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John Renaud, President of Canadian Catholic Radio wrote:

Hi Michael,

I have been searching the web for current documentation of the present discussions between the two churches RE: the status of Anglican Orders.

  • At this time with the ongoing theological discussion between Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches, has there been a change by the Roman Catholic Church to accept Anglican Orders as valid?

Thank you for considering a response to this question.

In unity with the Bishop of Rome, Pope John Paul ll.

John Renaud

  { Has there been a change by the Roman Catholic Church to accept Anglican Orders as valid? }

Mike, with thankful help by Chan Casey replied:

Hi, John —

To my knowledge No, there has not been any such acknowledgment.

To the best of my knowledge, for Anglican Orders to be valid, they would ultimately have to be approved by the Vatican and I am not aware of any such news.

It is the correct form and matter which the Holy See approves that makes the Sacrament of Holy Orders valid.

There are Churches though, like the Orthodox Church, that are not in union with the Holy See that still have valid sacraments. This is because, unlike the Orders in denominations that broke with Rome at the Protestant Reformation, the Orthodox preserved the text which make up the form for Holy Orders as well as Apostolic Succession. We still disagree over the primacy of Peter, but they too can trace their valid Holy Orders back to the original Apostles, like the Nestorians.

While Henry VIII brought about a schism, he didn't introduce Protestant doctrine - that is, Lutheran or Calvinist doctrine - regarding the sacraments. He died in 1547, and his son Edward came to the throne at the age of nine. A Council of Regents governed until Edward became 16, and Henry had stacked it with religious reformers.

Though the changes to the ordination rite came in during Edward's reign, it's not really correct to blame Henry (or Edward) for them outright.  That responsibility goes to Thomas Cranmer,
the Archbishop of Canterbury, during Edward's reign, who did move the Church of English to Protestant doctrines, and influenced Edward to follow the Protestant faith.

This happened with the publication of a new order for ordaining and consecrating bishops and priests in 1550 and revised in 1552. The intent behind this new order was to eliminate the concept of the priesthood having a sacrificial character.

In short, although Henry started the ball rolling toward invalid Anglican orders by stacking the Council of Regents with religious reformers, Thomas Cranmer influenced Edward to follow his suggestions which led to the "new" but invalid form for holy orders in 1550.

We accept that Orthodox Holy Orders are valid.

For this reason, Orthodox priests who convert to the Catholic faith are usually not re-ordained.

Your brother in prayer, your brother in Christ,


Fr. Nick replied:

Dear Mike:

A few thoughts regarding the question of Anglican Orders. You are correct in the fact that they are not valid orders.

The most common understanding of "Orthodox" bishops, however, would be Greek, Russian or one of the other Eastern Rite Churches. These bishops would be prohibited from ordaining Anglican priests to ensure they have valid orders.

Usually, an Anglican priest would search out a bishop whose Apostolic Succession is not in question, most often an "Old" Catholic or Polish National Catholic bishop, not in communion with Rome. Their orders would be valid but illicit.

Fr. Nick

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