Having a bad apostolic-orders week

EpiscopalChaliceWhat a week for the Anglicans or the Episcopalians or whoever is near you who claims ancient ties to the Archbishop of Canterbury.

First there was the silence about Anglicanism in that much-covered Vatican document, the one that grants the Orthodox a unique, if wounded, status as a sacramental “Church.” In the past (please correct me if I am wrong), Anglicans have usually received some kind of nod in Vatican documents to their historic roots and claims to apostolic succession. But in the new Vatican statement, there is silence. Does that mean that the Church of England is covered in the following reference?

FIFTH QUESTION

Why do the texts of the Council and those of the Magisterium since the Council not use the title of “Church” with regard to those Christian Communities born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century?

RESPONSE

According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called “Churches” in the proper sense.

That’s blunt. The Reformation communities have “not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery.”

And then there was this strange little passage in the Associated Press story covering the Episcopal rites for the funeral of Lady Bird Johnson.

“We are here to let Lady Bird go and to celebrate her glad release,” said the Rev. Stephen Kinney, former rector at Johnson’s home church, St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Fredericksburg.

The service ended with a song written for Johnson. One of her daughters, Lynda Johnson Robb, watched from the front row, holding a grandchild and swaying to the music and smiling. The Eucharist, a religious ceremony re-enacting the Last Supper, took place in a room constructed with limestone and oak, both native to the Hill Country.

There are quite a few issues on which many Episcopalians and Anglicans do not agree. However, I am sure there are few in the Anglican Communion who would refer to the Holy Eucharist — Anglo-Catholics would say “Mass” — as a “religious ceremony re-enacting the Last Supper.” Some of the themes and variations in Anglican discussions of this issue even show up in the Wikipedia entry on Anglican Eucharistic theology.

I don’t know if the Texas Hill Country is “high-church” (Catholic) or “low-church” (Evangelical Protestant) or a mixed Episcopal zone.

Still, the AP reference is strange and it assumed way too much. Then again, maybe the writer had already read the latest update from Rome. It was that kind of week.

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • http://decayedarcadia.blogspot.com gabriel

    Okay, regarding Anglican apostolicity, I truly doubt it. Ecumenical hopes regarding Anglicans were quite high mid-century, but Catholicism has long held that Anglican orders are invalid- that the apostolic succession was lost- see Apostolicae Curae.

  • http://www.ecben.net Will

    Right.
    Neuhaus relates how a Catholic bishop, on being asked if the Church of England was endangering chances for reunion by ordaining women, retorted “Why? It’s not like they can ordain MEN.”

  • http://raphael.doxos.com Huw Richardson

    I don’t deny a nod to the claims here or there, but Rome has said Anglicans don’t have valid orders for more than 100 years.

  • Pingback: Sarx » Defective

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    Folks, I am well aware of what the Catholic church believes about Anglican orders.

    Trust me on that.

    My post is about the silence in the document on Anglicanism’s history and its claims. You can acknowledge the claims without affirming with them, within the ecumenical world. What struck me was the silence.

    I’m going to look for examples (while sitting in a meeting far from my office).

  • Larry “Grumpy” Rasczak

    “The Eucharist, a religious ceremony re-enacting the Last Supper, took place in a room constructed with limestone and oak, both native to the Hill Country”

    For a second generation unchurched Liberal something like “the Eucharist” may seem to be an obscure and mysterious rite… for those of us that have actually visited a Catholic or Mainline Protestant Church, or even know someone who has, it is simply what you do every Sunday morning.

    I think this is less a comment on Anglican, Ango-Catholic, and Episcopalian doctrine than on the deep and profound ignorance of the reporter writing the piece.

  • Jeff

    Bad choice of words, I think. However, I also think you would be surprised at the number of Anglican who do simply see it as a commemoration – which is not far removed from a re-enactment.

  • bls

    Why would Anglicans care? According to Catholic teaching, Anglican orders are “absolutely null and utterly void” and have been since 1898 or so.

    This is just a re-statement of what everybody knows already. Either the Vatican corrects its previous error or it doesn’t; tender words mean less than nothing.

