I need some education on an Anglican/Catholic point

I was under the impression that some – perhaps not all – Anglican priests who entered the Catholic Church as priests were ordained as Catholic priests conditionally.

I imagine that most, if not all, were ordained absolutely, without the condition.

Does anyone have any clarity about this?

Let’s restrict comments to the topic and to knowledgeable, informed answers, please.

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  1. Trevor says:

    I’ve found of some cases where a convert was ordained conditionally (Ex. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graham_Leonard ). However, I don’t think this is the norm, because Apostolicae Curae clearly says the Anglican ordinal is “absolutely null and void”.

  2. Chris M says:

    As above, I believe the case of Fr Leonard is the only case of ordination sub-conditione. Interestingly enough it looks like then-Cardinal Ratzinger had a hand in it.


  3. Stephen Morgan says:

    The only conditional ordination of which I am aware was that of Mgr Graham Leonard who was conditionally ordained priest ‘per saltem’ (i.e. straight to priesthood with no ordination to the diaconate) when he became a Catholic. He had previously been Bishop of Truro and then of London.

  4. Fr. A.M. says:


  5. Jack Hughes says:

    They might have been conditionally ordained because the official anglicans (COFE ect) are in communion with the ‘old catholic’ schismatics who split off after Vatican One, now these guys MIGHT have valid orders (apart from their women who dress up as priests) also in the ‘consecration’ of an leader of an anglican district an old catholic bishop is ususally involved the idea being from an high anglican point of view that even if the edwardian ordinal was invalid, the participation of old catholics would circumvent the nulity of anglican orders outlined by Leo XII’s Apostolicae Curae

    The reason that the new Catholic Priests were conditionally ordained is becasue there is some dispute on whether the old Catholic orders are still valid or not given the fact that like the anglicans they have succumbed to the spirit of the age.

    Thats may take on it

  6. Fr Tim Edgar says:

    As one of those who went through this; Mgr Leonard was, as far as I know, the only one who was allowed conditional ordination because when he was originally ordained in the C of E an Old Catholic Bishop was present.
    For the rest of us ordination was absolute. Cardinal Hume was very clear that this wasn’t about questioning, per se, Anglican Orders. Rather it was about being utterly certain of Catholic Orders.

  7. robtbrown says:

    I’ve found of some cases where a convert was ordained conditionally (Ex. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graham_Leonard ). However, I don’t think this is the norm, because Apostolicae Curae clearly says the Anglican ordinal is “absolutely null and void”.
    Comment by Trevor

    Not exactly correct. Anglican Orders are invalid, but the reason is more than defect in Sacramental Form. AC makes clear that it is a combo of both Intention and Form.

  8. robtbrown says:

    For the rest of us ordination was absolute. Cardinal Hume was very clear that this wasn’t about questioning, per se, Anglican Orders. Rather it was about being utterly certain of Catholic Orders.
    Comment by Fr Tim Edgar

    Thanks for the info.

    IMHO, being utterly certain is the same thing as questioning the validity of Anglican Orders.

  9. LawrenceK says:

    If someone has simply been ordained by a typical bishop of the Anglican Communion, and then becomes a Catholic and wants to become a priest, they are ordained in the full sense (not conditionally).

    However, in the past century, on rare occasion there have been Anglican bishops who (out of concern for the possible invalidity of their orders) have, after Anglican ordination, requested a second ordination from a bishop of another church (Orthodox or Old Catholic), or had such people assist at their Anglican ordination. Moreover, some such bishops have been known to modify the ordination formulas in the Book of Common Prayer, to correct the defects in them. If he does this, anyone he ordains as an Anglican priest is considered to be of dubious status. If one of them becomes Catholic, they are conditionally re-ordained. (This happened in at least one case I know of — a Dominican priest, in fact.)

    Anglican orders have traditionally been considered invalid for two reasons: (1) Queen Elizabeth fired all the bishops and appointed new bishops, and although certain accounts claim that these new bishops were ordained by someone in a non-public ceremony, there is grave doubt about this. (2) The rite of ordination in the Book of Common Prayer is not itself valid. So to have valid orders (or even dubious orders), both of these need to be addressed.

    Cardinal Hume wrote in 1994: “While firmly restating the judgment of Apostolicae Curae that Anglican ordination is invalid, the Catholic Church takes account of the involvement, in some Anglican episcopal ordinations, of bishops of the Old Catholic Church of the Union of Utrecht who are validly ordained. In particular and probably rare cases the authorities in Rome may judge that there is a ‘prudent doubt’ concerning the invalidity of priestly ordination received by an individual Anglican minister ordain in this line of succession.”

  10. Yes, so far as I am aware Graham Leonard was ordained conditionally, but then Rome said ‘no more conditional ordinations.’ So all former Anglicans are ordained absolutely, although a form is included in the liturgy, not denying their previous ministry but thanking God for it.

  11. joecct77 says:

    If I am hijacking this thread, my profound apologies…

    What if a female Anglican Priest desires to convert? Obviously the RC priesthood and diaconate are not options, but are there other options for a lady called to religious life as a protestant??? [DON’T hijack threads.]

