Table 2: Validity of new episcopal consecrations

Validity of the new rite of episcopal consecrations

Table 2: Comparisons of the rite of episcopal ordination

Ceremony before Vatican II

(1962 Pontificale Romanum)

Ceremony since 1968

(Vatican Typical Edition)

Ceremony since 1990

(Vatican Typical Edition)

Near the end of the litany, a cleric places the Gospels book on the altar.

The litany finished, all rise and the consecrator, wearing the miter, stands in front of the faldstool, and the bishop-elect kneels before him.

The consecrator takes the Gospels book, opens it, and helped by the two bishop co-consecrators, he places it in silence on the head and shoulders of the bishop-elect, turning it in such a way that the bottom of the pages touches his head, and the top, his shoulders. One of the ordinand’s assistants, kneeling behind him, holds the book thus positioned until the moment when the consecrator hands it to the new bishop.

Then the consecrator touches with both hands the head of the ordinand, saying: “Receive the Holy Spirit.” This is done in turn by the bishop co-consecrators, who not only must touch with both hands the head of the ordinand while saying “Receive the Holy Spirit,” but also (with, at the right moment, the intention of conferring the episcopal consecration) recite with the bishop-consecrator the prayer, “Be pleased, O Lord,...” and all of the preface which follows....

The consecrator, not wearing the miter, [joins his hands] and says: “Be favorable, Lord, to our supplications, and inclining towards your servant the abundance of Thy sacerdotal grace, pour forth upon him the virtue of Thy blessing. Through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

[At the word benedictionis, the three prelates make the sign of the cross over the bishop-elect.] Extending his hands, the consecrator alone says: “For ever and ever.”...

Then he says the words of the form of episcopal consecration, which must be recited in a speaking voice, hands extended: “Fulfill in Thy priest the completion of Thy ministry....”

Pontificale Romanum, Pt. I, ed. typica (Vatican: Polyglotte Press, 1962). The details in brackets have been taken from Consecrations des Eveques (Angers: Richer, 1920) pp.51ff.

After the litany, the principal consecrator alone stands and, with hands joined, sings or says: “Lord, be moved by our prayers. Anoint your servant with the fullness of priestly grace, and bless him with spiritual power in all its richness. We ask this through Christ our Lord.”

R. Amen.

Deacon: Let us stand.

[All rise.]

The principal consecrator and the consecrating bishops stand at their places, facing the people. The bishop-elect rises, goes to the principal consecrator, and kneels before him.

The principal consecrator lays his hands upon the head of the bishop-elect, in silence. After him, all the other bishops present do the same. Then the principal consecrator places the open book of the Gospels upon the head of the bishop-elect; two deacons, standing at either side of the bishop-elect, hold the Book of the Gospels above his head until the prayer of consecration is completed. Next the principal consecrator, with his hands extended, sings the prayer of consecration or says it aloud: “God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ....”

The following part of the prayer is sung by all the consecrating bishops, with hands joined: “So now pour out upon this chosen one that power which is from you, the governing Spirit....”

Pontifical Romain (Paris: Desclee-Mame, 1977). We have rectified the translation to bring it closer to the original: Pontificale Romanum, ed. typical (Vatican: Libreria Editirice Vaticana), 1968. [English version: ICEL, Roman Pontifical,1978.]

The second typical edition of the new rite, published in 1990, contains a few changes to the rubrics. Here is our translation from this ritual:

After the litany, the principal consecrating bishop, standing with hands extended, says, “Receive, Lord,...”

R. Amen.

Deacon: Let us stand.

[All rise.]

The bishop-elect approaches the principal consecrator (who stands in front of the faldstool) and kneels before him.

The principal consecrating bishop places his hands on the head of the bishop-elect in silence.

After the imposition of hands, the bishops present remain around the principal consecrating bishop until the end of the prayer of ordination, in such a way, however, that the action can be seen clearly by the faithful.

Then the principal consecrating bishop takes the Book of the Gospels which a deacon hands him, and places it, open, upon the head of the bishop-elect; two deacons standing on either side of him hold the Book of the Gospels above the bishop-elect’s head until the end of the ordination prayer.

The bishop-elect kneeling before him, the principal consecrating bishop, without the miter, having near him the co-consecrating bishops also without miter, says, hands extended, the prayer of ordination: “God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ....”

The following part of the prayer is recited by all the consecrating bishops, hands joined, in a low voice, nevertheless in such a way that the principal consecrating bishop’s voice can be clearly heard: “So now pour out upon this chosen one that power which is from you, the governing Spirit....”

Pontificale Romanum, ed. altera, (Vatican: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1990).