCIC which published the Agreed Statements on the Eucharist, the Ministry, and Authority between 1971 and 1977. Elucidations intended to clarify the meaning of the Statements were also published, and the entire ARCIC output was combined in its Final Report in 1980. Chapters V & VI, unchanged from the first edition, analyse the ARCIC Statements on the Eucharist and the Ministry and condemn them as a betrayal of the Faith on the part of the Catholic delegates. In 1980 I was invited to meet Cardinal Seper, the Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (SCDF), who had read The Order of Melchisedech. The SCDF was charged with evaluating the ARCIC agreements, and, as I explain in Appendix VIII, I was able to provide the Cardinal with documentation proving beyond any possibility of doubt the ambiguous nature of the Agreed Statements which enabled the Catholic and Anglican delegates to interpret them in a contradictory manner. The Cardinal assured me that there was no possibility of his Congregation ratifying the ARCIC Statements.

In May 1992 the SCDF under its new Prefect, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, published its observations on The Final Report, Cardinal Seper sadly having died in the interim. The SCDF Observations constituted a devastating critique of ARCIC which left the ecumenical bureaucracy shocked, shaken, and outraged. Where the Agreements on the Eucharist and the Ministry are concerned, the criticisms made by ARCIC are virtually identical to those found in Chapters V & VI of this book. The SCDF laid stress upon the unacceptability of formulations in the report which "are not sufficiently explicit and hence lend themselves to a twofold interpretation."

But the ecumenical bureaucracy did not abandon hope. The SCDF Observations carried only the authority of the Congregation, albeit that it is exceeded only by that of the Pope himself. The verdict of the Pope would be delivered in a final response to ARCIC carrying the authority of the Holy See itself. In an effort designed to pressure the Pope into reversing the SCDF verdict, The Final Report was sent to all the hierarchies of the world for their evaluation. The ecumenical bureaucracy, with a confidence that proved to be well-founded, was confident that most contemporary Catholic bishops would side with ARCIC rather than the SCDF.

As far as I have been able to discover, not a single hierarchy aligned itself with the SCDF and repudiated ARCIC. This included the hierarchy of England and Wales. Its endorsement of ARCIC must constitute its most shameful act of cowardice and compromise since the reign of Henry VIII, when St. John Fisher was the only bishop willing to die rather than acknowledge the king as "supreme head in earth of the Church of England". But on this occasion, whatever individual bishops may have said in private, there was not a single instance of public dissent from their collective endorsement of the ARCIC betrayal, even though upholding the faith would not have involved beheading, but only a Tablet editorial censuring a lack of ecumenical enthusiasm.

Pope John Paul II could hardly have been placed in a more embarrassing situation. As an exponent of collegiality he had to decide between the SCDF and virtually every bishop in the world. But Our Lord has promised to be with His Church always, and, if anything, the official Vatican Response was even more devastating than that of the SCDF. Dr. George Carey, the Archbishop of Canterbury, lamented publicly that the Vatican rejection of ARCIC, and its refusal to accept the ordination of women, have, in effect, brought to an end any hope of organic reunion between Anglicans and Catholics.

The ARCIC debacle proves, if further proof is needed, the abysmal level to which post-conciliar Catholicism has sunk. If any Catholic-----layman, priest, or bishop
-----had been asked, prior to the Vatican Response in 1991, whether, in matters of fundamental Catholic doctrine, the judgment of a Catholic layman could prevail against that of almost every successor of the Apostles throughout the world, the question would have been met with derisory laughter in which I would most certainly have joined. And yet, incredible as it may seem, the Vatican response has proved this to be the case. The condemnation of ARCIC in this book, which preceded that of the SCDF, was eventually vindicated by the Holy See, and the endorsement of ARCIC by the world's bishops repudiated.

I was, of course, only one of many British Catholics who were able to see the defects of the Agreed Statements, but although I have personal letters from bishops who deplored their ambiguity, public criticism of the documents was confined to priests and laymen. Our bishops are now shackled by a false concept of collegiality which has led them to believe that they must abide by majority decisions of the national hierarchy. Cardinal Ratzinger has stressed the falsity of this concept and urged bishops to have the courage to act as individual successors of the Apostles and speak out as individuals where the faith demands it. All the ARCIC developments subsequent to the publication of the first edition are explained in detail in Appendix VIII.

