Card. Coccopalmerio: “Maybe we have to reflect on this concept of validity or invalidity. “

Francesco-CoccopalmerioJust after I read a silly piece from the ridiculous Hans Küng over at the Fishwrap (National Schismatic Reporter) about completely rehabilitating Martin Luther, I flipped over to the National Catholic Register and saw Ed Pentin’s long interview of Card. Coccopalmerio. It concerned mostly his somewhat tangled attempts to explain his little book.

However, Coccopalmerio’s answer to one of Pentin’s question shows somewhat … problematic views on areas outside marriage:

PENTIN: One last topic: At a recent plenary meeting with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, you reportedly encouraged the members to push for a less rigid understanding of the priesthood, essentially telling them to give up on an objective and metaphysical notion of priesthood. Your notion was that as we have an understanding of different levels of communion with the Church among the baptized, we should have different degrees of the fullness of priesthood, so as to permit Protestants to minister without being fully ordained. What exactly did you say, and why did you say it?

CARD. C: I was saying we have to reflect on questions. We say, everything is valid; nothing is valid. Maybe we have to reflect on this concept of validity or invalidity. The Second Vatican Council said there is a true communion even if it is not yet definitive or full. You see, they made a concept not so decisive, either all or nothing. There’s a communion that is already good, but some elements are missing. But, if you say some things are missing and that therefore there is nothing, you err. There are pieces missing, but there is already a communion, but it is not full communion. The same thing can be said, or something similar, of the validity or invalidity of ordination. I said let’s think about it. It’s a hypothesis. Maybe there is something, or maybe there’s nothing — a study, a reflection.


This sounds like creeping incrementalism.

The moderation queue is most definitely ON.

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  1. John Grammaticus says:

    So far as I understand the only non-catholic sect which have valid orders are the Orthodox, and even then their theology is different than ours.

    Its my understanding that whereas we see an indelible and ontological shift at ordination, they see it as more of putting on a cloak granting them the sacramental powers, and that if a Priest is defrocked he would lose the ability to absolve and to confect the Eucharist.

  2. acardnal says:

    “There’s a communion that is already good, but some elements are missing. But, if you say some things are missing and that therefore there is nothing, you err. There are pieces missing, but there is already a communion, but it is not full communion. “

    Sooooo . . . let me see if I understand his idea. Perhaps it can be applied to Islam: For example, if one believes that God is one Person (e.g. Islam) and not a Triune Godhead of three persons, I guess one out of three is close enough so that a Muslim can claim he is a Christian according to His Eminence’s thinking.

  3. jschicago says:

    Creeping incrementalism, Father??? Yep. I wonder if the next view we will hear about is Anglican and Episcopalian Orders are valid and Apostolicae curae will no longer be accepted.

  4. Poor Yorek says:

    “There’s a communion that is already good, but some elements are missing. ”

    Yes, “good” based on a valid baptism! “Missing” based on invalid Orders & the lack of valid sacraments that are based on valid Orders. His attempt to manufacture an example of incrementalism relies upon the foundation of validity.

    Perhaps someone might assist this prelate by pointing out to him the difference between a hypothesis and an unsubstantiated conjecture otherwise known as a WAG?

  5. Poustinik1 says:

    Can we use that same argument by the good Cardinal regarding Pope Francis? Perhaps we are not to say is he valid or are we to say he is invalid or simply an invalid? What is this magisterial mishmash? Perhaps I have been living on a different planet but it seems like someone has turned on the light and the giant cockroaches are going crazy. We seem to be living in a completely new Church where all of our doctrinal beliefs have been hijacked, or are about to be. Twilight Zone stuff because it is very dangerous and scary. Can’t wait to read tomorrow’s headlines.

  6. Cantor says:

    Several years ago, Woods Hole Institute agreed with earlier findings that the actual dimensions of hull damage to RMS Titanic amounted to about 1.5 square meters – out of some 18000 square meters of submerged hull. The watertight integrity of the hull – its “validity” – was better then 99.99%.

    Sometimes “almost valid” is not quite good enough.

  7. rdb says:

    Honestly, I would be less surprised if these men came out to praise the latest Abba LP and spoke about the great look of platform shoes and bell-bottoms. We seem to be in a time-warp that has brought us back to 1974.

  8. Athelstan says:

    Just after I read a silly piece from the ridiculous Hans Küng

    Is there any other kind?

