Status of agreed statements:
Agreed statements have been agreed by the dialogue members and submitted to the sponsoring churches for study. These texts express the careful considerations of the members of the dialogue but are not official statements of either of the churches.
The Anglican-Roman Catholic Consultation in the United States has since 1986 addressed the question of the evaluation by the Holy See of Anglican orders. In 1985 Jan Cardinal Willebrands, using a phrase taken from the ARCIC Final Report, had recognized that ‘a new context’ is now affecting the discussion of Anglican orders within the Roman Catholic Church because of the development of the thinking in the two Communions regarding the nature of the eucharist and ordained ministry. It has been the purpose of ARC-USA to discuss and to outline the positive dimensions of the ‘new context’.
We wish to underline at the outset the limits of this study. We have focused our attention on factors that seem most to encourage the reconciliation of our two Communions. Other observers may point to additional features of Anglican/Roman Catholic relationships in the last century, such as an interpretation of Apostolicæ Curæ as an infallible pronouncement of the Holy See, the encyclical Mortalium Animos of 1928, or the reluctance of some Anglicans to move toward belief in the eucharist celebration as a sacrifice.
And there are recent developments which have been omitted from consideration in this statement, such as the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate within the Anglican Communion. No realistic observer can exclude these events for ‘the new context’. Yet we have acted on the suggestion of Cardinal Willebrands in his 1985 letter that it is the negative judgment of Pope Leo XIII in Apostolicæ Curæ (1896) against the validity of Anglican ordinations that is still ‘the most fundamental’ issue that hinders the mutual recognition of ministries between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. Here we stress only the manner in which the themes addressed in Apostolicæ Curæ have been a point of departure for dialogue and debate between our two Communions for almost a century, and we record the progress made on these issues.
In the late nineteenth century, Pope Leo XIII, acceding to urgent pleading from some unofficial groups of Anglicans and from a few Roman Catholics, commissioned a team of scholars to examine the problem. This resulted in the pope’s apostolic letter, Apostolicæ Curæ (1896), in which Leo XIII concluded that the orders conferred with the use of the Anglican Ordinal were not valid according to the standards of the Roman Catholic Church.
And yet the aspiration for Christian unity between Anglicans and Roman Catholics did not come to an end in 1896. Almost immediately, this aspiration found expression in private talks, mutual friendships, and scholarly exchanges which bore witness to a slow and gradual convergence. This quiet convergence was nurtured by theological renewal and it was reinforced in both Communions by somewhat similar liturgical reforms derived from a wider knowledge of early Christian worship. Gradually there was official recognition of an evolution toward a new context quite different from the one of 1896. On the Anglican side the Lambeth Conferences of 1908, 1920, 1930, 1968, and 1988 gave official voice to this movement, and on the Roman Catholic side the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) was the most important event that signaled a new context.
Following Vatican Council II, developing ecumenical relations between the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church have called attention again to the question of Anglican orders. The conditions of our times have become quite different from what they were in 1896. Theology and style of leadership have evolved in the two Churches. It is now not uncommon to think that the position of the problem of Anglican orders is no longer what it was under Pope Leo. A fresh examination of the data has shed new light on the subject.
According to the bishop, the pope invited him ‘to add to our personal conversation’. This was done in a long letter to Paul VI that the bishop released to the public in English and Latin in February 1966. The letter begins with a summary of the papal audience. In their meeting the bishop of Huron gave information on projects of reunion between Anglicans and other Christians in Nigeria, Ghana, East Africa, Sri Lanka, North India, Pakistan, and Canada. The pope asked if these would be ‘new’ Churches. The bishop answered that there would be continuity of ministry in ‘the historic episcopate’. As the bishop of Huron reminds Pope Paul in his letter, ‘you mentioned the Bull of Leo XIII as a definitive statement of your Church on Anglican Orders, and noted that it was given after a careful study of historical events and related documents’.
One may note the word, ‘definitive’. What is the implication of this term in the context of a private conversation? It comes naturally to the mind of a Roman Catholic referring to a solemn statement made by a pope. It seems to fit naturally in a reference made by Paul VI to a decision taken by his predecessor Leo XIII. But the use of the term does not amount to a doctrinal declaration that the decision in question, while it was definitive in the mind of Leo XIII, must always remain definitive.
The bishop of Huron then ‘expressed the hope that these same events and documents, when studied in the new climate of our inter-Church relationships, might possibly allow other interpretations than those that were apparent at the close of the nineteenth century. It was then that you expressed yourself as willing to receive from me and to consider any related material that I might be able to send’.
The bishop also included three requests in his letter: (1) that a review of Anglican orders be made, (2) that Pius V’s sentence of excommunication on Queen Elizabeth be revoked, on the model of the recent decision concerning the excommunication of the patriarch of Constantinople, and (3) that, as a long-range project, there be envisaged an eventual ‘intermingling of the Orders of the Roman Catholic Church with our own Orders and with the Orders of other Communions which are in full intercommunion with us’.
The first request deserves to be quoted at length:
That you ask one of your Commissions to review the matter of Anglican Ordinal with the Early Ordinals, with the Roman one described by Hippolytus … ; the Eastern Rite of St. Serapion …; the later Byzantine Rite, the Gregorian and the Gelasian Sacramentaries, as well as the Spanish Mozarabic rite. In all these the matter and form are very close to that of the English Reformation Ordinal. Also the Commission might review the whole of the English Ordinal through phases of development for a further testing of its intention to continue (as the Preface declares) ‘The Orders of Ministers’… etc.
