4 September 2014

Sub Conditione (2)

The second case involves Anglican Ordinations. These fall juridically under the the still canonically valid condemnation of the bull Apostolicae curae of Leo XIII.

But, since the 1930s, in a situation which was not foreseen or taken into account by Leo XIII, Dutch schismatics with orders accepted as valid by Rome have participated in large numbers of English Anglican episcopal consecrations. And the Anglican bishops so consecrated have themselves participated in further consecrations. There now can be no more than a handful of English Anglican clergy to whom the infection of the Dutch Touch has not spread.

When the former Bishop of London, Graham Leonard, became a Catholic, he sent to the CDF the set of Latin documents and protocols which had been continually in use since the 1930s whenever these Dutch interventions occurred. The CDF called in the vota of a number of consultors on the question of the validity of his ordination to the priesthood. Instructions were subsequently by the authority of the then pope sent to Cardinal Hume that Bishop Leonard should be ordained to the presbyterate conditionally [the CDF had not considered the question of his episcopal consecration; and he was not required to go through any form of diaconal Ordination]. It was publicly explained that this did not imply that his Anglican Orders were 'doubtfully valid', but that in his case their invalidity was doubtful.

There can be little doubt that what was true of Bishop Leonard is true of nearly all English Anglican priests entering the presbyterate of the Catholic Church. If it is still the teaching of the Catholic Church that Ordination cannot be repeated and that, accordingly, attempts to do so are sacrilege, then their 'reordinations' should be sub conditione. The explicit decision of the Sovereign Pontiff S John Paul II is the Magisterial precedent for this.

I advance the hypothesis that this conditionality may not need to be expressed ritually. A formal document stating that this conditionality was in the mind of the Church would, surely, be adequate. Such an undertaking was given verbally to Blessed John Henry Newman, and satisfied his qualms of conscience [LD xi. 151-2, 283; vide Ker p 321].


worcester fragment said...

Commenting as a former Anglican clergyman, happily a Catholic priest for almost 20 years, I would add that for validity the Rite used and the Intention are also critical. The Dutch Touch alone is not enough. Some argue that the ASB Anglican Ordinal may be more acceptable... but how many Anglican bishops intend to ordain a Sacrificing Priest.... "a priest in/of the Church of God" simply will not do.

B flat said...

That is a very elegant solution, and I am glad of it. Thank you for explaining so many things so well.

Anselm said...

Dear Father, You say 'There can be little doubt that what was true of Bishop Leonard is true of nearly all English Anglican priests entering the presbyterate of the Catholic Church'. I note you say 'nearly all'. Are you saying that there an unspecified number of former Anglican clergyman for which 'sub conditione' ordination to the Catholic priesthood would not have been been appropriate ? This is certainly a very complex question. Was this matter not thoroughly considered by the Holy See ? The Anglican 'ordinal'- if used - would surely also be a factor pointing towards invalidity, even if the bishop was validly ordained. I think this was a point made by Pope Leo XIII in his encyclical. There may also be Anglican bishops who did not have the right intention, even if they may have had the power to validly ordain. I remember being told of a certain bishop who indicated before an ordination that it was not his intention to ordain 'sacrificing priests'. Thank you for your post.

Tristan said...

Fr, thank you for this post. It seems in line with what you have written previously.

I continue to suspect that if the Ordinariate had somehow agreed to conditional ordinations being the accepted norm, that many more clerics in the CoE would have taken up the offer.

However one disguises giving thanks for faithful ministry' undertaken in the past, the implicit judgement that all the Communions, Confirmations and Absolutions offered within Anglican ministry have been 'null and void' seems a) abhorrent to the Soul, and b) nonsensical to the Mind - as the real spiritual fruits of such actions have been seen and felt over the decades.

William said...

Anselm: Sub conditione administration of a non-repeatable sacrament does not in itself imply anything about the validity or otherwise of any previous (purported) conferral of the same sacrament. Therefore, even if there remain a small number who have managed to escape receiving orders via the Old Catholic line, that does not make conditional ordination inappropriate in their case. Rather, it is absolute ordination in the case of the vast majority which is "inappropriate" (some may choose to use a stronger word).

As to the Ordinal being an issue – was Bp Leonard not ordained according to the Ordinal of the CofE? Yet that does not seem to have been a conclusive factor in the mind of the CDF.

I'm sure Fr H is right when he says that a formal declaration by Rome that conditionality may be assumed, even where the rite does not make it explicit, would quiet many consciences.

Little Black Sambo said...

"conditionality may be assumed"
To put it another way, whether or not there had been a formal declaration, the ordinations of Anglican clergy cannot have been anything other than conditional, since re-ordination is impossible.