Saturday, June 04, 2011


Prepared for and read at the conference in Victoria, BC  
The Most Rev. Peter D. Robinson, *
Presiding Bishop of the United Episcopal Church.

When I was asked to step in and prepare this talk on Apostolic Authority and Anglican Orders, somewhat whimsically I decided to 'google' the title given me, and see what that search engine brought up.  Something like three-quarters of the first fifty pages brought up by google concerned the Roman Church, and its attitude to the validity of Anglican Orders.  This somewhat surprised me, as I have always regarded that particular controversy as something of a tempest in a teapot.  I suspect this may in part be due to my traditional Anglo-Irish Anglican indifference to the claims of Rome.

I would have thought that, from an Anglican point of view, it is of far more moment that our discipline practice and belief allign with those of the Bible and the Early Church than with the practices of the modern Roman Church.  However it seems some of my brethren are not so relaxed in their attitude to Roman claims, so I am going to attempt to explain firstly, why Anglicans are skeptical about Papal claims regarding Apostolic Authority, and secondly, why our Orders are valid when examined at the bar of history and ancient practice.


When Eamon DeValera was drafting the new Constitution of the Eire in 1938 he found himself in some perplexity as to how to describe the various Churches.   He did not wish to offend either of the two main Christian churches within the Irish Free State - the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Ireland.  For advice he turned to Dr J A F Gregg, the then (Protestant) Archbishop of Dublin.  After some preliminary chit-chat Dr Gregg suggested that each of the Churches should be given its proper title - "Church of Ireland" for his Communion, and, quoting from the Tridentine decrees, the "Holy, Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman Church" for Mr DeValera's Communion. 

This reference to Rome in the decrees of Trent should tip us off to the essential corner stone of the Roman position.  What I call the Roman fact, that for them the Rome is the centre of the Ecclasiastical universe, just as it was the centre of the Empire when the Caesars reigned.

The Biblical basis of Roman claims to authority over the whole Church depend on a single questionable text in the New Testament, which we will discuss momentarily.  Far more significant from the point of view of establishing Roman claims is the fact that the city can indeed rightly claim to be the site of the martyrdoms of St Peter and St Paul.  Added to which has to be the tremendous weight that its status as the Imperial City gave it in the Classical world.  However, a little history and a little smoke and mirrors do not neccessarily lead to a valid claim to Universal Primacy and Universal Jurisdiction.

The text that is always trotted out to justify Roman claims is:

"Thou art Peter, and upon this Rock will I build my Church." 

The famous 'Tu es Petrus' text which you will find inscribed on the inside of the drum of the dome of St Peter's Basilica in Rome, is apparently a simple assertion of Christ's appointment of Peter as the Rock on which His Church would be built. Or is it?

When one looks at the Early Fathers a majority of them see the 'Tu es Petrus' text as referring not to Peter personally but to his confession of faith that Jesus is "the Christ."  By the way, most those who tend to see the 'thou art Peter' text as justifying Papal claims tend to be western Christians, if not actually Roman Christians.  This single text is not much to build on, especially when one examines the position of Peter in the Apostlic band.

In the Book of Acts it would seem that the Apostles collectively, and not just Peter himself, were seen as the central authority within the Church.  Even Peter himself submitted some matters, such as the conditions for the admission of the Gentile into the Church, to them for their judgement (see Acts 11).  The pattern of decision making is clearly conciliar.

It would seem to me that there is no sound Scriptural argument for saying that any unique additional authority attaches to St Peter, or to the See of Rome that was not in some sense shared with James and John, and most likely, with the other Apostles.  Indeed, St Peter's presence, imprisonent and martyrdom in Rome are not attested to in Scripture, but in ancient and wide spread tradition.  There is certainly no evidence that he was Bishop of Rome.  Indeed that title may, in fact, belong to Linus or perhaps Cletus, as it seems Rome may have been slow to adopt a monarchical episcopate.

