How did simply changing the word invalidate Anglican orders?

Dear Sir,
I just read the answer to a question on your site about the so called changing of the words of ordination for a bishop. I may not remember the response fully but it was something to the effect of Jesus gave us no specific words for it as he did for the Eucharist or Baptism, therefore if a formula is promulgated by the Church we are to be assured of it’s validity. I am a Catholic in union with Rome, I fully accept Vatican II and all popes since Pius XII however, I am just so very worried as Anglican orders were declared null (and i totally agree) as they took out mention of the Sacrificial Priesthood so how can we call them null and invalid for changing the words when we ourselves have? Isn’t the new rite supposed to contain the words “assign ministries as you have decreed.” Yet even if assign means or has the same effect as ordain why not just use the words “ordain ministers as you have decreed”? PLease I love our Holy Mother the Church, so if you have time answer this question. Please correct me if I’m wrong on anything.

Much thanks

Dear Seraph,

First of all, the Church has authority over the liturgy and the sacraments. It alone determines what is valid or invalid by the authority it received from Jesus Himself. For example it recognizes the marriages between non-Catholics who are obviously not married in the Catholic Church. But it holds Catholics to more restrictive requirements. Likewise, it can determine which orders it holds as valid or not simply by its own authority.

However, it does not exercise such authority by whim. In the case of Anglican orders, the Catholic Church was concerned about what is signified by the dropping of any mention of the sacrificial nature of the Mass. This is an essential part of what the Mass is. So there is much more involved here than simply a change of words. There is a change in what is taught and believed about the very nature of the Mass. The Eastern Orthodox Churches use different words than the ones we use, but such Churches have the same essential understanding of the Mass that we have. So the Catholic Church has continued to recognize the validity of their orders.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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