Hans K

In Chapter III and Appendix IV, unchanged from the first edition, I provide more than sufficient documentation to prove that by no possible stretch of the imagination could Hans K
üng be considered to be a Catholic theologian, but, as is noted in Chapter III, he was, at that time, permitted to hawk his heresies around the Catholic world with apparent immunity from Vatican sanctions. This deplorable situation continued until the death of Pope Paul VI. Pope John Paul II was elected to the See of Peter in 1978, and made the case of Küng one of his priorities. On 18 December 1979, the SCDF withdrew Küng's missio canonica, his authority to teach as an officially accredited Catholic theologian. My judgment that Küng's teaching was incompatible with Catholicism was, therefore, like my censure of ARCIC, eventually vindicated by the Holy See. The SCDF stated that:

Professor Hans Kung, in his writings, has departed from the integral truth of the Catholic faith, and therefore he can no longer be considered a Catholic theologian nor function as such in a teaching role.

In a gesture of scarcely credible arrogance, K
üng rejected an invitation to present his case before the SCDF, and then, after his condemnation, had the effrontery to attack the Pope for condemning a person whom he had not heard! The 4 January 1980 issue of The Universe quotes him as claiming that: "The Roman maxim audiatur et altera pars (the other side should also be heard) seems to have no validity in Rome."

In an act of charming ecumenical courtesy, the Anglican Church Times asked whether Pope John Paul II is going to turn out to be the Ayatollah of the West (11 January 1980). Dr. Stuart Blanch, the Anglican Archbishop of York, claimed that K
üng is a great theologian who has put the whole world in his debt! Liberal theologians throughout the world vied with each other in publishing and signing manifestoes insisting that Küng is indeed a Catholic theologian. On 7 December 1981 he gave a lecture to a standing room only audience at the University of Notre Dame in the U.S.A. He was introduced by Father Richard McBrien, Chairman of the Theology department, as "a fellow Catholic theologian", a statement which can only be regarded as an insolent and cynical rejection of the authority of the Sovereign Pontiff. Father McBrien was not disciplined and still occupies his influential post in 1993.

The Tablet published an editorial fulminating against the removal of Küng's missio canonica, comparing this action, to the pattern of life "under a communist regime". It praised Küng as a "noble thinker", and actually demanded the abolition of the SCDF. I gave this editorial to Cardinal Seper who was highly amused and remarked that The Tablet is a journal that "used to be Catholic". In its 20 March 1993 issue, The Tablet published an article entitled "Giant among Theologians" on the occasion of Küng's sixty-fifth birthday. It described with great enthusiasm a Festschrift published in his honour in which 45 contributors testified to what they considered to be his brilliance and profundity. The Tablet considers that this alleged brilliance and profundity is established beyond the least possible doubt by the fact that among the contributors "there are representatives of Anglicanism, German Protestantism, Methodism, Buddhism, Islam and Judaism and the founder of the World Economic Forum." That Pope John Paul n considers Küng to be neither brilliant, nor profound, nor a Catholic theologian is of little consequence to The Tablet. After all, what is the opinion of the Vicar of Christ worth when set beside that of the founder of the World Economic Forum? The article concludes with a quotation by a Swiss theologian who assures us that his compatriot will be rehabilitated in Heaven, and that the Pope should anticipate this heavenly justification upon earth! What the article does not mention is the book The Historic Credibility of Hans Küng by Father Joseph Costanzo, S.J. (Massachusetts, 1979), which proves, with meticulous documentation, that not only is Küng devoid of credibility as a Catholic but also as a serious scholar. Küng has become no more than an anti-Catholic propagandist who is prepared to distort historical truth in the most cynical manner to bolster up his animus against the Church: "Küng's use of ecclesiastical history is one-sided, partial, biased-----whatever subserves his predetermined purpose (p. 275)."