  • http://decayedarcadia.blogspot.com gabriel

    bls’s comment indicates why there was no nod to Anglicanism’s claims. Due to the context of discussing valid sacraments, such a nod would have had to have been accompanied by a reminder that Anglicanism’s orders are in fact invalid, which as bls demonstrates, isn’t taken as a kindness. Better to have made no nod whatsoever.

  • bob

    To think of ECUSA claims for itself, recall exactly 42 years ago, when Luci Johnson was received into the Catholic Church. This from TIME 7/16/65:

    When Luci Baines Johnson celebrated her 18th birthday by entering the Roman Catholic Church a fortnight ago, Father James Montgomery capped the ceremony by pouring water on her forehead and saying: “If you have not been baptized, I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” Luci’s conversion turned out to be a baptism of fire as well as of water. Almost immediately, there were angry murmurs of discontent from Episcopal churchmen—not because Luci had left their church,* but because she had been baptized as a baby according to Episcopal rites. And it is firm teaching of both faiths that baptism is a sacrament that once validly given cannot and should not be repeated.

    Angriest of all was California’s Episcopal Bishop James A. Pike, who was himself baptized and brought up as a Roman Catholic—and was never rebaptized when he became an Episcopalian. Pike denounced the rebaptism as “sacrilegious” and a “direct slap at our church.” The Right Rev. Donald Hallock, Episcopal Bishop of Milwaukee, admitted that he too had a “feeling of disappointment.”

    Just the humor of it; James Pike (?!) calling something *sacrilegious*. Like, I dunno, a heresy? This was before they had Muslim priestesses.
    The comment about the Eucharist in the article about Mrs. Johnson’s funeral merely shows what this blog’s name is still true.

  • http://www.ecben.net Will

    Grumpy, you are wrong about self-styled-mainline Protestant churches. Apart from Anglicans, communion is likely to be observed once a month, if that often. (And they would never call it “the Eucharist”.

  • http://aconservativeblogforpeace.pageshow.net/ The young fogey

    I am sure there are few in the Anglican Communion who would refer to the Holy Eucharist — Anglo-Catholics would say “Mass” — as a “religious ceremony re-enacting the Last Supper.”

    Just more sloppy religion reporting.

    I know that Vatican II gave the Anglican Communion a tip of the biretta for maintaining some Catholic traditions but it never denied, and the last two Popes (including the now reigning one writing in his predecessor’s name) have affirmed, Pope Leo XIII’s 1896 negative ruling on Anglican orders. And more than a few Roman Catholics say that’s unchangeable.

    That said there is the Dutch touch: most (at least most male) Anglican clergy can now claim an Old Catholic line of apostolic succession because Old Catholic or ex-Old Catholic bishops (in the case of Rudolph de Landes Berghes in the Episcopal Church in the early 1900s) have co-consecrated Anglican ones. (The Episcopal Church and Polish National Catholic Church were in communion, with inter-consecrations if there is such a word, from 1946 until the PNCC left over women’s ordination in 1977.) Rome recognises Old Catholic orders held by men like it does Orthodox and other Eastern ones.

    So there are Anglo-Catholics why say Apostolicæ Curæ may well be true but the question is now moot: that according to Western Catholic sacramentology these men are apostolic bishops, priests and deacons.

    The Orthodox don’t look at it the same way as Mr Mattingly knows – what matters as much as lineage is being in the church which they define as Orthodoxy so the ‘lines of succession’ game doesn’t fly there.

    Rome seems to keep a diplomatic silence about the matter but it doesn’t treat such priests like it does Orthodox priests. In the rare cases where Orthodox switch, Rome doesn’t reordain them.

    So I’m afraid it’s true that Rome views Anglicans as a Protestant non-church.

    But it started conditionally reordaining Dutch-touch ex-Anglicans in 1968 with Fr J.J. Hughes who wrote a book on it, Absolutely Null and Utterly Void. (Instead of reordaining them outright.) And it still does especially with high-profile converts such as Mgr Graham Leonard, quondam Bishop of London.

    When I read the news about Lady Bird Johnson I was surprised she was still alive until recently and remembered she was a convert to Anglicanism (she went to an Episcopal school – college? – St Mary’s). And I remembered reading that story about Luci and wondered if anybody else remembered. If she didn’t have a baptismal certificate (very unlikely) the RC priest was correct; if she did he was wrong according to RC teaching and yes, Bishop Pike was right about something!

