What is "Ad Evitanda," and why is it applicable to the Crisis the Church is faced with as of 2022?
Pope Martin V’s constitution, “Ad Evitanda,” seems to resolve all questions on whether or not a validly ordained Catholic priest can confer absolution virtually anywhere today when the people ask for the Sacrament of Penance. John Daly’s additional commentary helps to put into perspective how the Pope’s instructions from 1418 apply today.
Father P. Charles Augustine referenced “Ad Evitanda” in his commentary on Canon 2261, a canon we have cited for many years to justify bringing in priests from outside our diocese.
But “Ad Evitanda,” appears to expand to a much larger degree the options open to us in the choice of priests that we can invite to come to Saint Jude’s under the current climate of utter desolation and confusion.
At the end of the 39-year-long Great Western Schism, questions invariably arose as to whether or not confessions had to be repeated if heard by clergy without delegation to absolve because their bishops were following an antipope, and had no delegation to give. The same question would have impacted countless marriages that were witnessed by clergy also lacking proper delegation from a bishop who was himself devoid of an episcopal mission because he had mistakenly followed a false Pope.
But when the true Pope (Gregory XII also known as Angelo Corraro) gave up his rightful claim to the office, on the condition that the Council of Constance, already in session, would depose the two false claimants (Benedict XIII a.k.a. Pedro de Luna and John XXIII a.k.a. Baldasar Cosa), the three rival factions agreed to unite behind a new Pope, Martin V (otherwise known as Oddone Colonna).
The first order of business for the new Pontiff was to relieve the consciences of the faithful who had received Sacraments from clergy who were operating without formal delegation from a "lawful" bishop.
I believe this one constitution by Pope Martín V answers all the questions on jurisdiction which presently concern us. After reading this document and commentary, I now feel at peace with what we have been considering, namely, the conditional ordination of good-willed Novus Ordo clergy by old bishops with valid episcopal orders, who retired many years ago but did not receive their episcopal delegation from a true Pope.
A more broad interpretation of Canon 2261, in light of "Ad Evitanda," may provide a breakthrough for tapping into a new source of clergy for Saint Jude Shrine.
In prior years, when older priests who had been ordained through normal channels were still available back in the 1970s and '80s, our cautious approach to limiting those under consideration for assisting us at Saint Jude’s to only senior clergy was prudent, however, they are nearly all gone now, and if the Church is going to remain visible anywhere in the world (and by the way - I don’t consider any of the alphabet soup groups themselves to be part of the organization or government of “the Church”), I believe we are authorized to take advantage of the permission that Pope Martín V granted to the faithful of his time and of future generations to request the Sacraments of ANY valid Catholic priests wherever they can be found, especially when old clergy with “official” delegation to absolve and witness marriages are no longer available."