Thursday, January 27, 2011
There have been calls for conditional ordination rather than re-ordination ex nihil of former Anglicans. This precisely what took place with the ordination of Mgr Graham Leonard, the former Anglican Bishop of London, who was able to prove his ordination pedigree, to such a degree that there was real doubt as to whether Apostolicae Curae applied to his Orders.
We have necessarily moved on from 1896. Vatican II introduced the much more ecclesial idea of being absorbed into the “college” of bishops and priests rather than a simple “pipeline”, the passing on of orders from person to person. Those ordained by Archbishop Malingo, who since his excommunication has been ordaining men by the score, the most authoritative opinions so far, count his ordinations as invalid. Similarly doubt is now expressed about Old Catholic or episcopus vagans ordination, simply because there is a lack of the intention to do what the Church does, a bishop, a priest is after all ordained for and by the Church, doubt has never been expressed about the SSPX ordinations.
In the case of the recent ordinations of former Anglicans who are ordained for the Ordinariate, they are ordained ex nihil but however no renunciation of previous ministry is required, no rejection of “invalid” sacraments is expected. On the contrary Anglicans are expected to continue to be Anglicans, receiving communion etc until the appointed day, Ash Wednesday in the case of the laity, to then be received into full Communion so they can participate in the Easter Mysteries, and in the case of clergy with ordination at Pentecost.
If the numbers of those seeking to be ordained in the Ordinariate are large a serious investigations of pedigrees would be difficult, divisive and invidious, not to say divisive. Many, but not all, would satisfy the conditions laid on Mgr Leonard for proof of the subsequent ordination as being conditional. In practice the Church seems to be saying that re-ordination is necessary but it is not entirely clear why it is necessary, it would not after all happen in the case of an Orthodox priest who became a Catholic.
It seems to be that all the Church is saying now, is that there is a deficiency in the Orders of those ordained in the Anglican Church who now seek ordination as Catholics. They might have worked in the CofE, they don’t work in for RCs. I can’t help but see a parallel with how the Church speaks about unbaptised children nowadays. Today we acknowledge the necessity of baptism but we avoid mention of limbo and instead we speak about the infinite mercy of God, simply because we know about and can be certain of Grace of the Church in the sacraments but in the dark world outside of the Church we simply do not know, we only know there is a problem.
Our big problem with Anglican Orders is not the past so much as the future, as far as Catholics and Orthodox are concerned every Ordination in the future will be invalid not just because of the involvement of female “bishops” but simply because the intention is to do precisely the opposite of what the Church intends, bishops and priests will be ordained, not for the Church catholic – I use the term in its broadest possible sense- but for those Christians who accept their particular orders, in that sense Anglican Orders divisively anti-ecclesial.
Posted by Fr Ray Blake