The meaning of the word VALIDITY has been explained
But as the VALIDITY OF ORDERS is a highly controversial subject
it must be said again that
VALID means RECOGNIZED BY THE COMMUNITY, in this case the Church,
in whatever sense we use the word Church;
and that ORDERS means the three orders of the apostolic ministry with all their functions.
Every society must have some standard to which it requires its officers
to conform in order to be recognized.
The conception of validity is one that no organized society can do without.
Each society must be the judge of what it requires for the recognition of its own officers.
If the Church were united, she would have only one standard of validity.
As she is divided, there are different rules in different communions, and each separate communion has to be treated as a separate society for this purpose.
The ministry of any communion is valid within that communion.
Since validity means recognition by a society,
there is no such thing as absolute validity apart from any society.
One of the most obvious differences between Christian communions is that
ministry of one is not always recognized by another.
The real reason for this is difference in doctrine, especially the doctrine of the ministry.
No communion has any right to say to another communion, "Your ministers are not valid ministers for you."
The question of validity arises only when a minister of one communion wants to join another, or when two communions wish to unite. Then each communion must decide whether it can recognize the ministry of the other as equivalent to its own.
If they do not agree in their doctrine of the ministry, either of them may have to say to the other, "Your ministers have not the qualifications which we require for ours, and therefore we cannot accept them without ordination."
The mutual recognition of ministries has received much more attention in
discussions about union than it deserves for two reasons.
English-speaking people are more interested in organization than in doctrine,
in practice than in theory.
They often think it more important that two communions should recognize one another's ministries than that they should agree in doctrine.
They do not always understand that agreement in doctrine is necessary for mutual recognition.
Moreover, the Anglican clergy is not agreed about the nature of the ministry,
but it is agreed about government by bishops.
Therefore Anglican proposals for union emphasize the acceptance of government by bishops without requiring agreement as to the nature of the ministry.
But this is to put the cart before the horse.
There are other kinds of Christian ministry besides the apostolic ministry
of bishops, priests, and deacons.
The essential duty of the Calvinist or "Reformed" ministry is not to offer the Eucharist but to preach.
For this reason it does not require or claim any succession from the apostles (see pp. 4047).
When we speak of orders, we mean the ministry of bishops, priests, and deacons as defined in the last chapter.
Other kinds of ministry have their value, but they are not "orders".
If we are inquiring whether a particular communion is orthodox, one question
we must ask is whether it has valid orders;
that is, whether its ministry is such that the Church, and in particular the communion to which we belong, can recognize it as the apostolic ministry.
This question is partly doctrinal and partly historical.
No part of the Church can recognize as equivalent to its own ministry the ministry of a denomination whose doctrine of ordination is not that of the Church.
A communion whose ministry is to be recognized must hold what the undivided Church held about the functions of bishops, priests, and deacons,
and it must be able to show that its ministry is derived from the ministry of the undivided Church without any break in the succession.
For the universal Church before she was divided required these two conditions;
and each communion into which she has been divided, and which claims a share in her inheritance, requires them still.
The Anglican Communion has always claimed that its doctrine is that of the
undivided Church, and that its ministry is derived from the undivided Church.
The defence of these claims is part of the defence of the Anglican Communion.
There is no doubt that before the Reformation the ordinations of the English
and Irish churches were the same as those of the rest of the Catholic Church.
During the Reformation the succession of bishops was carefully preserved.
The preface to the ordination services which dates from the first English Prayer Book of 1549 (it has been slightly altered since then but not in any essential respect) declares that from the apostles, time there have been these orders of ministers in Christ's Church, bishops, priests, and deacons, and that to the intent they may be continued in the Church of England, no man shall be accounted a lawful bishop, priest, or deacon or suffered to execute any of their functions without being ordained in the prescribed manner, unless he has already been ordained or consecrated by a bishop.
Accordingly it has always been the rule of the Anglican Communion that clerics of the Roman Communion and other communions possessing the ancient ministry are received without ordination, but ministers of the various reformed communions who have not been ordained by a bishop must be ordained if they are to serve in the Anglican ministry.