  9. thomistking says:

    2 things from the text of the interview:
    1. The cardinal is clearly a consequentialist. What else can the idea that someone may commit a lesser evil so that a greater evil does not result be?
    2. The notion of intention being advanced here is incoherent. A person can intend to amend their life, and intend to continue committing mortal sins? I would give everything I own to hear what Elizabeth Anscombe would say to this prince of the Church.

  10. Irish Timothy says:

    Is this lining up for a long discussion like the previous synod? The last one was about the family and with Cardinal Kasper leading the charge well in advance, the push for communion for the divorced was the end result for the most part. Is Cardinal C saying this to get us ready for a much watered down version of the priesthood at the next synod? If I am correct the next synod is about the youth and a topic is on vocations. Maybe I am reading too much into this.

    Pray, pray, fast and pray again.

  11. stuartal79 says:

    Edward Pentin’s interview with Card. Coccopalmerio was a RIVETING read.

  12. robtbrown says:

    If Eastern theology doesn’t consider the priesthood to be permanent, what happens to Psalm 110:

    The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchiz’edek.”

  13. Benedict Joseph says:

    We see here the proposition for the total elimination of the seven sacraments. It is nothing less than the complete repudiation of Roman Catholicism.
    There is no rhyme or reason to these meanderings. It is nothing less than boldly symptomatic of a loss of faith. It has become agonizing to watch these irrational proposals offered in what appear to be fits of hubris. We have waited two thousand years to be corrected by such wisdom figures? I think not.

  14. Glennonite says:

    “Huh?”, is the only response to that drivel.

    He is either unable or unwilling to give a coherent response. However, his lofty office has only one function: to shepherd with a clear voice. Therefore, I find him either incompetent or devious, malicious. The provided photo of him is unflattering, but it does fit with either an incompetent or malicious man.

    As one who was raised to naturally trust and obey the Priesthood, I am so angered and fed-up with such weak fools within our Holy Mother Church these days. Thank you for reporting on this…and allowing me to vent.

  15. iamlucky13 says:

    Give up on objective understandings? So they’re “sort of” priests?

    I used to have a math professor who would respond to non-committal answers to yes or no questions with, “Sort of? That’s not an answer. That’s like saying you’re sort of pregnant!”

    So I guess they “sort of” received a sacrament. I’m not sure I really want to know what he proposes as to the reality of sacramental grace.

    Calling it incrementalism might be generous.

  16. JabbaPapa says:

    This sounds like creeping incrementalism

    It also sounds like substituting the will of men for the Will of God.

  17. Justalurkingfool says:

    To a simple man like myself, this undermining of clarity and obfuscation of absolute truths/certainty leads only to disorder
    and ulitimately to tryranny and fatal conflicts…..pandemonium.

    Do those who are behind this not see the obvious fruits of their labors?

    Or, is this the result that is unspoken, intentionally, because such,
    truly, is their desire?


  18. Dundonianski says:

    Creeping Incrementalism suggests a slow perhaps feline stealth, but Coccopalmerio, and like minded others e.g.Kasper, Marx, Mariadiaga, Cupich et al are to a man confidants and staunch supporters of Francis and his direction of travel. He (Francis) may not possess the intellectualism and dignity of papal predecessors , not least in Thomistic philosophy and theology, but he knows exactly where he wishes to take us . In his four year reign, incremetalism is in my opinion alarmingly incrementally rapid!

  19. JonPatrick says:

    The quotes above by the Cardinal seem to sum up Modernism:
    1) It doesn’t matter what Scripture or Tradition has passed on to us, what matters is what I think about it and that is what counts.
    2) There is nothing supernatural or mystical about Christianity, therefore there is no indelible mark conferred by ordination, it is just symbolic. Therefore a Protestant ordination is just as good. Of course by extension this would also apply to Confession and the Eucharist.

  20. Grumpy Beggar says:

    CARD. C: I was saying we have to reflect on questions. We say, everything is valid; nothing is valid. Maybe we have to reflect on this concept of validity or invalidity.

    IOW : “We say, everything is black , everything is white. Maybe we have to reflect on this concept of black or white . . .

    . . . And make everything grey.”

  21. cwillia1 says:

    I will try to clarify the Orthodox attitude toward validity and sacraments. And these are generalizations. The Orthodox dislike the scholastic obsession with validity versus liceity. They are more integralist in their approach to the mysteries. Apart from the one holy catholic and apostolic Orthodox church everything is questionable. And yet, the Holy Spirit is “everywhere present and fills all things.” It is unclear what happens when a priest functions apart from his bishop but the theology emphasizes that the bishop is the alter christus and the priest is ordained to operate in the bishop’s absence. With respect to receiving Christians from outside the Church, the Church supplies and acts as the custodian of the mysteries. As to the priesthood, Roman Catholic priests have been received by profession of faith at various times and places and in other times and places a convert priest would be rebaptized, rechrismated and reordained. Bishops, acting collectively, can make these decisions and the decisions are respected across jurisdictional boundaries.

