Valid Anglican orders?

Valid Anglican orders?

Diogenes gives an extensive analysis of the current state of Anglican-Catholic relations in advance of the meeting between the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Pope this week.

But the reality is that, within this same post-Conciliar period of gestural benevolence, the Anglican communion has distanced itself from the Catholic Church and not moved closer to her. The doctrinal near-anarchy of Anglicanism makes reunion impossible of itself, and that anarchy has been institutionally consecrated by the ordination of women and contumacious impenitents (divorced and remarried persons, thinking Anglicans) to the priesthood and episcopacy. The point isn’t that these persons are more sinful in the aggregate than Catholic clergy; the point is that the Church couldn’t accept them as clergy without ipso facto ceasing to be the Catholic Church. Franklin’s rejoinder that the General Synod hasn’t actually wet the bed yet is such special pleading that it’s doubtful he believes it himself:

Most interesting is his observation that Rome did not simply rule Anglican orders to be invalid, across the board, but that ordinations according to the new Anglican rite were and are, and that some Anglican priests may actually be validly consecrating the Eucharist.

Just to make it clear: Apostolicae Curae did not rule on Anglican orders per se. It said that ordinations carried out according to the Anglican rite (ordinationes ritu Anglicano actas) are null and void. And in fact a number of Anglican clergy quietly concur with this judgment, having gotten themselves re-ordained by schismatic bishops with valid episcopal orders (often Old Catholics) using a valid rite. Others have taken care that their ordination be performed by an Anglican bishop who himself had orders recognized as valid and in conformity with Apostolicae Curae. That is to say, whereas all Anglican clergy are in schism by virtue of their being Anglican, some of them have valid orders—it’s a question of the apostolic pedigree of the ordaining bishop, and the matter and form of the sacrament—and validly confect the Eucharist.

They would still be outside of Communion, just like the Eastern Orthodox and its not easy to tell at a glance which ones this would apply to, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

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  • Anglican Bishop W has a pedigree. He “ordained” Rev. John the priesthood and Father John claims to have valid orders. But Bishop W. also “ordained” Rev. Joanna as well to the priesthood – or is it just the Anglican priesthood since women cannot be ordained? Just what did the good bishop intend to do when he laid hands on these two people and conferred the same office on them using the same words and possibly even at the same service? Not only that but ECLA pastors celebrate the eucharist in Bishop W.‘s churches. How could the validity of Father John’s orders ever be established with moral certainty?

    Any ecclesial community with a deliberately ambiguous theology of the eucharist and of orders simply can’t sustain the presumption of the validity of its orders on the basis of pedigrees alone because the intention of its ministers is never clear.

    Pope Leo definitively determined that the Anglican Communion had lost the apostolic succession. Some Anglicans may now have valid orders but establishing this in specific circumstances is impossible, practically speaking. Consequently, the potential validity of Anglican orders has no significance for reintegrating Anglicans into the Catholic Church.

  • Pope Leo definitively determined that the Anglican Communion had lost the apostolic succession.

    But that’s precisely Diogenes’ point. Pope Leo did not definitively determine any such thing. Ordinations carried out according to the Anglican rite are invalid.