Anglican (and other) Orders and Absolution


#1

I am wondering if anyone here can tell me what the Catholic position is on the validity of Anglican ordination. Specifically: I know that in the Donatist controversy the Catholic church upheld the principle that a certain sacramental efficacy is attached to even heretical bodies. If this is so, then do Catholics today believe that, say, the Anglican eucharist is truly the body and blood of Christ? If not, why not? Further, what about other offshoot groups such as the Nestorians (Assyrian Church of the East), the Orthodox, or the Armenians? What about even more radical offshoot groups, such as “The Autocephalous Movement,” which consists of a hodge-podge of tiny churches, all claiming apostolic succession? Even though the doctrine of these churches is not Roman, are their sacraments still valid?

My question stems from very practical motives. I have become convinced that Protestantism is not a valid expression of the Christian church founded by Christ chiefly because it does not have apostolic succession. And I have also become convinced, through study, of the church’s power to forgive sins through the episcopal and priestly power of absolution. Personally, I am wondering if absolution granted by a non-Roman church, such as the ones mentioned above, is valid even if the church is deemed by Rome to be heretical. My reason for not seeking absolution from the Catholic church is that at this time I cannot in full conscience convert since I do not believe in many Roman doctrines.

If anyone can help me with this question, please post the answer and also copy it via email to me at ashton.wilkins@gmail.com, if that is not too much trouble. (Since I am new to this forum, I may get lost and not be able to find the answer posted here.)

Thanks,
Ashton


#2

[quote=Ashton]I am wondering if anyone here can tell me what the Catholic position is on the validity of Anglican ordination. Specifically: I know that in the Donatist controversy the Catholic church upheld the principle that a certain sacramental efficacy is attached to even heretical bodies. If this is so, then do Catholics today believe that, say, the Anglican eucharist is truly the body and blood of Christ? If not, why not? Further, what about other offshoot groups such as the Nestorians (Assyrian Church of the East), the Orthodox, or the Armenians? What about even more radical offshoot groups, such as “The Autocephalous Movement,” which consists of a hodge-podge of tiny churches, all claiming apostolic succession? Even though the doctrine of these churches is not Roman, are their sacraments still valid?

My question stems from very practical motives. I have become convinced that Protestantism is not a valid expression of the Christian church founded by Christ chiefly because it does not have apostolic succession. And I have also become convinced, through study, of the church’s power to forgive sins through the episcopal and priestly power of absolution. Personally, I am wondering if absolution granted by a non-Roman church, such as the ones mentioned above, is valid even if the church is deemed by Rome to be heretical. My reason for not seeking absolution from the Catholic church is that at this time I cannot in full conscience convert since I do not believe in many Roman doctrines.

If anyone can help me with this question, please post the answer and also copy it via email to me at ashton.wilkins@gmail.com, if that is not too much trouble. (Since I am new to this forum, I may get lost and not be able to find the answer posted here.)

Thanks,
Ashton
[/quote]

Greetings, Ashton,

I can address the Anglican portion of your question. Leo XIII, in Apostolicae Curae * (1896) declared that Anglican Orders were uterly null and absolutely void. Hence the sacraments are not confected, and absolution is not granted by the actions of an Anglican priest. The problem, in Rome’s eyes, was with the form of the ordination rite in the Edwardine Ordinal (but much more importantly, with the intent of the authors of the form, since the form itself is unexceptionable, many ordination rites that Rome uses or accepts being similar). According to AC*, because of the judgement made on the intent of the authors of the Ordinal, with respect to the sacerdotal priesthood, Rome holds that Anglican orders are invalid, and have been since 1559. Hence, as I said, no valid sacraments that would require valid orders, according to Rome.

We Anglicans disagree. We get to do that, being Anglicans. Our orders are both valid and apostolic. RCs are cautioned not to agree with me.

A good site for a discussion of this complex story is *Accipe Postestatem *, here:

angelfire.com/nj/malleus/

It is run by an RC friend, the most knowledgeable person I have ever met on this sad subject. Or, I can recommend books.

GKC


#3

In 1896, Pope Leo XIII declared in *Apostolicae Curae *that Anglican orders were invalid for two reasons: 1) the form of the Rite of Ordination was defective and 2) the intention of the ordaining bishops was defective. Therefore, except for Matrimony and Baptism, Anglican sacraments are invalid. Anglicans do not have a valid Eucharist.


#4

Note that while the Catholic Church believes that the schismatic SSPX priests have valid orders, She does not believe that they can grant valid absolution. The power for a priest to grant absolution in a diocese must be obtained from the Ordinary/Bishop of the diocese.


