Skip to comments.I am an Anglo-Catholic
Posted on 11/15/2005 4:17:07 PM PST by sionnsar
'I AM' has certain remarkable precedence in the Old Testament. It is not a credal statement, but rather is an ontological one. When certain descriptive words follow this statement of being, however, we are faced with not only a diversity of definition, but also an identity which may be subject to change by an institution or by the person who is claiming the word as descriptive of who or what that person is.
In the late 1800s to say that one was an Anglo-Catholic was to make a claim that was subject to near prosecution or persecution or ridicule depending upon where the claimant lived. In the immediate pre-1928 period and pre-World War II era, to claim to be an Anglo-Catholic would not always mean persecution, but could mean exclusion, and sent chills through the spines of bishops who often feared open rebellion in moderately High Church settings. And yet, for parishes and dioceses, which had been formed by the heirs of the Oxford Movement, it always meant much more. It even meant more than incense every Sunday, regular Confession hours, Holy Day Masses, and Eucharistic vestments. It meant a way of thinking a way of praying a way of approaching the Mystery of the Word made Flesh (which was proclaimed daily at Mass at the Last Gospel.) More than that, it meant the Guild of All Souls, the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, the Living Rosary of Our Lady and St Dominic and living a Rule of Life under the auspices of an episcopal Religious Order with a Spiritual Director. It was not so much being against the majority expression of Anglicanism as it was living out the implications of an authentic English Catholic heritage which sometimes only existed in the minds of some, but more often than not was expressed by the pious faithful in the pews. For this movement was shaped in the trenches in what would be the forerunner of social activism, ministering in exile, as it were, in slums and docks where others refused to serve. Apart from being life filling by virtue of an environment of grace and peace whereby Christ was literally in the center, it was gracious and fun. Countless stories of how boring church was growing up were not generally expressed by Anglo-Catholics. From the Asperges or Vide Acqua to the Last Gospel, every sense was stimulated. The style was gracious and though often eccentric, the faithful and priest seemed to exude a sense of awe themselves in the Magnus Mysterium.
Humor was great because there was so much to laugh about, and if we forgot, we could just read the Fun in Church series from Trenton, New Jersey. And one knew exactly the place to go when they traveled, because all good Anglo-Catholics memorized the names of those Shrines from St Mary the Virgin in New York City to the Advent of Christ the King in San Francisco, with marvelous stops in between. There was a type of Anglo-Catholic sub-culture, if you will, in the Episcopal Church, and it was like a family reunion when the American Church Union sponsored meetings, rallies, and missions, often led by the Archbishop of Capetown or the Bishop of Fond du Lac.
In spite of its marvelous eccentricities, and the apathy or disdain of the majority, this sub-culture made an impact on the wider Church. Prayer Book Studies, Liturgical Renewal, and a lessening of Catholic prejudice brought a new age for Anglo-Catholics, who could not believe that the centrality of the Eucharist, crucifixes, Stations of the Cross, and ashes on Ash Wednesday were slowly creeping into the Church along with icons (pre-computer Icon days), Eucharistic vestments, and chanting.
Claiming to be an Anglo-Catholic suddenly was not so unusual, and having Eucharistic vestments often became the mark of the card-carrying member. And yet, for many Anglo-Catholics it was not the dawn of a new day. It was a shift in scenery. As new rites and rearranged sanctuaries came, the essence was not necessarily changed, for the piety remained. However, for some Anglo-Catholics something was not right. For those who had longed for the day when they could be seen as more than a somewhat credible minority, something was gone. As people left, and parishes closed or sought life with a new entity, fun was gone. For many it was like having the rug pulled out, and those who had celebrated a gracious, fun-loving faith felt a new exclusion. It was like sharing a unique gift, and having the recipient forget the giver.
Thus the tolerated minority became a divided minority. Unfortunately in a Church that suddenly could accept anything, claiming inclusivity, the traditional Anglo-Catholic could not be accepted. Moreover, Anglo-Catholics themselves were divided. Which Roman usage should we follow? Should it be Trent (Anglican or American or Knott Missal) or Vatican II (Rite II or the Roman Missal itself)? Where should the Altar be? (East or West?)