This neatly brings me to the point that apart from a rather tortuous reading of the 'Tu es Petrus' passage there is nothing that links Primacy to Peter - indeed St James seems to have been regarded as more of a 'Primate' in the book of Acts - and still less to tie the Primacy to Rome.  Therefore one has to conclude that Roman Primacy - never mind Universal Jurisdiction or Infallibility - do not rest on Scripture.  Being incapable of Biblical proof it cannot be required to be believed as a doctrine necessary for Salvation, which is, of course, exactly what the modern Roman Church requires.

History is far more favourable to the idea of Roman Primacy, and here the evidence stacks up a little more neatly.  After all Rome was the city where Peter and Paul had been martyred.  It was the site of the Colosseum where so many early Christian martyrs suffered.  It was also - until the time of Constantine the Great, the emperor who legalized the Church - the centre of Imperial Government.  A whole series of big woolly concepts comes into play.  Rome the city of Peter and Paul, the Rome of the martyrs, Rome as the centre of the Empire, the City of Emperors.  At the very least, one can say that Rome was the seat of the Roman Empire, the only secular power which the vast majority of Christians had ever known. 

Therefore it is not too much of a leap to say that the Bishop of Rome as Bishop of the Imperial Capital enjoyed a certain prestige with his brother bishops whenever matters were under discussion.  As you can imagine this prestige was gradually converted into 'hard currency' in the form of the titles of Primate of Italy, and Patriarch of the West.  With the legalisation of Christianity, the Church's structure had begun to evolve to take account of the fact it was now a recognized Imperial religion.  However, the title Patriarch was shared with Alexandria, Constantinople (the New Rome), Antioch and Jerusalem, and that of primate with many other cities including Lyons.  Also, thanks to the inherent conservativism of churchmen, the Bishops of Rome were accorded a primacy of honour, one that I suspect was all too often acknowledged by the other Patriarchs through clenched teeth.  One wonders what the late antique equivelent of "with all due respect" was with which they prefaced their tirades questioning the Bishop of Rome's judgement in this or that matter.

However, in the Latin speaking Church of the West, the Roman See occupied a unique position as the only Patriarchate and it quickly came to be regarded as the most prestigeous Church in the West.  Whenever there was a dispute one appealed to Rome for a final decision.   This gradually gave flesh to the theoretical primacy of honour that the Bishops of the Imperial City already had, and by the seventh century Rome was definitely the greatest center in Western Christendom.

The great Patriarchs of the East did not allow this to go unchallenged, and there was a long running dispute between old Rome and new Rome - the former imperial city, and the one that housed the living emperor - as to which was the greatest Church in Christendom.   Justinians Hagia Sophia was built to outshine the churches of the old Rome, and briefly, in the sixth century the tide ran in Constantinople's favour when Justinian was able to establish Byzantine control over central and southern Italy.  Then, as the victories of Narses were squandered by less competant emperors, Rome was again left in her splendid isolation as the senior see of the Western Church.  The Western Church was left to deal with her barbarian problem, whilst the East dealt with heretics and Muslims.  Communications between Greek east and Latin West became less frequent, and a steady astrangement set in, which was punctuated by periodic excommunications and reconciliations down to the year 1054AD, when the final schism between East and West took place.

Now, when we refer to the Great Schism, we are, of course, using hindsight.  No-one at the time thought it would be anything more than a temporary spat like all the others.  However, the excommunications of 1054 were not permanently lifted for some 900 years and constitute the single biggest factor in making the breech between East and West permanent so far.  They are also a convenient place at which to stop our examination of the development of Papal claims because the excommunications of 1054 represent the end of the period of Catholic consensus to which the Affirmation of St Louis appeals.  It is evident from this brief that certain innovations - such as the Universal Jurisdiction and Infallibility of the Pope form no part of the theologcal tradition to which Anglicans appeal - the Church before the disunion of East and West to which Bishop Ken appeals in his will.  They are instead innovations of the 13th and 19th centuries respectively, though in both cases they had been popular theological opinion in the West for several centuries previous to their official promulgation.

