Anglican Orders

Again, I’m not sure where this belongs; if it should be in the non-Catholic section, I apologize.

I am, however, primarily interested in the opinion of Catholics, primarily those under the authority of Rome (UAR), but also those not under the authority of Rome (NUAR), to weigh in with their opinions, arguments, facts and theories.

I am looking into Anglican orders and the argument of their validity or invalidity. For previous research, I’ve read Apostolicae Curae and Saepius Officio (both of which can be found online), as well as “Absolutely null and utterly void” and “Stewards of the Lord”, both by John Jay Hughes, as well as a Traditionalist Catholic appraisal of the situation, in “Absolutely null and utterly void” by Rev. Anthony Cekada (also available online).

Hughes and Saepius Officio give the affirmative argument, Hughes from a position of a Catholic UAR (after Apostolicae Curae), and Saepius Officio of the Anglican response to the Apostolicae Curae, the Catholic NUAR position.

Apostolicae Curae gives one negative argument, the position that Anglican Orders are invalid, and this from the Pope. I am in the process of reading then Cardinal Ratzinger’s own writing on this, but am not yet finished with that reading.

Finally, Cekada gives a negative argument from the Catholic NUAR position, that also argues that Catholics UAR have invalid orders, because their orders are essentially Anglican in composition and intent.

I have yet to reach an absolute position on these issues, or a defense, but I naturally lean toward the affirmative.

For Catholics UAR who favor the affirmative, why do you think Anglican orders are valid, and how to you answer Apostolicae Curae?

For Catholics UAR who favor the negative, how do you answer Saepius Officio and the arguments from Hughes (that the intent is manifestly present, and that a minimal form, since it was practiced in antiquity, must be valid if any Catholic office is valid)? Also, how do you answer Cekada’s objections to Catholic UAR ordinations?

For Catholics NUAR, how do you answer Apostolicae Curae and Cekada’s arguments?

Thank you for your input.

If such a person exists, they should not publicly discuss their dissention with the official church teaching that Anglican orders are not valid.

For Catholics UAR who favor the negative, how do you answer Saepius Officio and the arguments from Hughes (that the intent is manifestly present, and that a minimal form, since it was practiced in antiquity, must be valid if any Catholic office is valid)?

Sacramentals are not about mere form, but about authority to enact them. I, as a lay person, can exercise the sacramental form of the Eucharist, even using the proper materials, and yet without authority to do so I am unable to enact the sacrament.

The right to ordain is a power vested by the authority of the church as handed down by apostolic succession. As such, the Anglicans lack the authority to ordain anyone. They are no more effective in ordaining a priest than I would be in consecrating the Eucharist. No amount of their arguments about form have any relevance so long as they lack the authority given to the church.

Also, how do you answer Cekada’s objections to Catholic UAR ordinations?

Fr Cekada’s position renders him a heretic, and even if it didn’t he does not have apostolic authority to determine whose orders are valid and whos are not. As such, his argument is utter hogwash bunk, and totally irrelevant to any catholic.

Furthermore, as far as I’m aware, Fr Cekada’s ordination was under excommunicated bishop Marcel Lefabvre… so while he posesses a valid ordination, he likewise incurred the penalty of excommunication and therefore has no teaching authority as a representative of catholicism.

Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical should be considered definitive for all Catholics. However, it is true that since the promulgation of the declaration against Anglican orders, many Anglicans have tried to rectify the situation and actually sought valid orders. It is my understanding that in the 20th Century, many Anglican leaders invited Eastern Orthodox priests to participate in their ordinations so as to hold the validity of their orders beyond question.

Since Pope Leo’s argument stems from a changing of the form under King Edward in the 16th Century which was later returned to an acceptable form, the re-introduction of valid order by Orthodox bishops (which seems fairly wide-spread) makes the current situation murky at best.

…and it is this “murkiness” which leads the Church, in order to care for its flock, to ordain absolutely, the vast majority of Anglican ministers who come into full communion with the See of Rome. If an incoming Anglican Priest believes his Orders to be valid, the burden of proof is on him to show that. Given the liturgical wackiness in some Anglican circles, I don’t think that’s insulting or unreasonable.

It is also always better to be safe than sorry.



If free opinion is not allowed for this issue, how do you account for “Stewards of the Lord”, both by John Jay Hughes, a Roman Catholic convert from Anglicanism? He wrote it after Apostolicae Curae, it argues that the language of Apostolicae Curae leaves open the possibility that Anglican orders could be valid (in spite of the phrase “absolutely null and utterly void”), it received an imprimatur and nihil obstat, and I’m not aware of it ever being condemned (though I am aware that most Catholics disagreed with its argument).