A new breed of denominationalism even came into being Affirming Catholicism where a Province can alter faith without consulting anyone else, but can look Anglo-Catholic, and can even vote out those who maintain what had hitherto been believed in all places, and still is by the majority of Catholic Christianity. Will the real Catholic please stand up? This affirming expression began to look and smell Anglo-Catholic, but who was at the altar changed, and what was said from the pulpit was greatly revised.
No one laughs anymore. People sometimes look out of the corner of their eye to see whether people now bow, genuflect or intentionally do nothing at the incarnatus est. The new question is: What is the difference between a renewed Anglo-Catholic and a Low Churchman? The renewed Anglo-Catholic knows why he doesnt do the things that the Low Churchman wont do. But its not fun anymore.
The joy is gone. The traditional Anglo-Catholic who worked the docks in England, who ploughed the fields in the Biretta Belt, and worked the streets of the cities as the only white collar on the block, is now a curmudgeon. The future is fully in the hands of God. There are many, however, who do not look back, but look forward, carrying the gift, which they received like a fragile torch on a windy night. These caretakers have never believed that they could change the gift, but look forward to a day that is like the darkened church at the Great Vigil, waiting for the gift. Very few Anglicans ever celebrated the Vigil just a handful of Anglo-Catholics here and abroad. These celebrants still gather and await the chant The Light of Christ. And as the Light spreads in a darkened church building, in a darkened National Church, in a darkened world, we await the words, Thanks be to God.
I guess our little Continuing church counts as part of this "handful of Anglo-Catholics"...
Such an one was our old ECUSA parish. We ALWAYS did the Easter Vigil (and, BTW, it's "Vidi Aquam"* - not "Vide Acqua" - the author must not be a Latin scholar) etc., but it was a whited sepulchre.
*Vidi aquam egrediéntem de templo, a látere dextro, allelúia: et omnes ad quos pervénit aqua ista salvi facti sunt et dicent: allelúia, allelúia.
I saw water flowing forth from the temple, on the right side, alleluia: and all to whom that water came every one was saved, and they shall say, alleluia, alleluia.
I came to Anglo-Catholocism from the RCC - I have found more within the BCP 1928 that is more spiritual than any full fledged mass that I see in the RCC nowadays. I have been able to ask who I am in the ACC and get an answer, as opposed to growing up RCC and wondering if there was anything I could do besides turn in a Sunday offering and be a performing monkey during mass.
Certainly there is plenty to do in our parish (although offerings are appreciated)!
We are about as orthodox a parish as you'll find anywhere outside rural Poland < g >. Our rector is an old fashioned cast-iron Irish dreadnought, complete with bullet head, ruddy complexion, and a taste for good cigars and whisky . . .
Truth be told, I am a member of this ACC branch (www.anglicancatholic.org). We have just brought in a new archbishop. We are doing well in some areas, not so well in others. I love this church.
Anglo-Catholicism has some real pluses compared to modern Roman Catholicism, BUT it lacks any valid priests because Anglican Orders are null and void.
They have beautiful Masses, but they don't have any valid Eucharists.
Just curious, because it has been through the ACC that I have come to genuinely appreciate Transubstantiation, and our priests are as valid as any who follow a true Apostolic Succession.
"Very few Anglicans ever celebrated the Vigil just a handful of Anglo-Catholics here and abroad. These celebrants still gather and await the chant The Light of Christ. And as the Light spreads in a darkened church building, in a darkened National Church, in a darkened world, we await the words, Thanks be to God.
And it was the Great Vigil I was trying to explain. It's late. I should probably give up doing any replies and just read. And Kolokotronis is correct. If any of the Bishops of the South took communion with the Archibishop of Canterbury in January, then they are IN communion with him. I believe that they did not. I also believe that the AMiA Bishops also did not partake in communion at that meeting. So, they are NOT in communion with the wwAC, in that sense. I believe the Church I have been attending since moving is about to make the same move, not to AMiA, but to "Episcopal oversight" to a specific Bishop of the South. I've yet to understand the distinctions or reasons why to not affiliate with AMiA, rather than another Bishop. Makes me wish that Phil Ashey were still a local call away, as I'd like to ask him about his decision. I also beleive the Jacksonville, FL Priests are also struggling with these same issues with the Bishop of FL - who has not promised to be as gracious as Bishp Lee has been in just letting a congregation "go". Bishop John Howe, Diocese of Central FL, has let several congregations leave. Whether he let them leave with their property or not, I don't know. I'm about to get back in touch with some Priests and find out what they are "thinking and working on" as it will tell me more about what is happening in ECUSA than trying to read disparate articles on titisonline or the AAC/ACN.
