I welcome the bull for various reasons. It represented a crucial stage in the acceptance by the Roman Magisterium that the Imposition of Hands is the sole Matter of the Sacrament of Order. It was a reaffirmation of the principle that Schism does not, on its own, invalidate orders. It reaffirmed that heresy in itself did not eliminate an adequate intention (it saw the problem as lying in the fact that heresy had led to the substitution of an inadequate Form). Incidentally, judging from a recent post, Fr Zed is unaware of this basic principle of Western sacramental theology: although he thinks that things have not yet become that bad, it is in his view possible that defective episcopal orthodoxy might invalidate orders. And Apostolicae curae, by its very silence, implied the reformability of a pontifical document as solemn as the Decree of Eugene IV for the Armenians ... and thereby logically implied its own reformability. It was a useful slapdown for our Anglican arrogance. And, by that word disciplinae, it limited its own doctrinal scope.
In the last resort, however, I contextualise its celebrated conclusion theologically and historically thus:
(1) It is an echo of the old gut feeling that the people-I-don't-like-have-invalid-Orders. Its juridical foundation was a decision of the Holy Office, which in the seventeenth century had declared null the Orders of a Scottish bishop (whose consecration is now thought not to have been by the Church of England's Ordinal). And the Holy Office, like British courts, is bound by its own precedents. The participation of Dutch Tutchers I regard as adequate to settle any doubts there may be; the hoards of Roman theologians who thought that Accipe Spiritum Sanctum is an adequate Form of Consecration satisfy me. The action of the Church of England in getting the Tutch I regard as a solemn, significant and meaningful ecclesial act, and in this context I regard the reality of the diffusion of the Tutch as morally certain.
(2) It is an ultra-rigorist application of the principle that, in the matter of valid orders, it is important to be certain beyond any possibility of cavil. This principle is indeed far superior to Anglican habit of being lackadaisical ... and then going all Hurt and Wounded when other people don't feel so sure that what you've done is right. But ultra-rigorism can be taken too far. There are plausible stories about scrupulous RC bishops in the old days who reordained all their neopresbyteri in the sacristy immediately after the ordination as a matter of course, just to be absolutely sure that there could be no possibility of a fatal slip having occurred (I wonder if it ever occurred to them that if perchance their own ordination had been technically vitiated, this would not be much use). I don't really believe that God is quite the sort of God which this scrupulosity implies. And Rome itself is less categorical now about invalidity than it used to be; what would Leo XIII's generation have said if asked to judge upon the adequacy of a Eucharistic Prayer (Addai and Mari) which lacked an Institution Narrative? And this is in effect a return to a slightly less regimented Roman praxis: in the 1860s, the Holy Office declared that Abyssinian priests were to be regarded as validly ordained, notwithstanding the fact that the Abyssinian rite of priestly ordination, as found in their books, "in praxi paene abolitum est, neque alio modo presbyteros ordinari quam per impositionem manuum cum his verbis dumtaxat, Accipe Spiritum Sanctum, quae in libris non inveniuntur ...". One recalls Newman's discovery, when he arrived in Rome in 1846, "various persons there in the belief that [Anglican Orders] were valid, and none, I think, clear that they were not".
I am not insensitive to the rhetoric about how the Anglican rites were stripped of sacrificial language in the sixteenth century (nevertheless, Catholic praxis accepts the validity of Baptism by ecclesial bodies which have stripped the liturgy of Baptism of any mention of Regeneration). And I am more amused than I probably should be to find that some integralists, especially among sedevacantists, use precisely Dr Messenger's and Leo XIII's argument to argue for the invalidity of the Orders of the post-conciliar Church (even within SSPX, the argument is heard that some postconciliar Orders may because of dodgy intention be invalid; that each case should be considered individually). Plausibly; for the Sarum formulae mentioning sacrifice, which Dr Messenger and others so pedantically listed as having been eliminated by Cranmer, are pretty well the elements eliminated also by Bugnini. Who, while he kept the Porrection of the Instruments, provided it with a new formula which most certainly would not have been regarded as an adequate Form by those earlier writers who thought of this rite as the essential part of the Ordination. Perhaps Anglicans, in order to feel totally confident of their Orders, should ask to be reordained according to the Tridentine Pontifical and by a bishop who was consecrated with that Pontifical.
No; only joking. But it would be a nice experience. Is Mgr Rifan due to be in England soon?