From the historical summary given above you can discern that the claims of a unique Apostolic Authority that resides in the Roman Pontiff alone is questionable to say the least.  Indeed, our oldest sources see Apostolic Authority that resides in the bishops of the church as a whole.  This position is supported by the fact that major doctrinal decisions in the Early Church are entrusted to Councils of Bishops called by the Emperor.  The invitation to these councils went to all the bishops in Communion with the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church, and although only a percentage responded to the Emperor's invitation, the decisions and Canons of the Councils were received by the whole Church, thus becoming Ecumenical.    Oddly enough, these are the same seven councils to which the Affirmation of St Louis appeals in its section of doctrinal principles.  On the evidence presented by the Scriptures and by the practice of the Early Church one has to conclude that Apostolic Authority is committed to the Bishops as a whole, and that the Bishop of Rome down the middle of the eleven century was given only a limited primacy of honour throughout the Church, and within his own Patriarchate only some limited form of appellate jurisdiction. 

However, as a counterbalance to this there is some evidence that in the case of the Gallican and English Churches there was a certain amount of local autonomy.  Local councils were held - such as the English Council at Clovesho in the 10th century - to resolve local difficulties and make Canons.  We also have that somewhat cryptic letter of St Gregory to St Augustine of Canterbury referring to the later as "'Patriarch' of the other orb."  Implying that the Archbishop of English Church had a certain degree of independence from Rome and was to make his own decisions in keeping with the Catholic and Apostolic faith.  He was perhaps also expressing a hope that the Archbishop of Canterbury might one day become a Patiarch to the Germanic peoples of Northern Europe.


Now we need to move on to the subject of Holy Orders.  As a consequence of the Universal jurisdiction the Roman Pontiff claims, the Holy See has made certain objections to the validity of Anglican Orders.  These objections fall into three categories: 

The first is the simply assertion that the Anglican Church has fallen into heresy and has thereby invalidated its own orders.  Although this argument was used in the time of Edward VI and Mary I by Pope Paul IV, it has been little used since.  However it was used by Paul IV back in the 16th C. in preparing his Bull authorizing Reginald Cardinal Pole to reconcile the English Church to Rome.  However, it is largely of historical interest, and has not been used by the Papacy since the accession of Elizabeth I in a definitive pronouncement.  I also believe that these claims can be answered by a simple appeal to our continuing adherence to the Scriptures, the Creeds, and the Ancient fathers and councils as being sufficent evidence that we have retained the substance of the Catholic faith, and disagree only with Papal additions to the faith of the Undivided Church.

More usually Roman condemnations of Anglican Orders have focussed on either defects of matter and form; or defects of intention.  These two categories seem to have been a far more profitable field of objection.  So it seems to me, that the best approach we can take is to examine what the New Testament and the Early Church has to say about the form and manner of ordination.


The references to what we would call ordination in the New Testament are relatively few and scattered, but sufficient to make three things perfectly clear to us.  Firstly, that within a very few years of the Crucifixion the Church had an ordered form of ministry.  Secondly, that it already had these orders of minister deacon, presbyter/elder, and bishop/overseer.  And lastly that prayer with the laying on of hands was the established form for ordinations. 

Apart from Jesus' commissioning of His disciples recorded in Matthew 28, 18-20 -  the Great Commission - and that in John 20, 21-23, when he confers the power of the keys to His Apostles, the first references to the formal commissioning of ministers comes in Acts of the Apostles.  From the internal literary evidence we can reasonably assume that Acts was written sometime around 62-64AD describing events which took place over the previous thirty years.  It is, from an historian's point of view, a mixed source containing both primary and contemporary secondary source material.  In other words, the sort of source historians of ancient Rome would usually kill for.  The primary source material within Acts consists mainly of the 'we' passages concerning those journeys on which St. Paul was accompanied by St. Luke.   The rest of the book consists of comtemporary secodary material, which, to reiterate, would be considered excellent source material if one were writing a history of the church in this period.  It is only thanks to the received liberal academic skepticism about Biblical sources that there seems to be so much reluctance to use Scripture as a source.