When this new study, which I am requesting, is set in our present climate of theological dialogue, we believe that your Commission would arrive at different conclusions. Our conviction in this matter is strengthened by the fact that in recent years new interpretations of the doctrine of Eucharistic Sacrifice have been proposed by distinguished scholars in the Roman Catholic Church [reference to Eugene Masure, Maurice de la Taille, and Abbot Anscar Vonier]. Since the heart of the argument in Apostolicæ Curæ turns on the understanding of Eucharist Sacrifice by the English Reformers, these new interpretations of your theologians seem to call for a reconsideration of the earlier verdict of seventy years ago.
At the end of his letter, the bishop of Huron recalls that in their conversation Paul VI ‘noted that the intermingling of Anglican Orders with theirs [those of the Old Catholics of Europe] is relevant to any modern review of Anglican Orders’. Further, the bishop remembers that ‘the possibility’ of ‘the participation’ of Roman Catholic bishops ‘as co-consecrators’ in Anglican ordinations ‘came to your mind at the close of my November audience with you, and that you mentioned having heard it under discussion’.1
Apostolicæ Curæ presents a theological defense of this tradition of Vatican rejection of the validity of Anglican orders. It is based on the argument that the Church of England ordinal was defective in ‘intention’ and ‘form’. By ‘defect of intention’ Leo XIII meant that by the omission of any reference to the eucharist as a sacrifice and to a sacrificing priesthood in the ordination ritual of the 1552 Book of Common Prayer, the Church of England intended to introduce a radically new rite into England, one markedly different from those approved by the Roman Catholic Church. By ‘defect of form’ Leo XIII meant that the words of the Anglican ordination prayer, ‘Receive the Holy Ghost’, did not signify definitely the order of the Catholic priesthood with its power to consecrate and offer the body and blood of Christ in the eucharistic sacrifice.
This is the position of Apostolicæ Curæ in 1896: the exclusion of the concept of sacrifice from eucharistic worship in 1552 signified that the Church of England did not intend to ordain bishops and priests in the way that such ordinations had taken place before the Reformation, in the Catholic Church in England. The exclusion of a sacrificing priesthood nullified any Anglican intention to do what the Catholic Church does at an ordination.
One key element in the new context for the evaluation of Anglican orders today is that in 1978 the Vatican archives were opened through the year 1903. This has brought to light documents that show that the decisions of Apostolicæ Curæ were arrived at through a more complex process than we had previously imagined. The process, it must be admitted, is not so important as the conclusion. However, it is helpful to observe the process. The documents now available to scholars definitely confirm the existence of two distinct groups among the eight members of an apostolic commission appointed by Leo XIII in January 1896 to reexamine the validity of Anglican orders. Leo’s commission was divided, and four members of the commission believed that a ‘historic continuity’ with the medieval Church in England could be traced in modern Anglicanism. In 1896 Vatican opinion on the invalidity of Anglican orders was not as solidly negative as we once imagined, prior to 1978. It would not be to our purpose to comment on the opinions of the four members who were in favor of invalidity because these arguments found their way into Apostolicæ Curæ. Almost unknown today are the positions of the papal commissioners who concluded positively in favor of the orders.3
For example, one member of the papal commission, Louis Duchesne, believed that the practice of regarding Anglican orders as null and void did not derive from ‘an ecclesiastical sentence’ given in full knowledge of all the facts in the case. For a second commission member, Pietro Gasparri, the material succession of Anglican orders was intact. A third member, Emilio De Augustinis, held that the ordination rite of the 1552 Book of Common Prayer safeguarded the substance of the sacrament of order, and that the formula Accipe Spiritum Sanctum, contained in the 1552 book, was a valid form of Catholic ordination. A fourth member, T B. Scannell, believed approvingly that ‘true Roman caution’ had prevented the papacy from making a definitive negative judgment on Anglican orders in the sixteenth century.4
Today we can study these conclusions for ourselves: (1) Rome in the sixteenth century did not state categorically and explicitly that all orders conferred with the Anglican Ordinal of 1552 were null and void; and Anglican orders were not consistently rejected by the Roman See during the Marian Restoration in England of 1553 to 1558. (2) The vague nature of the instructions sent to Reginald Pole, the Roman Catholic legate in England during that period, suggests that re-ordination was not the only means of reconciliation of ministries in the sixteenth century. This conclusion is amplified by the fact that Pole himself was not a priest until March 1556. In any case, whatever conclusions we may reach today about the sixteenth century, we do have much more information about the background of the papal decision of 1896. This has made enough historical facts available to us to justify new investigation and appraisal.5
Why did Leo XIII reject the historical arguments of four members of his commission? The recently opened documents in the Vatican inform us that Pope Leo XIII apparently decided that the issue of reconciliation with the Church of England was not a matter of historical continuity alone. More importantly, to the pope, validity was a matter of sacramentology and of ecclesiology. The new documents suggest this interpretation of Apostolicæ Curæ: Greater weight must be given to theological and institutional unity between Rome and Canterbury than to the proof of historical and sacramental continuity.
Leo XIII thus decided that historical proof of a continuation of sacramental validity with the Church of England was not the central question between Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism. History is not the question. Theology is the question. For there to be sacramental validity within the Church of England from the perspective of Rome, Anglicans and Roman Catholics must be in one institutional community of faith, which implies agreements about the theology of sacraments and ministry, and some Anglican recognition of the papacy.6
From this standpoint, Leo XIII was not saying ‘no’ to Anglicanism. Today we can read letters in the Vatican archives in which Leo XIII and his Secretary of State, Cardinal Rampolla, wished to encourage further contacts and discussions with Anglicans after the promulgation of Apostolicæ Curæ. They urge Anglicans and Roman Catholics to move toward unity in faith before the issue of sacramental validity is resolved. In the light of new historical documents, Apostolicæ Curæ did not end a process of dialogue. It began a process of dialogue. The Vatican response was theological, not political. It set out clear theological conditions for validity. Could this not imply that given theological developments, there could be some future discernment of substantial agreement between Anglicans and Roman Catholics on sacraments and ministry which could sustain a positive judgment of future ordinations in the mind of Rome?
