Apostolic Churches

Besides the Catholic Church, which churches have apostolic succession?

In Brief: The Catholic Church including the Eastern Rites, and the Orthodox.
There are 145 threads with Apostolic Succession in the Title. One of them may have an exact list.

The 5 ancient sees:

Rome (from Peter)…and those in communion with it.

Antioch…List of Primates of Antioch1.St. Peter the Apostle (c.45-c.53)
2.St. Euodios (c.53-c.68)
3.St. Ignatius I (c.68-100)
4.Eros I (100-c.127)

Jerusalem…1.James the Just (to 62)
2.Simeon I (62-107)
3.Justus I (107-112)
4.Zacchaeus (112-


Alexandria…1.Mark 42-68
2.Anianus (68-82)
3.Avilius (82-98)
4.Kedron (96-106


Constaninople…Apostolic era (33-100) 1.St. Andrew the Apostle (founder)
2.Stachys (38-54)
3.Onesimus (54-68)
4.Polycarpus I (69-89)
5.Plutarch (89-105)
Ante-Nicene era (100-325) 6.Sedecion (105-114)
7.Diogenes (114-129)


The Assyrian Church of the East, the Oriental Orthodox Churches, and the Eastern Churches are those ancient churches with valid holy orders. There are also some other churches, whose separation from communion with Rome is much more recent, such as the Polish National Catholic Church.

Churches which, according the Magisterium, have valid apostolic succession:

Roman Catholic Church
Oriental Orthodoxy (Coptic, Syriac, Ethiopian, Armenian Apostolic)
Eastern Orthodoxy (Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Antiochian, etc)
Assyrian Church of the East
Polish National Catholic Church
Old Catholic Church / Union of Utrecht

Churches which claim Apostolic Succession but are not supported by the Magisterium:
the Church of England (Anglican / Episcopalian)

Certain Lutheran churches (I think Swedish Lutheran Church) have valid apostolic succession too.
As do certain Anglican Churches (Traditional Anglican Communion comes to mind)

Whence would come the valid apostolic succession for the Traditional Anglican Communion, as opposed to the other Churches in the Anglican Continuum; that is, those Churches, similar to most of the Traditional Anglican Communion jurisdictions, and also separated from the official Anglican Communion?

Point is, the same claim to Apostolic Succession that may be made for the TAC may likewise apply to the Continuum in general.


Anglicanus-Catholicus, posterus traditus Anglicanus

Their bishops had been consecrated by Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Old Catholic or other bishops with valid apostolic succession. They generally went outside of the Anglican communion to obtain it.

Not all Anglican clergy did this, only those who did had valid Apostolic succession.

The particular group of Anglicans who have separated from the official Anglican Communion (usually called, collectively, Continuing Anglicans) called the Traditional Anglican Communion, which was much in the news around the time Anglicanorum Coetibus was first heard of, is a subset of the Continuing Anglican movement. It was originally formed as an international group by the Anglican Catholic Church, one of the early American Continuing Churches, and then associated with the Anglican Church in America, another such, in one of the frequent realignments the Continuing Anglican movements enjoys. That is, that is the name of a subset of those who left the Anglican Communion, and not all of them. The case for valid orders is applicable to any Anglican (not considering the recent issues of female ordination), and not merely those in the Traditional Anglican Communion, or in the Continuing movement generally.

That being said, none of the Continuing movement has sought out Eastern, Oriental, OC or PNCC bishops to patch up their episcopal lines, unless you know something on the subject I don’t. Anglicans don’t worry about that (though historically there was much seeking of episcopi vagantes, by some isolated individuals, around 100 years+ ago). What you are describing sounds like the subject of the Dutch Touch and Anglicanism in general, which began back in 1932. I got a recent post on it, somewhere around here.

Summation: though Rome has made no statement on it, it is true that Anglicans have had a joint agreement of full inter-communion, including joint episcopal consecrations, with the OC/Utrecht since 1932. This (logically) infused valid/illicit episcopal lines into Anglicanism, which has spread through Anglicanism, as the Anglican bishops went about their own consecrating/ordaining over the past 80 years or so. But it is not something unique to those who have left the official Anglican Communion.

Now, if you know something particular about the Traditional Anglican Communion, until recently under Archbishop Hepworth, which suggests that group did seek out some form of assistance in their orders, from those folks you mentioned, I’d love to hear details of who and when.


OK so then I have no idea how they would have valid Apostolic succession then.

I can think of a couple of ways. One, Apostolicae Curae might be incorrect. Not one I expect you to contemplate. But the Dutch Touch, as I described it historically, is certainly possible as a source of valid/illicit episcopal lines, as I said. My point was that such a case would apply to all Anglicans, not just those who have left the Anglican Communion, or a subset of such, as found in the Traditional Anglican Communion.


While we would consider Scandinavian Lutheran orders as valid AS, I suspect that Rome probably would not.
Also about Lutherans, the clergy of the ELCA, as a result of its altar and pulpit agreement with the TEC, now claim AS through the Anglican lines, including “Dutch Touch”, though I would defer to GKC on any matter of Anglican and through it, ELCA apostolic succession.


Within the Communion, and in selected parts of Anglicanism outside of it, AS is a mixed bag. Assuming (as Anglicans generally do) that they do possess it, without consideration of Apostolicae Curae, one must consider what the impact of those who think they are ordaining women and consecrating female bishops might have on that succession. I’ve stated before that women’s “ordination”, and most especially female bishops, is a black hole at the center of Anglican orders, in any case where it is practiced. It renders Apostolice Curae a document prematurely prescient, by about 80+ years, and means that anyone considering the validity of Anglican sacraments needs to ask to see the episcopal lines, in the situation at hand.

Gives a whole new dimension to the motley-ness of Anglicanism.


I suspect that the ordination of practicing gays adds additional breadth to that black hole - for the ELCA too.


I’m out of my comfort zone on that one, but I would suspect there would be a difference. I am not taking a stand on that, though.


Oh I completely agree. I want no part of any church or ecclesial community who would dare to ordain sinners!

Surely you jest.

Of course my tongue was firmly in cheek as I wrote that. However, I will grant that if a man obstinately persists in public sin such as a cohabitating sexual relationship (with anyone) then that is a clear impediment to his ordination, or any other sacrament for that matter. But as far as I know it would only be an impediment to liceity and not validity, and this thread is about validity.

And this was the intent of my post. I would apply it to a heterosexual as well. Additionally, I was speaking specifically of the ELCA practice.


Depends who you ask. Apostolic Succession means differently to different people. To the Orthodox, it is not just tracing your ordination back to the Apostles, but also preserving the Apostolic faith. Which means one who becomes a heretic or heterodox loses Apostolic succession and thus cannot ordain anyone.

And then, there are Protestant communities I have seen who claim that their faith is Apostolic. How, I do not know.

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