A question for Anglo Catholics (not in communion with Rome)

Now that the Church of England, in England, has determined to ordain female Bishops, does this place Anglo Catholics in future doubt of the validity of their Priests?

That is, for those holding to the Anglo Catholic conservative position which holds that their Bishops are validly ordained and hold succession (which of course Catholics disagree with), now that this has occurred, and it will become impossible at some point to determine if a male Priest was ordained by a male or female holding the office of Bishop in the Church of England, what is the impact?

Your second para is absolutely spot on, as I often have pointed out in various places here. And is already the case in those Anglican jurisdictions which have been placing miters on inappropriate heads for years now; the CoE now joins that group. It would not be impossible to determine the episcopal lines of a given priest, though, but it would require discernment and inquiry, not practical on a regular basis. It is for reasons such as this that some of those who took advantage of Anglicanorum coetibus made the move. Others, years ago, separated from such Anglican jurisdictions, and sought refuge in other places for reasons such as this.

The motley nature of Anglicanism being what it is, even to within Ango-Catholcism, OTOH, some Anglo-Catholics seem to have made a variety of adaptations to their situations, and remain in situ.


As far as the CofE is concerned, tracing the episcopal lines of a given priest, in terms of all-male ordinations, may be simpler than one might think, given that the Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda, which is an English offshoot of Forward in Faith, is constructing a database for that purpose:


Thanks for your insightful response.

Now that this is the case, does this make a permanent schism within the Anglican Communion inevitable? It’s hard for me to imagine the conservative elements of the Anglo Catholics gathering with the less conservative Church of England under Canterbury with this messy situation existing.

The Anglican community has been in schism for many years. How many might depend on the attitude taken toward the Non-Jurors, or the Reformed Episcopal Church.

Never try to predict what a melange of Anglicans might do. Some folk prefer a variety of band-aids and accommodations, to splitting.

Picky is correct, as to records of epicopal lines. Not hard to trace, if you take the trouble.


I am not sure who you are referring to as Anglo Catholics, but I consider myself one. My bishops can trace their ordinations back to Peter. They all have their documentation. And Episcopalians have had women priests, women bishops, gay bishops all with the same documentation.

The one of the reasons why I am an Episcopalian is that we do not discriminate against people with religious callings due to their gender. As long as Roman Catholics continue with the policy of no ordination for women I cannot see how we could be in communion with Rome. It seems that Roman Catholics are more concerned with reformed Catholics being reunited under one “Church.” We already consider ourselves part of Christ’s Church on earth. We do not necessarily want to be under the authority of the Pope, nor do we accept all Roman Catholic dogma. Nothing against Pope Francis. He seems to be doing a great job. We simply have differences in many of our basic beliefs. Even among Episcopalians, we agree to disagree. But please remember we all say the Nicene Creed during Mass. When we say “Catholic” we truly mean universal.

But to get back to the basic question, I have no problem with the validity of our priests as long as they are ordained by a bishop who can trace his/her lineage back to Peter.

Motley melange, them Anglicans.


It’s the beauty of being Anglo Catholic!

Beauty is often in the eyes of the beholder. Other things, likewise.



Yes. Motley indeed! :slight_smile:

At the risk of being annoying again, I express mixed feelings at 3 of the 4 options (of course I’m a busybody for commenting on other peoples religions but that’s the least of my internet faults):

  1. The Ordinariate - orthodox Anglicans joining an autonomous part of a large, very active body;
  2. The Continuum - Orthodox Anglicans joining tiny, orthodox independent bodies;
  3. ACNA - orthodox Anglicans joining a low-to-medium size body, mostly reliable to be orthodox but a very delicate coalition
  4. “in situ” - orthodox Anglicans remaining in the C of E or TEC, seeking to seeking to “work from within” to build on existing strengths within those bodies, still pretty large.

