29 July 2009

Apostolicae curae

Tomorrow, the second half of my piece on the status of the Catechism of the Catholic Church within Ordinariates should pop up. I am in two minds whether to follow it with a discussion of the present juridical status of Apostolicae cura and of the decree of assent which it is currently seen as demanding. But I suspect that this would be useless, because the two main groups have already decided what they're going to do; some people have decided that they need the Apostolic Constitution and that reordination is a perfectly sensible price to pay for having a sacerdotal ministry which is beyond anyone's doubt. They don't need a nit-picking survey of something that doesn't bother them. On the other hand, there are those who have no intention whatsoever under any circumstances of accepting Papa Ratzinger's shilling, and for whom a 'conscientious problem' about 'implying that their entire previous priestly life was invalid' is a useful and comfortable pretext for staying where they are. For them too, it would be a waste of my time. Then there are some rather fierce papists around for whom the invalidity of Anglican Orders appears to be the central dogma of the Christian Faith ... I have no desire to provide them with the enjoyment of ranting on my blog.

But if there really were those who are not just finding excuses to stay; are truly prepared for this leap into the unknown, but would find helpful a re-examination of what someone who accepts the Magisterium is expected to believe at the present moment about that particular papal pronouncement ...


Doodler said...

Perhaps the first act of accepting the Magisterium is to be obedient to that Magisterium. If the Magistium says says sign up to the Catechism so be it as long as one can do so in conscience. If not then no point in accepting the Magisterium.

Andrew said...

In a 2010 article in the Church Times (in the context of the TAC signing of the CCC) Archbishop Hepworth was quoted as saying:

“We did that to put our commit­ment beyond dispute, but we did not have to agree to Apostolicae Curae [which declares Anglican orders ab­solutely null and utterly void], be­cause that is not in the Cate­chism.”

I am curious as to Fr. H's perspective on this question in light of the Apostolic Constitution.

The Raven (C. Corax) said...

"Then there are some rather fierce papists around for whom the invalidity of Anglican Orders appears to be the central dogma of the Christian Faith"

Alas, all too true. As "a rather fierce papist" myself, I have always felt less than wholly comfortable with Apostolicae Curiae (I do hope that I've spelled that correctly): even if the argument of AC is correct, Rome never answered the counter-arguments put by the CofE and the introduction of the "Dutch Touch" into episcopal ordination surely puts the currency of AC into doubt.

As you've indicated in your post, I rather doubt that there will ever be a sensible or definitive discussion on this point. The innovations in the CofE will mean that these questions will only be of historical interest as it becomes increasingly clear that the conception of sacramental ministry in the CofE is becoming radically different from that on this bank of the Tiber.

Peregrinus said...

Your thoughts on the matter of ordination would be most welcome, Father. As one who fully intends to walk across the bridge that the Holy Father has built for Anglicans, I think that your reflections upon Ap. Cur., the CCC and related issues would be helpful food for the journey.

May I add that it is my understanding, upon very good authority here in Canada, that Anglicans will be ordained by Catholic bishops to put all question of validity to rest but:

a) will not be assumed to have invalid orders simply under the provisions of Ap. Cur. because all have Old Catholic lineage through Canadian Anglican bishops (since the 1960s at least) and all have been ordained under rites which have been revised since the 19th century to allow for a proper intention.

b) all Anglican clergy will retain their dates of Anglican ordination for incardination in the various ordinariates e.g. priests ordained in the Anglican Church of Canada (or C of E) in 1970 may celebrate their golden jubilee as priests in 2020, D.V..

This certainly seems to go a long way to assuring those with doubts that Anglican orders have extensive if not absolutely unquestionable validity and that the ministry of Anglican clergy coming into the ordinariates is recognized, valued and will celebrated.

Conchúr said...

From the perspective of a Roman, Apostolicae Curae was correct in it's conclusions and is still binding. However AC applies to the situation as it stood in 1896, it does not (or at least did not until WO was instituted in the Anglican Communion) necessarily reflect the current state of Anglican orders since the infusion of Old Catholic episcopal lines (back when their orders weren't questionable either)- the "dutch touch" as Fr. H so memorably described it.

