23 January 2014

Reordination: (1)

There follows, in four parts, a Letter which approaches from different angles the the problem of the requirement that priests joining the Ordinariates be 'reordained'. As well as reaffirming Newman's belief that the conditionality of such rites is implicit in the mind of the Church, the Letter will examine the question against a wide background, suggesting that the requirement is historically the sort-of-thing-that-has-always-happened, and offering from within the liturgical Tradition ways of understanding and welcoming it. (I may not enable irritable comments unsympathetic to the human dilemmas involved. In fact, most of you don't need to read this at all.)

Dear Father *********

Thank you for your letter; I am glad that you and **** are in good health. Pam and I return your greetings; we are feeling on a bit of a high because Senior Granddaughter has just been offered an Oxford place. You know the feeling! By my calculation, your ******* must now be in his second year.

And thank you for taking me into your confidence about why you have not felt able 'this time round' to accept Pope Benedict's offers embodied in the Ordinariates he created. I am very moved by your evident sincerity ... and grief.

You remind me of the developed teaching of the Western Church with regard to the iteration of those sacraments which confer character. No informed Catholic could deny the truth of what you write. And I sympathise with your conscientious unwillingness to appear to indicate, to yourself and to those whom you served in the the priesthood for so many years, that you were not a 'real' priest celebrating 'real' sacraments. Moreover, like you, I deplore the unavailability of explicitly conditional ordination for Anglican priests entering presbyteral ministry in full communion with the See of Peter: which, at a stroke, would eliminate these problems. After all, there is the precedent set by what the CDF decided in the case of Bishop Graham Leonard - who, as we all know, was not required to be ordained to the Diaconate and whose presbyteral ordination was private, low key, and sub conditione. After all, there can be few clergy under the age of 100 who do not, as Graham did, have the Dutch Touch in their 'pedigree' of orders! But, as I hope to get round to arguing before the end of this missive, conditionality can be implicit.

Some of our mutual friends, such as Fr ***** and Fr **********, have "longed for Catholic Unity in communion with the See of Peter" all their lives ... but now decline to accept Rome's gracious offer of the Ordinariates. They give this particular problem as their reason. It would be easy to suspect that their bluff has been called and that they find this a convenient pretext for staying where they feel comfortable; but we are bidden by the Lord not to judge others. However I know you well enough to be confident that you are not in that position. You long to take this opportunity of exercising your priesthood in communion with the Church Universal. It is a genuine scruple of conscience which delays you. All I can do is to explain my own thinking. I am afraid some of it may look rather like walking round and round a couple of mulberry bushes!

May I begin by boring you with the laudable Prebendary Dudley of Lichfield, and the admirable Farmer Hodgetts? It is by their doing that over the High Altar of Pugin's Catholic Cathedral at Birmingham repose the relics of S Chad, rescued from Lichfield Cathedral at the 'Reformation' by the Prebendary and preserved (over his bed!) by the Farmer. S Chad is an interesting saint, not least because, unlike most of us, he was consecrated Bishop twice. Indeed, if we are to believe S Wilfrid's biographer Stephanus (otherwise known as the Aeddi who was invited by S Wilfrid from Kent to Northumberland in order to teach genuinely Roman chant to Northerners), S Chad was not only twice consecrated bishop, but ordained twice through all the Orders! You see why there lingers in my mind the thought that his 'case' may have some relevance for us.

We do not know why the reforming Greek-Syrian Archbishop of Canterbury, S Theodore, insisted upon treating S Chad in this way. Chad had turned up in Canterbury for Consecration only to discover that Archbishop Deusdedit was dead. He then betook himself to the only 'canonically consecrated' bishop he could find in England, Wine at Winchester ... who duly consecrated him. Wine, however, was suspected of simony. Is that why S Theodore was so worried about S Chad's consecration? Or was it the fact that S Chad was consecrated to an already occupied See, that of York? Or was it the fact that two 'British' bishops took part in his consecration? Theodore's reason may have been any combination of these pretexts ... but the association in the Consecration of the two Cornishmen has often been thought to be the most probable reason why S Theodore assured S Chad that he was not "rite consecratus". Theodore was moved by the humility of S Chad's reaction; assured him that did not need "episcopatum dimittere"; and then "ordinationem eius denuo catholica ratione consummavit". The interest of this episode rests not least upon the fact than none of these reasons - simony; attempting to occupy a See already lawfully occupied by another; participation in a Consecration by Cornishmen - would be regarded as a remotely possible basis for a verdict of Nullity of Consecration according to the later (and present) Western teaching with regard to Sacramental Validity. Not even S Bede - a man who never had a moment's doubt about the necessity of doing everything according to the Roman Book - doubted the reality of S Chad's episcopal status.


