Anglican reservation of Eucharist - how do Catholics balance the risks of sacrilege and idolatry?

So I was in the England and touring palaces as you do and went into a royal chapel in which the Eucharist was reserved, along with a red lamp, a kneeler for worshipers and a sign urging tourists to show respect.

Although I treat all things regarded as sacred by others with respect (out of respect for the people) as an unbeliever of course what was present was exactly what was present in a Catholic Church.

Later I realised that for a Catholic this could create a quandary. Given the doubts over Anglican orders (at least those augment in the Old Catholic line) is was possible that this was, in the Catholic sense, validly consecrated reserved communion bread. It was also possible it was not, should the intention of one of those in the apostolic succession behind the priest who consecrated the communion bread be invalid.

So what would a Catholic do? Simply walk past and ignore what was there? Or worship? The one would seem to be to be at least a minor sacrilege and the other at least potentially idolatry.

It’s akin to the old, “If I live my life believing there is no God and I’m wrong vs. living my whole life believing there is a God and being wrong” … one of those has no eternal consequence while the other does.

If we show reverence to what might be the Eucharist, we honor Christ. If it turns out to be a mistake, eh, oh well. No harm, no foul. You can’t accidentally sin or commit idolatry - that requires willful intent.


Generally, Anglican orders have been invalid since the 1800s and quite possibly much earlier.




You aren’t under an obligation to worship even when the actual real presence is present in a Church.


I would show respect in the same way they expect Anglicans to. Worship the God they believe is present even though we don’t share the belief. Let’s say you had a friend who loves and respects his father, but you happened to know from information he doesn’t have that he’s not really his father, wouldn’t you still respect him as your friend does?


A Catholic would treat the chapel and particularly the reserved Eucharist with respect. A Catholic would not worship the reserved Eucharist.

Anglican orders are regarded as entirely null and void - although there’s a bit of a grey area where an Old Catholic (Utrecht) bishop was involved in an ordination. Catholics only regard consecration of the Eucharist as valid where the principal celebrant is a priest of the Universal Church. There has been a great deal of debate as to whether Christ is truly present in the sacred elements consecrated by an Anglican priest who believes he has the authority to do so. After all, Jesus didn’t say “Do this in commemoration of me, but only if you are a Catholic priest.” So we regard the Anglican reserved sacrament as bread and wine, but with the vague possibility that Christ may be present.

As you point out, the Church doesn’t recognize valid consecration by the Anglicans. As a Catholic then, I can’t 2nd guess the Church on this.


I am English. If you’re talking about palaces you’ll be meaning those from the reformation. The occupants are therefore protestant and their vicars too. No authority to offer prayers of consecration and so what you are looking at with the red light is not our Lord Jesus Christ. It’s bread of some sort.
No kneeling and no worship .

If you were in Westminster Cathedral of course, different matter.

Except some Anglican priests, especially at the time of the reformation, had they been Catholic priests first or ordained by a bishop who was Catholic, did have valid Holy Orders; the Eucharist confected would be valid (though illicit). Today, the chance that this possibility exists is extremely low-to-none.

As a British person (baptised Anglican, currently going through RCIA) I’ve recently done a little bit of research into this. What i don’t get is how there can have been a break in the chain of apostolic succession when the CofE was built upon the Catholic Church. What’s the difference between the Church of England and the Orthodox Church in terms of legitimate holy orders, as neither are in communion with Rome?

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As I understand it, the Church of England maintained apostolic succession for a while but later changed their form of ordination, thus causing the rupture. I may be wrong; this isn’t something I’ve studied too carefully.


The Catholic Church believes the Church of England lost apostolic succession because of defects evident in the ordinal of Edward VI. The house expert is @GKMotley.


Form and intent, as determined using the form (determinatio ex adiunctis) to determine the intent.

Google Apostolicae Curae, for the RC position. There is a lot of history, personalities and politics behind the whole, sad subject.


So getting back to my question…some say that no, it could not possibly be the transubstantiated body of Christ because Anglican orders are definitely invalid, some say it might be, because some Anglican orders are valid through the Old Catholic participation in ordinations, and some say yes, it is most likely the body of Christ because Anglican orders are in general valid, although illicit passed on.

So assuming like most Catholics you lack certainty on these possibilities, what to do?

The Orthodox have not varied in form or understanding and continue to convey valid orders.

The Anglicans, however, after a generation or so, changed both. For a long period, rather than understanding the ordination in terms of the Apostolic Succession, the Church of England saw bishops as an administrator, even if still some kind of spiritual leader, and had a fundamentally protestant view of clergy. This left them, like the Old Catholic church today, incapable of conferring orders that they didn’t believe in. Additionally, for an extended period, there was a deficient form in the “ordination” of bishops in the Cafe.

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Catholics aren’t obligated to worship the Eucharist evertime they walk past and since there is uncertainty, leaning on the side of caution would be understandable.

If it’s Anglican, then I would show respect for the area out of respect for my “hosts”, the Anglicans. I can presume with relative certainty that the host they have out is not Christ, however, so I would not treat it like Him.

Tell me about the Old Catholics. Those, that is, that the RCC does recognize as possessing valid/illicit orders. If any remain.

A number took part in Anglican ordinations last century and (I read somewhere) all UK Anglican bishops now have a lineage that includes them. I might be wrong (I can vaguely remember this happening previously to be once).

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Not exactly, sort of close. After a number of years of joint discussions and friendly talk, starting in the later 1800s, the Church of England and the OCs of Utrecht signed an agreement of full inter-communion, in 1932 (Agreement of Bonn). Amongst the things that then commenced was regular joint consecrations of OC and CoE bishops. At the time, the OCs were considered by the RCC as possessing valid/illicit orders. This went on for years; still does as far as I know. The point of interest with respect to Anglican orders lies in the fact that, as Ott states, bishops with valid orders convey valid orders, even if illicit ones. And this is done by schismatic or heretical or other less that full members of the Apostolic family, providing all other sacramental factors required in confecting a sacrament are valid. Thus, from that point on (logic would suggest) the valid/illicit orders possessed by the OCs were infused into Anglican episcopal lines, whatever was their status immediately prior. And as the Anglican episcopacy goes about their episcopal business, in turn, the valid/illicit orders are further propagated. The same arrangement came about between the PNCC and the Episcopal Church in America, in 1946, until it was terminated when the Episcopalians started getting similarly creative with the idea of valid subjects for orders.

The idea I was aiming at in the question was, given the OC-Utrecht’s recent decision to follow the Anglicans down that road, what was the status of the OC orders, generally. It is not necessarily a simple question.

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