Anglican Reply to Apostlicae Curea

I know the topic of Anglican Orders is a common one here. I was wondering if any Catholics have read this document, or would like to and comment after reading the other side. When discussing differing viewpoints, I often like to read the other side from the other side. It’s actually what got me intrigued about Roman Catholicism.

Maybe we could have a guideline which states that being a Roman Catholic one should listen to the Pope/Magisterium and believe their teaching on the topic, so every post doesn’t have to begin with the obvious.

Though the document is long, you can read the summary and skip to the pertinent parts.

Hope you will post some thoughts.

The Anglicans did indeed take out the rites for ordaining the Priest in the Sacrificial role simply because they no longer believed in the Sacrificial role that THE Church still teaches and believes. Guess they ignore Malachi 1:11 and something in Ezekiel about the priests offering sacrifice on the 8TH DAY which is the Christian day of worship?


Nothing wrong with reading Saepius officio, too.

The tale is long and complicated.


What section were you reading from? More appropriately, what do you think of the correlation between the Anglicans doing such and the Roman Catholics doing the same as outlined in the document?

This is really a moot question since they approved female “bishops.”

Not really. The question of female ordination as it were, was not thought of when the response was written.

Thanks for replying.

I suppose if you’re just discussing it out of historical curiosity, but that’s all that document is now. Even the theoretical possibility of Anglicans having valid orders is now gone forever.

I guess it is more about discussing it from a researched viewpoint. So often people repeat things they’ve heard without actually knowing anything about them. Most discussions on Anglican Orders go something like “your wrong and that’s that”. What I am hoping to do is start a discussion based on looking at more of the information available.

As far as the female bishop issue, that is so small in number on the grand scheme of things to make it moot. It is one reason the RCC won’t look at the issue again I believe, but it would only be a factor if reuniting were a realistic possibility.

This discussion about education and discourse.

Thanks again.

Ordaining female priests/bishops, actively homosexual bishops, openly atheistic bishops are symptoms of the decisive break with Apostolic Christianity that the Anglican Church has chosen. Their numbers are not at all small. There was a time when Anglicanism and Eastern Orthodoxy were quite close and even re-communion with the Catholic Church might have been possible. However, the Anglicanism of the Apostlicae Curea period no longer exists. The Anglican Church has chosen to reject the Apostolic Churches and embrace the world.

This does not mean that there are not many faithful Christians within the Anglican Church, but they are now in the nature of an underground resistance.

The Catholic Church will not look at the issue ever again, as the Pope has declared the Church does not have the power to ordain women. Replacing a tile from one’s roof does not demand a discussion of moving the foundations.
The dissolution of the Biblical foundations of the Anglican Church is a sad tragedy of the last few centuries, moving as it is inexorably towards Protestantism. But sheep will wander without the Shepard.
Good luck with your research discussion.

That would depend (perhaps on other things as well) on what the theoretical impact could be of the infusion of valid/illicit Old Catholic and PNCC episcopal lines into Anglicanism, following the Agreement of Bonn (1931) and the joint episcopal consecrations of bishops between Anglicans and the OCs/Utrecht begun in 1932, and the the same with respect to the PNCC in 1946. A subject that gets a fair amount of consideration locally.


Right. Like Seaphim said, Apostlicae Curea is historical curiosity. And (from a Catholic pov at least) it would be even if it weren’t for WO, because the focus would be on the infusion question.

Having said that, I think that some conservative Anglicans (think Ordinariate-fans) are unrealistic when they think that Rome is going to attack the question of “Do (Continuing) Anglican priests with infusion in an all-male line have valid orders?”

The time for re-approaching the question is long past. It could have been profitably addressed, for Anglicanism in general, perhaps, after the Malines Conversations, and certainly in the atmosphere of the start of the ARCIC, and the relationship between Paul VI and Archbishop Ramsey. But, though Continuing Anglicans (and a decreasing percentage of Anglicans generally) likely do have valid orders, the time for discussing that is about 50 years behind us. When the ordination of those Anglican priests coming on-board via the Ordinariate was invariably absolute, rather than selectively sub conditione (which was what I expected, but was curious about), that was the closed door.

So it goes.


I don’t think that the issue of valid Anglican orders would be visited, that issue has already been settled. If many Anglicans reunited with the Bishop of Rome perhaps constituting a reunion I imagine that each Anglican Priest would make an appointment with the local ordinary to discuss his ordination for the Catholic Church. If past is prologue even if a very large number of Anglicans Join the Church many more will not. Not too long ago The California based Assyrian Bishop along with his Priests and laity joined the Catholic Church and now are part of the Chaldean Catholic Church.


As GKC is fond of saying, it is rather complicated.

The best distillation I can come up with is that Rome evaluated it and determined that for an entire generation, Anglican bishops were “ordained” to an understanding of the episcopacy (and priesthood) that that rejected critical elements of what priesthood and episcopacy always meant in Catholicism. Even though later some of that rejection was tempered in favor of that famous Anglican ambiguity, the damage had already been irrevocably done as the last validly ordained bishop had died off and the remaining bishops had all been ordained under defective intent (thus NOT receiving Holy Orders at all).

There are a lot of scholarly issues involved, but at root the church recognizes that unintentional omission and mistakes do not necessarily invalidate a sacramental action if the intent of the minister of the sacrament is to “do as the church does.” But when the minister of the sacrament intentionally alters the sacrament to an invalid form so that he can not be accurately said to intend to “do as the church does” it is invalid.

