Apostolic Succession in the Anglican Church

The Catholic Church has long taught, and correct me if I am wrong, that the Anglican Church lost it’s apostolic succession by changing key beliefs in their church for a relatively brief period of time when the Reformation had really taken hold, I believe under King Edward.

The Anglican Church would argue that although they changed the actual rites, the rites were the same as the ones Catholics used to use (see link here anglicanhistory.org/orders/saepius.pdf)

Catholics have responded that because the “intent” changed, their priesthood was invalidated, because intent is apparently a part of becoming a valid priest.

However, what I am confused about is this: At the time the changes were made, there were still validly ordained bishops in the Anglican Church. No one disputes this. And although the rites no longer included the language the Catholic Church was using, the intent of the bishops who were validly ordained may very well have been to keep the old “Catholic” tradition going. Further, the priests receiving the ordination may very well have believed that as well.

I guess what I am saying is, I don’t see how the Catholic Church can make that argument considering we don’t know what the intent was of all the people involved. While I have no doubts a majority of bishops did want to make those changes, it’s very possible some of them did not and that they continued ordaining priests with the valid intent required by the Catholic Church and that some of the priests being ordained accepted ordination with the valid beliefs required as well. In fact, considering Catholicism was banned, it is EXTREMELY likely this exact event occurred and that a good amount of priests were validly ordained by valid apostolic bishops.

I cannot answer whether the Catholic Church has long taught that because I am not Catholic. That is one of my objections because we are all in fact Christian and the rest of it. I do not like how one denomination teaches that other denominations are invalid whichever… I keep myself well out of it because it not the right way forward. I simply concentrate on God and go to the church I go to and keep out of all this other stuff because it isn’t helpful because it divides people rather than unites people.

If others want to say we anglicans are wrong then fine I let them say it but I do not have to accept what they say about we are wrong and wish there was a little bit more peace and harmony between each other rather than competition about who is right and wrong. At the end of the day it is God who is what matters and if others want to insist that we Anglicans got it all wrong then let them say it for I really and truelly these people have misunderstood what believing in God is actually about. They can argue the rubics of each denomination if they want to but God is the centre of my faith and what I believe in and not whether things are valid or not…

Let us remember that our faith is about God and not them and us and us and them

it is sad all this stuff

There was a change in the ordination rite that invalidated the consecration of new bishops and priests.

Right, I got that…But as the Anglican Communion rightly points out, those changes were similar to those that existed in the Catholic Church as one point as well. So physical changes are not enough.

There was a panel of former Anglican/Episcopal priests now catholic priests, who discussed this issue…on the Journey Home. You may have to research the episode…:smiley:

Anyway, this was one the questions discussed…their response was…(paraphrasing)…there has to be proper form and intent…meaning, the proper right of ordination…and the sacramental intent…which is what is intended in the catholic ordination…the sacramental nature of the priesthood…which is not the case or view in the anglican ordination. They may have the proper right, but not the right or sacramental intent.

And there is the also the profession of the ordinand to the 39 articles…which are against Catholic teaching/dogma/doctrine.

The usual explanation is that the break in Apostolic succession occurred at the consecration of Archbishop Parker in 1559: Parker being a bottleneck in Anglican episcopacy.

The intent question works something like this. Intent is an internal state, and thus is not directly discernible. Accordingly, the sacramental intent is normally taken to be valid, that is, as an intent facere quod facit ecclesia, assuming all other sacramental aspects are demonstrably valid (minister, subject, form, matter). However, if this is not the case, that is, if something (form, in this case) is not valid, the use of the invalid form can be taken to indicate that the sacramental intent is not to do what the Church does. The invalid form was taken to permit a *determinatio ex adiunctis *

The form was taken to be invalid, due to its not mentioning the sacrificial nature of the priesthood. It is true that there exist other forms/rites that the RCC does recognize as conveying valid orders, but which also omit that… This was one of the points made in the rejoinder to Apostolicae Curae, sent in the names of the two CoE Archbishops (Saepius Officio). The counter-argument to that is that previous rites/forms were not constructed specifically to omit the sacrificial nature of the sacerdotal role. The Edwardine Ordinal, being constructed by whom it was, when it was, in the context it was, was judged to have been constructed to do just that, and presents the necessary clue, *determinatio ex adiunctis *, as to invalid sacramental intent, no matter who was the minister. According to Apostolicae Curae, the use of that form (the ordinal) was sufficient evidence that the sacramental intent was not to ordain to the priesthood, as the Church defined it. Had all else been the same, but the CoE continued to use the Pontificale Romanum, this judgment supposedly could not have been made.

