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Peter wrote:

Hi, guys —

I have seen some information about Pope Benedict XVI's stance on traditionalist ordinations wherein he called them: "completely illegitimate".

  • Wouldn't this be a Donatist argument?

He has said disparaging things before about Protestant ordinations.

  • Wouldn't the duties of the Pope require that he take an anti-Donatist line of reasoning?


  { Wouldn't the duties of the Pope require that he take an anti-Donatist line of reasoning? }

John replied:


Donatism called into question the validity of the Holy Orders of those who committed apostasy.

The Church still recognizes the valid Orders of Churches that are in schism, so long as the Orders are legitimately and validly continued. In the context of the Protestant communities, they interrupted Apostolic Succession and they deny that Holy Orders is a sacrament. Hence, their Orders are not valid.

Martin Luther, although a heretic and in schism, died a validly ordained priest. However, when his generation of Lutherans died out, the next generation of Lutheran ministers were not priests because they were not validly ordained. The formula for ordination was changed because the belief that it was a sacrament had changed. The same holds true for the Anglican Communities.
The Church of England interrupted Apostolic Succession, therefore they invalidated forever Anglican orders. Apostolic Succession is not something you can regain. The only way for these men to be real priests is to be ordained by validly ordained Catholic bishops.

Think of it like a relay race. In order to move forward, you need to get the baton from the previous runner. Well in the case of these Protestant runners, they don't have the baton to pass to them, so they are all running but they are all disqualified.

Regarding the Traditionalists that went into Schism. I'm not sure about what statements you are referring to but the same rule applies to them. They continue to have valid orders until they break Apostolic Succession. Nevertheless, they still are in schism, and faithful Catholics should abstain from attending their liturgies and receiving their sacraments.


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