31 July 2016

Anglican Orders: footnote

I am unsure that the implicit insistence of the Church of England itself, since the 1990s, that Leo XIII was right to condemn Anglican Orders, quite ties up all the loose ends. 

Although the Church of England was already moving in an unhealthy direction, when, in the 1950s it established partial communion with the interdenominational Church of South India, it at least did so with the proviso that only South Indian ministers who were episcopally ordained would be able to officiate in English Anglican churches. And when, in the late 1960s, the first attempt was made to do a corporate deal with the Methodists, there was at the basis of that scheme a service deliberately constructed to be an adequate Conditional Ordination of the Methodist ministers. I remember Eric Kemp, then Dean of Worcester, a competent canonist, explaining this very lucidly to the clergy of the diocese of Oxford.

So there we had some sort of corporate and formal Anglican witness to the necessity for Catholic Order of episcopal Ordination. But this witness was one of the casualties of the following quarter century, as I demonstrated in my previous piece. Anglo-Catholics nevertheless claimed that, despite any misbehaviour of official Anglicanism, Anglican Orders were technically valid on Catholic grounds which had been ignored in Apostolicae curae. This claim received oblique support from an unusual quarter when sedevacantists argued that the principles of Apostolicae curae render doubtful or worse the Orders of the 'post-Conciliar Church'. Efforts to refute this thesis are hampered by the different interpretations which different Catholic writers have put upon the logic and argument of the bull.

And, since the bull Apostolicae curae there has been the Dutch Touch: the participation in Anglican Consecrations of Dutch schismatics with irreproachably valid orders and using a formula from the pre-Conciliar Roman Pontifical, the adequacy of which was strongly urged by none other than Cardinal Gasparri, the great Begetter of modern Canon Law.

The formal decision of S John Paul II, upon the advice of the CDF in the Leonard case, was to proceed on the basis that the 'Dutch Touch' rendered it no longer certain that Apostolicae curae still applied to the dutchified situation. This papal precedent cannot easily be treated as non-existent. A very distinguished  and traditionalist Catholic theologian wrote to me, even before the Leonard decision, that the "applicability of its [Apostolicae curae] teaching to [Anglican] orders today is not itself unconditionally proposed by the contemporary Roman church" (emphasis original).

A factor of which few people seem to be aware is that the bull Apostolicae curae, in the text published in Acta Sanctae Sedis 29 (1896-7), explicitly limited its scope to 'discipline', not doctrine. A distinguished Catholic theologian wrote to me that the ASS "is the official version of the text. ... However, in the collected edition of the Acta Leonis XIII the word is omitted ..." Dr E C Messenger wrote "The omission would seem to have been deliberate". It would be interesting to know who it was that contrived this deft and significant excision; my nominated suspect is Merry del Val, operating in the interests of Cardinal Vaughan, who perceived that the limitation could provide an opportunity to question the doctrinal force of the bull. There is something which is not quite kosher about these proceedings. 

Some writers, both those ferociously arguing against Anglican Orders and sedevacantists ferociously denying the Orders of the 'Conciliar Church' as if their very lives depended upon it, give the impression that God has an eagle eye which he constantly has open to the possibility that there might be a technical detail rendering a sacrament invalid. I must confess to having quite the opposite suspicion. Sacramental grace, I think, is, by the Divine Will, rather like water ... perhaps like the flood water that just keeps getting into the homes of  poor people in Somerset or Cumberland. It so often seems to find ways of seeping through or getting round the side, even despite the best attempts of human wilfulness to block it out. That, surely, is the basic and untechnical meaning of S Bellarmine's famous teaching on Intention, in which he demonstrates that even a heretic who believed that the [Calvinist] Church of Geneva was the True Church, could (given adequate Matter, Form, and Minister) validly confect the Sacraments.

