Thursday, January 27, 2011

Anglican Orders

“Absolutely null and totally void” was Apostolicae Curae’s teaching about Anglican Orders, that was in 1896, for many High Anglicans of the time that statement propelled them to seek ordination again from those who Rome considered valid but not in communion with her. Following the publication of the 1928 revision of the Prayer Book scarcely an Anglican episcopal ordination took place without, the “Dutch touch”, the involvement of an Old Catholic as a co-ordainers.

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.

29 comments:

Jackie Parkes MJ said...

We were never convinced that Mgr Graham Leonard wasn't still a Bishop..apparently Rome didn't deny it.

My family & I were blessed to meet Mgr Graham on many occasions & visited him just before he died & after his massive stroke destroyed his beautiful voice..such an inspiration to us all..& such dignity.

Ecclesia Anglicana said...

Boiled down to "we didn't recognise you in the past, and we won't recognise you in the future either".

Hardly earth-shattering news really.

Michael.Petek@btinternet.com said...

I think the nub of the matter is this.

Anglican ordination is perfectly good for making Anglican ministers, but not for conferring the sacramental power of the priesthood in the Catholic sense.

Fr Colin Patey said...

Thank you, Father. I am a former Anglican cleric and was received into the Catholic Church in 1994. Every day I thank God that I came home. I was ordained in 1998 for the Diocese of Nottingham. I find your comments sensitive and helpful. I also like what Bishop Edwin Barnes says on the question of Anglican orders: "The Eucharists I have celebrated until now might have been lacking in the certainty which attaches to Catholic sacraments; but if this is so, then it must be that the Lord has intervened miraculously and with extraordinary generosity - for I know that those celebrations have borne fruit, not thistles. This, I believe, is what the Archbishop of Westminster was saying when he spoke of the fruitful ministry of the former bishops of Ebbesfleet, Richborough and Fulham." http://www.theanglocatholic.com/2011/01/parting-is-such-sweet-sorrow/

Fr Ray Blake said...

Fr Colin, I thing describing Anglican Ordination as being "defective" is really as far as I would go.

The problem is that Anglican Eucharist doesn't bring with it Communion with the Universal Church and therefore lacks that certainty you speak of but it does convey Grace and it does sanctify.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Jackie, Interesting question you raise, the answer simply is: he wasn't a bishop in the Catholic Church.

Before Vatican II, many theologians taught that ordination to the priesthood gave the fullness of the Sacrament of Orders. So if a priest later was made a Bishop, his already existing sacramental powers were “unbound”. Thus a newly consecrated Bishop could then do those things reserved to Bishops. This was why before Vatican II people usually spoke of the Consecration of Bishops rather than their Ordination.

Anonymous said...

I seem to recall - but don't have the text at hand - that one of the reasons Pope Leo XIII pronounced on the invalidity of Anglican orders was that the ordinal (the liturgical texts) used in the ordination, was, in itself defective in not conveying the intention of the Catholic Church to ordain priests as the Faith of the Church has it. In other words, it does not matter how many validly ordained bishops you have at an Anglican ordination ; the use of a defective ordinal renders the ordination invalid. Question : since Pope Leo XIII, has the rite of ordination among Anglicans been made to conform with the doctrine of the Catholic Church on the Sacred Priesthood ? Fr. A.M.

Little Black Sambo said...

Ecclesia Anglicana: you may boil it down thus, but to me it seems that it is not what Fr Blake is saying.

Auricularis said...

The problem is that Anglican Eucharist doesn't bring with it Communion with the Universal Church and therefore lacks that certainty you speak of but it does convey Grace and it does sanctify.

And where is the supposed "hermeneutic of continuity" in this view?

If Anglican orders were deemed invalid, then how could an Anglican clergyman confect the Eucharist in the same way as a Catholic priest does? What "grace and sanctity" is gained from adoring, what is essentially, a piece of wafer bread?

I do not see why the sudden change in language to the PC "feel good" we now hear. It is almost as potential Anglican converts wish to hold Rome to ransom, until they can get her to concede that their past ministries were apparently "fruitful".

Jack said...

I'm intrigued by the transition from episcopal "consecration" to "ordination". Can you, Father, or any or your readers, possibly shed more light on this? I once read somewhere that the change was effected during the time of Pius XII.

Interestingly, 'Christus Dominus', the conciliar decree concerning the pastoral office of bishops (dated October 28, 1965), still uses the term "consecration".

Nowadays, it seems to me that anyone who uses the term "consecration" is labeled an out of touch reactionary.

Richard said...

"Anglicans are expected to continue to be Anglicans, receiving communion etc until the appointed day"

Is that correct? It seems odd.