We had a beautiful little Anglo-Catholic church here in the Annex in Toronto. Unfortunately they decided to embrace the theology of "We Be Sex" 24/7, to focus on pro-choice, pro same-sex marirage and priesthood, with an incidental dose of America-bashing to boot, led by some of the old hippies who ran up here to dodge the draft back in the 1960s and can't let go. It's too bad, because the service was inspiring and beautiful, particularly during Holy Week. But if I want to immerse myself in sex, politics and rock and roll I can tune in the CBC.
I'm now looking for a nice Baptist church that follows the true path, because the Catholics even in the Cathedral have decided to go with sex and politics over preaching the Gospel of Christ. (St. Michael's Cathedral is pushing the government not to sell water to the United States, for only one example.)
Jesus said "Do this in remembrance of me".
He also said before, "This is My Body."
He did not say "only take from a Catholic priest or it isn't valid".
Why were His Apostles the only ones at the Last Supper then?
The Anglicans lost Apostolic succession in the Protestant Revolt when the rejected the Catholic concept of the priesthood. The Edwardine Ordinal lacks the proper Catholic intent of the priesthood, but implies a Protestant conception of the ministry.
It is nice that some Anglicans have recovered an apostolic faith, but that doesn't change the fact Anglican bishops and priests do not possess valid apostolic succession.
Apostolicae Curae Leo XIII
In Perpetual Remembrance
1. We have dedicated to the welfare of the noble English nation no small
portion of the Apostolic care and charity by which, helped by His grace, we
endeavor to fulfill the office and follow in the footsteps of "the Great
Pastor of the sheep," Our Lord Jesus Christ. The letter which last year we
sent to the English seeking the Kingdom of Christ in the unity of the faith
is a special witness of our good will towards England. In it we recalled
the memory of the ancient union of the people with Mother Church, and we
strove to hasten the day of a happy reconciliation by stirring up men's
hearts to offer diligent prayer to God. And, again, more recently, when it
seemed good to Us to treat more fully the unity of the Church in a General
Letter, England had not the last place in our mind, in the hope that our
teaching might both strengthen Catholics and bring the saving light to
those divided from us. It is pleasing to acknowledge the generous way in
which our zeal and plainness of speech, inspired by no mere human motives,
have met the approval of the English people, and this testifies not less to
their courtesy than to the solicitude of many for their eternal salvation.
2. With the same mind and intention, we have now determined to turn our
consideration to a matter of no less importance, which is closely connected
with the same subject and with our desires.
3. For an opinion already prevalent, confirmed more than once by the action
and constant practice of the Church, maintained that when in England,
shortly after it was rent from the center of Christian Unity, a new rite
for conferring Holy Orders was publicly introduced under Edward VI, the
true Sacrament of Order as instituted by Christ lapsed, and with it the
hierarchical succession. For some time, however, and in these last years
especially, a controversy has sprung up as to whether the Sacred Orders
conferred according to the Edwardine Ordinal possessed the nature and
effect of a Sacrament, those in favor of the absolute validity, or of a
doubtful validity, being not only certain Anglican writers, but some few
Catholics, chiefly non-English. The consideration of the excellency of the
Christian priesthood moved Anglican writers in this matter, desirous as
they were that their own people should not lack the twofold power over the
Body of Christ. Catholic writers were impelled by a wish to smooth the way
for the return of Anglicans to holy unity. Both, indeed, thought that in
view of studies brought up to the level of recent research, and of new
documents rescued from oblivion, it was not inopportune to reexamine the
question by our authority.
4. And we, not disregarding such desires and opinions, above all, obeying
the dictates of apostolic charity, have considered that nothing should be
left untried that might in any way tend to preserve souls from injury or
procure their advantage. It has, therefore, pleased Us to graciously permit
the cause to be reexamined, so that, through the extreme care taken in the
new examination, all doubt, or even shadow of doubt, should be removed for
5. To this end we commissioned a certain number of men noted for their
learning and ability, whose opinions in this matter were known to be
divergent, to state the grounds of their judgment in writing. We then,
having summoned them to our person, directed them to interchange writings,
and further to investigate and discuss all that was necessary for a full
knowledge of the matter. We were careful, also, that they should be able to
reexamine all documents bearing on this question which were known to exist
in the Vatican archives, to search for new ones, and even to have at their
disposal all acts relating to this subject which are preserved by the Holy
Office or, as it is called, the Supreme Council and to consider whatever
had up to this time been adduced by learned men on both sides. We ordered
them, when prepared in this way, to meet together in special sessions.
