2 December 2021

Anglican Orders

The Ordinary of the Ordinariate of our Lady of Walsingham has recently adopted a shield of arms, designed for him by "a Spanish Expert in Heraldry". (The Archbishop of Birmingham acquired a Grant from the College of Arms in Queen Victoria Street; the Anglican Shrine at Walsingham, at the instance of Fr Fynes Clinton, got a grant, with a very fine design, from the College. They do a good job.)

 What interested me most was the fact that the Ordinary's shield is surrounded by a hat with tassels ... indications that a prelate is a Bishop.

Prima facie, hostile pedants might argue, this sits uneasily with the 1896 bull Apostolicae curae, which declared Anglican Orders null and void.  Anglo-Catholics nevertheless claimed that, despite the endless misbehaviour of official Anglicanism, Anglican Orders were technically valid on Catholic grounds which had been ignored in Apostolicae curae

This Anglo-Catholic claim received oblique support from an unusual and entertaining quarter when sedevacantists took to pointing out that the arguments deployed in Apostolicae curae also 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, over the years, put upon the logic and argument of the bull.)

Can there possibly be anything new to say?

There is.

Since the bull Apostolicae curae was issued, there has occurred what I named as "the Dutch Touch": the participation in Anglican episcopal Consecrations during and since the 1930s of Dutch schismatics with irreproachably valid orders and using a formula from the pre-Conciliar Roman Pontifical, the adequacy of which for validity ... even on its own ... was strongly urged by as gigantic an authority as Cardinal Gasparri, the great Begetter of modern Catholic Canon Law. 

Those with acute historical minds will have noticed that the Dutch Touch occurred nearly half a century after Apostolicae curae, so that Bull can hardly be claimed to address the new elements in the situation created by the Dutch Touch.

The formal decision of S John Paul II, upon the advice of the CDF in the case of Graham Leonard, formerly Bishop of London, 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).

Another 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 [later] 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 realised that this limitation could provide an opportunity to question the doctrinal force of the bull. 

There is something which is not quite kosher about these proceedings!!

Furthermore, just the other day I checked via my computer the text of Apostolicae curae on the official Vatican website. The text there does include the limiting term disciplinae!! Stone the crows!

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. There are stories of pre-Pius XII bishops reordaining all their ordinands sub conditione in the Sacristy immediately after their ordination, so as to be on the safe side! I must confess to having quite the opposite suspicion. Sacramental grace, I think, is, by the Divine Will, much more like water ... perhaps like the flood water which, so ably assisted by Anthropogenic Climate Change,  just keeps getting into the homes of  poor people all over the world. It so often seems to find ways of seeping through or getting in round the side, even despite the best attempts of human wilfulness to block it out. I am an Essex Man; I know about all this! Memories of 1956!

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 explicitly believed that the [Calvinist] Church of Geneva was Christ's True Church, could (given adequate Matter, Form, and Minister) validly confect the Sacraments, despite all his personal heresies.

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. They might even indicate (another suggestion I have heard from a distinguished and traditionalist Catholic theologian) that Deus supplevit per desiderium.

But there can be no question that sacramental certainty does need to be secured and assured. The whole Anglican business has now become far too messy and mired in sacramental disorder for this need to be fudged. 

After all, it is not exactly the fault of the Catholic Church that there is any 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. Rome can hardly be blamed for all those endless Anglican public statements and agreements about the interchangeability of Anglican and Protestant ministries. Anglicans have a long and immensely slippery history of wanting to have things both ways. With Catholics, they sound amazingly Catholic; engaging with Orthodox ... Miracle! ... they are Orthodox; doing business with Methodists or Scandinavian Lutherans ... er ...

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"). The "difficulty" which S John Henry had 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 does indeed seem to me by far the most traditionally Catholic solution to this matter; Fr Aidan Nichols' original suggestion 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 Diaconal Ordination from the draft documentation put before him for dealing with the case of Bishop Graham Leonard. 

It is still my view that by far the best process would have been exactly what Basil Hume, on instructions from Joseph Ratzinger's CDF in Rome, did for Graham Leonard: Conditional Ordination to the Presbyterate well away from the public eye; and in his private chapel

This arrangement was the result of the CDF receiving copies of the entire Dutch Tutch archive from Pusey House here in Oxford, 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. CDF sent all this material 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 this very broad, if somewhat corrupt, hint!

Bishop Graham emphasised to me that Rome had been very careful not to consider, nor to pass judgement on, his episcopal orders ... because, he was convinced, Rome did not wish to find itself saddled with a validly ordained married bishop! (Professor Tighe, by the way, has uncovered other Latin examples of episcopal wives.)

My suspicion is that, in Mgr Newton, a Married Bishop is exactly what Rome does now have! Three cheers for his green galero with its twelve tassels!


William Tighe said...

Consider this case:




John Patrick said...

Of course there is a good precedent for a married bishop - St. Peter.