My wife (a former Anglican) stopped taking Anglican communion as soon as she decided to be received into the Church (and of course couldn't take Communion in a Catholic church until she had gone through the period of instruction and been received).

It would seem odd to do otherwise.

If one thinks that Anglican communion is sufficient, then why leave the Church of England? If one thinks that it is necessary to join the Catholic Church, then why would one continue to receive Anglican rites in the meantime?

Fr Ray Blake said...

Fr AM,
I am no expert by weren't some of these problems addressed by the 1928 Prayer Book?
The problem in Apos. Cur. was not just the Rite but the intention of the Anglican Communion to ordain "Catholic priests".

Rejection by Rome, Constantinople and Moscow seems to have been trauma for turn of the century Anglicans, who were of course the successors of Newman, Keble, Pusey et al.

Fr Ray Blake said...

P.S.
I think also it is worth examining what Pope Leo meant by "null and void" and the particular question he was attempting to answer. His terms of reference were essentially Anglicanism of the 16th Cent, which defined in itself "against" Catholicism.

Today we are perhaps more nuanced in our ecclesiology. I don't think Leo was too conversant with such terms as "partial communion" for example.

An English Pastor said...

I'm not sure it is enough to say we are more nuanced in our ecclesiology today. For many, nuanced simply means 'woolly'. I think I am correct in saying that Anglican Ordinals were not the only problem: the intention to ordain a sacrificing priest (or to consecrate a Bishop to ordain sacrificing priests) was part of the difficulty too, and even if the ordinal was corrected at a later date, the break in the Anglican episcopate was by then irreparable, thus the many Anglicans who sought the so-called ‘Dutch-touch’.
However, that we can speak of all Anglican Eucharists as bringing about grace in the individual should present no problem to anyone, but must be read, I suggest, as conferring grace subjectively rather than objectively so that while a Catholic of ill-will might receive Holy Communion without receiving grace an Anglican of good-will might truly receive grace. There are many grey areas in this topic.
As for Catholics Bishops being either ordained to the fullness of priesthood or consecrated to unbind powers already possessed, to take the view that Bishops receive something at their consecration that priests do not seems to fly in the face of the teaching of Trent, and if Dogmatic Council of Trent was wrong, what hope for the pastoral documents of Vatican II?

JARay said...

I find the last paragraph of "An English Pastor" most interesting indeed. There, certainly, is an interesting can of worms which all this has opened.

vetusta ecclesia said...

Interestingly when the "Orthodox Church of the British Isles", of "episcopus vagans" origin, entered into communion with the Coptic Orthodox Church, there were, to my knowledge, no re-ordinations or re-consecrations. Communion was seen as paramount.

Little Black Sambo said...

Auricularis, that is silly talk. We (Anglicans) are of course should not dream of trying to "hold Rome to ransom" - what a ridiculous notion! And we don't need any one to "concede" that our priesthood is fruitful; we just know that it is, without your approval. As for "adoring a piece of bread", that is Jack Chick-style offensiveness.

Anonymous said...

Yes, indeed, intention is important, thus the defective nature of the liturgical texts was ONE of the reasons that Pope Leo XIII pronounced on the invalidity of Anglican orders. Intention needs to be present, though NORMALLY - though not absolutely - this intention is manifested by what we say and do. It does not appear to me, at least, that the rite of ordination in the 1928 prayer book would fulfil the criteria of openly expressing the faith of the Church on 'the office of the priest'. Again, the question remains - can a bishop with a valid intention use an invalid ordinal ? Are such ordinations valid ? The Anglican faith and concept of priesthood is not the same as that of the Catholic Church stricto sensu; even if we allow'Catholic movements' within a Protestant church. The head of the new Anglican ordinate - which I greatly welcome - has acknowledged that he is not a bishop. It may be that further clarity is called for by the Holy See in these sensitive issues. Fr. A.M.

Anonymous said...

pS. Hope I said 'stricto sensu' !

Fr. A.M.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Fr A.M.
Sometimes "clarification" given too soon clouds the waters.

Alan Harrison said...

I look at the situation (for the time being at least) from the other side of the Tiber as an Anglican layma.

First, thank you, Fr Blake, for your charitable and eirenic approach, which I see shared by the various anglicised Fathers Fin(n)e/igan on their blogs. I was particularly impressed by Fr Tim's reference to "Fr Andrew Burnham's Mass" at the Oxford Oratory without use of the F-word. :-)

May I just make a couple of comments from an Anglican perspective? Changes in the perspective on validity, and therefore on the reason for rejecting Anglican orders, since Pope Leo's encyclical, do rather look to us like moving the goalposts. When one sees Saepius Officio as a sound refutation of Apostolicae Curae (and written by its public school and Oxbridge authors in rather better Latin, I believe), subsequent changes of mind in Rome about the reason for invalidity seem a bit dodgy.

