5 December 2010

Conditional Ordination for Ordinariate Anglicans?

A good technical case could, it is true, be made for this on the grounds of the Bishop Graham Leonard precedent. But, in his case, the CDF considered the orthodoxy or otherwise of every 'link' in the ordinations which led from the Dutchmen to the Bishop who ordained him priest. It cannot be anything other than a profound mistake in practical terms to attempt to clutter up the beginning of an Ordinariate with the sort of paper chases and delays which would be involved. And it would create an invidious divide between most of us and a few worthy priests who, because of age or because they were ordained in other parts of the Anglican Communion, were priested by bishops who had not contracted the Dutch Touch. So, my strong conviction is: NO ... just don't go there.

But is there a problem in conscience about 'receiving again' the Sacrament of Order when one is morally certain that one has already received it? This did indeed trouble Blessed John Henry Newman. But he willingly accepted it after being assured that the conditionality would be "implied in the Church's intention" (Ker pp 321 and 466). In view of the repeated assurances given, to the effect that clergy entering into full communion are not being required to deny the validity of anything they have previously received or done, and the careful statement of Fr Aidan Nichols that the invalidity of Anglican Orders is not now unconditionally proposed by the Roman Magisterium, I feel that the understanding which satisfied Newman should be good enough for less brilliant minds than his. Indeed, if the Magisterium took the view that those entering an Ordinariate must accept the invalidity of their current Orders, either explicitly or constructively, they would presumably have required that, before even applying for admission to the presbyterate of the Latin Church, Anglican clergy should have ceased performing sacrilegious simulations of the Eucharist. This is, quite simply, not the line which, so I gather, has been or is being taken either in Rome or locally.

Trent did indeed say, as a correspondent reminds me, that three sacraments non possunt iterari. The present indicative of possunt demonstrates that this is simply a statement of fact. If "Ordination I" was valid, then "Ordination II" is as a matter of fact a nullity. If "Ordination II" is valid, then "Ordination I" must have been a nullity.

I do, however, have a preference about how things are 'done'. If Anglican priests were 'reordained' at a grand, public, triumphalist ceremony, this might have the body-language of "These men were not really priests before". And it could be extremely damaging to ecumenical relationships generally - something which Rome and - so they keep telling us - Westminster too, are rightly anxious to avoid. But if the proceedings were private and low-key (like the ordinations of Bishop Leonard and a number of others), the Anglican Establishment need not be offended, and the conviction of Anglicans that their priesthood truly began at their original Anglican ordination would be respected by the 'reordination's' social marginality and its lack of public ritual assertion. In 1993 Fr Aidan Nichols advocated proceeding along exactly these lines in his elegant picture of an Anglican place of study which could "provide supplementation for the priestly training of former Church of England clergymen and a discreet setting for the making good of any defects in their Orders".

____________________________________________________________________

A final dash of rhetoric. Forget for a moment the RC question; if I became an Orthodox, I would undoubtedly have to be 'reordained' in order to liturgise. Can it really be God's will that Catholic Anglican priests are boxed into a prison camp out which it is impossible for them in good conscience to move into the ministry of any of the Ancient Churches? Is the 'Consensus of the First Millennium', to which so many among us (especially the less 'papalist') have so often appealed, in fact permanently inaccessible to us?

Are some of my brethren sure that this particular 'difficulty' is anything other than a clutching at an arguably respectable pretext for 'not going'?

17 comments:

becket said...

Fr John are you going to be a Priest in the Ordinate?.

Maurice said...

We hope so. Please God. ... But, surely, the question must be: "Fr John, are you going to offer yourself for consideration for ordination as a priest in the Ordinariate?"

motuproprio said...

I think you'll find the question is
"Fr John, are you going to offer yourself for consideration for ordination as a priest in communion with the Holy See in one of the Ordinariates?"

Anonymous said...

Well, this young Catholic certainly hopes he will.

CPKS said...

This old Catholic prays he will, before this old Catholic pops his clogs!

God bless you, Fr John.

Sirian said...

My own suggestion is this. If Anglican priests were 'reordained' at a grand, public, triumphalist ceremony, this would have the body-language of "These men were not really priests before".

Surely that is the point of conditional ordination?: to ordain someone for sure, because their previous ordination was doubtful?

You are certainly asking Rome for more than it can offer.

Nebuly said...

"the faithful ministry of your servant N in the Anglican Church"

Father where and when did all this twaddle about the Anglican 'Church' arise?

