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Joel Steinberg wrote:

Hi, guys —

I saw this comment in one of your answers while doing some research on Episcopal Confirmation.

You said:

The result is that the Episcopalian churches do not have a valid Eucharist, nor can their ministers absolve their flock of their sins, because they do not have valid
Holy Orders; one through which Jesus can act "in the person of Christ" or
(in the place of the priest), and consecrate the Eucharist in a valid manner.

  • Am I to assume that Catholics believe only Roman Catholic priests have a valid priesthood?
  • Also, how do you explain the oxymoron "Roman Catholic". Catholic means universal. Once you add the "Roman" to it, you limit it, thereby rendering it not universal.

I was under the belief, and still am, that valid Apostolic Succession which can be traced back to the Holy Apostles is what makes for a valid [priesthood|ordination]. To suggest that an Apostolic Succession isn't valid simply because it isn't Roman is ridiculous, and besides, the "rule" was created by man ... not God!

To suggest the Eucharist isn't valid because it wasn't consecrated from a valid Roman Catholic priesthood is simply false.

And one final thought ... It is quite clear the Pope is fallible, as are all humans. The conceit of the Roman Catholic Church is humorous.

Respectfully,

Joel N. Joshua Steinberg

  { Are Catholic priests the only priests who have valid Holy Orders or do other faiths have them? }

Mike replied:

Dear Joel,

Thanks for replying to my post.

You said, quoting me:
The result is that the Episcopalian churches do not have a valid Eucharist, nor can their ministers absolve their flock of their sins, because they do not have valid Holy Orders; one through which Jesus can act "in the person of Christ" or (in the place of the priest), and consecrate the Eucharist in a valid manner.

You replied:
Am I to assume that Catholics believe only Roman Catholic priests have a valid priesthood?

No, Only priests who have been ordained by — validly — ordained bishops who are in union with the Holy See at the time of ordination have a valid priesthood.

There are validly ordained priests that are not in union with the Holy See who have valid
Holy Orders. A good example are the Greek Orthodox who, although the bishops broke from Rome in around 1054 A.D., still had valid orders before the break. Priests they ordain, to this
day, have valid orders.

A sad consequence of the Reformation is that Thomas Cranmer, under King Henry VIII, changed the form or words for the sacrament of Holy Orders. He introduced a Protestant notion of the Priesthood, one that excluded the sense of the priest offering sacrifice to God, a crucial distinction which would later cause the Catholic Church to declare that the priestly orders of the Church of England were "absolutely null and utterly void". As a result, the Holy Orders that came from splinter groups that followed the Reformation were "null and void".

From the web site address you sent me, on the FAQ page it stated:

... the Franciscans of the Holy Cross (O.F.C.) — In July 2004, the Franciscans of the Holy Cross (O.F.C.) was established as a religious order under the Episcopal protection of Archbishop Kimo Keawe.

It's my understanding that, because Archbishop Keawe's authority did not come from the Apostles, but from King Henry VIII (Episcopal), his authority is false. Episcopalians believe in a lot of things that contradict even the Bible e.g. the practice of homosexuality.

Catholic Note:

Scripture clearly describes homosexual acts as an abomination. The city of Sodom (Genesis 18-19) was not destroyed for its lack of hospitality to the angels of the Lord. It was destroyed for its homosexual depravity. The Church teaches that homosexual acts are "intrinsically disordered" (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2357), yet the Church also calls us to embrace homosexuals with love and to encourage them to live life's of chastity. Regardless of the source of homosexual inclinations, which the Church says are "objectively disordered", the "urges" themselves are not sinful. For most people, these urges constitute trails which must be resisted like any other temptation. In short, the Church teaches us to hate the sin of homosexual acts, but to love the sinners who engage in those acts. You can read more about the Church's teachings in the Catechism of the Catholic Church here — Nos. 2357 to 2359.

  • Genesis 1 - complementarily of sexes reflects God's inner unity.
  • Genesis 2 - transmission of life through total self donation where the two become one flesh.
  • Genesis 19 - God destroys Sodom for its homosexual perversions.
  • Leviticus 18:22 - You shall not lie with a male as with a woman.
  • Leviticus 18:29 - For whoever shall do any of these abominations, the persons that do them shall be cut off from among their people.
  • Leviticus 20:13 - If man lies with a man, they shall be put to death for their abominable deed.
  • Romans 1:24-27 - "... handed them over to impurity ... mutual degradation of their bodies ... female exchange natural relations for unnatural ... males did shameful things with males."
  • 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 - "neither ... boy prostitutes nor sodomites ... will inherit the kingdom". (active homosexuals won't inherit the kingdom of God)
  • 1 Timothy 1:10 - those who engage in such acts called "sinners" ... are opposed to sound teaching."