These to the number of twelve were held under the presidency of one of the
Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, appointed by ourself, and all were
invited to free discussion. Finally, we directed that the acts of these
meetings, together with all other documents, should be submitted to our
venerable brethren, the Cardinals of the same Council, so that when all had
studied the whole subject, and discussed it in our presence, each might
give his own opinion.
6. This order for discussing the matter having been determined upon, it was
necessary, with a view to forming a true estimate of the real state of the
question, to enter upon it, after careful inquiry as to how the matter
stood in relation to the prescription and settled custom of the Apostolic
See, the origin and force of which custom it was undoubtedly of great
importance to determine.
7. For this reason, in the first place, the principal documents in which
our predecessors, at the request of Queen Mary, exercised their special
care for the reconciliation of the English Church were considered. Thus
Julius III sent Cardinal Reginald Pole, an Englishman, and illustrious in
many ways, to be his Legate a latere for the purpose, "as his angel of
peace and love," and gave him extraordinary and unusual mandates or
faculties and directions for his guidance. These Paul IV confirmed and
8. And here, to interpret rightly the force of these documents, it is
necessary to lay it down as a fundamental principle that they were
certainly not intended to deal with an abstract state of things, but with a
specific and concrete issue. For since the faculties given by these
pontiffs to the Apostolic Legate had reference to England only, and to the
state of religion therein, and since the rules of action were laid down by
them at the request of the said Legate, they could not have been mere
directions for determining the necessary conditions for the validity of
ordinations in general. They must pertain directly to providing for Holy
Orders in the said kingdom, as the recognized condition of the
circumstances and times demanded. This, besides being clear from the nature
and form of the said documents, is also obvious from the fact that it would
have been altogether irrelevant thus to instruct the Legate one whose
learning had been conspicuous in the Council of Trent as to the conditions
necessary for the bestowal of the Sacrament of Order.
9. To all rightly estimating these matters it will not be difficult to
understand why, in the Letters of Julius m, issued to the Apostolic Legate
on 8 March 1554, there is a distinct mention, first of those who, "rightly
and lawfully promoted," might be maintained in their orders: and then of
others who, "not promoted to Holy Orders" might "be promoted if they were
found to be worthy and fitting subjects". For it is clearly and definitely
noted, as indeed was the case, that there were two classes of men; the
first of those who had really received Holy Orders, either before the
secession of Henry VIII, or, if after it, and by ministers infected by
error and schism, still according to the accustomed Catholic rite; the
second, those who were initiated according to the Edwardine Ordinal, who on
that account could not be "promoted", since they had received an ordination
which was null.
10. And that the mind of the Pope was this, and nothing else, is clearly
confirmed by the letter of the said Legate (29 January 1555),
sub-delegating his faculties to the Bishop of Norwich. Moreover, what the
letters of Julius m themselves say about freely using the pontifical
faculties, even on behalf of those who had received their consecration
"irregularly (minus rite) and not according to the accustomed form of the
Church," is to be especially noted. By this expression those only could be
meant who had been consecrated according to the Edwardine rite, since
besides it and the Catholic form there was then no other in England.
11. This becomes even still clearer when we consider the Legation which, on
the advice of Cardinal Pole, the Sovereign Princes, Philip and Mary, sent
to the Pope in Rome in the month of February, 1555. The Royal Ambassadors
three men "most illustrious and endowed with every virtue," of whom one was
Thomas Thirlby, Bishop of Ely were charged to inform the Pope more fully as
to the religious condition of the country, and especially to beg that he
would ratify and confirm what the Legate had been at pains to effect, and
had succeeded in effecting, towards the reconciliation of the Kingdom with
the Church. For this purpose, all the necessary written evidence and the
pertinent parts of the new Ordinal were submitted to the Pope. The Legation
having been splendidly received, and their evidence having been "diligently
discussed," by several of the Cardinals, "after mature deliberation," Paul
IV issued his Bull Praeclara Charissimi on June 20 of that same year. In
this, whilst giving full force and approbation to what Pole had done, it is
ordered in the matter of the Ordinations as follows:
Those who have been promoted to ecclesiastical Orders . . . by any one but
a Bishop validly and lawfully ordained are bound to receive those Orders
12. But who those Bishops not "validly and lawfully ordained" were had been
made sufficiently clear by the foregoing documents and the faculties used
in the said matter by the Legate; those, namely, who have been promoted to
the Episcopate, as others to other Orders, "not according to the accustomed
form of the Church," or, as the Legate himself wrote to the Bishop of
Norwich, "the form and intention of the Church," not having been observed.