    With respect to the Cardinal’s attitude toward validity I think they would say validity is too narrow a concept and they would set more demanding conditions for recognizing the ministries of groups that are outside of the church.

  22. Grabski says:

    Cardinals like Kasper Daneels Mahoney Coccopalmiero Wuerhl and so many others are an example to the President that the swamp must be drained deeply

  23. Fr. Thomas Kocik says:

    The possibility of recognizing or supplying for the sacramental validity of Protestant ordinations was a hot topic in the ecumenical dialogues of the early 1970s. (I dealt with this in my book on Apostolic Succession (Alba House, 1996). The Council of Trent did not explicitly reject the validity of Protestant ministries but declared them illegitimate. Even so, defect (or at least ambiguity) of intention on the part of the “Reformers,” together with disruption of episcopal succession in their communities, is too serious a matter to be brushed aside. I can no more wrap my mind around the notion of a real, but imperfect, ordination any more than I can comprehend a real, but imperfect, baptism (real, but imperfect, communion with the Church being a separate matter). One is either ordained (in the sacramental, ontological sense) or not ordained. But then, there I go again thinking in outmoded binary categories.

  24. Traductora says:

    This is probably related to the “New Mass” that Francis is hatching. I think Cocopalmiero may be one of the people involved in this effort, aimed at creating a “mass” that could be celebrated jointly by Catholic priests and Protestant clergy (or even laity). The “consecration” would be in such a form that it would allow a moment of silence during which each participant would think the words of his particular formula. The “liturgy of the Word” would be the same as the NO, and as for the Eucharistic part of the liturgy, it would be like the Nestorian Rite.

    So this is the basis, IMHO, of Cocopalmiero’s bizarre and tied-up-in-his-underwear musings on validity and invalidity (of what?).

  25. Titus says:

    So far as I understand the only non-catholic sect which have valid orders are the Orthodox, and even then their theology is different than ours.

    Well, yes and no. The Orthodox have their own, inherently valid, rite of ordination. There are Western schismatics who either have retained a valid ordination rite from the time they were Catholics (Old Catholics, Polish National Catholics) or who, in particular individual instances, have undergone the rite of ordination from a member of the former group (or a person who received episcopal ordination from one of them) under circumstances that create at least a doubt about the validity of the ordination (various contemporary Anglicans fall into this category).

    If Eastern theology doesn’t consider the priesthood to be permanent, what happens to Psalm 110

    It’s probably best not to try to climb down that rabbit hole without, at least, an Eastern Christian to provide input. If I had to ignore my own advice and take a guess, I would imagine—assuming that Eastern theology does not view ordination as working an ontological, permanent change in the way we understand it in the west, a premise that itself I cannot comment on and to the veracity of which I cannot testify—that they would interpret Psalm 110 solely as a prophecy concerning Christ.

  26. Sonshine135 says:

    Forgive me, but the fact you got anything out of that Father is a sheer miracle. This sounds incoherent. If I am to try to dig around and parse together some form of coherence, I guess that the Cardinal is trying to say that the mockery of communion performed by Protestant ministers who themselves are a mockery of the Priesthood contain elements of validity….whatever that means.

    I respond to this objection with a simple two word answer….Uh…no!

    Imitation of the sacred by a two year old is flattery… a way of them trying to understand what they are witnessing or even more so, being in awe of what they are witnessing. A grown adult man or woman, imitating the rites of a Priest and the Holy Communion is a mockery. The degree of this mockery is the only thing in question. In charity, I doubt most Protestants do these things with the intention of mocking Catholics, but it is nonetheless mockery. We should not give a stage to such mockery though. We are not Unitarian Universalists. We are Roman Catholics.

  27. Fr. Vincent Fitzpatrick says:

    Does incrementalism ever not creep? Does it sometimes gallop?

  28. Fr. Vincent Fitzpatrick says:

    Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerick famously had a vision of a procession of bishops. Many had bodies but instead of a head, clouds of fog.

  29. chantgirl says:

    After observing four years of this Pontificate, I think faithful Catholics need to seriously undertake to do some praying, fasting, sacrificing, and strategic planning. Many times has this pontiff broadcast his views and intentions through surrogates before he enacts them.

