Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Sacrificing Priesthood

Recently on the blog Pontifications it was asserted that the Anglicans do not possess and do intend to possess a 'sacrificing priesthood.' Is that true?

Here's the definitive answer from Saepius Officio, the official Reply of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to Pope Leo XIII (1897)...

XI. We inquire therefore what authority the Pope has for discovering a definite form in the bestowal of holy orders? We have seen no evidence produced by him except two passages from the determinations of the Council of Trent (Session xxiii. On the Sacrament of Order, canon i., and Session xxii. On the sacrifice of the Mass, canon iii.) which were promulgated after our Ordinal was composed, from which he infers that the principal grace and power of the Christian priesthood is the consecration and oblation of the Body and Blood of the Lord. The authority of that Council has certainly never been admitted in our country, and we find that by it many truths were mixed with falsehoods, much that is uncertain with what is certain. But we answer as regards the passages quoted by the Pope, that we make provision with the greatest reverence for the consecration of the holy Eucharist and commit it only to properly ordained Priests and to no other ministers of the Church. Further we truly teach the doctrine of Eucharistic sacrifice and do not believe it to be a ' nude commemoration of the Sacrifice of the Cross,' an opinion which seems to be attributed to us by the quotation made from that Council. But we think it sufficient in the Liturgy which we use in celebrat­ing the holy Eucharist,—while lifting up our hearts to the Lord, and when now consecrating the gifts already offered that they may become to us the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ,—to signify the sacrifice which is offered at that point of the service in such terms as these. We continue a perpetual memory of the precious death of Christ, who is our Advocate with the Father and the propitiation for our sins, according to His precept, until His coming again. For first we offer the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving; then next we plead and represent before the Father the sacrifice of the cross, and by it we con­fidently entreat remission of sins and all other benefits of the Lord's Passion for all the whole Church ; and lastly we offer the sacrifice of ourselves to the Creator of all things which we have already signified by the oblations of His creatures. This whole action, in which the people has necessarily to take its part with the Priest, we are accustomed to call the Eucharistic sacrifice.


Undeniably, we have what the whole Catholic Church has always understood to be the only 'sacrificing priesthood.'

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