UE 31: suggested solutions for well-disposed Bishops

Does Universae Ecclesiae n.31 really make it impossible to use the older form of ordination?

The other day I looked at UE 19 which has given many people cause to worry that they will be quizzed about their loyalty to the Novus Ordo when asking for the usus antiquior. The solution there is simply to refer to what the instruction actually says. Legitimacy does not mean anything other than lawfulness, legality, licitness and cannot be stretched to mean anything more than that.

UE 31 presents a different problem and has also exercised many people. Here is the text:
31. Dumtaxat Institutis Vitae Consecratae et Societatibus Vitae Apostolicae Pontificiae Commissioni Ecclesia Dei subditis, et his ubi servatur usus librorum liturgicorum formae extraordinariae, licet Pontificali Romano anni 1962 uti ad Ordines maiores et minores conferendos.

31. Only in Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life which are under the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, and in those which use the liturgical books of the forma extraordinaria, is the use of the Pontificale Romanum of 1962 for the conferral of minor and major orders permitted.
What of a Bishop who is happy to accept as candidates for the priesthood in his Diocese young men who will celebrate the Sacred Liturgy exclusively according to the usus antiquior? At first sight, it seems that he must ordain them using the Novus Ordo rite. As I have emphasised before, I am not a canonist: I am a dogmatist and proud of it. Therefore I hope that canonists (especially blogging ones) might consider the following suggestion.

A Bishop could set up in his diocese a Society of Apostolic Life for clerics who are attached to the usus antiquior. He could request the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei to have the oversight for which it is legally competent (thus incidentally "future proofing" the Society to a certain degree.) Then he could lawfully ordain those clerics according the the usus antiquior after also ordaining them to the various minor orders.

What then of candidates who want to maintain the extraordinary form with due honour "on account of its venerable and ancient use" (UE 6) but are in a Diocese that does not ordain men exclusively for the usus antiquior? I am thinking of the case where a Bishop would be generous enough to use the older form of ordination at the request of a candidate, but would feel constrained by UE 31.

Surely in this case he could apply for a dispensation. The Church's law is not positivistic in the way that modern civil law tends to be: contrary custom and epikeia play a much larger part, and there is a whole chapter in the code about dispensations (canons 85-93.) As a non-canonist, I hesitate to quote sections from  the code, since my canonical colleagues know their way around the interplay of canons and interpretations which make this an area where only fools rush in. Still, to my untrained eye, this does seem to be an area ripe for dispensation. Every day, people obtain dispensations from all sorts of ecclesiastical laws: is this one specially protected?

Photo credit: Institute of Christ the King

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