If freedom of opinion was not allowed then, why was his book published with official Vatican approval? If freedom of opinion was allowed then and not now, what changed? Has there emerged a better understanding now of Apostolicae Curae, or some other document that has clarified the situation? Understand I’m still reading through then Cardinal Ratzinger’s statements on this issue.

Secondly, how do you address the argument from Saepius Officio, that Anglicans have retained the apostolic succession, even through the 16th century and following, because when Rome returned to some authority for a time in England, most priests and bishops ordained with the Anglican form were not required to be re-ordained (though some chose to be).

there is also the stronger argument, that if there were something missing from the matter or form for ordinations in the 16th century for the Anglican Church, since they had the same basic form and matter to Roman ordinations between the 5th and 9th century (and Eastern Catholic ordinations; especially those of the African churches), either Anglican ordinations were valid then and still are valid, or no ordinations are valid anymore, and there is no more apostolic succession.

I can understand why certain Anglicans find this potentially very insulting. If it’s based on bad argumentation and lies, such as ordinations in tavern halls (an argument completely and gracefully avoided by the Popes), or upon a presumption of intent that is manifestly false (with which the Pope, according to some Anglicans, involves himself), it’s like saying “Catholics worship statues.” It’s insulting both because it’s untrue, and because it’s forcefully hurtful (it declares forcefully a bad intent upon a person who never had such an intent).

Personally, however, I don’t see the insult in this case, at least in the educated arguments, though Cekada’s argument, for all its merits, has some venom to it (mostly directed toward Catholics UAR, ironically). If the Pope thinks Anglican orders are invalid, I’m glad he’s said it, and I’m glad that our current Pope, before he was Pope, has possibly clarified the proper position of Catholics UAR. I just don’t think the Catholic UAR argument against ordinations, at least the ones I have found, hold up very well. But I think they could be shown to hold up well, if it would also be shown what of the form of old Anglican ordinations of bishops was lacking that was always present in Roman and other presumed-valid Christian ordinations throughout history.

There is also one converse issue. Why should Anglicans, even those who still believe on the Nicene Creed and on the historical and living Catholic Church, care what Rome thinks about their ordinations? Rome doesn’t much care that some Episcopalians think about why Rome should ordain women (though, ironically, Rome does seem to care what some Jews think about a Catholic Friday prayer).

Yes. I can understand the position of Catholics UAR who would want to do a conditional ordination. However, because of precedent, the ordinations are typically not conditional (unless Orthodox or Old or National Catholic churches have been involved).

I spent a couple of years in the Anglican Catholic Curch (ACC), part of the “Continuing Anglican” movement. FWIW, even the ACC did not recognize the validity of Anglican orders; their founding Bishops were consecrated by Bishops of the Polish National Catholic Church (PNCC), whose Orders are recognized as valid by Rome.

That’s interesting. The estimable Fr. Robert Hart of the Anglican Catholic Church (about whom and from whom you may read on the Anglican Continuum blog) would disagree. He seems to hold that the Anglican orders have ever been valid, but for the sake of ecumenical relations with Rome as well as for the sake of ecclesiastical certainty, favors consecration by Bishops of the National Catholic Churches.

And it’s my opinion, in distinction from what I understand his opinion to be (right or wrong), that Anglicans shouldn’t worry so much about what Rome thinks of their orders. If they have a good argument, the argument should be addressed. Otherwise, they should be ignored.

Of course, you may look up the relevant blog entry, and read for yourself.

There is a possibility that some Anglican orders may be valid, but that all depends on lineage. For Anglicans that only trace their orders through other Anglicans (back to the split), then they are null and void. The murkiness comes because some bishops (like the ACC the poster above said) have been validly consecrated due to being consecrated by valid bishops from outside of Anglicanism.

This is not the argument that John Hughes uses in “Absolutely Null and Utterly Void”. He states that Anglican orders traced only through Anglicans may preserve Apostolic Succession, and so may be valid, and that the situation should be reconsidered by Rome. Hughes is a Roman Catholic, and his book received both the Impramatur (by John Cardinal Heenan) and the Nihil Obstat.

The Episcopal Church USA Book of Common Prayer lists “39 Articles of Religion”. Article 28 states this;
“Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of Bread and Wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ; but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions.”

So why can there be any question about the validity of the Anglican Communion service?

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