  12. Fr John Jay Hughes, a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, was an Episcopal priest before his reception into full communion with the Church. He was also ordained conditionally and describes the decision-making process which led to that conditional ordination in his memoir, “No Ordinary Fool.”

    To the best of my knowledge, Father Hughes and Monsignor Leonard are the only two former Anglicans to have been ordained conditionally.

    It is worth noting that in the commentary on Ad Tuendam Fidem written by then Cardinal Ratzinger, one of the examples given to illustrate a dogmatic fact taught by the Church in an irreformable manner is the invalidity of Anglican Orders. This reminded me of my student days in Rome and of my friendships with seminarians at the Venerable English College. It was the custom in those days (and may still be) for two Anglican seminarians to come from England each semester and reside at the Venerabile. They were affectionately known as Null and Void.

  13. smcollinsus says:

    Speaking from only the Pastoral Provision standpoint, and not as one who experienced it, but one who was involved in the Liturgical music at an AU parish as it became one at the priests’ Catholic Ordination, this was the talk then.

    Each candidate had to provide a dossier tracing the Petrine heritage. Certainly it was more difficult for some than others. But then they were told that all Ordinations would be absolute, and none would be conditional. Remeber, the Pastoral Provision was ONLY in the USA, and predates much of what happened in the UK by about 10 years.

    I don’t recall any discussion about Fr. Hughs at the time, and I’m going back to circa 1983. There have been converts from the Episcopalian priesthood to the Catholic for many years, and I don’t know just how that process might have been different from that of the Pastoral Provision.

  14. The history and theology of the Anglican Orders has to be regarded as “null and void”; unless there was an “Old Catholic” bishop involved, and this is to be investigated, I would think that it is best to ordain “conditionally”.
    As an aside, I was baptized conditionally by a very strict Polish priest, who regarded my Methodist baptism as questionable…whatever.

  15. dcs says:

    IMHO, being utterly certain is the same thing as questioning the validity of Anglican Orders.

    Right, I don’t see how one could ordain absolutely, and risk offending the Holy Ghost, unless one were morally certain that the Anglican orders were invalid.

  16. William Tighe says:

    Msgr. Leonard was ordained in 1994, Fr. John Jay Hughes in 1968, by the Cardinal-Archbishop of Muenster, Germany, where he was a graduate student.

    In both cases the “conditional” was due to their “Old Catholic pedigree” of Orders. In the case of Msgr. Leonard, someone well-informed of the circumstances once told me that that while the “Old Catholic pedigree” of his presbyteral ordination was no more compelling than that of other Anglican clergyman who have become Catholic — such as the three other English Anglican bishops who became Catholics in the 1990s, Richard Rutt, retired Bishop of Leicester, Conrad Meyer, suffragan-bishop of Dorchester, and john Klyberg, suffragan-bishop of Fulham (a “suffragan” bishop is the equivalent of a Catholic “auxiliary” bishop), all of whom were ordained unconditionally — his episcopal ordination had strong Old Catholic “input,” but it was tacitly agreed on all sides that the question of the possible validity of his episcopal Orders would not be raised.

  17. mibethda says:

    While Elizabeth dismissed most of the Marian bishops (but not Kitchin of Llandaff, who took the oath) not all of her new appointments were non-bishops at the time of their appointment. Two were Henrician bishops whose consecrations dated to the mid-1530’s (Barlow and Hodgkins). A couple of others were Edwardian appointments (Coverdale and Scorey). All had been removed from their sees by Mary. As to Kitchin, Barlow and Llandaff, there can be little doubt as to the validity of their episcopal orders – Coverdale and Scorey might be a different case for the reasons of form and intent described in Apostolicae Curae since their consecrations may have used the Edwardian ordinal.
    Apostolic succession ended not because Elizabeth broke the line absolutely at the beginning of her reign(she did not) but because the form and intent of ordinations under the Edwardian ordinal used thereafter was deficient at least until the reign of Charles II – at which time, even if the deficiencies were corrected, there was then no living bishop who had not received ordination under the defective orders (priestly or episcopal)who could then have validly ordained. Even if Elizabeth had retained all of the Marian bishops, so long as the new form was used in all ordinations from the beginning of her reign, there never could have been a surviving link by 1662 unless one of the bishops ordained and consecrated prior to 1558 managed to attain biblical age.

  18. robtbrown says:

    should read “not being utterly certain”

    I’ve pointed out here before that what is at stake here is validity, not invalidity. Rome is not saying, “We know they’re invalid” but rather “we don’t know they’re valid”.

  19. Tom Ryan says:

    Many Anglican/Episcopalian dioceses keep two sets of books on their clergy: Those with only Anglican ordinations and those who have others, usually Orthodox.

    When relations between Catholics and Orthodox have been good, the likelihood of anglican “priest” finding a sympathetic Orthodox Bishop diminish. I know that following S.P., many Orthodox are reluctant to offend Rome.

    Now, with respect to the laity, I keep hearing it said that these folks won’t have to be confirmed. Could someone clear this matter up.