This does not mean that we doubt the intention of Leo XIII in 1896 ‘to settle definitively the grave question about Anglican ordination’, as he later wrote to the Archbishop of Paris. But the documentation in the Vatican archives suggests that this decision on the precise technical point of Anglican orders was not meant to end contact between the two Communions.
After 1896 Cardinal Rampolla supported informal visits, meetings, correspondence, and prayer in order to ‘maintain good relations with the Anglicans’ and to encourage Anglicans to continue to persevere in ‘positive sympathies toward the Roman Church’. In a similar manner, the chief Anglican protagonist of 1896, Lord Halifax, also believed that dialogue would continue. He wrote: ‘We have failed for the moment…but God means to do the work himself … the matter is as certain as it ever was’.7
Finally, the archbishops pointed out that the words and acts required by the pope in 1896 are not found in the earliest Roman ordinals, so that if their omission renders an ordination invalid, the orders of the Church of Rome are on no surer footing than those of the Church of England.
The archbishops were making two essential responses to the arguments of Rome: (1) ‘We plead and represent before the Father the sacrifice of the cross’. (2) ‘The whole action … we are accustomed to call the Eucharistic sacrifice’. Their summary of the Anglican understanding of the eucharistic sacrifice deserves to be quoted in some detail: ‘The matter is indeed one full of mystery and fitted to draw onwards the minds of men by strong feelings of love and piety to high and deep thoughts. But, inasmuch as it ought to be treated with the highest reverence and to be considered a bond of Christian charity rather than an occasion for subtle disputations, too precise definitions of the manner of the sacrifice of the eternal Priest and the sacrifice of the Church, which in some ways certainly are one, ought in our opinion to be avoided rather than pressed into prominence’.
The general tone of the letter is also important, because it assumes that the bishops of the Anglican Communion are engaged in an on-going debate with ‘our venerable brother’, the pope. It was even understood that the outcome of this debate might be positive. The archbishops wrote: ‘God grant that, even from this controversy may grow fuller knowledge of the truth, greater patience, and a broader desire for peace in the Church of Christ… ‘. In the same hope of eventual resolution of these matters with Rome, the Lambeth Conference of 1908 proclaimed that there could be no fulfillment of the purpose of God in any scheme of reunion that ‘does not ultimately include the great Latin Church of the West’.8 And the dialogue continued in this sense: the Vatican responded to Sæpius Officio, re-stating its conclusions of the 1896 investigation in a French and Latin letter to the archbishops of Canterbury and York of June 1897 (letter number 38245 in the Vatican archives), and inviting a continuing study of the doctrinal issues between the two Churches.
The document Sæpius Officio argued that there is a continuity of Anglican belief in the eucharistic sacrifice, stretching from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century, and, since Sæpius Officio was formally endorsed by the Lambeth Conference in 1930, into the twentieth century. At the 1930 Lambeth Conference a delegation of Orthodox bishops asked what Anglicanism teaches on the eucharistic sacrifice. The answer given by the Lambeth committee in charge quoted the passage from Sæpius Officio mentioned here, and this passage was endorsed by the whole Lambeth Conference in its Resolution Thirty-three.
Further, the Malines Conversations, meetings of a group of Anglican and Roman Catholic theologians held in Belgium between 1921 and 1925 under the presidency of Cardinal D. J. Mercier, did stimulate movement for greater unity in sacramental theology and ecclesiology. It was informally agreed by Anglican and Roman Catholics at Malines that the pope should be given a primacy of honor, that the body and blood of Christ are indeed taken in the eucharist, that the sacrifice of the eucharist is a true sacrifice, but after a mystical manner, and the episcopacy is by divine law.
The impression has been left that the Malines Conversations ‘ran into the sands and got nowhere’; and yet Pope Paul VI said in 1966 that these conversations were ‘epoch-making’. Why was this so?
First, Malines may be seen as a new start continuing the debate that had begun at the time of Apostolicæ Curæ. Pius XI had no objection to what Cardinal Mercier was doing, and the pope was urged in this direction by his Secretary of State, Cardinal Gasparri. This was the same Pietro Gasparri who had been one of the papal commissioners in 1896; his judgement had been that Anglican orders were at the least doubtfully valid.
Second, two key figures at Malines, Lord Halifax and Fernand Portal, had also been key figures in 1896. Malines built on the talks, discussions, lectures, and private friendships that Halifax and Portal had kept alive for the twenty-five years since Apostolicæ Curæ. And there was a real advance from 1896: in 1896 Anglican orders had been considered by a commission that included only Roman Catholics. Malines was a mixed conference with theologians from both sides meeting on a basis of equality.
Finally, by 1925, the Anglican group at Malines expressed conclusions on the eucharistic sacrifice that moved a step closer to the position of Leo XIII in Apostolicæ Curæ. A memorial written on behalf of the Anglicans by Lord Halifax on May 21, 1925, defined the distinctive priesthood of the ordained ministry in such a way that there is a marked connection to the sacrificial character of the eucharist. The priest is defined as one who offers up the sacrifice of the cross by prayers and a commemorating rite. The faith of Halifax in the eventual triumph of reunion was so strong that even when the Malines conversations came to an end with the death of Cardinal Mercier, Halifax then in his ninetieth year was said to have uttered: ‘Now for a new departure’.9
Apostolicæ Curæ produced an enormous amount of literature, Roman Catholic authors generally explaining and defending the papal decision, Anglicans affirming the effective transmission of valid orders in England through the turmoils of the Reformation.10
A significant shift in this polarization took place in the context of the Anglican/Roman Catholic Preparatory Commission that was established by Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey. At the first meeting of this commission (Gazzada, January 1967), the documentation from the bishop of Huron was made available to the members. At the second meeting (Huntercombe Manor, August-September 1967), the Preparatory Commission invited two of its members, Canons Findlow and Purdy, to ‘make a preliminary report on the question of the advisability and/or procedure to be followed in reconsideration of the problem of Orders’.