Similarly, the "Dutch touch" is to be read not as Anglican doubt about validity, but as a Pauline concession to "weaker brethren", hoping that it would allow subsequent recognition by Rome without loss of face. Unfortunatly, this charity towards Rome looks with hindsight uncharitable and opportunistic in its attitude towards Utrecht: Anglo_catholics fervently believing in the Immaculate Conception wanting orders from bishops they otherwise regarded as dodgy heretics for rejecting that doctrine.

I do think you are quiye right in seeing the Anglo-Catholic position, never entirely logical or consistent, becoming increasingly untenable with the consecration of women bishops.

Independent said...

It would appear that you regard Vatican II as having taken a Cyprianic view of Holy Orders rather than an Ausustinian one. Is this the case or do I misunderstand your post Fr Blake? Did Bishop Talleyrand and many other non-believing bishops of the ancien regime then not confer valid orders?

Fr Ray Blake said...

Independant,
In this I am observer but remembering the HF's words in Summorum Pontificum about what "previous generations held holy", I don't dismiss too quickly that which is now unfashionable or appears redundant.

Auricularis said...

Little Black Sambo - until you can prove with certainly that Anglicans confect the Holy Mysteries validly, it is dangerous nonsense to suggest that they adore the true presence in their churches.

Little Black Sambo said...

The head of the new Anglican ordinate ... has acknowledged that he is not a bishop.
Well, he could hardly do otherwise, in terms of his function. That doesn't mean he never was one, or that, once having been consecrated, he does not, in the sight of heaven, retain the indelible ontological character thus conferred. But these are matters for the angels to look into.

Independent said...

I quite agree Fr Blake, but was merely enquiring out of interest as I find your thought congenial and irenical.

Surprisingly Wikipedia has a very informative entry on Apostolicae Curae which seems to cover most of the ground. The last paragraph has much in common with your analysis.

Independent said...

Fr AM - Were not the problems to which you allude and which AC sees as rendering the rites invalid those which arose from the Ordinals in use in 1552 and 1559? These were corrected in 1662 and remained substantially unchanged in 1928. There is however a significant gap between 1552 and 1662 when there is no formula declaring what precise office is being transmitted.

However in the Catholic Church moving towards a more Orthodox conception there appear to be some difficulties. If orders can only be transmitted by the Church then the church must be defined. If the Church is defined by communion with the Holy See then where does this leave Orthodox orders? St Cyprian was not afraid to draw the appropriate conclusion regarding the orders of those out of communion with what he regarded as the Church. There are at present Orthodox who take the same attitude.

If you take the line taken by St Augustine then it is difficult not to recognise any who fulfill the requisite criteria. This would include the episcopi vagantes.

Andrew said...

This is why we shouldn't dabble in novel theologies. It was very simple before-ex opere operato, matter, form and intention. Lack one of these, no sacrament. Period. Doesn't matter what other things happen afterwards (i.e. 'ministry' seems fruitful, communities do not descend into the pits of debauchery et al.)-sacraments are either valid or not. There is no fuzzy middle ground. Thus, other than those Anglicans who were properly (though illicitly) ordained by Dutch schismatics, there are no valid sacraments (other than those that do not need a priest) being confected in the Anglican group.

The whole idea that Anglican communion actually confers anything is dangerous. Unless it is valid (Dutch touch) then it is bread, and bread confers nothing. Those who receive it in good faith might receive grace, but not from the unconsecrated bread. They would basically be making a spiritual communion and that is under the assumption of good faith and invincible ignorance which one should never bank on.

Since we are dealing with something as important as the validity of sacraments, nothing short of ordination (whether absolute or conditional) can be tolerated. I purposefully do not say "re-ordained" because there is no repetition of the sacrament of Orders validly received, and the prudent assumption would be to hold all Anglican ordinations at least in serious doubt.

Honestly, we should be making more use of conditional baptism as well. It used to be that we could actually trust non-Catholic groups to at least get baptismal validity right, certainly amongst the mainline heretics and schismatics. These days, one can not be so sure.

Independent said...

Andrew, the theology of St Cyprian is certainly not novel it is quite as old as that of St Augustine.However it would seem to me that you are right in suggesting that both cannot be held by the same body regarding Holy Orders.

The Anglican Communion got itself in difficulties in defending its own orders on Augustinian grounds whle rejecting those of the episcopi vagantes on Cyprianic ones.

Is the Catholic Church in some cases espousing a similar confusion?