  20. Supertradmom says:

    Promulgated September 18, 1896 by Pope Leo XIII, the document Apostolicae Curae makes it clear that Anglican orders are not valid. In 1994, this document was quoted as a reason for those in Anglican orders who desired to become priests in the Roman Catholic Church had to be ordained, not re-ordained or conditinally ordained. The main reason given for invalidity is that it was the express desire or intention of the Anglican Church to break away from Rome, thereby breaking apostolic succession. Secondly, as stated above, the form of the ordination was changed to not include any reference to the apostolic succession of the Roman Catholic priesthood. To state that we do not know is not only a weak argument, but one which leaves the question open to doubt, where there is no doubt. See http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Leo13/l13curae.htm This discussion was widely publicized at the time (1994),

    As to Confirmation, in RCIA, those confirmed in any other faith must receive Confirmation in the Catholic Church for the simple fact that the bishops in Protestant denominations, including Anglicanism,as clarified in the above document. 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.

    I have worked in RCIA both in England and in the United States, and Confirmation in other denominations, is not a sacrament, unlike Baptism, which is recognized, if it is a Trinitarian Baptism. For Confirmation to be recognized as a sacrament, apostolic succession must be present in the “church” and the form must be the same.

    The priest we got in our parish was ordained as a Catholic priest, not conditionally ordained. Our former pastor explained all of this to us to make sure we parishoners understood.

  21. Supertradmom says:

    apologies for errors, as I am using someone elses computer with some sort of giantic ball on the mouse, with which I am not familiar.

  22. vincentuher says:

    Through the Pastoral Provision in the USA as it was first created by Pope John Paul II, each former Anglican priest was asked to provide their ordination pedigree. In actuality some dioceses would ask for this information but then would not pursue the matter with the Holy See because it took ages to have such things verified. The responses of local ordinaries have been all over the map with regard to the ordination of former Anglican clergy, and the new Apostolic Constitution will go a long way in establishing just and consistent procedures.

    Those who have been ordained like the Rt. Rev Msgr Graham Leonard had excellent documentation of the Old Catholic line involved. Those ordained from an Old Catholic line were normally given a document in Latin expressing the intent of the ordaining bishop to confer the sacrament according to the teaching of the Catholic Church.

    A consensus began to develop that conditional ordination was a mistake and that absolute ordination would make it clear to everyone that the man in question was fully and properly ordained.

    I should mention that some Anglican priests (in Wales if I remember)have an Eastern Orthodox line in their lineage but I do not know very much about it.

    A question was asked above about women Anglican ministers who convert. Quite a few former Anglican and former Lutheran female ministers have converted to the Catholic Church, and as Catholic laity participate in a number of very significant apostolates.

  23. John UK says:

    Cardinal Hume’s statement about Mgr.Leonard’s ordination is here:
    The key paragraphs are:
    While firmly restating the judgment of Apostolicae Curæ that Anglican ordination is invalid, the Catholic Church takes account of the involvement, in some Anglican episcopal ordinations, of bishops of the Old Catholic Church of the Union of Utrecht who are validly ordained. In particular and probably rare cases the authorities in Rome may judge that there is a “prudent doubt” concerning the invalidity of priestly ordination received by an individual Anglican minister ordain in this line of succession.

    There are many complex factors which would need to be verified in each case. It is most unlikely that sufficient evidence will normally be available, but in Dr. Leonard’s case, very full documentation was available which enabled the authorities in Rome to reach a judgment, and in this particular case that judgment was that a “prudent doubt” exists. Of course, if there were other cases where sufficient evidence was available, the balance of that evidence may lead the authorities to reach a different judgment.

    After extensive research and careful consideration of the factors necessary for validity, the authorities in Rome instructed me to ordain Dr. Leonard to the priesthood conditionally, in accordance with the norms of Canon 845.2. In such a case, during the course of the ordination liturgy the church prays that almighty God will grant the candidate the grace of the Catholic priesthood in case he has not received it through his ordination celebrated in the Anglican Communion.

    Almost all other ordinations have been absolute, rather than conditional, for two reasons,. One is the difficulty of amassing the nexessary paperwork, and the other the desire of those to be ordained to submit to the teaching of Holy Mother Church and exercise their calling therein. Witness the statement of the bishops of the TAC that they have both signed up to the new Cathechism of the Catholic Church and to serve within it where ever the Church determines their vocation to be.

    As othere have said, in England [I cannot speak for North America] the service always includes gracious reference to the ordinand’s previous ministry in the Anglican Church. The reasons can be seen in Cardinal Hume’s statement:

    In their statement of Nov. 18, 1993, the Catholic bishops of England and Wales said: “We would never suggest that those now seeking full communion with the Roman Catholic Church deny the value of their previous ministry. According to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, the liturgical actions of their ministry can most certainly engender a life of grace, for they come from Christ and lead back to him and belong by right to the one church of Christ.”
    Nonetheless it is necessary to keep in mind that ordination conferred within the Anglican Communion is judged invalid in the apostolic letter Apostolicae Curæ. The value of this letter, given by His Holiness Leo XIII in 1896, has been upheld by the Holy See, even though some important theological clarifications relating to ministry and eucharist have been made by the Anglican Communion.
    An exchange of letters between the president of the then-Secretariat for Christian Unity (July 13, 1985) and the two presidents of the second Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, ARCIC II (Jan. 14, 1986) had expressed the hope that following dialogue and clarification such a unity of faith could be reached in the areas of ministry and eucharist that the way to a re-evaluation of these questions by the Catholic Church would be opened.
    Unfortunately this position has not yet been reached. Consequently, since the church must be in no doubt of the validity of the sacraments celebrated for the Catholic community, it must ask all who are chosen to exercise the priesthood in the Catholic Church to accept sacramental ordination in order to fulfill their ministry and be integrated into the apostolic succession.

