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Catholic Dictionary




The question of the validity of Anglican ordination to the priesthood was decided negatively by Pope Leo XIII in the document Apostolicae Curae (September 13, 1896). They were declared to be "absolutely null and utterly void" on the grounds of defect of form in the rite and defect of intention in the minister. Even if Rome had not made such a declaration, Anglican orders were still considered invalid in practice, since Anglican clergymen were required to be ordained to the priesthood when they entered the Catholic Church. Since Pope Leo XIII's declaration, not a few Anglicans have been ordained by Orthodox or other prelates whose orders were held to be valid by Rome. However, the current ordinal in the episcopal Church in the United States (and elsewhere) provides for two forms of ordination, at the choice of the candidate and the option of a bishop; one form is for the priesthood and the other for the nonsacerdotal ministry.