The Anglican ministry is derived from the ministry before the Reformation
by three lines of succession.
The first is the English succession through Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury, who was consecrated on December 17, 1559, in Lambeth Palace Chapel by William Barlow, formerly Bishop of Bath and Wells, John Scory, formerly Bishop of Chichester, Miles Coverdale, formerly Bishop of Exeter, and John Hodgkins, Bishop of Bedford.
The second is the Irish line of succession through Hugh Curwen, Archbishop of Dublin 1555-1567.
The third is the line through Marcantonio de Dominis, Archbishop of Spalato (now Split) in Dalmatia, who joined the Church of England in 1616, became Dean of Windsor, and took part in the consecration of English bishops.
These three lines met in William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury 1633-45,
through whom all the present Anglican bishops derive their succession.
Some bishops also possess a line of succession through the Dutch Old Catholic bishops, Mgr. Henry van Vlijmen, Bishop of Haarlem, and Mgr. John Berends, Bishop of Deventer, who took part in the consecration of Anglican bishops in St. Paul's Cathedral, in 1931 and 1932.
[The bishops in whose consecration they took part were the late Dr. Graham-Brown, Bishop in Jerusalem, Dr. B. F. Simpson, Bishop of Southwark, Dr. Buxton, Bishop of Gibraltar, and Dr. Gelsthorpe, Assistant Bishop in Egypt.]
The present Bishops of Guildford and Tinnevelly have also a line of succession through the Church of Sweden.
At the consecration of Archbishop Parker,
and also at the consecrations in which the Old Catholic bishops took part,
care was taken that each bishop consecrating should say the words
"Receive the Holy Ghost", etc., as well as imposing his hands,
but this is not necessary.
In earlier rites the hands of the bishops were imposed in silence.
What has just been said assumes that all the bishops,
and not the presiding bishop only,
are the ministers of the sacrament.
The theory held by some Roman theologians and canonists that only the presiding bishop is the minister of the sacrament, or at least that if the presiding bishop had not himself been properly consecrated, the assistance of the other bishops would not make the consecration a valid one, would endanger the succession of every church in Christendom.
On this theory the succession of the English bishops (though not of the Irish) would depend on the validity of the consecration of Barlow, the principal consecrator of Parker, upon which doubt, though not reasonable doubt, has been thrown.
But the succession in the Roman Communion would not be certain either.
No one can guarantee that every bishop who has ever presided at a consecration has been properly baptized and properly consecrated; but the chance that all three (or more) bishops at a consecration had invalid orders is so small as to make the risk negligible. [See p. 390.]
Anglican ordinations have been formally accepted as valid,
after careful and prolonged inquiry by the Old Catholic churches.
Five of the Orthodox churches (all that have examined the question) have pronounced them to be of equal value with those of the Roman and Armenian communions.
Only the Roman Communion has ever rejected them.
But even within the Roman Communion some theologians have held them to be valid; for instance, Sancta Clara, Du Pin, and Le Courayer.
The Roman rejection of the validity of Anglican ordinations must be looked
at from the Roman standpoint in order to estimate its real value.
Rome does not look upon members of the Anglican Communion as people who would be Catholics if there were not an unhappy flaw in their succession, but as people who are in any case heretics and schismatics, and whose position, if they had valid orders, might be worse than they are now because they would be giving and receiving schismatic sacraments, and because that very fact would keep them back from submitting to the "only true Church".
Therefore the Papacy, rightly from its own point of view, regards the validity
of Anglican ordinations as a question to be decided, at any rate in part,
by its probable results.
Believing that "it is necessary to the salvation of every human being to be subject to the Roman Pontiff", and that more people would submit to Rome if Anglican ordinations were rejected than if they were accepted (whether this belief was true is by no means certain), the Pope naturally took the course that, as he was advised, would lead to the submission of the greater number.
Also, if Rome had acknowledged Anglican ordinations, Romanists would in some ways have had a weaker position in controversy. Therefore they did not want to recognize Anglican ordinations if they could help it.
The first reason given for the rejection of Anglican ordinations was the
Nag's Head Fable, a ridiculous legend that Parker was consecrated in a tavern
called the Nag's Head, by having a Bible placed on his head.