I’m Anglican, I don’t affirm Apostolicae Curae.


The form wasn’t the issue from what I understand but the removal of the reference to the priest’s sacrificial office in the Edwardian ordinal was sufficient to convince the Catholic Church that they had lost the intention to do what the Catholic Church does, that is, to ordain a priest to offer the Sacrifice of the Mass. The defect was in intention, not so much as form.

However, it must have touched a nerve somewhat with the Anglicans because Old Catholic bishops have been involved in Anglican ordinations so it’s possible, but not presumed, that there are indeed Anglican priests with valid orders.

However, the bull has not been rescinded so the Catholic Church still presumes Anglican clergy invalidly ordained and therefore converting priests are ordained in the absolute form, not conditionally. This may change.

Of course, there are Anglican branches who ordain women. There’s no way around those as women can never be priests.


It is the reason why Anglican clergy who convert are re-ordained in the Catholic Church.

Not quite.


Fast! Explanation, please.

What we are seeing today is the fruit of the reformation. Pope Leo recognized that Anglican’s lost a proper understanding of the priesthood, and formally called them out on it after 200 years (though the orders were never recognized in the mean time). Many, if not most Anglican’s celebrated the denunciation by the Pope at the time, because they did in fact understand an Anglican minister to be fundementally different from a Catholic priest.

Just fifty years later, the first Anglican woman was ordained in China during the Japanese invasion. Eighty years following Apostolicae Curae, woman were openly ordained by the Episcopal Church in the United States. Even though the Bishop of Canterbury today still has reservations about ordaining woman, the communion’s failure to expel the Episcopal Church shows that it does not fundamentally disagree about whether woman could be ordained, but only whether they should be ordained!

Anglican’s have done a lot of good work, including 1000’s of food banks and soup kitchens, but preserving the priesthood was not one of them. :shrug:

This takes some comment. But I’m on the way out the door. I shall return.

*Apostolicae Curae *has been a hobby of mine for 10+ years.

I agree with your last para.


The changing of the Rite changed the intent of the priesthood, thus rendering the ordination invalid.

No, intent inheres in the sacramental action of the minister. It is the minister’s intent, in using the Edwardine ordinal, that Apostolicae Curae judged invalid. See Clark/ANGLICAN ORDERS AND DEFECT OF INTENTION.


With all due respect, why do Anglicans care? I see Anglicans trying to assert that they have Apostolic Succession, even according to the Roman rules, all the time, and I just don’t understand why they spend so much time on it. I don’t care when fundamentalists tell me I’m not a Christian, and I laugh when Romans tell me I’m not Catholic. I just don’t understand this. Is it something in the Anglican culture?

The Edwardine Ordinal was the form. And without the use of the defective form (defined as I did above), the defect in sacramental intention would not have been assumed. As I said. The use of that form permitted the determinatio ex adiunctus. Form and intent are intertwined. See Apostolicae Curae.

It did touch a nerve, as may be seen in *Saepius Officio * But the issue of the Anglicans/Old Catholics of Utrecht is another matter. The question of full intercommunion had been under discussion for some years before *Apostolicae Curae. *

The Anglican/OC agreement of full communion, following the Agreement of Bonn (1931) involves more than the concept of some Anglican priests being validly ordained, if they happened to have OC bishops involved. The agreement was not for ordaining priests, it was for joint consecration of bishops. Thus (as can be found in Ott) the valid/illicit orders possessed by the OCs would be logically infused into Anglicanism, at the consecration of the Anglican bishops. Who would pass these lines on as they consecrated/ordained, in their Anglican episcopal duties.

OC lines (and, since 1946, PNCC lines) are widely spread in Anglicanism now. It would be harder to find an Anglican who has no trace of the Dutch Touch in his lines than otherwise. And, as I said, as one finds in Ott, logically ths would suggest that Anglicans generally might be expected to possess valid/illicit lines. Logically. But Rome has not commented on that, to date.

I would be surprised in any Anglican priests are ordained sub conditione, in the future. Two are known, historically, to have been so ordained. Not associated with the current Anglicanorum Coetibus ordinations.

Again, I agree with your closing statement.


Not all do. And not all who are familiar with Apostolicae Curae do, either. Some do.


I’m continually impressed with your posts… Very informative about my given religion.

Thank you, very much.



IMHO, the OC and the PNCC really muddied the waters even more, making it virtually impossible to discern the validity of orders of each and every priest in the CoE. Thus, making it very difficult for Rome to comment on the matter.

It’s making me think that Rome is playing it safe by re-ordaining convert priests from CoE.

However, i feel that ordaining women will undermine, if not undo, what the OC and PNCC has done for CoE.

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