It’s actually possible that some Anglican Orders may be valid again, and the validity of Anglican Orders may yet be fully restored.
In 1552, the Church of England began using a rite (the Edwardine Ordinal) which was defective in form (and, likely, in intent). Form and intent are two of of the five requirements for the validity of any Sacrament (the others being valid recipient, matter, and minister).
Prior to this, all Anglican bishops had valid Orders. When these valid bishops began ordaining men using the defective Edwardine form, the ordinations were not valid. 110 years later, the rite was corrected, and seems to be valid according to the understanding of the Catholic Church, but it hasn’t mattered because the Anglican Church had no valid bishops remaining. They may have restored valid form, but they no longer had any valid ministers.
However, that may be changing. The Anglican Church has retained the practice (from the Nicene Council) of having at least three consecrators when ordaining a bishop (though it’s common to have more than three). It’s not unusual in these Ecumenical days for one of the consecrators to be from a communion with valid Orders (such as the Old Catholics). If the current Anglican form and intent are, indeed, valid (which they appear to be, but the Church has never said one way or another) AND there’s at least one valid bishop doing the ordination, **you have a *bona-fide 100% *genuine Anglican bishop - absolutely valid Holy Orders **(we’ll assume he’s a baptized male).
The mathematically brilliant aspect of the Nicene 3-consecrator rule is that the line of succession purifies itself over time. So the Anglicans might get their Orders back.
Here’s how it works according to pure probability…
Suppose (for sake of discussion) there are 100 Anglican bishops, and 10 have valid Orders. Each time a bishop dies or retires, another is ordained, so the total number does not change. If you pick three consecrators at random, there’s a 30% chance at least one of them will be valid. Approx. every three consecrations thus produces one additional valid bishop. So when three ordinations take place, there are now 11 valid bishops - and the probability of selecting a valid consecrator goes up to 33%. Do three more ordinations and you get one more valid bishop - now you have 12, and the chance of selecting a valid bishop goes up to 36% (I’m rounding off - it’s not exactly three ordinations - it’s a bit less by now).
By the time you get 34 valid bishops (a little more than 1/3) then every ordination is statistically 102% likely to include at least one valid bishop. 66 ordinations later, you ought to have all valid bishops.
(again, I’m rounding off - there’s always the chance that one of the deceased/retired bishops was one of the valid ones, so the pool of valid bishops will have some setbacks that aren’t accounted for here, but that just slows us down a bit; we’re still guaranteed a 100% valid college of bishops eventually.)
And, if you have more than three consecrators (a very common practice) then the line purifies itself much more rapidly. If one in ten bishops is valid, but you have ten consecrators, you have a 100% chance of having at least one valid consecrator. EVERY ordination should produce a valid bishop (and the probability of an invalid ordination diminishes very rapidly).
Of course, as long as you have at least three invalid bishops, there’s a possibility of an invalid ordination, but it gets statistically less and less likely. If one out of 20 bishops were invalid, and three consecrators were used, the chance of selecting three invalid bishops is less than two-tenths of one percent. By the time several generations have been ordained, the possibility of an invalid ordination is so small to render it virtually impossible.
Of course, if you always have a guaranteed-valid bishop (such as an Old Catholic) then you always have a valid ordination. If Anglicans did this every time, their Orders would be restored in one generation.
Anglicans may have lost their Orders in 1552, but they might be getting them back…