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Kevin Terry wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • Why does the Church say that Protestant preachers are not properly ordained or whatever so they cannot consecrate the Eucharist or administer the Sacraments?

  • Also, why can't non-Catholics can't receive the Eucharist, but the Catholic Church will accept the Baptisms performed by these Protestant ministers?

Kevin

  { Why does the Church accept the Baptisms of Protestant preachers but not their ordination? }

Mike replied:

Hi Kevin,

One of the sad effects of the Reformation is that King Henry VIII, when he broke from Rome, changed the form or words for the sacrament of Holy Orders. This is the sacrament Jesus established that makes a man a priest.

Using an invalid form for the sacrament of Holy Orders has resulted in invalid ordinations for all ministers who followed in the steps of the Reformation.

I know this sounds cruel, but if any minister has not received his ordination from a valid successor to the [Apostles/bishops] his ordination is invalid.

Non-Catholics can't received the Eucharist from the Catholic Church because they do not believe what the Church believes:

That they are receiving the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Himself.

If a Protestant does believe what the Church believes, they should seriously discern whether they are being called to join and be in full communion with the Church.

Although a Protestant may believe they would be receiving the Body and Blood of Christ if they were allowed to receive Holy Communion, this belief does not give them a permission to receive the Eucharist.

When we, in the Church receive the Eucharist and say Amen to the priest; we are not only saying Amen, that we believe we are receiving Our Blessed Lord in the Eucharist, we are saying Amen, I believe all that the Catholic Church teaches.

For example, just because a man and a woman may be drawn to a life time commitment of sharing their bodies for life, as husband and wife, this doesn't give them permission to have pre-marital sex before the marriage covenant is sealed with the Heavenly Krazy Glue (or sacrament grace) contained in this sacrament.

If someone is interested in all the Church teaches, most if it can be found by reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Some Protestants can and do receive communion from their own Protestant church. Though they don't receive the Body and Blood of Our Lord, they do receive graces from their celebration of their Eucharist, but it is not the same as the graces we receive.

We receive the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ, Himself. A minister from a Christian congregation that has its roots from the Reformation, has an invalid, non-sacrificial priesthood so he can't validly consecrate the Bread and Wine into the Body and Blood of Our Lord.

In regards to some ones Baptism, the Church does acknowledge, some, but not all, Baptisms of our separated brethren, if they use the correct Trinitarian form for Baptism. If there is any uncertainty as to whether the correct form and matter for Baptism was used, the priest will perform a conditional Baptism:

"[Kevin], if you are not yet baptized, I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen"

Plus remember, anyone can validly baptize if they have the same intent as the Church while using the correct form and matter.

Even an atheist can baptize!

Mike

Eric replied:

Hi Kevin,

The more fundamental reason for this is simple:

They don't believe what we believe about the Eucharist, so we believe they can't confect the Eucharist we believe in.

As far as I know we recognize the orders of every church that believes precisely what we believe about the Eucharist. Now in reality it is more complex than that — they have to have believed from the beginning what we believe, since it's a succession. If, in one generation, they wavered in their belief in a formal way, their ordinations would ipso facto be invalid, and the chain of Apostolic Succession would be lost, even if subsequent generations recovered the belief.

This is why Thomas Cranmer (I believe it was Cranmer and not Henry VIII) changing the words
for Holy Orders was relevant: He did not view the Eucharist as a sacrifice, and changed the ordination rite to reflect this, thus fundamentally changing Holy Orders such that priests no longer intended to do what the Church intended to do and no longer confected the Eucharist that the Church confects.

The reason we don't allow intercommunion is because intercommunion has always been the fundamental sign of ecclesial unity. If Eucharist is freely shared and mutually recognized between two churches, then they are in communion with one another, meaning they are united as one.

It's a bit like being close friends — a (mi casa est su casa or my house is your house) sort of thing. Excommunication conversely has been the sign that two churches (or an individual and a church) are separated from one another.

Baptism, on the other hand, pertains to salvation; to refuse to recognize someone's baptism is to refuse to recognize that, in the formal sense, they are saved or that they are Christian.

The recognition of the baptism of heretics goes back to the Donatist controversy in the 4th and 5th centuries. Also baptism can be administered by anyone, even an atheist, not just priests, so there is no Apostolic Succession issue.

Eric

Mary Ann replied:

Hi Kevin,

Though the Pope did say Protestants were defective as churches, since they are lacking essential elements of Christ's Church, mainly succession from Christ and the Apostles, he did affirm the graces and the action of Christ's Spirit in them.

The power to act in persona Christi in the sacraments are really extensions of Christ's actions, and are really Him [Jesus] acting in the priest. This is a power conferred by the laying on of hands from a successor of the Apostles. Scripture attests to the importance of the succession in passing on the office of Christ's priesthood, and to the laying on of hands.

Fortunately, the properly ordained celebrant of the Eucharist must only intend what the Church intends, in order for the Eucharist to be present. He does not have to believe — thank goodness, or we would never have sacraments when a priest is having faith problems. Nor does he have to be without sin. He can be a heretic and a terrible sinner, and Christ still acts in him — faithful to His promise, if he agrees and intends to do what the Church intends.

As for Baptism, the command to baptize was given to all the disciples assembled at the Ascension. It was realized early on that the necessity of Baptism for salvation made it good that all could baptize, though the normal minister is the priest or deacon. The deacon is also shown in Scripture as a baptizer.

Valid baptism can be administered by anyone, even a non-Catholic, non-Christian, or non-believer! One must only intend whatever the Church means by Baptism, and use the form given by Christ, baptizing in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Mary Ann

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