Why are Anglican Orders not valid?

I need a** brief **explanation as to why Anglican orders are not valid. Also some info on how they are affected by reports of Old Catholic Bishops attending Anglican ordinations.

Reading from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostolicae_Curae it seems Anglican orders are made without the intent of a sacrament (thus deficiency of intention).

That’s what I take from the reading.

The original Bull I found at papalencyclicals.net/Leo13/l13curae.htm

This is correct. That being said, Anglicans have offered several excellent responses to the validity of their orders and why they are valid.

The Patriarchate of Constantinople accepted the validity of Anglican orders in 1922. This caused much controversy and protest within Orthodoxy and from Rome. The Patriarchate arrived at his decision after the findings of his investigative team. It was his belief that if Anglican orders were invalid, then so were the orders of Catholics and the Orthodox. Today, the vast majority of Orthodox consider Anglican orders invalid.

Of course, the act of ordaining women to the priest hood and to the episcopate has pretty much settled the issue of validity when it comes to both the Orthodox and Catholics.

Where the issue gets complicated again are the places in which there has been male-only lines.

Apostolicae Curae held that apostolic succession had been lost with the introduction of a new ordinal under Edward VI. It is generally held that the intent can be ascertained from the stated intent of the church, and that ordinal said its intent was to continue the traditional order of priests. But the view expressed in AC was that the omission from the Edwardian ordinal of certain sacrificial language implied that the correct intent was not present. It was not the absence of this language, but the removal of it that was taken as indicating invalid intent.

(Come on, GKC, I’ve done my allotted task).


No, no. His job is to recite it all once more.

I think the answer to this is: the Vatican has repeated its view on the invalidity of Anglican orders since the involvement of Old Catholic bishops in Anglican consecrations, and indicated that it is appropriate for Catholics to believe in that invalidity. So from your point of view as a Catholic that’s that.

It seems that is likely that, per the Doctrinal Commentary on Ad Tuendam Fidem issued by then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger.

But a definitive statement on the Polish Pat/Dutch Touch is still something I await. Would bring closure.


Because the Anglican Ordinal clearly departs from the Roman Catholic teaching that the Presbyter is a “sacerdos” who offers sacrifices for the sins of the quick and the dead. He takes authority to preach the word and administer the two sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

Thus, the Anglican view of the role of the minister is very different from the Roman Catholic, and the Anglican minister is therefore (correctly) not recognized as a “priest” by Rome, although we colloquially call our presbyters “priests”.

Sisyphus comes to mind. Once more into the breach.

For a number of reasons, which normally are not considered in discussions in venues like this, in 1896, Pope Leo XIII issued an Apostolic Letter, Apostolicae curae, which made a number of assertions and judgements on Anglican orders, summed up by saying that they were absolutely null and utterly void. Hence Anglicans cannot confect such sacraments as require apostolic succession and valid orders. This judgement should be affirmed by all RCs, at the appropriate level of theological certainty. Anglicans are open to a wider variety of reactions.

The sad and lengthy story of the subject is woven from many strands: historical, political, personal and theological. What I deal with is the theological, in such places as this. The judgment on Anglican orders in AC was baaed upon a supposed invalidity of two elements required for a valid sacrament: an intertwined consideration of sacramental form and sacramental intent. Each was judged as invalid, but each has to be considered in conjunction with the other to reach that conclusion. Technical details are involved. The form of the sacrament, the Edwardine Ordinal, was not unique in not naming the specific order to be conveyed, or its specific authority. Other liturgies that did not do so were considered by Rome to adequately convey valid orders. But, as Picky has noted (well done), it was not the fact that those elements were absent from the Edwardine ordinal, but that they were (apparently) deliberately suppressed, that made the form invalid, in Rome’s eyes.

But the ordinal itself does not reflect sacramental intent, which inheres in the sacramental minister, in a particular sacramental action. As AC notes, this is normally considered an internal situation not accessible to judgement. If all other sacrament factors are normal; that is, valid in themselves, the sacramental intent is also considered to meet the standard for validity, to intend to do what the Church does (facere quod facit ecclesia, in that sacramental action. However, if there is some sacramental factor that might be used as an indicator of the internal intent of the minister, this might be considered as a means to permit a determinatio ex adiunctus of the sacramental intent. In AC, this was judged to be the use of the invalid form of the Ordinal, in the consecration of Archbishop Parker in 1559. ++Parker is a bottleneck in the Anglican episcopate.

It is, in fact,not obvious just what sacramental intent is meant, in AC, but the intent of the consecrators of ++Parker is taken as the correct interpretation. The work of (then Jesuit priest ) Francis Clark, ANGLICAN ORDERS AND DEFECT OF INTENTION is the best exposition on this point. There are a couple of other books I normally recommend, but I will refrain, at this time

Much historical detail and other interesting minutia are passed over here, though, heaven knows, I’ve not always been so reticent.

Ok, Picky Picky. How much is the charge.


I think we agreed a penny. You may add it to the collection. Don’t suppose that will do me any good in the long run (although a penny’s a penny for all that) but I can’t help that. You haven’t fired me yet, anyway.

Roman Catholic theologians will now admit the sacrificial stuff was added into the Pontifical late (11th-12th century) but still state their belief that this is the doctrine of the “Mass” that they have always taught, and therefore in order for something to be a true ordination, this has to be a charism either implicitly or explicitly conferred in the ordination rite.

Since the Church of England’s rite removed those parts and very much broadened the priest’s role, but make no mention of what Rome considers the central duty of the priest - offering propitiation - then Rome is right to say that, in her view, Anglican orders are null and void.

Whether Rome is biblical or not is another matter.

Tenure continues.


Some may be. But it is too difficult too know whose are valid and whose aren’t (ie there are bishops that have been ordaining priests with invalid orders).

Basically there are so many invalid orders that the church says we must consider them all invalid for practical purposes.

Either you believe in the divine relay baton of hands-on-heads or you believe the visible church makes manifest God’s will and unction which is already there.

Because I say so.

(That’s 4 words. Can anyone go briefer than that?)


Ha! That won’t get me far with someone who says they are. When this issue was first considered in the 1890’s, what was it that caused the Church to say that they weren’t valid?

The stated reasons, the logic in Apostolicae curae, are as I said in post #10 above.Anglicans were said to have lost apostolic succession, by the use of a sacramentally invalid form, which demonstrated a sacramentally invalid intent. This made subsequent orders invalid.


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