Anglican Use, the sacraments, and validity

I frequent an Anglican Use parish used by both an Anglican Use priest and an Episcopal priest. I do not wish to refer to the Episcopal as a “priest” - nor as “Father” - however, because he is not, properly. I would feel as if i were affirming his invalid sacraments.

I brought this up to Fr. Rob, who is Anglican Use Catholic. He said something I found very strange, and we talked about it at length. GKC and other Anglo-Catholics have probably hashed it out to death, the validity of Anglican orders. But Fr. Rob said that the sacraments of the Anglican churches are valid for them, but not for us as Catholics.

:confused: To elaborate, I don’t think he was trying to say they think their sacraments are valid, but we don’t; but that their sacraments are objectively valid - for them. But not for Catholics in communion with Rome. I believe he was saying this because he was trying to affirm that Anglican orders are valid.

And who knows? Maybe they are. But as a Catholic, unless Rome says otherwise, I think I must recognise the opposite as being true. And if their orders are not valid, their sacraments are not, either, for anyone, not even Anglicans. They’re puppetry, or ought to be seen as such. At least, if I understand correctly.

Can someone try to explain what it means to say Anglican sacraments are valid for Anglicans, but not for Catholics? It sounds completely* wrong.*

And while we’re at it, should I continue to go to this parish and talk to and discuss this sort of thing with this priest? What do you think?

I’d say that Fr. Rob had made a very odd comment indeed.

I also wonder what that Episcopal priest is doing there.


The way I interpreted Father’s remarks were " just because someone says something doesn’t mean it is". For example, I know people who were baptised “in the name of Jesus”. We say that they aren’t because scripture, and the Church, say ‘in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit’ is the way it is done.

As to why both faith traditions are there, I refer to another thread on here yesterday concerning the sharing of facilities. My guess is that this is the Episcopalian Church and the Anglican Use are former members of the Episcopalian Church who decided to return to Rome.

Pope Leo XIII issued a definitive bull in 1896 called Apostolicae Curae which declared that Anglican Orders were “absolutely null and utterly void.” No wiggle room there.

1 - Anglican orders are, per se, invalid.

2 - Therefore their sacraments which depend on the validity of Anglican orders - e.g., the Eucharist, are objectively invalid.

3 - Subjectively those objectively invalid sacraments may provide spiritual sustenance for them.

4 - Whether to continue or not with this parish depends on whether it nourishes or disturbs your spiritual journey. Only you know the answer to that.

Btw, I would not hesitate to call the minister of the Episcopalian congregation “Father”. It is a recognition of his role in his community and a sign of respect, not a theological affirmation of his orders.


Especially, perhaps, if he is sharing his church with you.


The principle of contradiction is the universal law of being and thought that something cannot both be and not be at the same time in the same respect.

To be clear, the Bull Apostolicae Curae declared that Anglican orders were invalid due to a defect in the Rite of Ordination (Ordinal) which was not remedied by the context in which the rite was administered. Since this extinguished Anglican orders, the correction of the defect in the Ordinal in 1662 was too late - there were no longer any orders to pass on.

It is possible that at least some Anglican clergy, however, are in valid orders. The reason is that there were ordinations and consecrations by Old Catholic clergy of Anglican clergy at various times and places over the last 80 or so years. These Old Catholics did have valid orders. It is at least possible that - while not possessing the extinguished Anglican orders - some Anglican clergy may be in orders in the lineage of the Old Catholics.


All Church of England clergy, I believe, in addition to their Anglican lines, can trace their ordination back through Old Catholic lines.

True enough. While they may be valid, they are illicit (not legal) and therefore a sacrilege. OC bishops lacked jurisdiction.

Overall, however, Fr. Rob’s a good man and a pretty orthodox priest AFAIK. He’s also cheeky, funny, does the AU Mass (low and high) very well. And most people at the parish are amicable, and have accepted Catholic teaching. Some have studied it in great depth. They put cradle Catholics to shame, most of the time.

And then stupid, small issues like this come up, and… ehehehehe…

I’d figured I’d find you here. :smiley:

As St. Barnabas was originally an Oxford Movement parish, owned by the local Episcopal diocese, it’s not exactly that strange. But the Episcopalian pastor - I believe, Fr. Ray? I could be wrong - is only using the the sanctuary because he doesn’t have one of his own, and Fr. Ray still has a Latino congregation. As I understand it, they were both using it when they were both Episcopal, and they’ll continue to do so for the time being.

Fr. Rob says that when he - er, my understanding of his words, not his words per se - confected the sacraments as an Episcopal priest, they were also valid, then, as now. So I suspect he feels Fr. Ray is also confecting the sacraments.

