31 July 2010

Apostolicae curae: context

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.

12 comments:

Pastor in Valle said...

I knew a Catholic priest who converted to Orthodoxy and was even rebaptized. As you state, practice varies.

Священник села said...

On the other hand, the normal practice of the Russian Church is to *receive by vesting* RC priests if there is no other problem involved in re-booting their orders. *By vesting* means that the one being received is vested in priestly vestments by the bishop presiding at Liturgy and then joins the Liturgy as a concelebrant.

Священник села said...

THE TYPIKON OF SERVICES
Of the Orthodox Church
By Konstantin Nikol'sky
Archpriest of the Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos on Sennaya
Sixth Edition
Saint Petersburg. 1900
pp. 685-686


THE OFFICE OF RECEIVING A PRIEST OF THE ROMAN CHURCH INTO COMMUNION WITH THE ORTHODOX CATHOLIC CHURCH [1]

1. Such cases of uniting to the Orthodox Church are done according to the general office as outlined here.

2. The sponsor that is customary in this is chosen from among the Clergy.

3. There is no female sponsor.

4. Recognition of the person thus conjoined in the office of Priest requires a decision of the Holy Synod.

5. Before his admittance to service as a Priest, his conscience must be examined before a spiritual father, as in the case of one preparing for Ordination.

6. If examination reveals there is no canonical impediment for a blessing to serve, then, when the Hierarch arrives at the Church to celebrate the Divine Liturgy, the candidate comes with the rest of the clergy dressed according to the custom of Orthodox clergy and receives with them the Hierarch's blessing, after which he goes to the Diaconicon and stays there, not vested, until the Cherubicon.

7. After the Cherubicon and the placing of the holy gifts on the Holy Table, he is led by Subdeacons, but not through the Holy Doors, rather within the Altar to the Holy Throne (Altar Table) and to the Hierarch, and he reverences him in the manner of one being brought to Ordination. And the Priestly vestments are brought and put on the one being received into the community of the Priesthood. The Hierarch blesses each piece of the vestments, and the one being vested kisses the Hierarch's hand. And the Deacon says the verses for Priestly vestments, not as exclamations, but so that the one being vested can hear him. After this the one received into the community of the Priesthood receives the kiss of peace from the Hierarch and the rest, in the manner of one just ordained, and he stands with the rest of the Priests and takes part in the Liturgy and in the Communion of the Holy Mysteries. And from thence he has the same power to liturgize as an Orthodox Priest. [2] (Collection of the Opinions and Judgments of Metropolitan Philaret, volume V, pp. 952 953.)

--------------------------------------------

1 This office was formulated by Metropolitan Philaret because of the case of the reputed incorrect bringing into Orthodox Communion of the Abbot Maundreli. See "Letters of Philaret, Metropolitan of Moscow to A.P.M. 1832-1867.

2 In the periodical "Readings of the Imperial Society of History and Antiquities" (1892, book 4) the basis for this is set out that clergy coming from among the heretics being united to the Orthodox Church, about whom there is no doubt of their having been baptized and ordained, must be received by only presenting a written confession of faith and condemnation of their heresy as was practiced by the Seventh Ecumenical Council with regard to the conversion of the Iconoclastic bishops and other clergy, etc., and they must be received, each in his priestly rank, according to the 8th canon of the First Ecumenical Council, i.e., vested.

Michael said...

Sorry if this a a bit off topic, but I've been struggling with one issue concerning reordination that I haven't seen addressed elsewhere and wondered if someone could help me with it.

Namely, the point of conditionally performing a sacrament is to both provide certainty (this is has been discussed well in blogs) while at the same time -avoiding the sin of sacrilege- by possibly repeating a once and for all sacrament.

The indelible mark necessitates the conditional sacrament anytime there is doubt concerning a baptism, for example. If it were not so, in cases of doubt, absolute wording would suffice.

Even if an Anglican priest thought his orders were probably invalid, but believed there were serious reasons they might be valid, this would call for conditional reordination.