    The Right Rev. Donald Hallock, Episcopal Bishop of Milwaukee, admitted that he too had a “feeling of disappointment.”

    Back then Milwaukee was an Anglo-Catholic diocese, part of the Episcopal Church’s ‘biretta belt’ spanning the upper Mid-West at the time.

    May the souls of the faithful through the mercy of God departed rest in peace. Amen. Jesu, mercy. Mary, pray.

  • http://aconservativesiteforpeace.info The young fogey

    The Orthodox take on Anglican orders has elements of what both AO and I described and an interesting difference from Rome. They always reordain ex-Anglicans outright but there’s an Orthodox opinion that if the Anglican Communion officially unprotestantised and then asked to be admitted to Orthodoxy its male clergy could be received in their orders (much like Rome and most Orthodox receive each other’s few convert clergy). In the 1920s and 1930s some Orthodox patriarchates made official statements saying that, and the founding first hierarch of ROCOR, Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky), a man in the 19th-century tsarist mould not particularly hostile to other Christians, believed that.

    (I imagine St Tikhon, who as Russian archbishop in America was very friendly with the Episcopalians – he happily posed for a picture at the consecration of the Episcopal cathedral in Fond du Lac – would have agreed! He had an Episcopalian, Isabel Hapgood, write the first translation of the Russian services into English. He also envisaged former Anglicans retaining their rite in an unprotestantised form and with that in mind sent a Book of Common Prayer to Russia for his church’s Holy Synod to study. The resulting report is the basis for one of the two Western rites some Antiochian Orthodox use today; the other rite, used by a very few, is the Tridentine Mass.)

    Some wishful-thinking or misunderstanding Anglicans interpret that wrongly as ‘Orthodox recognise our orders as is’.

    So in practice the Orthodox treat Anglican clergy exactly like pre-1960s Rome did but in theory they hold something different from Pope Leo XIII’s ruling.

  • http://www.tmatt.net tmatt

    Just for accuracy sake, in the Antiochian archdiocese the other Western Rite is an English translation of the ancient Liturgy of St. Gregory, which long pre-dates the Tridentine. It is also the rite that is now growing, slowly, in terms of usage.

  • http://aconservativeblogforpeace.pageshow.net/ The young fogey

    Correcting the garbled prayer at the end of my first comment:

    May the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen. Jesu, mercy. Mary, pray.

  • http://aconservativeblogforpeace.pageshow.net/ The young fogey

    The Tridentine Mass is a ‘use’ (‘recension’ in Byzantine lingo) of the Roman Rite Mass, which the Orthodox sometimes call the Rite of St Gregory after the Pope credited with writing its canon/consecration prayer/anaphora. The Orthodox don’t claim their version is pre-schism practice but simply an acceptance of good Western Catholic practice as handed down particularly in the Tridentine use. There are a couple of byzantinisations: no filioque (which is understandable) and a Byzantine-like epiclesis added to the Roman Canon (there were mediæval variants of that canon that had one).

    Thanks for mentioning, as I forgot to, that WRO usually do it in English (I think the excellent Anglican translation of the Knott Missal or the official Orthodox book that at least resembles it). Some, such as St Augustine’s Church in Denver and possibly St Mark’s ex-Episcopal there, do it in Latin.

    I didn’t know more WRO are using it. Thank you!

  • dcs

    if she did he was wrong according to RC teaching

    No, the practice of the Catholic Church at the time was to baptize converts conditionally. So what the good Fr. did was not at all wrong according to the teaching of the Church.

  • http://aconservativeblogforpeace.pageshow.net/ The young fogey

    AFAIK John Henry Newman wasn’t rebaptised by Fr Dominic Barberi.

    Also this claim goes against Rome’s ruling pre-Vatican II about the baptisms of the Oceanic Methodists, which were recognised as valid even though they read a statement before the baptism denying ex opere operato regeneration!

    (Which BTW IIRC was used as an example in an argument, about intention and all that, that Anglo-Catholic Thomist Eric Mascall used to defend Anglican orders.)

    So either Luci Baines Johnson didn’t have proof on paper of her baptism or that priest was simply wrong.

