When did the valid apostolic sucession of the Church of England loose it's validity?

This may be a redundant question and the answer may be “as soon as they broke authority with Rome” but I have always wondered the following : IF apostolic succession comes through validly ordained Bishops with a traceable line back to the Apostles then why do we say that the Bishops in the Church of England are not validly ordained? Surely they can trace their line all the way back because when the Church of England split the Bishops who sided with the King of England were validly ordained or did they excommunicate themselves at that point and so nullify their ordination and the valid succession? Luther of course was different since he was not a Bishop. I have always wondered why the Eastern/Western Church split was called a schism but the C of E leaving Rome was considered a true split and made them ( those siding with the C of E) Protestants?

I think it has to do with the fact that Anglicans view the Eucharist very differently, not a sacrifice, consubstantiation, etc.
But someone else can explain it better than me.

Well, for one thing the EO and RC Churches trace their roots simultaneously back to the beginnings of Christianity; the Churches that split from each other were already established, IOW, not one splitting to form a new Church. The EO Church doesn’t trace apostolic succession through Rome IOW. And since the Bishops of the C of E split over doctrinal/dogmatic issues to begin with, they were not merely schismatic but in heresy as well.

The answer, in the RCC’s opinion, is given in Apostolicae Curae, by Leo XIII. It is not perfectly clear at precisely what point it occurred, but the consensus is with the consecration of Archbishop Parker, in 1559, using the Edwardine Ordinal. From that point, consecrations/ordinations were considered invalid, for a set of intertwined technical reasons.


The ordination of women is also a problem when speaking of apostolic succession, since they can’t be validly ordained.

This. The Anglicans raised a rather good objection to Apostolicae Curae, I might add.

Yep. And the impact of the Old Catholic and PNCC bishops involved with Anglican ordinations is also rarely considered by most Catholics.

BUT if they STILL don’t believe in the sacrifice and transubstantiation where they get the succession or dutch touch doesn’t matter…

I think that transubstantiation is an unrelated issue. The original argument is that changes to the form of their episcopal ordinations rendered all of their ordinations invalid.

Not completely so. If you are thinking of Saepius Officio. But it makes some good points.

As I always do, I recommend Hughes’ two books, ABSOLUTELY NULL AND UTTERLY VOID, for the best exposition of the history of what went on, who did what and why, and STEWARDS OF THE LORD, for the theology involved. Hughes presents the Anglican position (potentially) though he was, by then, a RC priest. First Anglican priest to be ordained RC sub conditione, after AC was issued.

Clark’s ANGLICAN ORDERS AND DEFECT OF INTENTION is the best exposition of the whys and whats, from a RC perspective.


And if they do, they do matter.

I’ll expand a little, in the next reply.


Worked like this.

Apostolicae Curae found two related objections to the validity of Anglican orders, from the point the supposed invalid form on the Edwardine Ordinal was used. The form of the consecration/ordination rite was judged invalid, due to not mentioning the power of the priesthood to offer the sacrificial Mass. But this was not uncommon, in liturgical rites which the RCC does recognize as validly conveying valid orders, other things being equally valid (Saepius Officio mentioned this). So the question of valid intent was intertwined with that of the liturgical form.

Valid sacramental intent is, as *Apostolicae Curae * says, an interior condition of the sacramental minister, and not necessarily subject to positive examination or judgment. The minimum required for valid sacramental intent is for the minister to intend facere quod facit eccelesia, to intend to do what the Church intends, in the action. Since intent is interior, valid intent is normally assumed, if all other aspects of the sacramental action (minister, form, matter, subject) are themselves demonstrably valid. However, if there is some external aspect that permits a judgment of the intent, permitting a determinatio ex adiunctis, that may permit a judgment of invalid intent. In the logic of Apostolicae Curae, that was the use of the Ordinal. Given the circumstances in which the Ordinal was written, and by whom, it was assumed that the intent of anyone who used that form sacramentally was (by determinatio ex adiunctis) considered sacramentally invalid. Thus, through the joined questions of form and intent, each leading to a determination of invalidity, the orders were declared invalid. Had the Ordinal not been written, and the Pontificale Romanum continued in use, the logic of AC would have been necessarily different. Not that the Orders would have been declared valid, necessarily, but some other point might have served.

The supposed defective form in the Ordinal was cured, in the 1662 revision to the Ordinal, for reasons unrelated to this question. The logic of the Dutch touch, then, would be that the form is now not what it was, and one might logically assume that OC bishops, validly though illicitly consecrated, would convey valid though illicit orders to Anglican bishops, who would transmit them in turn. Logically, that is. I am not aware of any formal, official RC pronouncement on that. But it is quite clear, in the statements of the first OC joint consecrators, that their intent was sacramentally valid.

It is a long, sad story, involving theology, history, politics and personalities. Much of history is like that.


Anglicanus Catholicus

It is worth noting that in Timothy Ware’s book on The Orthodox Church explains that even the Orthodox consider Anglican orders to be invalid as well.


Many Anglicans do believe in the physical/material, as well as the spiritual, Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist. Many, disregarding the 39 Articles, have no objection to Transubstantiation . We yield to the Mystery of the Eucharist without a need to use Aristotle’s Metaphysics to explain how the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ, while still having the appearance of bread and wine.



Keep in mind that we, Anglicans, know that our orders are valid. The Catholic or Orthodox claim that they are invalid does not have an effect on us.

Think of it this way: If Anglicans and Eastern Orthodox declared Catholic Orders are invalid, would that cause you to believe your orders are invalid? I’m sure the answer would be no. You would still believe your Orders are valid.


Besides having an Episcopal priest tell me it is precisely because they believe they have Apostolic succession, that a confirmed Catholic need only to be received into TEC and not re-confirmed, I’ve had another, a former Roman priest, explain the Eucharist in TEC to me in much the same way you did Anna. He said Episcopalians truly believe Jesus’s body and blood are present and when the Episcopal Eucharistic minister says, "The Body of Christ, the bread of heaven and the Blood of Christ, the cup of salvation, the response is “Amen”. Which of course means “I believe”. He said they just don’t have an elaborate doctrine saying how the mystery occurs. Only that it does. But all that aside he said no one is interrogating anyone when they come forward so anyone who feels so called to receive is welcome. It’s one of the things I most like about TEC.

That’s a good point. You believe your orders are valid. Catholics and Orthodox do not. And visa versa if you declared theirs invalid, they would still believe theirs were valid. I suppose that’s all a part of what it means to have faith. Peace.

From what I understand Bishops in England were excommunicated and therefore has no power to hold their office (i.e. their sees), thus apostolic succession ceased.

On the Nullity of Anglican Orders - Pope Leo XIII

That needs to come, however, with a disclaimer. The Orthodox do not really have a concept of validity. There is a bit of gray area, when it comes to the question of whether sacramental grace can exist outside of the Orthodox Church (including valid apostolic succession). In retrospect (after a schism has ended), the answer seems to be yes; regarding the same question applied to situations in the present, the answer seems to tend towards no or a cautious yes.

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