As it stands the Catholic Church would say that while Anglican orders are corporately null and void per se that is not to say that there are not those who hold valid orders within that body, but it cannot be sure who such clergy may be - hence the then Cardinal Ratzinger's pithy remark about ordaining to the priesthood a man who may already be a bishop (the late Msgr. Leonard).

This possibility of valid orders existing is now being progressively eradicated by the phenomenon of WO.

At the end of the day what Rome requires with relation to Anglican clerical converts is certainty, the removal of all question or doubt. She could not possibly take the risk of presenting to her faithful, men who's orders may very well be invalid. Thus there is no question of sacrilege in submitting to absolute ordination, which is the simplest and quickest way to resolve this issue. Conditional ordination involves such a painstaking and time consuming process of investigation of lines of episcopal succession, ordination rites, intentions, etc., that it is wholly unsuitable for large numbers of converting clergy (not to mention that there is no guarantee of a happy conclusion to such an investigation).

But note that even where there is absolute ordination, ordinands are told to date their priesthood from their Anglican ordination. It is a specific recognition of the grace that their Anglican ministry held in and of itself and the possibility that some may have already held valid orders before entering the Church.

What does this mean? In summation, I believe that any Anglican cleric entering the Catholic Church is free to privately hold that their personal orders are valid but that absolute ordination is necessitated to remove doubt and reassure the vast bulk of lay and clerical faithful whom they now find themselves in communion. No element of sacrilege is present in such circumstances and the net result is unimpeachable holy orders. The Ordinariates will thus be a vehicle for unquestionably valid Anglican orders.

John F H H said...

I wonder of something I wrote recently in another place has some relevance here:
I personally find it of great significance that Rome, whilst under Anglicanorum Coetibus insisting on absolute confirmation, and, where appropriate, ordination for those "coming home" does not insist that those making the journey cease and desist from recourse to the [Anglican] Mass and other sacraments (and sacramentals) whilst on the journey. It would appear that the Vatican authorities are content to leave it to almighty God to decide what is happening in those celebrations: if I remember correctly, Vatican II described them as "vehicles of grace" or some such phrase.

And, pace Apostolicæ Curæ such attitude is not new, and predates Vatican II: not only, as is well known, were the whole community(save two) and chaplain of the All Saints' Sisters of the Poor in Maryland received "overnight" last year, several groups and their parish priests from the Diocese of London to the Archdiocese of Westminster in the wake of the C.of E.'s decision to "ordain " women priests in 1992, and Fr. Christopher Phillips and others under the Pastoral Provision earlier in the U.S.A., but there is the remarkable precedent of Caldey, where on 3 March 1913 the entire community (save eleven) were received, and by rescript from Rome, recognised as a canonically established Bendictine house with a novitiate. A month earlier all but two of the Benedictine nuns under Abbess Scholastica had taken the same step of corporate submission. Even earlier (1909) was the corporate submission of the Friars of the Atonement at Graymore in New York. All within twenty years of Apostolicæ Curæ.

There is, indeed, nothing new under the sun . . . !

And of course, in November 1554 Cardinal Pole had received the submission of the English nation in the form of Parliament and pronounced (though not yet a priest!) the nation's absolution from schism . . .shades of Robert Hugh Benson's The Dawn of All . . .

John U.K.

William Tighe said...

Father John,

I wish you would discuss it. After all, you wrote me a long letter in October 2003 from Lewdown, just after Bishop John Richards' death, in which you put the case for the "Dutch Touch," while at the same time giving good reasons for thinking why the intention to "join the Utrecht line of succession to that of Canterbury" might not pass muster with the CDF. And if the exchanges become too rantingly predictable, you can always shut the discussion down.


Mgr Andrew Wadsworth said...

I don't think the 'Dutch touch' makes a vast amount of difference in the overall consideration of this question. The reasoning of Apostolicae Curae is based on defect of form, intention and a lack of valid orders in the ordaining bishop. Even if the third of these obstacles is removed, either or both of the first two may impede the transmission of valid orders. We were always told in the seminary that even RC bishops could not validly ordain using the Anglican ordinal as the defect was in the rite.

I grant that individual cases may well be much more complicated than this suggests, particularly when there has been conditional ordination received subsequent to the Anglican ordination either by the ordaining prelate or the ordinand.