    After all, as Catholics we believe that the Holy Spirit has been at work in those ordained since their Baptism, leading them to ordination in fully communion with the Holy Father.

    It seems to me that in the light of more recent developments in the Anglican Communion, the re-evaluation of Anglican Orders to which Cardinal Hume referred is unlikely to occur. Instead, we have the Holy Father’s generous provsion of an ordinariate, announced on Tuesday.

    John U.K.

  24. Simon Cotton says:

    To confirm Professor Tighe’s posting, Father John Jay Hughes was also conditionally reordained. See his autobiography, No Ordinary Fool: A Testimony to Grace, Tate Publishing (2008) which has a splendid picture of Fr Hughes with the Holy Father on the cover. If you do not have access to this book, see also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostolicae_Curae . Fr Hughes researched the subject of Anglican orders in depth before his reordination and published two books on the subject, Absolutely Null and Utterly Void: An Account of the Papal Condemnation of Anglican Orders, 1896 (1968) and Stewards of the Lord: Reappraisal of Anglican Orders (1970).

  25. southern orders says:

    It is my understanding (as one who had an associate pastor who was a former Episcopal priest) that not only must they be re-ordained, they must also be re-confirmed when they are received into the full communion of the Catholic Church. Confirmation in our tradition requires that the one confirming has valid orders of which the Anglican ones are evidently null and void.

  26. ocsousn says:

    Two additions to this excellent and informative discussion:
    1. As to the “form” of ordination in the Edwardian Ordinal this, as I understand it, was the problem: There was no distinction between that used for priests and that used for bishops. In both cases “Receive the Holy Ghost, whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven them, whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.” was used without any reference to the order involved. This was corrected in the reign of Charles II by adding the words “for the office of priest/bishop in the Church” but, as others have said, by then it was too late. Though “Receive the Holy Ghost…” is used in the Coptic Church for the ordination of priests, in that case both the context of the entire rite and the unabigious teaching of the Coptic Church are utterly different and ordination are certainly valid as to both form and intention. Here in the United States, if I recall correctly, the revised Book of Common Prayer uses exactly the same prayers of ordination as the Ordinal of Paul VI with which I was ordained. However, as in the case of Mormon Baptism, there is more to validity than simply the correct matter and form. Since the Anglican Communion does not have a functioning magisterium how can we know the intentions of the ordaining prelates in that line of succession unless every one of them provides an unambigious sworn statement? This, among other things, is why Newman submitted to re-baptism; precisely because he knew all too well the reality of this defect.
    2. As to certainty and the sacraments: It is a basic principle of moral theology and of the Church’s pastoral practice that, because the sacraments involve the salvation of souls, we may never act in their regard on a probable certainty. Our certainty must be a moral one, that is, beyond reasonable doubt. Because of the involvement of Old Catholic and/or Orthodox bishops in a particular Anglican priest or bishop’s line of succession many Anglican priests and bishops probably have valid orders. In fact, there was a point some years ago when every active bishop in the Church of England could make such a claim. As with matter and form, apostolic succession is not the whole picture. When it comes to the sacraments, probable is never good enough.
    Fr. Aidan Logan, O.C.s.o.

  27. robtbrown says:

    To confirm Professor Tighe’s posting, Father John Jay Hughes was also conditionally reordained.
    Comment by Simon Cotton

    Don’t you mean “ordained” rather than “re-ordained”?

  28. asperges says:

    With the greatest respect to Fr Logan’s careful explanation above which is most helpful, I am afraid that as an English Catholic I cannot under any circumstances admit that most C of E Bishop’s are probably validly ordained. The meddling of Orthodox and Old Catholics in ordination / consecration services seems to me to be a case of “God is not mocked” and proof that Anglicans have substantial doubts (with reason) about their orders to resort to such tactics. How is this situation different from the time of Leo XIII? Is it?

    The Pope’s initiative is an historic moment especially for this country, and I welcome the thought of thousands of souls coming into the Church and also that many Anglican clergy can serve as priests in the Church to the great enrichment of us all, once they have been ordained as priests. I also welcome the fact that once in the fold they will be away from the interference of Old Catholics and the Orthodox – of whom the latter’s interest in the C of E has always been a mystery to me. Why do they bother: is just to upset Rome, one wonders.

