What gives a non-Catholic church apostolic succession?


What, specifically, gives a church apostolic succession? In particular, which of the separated churches have apostolic succession that goes back to the 12 Apostles? How is it that even though they are separated, they continue to have it? What about the SSPX and other splinter “Catholic” groups?

What kinds of things destroy the succession, or break it? How exactly did the Anglican communion lose it? Can an Anglican community regain apostolic succession by having a bishop ordained by a validly consecrated Orthodox bishop? Have any of them done so?

Inquiring minds want to know!

Tiber Swim Team, Class of 2002


I would guess one would lose AS, by simply throwing out the current legal bishop of a church and replacing him with their own.


Some Anglicans claim that Orthodox Bishops have ordained theres, and even some Methodists claim that Wesley was ordained secretely by an Orthodox Bishop, however none of this holds up to snuff.

I’m not sure what the Church specifically says about other groups, but Rome has said that Anglicans do not have valid orders.

This is my opinion, but I think Anglicans and Wesleyans completely lost succession after they began to ordain women. There may have been some with valid orders up until then, but that’s when I think the orders were obliterated.

Again, the last part was my opinion.

Pace e Bene


I know some Anglican bishops are ordained by Utrecht Old Catholic bishops, which may have apostolic succession, but it originally lost it by deliberately using an invalid form of succession for a while, I believe, though the Catholic form is now used. Whether thinks have changed since the statement that they were invalid, I don’t know but I doubt it given some of the people appointed (Bishop Spong for a start), plus there’s no way to remove people so there was a case recently where an Anglican vicar converted to Hinduism and was allowed to carry on, I read a survey that stated that only 97% of Anglican clergy believe in God :frowning:


With respect to the Anglican situation, let me see if I can help youall out.

According to Leo XIII’s *Apostalicae Curae *(1896), the Anglican Church lost Apostolic Succession when they began using the first form of the Edwardine Ordinal to ordain/consecrate clergy. This rite was judged to be deficient in form and intent. When the last Anglican bishop who had been consecrated with the Roman Pontifical died, the Anglican Church’s Succession was said to be broken. The form of the Ordinal was changed about 100 years later, for entirely different reasons (that is, the defect in form was removed), but, according to Rome, this doesn’t help.

Joint consecrations between the Anglican Communion and the Utrecht Old Catholics began in 1932, and between the Anglican Communion and the PNCC a few years later. Both the PNCC and the Old Catholics, at that time, were regarded by Rome as possessing valid orders.

Anglicans do not generally claim to have received any infusion of Orthodox lines, and given the general Orthodox view of Orders outside the True Church, I don’t see how there could be any.

I have no sympathay for the Episcoapl Church, but the female clergy person who was claimimg to be both Muslim (if we’re thinking of the same case) and Anglican, was told by her female bishop person to go and sit on herself.

Attempting to ordain women, or being a steam powered fruit cake (Spong) would not remove Apostolic Succession, until there were no validly consecrated bishops to ordain or consecrate proper perons. At such a time as there were no valid bishops left, the Succession would be lost. And Spong, if he was validly consecrated, wouldn’t lose his orders by becoming a dingbat. He would have to be deposed.

Anglicans have a different view of Apostolicae Curae.



AS requires bishops. Any church that was founded by a former priest or monk is automatically removed from the possibility. At some point, the Anglican Church bishops took a vow of servitude to the King instead of obediance to the Church and the Pope. That broke the succession. As said earlier, they changed the ritual as well. Any groups that spun off from Anglicans therefore do not have it

Scismatic groups have valid AS as they still ahve valid Bishops.

Some Protestant groups have an understanding of it even if they no longer have it.


Your opinion is not that of the RCC. The reason the RCC holds that Anglicans do not have Apostolic Succession can be found in Apostolicae Curae, and the interacting defects of form and intention, in the Edwardine Ordinal, as I mentioned above. It has nothing to do with the Supreme Head Act of 1534. That would merely make Anglicans schismatics, and, as noted, being schismatic doesn’t break Apostolic Sucrssion. Else, the Old Catholics wouldn’t have it.



Our priest (Episcopal) talked on this one day and I wish I could remember all he told us. Maybe I can bend his ear on Sunday if I need to help take down the Altar (not literally) and see what he says.


I think it was a different case in the Church of England where a male vicar/priest became Hindu and was as far as I know allowed to keep his position



What gives a non-Latin Church apostolic succession?

In the case of the Orthodox Catholics, the Apostles.:thumbsup:


I’m willing to believe it. Few things would surprise me, in official Anglican-dom.