In your list of beliefs from your web site you state:

• That all offices of holy orders (deacons, priests and bishops) are open to both men and women, regardless of marital status and sexual orientation/personal affection.

but it also states:

• That we have true and full Apostolic Succession, which means the Bishops authority derives from the first apostles.

We have a contradiction in beliefs here. The first Apostles, including St. Paul, would never condone homosexual activity, yet your sacred offices seem to allow people to practice this activity.

Apostolic Succession means that one's religious superior can trace his roots all the way back to the Apostles. The problem: The Apostles and the Scriptures teach that homosexual activity is an abomination, yet you seem to allow it.

You said:
Also, how do you explain the oxymoron "Roman Catholic". Catholic means universal. Once you add the "Roman" to it, you limit it, thereby rendering it not universal.

You are correct, the word Catholic does mean universal. The Catholic Church is universal because Jesus' saving Church is for all mankind throughout the world. It is also universal because all practicing Catholics believe all the same teachings all around the world, and with some variations, worship the exactly same way worldwide ... by celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

In our worship, we enter into the one sacrifice of Calvary with our prayers, works, joys, sufferings, petitions and our very self's.

We are Roman Catholic due to the fact that St. Peter established the headquarters of the Church in Rome. I am not Roman Catholic in any sense of Roman citizenship. I am a practicing Catholic in America who is in communion with that Church which has its center in Rome.

I'm a Catholic first, and an American second.

I was listening to an audio tape by a fellow Roman Catholic apologist and he made the following comment:

Never be ashamed to use the word Roman when describing your religious affiliation. So many early Church fathers and saints had their blood shed in Rome so the Catholic Christian faith could be spread to every part of the world.

Radio priests in the 1950 were asked the following question:

What is the difference between a Catholic and a Roman Catholic?

The same as between a Britisher and an Englishman, or if you wish, as that between the Jewish and the Mosaic religions. There is no real difference. The words Roman Catholic does not mean that there are other kinds of Catholics, but only that all true Catholics belong to that one great Church which has its centre in Rome. {Note: there are other Rites within the Church, but these rites are all in union with the Holy See in Rome.} There are no Catholics apart from that one universal Church. Those who leave that Church cease to be Catholic. You can't leave the Church and belong to it at the same time. The only way one can be Catholic is to return to the Church of your forefathers, e.g. Henry VIII, should never have left.

My analogy: If you refer to a large fruit that is round and orange in color, you can't call it a banana. Experiential knowledge will tell you it is an orange.

People can call themselves Catholic all they want, including dissenting Catholics that are Catholic in name only. Unless you practice what the Catholic Church teaches and believe in the Teachings of the Church Jesus established on St. Peter and his successors, you are not Catholic.

You said:
I was under the belief, and still am, that valid Apostolic Succession which can be traced back to the Holy Apostles is what makes for a valid [priesthood|ordination].

Yes, you are correct, but Archbishop Keawe's authority did not come from the Apostles, but from King Henry VIII, a man who had no authority to permit Thomas Cranmer to change what he changed, as explained above.

On your FAQ page it states:
Our tradition dates back to the late 19th century, with the formation of the Old Catholic Church in Utrecht.

To my knowledge this is a schismatic group that broke from Rome. I'm unsure whether they have valid Holy Orders or not. Maybe one of my colleague can pitch in their two cents.

You said:
To suggest the Eucharist isn't valid because it wasn't consecrated from a valid Roman Catholic priesthood is simply false.

I'm not saying, what you claim I'm saying. There are priests, who are not Catholic, who have valid Holy Orders.

  • The Holy Orders of a Catholic priest date back to 33 A.D.
  • The Holy Orders of an Orthodox priest date back to validly ordained bishops who broke with Rome in 1054AD. (Bishops administer the sacrament of Holy Orders)
  • The Holy Orders of a Protestant minister date back to the Reformation and are invalid.

1054 A.D. —     Valid Orders   /Valid Eucharist
Reformation — Invalid Orders / Invalid Eucharist

On your FAQ page it states:
This church also does not require celibacy for clergy.

