Tag Archives: Rome

On Apostolicae Curae and Anglican Orders

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.

See of Rome as Patriarchate

Catholicity and Covenant has a good post that reminds us that although the office of Bishop of Rome was never primate of the historic English Church, Anglicanism rightly recognizes the Pope as the Patriarch of the West. All I would add is that perhaps it is through this recognition that a reunion of the Anglican and Roman communions might in the future unfold. I say this because whereas Papal primacy over the Anglican Communion is obviously in dispute, the Patriarchate is a historical fact. Reasonable people cannot regard “Patriarch of the West” contentiously, and so it would be a foundation for further discussion and therefore in and of itself would be unifying in some measure.


Further reading from Akenside Press:

Henry VIII and the Anglican Church” (2-pg PDF)