I accept, as the C of E now implicitly does, Leo XIII's general proposition that Anglican Orders have now to be categorised, at least and certainly juridically, as not identical to Catholic Orders. Official Anglicanism has made its bed, and individual Anglicans can hardly whinge if they are required to lie upon it. This does not, in my view, necessarily entail the proposition that no individual in the Anglican Ministry is truly a Catholic priest. The very evident signs of Sacramental Grace within Anglicanism might suggest otherwise. It might even indicate (another suggestion I have heard from a distinguished and traditional Catholic theologian) that Deus supplevit per desiderium.

But there can be no question that sacramental certainty needs to be secured and assured. The whole Anglican business has now become far too messy for this need to be fudged. And after all, it is not exactly the fault of the Catholic Church that there is so much confusion about the status of Anglican clergy. Rome never invited the Church of England to change the rites of ordination unilaterally in the sixteenth century; nor, in twentieth, to introduce women into the transmission of orders and to make endless public statements about the interchangeability of Anglican and Protestant ministries. Anglicans have a long history of wanting, not just to have things both ways, but of wanting to have everything in as many ways as it is possible to have them. 

But what is to be done?

We are not the first to meet these problems. After his conversion, Newman "could not say that Anglican orders were invalid", and "I was surprised, when I got to Rome in 1846 to find various persons there in the belief that they were valid and none, I think, clear that they were not" (and this despite the assertion to be made in 1896 by Apostolicae curae that the matter had "iam pridem ab Apostolica Sede plene fuisse et cognitam et iudicatam"). His "difficulty" about being reordained was removed by the assurance that, although ordination would not be explicitly conditional, the 'condition' would be "implied ... in the Church's intention".

Conditional Ordination seems to me by far the most Catholic solution to this matter; Fr Aidan Nichols' original idea was the tactfully private rectification of the Orders of English Anglican priests seeking Full Communion. Since the diaconate does not impinge upon sacramental validity, diaconal ordination need not be part of the procedure; readers will recall that S John Paul II with his own hand struck out that provision in the draft documentation put before him for dealing with Bishop Graham Leonard. 

In other words, I suggest that the best process is exactly what Basil Hume, on instructions from Rome, did for Graham Leonard: Conditional Ordination to the Presbyterate well away from the public eye and in his private chapel

(It may be remembered that this arrangement was the result of the CDF receiving copies of the entire Dutch Tutch archive from Pusey House, plus evidence about the theological views of the Anglican hierarchs involved in the processes leading from the Douch Touch up to Bishop Graham's presbyteral ordination; and sending it all to consultors whose vota formed the basis of the decision. Cardinal Hume subsequently said that other Anglican clergy who could provide identical documentation could expect to receive the same treatment ... but that the process would take very much longer than the abbreviated processes which were within the competences of the English Bishops. Anglican enquirers took the hint!)

I felt that the very public 'Re-Ordinations' in places like Westminster Cathedral were indecorous, insulting to Anglicans, and had an unfortunate public appearance of rubbing their noses in it.

I sha'n't accept comments except from Anglicans. 


motuproprio said...

Since I have never renounced, nor been asked to renounce, Anglican orders, can I slip under the wire and simply comment that Mgr Graham Leonard was perfectly content to lay on hands in the modern Roman rite of ordination upon men whom as an Anglican bishop he had personally ordained to the Anglican presbyterate.

SP Turner said...

Thank you for this footnote and it's parent post. Last week I was in St John Lateran, after two weeks in Norcia as the only Anglican on a course there. I found my self pondering this or really being hit with the thought while standing beneath a statue of Leo XIII. I don't know where it will end. Fr Steve.

Tom Broughton said...

Please tell me what "conditional ordination" mean.

BobBrookes said...

Conditional Ordination would obviously make sense if there is any doubt - After all we already have conditional Baptism in cases of doubt as to validity. As a young man I understood that this was not a problem, but the Dutch situation did indeed put an enormous spanner in the works.

Mike Hurcum said...