In terms of “adaptions to their (personal) situations”, the Continuum offers the chance - for a family - for a solid liturgical and congregational life. But we live in an era when most people haven’t heard the gospel, and anti-Christian forces rule. I’m not sure how the Continuum “adapts” the larger environment, in terms of evangelism and things like Religious Liberty. (I comment from ignorance, not from skepticism).

ACNA seems more involved with evangelism and Religious Liberty, but still a tiny force. The problem is that it’s hard to tell where they will be in 5 years. There is a small danger of either unravelling, or compromises.

In Situ, or “Remaining in place” is often done by moderates in TEC. You yourself may be orthodox, and lead young people to a (currently) orthodox parish, and even promote pro life. But in the long run, those young people will be grafted, perhaps permanently, into that TEC or C of E system, long after the orthodox pastor and prolife club have disappeared, and you KNOW that system in the future will move farther from what you want.

Christians can, and do, impact the community and evangelize on an individual, and congregational basis; as Anglicans did in 1900. But in 1900 those Anglicans also participated on the larger regional and national force for Christ that the TEC and C of E also presented - back then, not now. That “larger participation” is very much part of option 1 above, not sure about options 2, 3, and 4. We are looking at a sea change in Western countries in just a few decades, as the rise of anti-Christianity forces us to reconsider many things. I know people will say “there’s a lot of history” but the last 50 years are “history” also. I’m not only interested in a good adaptation for me - but “adapting” the world my grandchildren will live in.

We certainly live in interesting times.


posterus traditus Anglicanus.

That’s a remarkable claim, considering the vast majority of Roman Catholic bishops can trace their lineage no further than Cardinal Rebiba, who died in 1577. Now, nobody of note disputes that all Roman Catholic bishops have valid apostolic succession tracing all the way back to one of the apostles (not just Peter, because any apostle could be the source of the link from Jesus’ ordination), but the problem is a loss of documentation thanks to Napoleon, et. al.

I would be interested to see the documentation that permits you to trace episcopal lineages “all the way back to Peter”. Please provide URL links or bibliographical citations.

With reference to “gay bishops”, do you think it is in accord with Scripture and tradition to have bishops who are SS married?

The Scripture one is complex. On the one hand, the Bible describes homosexual activity as sinful; on the other, it describes all of us as sinners. That is even before we get into the issue of how Scripture applies to us, i.e. whether it is all timelessly true, or whether some or all of it was contextually dependent.

The Tradition one is complex. On the one hand, the early church had married priests (and possibly bishops, e.g., Peter), but that tradition was replaced by the celibacy movement; on the other, the Anglican Church has had married priests and bishops for nearly 500 years (e.g., Abp Cranmer, initially), which is arguably tradition enough in itself. (Also, on married Catholic priests, there’s this.)

Further, Anglican theology is traditionally based in Scripture, Tradition, and Reason. The latter says that, if we can accept believers being gay, if we do not consider priests to be materially different from other believers, and, if we can accept priests being married, we have do not have self-evident reasons for refusing to allow gay, married priests.

Thus, some Anglicans (e.g., this one) have no problem with priests who are male, female, celibate, or married (whether to their own sex or the other). Other Anglicans find some of these combinations intolerable (but differ on which). Other Anglicans try to avoid the topic all together.

This all reminds me of a moment when one of the people in our congregation said to me, “How can we have gay priests? How can you accept the Eucharist from someone’s hands when you think about them doing that the night before?”

I found it mystifying that, if one were thinking about one’s priest having had sex the night before, it should be more disturbing/distracting that they were doing so with someone of the same sex.

It might distract me, but I would contemplate Donatism, and soldier on.

And I’d expect celibacy.


As GKC says, this is nothing new for us. The Anglican Consultative Council continues to meet, to pray together, and to work together (see the list of participants at the most recent one here).

Uniformity is not the only route to unity.

You can see one here:

And, up to just past the Henrician Acts, whatever the line is, it’s the same as the RCC’s.


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