Side note: Celibacy is a discipline in the Catholic Church and not a doctrine. This could change even within the Roman Rite, but the Roman Rite has good reasons to keep the discipline of celibacy. Nevertheless, in Eastern Rites, celibacy is not mandatory and even in the Roman Rite, married Protestant ministers, who wish to convert, have been allowed to, under certain circumstances and conditions, to become priests.

You said:
And one final thought ... It is quite clear the Pope is fallible, as are all humans.
The conceit of the Roman Catholic Church is humorous.


Some definitions:

Impeccability (ihm-pehk-uh-BIHL-ih-tee): The impossibility of sinning.
We believe the Pope is not Impeccable.

Infallibility (ihn-FAL-lih-BIHL-uh-tee): The inability to err in teaching the truth on issues of faith and morals.
Although the Pope is Infallible, he is not impeccable.

Although over the history of the Church — from 33 A.D. to the present day — we have many sinners, even in high places in the Church, we can always trust the Divine Teachings will be protected and safeguarded from falling into Satan's hands.

Jesus promised this in Matthew 16:13-20 and 1 Timothy 3:15.

If you are interested in what faithful Catholics believe, consider buying a cheap copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Hope this answers your questions.

Peace and Good Blessings back!

Mike

John replied:

Mike,

This needs to be clarified a bit. The Church, and I'm sure Mike concurs, believes that one can receive a valid Eucharist in Orthodox Churches and other ancient Churches that maintained Apostolic Succession. A Catholic may receive the Blessed Sacrament at those churches, if there is no Catholic Church available or in close proximity.

During the Reformation, the Church of England interrupted that Apostolic Succession. While the priests and bishops who were "carry overs", for lack of a better term, were validly ordained, the situation got cloudy. Some of the subsequent "bishops", ordained in the Anglican Church, were not ordained according to:

In other words, the form may have changed, or the intent to ordain a "priest", as Christ himself ordained priests, was different.

Eventually, the vast majority of Anglican "bishops" came from an interrupted line as opposed to an uninterrupted line. Thus, it is now impossible to determine if the Eucharist celebrated in the Church of England, or any sister churches in the Anglican Communion, is valid.

At this point, trying to find a validly ordained priest or bishop in the Anglican union is a bit like trying to find a needle in a hay stack. The recent decision of the Anglican Community to start ordaining women "priests" and then women "bishops" further complicated the lineage.

Theoretically, one of the remaining validly ordained Anglican bishops, might have "ordained" a woman as "bishop"; and that would be definitely invalid. Thus some in that lineage could be validly ordained, while others in a different lineage definitely are not.

That is not to take away from the personal holiness or devotion of:

  • Anglicans
  • their priests
  • their bishops, or
  • ministers.

The issue at hand just deals with a sacramental reality.

These problems don't exist in the Orthodox Churches of the East.

I hope this clarifies Holy Mother Church's position.

John DiMascio

Joel replied:

Hi Mike,

Seeing that our correspondence deals with the validity of Episcopalian Holy Orders and of the
Holy Communion in our church. Do you have a comment on the definition below:

Apostolic Succession
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
(Redirected from Apostolic succession)

Roman Catholics recognize the validity of the apostolic successions of the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Assyrian, Old Catholic, and some Independent Catholic Churches (such recognition is not reciprocated by the Eastern Orthodox, who do not separate "valid" from "licit"). Pope Leo XIII clarified, in his 1896 bull [Apostolicae Curae] that the Roman Catholic church believes that the Anglican Church's ordinations are invalid because of changes made to the rite of ordination under Edward VI, thus denying that Anglicans participate in the Apostolic Succession;
the Church of Sweden's apostolic succession is seen as having been maintained,
and following the establishment of the Porvoo Communion an increasing number of Anglicans will also be able to trace their succession through Swedish bishops as well as Old Catholic bishops, whose holy orders are recognized as valid by Rome and who, at least those of the Union of Utrecht, are in full communion with Canterbury since the Bonn Agreement of 1931. It should also be noted that since the issuance of Apostolicae Curae, many Anglican jurisdictions have revised their ordinals, bringing them more in line with ordinals emanating from the early Church.

Joel

Mike e-mailed Richard and Eric:

Hi, Eric —
Hi, Rich —

In response to mine and John's reply above, Joel, the questioner, sent me the above reply.

He wanted me to particularly note what he bolded.