This story is now discredited, for we have a full description by an eyewitness of the consecration of Parker in Lambeth Palace Chapel;
but it is still used by unscrupulous controversialists in such countries as Ceylon.
[If it were true, it would not affect the two other lines of succession, which is also true of the denial that Barlow was consecrated.]
The second reason given was that Barlow was never consecrated, which is
worthless unless the theory is held that there is only one consecrator; in
which case, as we have seen, no consecrations of bishops anywhere are secure.
But though the record of the consecration of Barlow is lost like the record of many other bishops at that period, it is certain that he was consecrated, for he was always recognized as a bishop by those who had no sympathy with doctrinal change, such as Stephen Gardiner, and he performed the functions of a bishop for many years before any doctrinal or liturgical changes had been introduced.
These two reasons for denying the validity of Anglican ordinations having
failed, Rome now confines itself officially to the two reasons given by Leo
I in the Bull Apostolicae Curae (1895).
These are that the Anglican churches did not intend that their ordinations and consecrations should convey the power of offering sacrifice, and therefore omitted from their rites all reference to it; and that the words "for the office and work of a bishop" and "for the office and work of a priest" did not follow "Receive the Holy Ghost" in the Anglican rite between 1549 and 1662;
so that during that century the rite was invalid, and though these words were put back in 1662, it was then too late.
A complete answer to the Bull Apostolicae Curae was given in the Letter to all Christian People signed by Frederick Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury, and William Maclagan, Archbishop of York, on March 29, 1897, but drawn up by John Wordsworth, Bishop of Salisbury, one of the most learned theologians of his age.
The Anglican churches expressly declared that they intended to continue
the existing orders which included all that our Lord commanded and all that
the Apostles and their successors have intended ever since.
The references to offering sacrifice, which were late introductions into the rite, were omitted because the Anglican churches were convinced that the sacrificial side of the priestly office had been over-emphasized and wrongly interpreted.
There is hardly any reference to "offering sacrifice" in St. Gregory's well-known work On the Pastoral Care, or in the "Longer Catechism" of the Russian Church.
The English Church emphasizes in her ordinal precisely those elements in the work of the clergy that are emphasized in the New Testament, and intends her consecrations and ordinations to bestow all the powers of a bishop and a priest, including the power to offer sacrifice in its true sense.
To the accusation that the Anglican rite was for a century defective, it
is replied that the words omitted do not occur in any of the older rites
of ordination, either Greek or Latin, including the earliest rite of the
Roman Church itself, nor is there in these rites any reference to the power
of offering sacrifice.
The name of the order ("bishop", "priest"), though not mentioned in the formula of ordination or consecration from 1549 to 1662, was frequently mentioned in the rest of the rite, so that there is no doubt about what was intended.
Also the formula itself quotes Scripture on the functions of a bishop (II Tim. 1:6) and of a priest (St. John 20:23).
The real difference between us is a doctrinal difference.
Rome does not deny the historical succession of the Anglican bishops but asserts that the English and Irish Churches intended to introduce a new kind of ministry different from the old one and assumes that whatever was decreed by the Council of Trent was also the doctrine of the Church from the beginning, so that those who reject the decrees of Trent reject the teaching of the Church in earlier times.
We cannot accept this assumption.
We claim that our intention and our rite agree with the intention and the rites of the ancient Church, which are not necessarily to be interpreted in accordance with the decrees of Trent.
We do not question the right of the Roman Communion, as of every other communion,
to decide the conditions on which it will admit men into its ministry; but
we claim that the grounds on which it refuses to recognize Anglican ordinations
are false, and we deny that its judgment has any authority for those who
are outside its jurisdiction.
(It is perhaps worth observing that if the Anglican claims were false or if the Anglican communion did not exist at all, the case against Romanism stated above (pp. 30717) would be just as strong as it is now.)
The Roman denial of the validity of Anglican ordinations has no practical
It makes it rather more difficult for Anglican clerics to leave their own communion for the Roman communion, but it is not a real obstacle to Christian unity for, as has been shown, the doctrinal differences between the two communions would make reunion impossible in any case.
