2) Paul VI allowed the bishops to use other oils for extreme unction.
How can it not invalidate the sacrament? Pervious Papal documents say that it has to be olive oil, Yet Paul VI allowed other oils.
In short, the type of oil is a human-church tradition, not a divine given one by scripture nor the Apostles. As, a result it does not matter if 20 popes say olive oil, the very next Pope could change it to some other type of oil if there were good reasons. Like lack of olive oil availability or as in the case of Pope Saint Paul VI who allowed the use of other oils to save souls if the typical oils were not available right away.
If I had to respond to a Protestant asking about if the sacrament of
anointing of the sick is even a sacrament I would refer to the book James
13-15. This among other texts show that the sacrament should be done
by a priest and that it forgives sins (connected with being given by a
priest) Yet, that is about as far as you can argue from scripture on
the topic of anointing of the sick, Its a sacrament given by Christ to
Apostles, it forgives sins and requires a priest to give it.
As a Catholic we have both scripture and tradition, but tradition is
not in opposition to scripture. If we think about the distinction or
relative weight of truths in our faith an important point can be made.
We have things in scripture or things that are dogmatically infallibly
proclaimed (Like the Immaculate Conception) that all must hold too or be
considered too not holding the faith. Next up are things that are in
scripture but we must dig a little to understand or teaching that is
not infallibly proclaimed but has come up often in Church documents.
This teaching is not a sure as those directly in scripture but still
requires an assent due to constant teaching and their proximity to
scripture. Things can get even more remote, for example Pope Francis’
recent comments on recycling in Ladato Si – where do they fall? Since
they are relatively new topics and only one encyclical and Pope deals with them they
do have teaching weight but not at the same level as say how we should
preserve Catholic School systems in countries that have them. It is
also hard to argue that recycling is found in scripture directly.
There are comments about stewardship but these must be worked out and
interpreted. Now if the next several popes make the same comments then
this teaching gets moved up in weight even if not directly in scripture.
It is similar for the oils used in Anointing of the Sick. The type of oil is not dictated by
scripture (unlike the fact that is forgives sins, is a sacrament and
given by priests), nor by the Apostles. They type of oil does have a
history in church law but really nothing else. Or in other words the type of oil is a human but not divine Church custom! We should always revere
church law but a Pope is always above it. No previous Pope can tie the
finger, as it is said, of the next Pope because as it says in Cannon
law a Popes power is immediate (not through someone else), Full (no
limits- expect for Christ’s law) and supreme.
Thus, Paul VI thought it beneficial to souls that in case of emergency
when other oils were not present any priest may even use vegetable oil
to save a soul it does not invalidate the sacrament because the Pope
himself is supreme on matters of merely church law as the type of oil
is not dictated by Christ in tradition or scripture. Here, a priest
should use the regular oil of the past but if in dire need can use any
type of oil. Since this is to save souls, it makes sense that a Pope
would allow this.
This also happens for communion. For example, we believe that the
communion of the orthodox is really Christ truly present because they
have valid holy orders. Yet, we dont use the same type of bread for
communion. We are divided on the issue of leavened or unleavened
bread!! This was even a great divider in the medieval church. Again,
this issue though serious is not one that a Pope (because there are
Catholic Orthodox churches now who use the opposite type as us Latin
rites) can do away with. A Pope for example though could not due away
with the fact that it must be bread as it is a more substantially
A development of church laws like this are common, for example in
several council of the early church there were cannon against priest
being clean shaven. Yet, such things are no longer held today.