The Findlow-Purdy report was presented at the last meeting (Mosta, Malta, December 1967-January 1968). It was based in part on a brief memorandum that Canon Findlow had prepared ‘with the Archbishop of Canterbury’s knowledge’. The memorandum evoked the past (Apostolicæ Curæ, and the Bull of Paul VI, Praeclara Carissimi). It looked at the present (the contemporary approach to sacramentality, Unitatis Redintegratio, the Lambeth Appeal to all Christian People of 1920, the Church of England/Methodist Proposals). It discarded several suggestions: concentration on the Irish line of Archbishop De Domini, or increasing the Old Catholic participation in Anglican consecrations, or making retrospective applications of the Apostolic Constitution of Pius XII on the Matter and Form of Sacred Orders (1948) ‘as a possible means of validating the invalid’. It recognized that ‘the concept and understanding of the Church has developed, as it must, and is developing still’. Turning to the future, the memorandum noted that the time has ‘not quite yet’ come for ‘a reopening of the old question of Anglican orders in the wider context of the whole Church on earth, its faith, its ministry and its sacraments’. It suggested that a special commission be given the task of outlining a modus discutiendi rather than agendi.
The Findlow-Purdy report also drew on considerations contained in two papers by Archbishop McAdoo and Bishop Christopher Butler. These papers, however, treated the question of orders only incidentally. The report included a rather lengthy survey of recent literature: J. J. Hughes’s books on Apostolicæ Curæ, articles by Daniel O’Hanlon and Franz Josef van Beeck in favor of some recognition of all Protestant ministries, other articles by Harry McSorley and Gregory Baum.
The report concluded by outlining two possible courses of action. First, there could be a joint inquiry by a pair of scholars into Apostolicæ Curæ; this could take account of various criticisms that have been made of the decision of Leo XIII, and ‘consider what aspects of the problem were ignored…’. Second, another pair of scholars could investigate ‘the possibility of, and formulae for, a commission or recognition (Lambeth 1920)’. In other words, it recommended that a search be initiated for an acceptable form of what is now called the reconciliation of ministries. ‘This’, the report concluded, ‘is likely to produce quicker results’.
As it examined the Findlow-Purdy report, the Preparatory Commission had in hand a mimeographed essay by a Dominican, Fr. J. Smith. This is essentially an examination of the then recent volumes by Francis Clark (Anglican Orders and Defect of Intention, 1956) and J. J. Hughes (Absolutely Null and Utterly Void, 1969 and Stewards of the Lord, 1970). Smith’s judgment is that J. J. Hughes has succeeded ‘in his main endeavor to bring forth solid arguments to show the validity of Anglican orders’. Smith also provides a convenient summary of several suggestions made in modern Roman Catholic theology in favor of the recognition of Anglican orders.
There is ‘an approach in terms of matter, form and intention’, that is inspired by Apostolicæ Curæ, but reaches opposite conclusions. In addition, Smith mentions ‘an approach through the concept:
‘of reception in voto (Kung)’,
‘of extraordinary ministers (van Beeck)’,
‘of a wider understanding of apostolic succession and an application of the principle of Ecclesia supplet along the lines of the Orthodox “economy” (Villain, Tavard)’.
Toward the end of his essay, Smith explains these suggestions further, and he adds some others:
Father Smith’s own conclusion is the following:
It is evident how much the new argument, in all its versions, depends upon the renewal of theology taking place under the stimulus of Vatican II…. The co-inherence of church and sacrament is no longer to be understood in a way that makes church character (‘ecclesiality’) and the sacraments a possession of the Roman Catholic Church that must be jealously guarded and kept to herself alone.
After examining the documents at its disposal, the Preparatory Commission included a specific recommendation. Although this Malta Report does not discuss the substance of the question, it notes that the contemporary desire for ‘intercommunion’ points to the urgency of the matter. And it sets the question in the broad context of ecclesiology:
19. We are agreed that among the conditions required for intercommunion are true sharing in faith and the mutual recognition of ministry. The latter presents a particular difficulty in regard to Anglican Orders according to the traditional judgment of the Roman Catholic Church. We believe that the present growing together of our two Communions and the needs of the future require of us a very serious consideration of this question in the light of modern theology. The theology of the ministry forms part of the theology of the Church and must be considered as such. It is only when sufficient agreement has been reached as to the nature of the priesthood and the meaning attached in this context to the word validity that we could proceed, working always jointly, to the application of this doctrine to the Anglican ministry of today. We would wish to reexamine historical events and past documents only to the extent that they can throw light upon the facts of the present situation.11
The points underlined contain the outline of an approach to the matter of Anglican orders. The question should be reexamined, (1) in the light of modern theology; (2) and in the context of an ecclesiology of ‘Communion’; (3) the process should include an agreement on the nature of the priesthood; (4) and on the meaning of sacramental validity; (5) but it need not return to the debates concerning the events of the sixteenth century except if and when this may be necessary to throw light on the modern situation. The contemporary question deals with the advisability of taking a step forward toward the reconciliation of the Churches by recognizing Anglican orders today, whatever may have been the problems of the past.
Not all the work proposed by the Preparatory Commission was attempted. ARCIC
I arrived at what it identified as a ‘substantial agreement’ on the sacrament of the eucharist (Windsor Statement, 1971, with the Elucidations of 1979), and on ministry and ordination (Canterbury Statement, 1973, with the Elucidations of 1979). It formulated the beginning of a substantial agreement on authority in the Church (Venice Statement, 1976, with the Elucidations of 1981, and the second Windsor Statement, 1981).