In the matter of the Anglican order has any Pope said they were not licit? Anglican ordinations I mean. Is it not then a matter of Faith and Morals. Was the board of four who investigated the history, the line that exists down the ages from pre-Elizabethan the first times wrong in their investigation? When the schismatic dutch touch made priests then that might make the Anglican priests for a time. What then the Anglican Bishops from whence came their authority? Bishops can make priests but priests cannot make bishops. Is there a history of three Anglican bishops with each one having a pedigree from a dutch touch trio completing the circle as it seems for dutch touched continuing bishops on ad finitum? I think one might write the line of truly consecrated priests died a slow meandering death. What I see at this time is a resurgent back slide into women priest are valid.

Matthew Roth said...

As Fr. Hunwicke has noted before, the Holy See never investigated his episcopal orders.

RichardT said...

Mike Hurcum asks:
"Is there a history of three Anglican bishops with each one having a pedigree from a dutch touch trio completing the circle"

There is an argument that only one is needed, not three; there was a very old Papal authorisation (I think it is in Bede) for English bishops to be consecrated by only one bishop (probably due to their frequent martyrdom and the difficulty of getting three together).

I don't know if it was ever specifically rescinded, although I suppose it effectively was by later general pronouncements such as the codifications of canon law.

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Indeed; the English Vicars Apostolic were usually consecrated by one bishop accompanied by two presbyters!!

jasoncpetty said...

Is re-ordination (or conditional re-ordination) prospective only or is it nunc pro tunc?

Andy said...

I also wonder how far the "Dutch Touch" goes. To priests ordained by those said bishops?

Matthew Kirby said...

Dear Fr Hunwicke,

As I am a Continuing Anglican, happily outside the mainstream "Anglican Communion", I am unsure whether or not you would consider that I fit the criterion to comment. Nevertheless, you are obviously able to delete this is if you feel I do not.

(For those who do not know what a Continuing Anglican is, it is someone who belongs to one of the jurisdictions formed by those Anglicans that appealed, upon the onset of the ordination of "priestesses", to certain canons of the ancient Church dealing with with what to do when under a heresiarch. Specifically, the canonical principle was that if one finds oneself under a bishop who has defected from the Catholic Church and Faith or been excommunicated for heresy, one is not only free to repudiate their jurisdiction but obliged to do so and submit to an orthodox bishop. Anglicans in the 1970s in North America believed that the official and formal change to Orders made by Anglican bodies there was manifestly contrary to the Vincentian Canon and undermined the Apostolic Succession and validity of sacraments. Thus, pursuant to the canonical and theological principles just outlined, they could no longer recognise ECUSA or the Anglican Church of Canada as being particular Churches with certain sacraments, and effectively placed themselves under the jurisdiction of the nearest orthodox Anglican Bishop who was willing to help in rescuing the Church, Albert Chambers. He proceeded to consecrate, with the assistance and consent of other orthodox bishops, men to whom he could devolve his emergency-jurisdiction. From this act came churches such as mine, the Anglican Catholic Church, and also the Traditional Anglican Communion. These two were the only such bodies to have, eventually, membership in the tens of thousands and an international presence.)

The argument you have made, Father, in the previous post, suffers from some ambiguity. You could either mean that the actions in the 1990s by mainstream Anglicans rendered their ministry invalid in Catholic terms from that point on, or that they proved it had always been invalid. Their are problems either way, but let me tackle these possible interpretations in reverse order.

The problem with the assumption that the Porvoo agreement and other actions such as ordaining women to the priesthood retrospectively define Anglican Orders as non-Catholic and non-Apostolic, is that these actions required formal changes to the previously established Faith and Practice of the C of E. That is, they were self-consciously innovative and a change to previous norms. Otherwise, indeed, they would not have been necessary acts at all. For example, before this, the C of E had, consistently and as a canonical norm, re-ordained (and not sub conditione) Protestant ministers before they could minister sacramentally in it but received RC priests (and one bishop) in their orders. And, as you yourself noted, earlier apparent exceptions were qualified by caveats that limited the scope of non-Episcopally derived ministry. These acts must have significance on your premise -- the reasonable one that actions often speak louder than words, even in theology -- and so should be taken to characterise Anglican Orders before the decisions were taken to institute deliberately new practices. In other words, the new practices characterise the Orders in a new way, thus signifying a genuine theological shift, not a rewriting of history.

