Q: Hope you are well.
One of the students asked the following in class today.
The solemn blessing at the end of the presbyteral ordination rite has the bishop extend his hands over the new priests and the people. But in other solemn blessings he extends over, e.g., the married couple and then the final general blessing. Shouldn’t it just say over the newly ordained for the first three parts of the blessing?
A: Thanks, yes, I am well, and I hope and pray that you are too.
Hmmm. When blessing the newly confirmed, the newly married, a new abbess, a new abbot, newly consecrated virgins, or those making perpetual profession, the presider extends hands first over the persons in question, and then over the all the people.
When the bishop ordains deacons and priests in the same ceremony, the rubric in English (thought not in Latin) is similar to those listed above: first over those ordained, then over the people.
But your student is correct. Both in the ordination of priests and in the ordination of deacons (and in Latin over both groups), the blessing is made over the newly ordained and the people together.
I’ve checked the drafts of the ordination rituals dating back to 1966 and the first edition of the post-Vatican II ordination rite. The rubric doesn’t appear until the second edition of that rite in 1990, and then it got carried over to the third edition of the Roman Missal, where no previous editions had said anything about it.
The simplest explanation is that the person preparing those rubrics in 1990 was asleep at the wheel. The ceremonies of the former unified Roman Pontifical all appear in separate volumes now, so it does take a little more research to cross check what rubric the other ceremonies had in a similar place.
It’s probably an oversight. The bishop should probably extend hands over the priests or deacons and then over the people. It does say that in the combined rite in English in the Missal, so I’m concluding that somebody caught it there, but didn’t carry it through. Hard to prove, though.