Father Thomas Fraser, rector of St Paul’s Parish for 38 years [now 42 years], offers this important perspective on the status today of the Papal encyclical Apostolicae Curae and its claim (always disputed by Anglicanism) that Anglican orders are “absolutely null and utterly void”. This perspective is explained in two parts, over two audio MP3 files, above.
In Part I, he retraces key points in history, going all the way back to King Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth, and continuing through the Oxford Movement and the Irish Potato Famine, including the important figures of Cardinal Manning and of course Pope Leo XIII. These points of history are crucial for a full understanding of the question of validity of Anglican Orders. Father Fraser argues that Apostolicae Curae is not theologically rooted, but rather politically rooted.
In Part II, Father Fraser’s narrative continues into the mid to later 20th century. He touches on key attitudes and beliefs on this question held by major players in the Western Church, including Pope Paul VI, as well as Harry Smythe, director of the Anglican Centre in Rome. We see just how close Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism had progressed toward unity in the 1970s. He further reminds us that the laying on of hands by Old Catholic bishops at the ordination of Anglican bishops essentially removes any residue of doubt that Anglican orders today are valid. Although it must be pointed out, Anglicanism has always understood the validity of its orders to be secure.