    I agree that this is probably not creeping incrementalism, but a panicked fury to get more “reform” in during the current pontificate. This probably does tie in with the next synod, the plan to reform the Mass, and the coming anniversary “celebration” of Luther’s revolt.

    What are the big obstacles to a “false” Christian unity? The Eucharist, clerical celibacy and the nature of the priesthood, and rules about marriage/sex. I expect to see attacks on all of these in the run up to the synod. I think that all of the fuss about the divorced/remarried receiving Communion is not really about pastoral care to those couples. Most likely, Catholic rules about marriage and sex are one of the big roadblocks to a facile reunification of Christians. If it can be established that people living in an objective state of mortal sin can receive Communion, then what is stopping anyone from receiving Communion? What is to stand in the way of a false Christian unification?

    Faithful Catholics have been too slow to respond to the craziness that has taken place since VII, and especially the craziness during this pontificate. We have been like deer in headlights. We need to awaken, snap out of our shock, acknowledge that we really are seeing a train wreck, and prepare for the next assault on the faith, which looks to be aimed at the nature of the priesthood and the Mass.

  30. Maynardus says:

    “Your Eminence, Charlie Curran is calling – long-distance from Southern Methodist University – and he wants his theology back!”

  31. robtbrown says:

    IMHO, Cardinal Coccopalmiero is not a consequentialist. And not a Neo Scholastic, an Existentialist, or for that matter, a jurist.

    Rather, he is a a Curial Careerist who will say whatever it takes to please his superiors.

    Fr Kocik,

    In so far as perfectus, a, um and it’s Greek equivalent both mean to complete, the notion of a distinction between real, perfect and real, imperfect is little else than an attempt to obscure any notion of validity. Whatever is real is in some sense perfect.

    If I might indulge my inclination to pedantry: There are two things at play here:

    1. The foundation for the real/perfect and real/imperfect nonsense distinction is the denial of the Real Distinction between Act and Potency. As you no doubt know, this is to be found in Francisco Suarez, the Jesuit Scholastic whose thought dominated the Jesuits for 350 years. Even though German Existentialism now dominates the Jesuits, the denial of the Real Distinction perdures.

    The story is told that Garrigou LaGrange used to say in class that he would like to sing in Gregorian Chant: Inter ens et non ens est ens in potentia.

    2. There have been two basic Sacramental theologies in the Church: The Christocentric approach of St Thomas and the Ecclesiocentric approach of the Jesuits (which, IMHO, is found in Scotus.

    a In the Christocentric approach Christ is the Principal Priest in every celebration of every Sacrament. The Ministerial Priest is His Instrument. Grace is the Effect.

    b. The Ecclesiocentric approach is contractual. Christ promises that if a proper minister celebrates a certain right, He will produce Grace. (Note that, unlike a, there is a separation between the celebration of the Sacrament and Grace.) It’s fairly obvious that being contractual, it emphasizes a certain legal aspect, the de emphasis of which provides an opening for nonsense like real/perfect and real/imperfect.

    Basta. I’ve bored you long enough.

  32. robtbrown says:

    Fr Kocik,

    In so far as the Protestant Reformers didn’t believe in Transubstantiation, there is no reason for the priesthood, thus nothing to be judged valid or invalid.

  33. thomas tucker says:

    @Traductora: interesting. I never understood why the Nestorian consecration was considered valid without the words of consecration, but ti was held to be so by Cardinal Ratzinger of the CDF during the reign on JPII.

  34. 1173justin says:

    I’m a convert to the faith. I was brought up as an evangelical / Pentecostal non denominational etc. I fully came into the Church Easter Vigil 2012 shortly before I got married. My wife and I strive to live the Faith. I’m 33 years old, these milqtoasty non offending prelates sound like they are trying to prove a chick tract to be prophetic literature.

    These people are so demoralizing to the faithful, not to mention the faithful converts, that I have to remind myself, technically, any baptized Catholic male can be ordained. If our Lord sees fit to send a comet or a meteor, I may very well be an instrument to clean the house. Oh Lord, do not forever leave us to these epic failures of men. Preserve their souls and guide them back to you with the rod of your hand, that we might have shepherds who lead us, and not need to be lead.

  35. Dan says:

    Maybe we have to reflect on this concept of Catholic and not Catholic.