The matter already raised by other commentators is of paramount consideration - the Church wishes to remove any scruple or doubt that may be present either in the priest himself or those to whom he must minister.

I have accompanied a number of Anglicans who have made this journey over the past 20 years and I think ultimately (for the individual himself) the question becomes simpler if one considers that the Roman Cathoilic Church entirely accepts the ministry of those ordained in the Anglican Communion and a prayer can be inserted into the priestly ordination of such men to make this absolutely clear. This may be seen as casuistry but it does replace a negative judgment with a positive statement.

In the time since the decision to ordain women in the CofE, approximately 700 former Anglican clergy have walked this path in the UK. I would dare to venture that the vast majority of them have been greatly welcomed by the Catholic community and their former experience of ministry has been greatly valued and acknowledged.

davidforster said...

Am I right in thinking that some/many/most of the Anglo-Catholic clergy have not in fact been ordained/"ordained" using the Anglican ordinal as set forth in the BCP, but either the old Rite Roman Pontifical (either Latin or English) or the Novus Ordo Pontifical?

If I remember correctly, one of the reasons that Mgr Graham Leonard's orders were considered to be plausibly valid, to the extent that he was ordained conditionally rather than absolutely on his reconciliation with Rome, was that he had been ordained using the old Roman Pontifical.

William Tighe said...

"Am I right in thinking that some/many/most of the Anglo-Catholic clergy have not in fact been ordained/"ordained" using the Anglican ordinal as set forth in the BCP, but either the old Rite Roman Pontifical (either Latin or English) or the Novus Ordo Pontifical?"

I doubt very much that this is the case.

"If I remember correctly, one of the reasons that Mgr Graham Leonard's orders were considered to be plausibly valid, to the extent that he was ordained conditionally rather than absolutely on his reconciliation with Rome, was that he had been ordained using the old Roman Pontifical."

And I am pretty certain that this was not the case.

Mgr Andrew Wadsworth said...

Mgr Leonard was able to provide documentary evidence that both he and his ordaining Anglican prelate held the Catholic theology of the priesthood at the time of his Anglican ordination. This was accepted as removing the defect of intention, but defect of form and a doubt about the validity of prelate's orders meant that a conditional ordination was judged to be necessary.

No judgment was made in relation to his episcopal orders, as being a married man, he was excluded from the possibility of becoming a Roman Catholic bishop. His case was unique at that time and was seen as a recognition of the role that he had held in the Anglican Catholic movement as Bishop of London. He and other former Anglican bishops were ordained 'per saltem' to the priesthood (without ordination to the diaconate).

Joshua said...

One point that may help: conditional administration of a sacrament is carried out only if there is a strong argument that the original presumed administration of the sacrament was valid, but some uncertainty remains; absolute administration of a sacrament is carried out in all other cases.

This almost reverses what one would imagine to be the case, namely, that whenever there is any chance that the sacrament was validly administered, then (one would, falsely, infer) a conditional administration of the sacrament would be the right course of action.

Hence, because there is more than just a little uncertainty about Anglican orders, the sacrament of orders is to be conferred absolutely, except in the rare case that a strong presumption of validity may be adduced, as in the case of Mgr Leonard.

(I invite correction if I have inadvertently put this badly.)

Anonymous said...

The defect of form considered by Leo XIII was in the Edwardine Ordinal which did not adequately specify the Order being conferred. This does not apply in the same way to later Ordinals (including 1662) in which this particular defect was removed. The defect of intention regards the the theology of priesthood held by Cranmer et al., and Pope Leo's arguments remain cogent, but of course do not apply to the intentions of Catholic-minded Anglicans. However, the Pope rightly points out that by the time these defects were remedied, valid orders had died out and so there was no minister capable of conferring them, whatever the form and intention. However, the introduction of an Old Catholic line of Orders does materially change the "facts on the ground", and so far no authoritative statement has been made about this. Individuals are therefore (to my mind) free to regard their Orders and sacramental ministry as valid, and no-one at all need deny that it has been fruitful and blessed by God- who is not bound to restrict his grace to valid sacraments, but may give it to those in good faith outside the sacraments.
I would say to doubtful colleagues: accept the discipline of the Church in practice, but interpret it as you will as to its strict necessity. You will certainly not be asked to deny your ministry hitherto.