For example, if a priest mis-speaks and says “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Some and of the Holy Spirit” you really are baptized and need not obsess about father’s flub of “Son.” However, in recent years some avante garde priests took it on themselves to baptize “in the name of the Creator, the Redeemer and the Sanctifier.” Invalid baptism. They did not intend to “do as the church does.” They presumed to know and do better, indeed to revise and improve on Christ’s own instructions. Tsk, Tsk!

Same problem in Anglican orders. Anglican apologists construct elaborate arguments to illustrate how their ordination was similar to those considered valid by Rome, but have never adequately addressed the fundamental difference of intent. Canterbury INTENDED that the ordination repudiate certain catholic ideas of what ordination is. Invalid.

Regarding the idea that earlier Roman ordination rites were comparable to the Anglican rites, it doesn’t address the actual point concerning the defect of intention. Rome has held sacramental rites which even explicitly deny the sacramental effect to be valid and to not affect intention (which is just to generally intend to do as the Church does, even if you are wrong about what Christ’s Church actually does).*****

From what I understand, Anglican ordinations were deemed invalid by virtue of the actions of the first generation of Anglican bishops who broke the line. The bishops who broke the line were essentially Catholics who chose a to use a rite not approved by the Church for the very purpose of not doing what the Church does. They modified the rite to exclude the intention of the very Church they had acknowledged as Christ’s.

As Catholics, they were presumed to know which Church is the correct one. Their ordinations were invalid by defect of intent for the same reason that a marriage is presumed invalid when the couple is Catholic and doesn’t follow Church law (by choosing not to do what the Church requires, they manifest the intent to not do what the Church does), while Protestant marriages are not invalid when they ignore Catholic Church law. This is called the principle of positive exclusion.

If a Catholic uses a rite approved by the Church, regardless of his personal beliefs, he is presumed to have the proper intention. But those bishops themselves chose to change the rite to manifestly exclude that intention.

Later generations might have the proper general intention to do what Christ’s Church does (even if they are wrong about which Church is Christ’s and what His Church actually does), but the line was already broken.

*****Here’s an example where a Protestant rite explicitly said Baptism has no effect and where the minister mocked Catholics for being superstitious to believe it did during the rite. The Church held these Baptisms to be valid (sorry, I can only find it in Latin).

S.C.S Officii
18 Decem. 1872

Vic. Ap. Oceaniæ Centr.

Dubium quoad Baptisma administratum ab hæreticis

In quibusdam locis nonnulli (hæretici) baptizant cum materia et forma debitis simultanee applicatis, sed expresse monent baptizandos ne credant Baptismum habere ullum effectum in animam ; dic*** enim ipsum esse signum mere externum aggregations illorum sectæ. Itaque illi sæpe catholicos in derisum vertunt circa eorum fidem de effectibus Baptismi, quam vocant quidem superstitiosam. Quæritur :

i) Utrum baptismus ab illis hæreticis administratus sit dubius propter defectum intentionis faciendi quod voluit Christus, si expresse declaratum fuit a ministro antequam baptizet, baptismum nullum habere effectum in animam?

ii) Utrum dubius sit baptismus sic collatus si prædicta declaratio non expresse facta fuerit immediate antequam baptismus conferetur, sed illa sæpe pronuntiata fuerit a ministro, et illa doctrina aperte prædicetur in illa secta?

Ad i. negative, quia non obstante errore quoad effectus baptismi, non excluditur intentio faciendi quod facit Ecclesia
Ad ii. Provisum in primo***/documents/***%2025%20%5B1892-93%5D%20-%20ocr.pdf (see page 246)

Basically, this is correct, as to the point asserted in Apostolicae curae with respect to the intertwined issues of form and intention. Intention must merely be the minimum, facere quod facit ecclesia, in order to be considered sacramentally valid. And since, as Apostolicae curae points out, intent is usually not directly known or observable, if all other sacramental factors are valid, intent is usually taken to be valid too.

But if something serves to permit a determinatio ex adiunctis, in this case the use of that particular form, constructed when and by whom it was, intent may be determined invalid. This is the assertion of Apostolicae curae.

Form and intent must be considered together.


What must be remembered is that an understanding is not what constitutes the validity of the sacramental action. It is, among other things, the sacramental intent, in the sacramental action that is evaluated. Neither Canterbury, nor the Edwardine Ordinal, nor the authors of the Ordination Rite, performed a relevant sacramental act, with a sacramental intention, and that was what was required to render a given sacramental act invalid. It is why, after much discussion, (then Jesuit Fr.) Francis Clark, in his ANGLICAN ORDERS AND DEFECT OF INTENTION, establishes just who Apostolicae curae had in mind, when referring to defective intention: the consecrators of Archbishop Parker in 1559.

It is indeed quite complicated. Theological, issues, yes. And historical and political and personal ones.


I’m well aware of the touchy subject (with respect to ACoE-Catholic relations) that you brought up in the last sentence. Nevertheless, I’m really at a loss to understand the relevance here. Did you bring it up because it is a touchy subject, or what exactly?

I’m sorry I have no idea of what you are talking about. My point is that not all Anglicans will join even if many do. The Assirians BTH have apostolic succession. For my part I see nothing “touchy” about this. There is truth and not truth.


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