It's how baptism is treated, I fail to understand why this would not apply the priesthood (and even confirmation by someone with uncertain orders-all are indelible marks.)

Fr LR said...

I'm still looking for that indelible mark Christian Baptism left on me. Perhaps my search explains the primum movens for the tonsure? But that presupposes vanity in flaunting what was freely obtained; so I must be on the wrong track. When I come to think of it, the last indelible mark I know I received was from a black El Marko clumsily taken up; but alas, in time that has faded.

Rather dodgy things, indelible marks. Thanks be to God, God is not a legal positivist and can see right through indelible marks. Actus et potentia. Ordination is freely given, freely taken and freely set aside – it is never the possessors’ possession, especially when a higher spiritual (i.e. actual) authority doubts the intent of the possessor; and there is always a higher spiritual authority; that is, unless you’re a Protestant.

Peregrinus said...

"He submitted gracefully and humbly, and thus ecclesial communion was restored and made perfect in his graceful submission."

Your thoughts on the matter of ordination and magisterium are very insightful, Father, and, if I may say, very Anglican in the patrimonial sense of course.

I paraphrase some comments which were deleted from the blog as they were, perhaps, flowing in the wrong stream, as it were, in the CCC discussion.

As one who fully intends to walk across the bridge that the Holy Father has built for Anglicans, I think that your reflections upon magisterium, Ap. Cur., the CCC are very helpful as food for the journey but these same reflections are also instructive for our Roman brethren on the far side of the Tiber who sometimes forget the historical anomalies and the nuanced views of Newman on Vatican II, magisterium, papal definitions, etc. which have helped to form what you call, the “the dominant and official doctrinal tendency within Catholic theology.”

May I add that it is my understanding, upon very good authority here in Canada, that Anglican clergy will indeed submit to ordination rites by Latin bishops to put all question of validity to rest. However:

a) these clergy will not be assumed to have invalid orders simply under the provisions of Ap. Cur. because all have Old Catholic lineage through Canadian Anglican bishops (since the 1960s at least) and all have been ordained under rites which have been revised since the 19th century to allow for a proper intention.

b) all Anglican clergy will retain their dates of Anglican ordination for incardination in the various ordinariates e.g. priests ordained in the Anglican Church of Canada (or C of E) in 1970 may celebrate their golden jubilee as priests in 2020, D.V..

These facts certainly seem to provide a degree of conditionality and go a long way to assuring those with doubts about the repetition of an indelible sacrament. The recognition of the original date of Anglican holy orders alone recognizes the extensive if not absolutely unquestionable validity of these orders.

As you indicate, it is essential for all to consider and attempt to assume the attitude of St. Chad and, I may add, that of the soon to be ‘Blessed’, J.H. Newman. If it was good enough for them to accept the the laying on of hands by an orthodox Latin rite bishop to complete what was begun in good Catholic faith, it must be good enough for all of us as we seek to heal a wound in the Body of Christ and insure the authenticity of the Catholic priesthood of the Anglican ordinariates.

Peregrinus said...

"He submitted gracefully and humbly, and thus ecclesial communion was restored and made perfect in his graceful submission."

Your thoughts on the matter of ordination and magisterium are very insightful, Father, and, if I may say, very Anglican in the patrimonial sense of course.

I paraphrase some comments which were deleted from the blog as they were, perhaps, flowing in the wrong stream, as it were, in the CCC discussion.

As one who fully intends to walk across the bridge that the Holy Father has built for Anglicans, I think that your reflections upon magisterium, Ap. Cur., the CCC are very helpful as food for the journey but these same reflections are also instructive for our Roman brethren on the far side of the Tiber who sometimes forget the historical anomalies and the nuanced views of Newman on Vatican II, magisterium, papal definitions, etc. which have helped to form what you call, the “the dominant and official doctrinal tendency within Catholic theology.”