The first of these references to the commissioning of ministers is the election of Matthias to fill up Judas' place in the Council of the Apostles.  In this case, we are simply told that he was chosen by lot from among those that had accompanied Jeses from the beginning of His ministry, and entered into the roll of the Apostles. 

The second incident, and one that is far more germaine to the present discussion is the setting aside of deacons in Acts 6.  St Luke tells us that the Twelve instructed the brethren, i.e. the Jerusalem Church, to select fit and proper persons for this work.  They are presented to the Apostles who then prayed over them, and laid hands upon them, thus setting them aside - ordaining them, as we would say - as the first deacons in the Church.

Elsewhere in Acts there are references to the elders and overseers who served the churches in various locations.  For example, in Acts 15, 4 that St Paul was received in Jerusalem by the Apostles and Elders.  The Apostles and Elders in Jerusalem are again referenced in Acts 16, 4.  In Acts 20, 17 St Paul calls for the elders (presbyters) of the Church in Ephesus so he can address them.  During his address (Acts 20,28) he refers to them as overseers (bishops) of the Church.  St John Chrysostom is, by the way, among those who see overseer and elder as being essentially one order, the differentiation being one of function originally.

These passages taken together indicate that over the thirty years between the Ascension and the time when St Luke was writing the offices of deacon, presbyter and bishop were already firmly established.  There also seems to be some evidence from the Pauline Epistles that the charismatic ministries such as prophet, were beginning to decline in the 50sAD, so the overall New Testament picture is a snap shot of the first stage in the emergence of a permanent and settled ministry.

The longest passages concerning Holy Order occur in the First Epistle of St Paul to Timothy, and the Epistle to Titus.  Both of these pastoral Epistles are considered to be quite late in the Pauline corpus, and thus are either contemporary with, or slightly older than the Acts of the Apostles. 

The first of these is 1 Tim 3, 1-8, where the qualifications of both bishops and deacons - sobriety, earnestness of religion, and the ability to rule - are discussed.  In 1 Tim 4, 14 the method of ordination - the laying on of hands by the presbytery (i.e. a group of elders/overseers) is mentioned.  There is also a reference to elders/presbyters having rule over the Church. 

In Titus, St Paul exhorts Titus to "ordain elders for every city" before returning to topic of the qualifications of a bishop once again - Titus 1, 7-9. saying that

"... a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to flithy lucre.  But a lover of hospitality; a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temerate; holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gain-sayers."

This tallies precisely with the advice given in First Timothy

Having reviewed the Biblical evidence we must conclude that in the first generation after the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ the Apostles had had appointed and ordained overseers, elders, and deacons for the Church to continue their Apostolic Ministry.  This Apostolic Ministry and Authority is quickly seen as residing particulaly in the overseer.  Of course, these officers are more usually referred to by us using the Anglicized versions of their Greek designations - bishops, priests, and deacons.  It is also evident from the New Testament witness that they were ordained by prayer and the laying on of hands (Acts 6.6, and 1 Tim 4.14) though no precise wording is given.  Some postulate that this form of ministry was to some extent taken over from the contemporary practice in the synagogues and given a new purpose and significance by the Apostles.  This is a theory that I can accept given the tendancy of Christianity to takeover and adapt what it finds useful provided the substance of the faith be preserved.  For example, look at just how many of our feast days are "baptized" Jewish or pagan holidays, and how much of our terminology - diocese, province, dean, etc., comes from the administrative jargon of the later Roman Empire.


