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THE EPISCOPATE AS AN ORDER AND SACRAMENT ON THE EVE OF THE HIGH SCHOLASTIC PERIOD The recent study of three papal bulls in which the Supreme Pontiff committed to simple priests the faculty of conferring sacred orders, that of the priesthood, has occasioned among theologians a revival of even interest in the relation of the episcopate to the presbyterate.1 The Council of Trent has declared it to be a matter of faith that the episcopate is of divine institution; it has also solemnly declared that the episcopate is superior to the presbyterate, and that the bishop's power of confirming and ordaining does not belong to priests.2 Beyond the defined doctrine, however, it is permissible to discuss freely the exact nature of the episcopate and its relation to the presbyterate. The question is therefore asked whether the episcopal consecration is conferred as a sacrament or as a sacramental, and whether the episcopate constitutes an order distinct from the presbyteral order. In other words, there remains a controversy about whether in the episcopate there are conferred ex opere operate a grace, power, and character proper to itself. Since the sixteenth century, the majority of theologians has held that the episcopate is indeed conferred ad modum sacramenti. Nevertheless , the aforesaid papal concessions have succeeded in arousing some moderns to a defense of the opinion of the High Scholastic theologians, who commonly taught that the episcopate is neither a sacrament nor a new order distinct from the presbyterate, but rather a dignity con1 Sacrae Religionis, of Boniface IX (1400) : J. Puig de la Bellacasa, La Bulla "Sacrae Religionis" de Bonifacio IX, in Estudios Ecclesiasticos, 1925, p. 3—19, 113—137. Gerentes ad vos, of Martin V (1427) : Karl A. Fink, Zur Spendung der höheren Weihen durch den Priester, in Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte, (63), 1943, p. 506—-508. Exposcit, of Innocent VIII (1489): P. de Langogne, De Bulla Innocentiana , seu de potestate papae committendi simplici presbytero subdiaconatus collationem disquisitio historico-theologica, in Analecta Ecclesiastica, (9), 1901, p. 311 ff. 2 Council of Trent, Session XXIII, Canons 1, 4, 7 (Denz., ed. 31: 961, 966, 967). 96 Episcopate as an Order and Sacramentçfl ferred by a sacramental which in some manner extends or amplifies the presbyteral character and power.3 In his excellent résumé of the traditional theological and canonical thought on this subject, Bishop Landgraf has delineated the broad outlines of development from Saint Jerome through the middle of the thirteenth century.4 The reverend author has demonstrated that it was the early scholastic authors who, by bringing the episcopate-presbyterate relation into sharp focus, first treated explicitly of the question whether or not the episcopate is an order. It is our purpose here to supplement that excellent study by investigating in closer detail some of the more important theologians immediately prior to the High Scholastic period. Our investigation of the teaching of Guy of Orchellis and Alexander of Hales has been greatly facilitated by the recent editions of their works; for the opinions of William of Auxerre and William of Auvergne we have had recourse to older editions; we have taken the doctrine of Hugh of Saint Cher, Roland of Cremona, Philip the Chancellor, Guerric of Saint Quentin, and Richard Fishacre from manuscripts. For the purpose of convenient reference, we have included in an appendix those sections of the latter texts which pertain to our material. Under the influence of Peter Lombard's systematization of theology, it was natural that the Commentarii should inquire about the number of graces or orders in the Church. Generally they answered that there are seven orders, giving as their reason only that of the Master: because of the sevenfold grace of the Holy Spirit.6 In accordance with a tradition extending all the way back to the Ambrosiaster and Saint Jerome, most of them held that the episcopate is a dignity and an office, but not an order. During the early years of the thirteenth century, some theologians expressed doubt about this opinion of sevenfold order, and in order to determine the number of orders more accurately, they asked explicitly whether or not the episcopate is an order...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1945-9718
Print ISSN
0080-5459
Pages
pp. 96-148
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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