Fr. Murray on Card. Coccopalermio’s odd utterings about validity of sacraments

Today at TCT my friend Fr. Murray drills into the implications of Card. Coccopalmerio’s stunning statements which undermine our understanding of sacraments.

Coccopalmerio characterized the Church’s teaching on the question of Anglican orders as follows: “We have had, and we still have a very rigid understanding of validity and invalidity: this is valid, and that is not valid. One should be able to say: ‘this is valid in a certain context, and that is valid another context’.”

Valid according to context.

I would like to think that Card. Coccopalmerio is simply using the word “valid” equivocally, that is, loosely.  Alas, I don’t think that’s the case.

I suspect that we haven’t heard the end of this dangerous nonsense.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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18 Responses to Fr. Murray on Card. Coccopalermio’s odd utterings about validity of sacraments

  1. Gabriel Syme says:

    Cardinal Coccopalmerio’s remarks are not valid in any context.

  2. Bthompson says:

    Would not the Anglican practice of ordaining priestesses be indicative of (or at least strongly suggest) an understanding of Holy Orders that is quite foreign to that of the Church? I know their theology of Orders itself is flawed, hence the old papal ruling that they are invalid, but it would seem the further century and more of creeping corruption would make the case for invalidity even stronger (as if a binary could be strengthened).

  3. Clinton R. says:

    Rigid. There’s that word again. Meaning that unless one goes along with the plan to radically change everything in the Church to fit the liberal/radical/progressive/heretical agenda, you are an inflexible dolt inured to the “God of suprises”.

    As for validity of Anglican orders, why would they be valid? Was not the Church of England founded upon Henry VIII’s disobedience? Did they not break away from the Vine that is Christ and His Holy Catholic Church? So then, how could the COE orders be valid, especially now with the “ordination” of women?

    Card. Coccopalermio’s comments serve no purpose other than to push a certain agenda.

  4. Benedict Joseph says:

    Deconstruction of Roman Catholicism is long and well underway. It is near done. The only change is that the veil is lifted, the shame of it is now regarded as a merit badge, and Cardinals and such speak boldly.
    Denial is no longer possible.

  5. Unwilling says:

    It is dangerous nonsense and whether or not intentionally it makes a very slippery patch at the top of a precipice. Maybe its valid vs invalid is meant to be like pastoral vs doctrinal.

  6. mtwelle says:

    I do not see how it is possible to read the term ‘validity’ in the cardinal’s remarks in any other context than what is classically meant (thus he was not able to equivocate). He explicitly criticizes a ridged notion of validity (i.e. validity does not follow a set of criterion to determine validity and invalidity). I have no idea what other meaning he could have in mind.

    Now, I understand Fr. Z wants to be charitable (I want to be as well) but unfortunately–in this context–the truth is plain.

  7. Although the cardinal is a canonist, and so one would expect him to use “valid” was it is meant in Catholic canon law, I suspect that this stuff about “context” is his attempt to employ the categories used by Eastern Orthodox. As one of them told me “we believe that you can be somewhat pregnant.” What he meant was that, for example, Anglican sacraments (or Roman Catholic ones for that matter) can be “adopted” as valid in the Orthodox church on a case to case basis. For example, “by economy” they sometimes accept Catholic baptism and sometimes not. Likewise, I believe, they have sometimes accepted a Catholic priest as ordained and sometimes reordained him. The logic is that any Christian group can perform sacraments within their own context and they are not wholly meaningless. So, if a recipient becomes Orthodox, the Orthodox Church can “accept” or not “accept” them as sufficient for Orthodoxy. This, of course, means rejecting the Latin hard and fast categories of “valid” and “invalid.” As the Orthodox priest said to me “We don’t do ‘validity.’ We exercise economy.” I do think that this is a very dangerous idea, if this is what the cardinal is attempting to introduce.

