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Monday, 15 June 2015

A Necessary Clarification

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.

Thus, Pope Leo XIII in Apostolicae Curae defined the reality of Anglican ordinations. A few days ago, I was discussing this with a Catholic who did not understand that Anglican orders are and have been invalid.

Catholics recognize that their priests are in the line of Apostolic Succession-the unbroken tradition of the laying of hands in the Sacrament of Ordination which goes back to Christ's call of the Apostles. The Eucharist is only valid when consecrated by validly ordained Catholic priests. 

Pope Leo XIII clearly did not mess with modern "false ecumenism".

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.

Some of the confusion has to do with the difference between intent and the words of ordination. But, the good pope covered this point as well. I read a modern commentator on line who was confused on this point, a convert from Anglicanism, who did not understand the following illumination.

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.

The intent of the original men who broke with Rome in the Anglican communion involved that desire to no longer be part of the Roman Catholic Church. The changes in the rite occurred in order to reflect the decision to break with Rome.

Those members of the Ordinariate understand this distinction and receive the sacrament of Catholic ordination. One can recall that Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman was ordained in October, 1846, in Rome, one year after his conversion to Catholicism. 

“To be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant.”
Blessed John Henry Newman