This piece is first of a long series which I have already written and set to pop up one after another. If you comment, the likelihood is that you will be addressing some point which I deal with in a later section. And, while I normally dislike censorship, I will delete contributions the tone of which I dislike.
Pope Stephen VII dug up his predecessor's corpse and tried it; he annulled all his ordinations. In less than a year, he was strangled in prison. Well, there you go. But he was Sovereign Pontiff; and whatever Magisterium Popes have, he had it in full ... didn't he? His annulling of his predecessor's ordinations is a particularly dramatic example of a recurrent phenomenon in Church History: the conviction that the Orders of someone of whom one very strongly disapproves - either personally or theologically - are invalid. We don't know why S Theodore thought S Chad was invalidly consecrated; we know that he did. There were recurrent claims in the Middle Ages that the orders of someone who had committed simony were invalid ... one can understand why. And I wouldn't be in the least surprised to learn that the Orthodox reordain convert Latin priests ... and even less surprised to learn that different Orthodox jurisdictions have different praxeis in this matter, and that some of them even reordain other Orthodox. And, a few years ago, the Vatican Press Office declared that Orders conferred by a schismatic African bishop would not be treated as valid. Again, one can see why: lots of unpleasant schismatical nutters proliferating Orders ... a nightmare (The Vatican Press Office, however, has not usually been seen as the principal dicastery charged with passing judgement on such matters). I will call this attitude towards those of whom we strongly disapprove, because I can't think of anything better, Gut Instinct Invalidation.
But over there, in the other corner of the ring, is a different attitude: that valid orders can and do exist in the most unattractive and improbable places. And that the minimum rquirements in terms of Matter, Form and Intention are extremely low. This is the dominant and official doctrinal tendency within Catholic theology, even if the Vatican Press Office hasn't heard of it.
I am not in the least surprised that Cardinal Vaughan worked so relentlessly to have Anglican Orders declared invalid, out of Gut Instinct Invalidation. There were those Anglicans, he thought, now pretending to be 'Catholic priests' when their Anglican predecessors had murdered, taunted, tortured the martyrs from the seminaries. And this is, in itself, a pretty good reason for Anglicans to show some humility when seeking to exercise their priesthood in communion with Rome. Above all, let us recall how S Chad behaved when confronted with Gut Instinct Invalidation in the person of S Theodore. He submitted gracefully and humbly, and thus ecclesial communion was restored and made perfect in his graceful submission.
But this is not quite all there is to say.