May I add that it is my understanding, upon very good authority here in Canada, that Anglican clergy will indeed submit to ordination rites by Latin bishops to put all question of validity to rest. However:

a) these clergy will not be assumed to have invalid orders simply under the provisions of Ap. Cur. because all have Old Catholic lineage through Canadian Anglican bishops (since the 1960s at least) and all have been ordained under rites which have been revised since the 19th century to allow for a proper intention.

b) all Anglican clergy will retain their dates of Anglican ordination for incardination in the various ordinariates e.g. priests ordained in the Anglican Church of Canada (or C of E) in 1970 may celebrate their golden jubilee as priests in 2020, D.V..

These facts certainly seem to provide a degree of conditionality and go a long way to assuring those with doubts about the repetition of an indelible sacrament. The recognition of the original date of Anglican holy orders alone recognizes the extensive if not absolutely unquestionable validity of these orders.

As you indicate, it is essential for all to consider and attempt to assume the attitude of St. Chad and, I may add, that of the soon to be ‘Blessed’, J.H. Newman. If it was good enough for them to accept the the laying on of hands by an orthodox Latin rite bishop to complete what was begun in good Catholic faith, it must be good enough for all of us as we seek to heal a wound in the Body of Christ and insure the authenticity of the Catholic priesthood of the Anglican ordinariates.

Gideon Ertner said...

Interesting observations. However, before you impugn AC for being i
an instance of this 'gut instinct invalidation', remember what the Pontiff says at the beginning:

"Catholic writers were impelled [to argue for the validity of Anglican orders] by a wish to smooth the way for the return of Anglicans to holy unity... And we, not disregarding such desires and opinions, above all, obeying the dictates of apostolic charity, have considered that nothing should be left untried that might in any way tend to preserve souls from injury or procure their advantage.

It can be seen from this that Leo XIII perfectly recognized that considering Anglican orders invalid was a 'hard teaching' and presented an obstacle for the conversion of Anglicans. His motivation for solemnly declaring them null and void can only have been to safeguard the truth.

李蔡文山家榮 said...

每日都有新日光,每日都有新希望。..................................................

Carlos Antonio Palad said...

Fr. Hunwicke:

Have you read this?

http://holywhapping.blogspot.com/2007/09/episcopalian-convert-bishops-have-valid.html

Strangely, almost no one ever discusses this case...

Joshua said...

Dear Fr H.,

When you deleted your earlier posting on this matter, you also deleted my comment, which I hoped was irenic enough...

I tried to explain that "conditional" has a different meaning in regard to the sacraments than one would naively expect.

If one is fairly sure a sacrament WAS confected, but some doubts remain, then the sacrament is re-conferred conditionally. The case that springs to mind is that of a former Bishop of Sale, in Victoria, who was very scrupulous - to watch him purify the paten after Communion was an agony - and who customarily re-ordained his ordinands sub conditione in the sacristy directly after their Ordinations, as he was not quite certain he'd done everything properly! (This was before Pius XII clarified some vexed questions about the conferring of Holy Orders.)

But if there is serious question as to whether a sacrament was conferred, THEN it is "repeated" absolutely.

In other words, "conditional" ordination would only be done in a far more restricted set of circumstances than anxious and somewhat scandalized Anglicans would imagine to be the case. For this reason, unless there is very good documentary evidence (as in the famous case of Mgr Leonard), all "re-ordinations" of ex-Anglican ministers are done in forma absoluta.

I sincerely hope this helps, and doesn't fall again under the Oxonian anathema.

Dominic Mary said...

Personally, I think your observation that 'the minimum rquirements in terms of Matter, Form and Intention are extremely low' is accurate enough : but I would suggest that the issue of Intention is perhaps the least flexible of them all; and that it is this - coupled with the near-impossibility of tracing everyone's 'family tree' back with sufficient accuracy to ensure that there are no lacunae in it - which is ultimately responsible for the Catholic Church's overall concerns about the validity of Anglican Orders.
Any given Anglican priest or bishop may well be validly ordained; but they might not be, and for the certainty of the whole Church it is necessary to ensure that they are . . . hence reordination.