How Does RCC View Eastern Orthodoxy and Anglicanism?

Hi Everyone,
My question to all of you is: How does the RCC (officially and unofficially) view the Eastern Orthodox churches? It doesn’t seem as though the RCC is as far apart with their leaders as they are with many Protestant groups (probably because there are less theological differences).

A sort of secondary issue is: Why doesn’t the RCC (I could be wrong) view conservative Anglicans in the same camp as Eastern Orthodox churches?

Basically, I am just interested in understanding how the Church views these two very large and very ancient groups that seem to share many theological views.

Additionally, for those of you who are EO or Anglican (or used to be), how do many Eastern Orthodox and Anglicans (again, conservative) view the RCC?

Thanks again!


The RCC views the Orthodox as a true Church, with valid Sacraments but imperfectly joined.

The RCC views the various Anglican denominations as communities of Christians which are separated from the Church much more severely than the Orthodox. They do not have valid Sacraments or a valid ministerial priesthood. (with some very rare exceptions due to double ordinations)

In both groups, there is some theological cross-over with RCC doctrine and that is a very good starting point for discussions of commonality. With the Orthodox, there are only a few points of theological difference (although they may be considered big ones). The larger differences are in tradition. With the Anglicans, there is more commonality in tradition but larger theological differences.

Basically, I am just interested in understanding how the Church views these two very large and very ancient groups that seem to share many theological views.

The Orthodox are surely ancient Churches but the Anglicans are no more ancient than other Protestant denominations.

What Corki said!

And, like GKC says - Anglicans are motley.

When the Eastern Orthodox split, they specifically made no changes to doctrine or liturgy, and thus continued to have valid holy orders.

When the Anglicans split, they soon after changed the doctrines and rituals, and soon no longer had valid holy orders. When the Catholic Church formally acknowledged the Anglicans had no valid orders in the late 1800’s, many Anglicans celebrated this ruling, as they did not have a sacramental understanding of Christianity.

A small fraction of Anglicans maintained or revived a sacramental understanding, but they had no valid orders with which to celebrate these sacraments, except for a handful of clergy ordained elsewhere.

Thanks for this Corki,
I guess I still don’t understand why orthodox Anglicans, like Anglo-Catholics and other very high Anglicans, are any different than Orthodox churches. Do you know why that is? You mentioned ordination, but I was under the impression that the Church hasn’t ruled on this issue in a long time and that most Anglican churches have integrated apostolic lines into their apostolic succession structures anyway. Thoughts?

It is because Anglican attempts at ordination are not valid ordinations. There has not been a specific “ruling” on this in recent times because it has not been necessary. There is no question that Anglican attempts at ordination might be valid, so there’s no reason to re-visit the question.

It’s clear though from recent events that the Church continues to understand that they aren’t valid ordinations because in establishing the Anglican Ordinariates, then-Pope Benedict made it very clear that former Anglican clergy had to be validly ordained before serving as Catholic clergy. So while there’s been no new decision, as such, the existing position has been re-affirmed quite clearly.

Yeah, but I can’t take credit for it.

Or blame, for that matter.


And Corki said double ordinations.

Cite an instance.


*Apostolicae Curae *is still the rule. Whatever the import of the Dutch touch or Polish Pat.

RCs should follow the rule.

Anglicans have a different view of the matter. (Double entendre possible, there).


There are a small handful of Anglican clergy who sought out ordination from the Old Catholic or Polish National Catholic bishops. These cases were investigated and treated appropriately.

In the vast majority of cases, the “Dutch Touch” was actually just valid bishop witnessing of Anglican attempts at ordination as a gesture of ecumenical good will, rather than performing or con-celebrating ordinations. The Anglicans have never admitted their ordinations were deficient, and have made no efforts to “correct” the such deficiencies.

Historically, this is incorrect, as I have posted a number of times.