I wonder if this means the 10 years I spent in the Episcopal Church, I may have been receiving valid sacraments? Especially since it was at a solidly Anglo Catholic parish. Although I do recall once or twice I had attended a Mass celebrated by a woman priestess :(

Perhaps I would need to know whether the clergy at the parish had been consecrated by a Dutch-Touched bishop? This could get very complicated.

coradcorloquitur said...

With all due respect, dear Father Hunwicke, to your life-long, fruitful apostolate---as Anglican and as Catholic---on behalf of souls and for the cause of Christ, why cast doubt on a papal document of great import and consequences (ecclesial and personal) to defend the possible validity of orders of a schismatic ecclesial body that, in turn, needs to run to "Dutch schismatics" for impeccable validity. Also, how ample is the validity-conferring Dutch Touch so that one can be certain that an Anglilcan clergyman is validly ordained. Furthermore, does the Dutch Touch confer valid ordination on the recently "ordained" ladies (both at the presbyteral and the episcopal levels) over whose "ordinations" many in the Ordinariate now left the Anglican communion (no matter how discreet one may wish to be on this touchy issue given the exigencies of feminist totalitarianism and political correctness and the frequent lack of courage on the part of the orthodox). The case of Dr. Father Leonard may also illustrate to some extent how ecumenical sensibilities played a role in discretion exercised in his priestly conditional ordination, for recent, tragic experience shows that ecumenical "dogma" for present-day churchmen far exceeds the value and beauty of real dogma: truth and reality are negotiable, but not so ecumenical togetherness and warm feelings. Regarding the distinction between discipline and doctrine mentioned here, I fail to see how that changes anything, as in real Catholicism discipline is a practical manifestation of dogma. I am no theologian or canon lawyer, but my intuition tells me that the wiser cause would be to adhere to the ancient Catholic principle regarding the validity (as opposed to liceity) of those most important channels of grace, the holy seven sacraments: when in doubt (regarding any of them), abstain. In the present discussion, abstention from assuming validity, Dutch Touch or not. In short (pardon the oxymoron, given the length of this response), why not be happy as Catholics now ordained without any doubt and thank the Almighty for all the good done for souls in former times as Anglicans: certainly the baptisms, nuptial witnessing, counseling, sound preaching, and more, are cause for satisfaction with one's work in a previous ecclesial life. As for me, I will take the magisterial authority of Leo XIII and "Apostolica Curae" over the Dutch Touch any time.

Albertus said...

I should like to ask three questions: firstly, whether a male anglican clergyman who is invalidly ordained according to Apostolicae Curae, can be validly consecrated Bishop by a validly ordained and consecrated male Dutch Old Catholic Bishop? Is this not usually the case? Ot is the man in question always firstly ordained priest by the Old Catholic Bishop, and only afterwards consecrated Bishop? Second question: how does Rome look at the Anglican Ordinal now in use? Does that ordinal present a valid matter,form, and intention, so that, should a validly consecrated Bishop use it, the ordinandus would indeed become validly ordained to the priesthood? Third question: what role in the validity of holy orders within the Apostolic Succession does the stated doctrinal standpoint of the Anglican Church (or any other ecclesial body) bear upon the validuty of its ordinations, as the background within which the ordination takes place and is understood? It would seem to me that these often overlooked questions must also be considered.

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

Married Latin Rite bishops??

Cardinal David Beaton and Bishop Jon Arason. To the embarassment of counter-reformed catholics, both died martyrs at the hands of heretics.


Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear Father. You are never boring but I wonder if I am the only one who wondered about the citing of a Bishop with one wife and whether or not that has any connection with the Apostolic Origins of Priestly Celibacy and Continence?


Atticus said...

Sorry for the, ahem, tangent, but today just happens to be Atticus's Xth anniversary of baptism, conferred with unimpeachable validity at the hands of an Anglican cleric. Atticus is heartily thankful for it and for the whole ministry of said clerk, cuius animae propitietur Deus. He has no fixed opinion one way or t'other about the validity of Anglican orders, such as those of his own personal baptist. But since Leo XIII could scarcely have taken into account the Dutch digitation dispensed subsequent to his bull, one cannot - pace coradcorloquitur - reasonably oppose the authority of the one to the potentiality of the other.

Ceile De said...

I'm more worried about a British subject seeking arms from Spain than from his own College of Arms. I only know a little of heraldry but it does seem bad form and, if I understand correctly, such arms are unrecognised wherever HM is head of state. Not the kind of blunder expected of a former Anglican bishop.

Ceile De said...

PS I cannot find the citation now but I believe that it was Queen Elizabeth I who said that she did not want her dogs to wear anyone else's collar.

Jonathan said...

Very interesting, thank you.

Can anyone tell me more about 'the diaconate not impinging on sacramental validity?' Is that because Deacons don't say Mass, hear confessions, confirm, anoint the sick and so it doesn't matter whether that ordination is valid? I thought it might matter for its own sake and also be necessary for the subsequent ordination to the priesthood.