So far as the Early Fathers are concerned I have chosen to concentrate on the Early Church Orders, rather than chase references through the twenty-odd volumes of the Early Fathers that reside on the shelves in my study.  These are a series of documents which discuss the customs and practices of the Church, and give ORDER for their proper execution.  They rage in date from the Didache, which dates from somewhere between 80 and 100AD, and the Apostolic Constitutions a collection of earlier Canons (rules) made c.340AD.

The oldest of the Church Orders is the Didache, which most scholars agree dates from the last quarter of the first century.  This does not address the topic of ordination other than to state that the Church should elect for itself Bishops and Deacons. 

The first of the Church Orders that does talk about the formulars of ordination is the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus.  In modern times, "The Apostolic Tradition" has become the most influential of the Early Church Orders.  The origins of the Apostolic Tradition have been widely discussed by scholars, and there now seems to be a consensus that it can be attributed to Hippolytus who was Bishop of Rome c.215AD, though it has had to be recovered from other documents such as the Ethiopian Church Order first discovered in the 17th century. 

The modern day significance of this document stems from the fact that with its early date it has been tremendously  influential in the revisions of the Roman and Anglican liturgies that have been undertaken since the 1960s.  In particular, the Roman Ordinal approved by Paul VI draws heavily on Hippolytus for the form used in the ordination of Bishops, so it seems expedient for me to quote the formular that is given in Canon 2 of the Apostolic Tradition in full:

"Then one of the bishops present shall, at the request of all, impose his hands on the one who is to be ordained bishop, and shall pray thus, saying, 'God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Father of all mercies and God of all comfort, who dwell on high and attend to the lowly, who know all things that come to pass: you that have given boundaries to your church through your Word of grace, presdestining from the beginning the just offspring of Abraham, making them princes and priests so as not to leave your sanctuary without a ministry, from the begnning of the world you have been well-pleased to be glorified in those you have chosen.  Pour forth now that power that come from you, from your Royal Spirit, which you gave to your beloved Son Jesus Christ, and which He bestowed upon His holy Apostles, who established in every place the Church of your sanctification from the glory and unceasing praise of your name.  You that know the hearts of all, grant to this Your servant, whom you have chosen to the episcopate, to feed your holy flock and to serve without blame as your high priest, ministering day and night propitiate (making intercession) unceasingly before Your face, and offer to you the gifts of your Holy Church; and by the Spirit of the high-priesthood to have authority to forgive sins, in accord with your command; to assign lots, in accord with the authority you gave to the Apostles; and to please you in meekness and purity of heart, offering to you the odor of sweetness; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom be glory, might and honour to you, to the Father and with the Holy Spirit, both now and through the ages of ages.  Amen.'"

The account then goes on to say that the new bishop shall be greeted with a kiss of peace and then the deacons shall bring the gifts to the altar before the bishop starts the Eucharistic Thanksgiving.

Another early formular for the ordination or consecration of a Bishop is to be found in the so-called 'Apostolic Constitutions' which are in effect a fourth century forgery that pretends to be a document from the time of Clement of Rome.  Here the form of words given for the ordination of a bishop reads as follows ,

"Grant to him, Almighty Master, through Your Christ, possession of Your Spirit, so that he may have, according to your mandate, power to remit sins, to confer orders according to Your precept, and to dissolve every bond, according to the power which You gave Your Apostles."

These two ancient Church Orders have certain features in common.  The first of these is the invocation of the Holy Spirit for the office and work of a bishop.  The second is a listing of the duties and powers conferred on a bishop - to remit sin, confer orders. 

So how does the Anglican service for the ordination and consecration compare to these two ancient orders?

