The Old Oligarch's recent posts on theological manuals had me browsing in the Moral Theology section and I stumbled upon volumes 1,2,4 and 5 of 'The Casuist', a collection of cases in moral and pastoral theology, compiled by JA McHugh OP. Dating from the second decade of the 20th century, these volumes are full of 'cases' of the kind often found in preconciliar periodicals for clergy. This method of moral theology has fallen out of fashion, though American moral theologian Germain Grisez adopts this approach in the third volume of his 'The Way of the Lord Jesus' moral theology series.
An idea of the issues dealt with comes from perusing the index of volume 5 - there one finds such case-titles as 'Riding in Cars Without Paying a Fare', 'Unlawful Mass Intentions', 'A Marriage with Several Obstacles' and 'Apparitions of Poor Souls from Purgatory'.
Having flicked through some of the cases, amongst the most fascinating, and with the most ingenious solution is a real case regarding invalidity of ordination and the deal of confession. I set out herewith the case and will refrain from posting the solution for several days. Anyone so inclined may guess at the answer in the commment boxes.
Case.-The case here related has actually happened, though a long time ago. To Father Aurelius there came to confession a priest, whom we will call Ignotus. He mentioned a doubt about what seemed to him a substantial defect in the nature of his ordination, which Aurelius recognised as justified, and for this reason applied to the Sacred Penetentiary. Since an invalid ordination does not admit of sanation, as does marriage, the repetition of the ordination would be necessary. However, the Penitentiary esteemed the seal of confession so highly, and gave so much consideration to the name of the one (be it bona or mala fide) invalidly ordained, that it required no disclosure of the defect to a bishop, not even by the penitent himself. The whole matter of the confession, at least concerning the person of the priest, should remain perfectly unknown.