These were certainly those promoted according to the new form of rite, to
the examination of which the Cardinals specially deputed had given their
careful attention. Neither should the passage much to the point in the same
Pontifical Letter be overlooked, where, together with others needing
dispensation are enumerated those "who had obtained both Orders as well as
benefices nulliter et de facto." For to obtain orders nulliter means the
same as by act null and void, that is invalid, as the very meaning of the
word and as common parlance require. This is specially clear when the word
is used in the same way about Orders as about "ecclesiastical benefices".
These, by the undoubted teaching of the sacred canons, were clearly null if
given with any vitiating defect. 13 Moreover, when some doubted as to who,
according to the mind of the pontiff, could be called and considered
bishops "validly and lawfully ordained," the said Pope shortly after, on
October 30, issued a further letter in the form of a brief and said:
"We, desiring to wholly remove such doubt, and to opportunely provide for
the peace of conscience of those who during the aforementioned schism were
promoted to Holy Orders, by clearly stating the meaning and intention which
we had in our said letters, declare that it is only those bishops and
archbishops who were not ordained and consecrated in the form of the Church
that can not be said to be duly and rightly ordained..."
14. Unless this declaration had applied to the actual case in England, that
is to say, to the Edwardine Ordinal, the Pope would certainly have done
nothing by this last letter for the removal of doubt and the restoration of
peace of conscience. Further, it was in this sense that the Legate
understood the documents and commands of the Apostolic See, and duly and
conscientiously obeyed them; and the same was done by Queen Mary and the
rest who helped to restore Catholicism to its former state.
15. The authority of Julius m, and of Paul IV, which we have quoted,
clearly shows the origin of that practice which has been observed without
interruption for more than three centuries, that Ordinations conferred
according to the Edwardine rite should be considered null and void. This
practice is fully proved by the numerous cases of absolute re-ordination
according to the Catholic rite even in Rome.
16. In the observance of this practice we have a proof directly affecting
the matter in hand. For if by any chance doubt should remain as to the true
sense in which these pontifical documents are to be understood, the
principle holds good that "Custom is the best interpreter of law." Since in
the Church it has ever been a constant and established rule that it is
sacrilegious to repeat the Sacrarnent of Order, it never could have come to
pass that the Apostolic See should have silently acquiesced in and
tolerated such a custom. But not only did the Apostolic See tolerate this
practice, but approved and sanctioned it as often as any particular case
arose which called for its judgment in the matter.
17. We adduce two cases of this kind out of many which have from time to
time been submitted to the Supreme Council of the Holy Office. The first
was (in 1684) of a certain French Calvinist, and the other (in 1704) of
John Clement Gordon, both of whom had received their orders according to
the Edwardine ritual.
18. In the first case, after a searching investigation, the Consultors, not
a few in number, gave in writing their answers or as they call it, their
vota and the rest unanimously agreed with their conclusion, "for the
invalidity of the Ordination," and only on account of reasons of
opportuneness did the Cardinals deem it well to answer with a dilata (viz.,
not to formulate the conclusion at the moment).
19. The same documents were called into use and considered again in the
examination of the second case, and additional written statements of
opinion were also obtained from Consultors, and the most eminent doctors of
the Sorbonne and of Douai were likewise asked for their opinion. No
safeguard which wisdom and prudence could suggest to ensure the thorough
sifting of the question was neglected.