Well the first thing that I noticed was that the gist of the Hippolytan form is broken up in the Anglican Ordinal.  The Prayer from the Apostolic Tradition given above has its parallels in the both examination of the bishop-elect to be found on pages 554-555 of the 1928 American BCP, and 648 to 653 of the Canadian BCP of 1962, and in the actual formular of consecration, and in the Prayer that accompanies the presentation of a Bible.  Both Ordinals ensure that the new bishop is:

1.  Truly called
2.  Believes the Holy Scriptures to contain all doctrine necessary to salvation (not in Hippolytus)
3.  Will banish all strange and erroneous doctrine.
4.  Will frame his life according to the doctrine of Christ"
5.  Maintain and set forth godly quietness.
6.  Be faithful in ordaining and sending and laying hands on others [for the work of the ministry] (- present in 1662, but not 1559)
7.  Be compassionate towards the poor and needy.

To me this seems to be merely an extended form of Hippolytus's prayer that the new bishop be strengthened by the Holy Spirit to 'feed Your holy flock... make propitiation... forgive sin... assign lots... (and) please (God) in meekness and purity of hearts."

The actual formular of consecration is an invocation of the Holy Spirit,

"Receive the Holy Ghost for the office and work of a Bishop in the Church of God, now committed unto thee by the imposition of our hands; In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.  Amen.  And remember that thou stir up the grace of God which is given thee by the imposition of our hands for God hath not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and love, and soberness."

As I mentioned previously, the second part of the words used when the Bible is presented to the new Bishop also seems to echo Hippolytus,

"Be to the flock of Christ a shepherd, not a wolf, feed them, devour them not.  Hold up the weak, heal the sick, bind up the broken, bring again the outcasts, seek the lost.  Be so merciful, that you be not too remiss; so minister discipline, that you forget not mercy; that when the Chief Shepherd shall appear you may receive the never-fading crown of glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen."

Of course a deliberate following of each is impossible as Cranmer could not of known the Ethiopian Church Order, as it was not rediscovered until the next century.  However, Cranmer was learned enough in the Scriptures and the Fathers to have reached much the same conclusions about the nature of the episcopate.

Given that the service of consecration is set within the context of the Eucharist, nothing essential in the Hippolytan form is missing from the Anglican form.  It is also noticeable that the precise wording in the Anglican Ordinal takes care to echo the Biblical texts from the First Epistle to Timothy and the Epistle to Titus rather than strike out in a new direction at the risk of introducing novelties into the ordinal.


Let is now turn to three pronouncements made by Rome on the form of ordination regarding doubtful cases.

The first dates from 1439 and is a pronouncement of Eugenius IV stating that the form of priestly ordination was the presentation of the chalice and paten.  This pronouncement is isolated in that although it is consistent with the practice of the time it contradicts two later pronouncements.

The second comes from the Holy Office of the Inquisition and concerns some ordinations that had taken place in chaotic circumstances in Ethiopia.  The Holy Office was asked if ordination by prayer and the laying on of hands would be sufficient, as some of those ordained had not been presented with the chalice and paten or anointed.  The Holy Office replied in the affirmative saying that prayer with the laying on of hands constituted the essential matter of the sacrament.

The last pronouncement comes from Pius XII, who in 1948 pronounced that prayer and the laying on of hands constituted the essential matter of ordination.

Therefore any attempt to condemn of the Anglican ordinal because of an imperfect formular rests on an out of date and theologically inept pronoucement by Eugenius IV which has been contradicted by both the Holy Office and by Pius XII.

In pursuing this line of attack, Roman critics of Anglican orders have often drawn attention to the fact there is little difference in the formularies between the ordination of priests and the consecration of bishops in the 1550 and 1559 ordinals.  In both cases it is alleged that the Ordinal omits any mention of the order to which the candidate is being ordained.  Whilst this is true, it should also be pointed out that elsewhere in the service, in the case of bishops, in the prayer following the Litany, the 'office and work of a bishop in the Church of God' is specifically mentioned.  Given the general vagueness and disorganisation of the pre-Tridentine ordinal texts in the Roman Church, this should really not be made into a problem - unless the Roman Church really wants to be guilty of throwing stones in the glasshouse.  One of the better examples imprecision in the old Roman Ordinal is that the consecrating bishop is referred to as Consecrator throughout, whereas in the Anglican Ordinal he is referred to as the Archbishop or Presiding Bishop - making it clear that Bishop consecrates Bishop in order to maintain the succession.  One suspects that if the Anglican Ordinal referred to a Consecrator that would have been turned into an objection to our ordinal too!