The agreed statement on authority in the Church included the principle of the primacy of the bishop of Rome in the college of bishops, but not all the range of authority that the Roman Catholic tradition has come to recognize in the primate. Four questions were left open in 1976:
By 1981 and the publication of The Final Report, substantial agreement was reached on the first two points. Some progress was made on the last two. But the agreement registered was neither complete nor final.
Following the lead of The Malta Report, ARCIC I did not delve into such historical questions as Cranmer’s sacramental theology, the ordination of Matthew Parker as archbishop of Canterbury, the meaning of the bulls of Julius III and Paul IV. It did not investigate what is meant by the validity of sacraments and specifically of the sacrament of orders.
ARCIC I saw the notion of communion as the key to the images of the Church in the New Testament (no. 4). It embodies the principle of the believers’ relationship to God and Christ in the Holy Sprit, and to one another in Christ (no. 5). It is related to the eucharist, to ministerial episcope and the primacy (no. 6), to the visibility of the Church (no. 7), to the spiritual life of community of Christians (no. 8), and to the unity that Christ wills for his Church (no. 9). It is therefore in the light of its eucharistic doctrine and practice that the continuation of orders in the Anglican Communion is to be assessed. The insight of ARCIC I on the Church as communion was in line with a previous study by (the future) Cardinal Jerome Hamer. It has been echoed in much recent writing.12 In an address given at Great St. Mary’s in Cambridge, on January 18, 1970, Cardinal Jan Willebrands described the Church of the future, in which Anglicans and Roman Catholics will be reconciled. To do so, he drew on an essay in which Dom Emmanuel Lanne had shown that the universal Church is not only a communion of communions, but a communion of diverse types of communions. In the universal communion, therefore, several typoi of the Church must be at home:
When there is a long coherent tradition, commanding men’s love and loyalty, creating and sustaining a harmonious and organic whole of complementary elements, each of which supports and strengthens the others, you have the reality of a typos.
Such complementary elements are many. A characteristic theological method and approach … A spiritual and devotional tradition … A characteristic canonical discipline, the fruit also of experience and psychology….
Through the combination of all these, a typos can be specified.13
This trend of thought leads evidently to the idea that contemporary Anglicanism, with its liturgies, its spirituality, its episcopal organization, and its customary mode of authority, qualifies as an ecclesial typos, which would have its proper place in the reconciled universal Church. If a typos of the Church is understood to be a eucharistic community, standing in apostolic succession, teaching the Catholic faith, and practicing its mode of worship and government within the oneness of the universal Church, then the Anglican Communion throughout the world would be such a typos.
On October 25, 1970, at the canonization of the forty martyrs of England and Wales, victims of the Reformation, the pope included this passage in his homily:
There will be no seeking to lessen the legitimate prestige and the worthy patrimony of piety and usage proper to the Anglican Church, when the Roman Catholic Church—this ‘humble Servant of the servants of God’—is able to embrace her ever beloved Sister in the one authentic Communion of the family of Christ, a communion of origin and of faith, a communion of priesthood and of rule, a communion of the saints in the freedom of love of the Spirit of Jesus. Perhaps we shall have to go on waiting in prayer in order to deserve that blessed day. But already we are strengthened in this hope by the heavenly friendship of the forty martyrs of England and Wales who are canonized today.14
Pope Paul did not call the Anglican Communion a ‘sister Church’. Yet by evoking a future embrace of it as the Roman Catholic Church’s ‘ever beloved Sister’, he implicitly suggested that it has the making of a sister Church. In this case, ecclesial sisterhood is virtual. It needs to be elicited and actualized. In other words, Pope Paul proposed a model for the work that should lead to a reconciliation of the two Churches.
Precisely, the ecumenical climate is affected by images and symbols, no less than by clear formulations and attitudes. The warmth that is implied in the expressions used by Paul VI contributes to the new context for the evaluation of Anglican orders.
There was an additional discrepancy in the sixteenth century between the Roman Catholic and the Anglican understanding of ordination. When Pope Paul IV denied the value of the ordination of Matthew Parker (December 17, 1559), this was due to the fact that the Anglican Ordinal included an explicit denial of papal authority; for the pope understood that episcopal ordination, while it does not give sacramental grace, signifies the grant of episcopal jurisdiction by the bishop of Rome.
On these two counts, Vatican II returned to the patristic tradition. In the first place, the constitution Lumen Gentium adopted a view of episcopacy that had been increasingly accepted among Catholic theologians, though it had not yet been endorsed magisterially: being the highest form of the sacrament of orders, the episcopate is itself a sacrament. The conciliar text runs as follows:
The holy synod teaches that the fullness of the sacrament of orders is conferred by episcopal consecration, that fullness, namely, which both in the liturgical tradition of the Church and in the language of the Fathers of the Church is called the high priesthood, the acme of the sacred ministry…. In fact, from the tradition, which is expressed especially fn the liturgical rites and customs of both the Eastern and the Western Church, it is abundantly clear that by the imposition of hands and through the words of consecration, the grace of the Holy Spirit is given, and a sacred character is imprinted. (Lumen Gentium, 21)
In the second place, Vatican II taught that the sacramental ordination of bishops introduces them into the episcopal college. From the perspective of Vatican II hierarchical communion is also needed for incorporation into the episcopal college. The bishops’ jurisdiction therefore pertains to them as ‘vicars and legates of Christ’, not as ‘vicars of the Roman Pontiffs’ (Lumen Gentium, 27).
These reforms of the Catholic theology of the episcopate contributed to the new context for the evaluation of Anglican orders. This is all the more striking as they were followed by a reform of the ritual of ordination.