  29. ocsousn says:

    Asperges, have no fear. In the eyes of the Church there are no probable sacraments. So, to say that some Anglican orders are probably valid is to say that, while there may be some arguments in favor of validity, the Church can not act as if they were valid. Hence, with very few exceptions (two that we know of), all Anglican clergy who convert and wish to be priests in the Catholic (and for that matter, Orthodox) Church are absolutely ordained. For all the meddling of individual Orthodox bishops the Orthodox Churches have no doubts in this matter.
    Fr. Aidan Logan, O.C.s.o.

  30. Mark Woodruff says:

    I was a group of 12 priests, formerly of the Anglican clergy, ordained together as priests by Cardinal Hume in December 1995. I was the last vicar instituted in the Anglican Diocese of London under Mgr Graham Leonard before his retirement as itys bishop, and his own journey to the Catholic Church.

    This is what happened. When the General Synod in 1992 finally approved the ordinations that finally placed the Church of England beyond the ecumenical process to reconciliation of the previous decades and adopted a basis that was no longer the common apostolic tradition of the one church of the first millennium, a large number of us made contact with Catholic counterparts and wrote to the Catholic bishops. Cardinal Hume set up exploratory sessions. He would speak to us about life in the Catholic Church and how it believes. All of us, like many Anglicans in the Catholic tradition, had historically shared the same belief. We heard from other priests to learn more of what Cardinal Hume felt was lacking in our previous theological formation: history from a Roman Catholic point of view, Catholic canon law, and Catholic moral theology. All this took place with the knowledge of the Anglican authorities and seen as a legitimate exploration. At no time did anyone denounce the Church of England. Quite the opposite: Cardinal Hume, speaking of the situation for mission and pastoral action in modern England, stressed to us: “The purposes of the Catholic Church in England are not served by weakening the Church of England”. In those days, as this week, the Catholic welcome of Anglicans into communion, is a response.

    When asked about the validity of Anglican Orders, Cardinal Hume stated that the position for Catholic teaching had moved on from Apostolicae Curae. Since then, he said, there had been new factors. These included (a) the participation of valid Old Catholic bishops from 1930 onwards from which all CofE episcopal ordinations by the 1990s derived; (b) the liturgical reforms in Anglicanism which had addressed criticism concerning the disputed form and intention of Anglican ordinations; (c) the new context for regarding ecclesiology within and beyond the Catholic Church as a result of Lumen Gentium and the Decree on Ecumenism (which states that the sacred actions of other Christian communites can engender a life of grace and provide access to the community of salvation). I can confirm exactly what Fr Tim Edgar says: Cardinal Hume’s express words were that the doubt was no longer as to their validity, but their invalidity. But a prudent doubt remained and as a Catholic bishop his duty was to ensure that the faithful received sacraments about which there was NO doubt. So he asked us to accept this, not as a judgment on the past, but as a gift ‘in the fulness of time’ for what might be asked of us in the present and for the needs of the Church in the future. I found this graciousness and unbelievable generosity irresistible.

    I went to see the then Bishop Vincent Nichols, with whom I had been in correspondence. He was also extremely warm and welcoming. We spoke of the Catholic view of Anglican holy orders. He repeated Cardinal Hume’s expression and request that we accept the following as a gift: submit ourselves to a period of discernment on a working assumption that we would be ordained, and then be ordained first to the Catholic diaconate and then the Catholic presbyterate. We were not asked to renounce our Anglican orders. Anglican orders, we were told, were valid for Anglican purposes, but Catholic ordination was needed for Catholic purposes. In fact we were asked to bring our Anglican gifts with us. The provisions of the Apostolic Constitution seem to be in the same spirit.
    to be in exactly the same spirit.

    Shortly afterwards I was received by chrismation according to the usual rite for reception, which of course includes confirmation (in this case administered by a priest). I was immediately assigned, alongside a number of other former Anglicans, to a parish in the Westminster diocese. Cardinal Hume made it clear that we were to be treated as clerics ‘in some way ordained already’ with no less standing or place than if we had been visitors from another denomination. Thus the position set out in Apostolicae Curae was demonstrated to be historical and to have been superseded, mainly by the Decree on Ecumenism.

    When the time came for us to be ordained as deacons in 1995, the Judicial Vicar explained to us that, if we wished to be ordained per saltem to the priesthood sub conditione, we could petition for this. But he warned us that, while there was no reason to doubt that the procedure would have a positive outcome, there would be extensive enquiries, delays, and a judgment in each case referred to Rome. We decided that we were more than content and grateful for everything Cardinal Hume and Bishop Vincent had explained to us and asked to be ordained absolutely.

    It was rightly important for Mgr Leonard to establish the standing of his previous distinguished ministry, not least as he was a valued friend of the Cardinal’s over many years. The procedure was thus fast-tracked for him, and in any case that would not have appropriate or possible for us.

    When we came to be ordained to the priesthood, however, we were humbled and thrilled to learn that Cardinal Hume had petitioned the CDW for a preface and prayer to be inserted into the ordination rite. It expressly thanks God for preceding Anglican ministry, noting that it derived from the Catholic Church to begin with, and asking for it to be brought to fruition. It was set for before the Litany and not, it should be noted, the ordination prayer itself.