  8. Nan says:

    They started out with validly ordained bishops but, to emphasise the difference between the Anglicans and Catholics, a later king changed the ordination rite to make it clear that it didn’t do the same thing as our ordination rite, thus, Anglicans don’t have valid holy orders. It wasn’t revisited until the validly ordained bishops were long dead. Pope Leo XIII concluded that the nature of the changes invalidated their holy orders.

  9. TWF says:

    Augustine Thompson: I have relatives who are Orthodox. There is no single answer. Some of the more fundamentalist branches of Orthodoxy reject all non-Orthodox sacraments and thus would re-baptize / re-ordain Catholics. The most Ecumenical, such as my cousin, would fully accept Catholic sacraments as valid. In the middle, you have those who accept the form of non-Orthodox sacraments (so baptism with water and the Trinitarian formula to use the example of baptism) but believe that it is an empty or somewhat empty form until it is “made whole” by the Orthodox Church. In this view, when a Protestant or Catholic is simply received by Chrismation, the Chrismation “makes whole” the empty form of baptism previously received.
    If we move to Oriental Orthodoxy (non-Chalcedonians), there was recently a major breakthrough when Pope Francis and the Coptic Pope met in Egypt- the Coptic Pope has now formally acknowledged Catholic baptism.
    It varies. Widely.

  10. robtbrown says:

    Augustine Thompson OP,

    As an Angelicum prof told me, The Orthodox don’t have theology–they have liturgy.

  11. robtbrown says:

    Nan,

    You’re right that they started out with validly ordained bishops and that now Anglican Orders are null. Everything else you wrote, however, is wrong.

  12. William Tighe says:

    Fr. Thompson wrote:

    “What he meant was that, for example, Anglican sacraments (or Roman Catholic ones for that matter) can be “adopted” as valid in the Orthodox church on a case to case basis. For example, “by economy” they sometimes accept Catholic baptism and sometimes not. Likewise, I believe, they have sometimes accepted a Catholic priest as ordained and sometimes reordained him. The logic is that any Christian group can perform sacraments within their own context and they are not wholly meaningless. ”

    Orthodox practice as regards the reception of Catholics varies: some rebaptize; others don’t – and the dame thing goes for the reception of Anglicans and other Protestants. Worth noting, however, is the fact that while some Orthodox jurisdictions have different practices when receiving Catholic priests – some rebaptize, christmate, reordain; other chrismate and reordain; and still others simply have the convert Catholic priest recite the Creed (without the filioque), then he is vested in sacerdotal garb by the receiving bishop, then he concelebrates the liturgy with the bishop – in every case that I am aware of (and knowledgeable Orthodox have told me the same thing) the Orthodox always reordain Anglican clergy who become Orthodox.

  13. juergensen says:

    Here comes another synod.

  14. Charles E Flynn says:

    And so Card. Coccopalmerio joins my imaginary pantheon of persons who, if they were practicing medicine at a hospital while using the same logic they have employed in their chosen field, would be practicing medicine at a hospital in which the morgue, however large it might be, would always be too small.

  15. Fr. Reader says:

    One should be able to say: ‘this is valid in a certain context, and that is valid another context

    What about his own ordination and appointment as cardinal. In which context they are valid, and in which context they are invalid?

  16. Sixupman says:

    It is alleged that some Anglican bishops, subsequent to their elevation, would then contact an “Old Catholic” bishop for a second consecration to effect a direct line back to authenticity.

    A dear friend of mine, lately dead, when an Anglican bishop would appear on TV, would exclaim “he’s no bishop”!

  17. paladin says:

    Clinton R. wrote:

    Rigid. There’s that word again. Meaning that unless one goes along with the plan to radically change everything in the Church to fit the liberal/radical/progressive/heretical agenda, you are an inflexible dolt inured to the “God of suprises”.

    :) That has to be the most concise, cogent, and pithy description of the current heterodox playbook that I’ve heard in a long time. I may “steal” that, if allowed…

  18. Clinton R. says:

    Yes, paladin, you may indeed “steal” it :)