Valid Eucharist by Episcopal priest, formerly Catholic?


So a Catholic priest becomes an Episcopalian, and he presides over Mass at his Episcopal parish. Since “once a priest, always a priest”, wouldn’t that mean that when says the words of Institution (consecration), that the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ?

That would mean that the Episcopalians attending that service would be receiving the Eucharist!


A priest who leaves the church for any reason would be Defrocked. Plus the authority to administer the sacraments (eucharist, penance) resides with the bishop, the priest is acting on the authority of the bishop, if he leaves the church he no longer has the bishops permission to administer the sacraments


But I thought the issue of “permission” only affected liceity, not validity. Even a defrocked priest reduced to the lay state can, in an emergency, validly absolve. I thought the power to confect the Eucharist was a function of the immutable character of the sacrament of Holy Orders. But I could be wrong.


My understanding is that Jesus gave the authority of the sacraments to the Apostles which is handed down to their successors the bishops. The priest is the bishops representative and acts on his behalf. If the priest leaves he no longer has the bishop’s permission to act for him. Just like if the secretary of state leaves the white house that person no longer has the authority to speak for the President on matters of foreign affairs.


You are correct. Let me use a different sacrament as an example. The pope forbids a bishop from consecrating another priest as a bishop. If the bishop ignores the pope, that priest is now made a bishop validly, though not licitly. Consequently, if that illicitly but validly ordained bishop were to ordain priests, those Masses he would say would be valid.


If he left the Catholic Church and became Episcopalian, it’s not likely he will care what the Catholic bishop permits or denies. From the Catholic perspective, any Eucharist he celebrates will be illicit, but I somehow don’t think that will actually concern him.

That said, the consecration of the Eucharist is a power of Order, not jurisdiction. That means, if a former Catholic and now Episcopalian/Anglican priest consecrates the bread and wine according to, say, the Book of Common Prayer or the English Missal, with the proper intention, yes there will be a true Consecration at that service.

What he will NOT be able to do validly though, is absolve in Confession, except in danger of death because that Sacrament does require proper faculties as well, which he would no longer have.


Hmm… I would have thought that, in the case of a laicization, since there is the loss of clerical state, there is likewise the loss of the ability to celebrate the sacraments (with the exception of deathbed confessions)… :hmmm:


For some, yes like Confession and Marriage, which cannot be performed validly without faculties from the local Ordinary. Others like the Eucharist and Holy Orders are still celebrated validly, but illicitly.


So let’s say that the formerly Catholic priest and another (natively “ordained”) Episcopalian priest both celebrate Mass on the same day. The formerly Catholic one celebrates the 8 AM, and the Episcopalian one celebrates at 10 AM. So that would mean the people filing out of Church from the first Mass receive the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ, and the people filing out of the 11 AM service only receive bread and wine.

And say there is one parishioner who occasionally goes to the the 8 AM, and occasionally to the 11 AM. So sometimes he receives a valid Eucharist, and sometimes he doesn’t.

So those Episcopalians who are attending the 8 AM are receiving a valid Eucharist even if they aren’t Catholic at all!


So by what your saying all masses in the Anglican/episcople church have a true consecration. Since at one time all of the preists were catholic and then left all at once. Since they can still ordain and consecrate it wouldnt matter if a former catholic priest did it today since it already exists in the Anglican church. But my understanding is that the catholic church denies that true consecration happens in the Anglican church. Am I wrong?


During the reign of Henry VIII right after he broke with Rome, Anglican bishops were indeed validly ordained and could validly consecrate the Eucharist. Because Henry did not jettison Catholic ritual or dogma, any priests such Anglican bishops ordained were indeed valid priests. This meant that even after the break from Rome, the Anglican Church had a valid Eucharist.