The logical consequence was drawn by Pope Paul VI. Through a series of motu proprio documents, Pope Paul reformed the sacrament of orders. In Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem (June 18, 1968), he re-established the permanent diaconate. In Pontificalis Romani Recognitio (June 18, 1968), the Latin rite for the ordination of bishops came closer to the oriental rite; in the ordination of priests he ‘brought closer unity to the rite’, doing away with the porrection of instruments. For the three sacred orders, Pope Paul specified which ‘words of the consecratory prayer … belong to the essential nature [of the sacrament], so that they are required for the validity of the action’.15 These are for the priesthood:
Da, quaesumus, omnipotens Pater, his famulis tuis PresbyterII dignitatem; innova in visceribus eorum Spiritum sanctitatis; acceptum a te, Deus, secundi meriti munus obtineant censuramque morum exemplo suce conversationis insinuent.
[Almighty Father, grant to these servants of yours the dignity of the priesthood. Renew within them the Spirit of holiness. As co-workers with the order of bishops may they be faithful to the ministry that they received from you, Lord God, and be to others a model of right conduct.]
For the episcopate, the words are:
Et nunc effunde super hunc electum eam virtutem, quae a te est, Spiritum principalem, quem dedisti dilecto Filio tuo Jesu Christo, quem Ipse donavit sanctis apostolis, qui constituerunt ecclesiam per singula loca ut sanctuartium tuum, in gloriam et laudem indeficientem nominis tut.
[So now pour out upon this chosen one that power which is from you, the governing Spirit whom you gave to your beloved Son Jesus Christ, the Spirit given by him to the holy apostles, who founded the Church in every place to be your temple for the unceasing glory and praise of your name.]
In Ministeria Quædam (August 15, 1972), Paul VI abolished the minor orders of porter and exorcist and the subdiaconate (keeping the ministries of lector and acolyte). In Ad Pascendum (same date), he established norms for the permanent diaconate and for admission of candidates to the priesthood.
The chief thrust of this reform was to simplify and clarify the ritual of ordination. Unlike the reform of the ordinal that was effected in the sixteenth century by Archbishop Cranmer, the reform of Paul VI was not tied to a shift in the theology of the Church or of the sacraments. Paul VI himself formulated his principle: to keep close to the patristic rites and to those of the Oriental Church. Yet by doing so, he also narrowed the gap between the Anglican Ordinal and the Pontifical. Thus the Roman reform of the ritual of ordination helped to shape the new context for the evaluation of Anglican orders.
17. We are fully aware of the issues raised by the judgment of the Roman Catholic Church on Anglican Orders. The development of the thinking in our two Communions regarding the nature of the Church and of the ordained ministry, as represented in our Statement, has, we consider, put these issues in a new context. Agreement on the nature of ministry is prior to the consideration of the mutual recognition of ministries. What we have to say represented the consensus of the Commission on essential matters where it considers that our doctrine admits no divergence…. Nevertheless, we consider our consensus, on questions where agreement is indispensable for unity, offers a positive contribution to the reconciliation of our Churches and of their ministries.
The nature of this new context was explored in a letter addressed by Cardinal Willebrands to the co-chairs of ARCIC-II (July 13, 1985). The president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity recognized that a ‘new context’ is now affecting the discussion of Anglican orders. He approved the principle that a study of the question ‘cannot be a purely historical one’. The cardinal summed up Apostolicæ Curæ. Leo XlII’s decision rested on the belief that the Anglican Ordinal betrays a nativa indoles ac spiritus, a ‘natural character and spirit’, that was judged unacceptable by the pope. This nativa indoles was found in ‘the deliberate omission of all references to some of the principal axes of Catholic teaching concerning the relationship of the eucharist to the sacrifice of Christ, and to the consequence of this for an understanding of the nature of the Christian priesthood’.
In the light of the liturgical renewal, the cardinal drew the conclusion that the doctrinal agreements of ARCIC-I, once endorsed by the proper authorities of the Anglican Communion in a solemn ‘profession of faith’, could remove what Leo XIII perceived as the Anglican nativa indoles. This in turn could ‘lead to a new evaluation of the sufficiency of these Anglican rites as far as concerns future ordinations’. Such a study could prescind ‘at this stage from the question of the continuity in the apostolic succession of the ordaining bishop’.16
Thus the new context that is now in the making may make it possible to reach a decision for the future without passing judgment on the past.
Lambeth voted that such an agreement on eucharist and ministry offers a sufficient basis for taking ‘the next step forward’ towards the reconciliation of ministries of the two Churches grounded in this agreement in faith. The willingness expressed in Lambeth Resolution Seven to explore even more seriously with Roman Catholics ‘the concept of a universal primacy in conjunction with collegiality’ is related to the need for a ‘personal focus’ of unity and affection and the realization that such a universal primacy would symbolize and strengthen in new ways the fundamental unity of the human family.
In preparing for Lambeth 1988, the provinces of the Anglican Communion also gave a clear ‘yes’ to Lambeth on both the statement on Eucharistic Doctrine and the statement on Ministry of ARCIC I. No province rejected the statement in The Final Report that ‘the Eucharist is a sacrifice in the sacramental sense’, and many were extremely positive that The Final Report is ‘a helpful clarification’ that ‘sufficiently expresses Anglican understanding’. The provinces also reacted in a positive manner to this statement of The Final Report: ‘Because the Eucharist is the memorial of the sacrifice of Christ, the action of the presiding minister in reciting again the words of Christ at the last supper and distributing to the assembly the holy gifts is seen to stand in a sacramental relation to what Christ himself did in offering his own sacrifice’. The provinces saw such a statement as giving help ‘to further the reconciliation of ministries and growth towards full communion’.