20. And here it is important to observe that, although Gordon himself,
whose case it was, and some of the Consultors, had adduced amongst the
reasons which went to prove the invalidity, the Ordination of Parker,
according to their own ideas about it, in the delivery of the decision this
reason was altogether set aside, as documents of incontestable authenticity
prove. Nor, in pronouncing the decision, was weight given to any other
reason than the "defect of form and intention"; and in order that the
judgment concerning this form might be more certain and complete,
precaution was taken that a copy of the Anglican Ordinal should be
submitted to examination, and that with it should be collated the
ordination forms gathered together from the various Eastern and Western
rites. Then Clement XI himself, with the unanimous vote of the Cardinals
concerned, on Thursday 17 April 1704, decreed:
"John Clement Gordon shall be ordained from the beginning and
unconditionally to all the orders, even Holy Orders, and chiefly of
Priesthood, and in case he has not been confirmed, he shall first receive
the Sacrament of Confirmation."
21. It is important to bear in mind that this judgment was in no wise
determined by the omission of the tradition of instruments, for in such a
case, according to the established custom, the direction would have been to
repeat the ordination conditionally, and still more important is it to note
that the judgment of the pontiff applies universally to all Anglican
ordinations, because, although it refers to a particular case, it is not
based upon any reason special to that case, but upon the defect of form,
which defect equally affects all these ordinations, so much so, that when
similar cases subsequently came up for decision, the same decree of Clement
XI was quoted as the norm.
22. Hence it must be clear to everyone that the controversy lately revived
had already been definitely settled by the Apostolic See, and that it is to
the insufficient knowledge of these documents that we must, perhaps,
attribute the fact that any Catholic writer should have considered it still
an open question.
23. But, as we stated at the beginning, there is nothing we so deeply and
ardently desire as to be of help to men of good will by showing them the
greatest consideration and charity. Wherefore, we ordered that the Anglican
Ordinal, which is the essential point of the whole matter, should be once
more most carefully examined.
24. In the examination of any rite for the effecting and administering of
Sacraments, distinction is rightly made between the part which is
ceremonial and that which is essential, the latter being usually called the
"matter and form". All know that the Sacraments of the New Law, as sensible
and efficient signs of invisible grace, ought both to signify the grace
which they effect, and effect the grace which they signify. Although the
signification ought to be found in the whole essential rite, that is to
say, in the "matter and form", it still pertains chiefly to the "form";
since the "matter" is the part which is not determined by itself, but which
is determined by the "form". And this appears still more clearly in the
Sacrament of Order, the "matter" of which, in so far as we have to consider
it in this case, is the imposition of hands, which, indeed, by itself
signifies nothing definite, and is equally used for several Orders and for
25. But the words which until recently were commonly held by Anglicans to
constitute the proper form of priestly ordination namely, "Receive the Holy
Ghost," certainly do not in the least definitely express the sacred Ordel
of Priesthood (sacerdotium) or its grace and power, which is chiefly the
power "of consecrating and of offering the true Body and Blood of the Lord"
(Council of Trent, Sess. XXIII, de Sacr. Ord. , Canon 1) in that sacrifice
which is no "bare commemoration of the sacrifice offered on the Cross"
(Ibid, Sess XXII., de Sacrif. Missae, Canon 3).
26. This form had, indeed, afterwards added to it the words "for the office
and work of a priest," etc.; but this rather shows that the Anglicans
themselves perceived that the first form was defective and inadequate. But
even if this addition could give to the form its due signification, it was
introduced too late, as a century had already elapsed since the adoption of
the Edwardine Ordinal, for, as the Hierarchy had become extinct, there
remained no power of ordaining.
27. In vain has help been recently sought for the plea of the validity of
Anglican Orders from the other prayers of the same Ordinal. For, to put
aside other reasons when show this to be insufficient for the purpose in
the Anglican life, let this argument suffice for all. From them has been
deliberately removed whatever sets forth the dignity and office of the
priesthood in the Catholic rite. That "form" consequently cannot be
considered apt or sufficient for the Sacrament which omits what it ought
essentially to signify.
28. The same holds good of episcopal consecration. For to the formula,
"Receive the Holy Ghost", not only were the words "for the office and work
of a bishop", etc. added at a later period, but even these, as we shall
presently state, must be understood in a sense different to that which they
bear in the Catholic rite. Nor is anything gained by quoting the prayer of
the preface, "Almighty God", since it, in like manner, has been stripped of
the words which denote the summum sacerdotium .