Jesse said...

Unless something has turned up in more recent research than I am aware of, Father, it would seem that Wilfrid's biographer Stephen of Ripon ought not to be identified with the Aeddi cognomento Stephanus mentioned by Bede (HE IV. 2), or with the Aedde whom Stephen himself mentions (VSW c. 14).

See D. P. Kirby, "Bede, Eddius Stephanus, and the Life of Wilfrid," EHR 98 (1983), 1-14.

Jeff said...

It seemed that Pope Benedict held the position--almost as a given fact so obvious that it needed no detailed defense--that Pope Leo's finding that Anglican orders are "absolutely null and utterly void" was infallible in the same way that canonizations are infallible.

How does this relate to the question of "conditional baptism"?

And how does it relate to Catholic behavior in an Anglican church? I CANNOT give the reverence due to the Sacred Species at an Anglican liturgy and I do not.

Do you think that's the wrong attitude?

GOR said...

Father, I commend your efforts to set at ease the mind of your confrere and I do not minimize the internal – and external – issues faced by many Anglo Catholic clergy considering the Ordinariate.

First, let me say that for many (a majority?) of Catholics - if they think of it all - the pronouncement of Pope Leo XIII was considered the “last word’ on Anglican Orders. I was not aware of the ‘Dutch Touch’ until you brought it up some time ago. I had heard that either after Leo’s pronouncement or Vatican I, some Cof E bishops sought and received valid (conditional?) ordination from some Old Catholic bishops.

Thus I always felt that those whom these bishops subsequently ordained - either to the episcopacy or the presbyterate - would also have valid orders. And so down to the present day. Enter the issue of ‘lineage’ as you mentioned. But who could tell which were which? Then comes the ‘Dutch Touch’ and from what I remember of your exposition on this (perhaps a reiteration is in order…?), this greatly broadened the field of those who have valid Orders.

I agree with you that the ‘re-ordination’ of clergy entering the Ordinariate should be explicitly conditional. If you already have valid Orders the ‘re-ordinaton’ is meaningless. It does not add anything to what you already have. You have the indelible mark of the priesthood and - like Baptism - you can only get that once and, once gotten, you never lose it.

To those, like your friend, who have reservations about the process, I would say this: do not be put off by the requirements of men. You know where you stand, and God does too.
If acceding to the legalities imposed by men is holding you back, be not concerned. Even Our Lord, in humility, acceded to some requirements of ‘The Law’ – though He didn’t have to either.

William Tighe said...

"(perhaps a reiteration is in order…?)"

I agree, since the whole matter of the "Dutch Touch" and its effect is rather more complicated that it seems at first sight.

Fr John Hunwicke said...

There is note on the Dutch Touch appended to the final part of this Letter.

I agree that it is more complicated than appears at first sight. This applies, in particular, to the way in which the plan was executed and to subsequent changes in definition of what constituted the Matter and Form of Episcopal Consecration. But, as I shall argue, the magisterially significant factor is the actual decision of the CDF in the case of Bishop Graham Leonard, which implies a nuanced view of the applicability of Apostolicae curae in a changed situation.

The CDF which listed, in footnote, Apostolicae curae as still operative is the same CDF which produced the decision in the Leonard case; and that decision was signed by the Sovereign Pontiff.

dominic1962 said...

From my reading, it would seem to be obvious that Apostolicae curae was never intended to answer to the "Dutch touch" matter, but rather the status of the clergy of the Church of England resulting from the Ordinal written under the direction of the Reformers. Their theology denied a sacrificing priesthood and their books, at best, were iffy on the matter. As was the case with the original editions of the BCP, supposedly this was done to quell debate and allow some interpretation in the breach. As far as Rome was concerned, the Edwardian change did in the apostolicity of Anglican orders.

Fast forward and the matter of the "Dutch Touch", though irrelevant to some Anglicans because they see no need to "infuse" valid orders is of some interest to us. However, the whole matter is complicated, as was said before.

It would seem that the way Rome is handling this is done out of sheer prudence, not as a personal dig against anyone's ministry-real or otherwise. Rome also never did cast aspersions towards the practices of former Anglicans. Rome did not regard their previous ministrations, even if not objectively priestly actions and thus valid Eucharists, Confessions, and the like as empty idolatry and soul blackening evil. God obviously uses those yearnings towards Catholicism as means to effect conversion, thus far from meaninglessness done in vain.