  • Do you have a comment on this issue?

Mike

Eric replied:

Well, I can't vouch for all of it without exception, but insofar as it pertains to the question about whether Old Catholics have valid orders, that much is true, but they aren't Anglicans.

Anglican ordinations are absolutely null and utterly void but it is common among the Anglicans to have Old Catholics participate in their ordination in order to get a more sympathetic treatment from Rome. Also, I think some of them have been cleaning up their ordination rites to remove the invalidating elements, but of course it's hard to prove that your rites of ordination were valid.

Eric

Richard replied:

Hi, Mike —

1. On Anglican orders:

The position of the Catholic Church on the validity of Anglican orders has not changed since Leo XIII wrote that they were null and void in 1896. Since then, some (European) Old Catholic bishops (who do possess valid orders) have participated in Anglican ordinations.

To the best of my knowledge, the Church has not accepted any Anglican bishop's or priest's ordination as valid, in cases when the bishop or priest has come into union with the Church. Those convert clergy who have entered the priesthood have received ordination just as any Catholic layman who enters the priesthood would receive it. The Church has not conferred the sacrament "conditionally", since the Church has not granted even the possibility that their previous ordination was sacramentally valid.

Even as a matter of speculation, an Old Catholic bishop's participation in an Anglican consecration would not guarantee its validity. One also would have to consider any defects in the rite that were followed.

In recent years, the acceptance of women as candidates for priesthood and the episcopacy in certain Anglican Communions and Old Catholic churches has raised a new obstacle. From the Catholic Church's point of view, an Anglican or Old Catholic bishop who believes that ordination can be conferred on women does not hold the Catholic doctrine on the sacrament of Holy Orders. Additional questions arise as well:

  • Is this error severe enough as to make all his subsequent ordinations invalid due to a defect of intention?
  • Will the Catholic Church declare Old Catholic orders null and void after the current generation of Old Catholic bishops dies out?

2. I've gotta clarify a term:

From Mike's original answer to John Ring:
The result is that the Episcopalian churches do not have a valid Eucharist, nor can their ministers absolve their flock of their sins, because they do not have valid Holy Orders; one through which Jesus can act "in the person of Christ" or (in the place of the priest), and consecrate the Eucharist in a valid manner.

The priest consecrating the Eucharist acts "in the person of Christ"
(Latin: 'in persona Christi').

This is a neat expression: this word "persona" means 'person' but originally it's a word that comes from ancient drama, and it refers to the character-masks that actors wore in Greek or Roman drama. An actor spoke through the mask he put on, and the word 'per-sonare' is 'to speak through'. So the priest celebrating Mass is taking on the role of Christ, and of course we believe that the priest's actions, in this role, are efficacious.

3. I don't understand why Joel asks this:

Am I to assume that Catholics believe only Roman Catholic Priests have a valid priesthood?

I don't know where he got that idea from, as Mike's remarks do not express a negative judgment on the sacraments in all other Christian communities; he was writing specifically about the Anglican Communion, and not, e.g., about the various Orthodox Churches, which we Catholics acknowledge as sharing all the sacraments.

 — RC

Mario, a visitor who read this posting replied:

Hi, Mike —

I was reading your back and forth about Anglican priesthood and homosexuality. I am a life long Roman Catholic; my grandmother was Byzantine Catholic. [There are more then just Roman Catholics. Yes, in union with the Pope but with the other lung of the Church.]

Can I suggest, in charity, not all that the reformers did was bad or just "anti-the-true-Church".
I think they, in many instances, where sincere in reforming a very messed up hierarchy. I think we can identify it today. I, however, believe in change from within.

I guess what I am saying is instead of telling Episcopalians that they have priests who are pretending or acting but don't have authority etc., we would do better to say,

"See how your liturgy and what we do sound so similar. Our understanding of it is unique, because we maintain our relationship with Peter on earth through Pope Benedict. This connection gives authority that makes a difference."

Lead to the positive, it attracts more. Isn't that what we want, "That all may be one"?
Truth does not get abandoned when we are kind.

  • Also, on a more personal note, who are we to know for a fact that some of those bishops through the laying on of hands were not able to confer as well, so then can confect?

Yes, Rome has said, No, but who are we to know God's mind. On the mere chance, it could lead to reverence of the Blessed Sacrament in the Anglican Church.

  • Wouldn't this be advisable?