In the light of the debate since Apostolicæ Curæ, the Lambeth Conference resolutions on ARCIC I assume historic proportions. And further, not only the Lambeth Conference, but now also twenty-five of the twenty-seven provinces of the Anglican Communion have accepted the eucharistic doctrine and ministry sections of The Final Report. One may ask if the prevailing mind of the Anglican Communion is still as contrary to the Roman Catholic understanding of eucharist, priesthood, and ordination as Pope Leo XIII believed it was.17
Archbishop Fisher was received by John XXIII on a private ‘visit of courtesy’ on December 2, 1960. Archbishop Ramsey paid an official visit to Paul VI in March 1966. On this occasion, the two bishops joined in leading a prayer service at St. Paul’s-Outside-the-Walls. Pope Paul called this ‘not yet a visit of perfect unity, but … a visit of friendship placing us on the way to unity’.18 In an unusual symbolic gesture, he passed his own episcopal ring from his finger to that of the archbishop of Canterbury. Archbishop Coggan was received by Paul VI in April 1977, and they jointly presided at a liturgy of the word in the Sistine Chapel.
John Paul II paid an official visit to the cathedral of Canterbury, where he was received by Archbishop Runcie (May 1982). This visit was returned when Archbishop Runcie came to Rome in September-October 1989. On this occasion the two prelates worshiped together at the Church of St. Gregory, from which Gregory the Great had sent Augustine to England to preach the Gospel to the Anglo-Saxons.
It is apparent that such symbolic gestures can be diversely assessed. By themselves, they do not imply that the difficulties faced by Leo XIII are no longer operative. Yet their cumulative effect reinforces the impression that relations between the two Communions have entered a phase marked by serenity and cordiality. This is a feature of the new context for the evaluation of Anglican orders.
Anew context for the resolution of pending problems between the Churches is thus in the making. This context is now posing new questions. Among them there is that of a possible re-evaluation of Anglican orders by the Roman Catholic magisterium. To what extent the new context allows for new approaches to the apostolic letter Apostolicæ Curæ and to its conclusion is a question that deserves discussion. To what extent this context has also been negatively affected by the ordination of women in the Anglican Communion is itself a point that should receive careful examination.
At the conclusion of the present report, ARC-USA invites theologians of their two Churches to assess anew the past and present climate of their relationships, as well as this report, and to suggest possible ways forward to preserve and promote the ecumenical impact of Vatican II and of the recent dialogues, even in the face of whatever serious difficulties still exist.
ARC-USA trusts that its own efforts will contribute to the clarification of at least some of the issues involved in the assessment of the new context in which the Churches now live.
Long Branch, New Jersey
May 8, 1990
1The bishop of Huron had his correspondence with Pope Paul printed and distributed widely: A Local Item in the Roman Catholic-Anglican Dialogue … 1965-1966, 7 pages.
2The definitive Latin text of Apostolicæ Curæ is in Leonis XIII, Acta, vol. VI, Rome, 1897, pp. 258-275. In G. Rambaldi, ‘A proposito della Bolla Apostolicæ Curæ di Leone XIII’, Gregorianum (61, 4, 1980), pp. 677-743, Rambaldi provides the entire text of the first schema of an Italian draft by Cardinal Camillo Mazzella, the first Latin text and the final text. For an English edition see Apostolicæ Curæ, trans. by G. D. Smith (London: Catholic Truth Society, 1956) and Anglican Orders (English) (SPCK, 1957).
3The foundation of any new look at Apostolicæ Curæ has to be the new material now open to us in the Vatican archives. This consists primarily of four dossiers:
These materials add new information to our understanding of the preparation and meaning of Apostolicæ Curæ in the following ways:
4Recent publications in Italian and French make the positions of all the papal commissioners available to us today.
5For analysis in English of the new historical materials in the Vatican archives, see three articles of R. W. Franklin, ‘The Historic Episcopate and the Roman Church: From Huntington’s Quadrilateral to 1988’, in Quadrilateral at One Hundred, ed. J. Robert Wright (London, Oxford, Cincinnati: Mowbray and Forward Movement, 1988), pp. 98- 110; ‘Apostolicæ Curæ‘, Ecumenical Trends (15, 5, 1986), pp. 80-82; ‘The Historical Foundations of Apostolicæ Curæ‘, Ecumenical Trends (16, 2, 1987), pp. 24-29. See George Tavard, A Review of Anglican Orders: The Problem and the Solution, Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1990.
6G. Ramaldi reconstructs the stages of the pope’s thinking from the response to the positive commissioners through the various drafts and schema of Apostolicæ Curæ in two articles, ‘A proposito della Bolla Apostolicæ Curæ di Leone XIII’, Gregorianum (61, 4, 1980), pp. 677-743; ‘Relazione e voto del Raffaele Pierotti, O.P., Mæstro del S. Palazzo Apostolico sulle Ordinazioni Anglicane’, Archivum Historicæ Pontificiæ (20, 1982), pp. 337-388.