    I cannot remember if it was conceded for a limited period. To my knowledge, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor was not disposed to use it and I don’t know about other dioceses.

    The rubrics are in Latin, but the spoken text was given in English. There appears not to have been a Latin original. Here is the text with the given punctuation and spellings:

    Oratio ad gratias agendas pro ministerio ab electo in Communione anglicana expleto

    Deinde mones surgunt. Epsicopus, deposita mitra, stans manibus iunctis versus ad electum dicit:

    N., the Holy Catholic Church recognizes that not a few of the sacred actions of the Christian religion as carried out in communities separated from her can truly engender a life of grace and can rightly be described as providing access to the community of salvation. And so we now pray.

    Et omnes, per aliquod temporis spatium, silentio orant. Deinde, manus extensis, Episcopus orat dicens:

    Almight Father, we give you thanks for the x years
    of faithful ministry of your servant N. in the Anglican Communion [vel: in the Church of England],
    whose fruitfullness for salvation has been derived
    from the very fullness of grace and truth
    entrusted to the Catholic Church.

    As your servant has been received into full communion
    and now weeks to be ordained to the presbyterate
    in the Catholic Church,
    we beseech you to bring to fruition that for which we now pray.
    Through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

    Populus acclamat:

  31. rwprof says:

    I am aware of a number of Episcopalian bishops who had some schismatic bishop who called himself Orthodox take part in their ordinations, but never have I heard a confirmed story of an Orthodox bishop in good standing doing so. There is no reason an Orthodox bishop would, since we do not follow the odd Episcopalian belief in apostolic succession as some kind of magic touch.

    There is a Lutheran parish nearby that converted en masse to Orthodoxy. They worship with us, save for one Sunday a month when we send a priest and a deacon down to their church for services, until their pastor has completed his training at seminary. So we accepted his conversion, but we did not convert him *as a priest*.

  32. The Cellarer says:

    Logos-Alexis asks whether the argument that Old Catholic Bishops have been involved in a significant number of episcopal consecrations of Anglican/Episcopalian Bishops and, therefore, that the Bishops so consecrated are “valid” and convey that valid Apostolic Succession to those whom they ordain and consecrate holds any water.

    In the eyes of Rome, it holds some water but is not by itself decisive – questions also arise concerning the form of Anglican ordinations and the belief of the recipient (the belief of the ordinand is almost always impossible to judge, but the form is usually printed out for everyone to read).

    Normally, the only time that Rome will get involved in the discussion is the need that arises when an Anglican cleric becomes a Catholic and wants a determination on his ordination or consecration as an Anglican. The Old Catholic involvement then often arises and can affect the decision. Several decades ago, this was decisive in Rome’s permission for John Jay Hughes to seek and accept conditional re-ordination rather than absolute ordination. This by no means occurs in every case.

    Catholicism teaches that an attempt to ordain a woman to the priesthood and/or consecrate her to the episcopate cannot succeed, because the Church is unable to accept the suggestion that the Lord Jesus Christ has authorized the Church to ordain women.

    The question of an ordination of someone who is habitually engaged in some form of sinful misconduct is another question – the suggestion that the validity of a sacrament depends upon the morals of the giver or the recipient is an ancient heresy called Donatism, Dis-satisfaction with some ordinand because of his real or presumed bad morals can in itself be a reason to forbid him to exercise the Holy Orders he has received, but not a reason to assert that his ordination was necessarily invalid.

    Even as I write, a certain Orthodox jurisdiction in the USA is having grave problems because of the misconduct of at least one of its bishops – I am in no position to judge the accuracy of these charges. But in any event this has no bearing on the “validity” of either his own ordination or the ordinations he has done. Eastern Orthodoxy does not teach Donatism, nor are Orthodox hierarchs and theologians Donatists!

    To the best of my limited knowledge, there is no known case in which a man who was ordained priest or bishop by the Anglicans was received into the Eastern Orthodox Church as a priest or bishop.

    Fr. Serge

    There are several bases for the condemnation of Anglican Orders, and one of the most important is “defect of intention”. As a result, anyone who has received Anglican ordination and later seeks recognition from Rome must not only demonstrate that the Bishop who ordained him was genuinely in the Apostolic Succession – as would certainly be the case if such a Bishop belonged to the Utrecht Union of Old Catholic Churches. He must also show that his own (Anglican) ordaining bishop had a sufficient intention to do what the Catholic Church does.

    Fr. Serge


  33. robtbrown says:


    I agree with your point about the relation between Intention and Form. Sacramental Form reflects the specific Intention of the Church, and that is why minimal intention, which is general, is sufficient when joined with valid Sac Form.

    In the case of the Anglicans it was not merely the lack of a magisterium (which IMHO is impossible because of the Act of Supremacy). The question of validity of intention was considered in light of the theology contemporaneous with the introduction of the Edwardine Ordinal. After he Oxford movement and Pope Leo’s decision to reestablish the English hierarchy that the Church of England “got religion” and asked Rome to reconsider the matter.

  34. robtbrown says:

    Mark Woodruff,

    Thanks for your comments.