The Dutch Touch arose from the inter-communion established between the Church of England and the Utrecht Old Catholics following the Agreement of Bonn in 1931. This was a full inter-communion, and as far as ordinations/consecrations was concerned related only to joint Anglican/OC consecrations of bishops, ab initio, not of priestly ordinations.

The OC/Anglican consecrations, following the agreement of inter-communion, were fully joint.This would, logically, infuse into the action the valid/illicit episcopal orders possessed by the OCs (following Ott/FUNDAMENTALS OF CATHOLIC DOGMA, p. 458). Rome has not, to my knowledge, commented on this.

The OC Bishop of Haarlem, at the first such co-consecration (1932) stated clearly the full sacramental intent of the joint consecrations: that he intended to consecrate, and pass the fullness of the Catholic order, which he possessed, in mingling “the two streams of the episcopal succession which has come down from the Apostles, namely that derived through the bishops of the Old Catholic Church and that which has come down through the Anglican hierarchy until the present time” (Hughes, STEWARDS IF THE LORD, appendix II, p.341). Similar joint consecrations began between Anglicans and the PNCC in 1946, though this practice has ended.

While Anglicans, formally, do not accept the logic of Apostolicae Curae, nor its judgment, the point of the invalid form cited in the Bull was, in fact, cured, for unrelated reasons, in 1662. What the import of the Dutch Touch/Polish Pat might be, in the eyes of the RCC, I do not know. I merely know the history.


Assuming for a minute that ordination wasn’t an issue (because I don’t believe it is at all based on the history of the matter), is there any other reason for this difference in view between the Orthodox and groups like Anglo and orthodox Catholics?

Father David addressed this pretty well. The Church doesn’t rule on each instance of ordination as valid or invalid. Since Apostolicae Curae, nothing has changed that would require a new pronouncement.

and that most Anglican churches have integrated apostolic lines into their apostolic succession structures anyway. Thoughts?

I certainly wouldn’t say “most” but it has been said to have happened.
However, while (theoretically) “integrating apostolic lines” might create some succession, it’s only part of the issue. Even a validly ordained Bishop only ordains priests if he uses valid matter, form and intention. The matter is the laying on of hands by a Bishop with Apostolic succession. But in an Anglican ordination, the form is defective and the intent is also incomplete. IT’s the same thing that happened after the Reformation. If a validly ordained Catholic Bishop defects to the Anglican Church, he *might *be able to ordain some priests validly but illicitly. But when he dies, so does the Apostolic line since none of those priests would be able to be validly ordained as bishops.

However, even if you could get passed all of that, the priest would be excommunicated as soon as he said his first Mass since it is prohibited for a Catholic priest to celebrate a Protestant service.

I am not sure to what extent it’s historically incorrect or just an “urban legend” in today’s Church. :rolleyes: Even in the case of the attempted ordinations of women, the presence of an Old Catholic or suspended Catholic Bishop is used to claim validity.

Ordination is just one of the invalid Sacraments in the Anglican denominations. The Catholic Church recognizes all of the Orthodox Sacraments as valid but only Baptism and Marriage in the Anglican groups.

The reason the other sacraments are not recognized as valid relates to the validity of the Orders.


As stated, what I replied to is historically inaccurate. The subject has been a hobby of mine for many years.

But your second sentence would involve an invalid subject for the sacramental action. Which a validly ordained cleric could not rectify. Same as if an invalid form, or invalid matter, or invalid sacramental intent was used. The sacrament would not be confected.


So, is the only issue then (for orthodox Anglicans) really just the ordination (perceived) problem? I realize the validity of the sacraments is in question, but that is related directly to the ordination problem.

If you are asking if the RCC views Anglicans differently than it does Orthodox because the RCC recognizes that Orthodox possess valid, if illicit, Orders, and considers that the Anglicans do not, the answer is yes.

Beyond that, I don’t know what you might be asking.


Thanks for writing in again. That was precisely what I was asking! Thank you for your guidance on this. Does anyone disagree for some reason?


You are very welcome.


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