#5

Note further that very many Anglican bishops have had Orthodox or Old Catholic bishops participating at their episcopal ordinations. With proper apostolic succession, there is now a question about the validity of their orders that there wasn’t in Leo’s time. Episcopal or Anglican priests who convert are often “conditionally ordained”.

I’ll post some links to this later.

John


#6

[quote=John Higgins]Note further that very many Anglican bishops have had Orthodox or Old Catholic bishops participating at their episcopal ordinations. With proper apostolic succession, there is now a question about the validity of their orders that there wasn’t in Leo’s time. Episcopal or Anglican priests who convert are often “conditionally ordained”.

I’ll post some links to this later.

John
[/quote]

The first Anglican priest ordained in the RCC sub conditione, as far as I know, was Fr. John J. Hughes, author of the 2 best books on the Anglican side of the *Apostlicae Curae * issue (writen after he went to Rome).

Also, Graham Leonard, one time Anglican Bishop of London was ordained sub conditione, when he left the Church of England for the RCC, after the CoE started putting collars on females.

The Old Catholic lines are fairly wide spread in Anglicanism, by now, since the OCs started participating in Anglican Episcopal consecrations, about 70 years ago. The Anglican usage of 3 bishops as consecrators spread the Dutch touch quickly. Of course, these days, it’s hard to find an orthodox OC, other than the National Catholic Church of Poland.

I’m not aware of any Orthodox participation in Anglican consecrations, but would be glad to learn more.

GKC


#7

[quote=Ashton]I am wondering if anyone here can tell me what the Catholic position is on the validity of Anglican ordination.
[/quote]

The defining document on this subject is still of course the encyclical which other posters have mentioned.

There was however a reiteration by the CDF June 29, 1998, On that date, Cardinal Ratzinger’s office issued a “doctrinal commentary” to accompany Pope John Paul II’s apostolic letter Ad Tuendam Fidem, which established penalties in canon law for failure to accept “definitive teaching.” Ratzinger’s commentary listed Leo XIII’s apostolic letter Apostolicae Curae, declaring Anglican orders to be “absolutely null and utterly void,” as one of the irreversible teachings to which Roman Catholics must give firm-and definitive assent.

Now, having said that, there was talk about looking at it once again - Cardinal Willebrands addressed the Vatican on this matter
saying that if the Catholic and Anglican Churches came to agree about essential doctrine “concerning the Eucharist and the Ordained Ministry,” then in that case the Roman Catholic Church would acknowledge the possibility that in the context of such a profession of faith the text of the Ordinal might no longer retain that “nativa indoles” which was at the basis of Pope Leo’s judgment.

:getholy:


#8

Hi Ashton,

Apologies for any duplication of answers already given by others.

Anglican Orders have been, as detailed by other posts, declared invalid in Apostolicae Curae.

Orthodox Orders are valid as these Churches have retained valid apostolic succession - Catechism of the Catholic Church p316 no1399.

I was brought up, but lapsed as a presbyterian. When I returned to the church, I similarly had broadly catholic beliefs but was not too keen on Rome! I found a home in the anglo catholic wing of Anglicanism (Scottish Episcopal Church) which had a ‘catholic’ life, outside of Rome.

200 years ago I think that would have been it, but as I moved around the very wide range of Anglicanism became apparent. It ranges from Anglo Catholic - trying to recover much of what was lost at the reformation through to out and out evangelical protestantism. Ignoring other issues, your wish to recieve communion / absolution would be problematic given many anglican priests / ministers simply do not believe in the real presence or sacramental absolution.

After investigation, I found that I felt drawn to the Catholic Church. It offered apostolic succesion back to the apostles, the eucharist and unity (although like many Catholics I have occasional problems with how the unity is maintained!)

My advice to you would be to speak to a priest who can answer your queries, particularly on areas you have a problem with. You may find you don’t have a problem with these as many old bones of contention have been ironed out formally with the Anglican’s / some protestant churches.

Also check out Dave Armstrong’s excellent website ic.net/~erasmus/RAZHOME.HTM
A protestant convert, his particular forte is the catholic v protestant area.

If you can’t quite make the jump, perhaps Anglo Catholicism might be a bridge as it was for me, although within a year I ‘went all the way’

Or the Orthodox Church have valid sacraments, (and quite frankly my spirituality is in some ways more eastern than latin!). They do have their own set of problems though!

Good Luck

JGC


#9

Ashton,

Sorry, forgot to say ,as mentioned by others, that as some Anglican bishops have had Old Catholic bishops at their consecrations that some Anglican priests have valid orders.

The problem is that it is very difficult to ascertain if an Anglican priest has valid orders and in any event what his beliefs are anyway.

JGC


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