Needless to say, The Tablet is still sold in Catholic churches with the approval of the hierarchy, Cardinal Hume in particular, but one could hardly expect it to receive anything but support from bishops who insist that the ARCIC agreements are compatible with the Catholic faith. The 19 May 1990 issue of The Tablet, on the occasion of its 150th anniversary, published a tribute from Cardinal Hume praising the journal which had led British opposition to Humanae Vitae for preserving the best traditions of the past and gaining credit and importance month by month. Well, it is a point of view
-----not a very Catholic one, but probably that of most English bishops today.

The 1968 Ordinal

The basis of my criticism of the 1968 Catholic Ordinal, contained in Chapters VII to IX, is that there is not one mandatory prayer in the new rite of ordination itself which makes clear that the essence of the Catholic priesthood is the conferral of the powers to offer the sacrifice of the Mass and to absolve men of their sins, and that this sacrament imparts a character which differentiates a priest not simply in degree but in essence from a layman, as Vatican II teaches with admirable clarity in no. 10 of Lumen gentium. As is explained on page 81, the form in the traditional rite, carried over virtually unchanged into the 1968 Ordinal, is indeterminate. There is not a word in it that is incompatible with Protestant belief. But this indeterminate form was given an unambiguously Catholic connotation by other prayers and ceremonies in the traditional rite, prayers and ceremonies which were all removed or considerably modified in the 1968 Ordinal.

My condemnation of the ambiguity of the 1968 Ordinal was vindicated by three remarkable testimonies. The first was a letter from an English bishop praising my book and assuring me that my reservations concerning the new Ordinal were shared by the hierarchy of England and Wales which had protested to Rome at its imposition in 1968 (the faith still meant something to these bishops, most of whom had been appointed before the Council). The second vindication can be found in a long review of my book by Dr. Francis Clark, who is certainly one of the greatest of all living authorities on the Sacrament of Order. While Dr. Clark accepted that my criticism was justified, he insisted that the Catholicity of the 1968 Ordinal was guaranteed by a number of ex adiunctis factors, an argument which I accept. Some of his comments will be cited at length later in this introduction. The third, most authoritative, and most dramatic confirmation of my thesis is that of a spokesman for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (CDWS) in the February 1990 issue of Notitiae. In 1989, following continued criticisms of the ambiguity of the 1968 Ordinal, a second typical edition was published with a number of revisions. It may even be possible that my book, which was presented to twelve of the more traditional cardinals in the Curia, played some small part in this decision. The CDWS accepted the fact that whereas the Catholic theology of the priesthood was made explicit in the Traditional Ordinal this was no longer the case in that of 1968. It admitted that the New Ordinal had "aroused frequent criticism from both bishops and priests as well as the ordinands themselves", and went on to claim that its 1989 revision had rectified its deficiencies. It is my contention that the 1989 Ordinal is only marginally better than that of 1968, and that it is still far from adequate as a liturgical expression of the Catholic doctrine of the priesthood. The 1989 Ordinal is examined in great detail in Appendix IX. The frank admission by the CDWS of the deficiencies of the 1968 Ordinal vindicates fully my criticisms of it in this book.

Criticisms of the First Edition

In a long review which appeared in the June 1979 issue of Christian Order, Dr. Francis Clark expressed the opinion that the analogy that I had drawn between Cranmer's Ordinal and the 1968 Catholic Ordinal could not bear the weight that I had put upon it, and broke down at a certain point:

The new English rites composed in the reign of Edward VI had an objective anti-sacerdotal stamp because history demonstrates that the supreme authority which ordered and sanctioned the liturgical changes, imposing them by the combined power of State and Church, was determined to eliminate the Catholic Mass and priesthood. The authors of the Anglican Ordinal were themselves part of the politico-religious regime that vested it with authority, and the total anti-sacerdotal significance of the rite stems above all from that official stamp. But when we look at the other term of Mr. Davies's analogy we find the case is altered. Even if some of the promoters of the new Roman rites in the decade following Vatican II were animated by a questionable theological liberalism, even if Protestant "observers" were accorded a role which enabled them to influence (informally but effectively) the deliberation of the Roman Consilium which drafted the new rites, there is not the slightest doubt that the supreme authority that sanctioned the changes, the Holy See, was determined to maintain intact the full Catholic doctrine of the Mass and the priesthood. The new forms, liturgically impoverished though they are, are nevertheless still vested with the sacred significance which the supreme authority of the Catholic Church attaches to its sacraments, ministry, and rites. The documents of the Second Vatican Council and the teaching of Pope Paul VI are the contemporary overall context which objectively supplies the due meaning which is no longer explicit in the ritual forms. This is the overriding determinatio ex adiunctis which safeguards the sacramental significance and validity of the new rites. Leo XIII's reasoning (which Mr. Davies so ably expounds) about "the native character and spirit" of the Anglican Ordinal, is still irrefutable; but the same argument cannot be alleged to invalidate the new Roman rite of ordination. On page 100 of his book Mr. Davies quotes the words of Apostolicae Curae, which explains how "the native character and spirit" of the Anglican Ordinal was manifest from the deliberate excisions and omissions made in the rite in order to turn it into an instrument of the Reformation campaign against the Mass and Catholic priesthood. His pointed challenge is "to ask any reader to demonstrate to me how the words which Pope Leo XIII wrote of Cranmer's rite cannot be said to apply to the new Catholic Ordinal". With respect, I would answer by referring him to some words of my own, which he himself quotes with approval later, on page 123:

"The wording of an ordination form, even if not specifically determinate in itself, can be given the required determination from its setting (ex adiunctis), that is, from the other prayers and actions of the rite, or even from the connotation of the ceremony as a whole in the religious context of the age."

I would stress the concluding clause which I have now put in italics. The religious context of our ecumenical age is very different from that of the embattled mid-sixteenth century, when drastic liturgical changes were instruments of policy in a total socio-religious revolution. Granted that present-day ecumenism can be a chameleon; granted that the proceedings of the Roman Consilium which drafted the new Catholic Ordinal may well be questionable, granted that there are in this age many restive spirits who seek to shake off the credal constraints of traditional Catholic orthodoxy; granted that there are those who would blur or deny the difference between Catholic belief and Protestant belief on the Eucharist and ministry. But none of these things, and none of the regrettable changes and omissions made in the time-honoured rite, can avail to give the new Catholic Ordinal a heterodox significance. The reason, if I may repeat it, is that the teaching and authority of Vatican II and Pope Paul VI provided for the Ordinal of 1968 an overreaching "religious context" of meaning decisively different from that which was provided for Cranmer's Ordinal by the tenets and authority of the victorious anti-Catholic regime which imposed

It is not without significance that in order to establish that the form of the 1968 Ordinal possessed "the required determination from its setting (ex adiunctis)", Dr. Clark did not draw upon "the other prayers and actions of the rite", but found it necessary to resort to external factors, "the teaching authority of Vatican II and Pope Paul VI". This is hardly surprising in view of the fact that the CDWS has admitted that the Catholic theology of the priesthood was not made explicit in the 1968 rite. I believe that this admission, the letter from the English bishop revealing that the hierarchy of England and Wales had protested to the Holy See about the omissions in the 1968 rite, together with Dr. Clark's needing to resort to factors external to the rite to provide an ex adiunctis setting for the indeterminate form, more than vindicates the basis of my criticism of the 1968 Ordinal, i.e. not that it was invalid but that the extent to which the traditional rite has been purged of prayers and ceremonies similar to those removed by Cranmer from the Sarum Pontifical certainly undermines the case against the validity of Anglican Orders by blurring the fact that the essence of the Catholic priesthood is found in the conferral of the power to offer the Sacrifice of the Mass. The welcome given to the 1968 Ordinal by Anglicans is documented in Chapter VIII, and to this can be added a demand made by the Reverend Douglas Carter in his introduction to a 1977 edition of Saepius Officio (London, 1977), the reply of the Archbishops of York and Canterbury to Apostolicae Curae. Mr. Carter notes correctly that "Apostolicae Curae finds the essence of the priesthood in the power to consecrate and offer the eucharist, and faults the English ordinals for not specifying this." He notes with satisfaction that this teaching has "received correction in the reformed Roman ordination rites of 1968", and insists that this supplies grounds "for a further appraisal of the bull" (p. iii). The Catholic members of ARCIC were more than happy to put their names to an identical demand in their June 1979 Elucidations which called "for a reappraisal of the verdict on Anglican Orders in Apostolicae Curae (1896)". The 5 August 1988 issue of the Catholic Herald reported Derek Worlock, the Catholic Archbishop of Liverpool, as stating that he regarded "the historical basis of Pope Leo XIII's famous 'absolutely null and void' judgment as being no longer relevant." An editorial in the 14 April 1989 issue of the same journal, which the hierarchy permits to be sold in our churches, contained an explicit demand for the recognition of Anglican Orders. It claimed that: "At grassroots level we do recognize Anglican orders." Unfortunately, this claim is probably only too accurate where some (or many) English bishops are concerned. Cardinal Hume, for example, not only attended the enthronement of Dr. George Carey as "Archbishop of Canterbury" in April 1991, but actually read a lesson, and behaved to all intensive purposes as if this married Protestant layman were a Catholic bishop. This is hardly surprising in view of some alarming and astonishing statements made by the Cardinal in an interview published in the Anglican Church Times on 28 July 1978:

I could not in practice dismiss all Anglican Orders as "null and void" because I know that a number of Anglican Bishops have in fact had the presence at their ordination of an Old Catholic or an Orthodox bishop, that is, somebody who, in the traditional theology of our Church, has been ordained according to a valid rite.

One presumes that the Cardinal is claiming that these Old Catholic or Orthodox bishops acted as co-consecrators, but what he evidently does not understand is that Pope Leo XIII ruled irrevocably that due to a defect of form the Anglican ordinal is incapable of transmitting valid orders even if used by a bishop whose own orders are valid (this is explained later [Chapter IV]). If Cardinal Hume used the Anglican Ordinal himself, with the specific intention of ordaining a priest with the power to celebrate a valid Mass and to absolve men of their sins, nothing would happen. The man he intended to ordain would be a layman before and after the ceremony. The transmission of valid orders requires both a validly ordained bishop and an ordination rite recognized as valid by the Catholic Church. I have been assured by an Orthodox priest in London that, to the best of his knowledge, no Orthodox bishop has ever or would ever act as a co-consecrator in an Anglican ordination. Cardinal Hume continued:

As far as the Roman Catholic Church is concerned, I think it needs to look carefully again at Apostolicae Curae and its status. We need to discover whether the historical background upon which it was working and the argumentation upon which it was based is consonant with historical and theological truth as theologians and historians see it today.

There is, of course, no need whatsoever to look again at Apostolicae Curae, because, as Pope Leo XIII made clear beyond any possible doubt in his letter to Cardinal Richard of Paris, cited in full in Appendix VI, the encyclical settled the question of Anglican Orders finally and without any possible appeal. One wonders, too, who the theologians are whose theories have so impressed Cardinal Hume. Is he perhaps referring to Hans K
üng or to the Catholic members of the now totally discredited ARCIC? An authoritative decision of the Magisterium does not need to be re-evaluated each time a liberal theologian calls it into question. If this were the case there is not a truth of our faith from the Resurrection to the Real Presence that would not need to be looked at carefully again. One hopes that Cardinal Hume is aware of the fact that theologians do not form part of the Magisterium. Liberal Catholics who seek to undermine the authority of Apostolicae Curae state frequently that it is not infallible. This is untrue as is made clear in Chapter IV.

On a more encouraging note, the English bishop, whose approbation of my book I have already cited, also remarked:

I don't think you need worry about ARCIC's request for a reconsideration of Apostolicae Curae. Anyone who reads the Bull of Leo XIII and the letter to Cardinal Richard on the authority of the pronouncement can be in no doubt that the matter is now beyond question. This is one of the reasons that your book which contains these documents will do untold good. I shall recommend it to our priests. It deserves much recognition.

The 1991 Vatican Response to ARCIC (see Appendix VIII), and the 1993 decision of the Holy See about any Anglican ministers seeking admission to the Catholic priesthood following the decision of the Church of England to ordain women, vindicated the good bishop's judgment in the most emphatic manner possible.