  • bob

    I sort of hoped someone might remember that Pike had repudiated belief in the Trinity, calling Father, Son and Holy Spirit “Excess baggage”. Hence, rebaptizing Miss Johnson in the name of the Trinity not only allegedly upset his tiny grasp of “order”, but also invoked God in whom he no longer believed. Torqued his shorts twice.

  • http://kingslynn.blogspot.com C. Wingate

    To get back to the original topic, what seems striking about this document to me (at least as reported– I haven’t taken the time to read a document which, as an Anglican, I know to be incorrect :) ) is how much of a non-news statement it is. The pope repeats (by commission or omission) age-old claims, and the media somehow have to make news out of it. It isn’t as though Apostolicae Curae hasn’t been picked apart by several generations of Anglican divines, that it should matter so much that the papacy has no interest in any kind of reconciliation.

  • Deacon Eric

    In the past (please correct me if I am wrong), Anglicans have usually received some kind of nod in Vatican documents to their historic roots and claims to apostolic succession.

    Sorry, that’s not the case. These documents have almost always been silent on the Anglican Communion. The question of whether they are considered a church or “ecclesial community” has always been left open in official documents. The issue is far to complex to merely make recourse to Apostolicae Curae.

    First of all, it’s not just Anglicans who have problems with Apostolicae Curae; lots of Catholic theologians have problems with it as well. For example, among the beefs AC has are changes to the rite of ordination (e.g., lack of transmission of instruments) which are changes very similar to the new Roman rite. Secondly, there is the practice among some Anglicans of including among the ordaining bishops those from Old Catholic traditions who have undeniably valid orders. There is also the fact thet both Paul VI and John Paul II always treated Anglican bishops as true bishops in practice — for example, by consistently giving them pectoral crosses as gifts, something Vatican protocol reserves to bishops.

    After Vatican II, there was significant momentum among theologians and the Holy See to re-examine Apostolicae Curae, but the ordaining of women as priests put a significant crimp in that movement. Still, no Vatican statement has put the Anglicans either in the category of churches nor of ecclesial communities — as a nod to these complex issues.

  • dcs

    Also this claim goes against Rome’s ruling pre-Vatican II about the baptisms of the Oceanic Methodists, which were recognised as valid even though they read a statement before the baptism denying ex opere operato regeneration!

    It does not follow from the fact that Oceanic Methodists’ baptisms were recognized as valid in principle that a person converting from that sect would not have been conditionally baptized. Indeed, if their validity were not recognized, then such converts would likely be baptized absolutely and not conditionally.

  • http://aconservativeblogforpeace.pageshow.net/ The young fogey

    It does not follow from the fact that Oceanic Methodists’ baptisms were recognized as valid in principle that a person converting from that sect would not have been conditionally baptized.

    If the person has a certificate he is not received by baptism.

    The only Christians I’ve heard of who receive baptised Christians by baptism are some Eastern (ROCOR and in the 1800s the Greeks) and Oriental (Copts) Orthodox. They all reserve the right to do it because they are only sure their own sacraments are real but in practice most say other Christians’ baptism has valid form that is filled in with grace (if it was lacking) when the person is chrismated/absolved/‘sung in’ with a ‘Многая лета’ (Chronia polla, ‘Many years’) or like the late great Fr Lev (Gillet) concelebrates with the bishop (all ways people have joined Orthodoxy).

    In fact the three biggest Orthodox denominations in America, the Greeks, the OCA (old Russian metropolia) and the Antiochians, have all agreed not to do it. Not the same as recognising Protestant sacraments in themselves, which in this case Rome does, but there you are.

  • http://aconservativeblogforpeace.pageshow.net/ The young fogey

    P.S. Make that the only apostolic, catholic Christians I’ve heard of. Of course Protestant churches that don’t believe in infant baptism receive members with baptism.

  • http://jandyongenesis.blogspot.com Alice C. Linsley

    The present crisis in Anglicanism, prompted by a series of actions in The Episcopal Church, makes the silence understandable. Such unilateral actions as TEC has taken usually characterize Protestants and indeed Anglicans are both protestant (reformed) and catholic. The Vatican isn’t going to give Anglican orders recognition until Anglicanism clarifies itself. Archbishop Orombi’s recent speech on “What is Anglicanism” reflected the Ugandan revival experience and raised good questions about failures of doctrine and disciple, but it didn’t clarify the points that matter to Rome.