    A few days after Ordinatio Sacerdotalis was promulgated, one of my mentors at the Angelicum, who was expert on the Anglican problem and knew that I had been an Episcopalian, asked me whether I had seen that Cardinal Hume thought that the document was not infallible. He then shook his head, said that Cardinal Hume was not a theologian, and walked away.

  35. Greg Smisek says:

    The Cellarer wrote: “questions also arise concerning … the belief of the recipient (the belief of the ordinand …).

    How would the belief (intention?) of the recipient have any bearing on the validity of presbyteral ordination or episcopal consecration? Or did you mean to refer to the “sufficient intention” of the “ordaining bishop,” which you mention later?

  36. Mark Woodruff says:


    Cardinal Hume, it is well known, discussed the matter in great depth and repeatedly in Rome with the late Pope John Paul and with the then Cardinal Ratzinger at the CDF. He specifically referred to these authorities in speaking to us. He did not say he thought the Apostolic Letter Ap Curae was ‘not infallible’. Indeed the statement he made as president of the England & Wales hierarchy concerning the question at the time specifically refers to the Holy See
    as upholding of the value of it, and the need for there to be a unity of faith before (NB) the question of validity could be re-evaluated. But he said that position had not yet been reached.

    The status of Ap Curae’s infallibility did not arise. It was referred to as part of papal magisterium, but not as the only expression of it: since 1896 the new new factors of the ‘influx’ of the conferral of orders in the Old Catholic succession, revised form, improved mutual understanding of the theology of ordination expressed through ARCIC, and the developed ecclesiology of Lumen Gentium and, above all, Unitatis Redintegratio’s new appreciation of ecclesial life and sacred actions outside the bounds of the Catholic Church – and their capacity to provide access to the life of grace – suggested a movement in the evaluation of the Church on this issue, and its teaching and attitude in practice. In other words, Apostolicae Curae has to be read alongside the Decree on Ecumenism from the Second Vatican Council.

    John UK is right in believing that now the question will not actually be re-opened. There was a large and substantial representation from the Catholic Church at the Anglican bishops’ Lambeth Conference in 2008. Pope Benedict was very clearly being Peter strengthening the brethren. It was a massive effort to attract Anglicanism, in my view, to be in greater accord together with the Catholic Church. In the same year, the Archbishop of Canterbury expressly invited Cardinal Kasper to England to address the Church of England so that they would be in doubt of the consequences for unity with the Roman Catholic Church if they went ahead, in England as ‘privileged ecumenical territory’, with approval for the ordination of women to the episcopate. He said simply it is not in our tradition. Proceeding with it would distance the Anglicans from the shared tradition of East and West and constitute a further obstacle to unity. When the decision was, nevertheless reached, Cardinal Kasper revealed that Rome had indeed been on the verge of re-opening the question addressed in Apostolicae Curae for all the reasons stated earlier, but now there was no point.

    So the evaluation of the Second Vatican Council under Pope Paul in Unitatis Redintegratio is the settled position of the Church’s teaching on this matter, taken with the other expressions of Papal and the other authoritative sources of magisterium in the Church; and there will be no moves to re-evaluate it.

    Cardinal Kasper reflected that future Anglican hopes for unity with the Catholic Church lay in its rediscovering its Catholic origins and returning to them. He called for a new Oxford Movement to achieve this from within Anglicanism, an implicit observation that the ARCIC process had not, in the end, achieved the greater unity in faith that had been envisaged by Pope Paul and Archbishop Ramsey in the late 1960s, and which many thought at the time was soon to be in reach.

    This makes Pope Benedict’s decision to provide a structure for the reconciliation of all that is best and truest of the Anglican tradition within the Catholic Church at this time all the more remarkable. Had the formal possibility of an Anglican (particular) Church, ‘united not absorbed’, with the Catholic Church been a practical proposal then it may just have come about.

  37. wilky says:

    Perhaps the most famous Anglican to be ordained ‘sub conditione’ was none other than John Henry Newman on Trinity Sunday 1847, by Cardinal Fransoni. See ‘Newman, His Life and Spirituality’ by Louis Bouyer, Meridian Books M87, chapter XVI, page 280. “Of course no formal ruling had so far been promulgated regarding the matter of Anglican Orders.” Newman “was disposed to look on them [his orders] as valid. The Cardinal replied that he had a strong feeling that Newman and his friends were priests already and he consequently decided that he would ordain them ‘sub conditione’: and that is what he did.”

  38. robtbrown says:

    Mark Woodruff,

    My point wasn’t about infallibility, but rather that Cardinal Hume was not theologically oriented.

    I acknowledge that, even if Apostolicae Curae is infallible, the presence of a validly consecrated bishop (Old Catholic, etc.), thought not as the ordaining minister, at a Anglican priestly ordination castes doubt about the invalidity of that ordination.

    Card Hume, however, expands the argument to LG, but the text he references has nothing to do with validity of Orders.

  39. robtbrown says:

    Also: Unitatis Redintegratio is irrelevant to the question of validity of orders.

    BTW, after all the Hume sweet talk, Anglican clergy, with only a couple of exceptions, were still ordained absolutely rather than conditionally.

