ASK FATHER: Can deacons request ordination in Extraordinary Form?

From a reader (seminarian?)…


Would it be conceivable for one or more transitional deacons to request that their ordination to the priesthood be conferred with the Sacrament of Holy Orders according to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite? Perhaps by allowing them to travel to an FSSP seminary or other community that regularly ordains priests using the 1962 books?

Yeeeeesssss… it is conceivable.  I can conceive that such a thing could happen.  I can in my wildest imagination conceive that a bishop might say “yes” to such a request.

As it stands, according to the prescriptions of Summorum Pontificum, bishops are not allowed to ordain in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite unless for members of those institutes that have exclusive use of the older, traditional forms.

I am pretty sure that a diocesan bishop could, on his own, send his men to the FSSP for ordination.  He could write the dimissorial letters and send them off.  Of course the FSSP might not want to get involved in that. I suspect that Rome would tuck the fact away and have questions about it down the line.  The next time the the bishop was in Rome for his ad limina visit, I’d bet it would come up.  The FSSP superiors would also have to answer some questions.   But… hey… it’s possible.

A bishop would have to request permission from the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” to ordain with the old Roman Pontifical.  I suspect that questions would immediately be fired back at him requesting clarifications and so forth.

There is an old principle that I learned from my old mentor and boss Card. Mayer: you can always ask, but then you have to be content with the answer.

Look.  I was ordained a deacon by Card. Mayer, entirely in Latin, in a Roman basilica, with the Gregorian chant schola I directed singing the music, using spectacular precious vestments.  I was ordained a priest by soon-to-be St. John Paul II, entirely in Latin, in St. Peter’s Basilica, jammed with people.  Both times, Novus Ordo, of course.  Would I have liked to have been ordained with the old books?  Sure! That would have been great!  Coolest. Rite. Ehvur!  I would not, however, be any more a priest thereby.  The priestly difference between a guy like me and an FSSP priest is precisely zero.  I can also say the same about a buddy of mine who was ordained deacon by Bp. Gumbleton and priest by Archbp. Jadot!

That said, were I a transitional deacon I would be verrrrrrry hesitant to make such a request, unless I knew the bishop really well, and he knew me really well and we both were on the same page.  Seriously.  He doesn’t have to ordain me at all.  Right?

There is also another principle, it is risky to ask a question unless you know what the answer is going to be in advance.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Priests and Priesthood, Seminarians and Seminaries, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Matt R says:

    I have heard that Fréjus-Toulon has on occasion formed their seminarians inside the Benedictine abbey, one which uses the older form of the Roman liturgy, and so Mgr. Rey has ordained men to the subdiaconate for both the abbey and the diocese.

    [That was the case some years ago, but it is no longer.]

  2. Uxixu says:

    A married deacon would be a far more interesting request. Maybe with just enough irony WRT “traditionalist” chagrin to make it more possible than with a seminarian.

    It is interesting that FSSP doesn’t have it’s own Bishop(s) to do ordinations instead of relying on requesting “guest” Bishops to do the incardinations (as the Most Reverend Fabian Bruskewitz amongst others has done for them)… or even a member of the Fraternity being consecrated to the Episcopate (though they would probably require consecration by the old ceremony, if not consecrators – of which only the SSPX bishops as well as that of the Society of St. John Vianney/Campos remain). Understandable that noone in the Vatican would risk a repeat of another SSPX situation, though, that’s for sure.

    Do seminarians from Econe ever get incardinated in to a diocese or do they remain in illicit limbo in SSPX? I see Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais ordained 6 priests and 9 deacons in AD 2013 but can’t seem to see if they were incardinated anywhere (I imagine not). [They are not incardinated in any diocese or institute. They have no faculties and are suspended from exercising Holy Orders.]

  3. jacobi says:


    Yes, he should just go obediently ahead, be ordained as his bishop wishes, and after ordination say the Mass at any time and as often as he wishes, as is his right, as and when appropriate, in the Vetus Ordo form. And there is nothing to stop any member of his congregation attending that Mass, nor any reason why he should not encourage them to attend.

    (Now not wishing to stir things up, I won’t here go into the matter of Quo Primum, [Good.] which I personally see from a purely logical and common sense point of view, which is all I have to go on, not being a theologian, as being still and ever binding. [No. It isn’t.]

    Of course he can also say the Mass in other permitted forms such as the Mosarabic, The Milanese, the Sarum?, the Dominican,(( if they let him?)) [No. He can’t. Not if he doesn’t belong to one the groups that use them or finds himself in a place where they are used.] – and of course the multitudinous forms of the Novus Ordo, currently permitted).

  4. Sonshine135 says:

    Father, forgive my ignorance and confusion. Is the FSSP the only approved Roman Rite seminary allowed to Ordain Priests in the Extraordinary Form? [No.]

  5. Random Friar says:

    For various reasons, we Dominicans did not have a Conferral of Holy Orders in our own Rite. Rather, bishops, Dominican or not, would ordain us according to the Roman Rite.

  6. RichR says:

    Always neat to see Fr. Charles Vreeland (holding the book in front of +Bishop Bruskewitz). I went to college with him. He was also seen in the video of Bp. Sample celebrating an EF Mass:

  7. Sonshine135 says:

    Thanks Father. I found the list of communities:

    I hear about the FSSP a lot, but not so much the other communities which was the original reason for my question.

  8. I wonder how the two forms of ordination compare. I have heard that the older form is longer and more specific but I have never seen the texts of either, except for excerpts. Anybody know?

  9. Uxixu says:

    The Pontificale Romanum has the ordinations for minor and major orders as well as the consecration of bishops and more, in Latin of course.

  10. @ Uxixu. oooh. thanks.
    I would like to see the both of the current and past texts in English to compare the two. Surely this comparison exists somewhere? Though I guess the past texts are stated in Latin, while the current said in the vernacular. Isn’t there an available current text in the vernacular somewhere?

    Recently, two relatives have received the Anointing of the Sick. Then I read the texts for the former Extreme Unction. Oh. My. What a difference – the old one is so much more full and way more helpful to the sick/dying. I imagine the ordination rites are similar in the depths of the differences?

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