29. It is not relevant to examine here whether the episcopate be a
completion of the priesthood, or an order distinct from it; or whether,
when bestowed, as they say per saltum , on one who is not a priest, it has
or has not its effect. But the episcopate undoubtedly, by the institution
of Christ, most truly belongs to the Sacrament of Order and constitutes the
sacerdotium in the highest degree, namely, that which by the teaching of
the Holy Fathers and our liturgical customs is called the Summum
sacerdotium sacri ministerii summa . So it comes to pass that, as the
Sacrament of Order and the true sacerdotium of Christ were utterly
eliminated from the Anglican rite, and hence the sacerdotium is in no wise
conferred truly and validly in the episcopal consecration of the same rite,
for the like reason, therefore, the episcopate can in no wise be truly and
validly conferred by it, and this the more so because among the first
duties of the episcopate is that of ordaining ministers for the Holy
Eucharist and sacrifice.
30. For the full and accurate understanding of the Anglican Ordinal,
besides what we have noted as to some of its parts, there is nothing more
pertinent than to consider carefully the circumstances under which it was
composed and publicly authorized. It would be tedious to enter into
details, nor is it necessary to do so, as the history of that time is
sufficiently eloquent as to the animus of the authors of the Ordinal
against the Catholic Church; as to the abettors whom they associated with
themselves from the heterodox sects; and as to the end they had in view.
Being fully cognizant of the necessary connection between faith and
worship, between "the law of believing and the law of praying", under a
pretext of returning to the primitive form, they corrupted the Liturgical
Order in many ways to suit the errors of the reformers. For this reason, in
the whole Ordinal not only is there no clear mention of the sacrifice, of
consecration, of the priesthood (sacerdotium), and of the power of
consecrating and offering sacrifice but, as we have just stated, every
trace of these things which had been in such prayers of the Catholic rite
as they had not entirely rejected, was deliberately removed and struck out.
31. In this way, the native character or spirit as it is called of the
Ordinal clearly manifests itself. Hence, if, vitiated in its origin, it was
wholly insufficient to confer Orders, it was impossible that, in the course
of time, it would become sufficient, since no change had taken place. In
vain those who, from the time of Charles I, have attempted to hold some
kind of sacrifice or of priesthood, have made additions to the Ordinal. In
vain also has been the contention of that small section of the Anglican
body formed in recent times that the said Ordinal can be understood and
interpreted in a sound and orthodox sense. Such efforts, we affirm, have
been, and are, made in vain, and for this reason, that any words in the
Anglican Ordinal, as it now is, which lend themselves to ambiguity, cannot
be taken in the same sense as they possess in the Catholic rite. For once a
new rite has been initiated in which, as we have seen, the Sacrament of
Order is adulterated or denied, and from which all idea of consecration and
sacrifice has been rejected, the formula, "Receive the Holy Ghost", no
longer holds good, because the Spirit is infused into the soul with the
grace of the Sacrament, and so the words "for the office and work of a
priest or bishop", and the like no longer hold good, but remain as words
without the reality which Christ instituted.
32. Many of the more shrewd Anglican interpreters of the Ordinal have
perceived the force of this argument, and they openly urge it against those
who take the Ordinal in a new sense, and vainly attach to the Orders
conferred thereby a value and efficacy which they do not possess. By this
same argument is refuted the contention of those who think that the prayer,
"Almighty God, giver of all good Things", which is found at the beginning
of the ritual action, might suffice as a legitimate "form" of Orders, even
in the hypothesis that it might be held to be sufficient in a Catholic rite
approved by the Church.
33. With this inherent defect of "form" is joined the defect of "intention"
which is equally essential to the Sacrament. The Church does not judge
about the mind and intention, in so far as it is something by its nature
internal; but in so far as it is manifested externally she is bound to
judge concerning it. A person who has correctly and seriously used the
requisite matter and form to effect and confer a sacrament is presumed for
that very reason to have intended to do (intendisse) what the Church does.
On this principle rests the doctrine that a Sacrament is truly conferred by
the ministry of one who is a heretic or unbaptized, provided the Catholic
rite be employed. On the other hand, if the rite be changed, with the
manifest intention of introducing another rite not approved by the Church
and of rejecting what the Church does, and what, by the institution of
Christ, belongs to the nature of the Sacrament, then it is clear that not
only is the necessary intention wanting to the Sacrament, but that the
intention is adverse to and destructive of the Sacrament.