I often go to Evensong at an Anglican Cathedral. Should I venerate the altar there or not?

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

Mick Jagger,

Neither alleged priestly celibacy nor continence originate with the apostles. The idea that they did was 19th C ultramontane fond foolishness (that is, if "fond foolishness" is not tautologous). Cr. "Celibacy: Gift or Law?" by Heinz-Jurgen Vogels.


motuproprio said...

I understood that the College of Arms holds the exclusive right to grant arms in England; no matter what other heraldically inspired devices an individual may adopt, they do not amount to an achievement of arms. Their very helpful website sets out the heraldically appropriate headgear both for the Church of England and the Catholic Church, making it clear that the grant to the Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham of the right to bear pontificals would carry the right to the green galero.

motuproprio said...

Atticus should be aware that even a Muhammadan who intends to do what the Church does can validly baptise.

Ceile De said...

That line of reasoning would appear consistent with female deacons.

Paul Goings said...

"An Analysis of the Ordination Rites Promulgated by Pope Paul VI According to the Principles of Apostolicae Curae"

coradcorloquitur said...

It seems oddly incongruent to compare, even imperfectly, firm papal authority---as with Leo's well-known "Apostolicae Curae," suddenly controversial after almost a century and a half and what should be the joyful return of prodigal Anglican clergy to the Church of their medieval ancestors---with the "potentiality" of the Dutch infusion of sacramental validity (by no means universal in the Anglican Church, in any case). I have always been under the impression that the validity of the sacraments is such a crucial matter in the divinely instituted administration of God's graces and the Church's cure of souls that spotty potentiality is weak tea compared to the strong mead of magisterial authority (sans current ecumenical dilutions). If I were an Anglican clergyman today, I think I would be very glad for undisputed Catholic orders and grateful to receive them---both for my sake and for that of those to whom I would be ministering.

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

* embarrassment.


Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

Re married bishops, I offer some doggerel I penned in reaction to one of my fellow trad's detestation of clerical marriage, which he(?) expressed on another website quite some time ago:

I hate married priests!

I disapprove of sex!

As a spiritual director,

I really love to vex

young seminarians

with ice-cold showers:

an effective restraint upon

their generative powers!

I hate married priests!

Their filthy hands are vile

with which they hold Christ’s body

no doubt thinking, all the while,

of carnal, sinful pleasure

instead of meditation

- whilst taking communion -

on the mysteries of salvation.

I hate married priests!

I tell my seminarians

that married priests are worse by far

than modernists or Arians!

They live in unrepentant sin:

less dangerous to salvation

- just ask Saint Peter Damian -

is priestly fornication!

I hate married priests!

I sing paeons to virginity

As for continence in marriage,

well, I praise it to infinity!

I tirelessly urge young boys and girls

To imitate Saint Mary

and St Joseph in their sexless love

- a prospect most find scary.

I hate married priests!

their vile hands are filthy

from caressing women's bodies!

These criminals are guilty

of the foulest sins and vice!

of sacrilege and scandal!

I’d love to see their backsides booted

with the papal sandal!


Atticus said...

I thank motuproprio for his reassurance concerning the validity of my baptism (in the case of my baptist lacking valid orders); I am glad to assure him right back that I was under no such illusion on that score. I fear I must not have made myself sufficiently clear. As I said above, I have no fixed opinion on whether said clerical gentleman could possibly have been a priest on the grounds of his bishop having had "the laying on of Hans", but I have the sense to realise that that has no bearing on his ability to baptise - hence that being a tangent (pun incorrigibly intended).

I will repeat, for the sake of coradcorloquitur, that I am completely agnostic as to whether the Dutch Touch took. I merely wished to point out that those who are prepared to consider arguments for its effectiveness are not thereby questioning the authority of Leo's declaration - for the simple reason that Leo did not address that matter at all!

For the avoidance of any doubt, to whomsoever will refuse to enter the Church of Rome because they retain confidence in the validity of Anglo-Dutch orders, I say this: "Utrecht if you want to - this layman's not for 'trechting".

Zephyrinus said...

Dear Reverend Fr Hunwicke.

When you say: “ I am an Essex Man; I know about all this ! Memories of 1956 ! ”, do you really mean to say “. . . 1953” ?

Thank You, again, for your splendid Articles.

Albrecht von Brandenburg said...

Father, if I could impose upon your spiritual generosity re the memento of the living in regard to a certain lady ...


Fr M. Smith said...

Dear Father:

I think Msgr Bruno Heim has settled the issue of the heraldic entitlements of non-bishops who exercise quasi-episcopal jurisdiction in "Heraldry in the Catholic Church", pages 111-113, where he argues that such prelates, during their office, properly make use of the green galero and fiocchi, without the processional cross behind the shield. One would assume that, upon leaving the office, the ordinary would resume use of the galero and fiocchi of rank as a protonotary apostolic.

Fr M. Smith