Apostolic Succession

So I was questioned by an evangelical why we believe Baptism is valid in other denominations, but not The Eucharist in other denominations. I said it had to do with Apostolic Succession. Can you give me anymore to go on and some Scripture showing the reasoning why only a validly ordained priest can consecrate at Mass. Some protestants believe that if they believe Jesus is present in communion they are still receive Him like Catholics are receiving Him in Holy Communion. I understand their thinking, but don’t know how to respond to this.


The Consecration of the Eucharist occurs only in connection with the offering of the sacrifice of/in the Mass. (Note the wording - necessary for the consecration to take place - which Our Lord used: “…which is given; …which is poured out…”. It is sacrificial language.) And, the offering of sacrifice is restricted to the priesthood - in the NT as well as the OT (cf Num 16, esp. vs 10). Our Lord gave the power to consecrate only to the apostles (first NT priests). The power is handed down from the original priests - that is, the apostles. One does not have the authority to appoint oneself to the priesthood. Protestant denominations do not have a valid priesthood.

The Church does not restrict baptizing to priests only. Hence, baptism by others (if done properly) is accepted.

I understand that, but his question was why does the Church recognize baptisms as valid when done by Protestants and not recognize their communion, he was getting at why would they say anybody can baptize but not anybody can consecrate, why does the Church not teach that only Catholic baptisms are valid and have to be done by a validly ordained priest?


1 Corinthians, chapter 11:

Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. 28 A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself.

This is true for Protestants and Catholics (especially those in a state of mortal sin…)

The Protestant struggles with this because of Sola Scriptura (and a natural tendency in many Protestant circles to deny a belief if not explicit in Scripture, only if taught by Catholics). Jesus gave the commission to consecrate the Eucharist to his apostles when He said to them in the upper room, “Do this in memory of me.” The role of priest in this manner performing “sacrifice” in the person of Christ, goes all the way back to the Old Testament, in which only priests were allowed to perform sacrifices. (article at Jimmy Akin’s website, or even better—this article by Jimmy–just search for “sacrifice” to read pertinent paragraphs)

The Catechism says this on baptism being able to be applied by a lay person in unordinary circumstances:1256 The ordinary ministers of Baptism are the bishop and priest and, in the Latin Church, also the deacon.57 In case of necessity, anyone, even a non-baptized person, with the required intention, can baptize58 , by using the Trinitarian baptismal formula. The intention required is to will to do what the Church does when she baptizes. The Church finds the **reason for this possibility in the universal saving will of God and the necessity of Baptism for salvation.**59

Click here to read the footnote cross-references.

Fracturing Scripture from the light of Tradition from which it was written, which can be seen in the life of the Church, results in a certain blindness to what various Scripture verses mean.

We also see in the earliest times of the Church that only those priests ordained by the Church were valid ministers. Pope St. Clement’s letter to the Church in Corinth chastised those foolish Corinthians for thinking they could prop up their own priests and bishop over those ordained by the rest of the Church. This letter was written before the end of the 1st century at a time that John the Apostle was probably still living.

Here’s some historical background from “Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma”:
The Fourth Lateran Council (1215) teaches that Baptism is available unto salvation no matter by whom it is administered provided that it is correctly administered according to the form laid down by the Church: …The mandate to baptise in Mt. 28:19 is addressed to the Apostles and to their successors, the bishops. According to the testimony of Holy Writ, however, already the Apostles transferred the full power to baptise to others. Cf. Acts 10:48 “He (Peter) commanded them to be baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Cor 1:17: “Christ sent me not to baptise but to preach the gospel.” According to Acts 8:"38 (cf *:12), Philip the Deacon administered Baptism.

In the early Church the administration of Baptism was regarded as a privilege of the bishop. St. Ignatius of Antioch says: “Without the bishop it is not allowed to baptise or to celebrate the agape” (Symyrn. 8:2). Tertullian names side by side with the bishop and in subordination to him, also the priests and the deacons as regular ministers of Baptism. In case of necessity he also admits that the (baptised) laity, but only men, can administer Baptism. He prohibits women from baptising. (De bapt. 17.) Later witnesses for the permissibility of lay-Baptism in case of emergency are the Synods of Elvira (can. 38; D 52 d), St. Jerome (Dial. c Lucif. 9), St. Augustine (Contra ep. Parm. II 13, 29). Express testimonies for the permissibility of Baptism by women are first found only in the Middle Ages. (Urban II, Ep. 271.)

The validity of Baptism by heretics was taught by Pope St. Stephen I. He appealed to Tradition, against Bishop St. Cyprian of Carthage… It was defended also by St. Augustine against the Donatists. The Council of Trent declared it as a dogma…

The intrinsic reason for the validity of Baptism administered by anybody lies in the fact that Baptism is necessary for salvation. Cf. Summa Theologica III 67, 3-5

Hope this helps.


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