Always remember, we were first called Christians and identified by the pagans by the quote:

"See how they love one another."
(the words Tertullian noted (Apology [39.6]) in the Third Century, as spoken by some of the Pagans of the time.)

That should always be our lead, for if we love, we attract and truth manifests itself.

May the Peace of Christ be with you and His joy in you become complete.

Mario

Mike replied:

Hi Mario,

You said:
Can I suggest, in charity, not all that the reformers did was bad or just "anti-the-true-Church". I think they, in many instances, where sincere in reforming a very messed up hierarchy. I think we can identify it today. I, however, believe in change from within.

I agree with you. I would say that at the time the Church did need reform from within, but instead of a true, internal reformation, the reformers decided on a revolution.

If the reformers had your attitude, I think we never would have had a Protestant Reformation.

You said:
I guess what I am saying is instead of telling Episcopalians that they have priests who are pretending or acting but don't have authority etc.

When I said:
It's my understanding that, because Archbishop Keawe's authority did not come from the Apostles, but from King Henry VIII (Episcopal), his authority is false.

I am talking about his authority to preach Catholic Christian teachings and administer valid sacraments. I don't doubt there are many sincere Anglican and Episcopalian ministers who believe their Holy Orders are valid.

Nevertheless, just because they sincerely believe that, doesn't make it true. As I stated in my reply to John Ring's question:

A sad result of the Protestant Reformation was that Cranmer under Henry the VIII re-wrote what was a valid form (or words) for Holy Orders. These are important words used in the sacrament that make a man a priest.

As a defender of Catholic teaching neither you nor I should deny this. Why? Because it is the truth.

A sincere Anglican or Episcopalian minister who reads this posting will be open to doing
historical research on this issue, from an open-minded "Catholic viewpoint" in order to determine whether their Holy Orders are valid or not.

And as I recommended to you earlier, if an Anglican or Episcopalian minister is also interested, they should consider buying a cheap copy Catechism of the Catholic Church.

I use to run a free program that sent Catechisms to seeking Protestants and non-Christians but no longer have the financial or operational means to do this anymore.

I would never deny the pastoral blessing that many Anglican and Episcopalian ministers have been to their parishioners. Nevertheless, if an Anglican or Episcopalian minister wants what is pastorally best for their flock, they'll become Catholic. It is what Our Lord's calling for in
John 21:17, "that they all may be one." not 30,000.

You said:
We would do better to say,

"See how your liturgy and what we do sound so similar.
Our understanding of it is unique, because we maintain our relationship with Peter on earth through Pope Benedict. This connection gives authority that makes a difference."

If you just say that, you are assuming, in the dialogue, that their Holy Orders are valid by omission of the issue.

You said:
Lead to the positive, it attracts more. Isn't that what we want, "That all may be one"? Truth does not get abandoned when we are kind.

I agree that we should always lead to the positive when possible, but in this specific case,
Truth gets abandoned because we are implying Anglican and Episcopalian ministers have valid Orders, when they don't. Practicing Catholics should never play politics with the truth.

You end up saying: If it looks similar, it is equal.

The most charitable thing a Catholic can do is to preach what the Magisterium of the Church teaches or as Cardinal Law put it when he was bishop of Missouri:

The most ecumenical thing a Catholic can do is be unmistakably Catholic.

You said:

  • Also, on a more personal note, who are we to know for a fact that some of those bishops through the laying on of hands were not able to confer as well, so then can confect?

Yes, Rome has said, No, but who are we to know God's mind. On the mere chance, it could lead to reverence of the Blessed Sacrament in the Anglican Church.

  • Wouldn't this be advisable?

Because those bishops cannot trace their succession back to the Apostles, but only back to a bishop who was "ordained" by Cranmer's invalid form, it would not lead to reverence of the Blessed Sacrament in the Anglican church, because their Eucharist is not valid. It is not the true Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus, as it is in our Church.

You said:
Always remember, we were first called Christians and identified by the pagans by the quote:

"See how they love one another."
(the words Tertullian noted (Apology [39.6]) in the Third Century, as spoken by some of the Pagans of the time.)

That should always be our lead, for if we love, we attract and truth manifests itself.

I agree, but the implication of what you are saying is that truth and love can't go together.

  • Jesus Is Truth.
  • Jesus Is Love.
  • All in one Divine Person.

We shouldn't be ashamed of Him or His Teachings.  We should share the teachings in a charitable manner.

In Christ,

Mike

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