Monday, January 15, 2007
Anglicanism Part II: The Validity of the Anglican Episcopate
In his Preface to the Ordinal that was to be employed in the reformed Church of England, it is clearly stated clearly that:
It is evident to all men diligently reading holy Scripture and ancient Authors, that from the Apostles’ time there have been these Orders of Ministers in Christ’s Church; Bishops, Priests, and Deacons. Which offices were evermore had in such reverend estimation, that no man might presume to execute any of them, except he were first called, tried, and examined, and known to have such qualities as are requisite for the same; and also by publick Prayer, with Imposition of Hands, were approved and admitted thereunto by lawful authority (The Book of Common Prayer 1662, 553).
Again, we see that the purposes of the Anglican Reformation were not innovation but a true Reformation of Catholicism. The ancient Orders are accepted as having been in existence from the time of the Apostles’ and hence part of the Apostolic Church’s practice. The Anglican Church saw no reason to do away with something that had been practiced by the Church in the most ancient part of her existence and that the Church of England held these offices in “reverend estimation,” whereas the bodies of the Continental Reformation either saw Orders as something superfluous or as a heretical development of the early Church that followed in absence of Apostolic oversight. Roman controversialists have sought to illegitimatize Anglican Orders on the ground that Cranmer’s revisions made them ineffectual in regards to their expressed intent (Clark 1897).
Cranmer’s revisions sought to return the rites for Holy Orders to a more primitive form, removing mediaeval accretions concerning both wording in ceremonial. A major objection made to the Anglican Ordinal was that the language used was insufficient in the consecration of bishops. The words employed in the Anglican Ordinal are: "Take ye the Holy Ghost, and remember that thou stir up the grace of God, which is in thee by imposition of hands" while the Roman Pontifical simply states "receive the Holy Ghost." If Anglican bishops are not to be accounted as properly raised to the episcopate, neither then are the Popes of Rome by the same standard so applied. Pope Leo XIII, in his 1896 Bull that declared Anglican Orders “null and void,” also objected that Anglican priests were not instructed by their Ordinal to offer the Mass for “the quick and the dead;” instead they are told to preach the Word and administer the Sacraments. As the instruction pertaining to the Sacrifice of the Mass was only added to the Roman Ordinal in the 11th Century, again it must be stated that if Anglican priests are not properly priests then neither were any of the presbyters of Western Christendom (Staley 1893; revised by Goodchild 1983). One further reason often given for the invalidity of the Anglican Orders for Priest is that a chalice and paten is no longer delivered to the man being ordained as it was in the pre-Reformation Roman ceremonial; however, this ceremony formed no portion of the ancient rite (Clark 1897, 274).
Since Cranmer’s alterations simply reformed the services to follow more ancient patterns, removing only those things, such as instructions for the offering of Masses and ceremonial for the reception of a chalice and paten, that were late additions, these objections pertaining to the validity of Anglican Holy Orders cannot be taken seriously. If they were to be taken seriously and if these additions were viewed as somehow essential to the bestowing of Holy Orders, then none of the men ordained as priest or bishop in Catholic Christianity—East nor West—would be considered validly ordained.