7The letter of Leo XIII to the archbishop is found in Acta Sanctæ Sedis (29, 1896-1897), p. 664. The importance of this sentence in any future evaluation of Anglican orders was underlined by James O’Connor in a paper on Apostolicæ Curæ presented to ARC-USA in July 1987. The larger context of the sentence is discussed by G. Rambaldi, ‘Una lettera del Cardinale Richard sulla fine della “Revue Anglo-Romaine”, Archivum Historiæ Pontificiæ (18, 1980), pp. 403-410. The encouraging letters of Cardinal Rampolla quoted here are to Cardinal Domenico Ferrata, Pro-Nuncio in Paris, 24 September 1896 (33180 in Vatican archives) and to Abbot Luigi Tosti of Monte Cassino, 9 October 1896 (33468 in Vatican archives). Other letters encouraging dialogue and contact were sent by Cardinal Rampolla to Lord Halifax on March 15, 1897 (36409) and to Frederick Temple, archbishop of Canterbury on June 21, 1897 (38245). The Vatican initiative toward Anglicanism in the 1890s and the complex understanding of reconciliation within the Curia are discussed by G. Rambaldi in two articles, ‘Un documento inedito sull’origine della lettera di Leone XIII “Ad Anglos”, Archivum Historiæ Pontificiæ (24, 1986), pp. 405-414; ‘Verso l’incontro tra Cattolici e Anglicani negli anni 1894-1896’, Archivum Historicæ Pontificiæ (25, 1987), pp. 365-410. The sentiments of Halifax are quoted in Roger Greenacre, Lord Halifax (London: Church Literature Association, 1983, p. 17). See also Regis Ladous: L’Abbé Portal et la Campagne Anglo-Romaine, 1890-1912 (Lyon: Université de Lyon, 1973).
8Sæpius Officio (London: The Church Literature Association, 1977), pp. 13-16, 38-39. For a more complete analysis of Sæpius Officio see E. R. Hardy, ‘Priesthood and Sacrifice in the English Church’, The Holy Cross Magazine (July, 1943), pp. 1-10. Other important Anglican letters to Rome after Apostolicæ Curæ encouraging dialogue and found in the Vatican archives are W. E. Gladstone to Abott Luigi Tosti, September 23, 1896 (33468), Lord Halifax to Cardinal Rampolla, March 5, 1897 (36409) and March 20, 1897 (36681), Frederick Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury, to Leo XIII, April 4, 1897 (38245) and to Cardinal Rampolla April 1, 1897 (38245). The Lambeth Conferences: 1867-1948 (London, 1948), p. 128.
9Leo XIII, in the French and Latin response to Sæpius Officio (Letter 38245 in Vatican archives) argues that despite ‘the preservation of Catholic traditions in England … the doctrine discussed in your brochure on ordination and on the priesthood as well as on the sacrifice of the mass show that your doctrine is not that of the Roman Catholic Church’. For new documentation on Malines, see John A. Dick, The Malines Conversations Revisited (Louvain: Louvain University Press, 1990). Paul VI is quoted by Owen Chadwick in The Tablet (17 February 1990), p. 216. Excerpts from the memorial of Halifax can be found in G. K. A. Bell, Documents on Christian Unity: Second Series (London, 1930), pp. 36-37. Halifax is quoted in Margot Mayne, ‘Catholic Reunion: The Noble Cause’, Church Observer (Spring, 1984), p. 14.
10The most complete bibliography through 1968 is given in John Jay Hughes, Absolutely Null and Utterly Void (Washington and Cleveland: Corpus Books, 1968), pp. 309-342.
11Alan C. Clark and Colin Davey, Anglican/Roman Catholic Dialogue. The Work of the Preparatory Commission (London: Oxford University Press, 1974), pp. 112-113; emphasis added. This is reprinted in Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission, The Final Report (London: CTS/ SPCK, 1982), pp. 114-115.
12See Jerome Hamer, The Church is a Communion (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1964); Jean-Marie Tillard, Eglise d’Eglises. L’ecclesiologie de communion (Paris: Cerf, 1987).
13Secretariat for Christian Unity Information Bulletin (11, III, 1970), p. 14.
14Quoted in Robert Hale, Canterbury and Rome. Sister Churches (New York: Paulist Press, 1982), p.16.
15These texts are quoted from La Documentation Catholique (Paris, July 7, 1968, no. 1520, col. 1169), and the English translation is taken from The Rites of the Catholic Church as Revised by Decree of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council and Published by Authority of Pope Paul VI, vol. 2 (New York: Pueblo Publishing Company, 1980), pp. 83 and 95.
16Origins (1987), pp. 662-663. The phrase nativa ordinalis indoles ac spiritus appears first in Apostolicæ Curæ on p. 270 [736-737]. Not all recent letters from Rome on Anglican relations have had the positive tone of Cardinal Willebrands’. An important critique of The Final Report came from the Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, ‘Observation on The Final Report of ARCIC’, Enchiridion Vaticanum, vol. 8 (Bologna: Edizioni Dehoniane, 1984). For Cardinal Ratzinger, The Final Report ‘does not yet constitute a substantial and explicit agreement on some essential elements of Catholic faith’. Similarly, the Committee on Doctrine of the United States National Conference of Catholic Bishops, in its ‘Evaluation of the ARCIC Final Report‘, Origins (14, 25, 1984), pp. 409-413, found that ‘an unfinished agenda precludes our saying at present that this doctrinal agreement in faith includes all that is essential for full communion between the two Churches’. Some recent Roman Catholic publications have defended the conclusions of Apostolicæ Curæ on Anglican orders. See Christopher Monckton, Anglican Orders: Null and Void? (Canterbury: Family History Books, 1987); and Brian W Harrison, ‘The Vatican and Anglican Orders’, Homiletic and Pastoral Review (89, 1, 1988), pp. 10-19.
17The full texts of the Lambeth resolutions may be found in the Ecumenical Bulletin (November-December 1988), pp. 19-21; The Final Report, pp. 20, 35; see also on these points Emmanuel Sullivan, ‘The 1988 Lambeth Conference and Ecumenism’, Ecumenical Trends (17, 10, 1988), pp. 145-148; and Thomas Ryan, ‘The 1988 Lambeth Conference’, America (September 24, 1988), pp. 162-164.
18La Documentation Catholique (April 17, 1966, n. 1469, col. 673, note 1). See also Edward Yarnold, Anglican Orders-A Way Forward? (London: Catholic Truth Society, 1977).