Wednesday, April 12, 2006

On REC Orders - A Response to the APA's Mystery Australian Correspondent

Dear Brothers+

I have not yet seen the letter you mention - evidently our anonymous Australian correspondent decided not to send a copy of his diatribe to the Cathedral for obvious and probably wise reasons. I am utterly fascinated and puzzled by the correspondence you describe. It certainly sounds as though it arises from an Anglo-Catholic, perhaps even a TAC, source. My guess is that that is exactly from whence it comes, the TAC and/or FIF-Australia. I should be fascinated to read it myself: the only cogent arguments I have ever encountered opposing the sacramental validity of REC Orders have been developed from the autobiographical writings of Bishop Charles C. Grafton of Fon du Lac, who maintained REC Orders were absolutely invalid based on defective ministerial intention. PECUSA as a whole opposed the said Orders on canonical grounds at Lambeth Conference 1888 but did not seem to have very compelling arguments from a sacramentological point of view. The arguments then put forth have more to do with Bishop Cheney's PECUSA deposition from Holy Orders and his solus consecration at the hands of Bishop Cummins than from any defective liturgical and theological position. Bishop Grafton held that the REC's 1873 changes made to the Anglican Ordinal, in which all references to the word 'Priest' and all statements affirming the conveyance of the Holy Ghost through the imposition of hands were expunged, rendered the REC Ordination rite incapable of validly conferring the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Hence the liturgical changes purportedly demonstrated and manifested a defective intention regarding the Sacrament. Grafton's line of argument is virtually identical to that of Pope Leo XIII in Apostolicae Curae (1896) and thus seems extremely dangerous indeed for any Anglican to use. By so invalidating REC Orders with such an approach we hazard the danger of declaring our own Orders invalid, or so warned the Archbishops of Canterbury and York in their Response to the Pope in 1897 concerning Rome's position vis-a-vis Anglicanism. I should regard our Australian friend's effort to be a tremendous throwing of stones in glass houses.

Please be assured of my prayers for you all and your families during this Holy Week and Easter. May the Lord Jesus Christ bless and keep you!


Anonymous said...

Ever since Cyrian's North-African introduction of null-and-voidism, the Church has always had its share of rigourousists and pedants. But, we must remember that ancient North-African thology also brought us the Donatists -- a heresy that never seems to die completely. And, even Cyprian admitted that his in-or-out ecclesiology was innovative.

Indeed, the Ancient Basilian Canons always envision the earthly church more as a continuum rather than an in-or-out proposition. Thus, while the canonical church remained "the" church in a real sense, schismatics remained "of" the church in a real sense as long as they were Trinitarian (which implies proper Christology too). So, even the Montanists, who baptised in the name of the Trinity AND two-estastic women were considered to have "valid" orders adn sacraments, despite there bizzare "Charasmaticism."

Thus, once we get away for scholastic ecclesiology, which never represented the consensus of the whole Church, we see that what is crucial is an continuous, organic connection to the center of the apostolic Church and faith in the Trinity. All other errors are serious, damaging, and impediments to salvation -- but not grounds for null-and-voidism.

So, almost all non-invented (i.e., Mormonism) Tirnitarin splinters from the one true apostolic orthodox-catholic Church are schimatic at worst(including non-episcopal Protestants),not heretics. I believe that Vatican II's doctrine of catholic "subsistence" captures the apostolic ecclessiology but for its identification of the Roman Communion of the locus of subsistence. (It's either Orthodoxy or Anglicanism to both.)

So, in closing, the REC is at least "of" the catholic Church and we have no real reason do don't its continuous, organic provenance therefrom or the sacramental (however odd their understoanding thereof) intentions of there orders. Thus, apart from the occasional kool-aid or grape-juice communion congregation, I would not consider their mysteries invalid.

Young fogey emeritus said...

For at least most of the REC's history and maybe even today I'd agree with Bishop Grafton. No intention to do what the church does = altering the rite to deliberately leave out that intention = invalid. Not rigorism or pedantry at all! Does God give a gift when it's purposefully refused? He gave man free will.

I know they're reinventing themselves as a Centralish Continuing Church but I've seen old-school REC, and in the past few years too. Presbyterians with Prayer Books.

And I've talked to an ordinand from their seminary - they hold, and claim it as a classical Anglican position, that the historic episcopate is of the bene esse (good order), not the esse (substance) of the church. (I'm fairly sure there are Evangelicals in the Church of England who believe that.)

Because of that, historically they've accepted non-episcopal ministers into their clergy without reordaining them and according to the ordinand still have a few ministers like that.

Were their orders restored somehow, through an Episcopal bishop getting permission to re-consecrate and re-ordain them? I thought I read that somewhere but the presence of those ministers seems to say not.

More to the point, as you say, the argument against the REC makes one ask disturbing questions about Anglican orders in themselves.

I know about Donatus and Talleyrand and all that but the latter used a Catholic rite - even though he was an atheist himself he meant to do what the church does and so the French Church has the episcopate thanks to him.

Apostolicæ Curæ makes sense because taking words and ceremonies out to exclude Catholic intent is not at all the same as using an evolving rite where those things haven't been put in yet.


Can generations of bishops who didn't believe in the Mass and transubstantiation have passed on the gift of making present the sacrifice of Christ to men who likewise didn't believe in it? Is that sacramentology or magic?

So I'm inclined to say that although the Tractarians and their immediate successors really believed and well could have been rewarded with God's sacramental presence, the Pope's argument is air-tight.

That said, it's irrelevant to Anglo-Catholics today thanks to the Dutch touch, the importation of orders from the schismatic Old Catholics on the Continent into the Anglican Communion and through them the Continuum.

Michael said...

I know of that at least some REC clergy will allow a deacon to preside at the Holy Communion.

Jim said...

Fr. Chad,
I am wading over my head here, but the statements in the fourth principle of the REC seem to imply, or at least to make it easy to infer a denial of the real presence and of a sacrificing priesthood.
Is that the case? If so, how does that affect the validity of ordination or of communion?