Rome recognizes the ordinations of the Eastern and Old Catholic Communions, but they are no nearer reunion with Rome than the Anglican Communion is.
No other church has been persuaded by the arguments of the Bull Apostolicae Curae to reject the validity of Anglican ordinations.
The Roman Communion is wrong about so many other things that we are not surprised to find that it is wrong about Anglican ordinations.
Our conscience is quite clear.
In 1920 the Lambeth Conference offered to accept "a form of commission or recognition" from other churches if it would bring about reunion.
This appears, in the case of Rome, to be an offer to accept conditional ordination or consecration from Romanist bishops.
It had no result because the Roman Communion could not reply to such an offer unless the Anglican bishops accepted the Roman dogmas, which of course they could not do.
It is not the alleged invalidity of its ordinations
that separates the Anglican Communion from Rome,
but the false dogmas on which Rome insists as a necessary condition of reunion.
It may be objected that since "valid" means "recognized by
the Church", the refusal of recognition of our ordinations by so large
a part of the Church destroys their validity.
Perhaps it would if the Roman Communion could be regarded as orthodox.
But in that case the difficulty could easily be removed.
If the refusal to recognize our ordinations were the only obstacle to reunion,
it would be our duty to ask for conditional ordination.
But it is by no means the only obstacle to reunion.
The Papal claims and the numerous dogmas resting entirely on their authority are so grave a departure from orthodoxy that they deprive the Roman refusal to recognize Anglican ordinations of whatever authority it might otherwise have had.
A note must be added here about the rule of clerical celibacy.
A celibate is a person who is under obligation not to marry,
whether that obligation is a vow as in the case of monks and nuns,
or a rule of the Church as in the case of Romanist secular priests
(that is, priests who are not members of religious orders or "congregations").
In the early Church married men were ordained;
but marriage after ordination was forbidden,
and no one might be ordained who had been married twice.
The Latin churches from the fourth century gradually came to refuse to ordain
Pope Gregory VII strictly enforced the rule.
But it was always difficult to enforce it in northern countries.
In medieval Iceland it was entirely ignored,
and in other countries it was frequently broken.
The moral consequences were so disastrous in the sixteenth century that the French and German bishops at Trent proposed that the clergy should be allowed to marry;
but the Italian and Spanish majority outvoted them.
The Orthodox Eastern Communion at the Council in Trullo (Quinisext Council)
[The disciplinary rules of this Council are held by Orthodox canonists to have ecumenical authority.]
decided that bishops must be celibate, and priests and deacons, if they were not monks, must be married before ordination and must not marry a second time (before or after ordination).
The Anglican Communion has given its clergy of all ranks freedom to marry
at their discretion (Article 32) on the Anglican principle that national
churches may make their own rules in things not commanded by God (Article
This principle is necessary to the Anglican position,
and those who assert that Anglican clerics are bound by the obligation of celibacy assert what is inconsistent with membership of the Anglican Communion and what is in fact untrue.
Anglican freedom has been abundantly justified by history.
Many of our most effective and most saintly priests, such as George Herbert, John Keble, Edward Bouverie Pusey, and John Mason Neale, have been married men.
The enormous part played by the children of the clergy both in Church and State is written large in English history.
There is no reason why the same man should not have a vocation both to marriage and to ordination;
but the priest must bear in mind that he is allowed to marry on condition that his marriage will be a help and not a hindrance to his work as a priest.
There will always be room for unmarried priests who remain unmarried for
the sake of their work.
Celibacy is honourable if it is a form of self-sacrifice,
but not if it is a means of self-indulgence.
Vows of celibacy should only be taken by members of an order in combination with vows of poverty and obedience, without which celibacy does not appear to have any special value.
There is a considerable number of persons who claim to be bishops who have
derived their consecration from some irregular source, or to have been
ordained by such bishops, and who are not in communion with any well known
It is sometimes hard to find out whether these claims are true.
But whether they are true or not, all such ordinations are irregular and schismatic.
No member of the Church can recognize the claims of such persons or receive sacraments administered by them without grave sin.
They are only too often mentally or morally unbalanced.