It should perhaps be mentioned here, given that Archbishop Matthew Parker is the bottleneck through which Anglican Oders pass, that the circumstances of his consecration were carefully recorded.  It is clear from the surviving accounts that his appointment was made according to the proper legal forms, and that these were presented and verified before Barlowe and the three co-consecrators before they proceeded to consecrate Parker as Archbishop. 

Notably, Parker refers to St Augustine as 'his first predecessor.'  It is evident by this that the seventieth Archbishop thought himself just as much an Archbishop as the first, and I believe that if one takes a look at how Parker exercised his office as Archbishop, you will see a Primate of All England who exercises all of the traditional duties of his office even down to the issuing of dispensations for the eating of meat in Lent.  This was a traditional function of the Archbishop of Canterbury dating from the times when he was ex-officio the Papal Legate!

As to other defects alleged in Parker's ordination, including the absence of an extant record of Barlowe's consecration, it has to be said that even if there were some serious deficiency in Barlowe's orders, it would have been made good by the presence of three other bishops - Coverdale, Scory, and Hodgkin.  The records survive of the consecrations of the other three bishops, whose principal consecrator had been Cranmer, who was consecrated by Bishop Longland of Lincoln, or by a bishop consecrated by Cranmer according to the old rite!  It should be noted that all four of the consecrating bishops pronounced the formular of consecration over Parker - just in case.

The subsequent history of Anglican ordinations also has its interesting points.

The next 'bottleneck' in the succession is William Laud, one of whose co-consecrators was the former Roman Catholic Archbishop of Spoleto - Marc Antonio de Dominis.  This brings post-Tridentine Roman Catholic orders into the English succession.  It is quite clear from the writings of Laud, and two of his co-consecrators, that they were firm believers in the Apostolic Succession and the "de jure divino" origins of Episcopacy.

It should also be noted that the 1662 revision of the Ordinal cleared up much of the imprecision in the 1552/59 text - mainly, it has to be said, to make it abundantly clear to Puritan critics of Anglicanism what exactly was going on at the ordination.  Our present ordinal in both the USA, Canada, and I might add Ireland, is almost the same as that  published in 1662.  As a result any criticism of the 1550/1559 Ordinal is now meaningless even if one does not accept that the context does not make it clear that the intent was to consecrate bishops to the historic episcopate in the Apostolic Succession, and that from the 1930s there has been regular participation of Old Catholic Bishops in Anglican consecrations.

This brings me to a couple of interesting circumstances that apply to what is commonly referred to as the American Succession.

Firstly it will be noted that the Act of Parliament that gave the Archbishop of Canterbury permission to consecrate three bishops for the United States was intended to preserve the fullness of the English Episcopate to the Protestant Episcopal Church.  When Claggett of Maryland was consecrated in 1792 he received English Orders from three of the consecrating Bishops, and Scottish orders from the fourth.

The succession from William White to the Denver consecrations consists of just six bishops

John Henry Hopkins of Vermont
Daniel S. Tuttle of Missouri
James DeWolfe Perry of Rhode Island
Henry K. Sherrill of Massachusetts
Albert Lichtenberger of Missouri
A. A. Chambers of Springfield, IL

Interestingly one of the co-consecrators of Chambers - Horace Donegan, Bishop of New York - had received the laying on of hands from a Polish National Catholic bishop at the time of his consecration as Co-adjutor in 1948.

What I am hinting at here, that even if Parker's original consecration had been invalid - which it was not - enough other lines of succession have been filtered into the Anglican Succession that that objection has long since been overcome.  In the final analysis, the Roman refusal to recognise Anglican Orders boils down to a manifestation of the 'not made here' syndrome.  Because the Anglican Church came about, in the opinion of Rome, with an act of open defiance of the Pope, its orders must be regarded as invalid in order to reduce us to the same status as the other churches of the Reformation. 

