Clarification: In writing this article, I wish to make it clear that I assume readers to have consulted the following articles by Fr Hunwicke and read them fully.
- Reordination: (1)
- Reordination (2)
- Reordination (3): Consummatio
- Reordination (4); Consummatio; Anglicans
I believe in Fr Hunwicke’s complete integrity as a priest and the honesty of his move to the Ordinariate.
I also assume that readers have read his articles on the Society of St Pius X for the purposes of a discussion of this subject in this article.
Furthermore, I believe that Roman Catholic orders conferred according to the new rite are valid, and that, logically, Anglican orders are also valid. I do not discuss the question of the ordination of women in this article.
* * *
Fr Hunwick’s Mutual Enrichment blog is something that should never be neglected in our morning round of the blogs. It suffered a lull at about the time Father Hunwicke was waiting for re-ordination in the Ordinariate and when he had a dreadful accident whilst on pilgrimage to Rome. I have never met Fr Hunwicke, but I esteem his way of thinking and writing.
The moral dilemma suffered by Anglican clergy who become Roman Catholics and are required to receive unconditional ordination by virtue of Apostolicae Curae is not new. Only last night, someone wrote to me on Skype, having quoted Father Hunwicke on his certitude of having received valid ordination in the Church of England:
My question is if he holds this, that he was certain that his Anglican ordination was valid. Then what was his intention in receiving the second ordination from the RC Church? Had he the intention to receive ‘Orders’ or NOT, or just go through the motions?
If his intention in the second ordination of the RC Church was not to receive Orders because he said he ‘never doubted his Anglican Orders’ then that could have serious consequences!
In sacramental theology you know that would invalid the second ordination if he had not the intention to receive it because he ‘was certain he already had it’!
I find this argument tiresome, because the reality according to Roman Catholic theology is simpler. If his priesthood was valid in the first place (from the Church of England), then the Roman Catholic ordination added nothing regardless of the intention. The person who wrote this message to me seems to have something of an obsession about validity, something like some of the characters described in Peter Anson’s Bishops at Large.
We could look at another hypothesis. The priest in question believes his original ordination valid, but it was not objectively valid. He then “goes through the motions” and believes the Roman Catholic ordination would add nothing. He would emerge from that ordination just as “invalid” as before. We therefore get invalid Ordinariate priests because they were not sufficiently “purified” from their belief that they were priests in the Church of England, TAC, etc. It’s an interesting hypothesis, but one I have never read expressed by any mainstream RC authority. Of course, if you apply Apostolicae Curae to the post-Vatican II rite of Orders in the RC Church, they become just as invalid as some of the “extreme” traditionalists claim. Perhaps it would be simpler to go to the Eastern Orthodox view, and that would set the cat among the pigeons. Perhaps no one is valid! Those ordained “in the Church” but in the new rite by a bishop consecrated in the new rite are invalid, and those ordained in the old rite by the traditionalists are invalid because they were “outside the Church”.
Uuurgh! My head hurts. Let’s go and get drunk! As the Germans said to English servicemen they captured during World War II – For you the war is over. Sobering…
Rome and Orthodoxy fight over two different conceptions of the priesthood: something which has an ontology of its own and is irreversible, and is distinguished from its canonical exercise, on one hand, and a channel of grace that can be turned on and off like a tap because sacramental grace is the property of the Church. The latter is characteristic of Eastern Orthodoxy, and the former was expressed in the anti-Donatist writings of St Augustine.
I’m not inviting debate about this subject, because it gets about as tedious as a wasp in September whilst you are having afternoon tea in the garden. No matter how many times you try to swat it, it always returns to the same place on the rim of the jam jar. The implication about some of the priests who joined the Ordinariate is that they betrayed moral integrity to go where they felt they should go. I’m not going to go down that road. At the same time, it is good to read Fr Hunwicke’s reflections and discern the golden thread going through it all.
He also discusses the SSPX and their situation in respect to the Pope and Rome. Again, I don’t want to go into the exhausting polemics, but Archbishop Lefebvre needed to be cut some slack back in the 1970’s. Now, it is too late, and those people are used to their independence and their Roman Catholic identity to maintain credibility with their own tithe-paying faithful with their large families.
Frankly, I find it more honest to affirm a Catholic identity that does not attempt to equivocate on being in communion with Rome, yet disobedient to its authorities in the direction of the 1960’s and 1970’s reforms. At the same time, I know the French mentality – laws and authorities are one thing and everything is forbidden, but there is always a way round everything. The Italians call it La Combinazione. Here in France, it’s Tout est interdit, mais tout s’arrange. This is how it was possible that many French parish priests carried on with the old liturgy and resisted attempts of their bishops to remove them from their parishes. It sufficed to be popular with the people, and they would stand in front of the church door with tractors and pitch forks! That was the old spirit of the SSPX that I admired. As it became institutionalised, I find its message much less convincing.
Obviously, scrupulous Roman Catholics are not going to become Anglicans or identify with us, but if they find that what we are doing is Catholic, they won’t worry about some of the finer points. I don’t turn away Roman Catholics from the Sacraments, though I do make sure they are informed. No one is deceived or misled. That is what is important, and everyone commits his or her moral conscience.
The articles are interesting. Some say that the SSPX should have caught the bus whilst Benedict XVI was Pope before it all swung the other way, as in the wake of a General Election in most western countries. We get the Labour Party this time with more public spending and higher taxes because the Conservatives were in last time round. There is a more profound way of seeing the Franciscan papacy, but many of us feel a strange detachment and lack of motivation about it all.
Fr Hunwicke’s blog is worth reading, and don’t forget to look at the comments. With so little information from the Ordinariate world, this blog gives us a look at the “weather report” – if you get my meaning.