34. All these matters have been long and carefully considered by ourselves
and by our venerable brethren, the Judges of the Supreme Council, of whom
it has pleased Us to call a special meeting upon the 16th day of July last,
the solemnity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. They with one accord agreed that
the question laid before them had been already adjudicated upon with full
knowledge of the Apostolic See, and that this renewed discussion and
examination of the issues had only served to bring out more clearly the
wisdom and accuracy with which that decision had been made. Nevertheless,
we deemed it well to postpone a decision in order to afford time both to
consider whether it would be fitting or expedient that we should make a
fresh authoritative declaration upon the matter, and to humbly pray for a
fuller measure of divine guidance.
35. Then, considering that this matter, although already decided, had been
by certain persons for whatever reason recalled into discussion, and that
thence it might follow that a pernicious error would be fostered in the
minds of many who might suppose that they possessed the Sacrament and
effects of Orders, where these are nowise to be found, it seemed good to Us
in the Lord to pronounce our judgment.
36. Wherefore, strictly adhering, in this matter, to the decrees of the
pontiffs, our predecessors, and confirming them most fully, and, as it
were, renewing them by our authority, of our own initiative and certain
knowledge, we pronounce and declare that ordinations carried out according
to the Anglican rite have been, and are, absolutely null and utterly void.
37. It remains for Us to say that, even as we have entered upon the
elucidation of this grave question in the name and in the love of the Great
Shepherd, in the same we appeal to those who desire and seek with a sincere
heart the possession of a hierarchy and of Holy Orders. 38. Perhaps until
now aiming at the greater perfection of Christian virtue, and searching
more devoutly the divine Scriptures, and redoubling the fervor of their
prayers, they have, nevertheless, hesitated in doubt and anxiety to follow
the voice of Christ, which so long has interiorly admonished them. Now they
see clearly whither He in His goodness invites them and wills them to come.
In returning to His one only fold, they will obtain the blessings which
they seek, and the consequent helps to salvation, of which He has made the
Church the dispenser, and, as it were, the constant guardian and promoter
of His redemption amongst the nations. Then, indeed, "They shall draw
waters in joy from the fountains of the Savior", His wondrous Sacraments,
whereby His faithful souls have their sins truly remitted, and are restored
to the friendship of God, are nourished and strengthened by the heavenly
Bread, and abound with the most powerful aids for their eternal salvation.
May the God of peace, the God of all consolation, in His infinite
tenderness, enrich and fill with all these blessings those who truly yearn
39. We wish to direct our exhortation and our desires in a special way to
those who are ministers of religion in their respective communities. They
are men who from their very office take precedence in learning and
authority, and who have at heart the glory of God and the salvation of
souls. Let them be the first in joyfully submitting to the divine call and
obey it, and furnish a glorious example to others. Assuredly, with an
exceeding great joy, their Mother, the Church, will welcome them, and will
cherish with all her love and care those whom the strength of their
generous souls has, amidst many trials and difficulties, led back to her
bosom. Nor could words express the recognition which this devoted courage
will win for them from the assemblies of the brethren throughout the
Catholic world, or what hope or confidence it will merit for them before
Christ as their Judge, or what reward it will obtain from Him in the
heavenly kingdom! And we, ourselves, in every lawful way, shall continue to
promote their reconciliation with the Church in which individuals and
masses, as we ardently desire, may find so much for their imitation. In the
meantime, by the tender mercy of the Lord our God, we ask and beseech all
to strive faithfully to follow in the path of divine grace and truth.
40. We decree that these letters and all things contained therein shall not
be liable at any time to be impugned or objected to by reason of fault or
any other defect whatsoever of subreption or obreption of our intention,
but are and shall be always valid and in force and shall be inviolably
observed both juridically and otherwise, by all of whatsoever degree and
preeminence, declaring null and void anything which, in these matters, may
happen to be contrariwise attempted, whether wittingly or unwittingly, by
any person whatsoever, by whatsoever authority or pretext, all things to
the contrary notwithstanding.
41. We will that there shall be given to copies of these letters, even
printed, provided that they be signed by a notary and sealed by a person
constituted in ecclesiastical dignity, the same credence that would be
given to the expression of our will by the showing of these presents.
Given at Rome, at St. Peter's, in the year of the Incarnation of Our Lord,
one thousand eight hundred and ninety-six, on the Ides of September, in the
nineteenth year of our pontificate.
-- Leo PP. XIII
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