It is a Tradition and was a Communion but how, when, and in what manner it became A CHURCH I know not.

Joshua said...

I wish all Anglicans at Tiber's bank, hearing the Bridge-Builder's call, the very best for the future, assuring them of prayers and good will; one trusts the Ponte Benedetto will prove a comfortable crossing point.

If I may repeat, Fr H., what I have written several times before: when next I visit Oxford, I trust matters may be so composed that I may receive the Eucharist at your hands, we being all in Holy Church united.

William Tighe said...

"If I may repeat, Fr H., what I have written several times before: when next I visit Oxford, I trust matters may be so composed that I may receive the Eucharist at your hands, we being all in Holy Church united."

I make Joshua's petition my own, with the addition of a little clausula "or in Texas or elsewhere" after "Oxford."

Peregrinus said...

It has been stated by some and much mooted in Canada that those Anglicans who are ordained absolutely, conditionally or absolutely with conditionality assumed (as per Newman) will be given the dignity of celebrating their priestly jubilees on the date of their Anglican ordination.
I have not been able to verify this, but it does seem to be more than a nod in the direction of "the faithful ministry of your servant N. in the Anglican Church".
Can anyone verify what seems to be a most pastoral measure in line with the Newmanesque stance of the Holy Father with regard to all things patrimonial.

Fr Timothy Matkin said...

". . . the careful statement of Fr Aidan Nichols that the invalidity of Anglican Orders is not now unconditionally proposed by the Roman Magisterium . . ."

I don't quite follow. Father H, could you elaborate or provide the quote?

Fr Ted said...

I'm still a little puzzled at some of the attitudes and by the certainty that so many seem to have that they will be priested in the Ordinariate. Why so sure?

More worrying for the future of ecumenism are the sneers which keep appearing in regard to those who remain behind in the Church of England.

Maybe a footnote in a text book dear to ancient warroris such as myself would be useful in forming our minds:

""This Bull (Apostolicae Curae) is an offical condemnation of Anglican Orders, confirming the previous practice of the Church of Rome in refusing to recognise them. Dr. Briggs, however, was assured by Pius X that this decision of his predecessor was not infallible. See Briggs, Church Unity, p.121"

Clearly there has been a softening of attitudes, as Fr. Hunwicke's post suggests.

Should we not be a little more sympathetic and supportive of each other whether we are staying or going?

childermass said...

I concur. I'll be in Oxford next year, Fr. John, and I hope to receive Our Lord from your hands as well. And may you keep St. Thomas the Martyr in some way, please God.

Rubati said...

Here's a question which lay Anglo-catholics might be interested in. Supposing Anglican priest must be re-ordained when they join the ordinariate because their ordination is in doubt, then it also follows that every absolution for sin which they have given is also doubtful, therefore, is every lay Anglo-Catholic who joins the ordinariate obliged to confess every sin which they have committed since their baptism all over again?

Joshua said...

Is not a general confession of all of one's past a most excellent practice?

Prior to being received, one makes such a confession.

I expect all incoming Anglicans will be zealous practitioners of auricular confession in any case.

Peter said...

Thank you, Fr Hunwicke. That was helpful.

melxiopp said...

A conditional formula in the Orthodox Church for 'questionable baptisms' may offer a relevant perspective on the matter of 'questionable ordinations'. By the late Bishop Basil (Rodzianko)of San Francisco in Light of Life (Diocese of the West, Orthodox Church in America, February 1983):

"The Orthodox Church has a special rule, which concerns all cases in which the condition is not clear. This is a conditional performance of a sacrament. In such cases anyone may be baptized. However, prior to the Sacrament, the priest should say: "If not yet baptized, being baptized nowä "if not chrismated yet, receive the grace of the Holy Spirit now..." etc. This practice is presently widely used in atheistic countries, where frequently there are no reliable information about the baptism of a child. Equally, such a practice is acceptable, if the convert to Orthodoxy is not sure about the legality of his baptism or has any doubts.

In all cases, one should know exactly what the convert really believes and what he thinks about his previous condition, and does his conviction correspond to the facts. Only then should a decision be made concerning what form should be applied: "first rank" -- Baptism, "second rank" -- Chrismation, or "third rank" -- Confession. In questionable cases one should not hesitate to "re-baptize" but it is imperative to apply the formula: "If not yet baptized...""

http://www.holy-trinity.org/liturgics/rodzianko-acceptance.html