Let me highlight “succession” in this conversation–one person has to succeed another in an unbroken line for there to be succession. Valid bishops pass on apostolicity when they lay hands on the next bishop–this quality having been passed forward bishop by bishop all the way back to the Apostles. So even though initially the Anglicans had AS (though schmismatically), when their orders became invalid due to defect no later repair of that defect could repair the break in succession. Once broken, the connection back to the Apostles is irretrievably lost.


Unless, of course, it is supplied by a source possessing it. As the statement made by the primate of the Utrecht OCs said, back when joint consecrations began in 1932.

And, the Anglican view of *Apostolicae Curae *is not quite the same as the RC view. To be sure, a RC should hold with what appeared over Leo’s signature.



To be sure the venerable GKC has a much better grasp than I do on all of this.

He correctly points out that the Anglican Communion (or much of it) may have valid orders due to the infusion of the recognized Old Catholic succession coupled with the change in the Prayer Book fixing the deficiency (from Leo’s point of view). There were already some (Catholic theologians) at the time of Leo’s pronouncement questioning it but as the article notes below and GKC states there are for the reasons above more Roman Catholics who feel that Anglican Orders are valid (Old Catholic infusion, etc). See article below.


To the OP, there are a number of “Old Catholic” churches in the US that are not recognized by Utrecht that probably from a Roman Catholic point of view have valid orders. That is they can trace their orders back through Bishops (Roman Catholic and Old Catholic) and have used the Catholic rites to ensure validity. These groups range from conservative to outright really liberal. They end up with the same succession (Rebiba) that 91 % of Roman Catholic Bishops have (due to a Pope who consecrated many Bishops causing other lines to die out).

However, Fr. Mitch Pacwa once pointed out on ETWN in answer to a question (paraphrase), “don’t get so caught up in whether a particular group has valid orders. From a Catholic point of view you should be concerned with whether they are in communion with the Holy Father”.

Now, from an Orthodox point of view I seem to recall an Orthodox saying that they did not feel Roman Catholic orders were valid. Not sure of that but as I recall it has to do with a slight variation in terms of how Orthodox see apostolic succession.


As an Anglican, I ought to be wary of generalizations, but here comes one.

The Orthodox are more likely to hold to a Cyprian view of Apostolic Succession than an Augustinian one. Hence they tend to view sacraments outside Orthodoxy as not able to convey grace. They tend to feel that both the RC and the Anglican orders are thus “empty”, though capable of being made valid, within and through Orthdoxy.

Except for those who believe something else.



:smiley: Very Anglican answer GKC!



I don’t think your view is that of the Roman Catholic Church. GKC is correct in his interpretation and has studied the matter extensively. Orders have nothing to do with who murdered whom. You may want to read the Wiki articles for a better understanding of issues concerning Anglican orders, etc. Apostolic Succession is a fascinating subject and one that is viewed differently by RC’s and EO’s (as GKC notes).

Let me give you just one example. The Polish National Catholic Church USA (Old Catholics) have valid orders (according to Rome), are not under a Roman Catholic Bishop, can receive communion in an RC Church, and are not reordained when converting to the Roman Catholic Church. While all of this is true there is only limited intercommunion and so no RC should be receiving Communion or other sacraments in a PNCC Church unless they are in danger of death.


Are you referring to the Polish National Catholic Church? That is a schismatic group and they cannot receive communion in a Roman Catholic Church, although the priests have valid but illicit orders. If they come back to the Catholic Church, they do not have to be re-ordained.


They can indeed receive communion. See link below from the Boston Archdiocese (Roman Catholic):

The Pastoral Guidelines concerning admission of Polish National Catholics to sacraments in the Roman Catholic Church (Canon 844)

In the course of the Polish National Catholic-Roman Catholic dialogue, “it seemed clear to the Roman Catholic participants on the basis of the evidence that the bishops of the Polish National Catholic Church are validly ordained bishops in apostolic succession.” In light of this the National Conference of Catholic Bishops inquired whether in the judgment of the Apostolic See the canon cited would apply to the Polish National Catholic Church. In due course, Cardinal Edward I. Cassidy, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, sent a reply in behalf of the Holy See, saying “there are sufficient reasons to respond affirmatively to the request.”


There are caveats so you need to read through the whole thing (eg can’t be ex RC who were under sanction and then became PNCC).

Also this may help from adoremus.org/CommGuide.html but they are quoting the National Council of Bishops Guidelines:
Members of the Orthodox Churches, the Assyrian Church of the East, and the Polish National Catholic Church are urged to respect the discipline of their own Churches. According to Roman Catholic discipline, the Code of Canon Law does not object to the reception of Communion by Christians of these Churches (canon 844 Section 3).*

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