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Utterly Null and Absolutely Void ... maybe

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jun 15, 2003

A friend sends me this quote from a London Times article of May 24:

The Vatican's senior ecumenical official has said that a papal bull declaring Anglican orders invalid is ready for 're-evaluation'. Cardinal Walter Kasper ... said a 'partial recognition' of the Church of England's episcopal ministry was possible, despite Pope Leo XIII's edict Apostolicae Curae, describing Anglican orders as 'null and void.' "We are no longer at the position of Leo XIII with his bull," Dr. Kasper told a conference on ecumenism in St Albans. "A partial recognition is there."

Cardinal Kasper, you remember, earlier took issue with Cardinal Ratzinger's interpretation of Dominus Jesus on the grounds that it hindered ecumenical initiatives. Now we have another doctrinal rift in the making. Leo XIII's 1896 bull Apostolicae Curae said nothing of Anglican orders per se, but declared that ordinations conducted according to the Anglican rite (ordinationes ritu Anglicano actas) are utterly null and absolutely void.

I am unable to imagine what a partial recognition of ministry might be. Nor do I understand why a curial cardinal should think it opportune to toss a bouquet to a schismatic episcopacy, especially to one currently in crisis over the question of whether women, divorcees, and sexually active gays have a place in its ranks. Irrespective of the theological difficulties of the Cardinal's position, it is hardly likely to reduce confusion among clergy and ality, and that at a time when trust of the episcopacy is extremely shaky. In fact, it would hard to think of an issue -- in the English speaking Church at least -- better calculated to shock, wound, bewilder, and alienate the Catholic faithful.

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  • Posted by: RC - Jun. 15, 2003 11:06 PM ET USA

    Pope Leo judged Anglican ordinations as of 1896 to be defective in form and intent, but a century has passed. Perhaps someone can point to particular ordinations since then and argue that the defects have been cured in some way. For example, the participation of Old Catholic bishops could address the question of intent. Also, have there in fact been any changes to Anglican ordination rites that address the defect of form? I don't happen to know, but It's hardly a shocking suggestion.

  • Posted by: Pseudodionysius - Jun. 15, 2003 11:39 AM ET USA

    Sounds like Cardinal Kasper is conducting his own version of Shock and Awe. When the Cardinalsare openly squabbling with Orthodoxy you can imagine what it says about the state of the hierarchy lower down the rungs.

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