The New Rite is Valid

In order to remove the least possibility of misunderstanding, I wish to affirm that I am absolutely certain that both the 1968 and he 1989 Catholic rites of ordination to the priesthood are valid in the Latin and English versions. I accept Dr. Clark's ex adiunctis argument without qualification. Readers who might have reservations concerning the teaching of Vatican II and Pope Paul VI should study the doctrine of the priesthood and the Mass found in the conciliar documents Lumen gentium and Presbyterorum ordinis, together with Pope Paul's Mysterium Fidei and his Credo of the people of God. No objective reader of these documents could deny that the authentic Catholic doctrine on the priesthood and the Eucharist is stated in them unambiguously. It must also be noted that the liturgical context of the new ordination rite in 1968 was that of the Tridentine Mass. When first writing this book I possessed only a cursory knowledge of the doctrine of the indefectibility of the Church. I might add in my defence that very few Catholics, priests or laymen, possess a thorough understanding of this fundamental doctrine which proves beyond any possibility of doubt that any sacramental rite approved by the Pope must certainly be valid, at least in its original (typical) Latin version. An explanation of the doctrine of indefectibility is provided in Appendix X.

An Error of Fact

In the first edition I stated that the matter and essential form for the ordination of a priest, designated by Pope Pius XII in Sacramentum Ordinis, remained unchanged in the 1968 rite. I was mistaken. The Latin conjunction ut found in the traditional form is absent in the 1968 rite. This mistake has been corrected in the present edition. The removal of the conjunction ut has no theological significance and does not have the least effect upon the validity of the rite. A very small number of very confused Catholics imagined that the omission did cast doubt upon the validity of the new rite, and in the hope of reassuring them the question of the missing ut is examined in Appendix XI.

The Bishop's Charge

Father Brian Harrison, O.S. wrote to me stating that I have placed too much stress upon the fact that the Bishop's Charge in the 1968 rite is not mandatory, but only a model homily: "It is perfectly clear that what is being presented as 'optional' at this point in the liturgy is not the doctrine expressed in the model homily, but only the choice of words with which the bishop may choose to express this doctrine." I accept this as a valid criticism, and I have taken it into account in my comments on the Bishop's Charge in Appendix IX. But I am sure that Father Harrison would accept that the fact that this model homily is not mandatory is used by many bishops as an excuse for delivering homilies which would be more appropriate for the commissioning of a Protestant minister or even the presentation of a diploma to a social worker. Father Harrison would certainly agree that this happens, but would argue that the blame must be apportioned to these bishops rather than to the Ordinal. Strictly speaking he would be correct, but this does not alter the fact that the failure to make this model homily mandatory, as was the case with the Bishop's Charge in the traditional rite, has played into the hands of neo-Modernist prelates. Wittingly or unwittingly the authors of the New Rite have placed a weapon in the hands of those who wish to downplay or even deny the sacrificial ethos of the Catholic priesthood.

Father Harrison shares my abhorrence at the scandalous extent to which specifically sacrificial texts have been removed from the new ordinal: "Not that Catholics have to approve of Paul VI's decision to omit those prayers, of course. We are quite free to hold-----as I hold too
-----that it was deplorable to make such confusing, ambiguous, and even scandalous omissions." But he insists, as Dr. Clark does, and as I accept without reservation, that Pope Paul VI did not have Cranmer's heretical intention in excising these prayers. Father Harrison believes the Pope's motives to have been a "zeal for ecumenism" which prompts the expression of Catholic doctrine in a "way that gives as little offence as possible to the separated brethren. Ill advised? Many of us would say so. Invalid? No way."


I am, if anything, even more adamant than I was in 1979 that the new rite of ordination in both the 1968 and 1989 versions represents an unacceptable ecumenical compromise. In this respect the closing passage of Dr. Clark's review is very pertinent:

Time after time Mr. Davies brings into the open questionable tendencies, reforms gone awry, and areas of theological confusion within the Church, of which most of the faithful are scarcely aware. There is need for much more vigilant scrutiny of what is being done to the Church's heritage of faith, worship, ritual and devotion in the name of post-conciliar renewal. This book sharpens the scrutiny. By asking very awkward questions Mr. Davies is not opposing but serving the cause of authentic post-conciliar renewal.