  40. robtbrown says:

    If I might finish this with an anecdote:

    I knew a priest in Rome who had been high, high church American Episcopalian clergy. He said that some years ago he had been reading Newman and happened to attend a conference where Michael Ramsey was present. He sat down with MR and told him the situation, that certain questions had arisen from his exposure to JHN.

    The Ramsey answer was interesting. He said that ARCIC I had just come out, and that my friend should be read it. Then MR said: If it is not adequate to describe your faith, then you must become a Catholic. I believe that the pope is the successor to Peter.

    MR was then asked why had didn’t become Catholic. The response was that he was too old.

  41. mike cliffson says:

    I hope someone is still following this thread, it’s important.
    1. Knox I believe always said he believed he HAD been validly ordained, but cheerefully put up with it over again. Perhaps he w2as recognizing God’s call! athread is too small a space to put in the mass of history, polemic , and sheere blasphemous abuse let alone the Anglicans own feelings of inaequacy which saw from say 1800 on getting themselves ordained by thomist wandering indian bishops, old catholics, you name it, they did it. It’s worth wadfing through Vitriolic anticatholic victorian books and trascts, If you’re really interested.
    2. Hunt up book on “ourRatzi” when he still was, befor he was HH.some german journalist, presambly honest.
    Point being, as per conditional ordinartion for some very few anglican clerics, according to said book C.ratzi when interviewed
    talked abt despaching with JPII on this issue, congreagtion of the faith prepared the bumf, JPII read same, told ratzi who was to have conditional ordination(the rest not, he didn’t explain why and ratzi didn’t ask.

  42. Mark Woodruff says:

    Dear robtbrown

    I don’t think your line is well served by adducing an assessment of the late Cardinal Hume’s theological competence.

    He was careful to express the same position as the late Pope John Paul and consulted the then Cardinal Ratzinger as part of this. At no time did we ever hear him distance himself from the judgment of Pope Leo XIII and he expressly upheld that. Unitatis Redintegratio is indeed relevant (a) as it takes account of factors not in play in 1896, (b) applies the ecclesiological criteria of Lumen Gentium to other Christian traditions and the evaluation of their sacred actions (worship and ministry), and (c) its wording was incorporated into the presbyteral ordination rite of those who were previously Anglican. All Cardinal Hume said was that the new factors lent weight to a doubt as to invalidity, rather than to validity – but this was not sufficient to guarantee absolutely certainty.

    In view of his overwhelming generosity on behalf of Pope John Paul we were humbled to be welcomed in such terms and gladly submitted to ordination afresh for the prize of Catholic communion and the privilege of the Catholic priesthood we had sought.

    As for the question of re-evaluation of Leo XIII’s judgment on Anglican orders, Cardinal Kasper definitely ruled this out in 2008.

    And as for ‘sweet talk’, St Francis de Sales reminds us that the bee achieves more by his honey than his sting.

    I knew Archbishop Michael Ramsey personally. He was pained when Anglican clergy broke ranks to become Catholics as his entire theological orientation was Catholicism and his highest hope was the reunion of the church he led with the Holy See: he wanted the whole of the Anglican Church together to be ‘united not absorbed’ into the Catholic Church. This was in no small way because he was conscious of succeeding Augustine and Anselm; and so there was something essential to the Ecclesia Anglicana missing because of its lack of communion with the successor of Peter in the see of Rome. James I had the same view, incidentally, of the Pope as the leading bishop of Christendom and seeing him as successor of Peter has not been historically controversial, exceptional or new in Anglican thinking.

  43. robtbrown says:

    Mark Woodruff,

    1. You continue to miss the point. No matter what Cardinal Hume said, almost all Anglican clergy still were ordained absolutely.

    2. UI makes no mention of the validity of Anglican orders. In fact, explicitly refers to the absence of Orders. It does, however, say: ” . . . though we believe they have not retained the proper reality of the eucharistic mystery in its fullness, especially because of the absence of the sacrament of Orders . . . ” Which text could, of course, refer to yours truly–and every other layman.

    Neither does LG refer to it. The text to which you refer, LG 8 (licet extra eius compaginem elementa plura sanctificationis et veritatis inveniantur, quae ut dona Ecclesiae Christi propria, ad unitatem catholicam impellunt), has nothing to do with Orders.

    3. It’s not a matter of honey or the sting but rather the Truth. Let’s face it: The cause of the Anglican migration to the Church was not the Honey of Hume but rather the sting of the women’s ordination issue.

  44. Ligusticus says:

    [Btw: would seem interesting…]

    LE UDIENZE , 22.10.2009

    Il Santo Padre ha ricevuto questa mattina in Udienza:

    Em.mo Card. Giovanni Battista Re, Prefetto della Congregazione per i Vescovi;

    S.E. Mons. Francesco Coccopalmerio, Arcivescovo tit. di Celiana, Presidente del Pontificio Consiglio per i Testi Legislativi,

    con il Segretario del medesimo Dicastero:

    S.E. Mons. Juan Ignacio Arrieta Ochoa de Chinchetru, Vescovo tit. di Civitate;


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