    It amazes me the number of people that have risen so high in the ranks of the Catholic church, but seem to have no concept of Catholicism. Indeed they seem intent on destroying it. This concept of Catholic that requires nothing of us except our good vibrations is misguided at best.

    Watching coverage of the “Catholic” REC in LA really points out the level of Schism already present in the church. Would any outsider looking at that wreck and then a TLM think that those are both the same thing? One is directed at the divine, the other at the human.

  36. Dan says:

    @Fr. Vincent Fitzpatrick
    “Does incrementalism ever not creep? Does it sometimes gallop?”
    It galloped in the 17’s and 80’s, or maybe steamrolled is more accurate.
    It has slowed in the last 10 years but it reaching a crescendo again.

    The third secret of Fatima as told by Sister Lucia, also made a prediction for the Pope, and many bishops, that they would fall to death. I would argue not a physical death but one far worse. As May 13th quickly approaches we need to double and triple our prayer efforts for these men.

  37. SenexCalvus says:

    Isn’t it a requirement of charity that one not only listen to, but also accept as they are intended, the words of persons with whom one disagrees? Protestants do not regard Holy Orders as a sacrament. The discussion, then, of whether their orders are valid is not only irrelevant, but also uncharitable, at least insofar as one honors the teachings of their traditions. They don’t believe in a sacerdotal priesthood, so to introduce the question of validity into any discussion of the Eucharist or ecumenical relations is to impose on them a paradigm that they have utterly rejected. They don’t believe in the sacrament of Holy Orders, they don’t believe in the Real Presence, and they don’t even talk about the question of validity. In their churches, laymen, without so much as the pretense of ordination, can be called upon to preside at the Lord’s Supper. They call it a memorial meal, and they’re not wrong. Why should we impose upon them a sacramental understanding that they have quite consciously rejected? What worse form of clericalism could there be than to tell a man who swears he’s blind that he can in fact see? In trying to fit Protestants into our modernist Procrustean bed, aren’t we just cutting off the extremities of our own body?

    Cardinal Cocopalmerio addresses his nonsense not to Protestants, who have eschewed such categories as ‘validity’ for half a millennium now, but to those lukewarm Catholics who desire to be deadened to the call to holiness. What is more, those of us who have committed the mortal sin of cohabitating with the woman we later married can tell the enfeebled prelate who has published such rot something he can’t possibly have experienced himself, his rhetorical protestations notwithstanding: There is no sacramental grace in cohabitation. Your dessicatd lucubrations may suggest another conclusion, Your Emminence, but you’re wrong! And I don’t think for an instant that your published opinion is based on hearing confessions. It’s a fiction, like the “man who’s going to kill himself” if his concubine leaves him. Is this pulp fiction supposed to pass as theology?0 Good grief!

  38. Traductora says:

    @Thomas Tucker, unfortunately, the approval in 2001 of the Chaldean usage of what is basically the Nestorian Rite is supposedly one of the things the “New Mass” people are going to use to justify their new mass that lacks the Words of Institution (Consecration), although certainly Ratzinger and JPII did not intend this result. They were thinking more along the Orthodox lines, where the important part is the Epiklesis (taking the gifts to God), although the Orthodox do have the Words of Institution. At the same time, the theory was that even in the Chaldean or other Nestorian-Rite offshoots, the Words of Institution are said silently or possibly even thought because they were considered too sacred to be heard.

    In the New “New Mass,” however, they will not even be expected. The “celebrants,” validly ordained or not, or even non-validly ordained or not, will either say or not say whatever is the belief of the “community” formerly known as their church. In other words, it doesn’t matter, probably because nobody believes in Transubstatiation or even knows what it is except a few neo-Pelagians. And such is clearly Francis’ opinion on the subject.

  39. TWF says:

    John Grammaticus:
    “So far as I understand the only non-catholic sect which have valid orders are the Orthodox, and even then their theology is different than ours.”
    I wouldn’t call the Orthodox a “sect”; they are a communion of valid Churches even if not in full communion with Rome. There are at least three ancient Communions, not currently in communion with Rome, that have apostolic succession / valid orders:
    Eastern Orthodox (Constantinople, Russia, Greece, etc. – the Byzantines)
    Oriental Orthodox (Copts, Armenians, Syriacs, etc. – the Non-Chalcedonians)
    Assyrian Church of the East
    There are various other splinter schismatic groups that have retained valid orders. These groups may have received their orders from the Catholic Church or any one of the three ancient Communions listed above.

  40. Gilbert Fritz says:

    Traductora, where are you getting that stuff about a “New Mass?”

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