As to the other possible interpretation, that since the 1990s the C of E has made its Orders null and void from that point by validating Apostolicae Curae after a delay, the reasoning given here seems to me to suffer from some logical lacunae. I say this despite the fact that my own Church considers all ordinations, including of males, in an Anglican body as uncertain once that body has changed its sacerdotium by introducing priestesses.

Matthew Kirby said...

cont'd ...

The argument you have given takes this basic form: The RCC has said that Anglican orders are not the same as its orders (or any Apostolic orders). The C of E has said that Anglican orders are equivalent to certain non-Episcopal orders. Therefore the C of E agrees with the RCC that its orders are not equivalent to theirs.

But this does not logically follow at all, unless one adds the suppressed premise that the C of E does this believing that non-episcopal orders cannot be equivalent to Catholic orders. But this premise, as a survey of the relevant ecumenical theologising makes clear, is not the implicit or explicit assumption made. On the contrary, rather than accepting this disjunction, many theologians, including Roman Catholic ones, believe that there is sufficient evidence in Scripture and Tradition for us to infer that Apostolic Succession and sacramental-pastoral ministry can not be considered to be absolutely dependent on what they sometimes call the "pipeline" model of episcopal, manual succession of ordination. Instead, they argue that a particular churches Apostolicity, Catholicity and sacramental vitality must be assessed in a more holistic fashion, allowing more for non-standard "vertical" modes of God's action and denying an exclusive dependence on the "horizontal" traditional modes. In short, they propose to "elevate" the Catholic perception of at least some Protestant ministries to virtual equality with Catholic ministry, rather than either accepting their radical difference or claiming that Catholic priesthood is, like Protestant pastorates, no more than a ministry of the word anyway.

However much we may criticise or doubt this ecumenical theology, its presence in the minds of those doing practical ecumenism must be taken into account to fairly determine the intended meanings of their words and actions.

And there is another problem. Burrowing down further into the specifics of your argument would yield this: Pope Leo XIII condemned Anglican orders on the basis of their purported complete and formal rejection of all sacerdotal implications in the Ordinal. The C of E now teaches that the Apostolic Succession of Faith and Order and thus sacramental validity can exist in a Church without the continuous episcopal succession. Therefore the C of E agrees with pope Leo's above assessment.

But this is a non sequitur as it stands. The necessity or otherwise of the continuous succession of the laying on of hands by bishops to a valid ordination is a distinct question from that of whether presbyters and bishops are sacerdotes. The decision of that Pope had nothing to do with any Anglican claim to have bishops despite not having the manual succession, as no such claim was made or perceived to be made.

So, Father, you will have to excuse me for being entirely unpersuaded by the concerns you have expressed here that what I do each Mass has now been shown to be, however "nice" and perhaps even spiritually beneficial in some general way (as the RCC is willing to grant), fundamentally if unintentionally fraudulent. And an invitation to material idolatry at the Eucharistic Adoration.

I hope you will excuse the rather lengthy, pedestrian and laboured way I have made my points. I am not the incredibly literate and classically trained priest that you are: instead my background is science and mathematics.

Pax et bonum,

Fr Matthew Kirby

Matthew Kirby said...

PS: I forgot to say that making the recent innovations of the Anglican Communion evidence that its orders were invalid ab initio would be like saying that the defection of whole churches in the ancient East to Nestorianism after the Council of Ephesus proved that they had always been heretics. Particular churches can in fact change and undermine their Catholicity.