I therefore have to maintain that the current condemnation of Anglican Orders is largely political in origin, and could be voided on the pretext of subsequent Ultrajectine participation in Anglican Consecrations.  Whether Rome would ever do this is a matter of conjecture.  What the recent fiasco over the ordinariates has demonstrated is that such a reversal of Rome's stated position on Anglican Orders is not going to occur to satisfy the relatively small numbers of Anglo-Papalists joining the ordinariates. 

I have absolutely no doubts about the validity of Anglican Orders.  Our ordinal, even in the form set forth in 1559, is perfectly sufficient for the proper transmission of Holy Orders in that it contains the name of the order to which the candidate(s) is to be ordained, appropriate prayers, the laying on of hands, and the invocation of the Holy Spirit - all within the context of the Eucharist.  This is all that is required according to the Biblical and Patristic witness, and sufficient to ensure the proper transmission of Orders and of the Apostolic Succession.
* Yes, his Grace still has the keys to post on the blog. But, he sent this to me indicating that he wanted me to do the posting. He is still with us.


Colin Chattan said...

Excellent analytical survey - marred only by minor, but distracting, typos.

+ Peter said...

I will tidy the typos up later in the week when I have some time for my own projects. There are also some footnotes I want to add which did not quite make it to version 1.0.


Anonymous said...

I would presume to add two words to this list:

1. Truly called
2. Believes the Holy Scriptures to contain all doctrine necessary to salvation (not in Hippolytus)
3. Will banish AND REFUTE all strange and erroneous doctrine.
4. Will frame his life according to the doctrine of Christ"
5. Maintain and set forth godly quietness.
6. Be faithful in ordaining and sending and laying hands on others [for the work of the ministry] (- present in 1662, but not 1559)
7. Be compassionate towards the poor and needy.

It is not enough to just to banish false prophets and teachers, a Biblical explanation is important and necessary for the edification of both the ministers and the flock so that their discernment and understanding would be increased and their alertness against dangerous doctrines heightened.

Anonymous said...

I would presume to add two words to this list:

1. Truly called
2. Believes the Holy Scriptures to contain all doctrine necessary to salvation (not in Hippolytus)
3. Will banish AND REFUTE all strange and erroneous doctrine.
4. Will frame his life according to the doctrine of Christ"
5. Maintain and set forth godly quietness.
6. Be faithful in ordaining and sending and laying hands on others [for the work of the ministry] (- present in 1662, but not 1559)
7. Be compassionate towards the poor and needy.

It is not enough to just to banish false prophets and teachers, a Biblical explanation is important and necessary for the edification of both the ministers and the flock so that their discernment and understanding would be increased and their alertness against dangerous doctrines heightened.

+ Peter said...

As I recollect the phrase used in the 1662 revision of the Ordinal was 'drive away all strange and erroneous doctrine.' However, I take your point.

Stephen said...

It is my understanding that the reason for Rome's claim that Anglican Orders are invalid rests upon the changes to Form instituted by Cranmer.

In 1550, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer changed the Ordination Rite for Bishops, Priests, and Deacons. Sacerdotal language was removed and the Roman form was abolished, thereby breaking the Apostolic lineage.
Cranmer also changed the Ordinal, the Ordination Rite for the Church of England and created his own Rites or Ordination and his own Liturgical services.
Without valid Bishops, you don't have valid Priests.

That seems to be Rome's argument and it seems in line to me.

What am I missing here?

Thank you.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

We have addressed the absurdity of Rome's argument many times in other posts. The very idea that "Sacerdotal language was removed" is itself utter non-sense. I am glad we don't use the Roman Form; the ancient Church didn't have anything remotely like it because it narrows the whole meaning to something far too small. The Roman conception of the priesthood is far too limited.