Given that the New Catholic Ordinal, even in its amended 1989 version, represents an unacceptable ecumenical compromise, what should be the attitude of Catholics who believe that maintaining authentic Catholic Tradition necessitates not simply the preservation of the pre-conciliar liturgical books but their restoration as the norm in the Roman Rite? It would be unrealistic to hope for the abrogation of the New Ordinal in the foreseeable future. The Vatican has never liked to admit that it has erred, let alone erred gravely. The most realistic policy for obtaining the eventual complete restoration of the Traditional Ordinal is to press for its use on every possible occasion now that it has become a Vatican-recognized option since the publication of the Motu proprio "Ecclesia Dei" in 1988. It is of no little significance that the use of the Traditional Ordinal alongside the new one would certainly impart a very important ex adiunctis signification to the new rite, as its weak doctrinal content would have to be interpreted within the unambiguous sacrificial ethos of the Traditional Ordinal. The fact that the Tridentine Missal is now recognized by the Holy See as an authorized rite within the Church performs the same function for the 1970 Missal.

The background to Ecclesia Dei is as follows. On 5 May 1988, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, on behalf of the Vatican, joined with Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in signing a protocol designed to bring the Society of St. Pius X, founded by the Archbishop, back within the official structures of the Church. All the Society establishments, seminaries, schools, churches, priories and convents would have been given official recognition, and "the Fraternity would have been given the faculty to use the liturgical books in use until the post-conciliar reforms" (L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, 27 June 1988). Other traditional communities not recognized by the Vatican were also given the opportunity to accept the protocol.  Archbishop Lefebvre eventually decided not to go through with the agreement as he had grave doubts as to the resolution which the pope would show in implementing its terms when faced with the almost universal opposition of the world's bishops. Other communities did accept the protocol, and new ones have been set up since the promulgation of Ecclesia Dei, which means that the Traditional Ordinal and all the pre-conciliar liturgical books are now being used with increasing frequency with the full approval of the Vatican. There seems to be no reason, apart from malice on the part of their superiors, why ordinands from any seminary should not have a request to be ordained in the traditional rite granted. Every Catholic who loves the Church must pray earnestly that the day will not be long delayed when the Vatican is able to negotiate an acceptable basis for the recognition of the Society of St. Pius X. When this happens the ordinations which take place in the Society's six flourishing seminaries will raise the number of officially recognized priests ordained with the Traditional Ordinal to a very significant proportion of those ordained each year.

I wish to acknowledge the invaluable help that I have been given in preparing this second edition by my dear friend Norah Haines who went through the complete text for me, made many corrections, and gave many helpful suggestions. She also prepared the new index, which was no easy task as the pagination from the first edition could not be kept and a great deal of new material needed to be incorporated. I also wish to acknowledge help on the part of members of The Priestly Association of St. John Fisher, an association of young priests working in dioceses and religious orders who are dedicated to the restoration of the traditional liturgy, to Brother Patrick Doyle of the London Oratory for his help with the translations, and to Professor J.P.M. van der Ploeg and Dr. Eric M. de Saventhem for giving me their comments on some of the new material.

When I completed the first edition of this book in 1978 there seemed to be no hope of any papally approved restoration of the Traditional Missal or the Traditional Ordinal. Fifteen years later a significant if limited restoration of both liturgical books is an established fact. Is it too much to hope that by the time another fifteen years have passed they may have become the most widely used rites within the Roman Rite? Nothing is impossible with prayer.

I am concluding this introduction on the Feast of St. Leo the Great, who upheld the Catholic Faith while the Empire of the West was crumbling about him. In the year 425 it seemed certain that Rome would be laid waste by Attila the Hun. Humanly speaking there was no force that could resist him, but St. Leo did. St. Leo, one of only three popes to bear the title "great", placed himself between the Holy City and the Barbarian, and, overawed by St. Leo's combination of Roman and Christian majesty, Attila concluded a peace and retreated beyond the Danube where he died. Let us, then, invoke the intercession of St. Leo that his successor, Pope John Paul II, will be given the courage to confront the liturgical barbarians who wish to destroy the Roman tradition, and ensure that this tradition is preserved as a precious treasure for future generations. These generations would indeed call the present Holy Father blessed if he could in this way echo the words of St. Paul: Tradidi vobis quod et accepti
-----"I have handed on to you that which I received".

Michael Davies 11 April 1990
St. Leo I, Pope, Confessor, Doctor of the Church.


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