However, during the reign of Edward VI, the Anglican church promulgated a new rite of ordination whose wording indicated that the intention to ordain for the purpose of offering the Sacrifice of the Mass was repudiated. On this ground, the Catholic church declared (papal bull* Apostolicae curae*) that any Anglican ordinations with this new ritual were invalid. It was at this point that Anglicans lost their Apostolic Succession and from then on were deemed to have invalid orders. This is why Anglican priests who enter the Catholic Church and bring their congregations with them are re-ordained in the absolute form.

The original post though, dealt with a single theoretical priest who, ordained validly in the Catholic Church, becomes Anglican. He takes his valid Holy Orders with him, but not his faculties. For as long as such man keeps his intention to do what the Catholic Church does, he does consecrate a valid Eucharist even as an Anglican.


That’s right. I have heard an anecdote wherein some Anglicans/Episcopalians actually reported a distinct spiritual difference during such services (i.e. presided over by a former Catholic priest) and that (IIRC), led them to a solid faith in the Eucharist and caused them to enter the Catholic Church. Nice story, but I have no details.

Of course, however, we cannot assume that just because the minister is a former Catholic priest, his consecrations are automatically valid. Depending on the reason he left in the first place, he may not actually believe anymore that the Mass is a sacrifice, and therefore may purposely withdraw his intention to offer it as such, rendering his consecration invalid as well. We can never know for sure, but we do know that for as long as the proper form, matter, and intention are maintained, Consecration does happen.


To my understanding, and I am no expert in this topic, once a person leaves the Church he no longer works within the intent of the Church which is necessary.

Now if you take this thought to the next level, consecration, if the intent of the minister and the Church is to consecrate the Eucharist then yes; but this would not be so in the situation of the former CP now EP. He would be intending to confect the Episcopalian “version” of the consecration so that is exactly what he would get; not the Catholic Church understands of the Eucharist.

So i would say no, the Eucharist is not valid, nor licit in comparison to the Catholic Church. But again, this is my opinion of general knowledge. A canonist would have to answer this one.


Not necessarily. He could have joined a High Church or Anglo-Catholic strain, which pretty much sticks to Catholic theology and practice, so this may indicate that he has not abandoned his faith in the Real Presence of the Sacrifice of the Mass. But yes, intention can be easily defective for the reasons you stated. I would have my doubts if he joined a Low Church strain for example.


So, if any of the hosts from the 8 AM service are reserved and used at 10 am some of those at the second service would receive the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ and some would not. :eek:


No, the “Anglo-Catholic” Church is not in communion with Rome. It is not Catholic. So the intent of teh Church, the authentic Church has been abandoned.


Let us say that a validly ordained priest is a priest forever. The Church cannot undo the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

If he respects intention, form, and matter, he has authority to act in persona Christi and the Eucharist would be validly consecrated.

This however would be illicit, and potentially adding to the burden of which he will be called to answer before Christ.


So, if any of the hosts from the 8 AM service are reserved and used at 10 am some of those at the second service would receive the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ and some would not. :eek:

Precisely. You presented a great scenario. Imagine if the hosts were intermixed in the chalice. Some get Jesus, others only bread…


But many high-Church Episcopalians do believe in the Real Presence. And if that is the intent of the former (but always) Catholic priest…


It has nothing to do with communion with Rome; I know Anglo-Catholics are Anglicans and with invalid Orders. We’re just talking about this one man’s valid holy Orders.

What I mean is, if he joined an Anglo-Catholic congregation, it could be taken as an indicator that he did not abandon his Catholic beliefs regarding the Eucharist and the priesthood, which could be taken as a strong hint that he will still be holding at least a virtual intention to do what the Church does.

Communion with the Catholic Church is not required to form a proper intention. A validly ordained minister does not need to intend what the Church intends; he needs only intend to do what the Church does. This is why the Orthodox do not have a defect in intention despite their not being in communion with us.

But don’t get me wrong; I’m certain many former Catholic now Anglican/Episcopal ministers have abandoned or formed a defective theology and intention, rendering their Eucharists invalid, which is why we cannot form a general consensus based simply on the validity of Orders. What I’m saying though, is that all necessary things being intact, there can indeed be Anglican congregations with a valid Eucharist.

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