Validity of Holy Orders in the Tradiational Anglican Communion ?


I know that the Church has declared the Holy Orders of the Anglican Communion Void, however I was wondering what the Churches view on the Sacaments of Tradiational Anglican Communion is?


Generally speaking their Baptisms are valid and Marriages meeting the freedom and capacity and Baptism rules would also be valid Sacraments. Beyond those no sacraments are valid.


I was married in an Angican Church and later divorced. When I came back to the Catholic Church and sought an annulment I was told that my marriage was not recognized. My priest said that it was the only marriage we did not recognize. He could have been wrong but my marriage was annuled in no time.


At the time Anglican orders were declared invalid, I don’t think there was a TAC vs the AC. Pope Leo’s bull concerned Anglican orders in general, so yes, all Anglican orders are still considered invalid by the Catholic Church (with the occasional “gray area” for folks who were ordained by Old Catholics using their ordinary). In practice though, ordained Anglicans who convert and are admitted to Catholic Orders are re-ordained (even though there was at least one example of someone being conditionally re-ordained because of the aforementioned Old Catholic run-around)


This is because of something unrelated to the question of the validity of Anglican orders.

You were still bound to the Catholic form of marriage but did not observe it. From your post it would also seem that there was no dispensation from this requirement, and that no exception to the requirement existed in canon law. Consequently the marriage did not even have the appearance of validity according to our canonical norms. In context, this is what your priest would have meant by speaking of “the only marriage we did not recognize.” (Members of Eastern Orthodox Churches would have a similar problem in that their marriages must be celebrated before an Eastern Orthodox priest.)

Otherwise, the validity of Anglican orders would be irrelevant to the validity of any marriage celebrated within it, and as noted, “Marriages meeting the freedom and capacity and Baptism rules would also be valid Sacraments.” An Anglican and an unbaptized person who were free to marry could also marry validly in the Anglican church but not as a Sacrament (which is only between two baptized persons).


Does the TAC qualify as the “grey area” ordained by Old Catholics or not really?


Calling GKC!!!

Since the issue of Old Catholics got brought up, the first thing to understand is that the mere presence of an Old Catholic bishop wouldn’t be enough to validly ordain Anglican clergy. The ordinal must also have correct language that makes it clear what the intention is of the ordination. At the time Pope Leo declared Anglican orders invalid, it was over the use of the Edwardine ordinal, which used language that didn’t make it clear what the intention was. Looking at the ordinal used now, that intent is much clearer. It’s been brought up before that the Anglican ordinal now is at least as clear as the current Roman Catholic one. So assuming that the intent is no longer an issue with the ordinal (some would still find a reason to say it is I’m sure), then the presence of an Old Catholic bishop, who definitely has valid orders, would result in a validly ordained Anglican priest.

I know that there have certainly been Old Catholic bishops participating in TAC ordinations (as well as other Continuing Anglican branches). I do know people who have been confirmed in the TAC, later became Catholic, and weren’t re-confirmed (that’s by far the exception though, and not the rule). I also know people in the TAC who were confirmed there and when they asked someone in RCIA about it the facilitator wouldn’t even consider the possibility that they could have been validly confirmed (although the truth is, a lot of people don’t realize that the TAC is NOT part of the Episcopal Church or Anglican Communion, so many people see the word “Anglican” and immediately assume that it’s the same thing). From what I do hear about the reunion with Rome talks, the validity of orders isn’t a problem, and I’ve heard that from someone who is pretty involved in the discussions.

Individual Catholic priests seem to treat members of the TAC differently. Some treat them as any other Protestant group, others don’t. The thing is though, Rome hasn’t officially said anything about the TAC either way (that I’m aware of at least, I admit I haven’t been able to keep completely up to date on the current relations between the two), and they aren’t one of the groups listed in the front of the missal who are permitted to receive the Eucharist. That, to me, is enough of an answer right there.

Sorry for the really long post!!!


:smiley: You’re right. IMO, if you are speaking of the ‘mainstream’ Anglcian church (no offense intended to an TAC’s) their ordinals for priests have not moved beyond the point of ambiguity. Not only are they absent of ex adiuntis factors but even in the rite. Even the SA book, which has a ordinal that can perfectly copy our Catholic rite by selecting certain options cannot resist adding modifiers e.g. to the phrase used at the RC anointing of the hands “The Father anointed our Lord Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. May Jesus preserve you to sanctify the Christian people and to offer sacrifice to God” is added “sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving”.
The Anglican ordinals may still be valid without the sacrifice bit or with “spiritual sacrifices” but then, that’s not upto me to decide.
The TAC is different because often they add explicitly sacrificial elements in their ordinal and also have the advantage of their doctrine.


