Friday, November 10, 2006

Orders Again

It is interesting to see that this conversation is still generating such thoughtful contributions, which we should all welcome.

I shall add these points, just for my own clarification...

An important note - the Anglican Church in America has affiliated with the Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas, which was co-founded by the REC and APA. The ACA's membership in FACA constitutes full communicatio in sacris with the Reformed Episcopal Church and thus the recognition of the validity of REC Orders. So it is now inaccurate to say that the APA alone of the Continuing Churches recognises the sacramental order and ministry of the REC. The ACA has now definitively decided in favour of the APA position on this matter.

Father Anderson's probing and excellent comments reiterate precisely what I have attempted to articulate regarding the thorny question of sacramental intention. Pope Leo XIII in Apostolicae Curae explicitly states that the Anglican Ordinal itself possesses an 'anti-intention' because of its asserted protestant origin, which contains, as he puts it, an 'anti-sacerdotal signification.' On the basis of purported defect of intention, Orders conferred with the Anglican Ordinal are always held by the Roman Church to be invalid. If one too rigidly defines the meaning of 'generally doing what the Church does,' then one has moved from that Augustinian theological axiom to a theological novum, one which is not necessary to the valid administration of a sacrament, to wit, to 'intend what the church intends.' From what I have read most carefully of our correspondence, it is exactly this view which is being postulated by Father, e.g., to have valid orders a church must not only do what the Church does, but must also intend what the Church intends. Such a definition is beyond the traditional Western Augustinian theological method and moves into the Eastern and Cyprianic view of sacramental validity. That is fine, of course, if one wishes to so define the meaning of sacramental intention, but that is not the classical Anglican approach to the subject.

Moving from the minimalist view of doing what the Church does, a view held universally in the Western Church, into something more stringent or strictly defined puts us exactly where Pope Leo wants us to be. Dr E. J. Bicknell reminds us that Anglican Orders are valid simply because the Anglican Church generally intends to do in ordination what Our Lord, the Apostles and the New Testament Church instituted, nothing more, nothing less. That can certainly be said of the REC, no matter how imprecisely the REC expresses that view or how imperfectly she has grasped the objective truth of it in the course of history.

As Father Anderson points out, the intention to do what the Church does in ordination exists even in ecclesial bodies which lack apostolic succession. They do not have valid orders, not because of defect of intention, but defect of minister, for only a bishop can validly ordain. The case could be strongly made that even classical Lutheran and Calvinist ministries intend themselves to be true manifestations of the Office and Ministry of the Apostles. Such a general intention is all that is necessary for valid ordination.

Otherwise, to come full circle, we Anglicans have used Apostolicae Curae against ourselves. The sacraments always convey what they symbolise, ex opere operato, in the serious performance of the matter and form, with the deliberate intention of doing what the Church does in a general sense. In this case of ordination, it is 'ordination.' The minister and subject do not even have to intend to produce the objective grace or effect of the sacrament; they must only intend, in a general way, to do what the Church understands as 'ordination.' To demand anything beyond that is, for Anglicans at least, to confirm that Leo XIII is right.


Rev. Dr. Hassert said...

I find it odd that other traditional Anglicans want to point fingers at the REC and say that she "has a deficient understanding of Holy Orders," when if we look to Orthodoxy, Rome, or the traditional Continuum itself we are not met with consistent answers. I think the best defense of the Holy Orders of the REC is to be found in Abp. Temple's response to the Roman Catholic claim that Anglican Orders in general are "null and void," for the same reasons Rome had for challenging Anglican Orders are the same reason some Anglo-Catholics (Anglo-Romans) give for challenging the Orders of the REC.

God save us Anglo-Catholics from Anglo-Romans who never fail to use Roman weapons against their Anglican brethren!

Anonymous said...

Amen Anglcan Cleric! I HATE the "finger pointing" at the REC.WE ARE NOT ROMAN ANGLO-ROMANS!(and sone Anglo-Catholics)we have kept a legitamate line through Cummings! Dont like it! Swim the Tiber. Peace out!