@ JoeCa: I tossed that point to him. I don’t remember what he said. :blush: I don’t recall him addressing it, or caring about it.

But maybe I am just getting my stomach all in a knot over something that’s a non-issue. After all, what was it our Holy Father called some Protestant not long ago… Brother Bishop? I dunno… In any case, I don’t plan to bring it up to Fr. Rob again. He apparently feels very strongly about it, and it doesn’t seem like starting a schism over.

@ PickyPicky: I do not suspect this also applies to Episcopalian priests. Maybe it does.

I suspect Fr. is using “valid” in a not-strictly-legal sense. He probably means that the Episcopalian minister is doing ministry to his congregation as they know best, to them this is a valid ministry. Does the Episcopalian minister confect Eucharist? From Rome’s view, it depends. If the minister was ordained according to Catholic rites from a valid (but illicit) bishop, such as Utrecht line Old Catholics, Polish National Catholics, Orthodox, or another valid Church, perhaps (if the ritual is not significantly altered and the priest is orthodox in faith).

As far as I know Anglican Use Masses are only said by those former Anglican ministers who have since become Catholic priests. It is esentially an Extraordinary Form Mass celebrated in English rather than Latin. What the Episcopalian minister is doing there I have no idea, especially if the Blessed Sacrament is in reserve in the tabernacle!? :confused: The Anglican Use Mass has even been celebrated at my diocesan parish. I’m not sure what your Fr. Rob meant though I’m sure my very orthodox parish priest would say otherwise.

The poster stated that the Episcopal minister and his congregation are using the church for their services as well, with permission. They aren’t celebrating at the same time.
I suspect that the other minister is not Episcopalian but part of an off-shoot continuing Anglican parish, if he’s not already in the process of being a member of the Ordinariate.

First, not all sacraments require an ordained minister. Baptism and Marriage do not. Therefore I hope everyone can agree that we limit the discussion to those sacraments which do require valid ordination: Confirmation, Confession, Holy Orders, Anointing, and of course the Eucharist.

They are simply not-valid. Saying “valid for them” is really just a euphemism. A sacrament is either valid, or it’s an invalid attempt. This is objective, not subjective, and there is no third option (like semi-valid).

Even though their attempts at sacraments are not valid, they can sometimes receive Grace through them. For example, at an Anglican attempt at the Eucharist, even though the bread remains nothing more than bread, Christ is still present among the gathered community.

I’m sure that when he became an Anglican cleric he believed that it was valid (of course he did, because otherwise he would not have done it). That makes this a very sensitive topic. It took a lot of courage and conviction, and yes faith, to do what he did by being validly ordained by a Catholic bishop.


Why would you think what you think?

If Father does mean that the Anglicans think their sacraments are valid when they actually are not, he is correct.

If Father thinks Anglican sacraments are objectively valid for Anglicans while objectively invalid for Catholics he would be wrong.

There is no reason just from the face value of the statements that he means one or the other. Charity therefore requires us to presume, in the absence of further details or clarification, that Father holds the correct, not the wrong, meaning.

So in charity to Father, why do you believe he holds one meaning (the wrong one), instead of presuming he holds the orthodox position?

In 1998 Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and later Pope Benedict XVI) 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”. Despite the ongoing work of the ecumenical Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), Ratzinger’s commentary listed Leo XIII’s declaration in Apostolicae Curae that Anglican orders are “absolutely null and utterly void” as one of the teachings to which Catholics must give “firm and definitive assent”. These teachings are not understood by the Church as revealed doctrines but are rather those the church’s teaching authority finds to be so closely connected to God’s revealed truth that belief in them is required to safeguard the divinely revealed truths of the Christian Faith. Those who fail to give “firm and definitive assent”, according to the commentary, would “no longer be in full communion with the Catholic Church”.

The continuing authority of Apostolicae Curae was reinforced in the essay The Significance of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus by Fr Gianfranco Ghirlanda SJ, Rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University, released on 9 November 2009. (Anglicanorum Coetibus introduces a canonical structure that provides for groups of Anglican clergy and faithful to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church “while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony.”) In the essay, which is approved by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Fr Ghirlanda comments that “the ordination of ministers coming from Anglicanism will be absolute, on the basis of the Bull Apostolicae curae of Leo XIII of September 13, 1896.”

Also, the the Church of England’s decisions to “ordain” women to priesthood and episcopate, as well as the establishment of full communion with various Lutheran and Evangelical Churches should be taken into consideration, to understand its beliefs on priesthood.

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