Without a valid priesthood, Consecration as it takes place in the Anglican “Mass” is not valid.

Now if the priest has obtained his Orders from an Eastern Rite Bishop, and many of them have, then it is a different matter.

I am sure some of the High Church Anglicans, and Episcopalians on board, will have a try at giving another answer. Just hang in there.



Actually, no Eastern Rite bishops (I’m assuming you really mean Eastern Orthodox) have participated in Anglican ordinations that I’m aware of. To do so would be to essentially leave the Orthodox faith (and if my memory serves me correctly, Orthodoxy also holds that one who ordains outside of where it is known that there are the true Sacraments loses his ability to ordain). Old Catholics have participated, as well as those in the PNCC (and I always hear about former Catholics participating as well, but I can’t remember any specific names so I have no idea if that’s actually true).


Three points:

  1. Now I am going back many years, maybe 50, but I thought I remembered hearing of Eastern Orthodox ordaining Anglican ministers.

  2. Ordaining Orthodoxy also holds that one who ordains outside of where it is known that there are the true Sacraments loses his ability to ordain). He loses his ability to ordain? (I don’t see why). The ordination is invalid? (I don’t see why).

  3. I saw recently a schimatic sect, now with branches in Fla, and Indiana (I think) has a bishop consecrated by a retired Eastern Orthodox. Of course, having that, the schimatic bishop could ordain priests, which he has done. The person in mind is from the New York area, where I am from, but I can’t recall his name, sect, or anything else about him.


ok then so Just one finial Question to make sure Im clear on it…In the case of an Extrerme Emergency (like Death) where a Catholic or Orthodox Priest is not Avialble would it be permited for a Catholic to recieve the Sacraments from a TAC priest?


Apostolicae Curae decreed that Anglican Orders are invalid due to defect of form and intention.

Is there some sort of revised Anglican Ordinal?


Almost all the Anglican Communion have revised their ordinals. I doubt many use the 1662 Ordinal anymore. As to whether the defects remain, I believe that in a large part they do, but I can see others having a different opinion. Not all the Anglican churches have kept the old form (or what was regarded to be the form) Also since then the “Dutch touch” (valid ordaining bishops from the Old Catholic Church) have been present at Anglican ordinations.


I have studied some recent ordinations, where the invalid 1662 form was used but with modifications, such as the exhortation to offer sacrifice for the living and the dead.

Why take the trouble to have Old Catholic bishops present if they don’t do something about the defect of form?


I don’t think Rome is going to look at this issue or specific ordinations again. The Anglican Church is further removed from what it was in the time of Leo XIII. Current practice is to welcome specific priests into the Catholic Church, even some who are married with families, but they conditionally re-ordain them nonetheless.
Conditional re-ordination is the way to go.


Which ordinal was this? TAC?

I *think *that if they did add something like that it would give due signification to the word “priest” in the ordinal?

This form had, indeed, afterwards added to it the words “for the office and work of a priest,” etc.; but this rather shows that the Anglicans themselves perceived that the first form was defective and inadequate. But even if this addition could give to the form its due signification, it was introduced too late

For once a new rite has been initiated…from which all idea of consecration and sacrifice has been rejected, the formula, “Receive the Holy Ghost”, no longer holds good, because the Spirit is infused into the soul with the grace of the Sacrament, and so the words “for the office and work of a priest or bishop”, and the like no longer hold good, but remain as words without the reality which Christ instituted.


The Anglicans just don’t get ‘matter’ and ‘form’.



I must confess that I was doing a quick search late at night, and haven’t yet relocated the site I visited! Thus I’m not sure which ordinal was being used. The ‘ordination liturgy’ did have a near-literal translation of the Roman canon [canon of the Mass, that is]; of that I can assure you.

Has the TAC ordinal been posted on the internet somewhere?


I first highly doubt that would be the case that neither a Catholic or Orthodox priest would be available but a TAC priest would. Part of the reason I don’t really blame Rome for not making any definite statements about the TAC is that it’s REALLY small (about 400,000 members). Considering Rome’s position on Anglican orders in general, it probably wouldn’t make much sense if you agree with and believe that position. If the orders are invalid you wouldn’t really be receiving Sacraments. Of course, if the orders are indeed valid, you would be receiving the Sacraments. I wonder which is better, taking the chance that what you are receiving is really invalid, or refusing to attempt to receive any Sacraments from a priest in a group not officially recognized as having valid orders and knowing that you haven’t disobeyed Church teaching in doing so…

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit