Fr Hunwicke and Orders

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.

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.

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34 Responses to Fr Hunwicke and Orders

  1. Andrew says:

    “No matter how many times you try to swat it, it always returns to the same place on the rim of the jam jar.”

    Good writing – you captured it!

  2. ed pacht says:

    I’ll whip my old hobby horse once again. We are incessant in setting up false oppositions. Is it not possible for apparently contradictory propositions to be both true, even when we have not yet perceived (or perhaps simply cannot perceive) how this can be? Arguments about validity do become extremely tiresome, especially inasmuch as it is impossible to prove beyond all doubt that any orders are truly valid. Adequate records simply do not exist and never have. It is among the things we have to take on faith, allowing God to fill the gaps of our uncertainties. Are Anglican orders valid? I’m quite positive they are — Rome at least claims to be positive they are not. If one is convinced of Papal claims (I’m not), and remains convinced of his own valid ordination, what choice does he have? Only one: to take whatever steps the Pope requires, even if he finds himself disagreeing with that decision. One has to swallow ones pride and let these opposing views take care of themselves.

    • I fully agree with you, Ed. It all depends on what we have decided to do in life – stay where we are or go some “where” else. I’m not sure why Fr Hunwicke is coming back on it all. There is some kind of context, but that doesn’t seem to be clear on his blog. Those who went over to the Ordinariate had either to accept the conditions or not go over. Those guys will be trashed by conservative Roman Catholics, traditionalist Anglicans and liberal Anglicans. If more of us went sailing, cycling or for a brisk walk, the world would be a happier place!

    • Stephen K says:

      I think you’re right, too, ed. But on a slight tangent, am I right in imagining that prior to the definition of Papal infallibility, popes were not so concerned to ensure they did not step out of line of their predecessors? The curious thing about Papal infallibility is that the only possible criterion for it in many believers’ eyes lies in a Pope’s conformity with his predecessors, so that effectively infallibility means unchangeability and is a quality not perceptible in any Pope taken singly, but only in the collective. I wonder if Popes could be more effective spiritual guides if they did not have this monkey of theological stare decisis on their backs? Would people in general – would Roman Catholics in particular – heed them any less? Or any more?

  3. AbpLloydOSJV says:

    It’s a way of getting extra manpower… Some Ordinariate clergy fill diocesan appointments and perhaps still more could…?

    • Well, the poor dears will do what they want. I wish them well.

    • Gregorio says:

      Archbishop Lloyd your photo looks very familiar, are you related to Dame Margot Hamilton?

      • AbpLloydOSJV says:

        @”Gregorio”, if you can recognise a female octogenarian character who used to raise money for charities through the performing arts from my profile photo – you either have very poor eyesight or are being mischievously obtuse? My published biography has always made mention of my past philanthropic theatrical endeavours! However, since my episcopal consecration, my performing art activities are solely musical/theatrical direction and coaching… and I have a beard!

        My published teaching (e.g. on my own blog) is consistent with orthodox praxis and doctrine, as is my personal life as a celibate religious and can be attested to by many who objectively observe my ministry and life, as well as by my colleagues and the faithful I serve. My support whether previously or now, of AIDS/HIV related charities or indeed of LGBT/other community projects does not conflict with my orthodoxy; as St Paul says, “To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.”1 Corinthians 9:22. Credit it me with understanding, as did St Paul, that knowing and recognising one’s own and others weaknesses does not mean succumbing to them!

        Caritas – not condemnation – is a divine command (John 14:15) and my “treading where angels (others perceive, might) fear to” does not in anyway condone the lifestyles or choices of those I seek to serve in charity. In this respect I am emboldened and prompted by Our Lord’s own example (e.g. Mark 1:40-2:17; Luke 15:2; Luke 15:3-32) and His teaching which I commend to you… “But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Matthew 9:13; Luke 5:32; Mark 2:17)

      • Gregorio says:

        It is not your former theatrical performances I question, it is your association with and consecration by Boniface Grosvold. His reputation is known by many, a simple Google search will reveal his personal tastes which can do much harm to the ORCC and other independent apostolic churches. I have never questioned your personal integrity or ministry and frequently view your daily mass.

      • This particular conversation ends right here.

      • AbpLloydOSJV says:

        One wonders then why, Gregorio, you made reference to my former theatrical and philanthropic activities and not directly about Mgr Grosvold? Also, why do you make mention of it at all here in a wholly unrelated topic on Fr Chadwick’s blog? FYI as it is, my association with Mgr Grosvold ended sometime ago exactly because of the issues you allude to and others besides, though quite what concern it is of yours I don’t know?!

      • Sorry to let these posts through from “Gregorio”. Investigation has reminded me that I’ve had trouble with this person before. I will not tolerate his rudeness or “tittle-tattle” about this clergyman or that clergyman.

        As always, don’t feed the trolls!

      • J. Watson says:

        Gregorio is part of a loosely knit organization whose goal is to expose certain clergy. They are relentless!

      • I am really amazed about “amateur police” people who believe themselves invested in missions to “purge” the clergy. They are predatory trolls on the blogs, always anonymous, always rude. I will not give any of those people any level of credibility.

        If a cleric is responsible for serious matters like child abuse or manipulation of other vulnerable people, then he should be reported to the police. They see to it that a man is punished for his sins – and the slime is kept off blogs like this one. I am not interested in getting involved in such matters.

      • Fr. Bernard says:

        This organization, or at least one like it has “outed” several priests in San Francisco, CA. If they had existed before the clergy sexual abuse scandals perhaps there would have been fewer victims. I personally applaud their efforts.

      • I agree on condition that the problems for which such clergy are denounced are actually offences against the law for which they should be reported to the police. Examples are child abuse, exploiting vulnerable people and obtaining money by fraud and deceit. Such organisations should operate with courtesy, transparency and in direct communication with the police. If they start trolling on blogs, this is the sign of a serious problem.

        Since this alleged organisation is mentioned in a comment on my blog, I would appreciate an introduction, a description of its goals and methods, and most importantly the authority under which it operates. If it is some kind of secret self-styled affair, perhaps it needs to be reported so that it becomes accountable. See my article on the Sodalitium Pianum, a kind of ultra-Catholic private inquisition in the early 20th century, most unhealthy.

        Until such information is forthcoming, I remain very sceptical and dubious about this subject. I will be keeping such a thread under careful moderation. I suggest “spitting it out” or I will put the tin lid on it.

      • ed pacht says:

        Vigilantism is ALWAYS unacceptable in a democratic nation. There is something called a legal system to take care of such things. Use it. The passing around of accusations and rumors is a certain way to damage reputations and do serious harm to people — in fact it is probably a crime under the name of harassment or bullying. I applaud Fr. Anthony for refusing to let it go on here.

      • The word vigilantism sounded a note with me and made me think of Clint Eastwood in Magnum Force:

  4. Dale says:

    Fr Anthony, I think that one of the most important statements in this excellent overview is the following: “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.”

    This is indeed important, the condemnation of Anglican orders was based upon a liturgical defect of intention in the, then new, rite of ordination as contained in the BCP; but if one looks at the modernist ordination services of the Roman Catholics, it suffers from exactly the same disabilities. Strange that so few are looking closely at this. I have mentioned this previously, but I do know, or did know, he is long dead, an Orthodox bishop who re-ordained converting Roman clergy if they had been ordained with the new rites, but accepted as valid those priests ordained with the traditional rite.

    Also, in the end, I think that the Society can only be counting its blessings that they did not submit during the pontificate of Pope Benedict; one can only imagine what will be the continuing pressure on Old Rite believers under the present administration; well, we have already seen some of what the future holds, and it is not bright.

    • I ought to say that I don’t follow the “extreme” traditionalist argument or conclude everybody’s Orders to be invalid. Simply, the facts have refuted Apostolicae Curae and demonstrate that the policy of re-ordaining Anglicans is based on ideology. Of course, the SSPX has its own problems, which are of no interest to me.

    • Andrew says:

      Did the deceased Orthodox Bishop conditionally ordain the post 1968 Priests with the Traditional Roman Rite or Greek Rite?

      Was this in the 70’s or 80’s?

      Did very many new Rite Priests seek Holy Orders from him? That is very interesting and wonder if any new Rite Bishops sought conditional trad-Rite ordination & consecration?

      Someone,about 5 yrs ago,told me his tour guide in Rome,an elderly devout Italian Catholic,who had worked in Vatican City since the 1960’s,related to him that more than a few new Rite Priests and Bishops seek conditional Holy Orders from elderly Bishops.

      His last words on said subject, “You all would be surprised how many “Suits” (Novus Ordo Clerics) have sought conditional Orders.”

  5. John Hunwicke says:

    I object strongly to the partial quotation of one small part of my article, missing out the main part in which I talk very firmly about the necessity of having a definite intention to receive the Sacrament of Order.

    • Thank you, Father. I strongly recommend readers of my blog to read the articles to which I link in their entirety, so that the context is understood. I assume this of my readers. Personally, I did not quote any part of your article.

      I ask my readers to pay particular attention to:

      I answered a person who questioned your good faith, and caricaturised some of the things that have been said over the past few years generally about Anglican priests becoming Roman Catholics. As far as I understand things, the RC Church in England gave you what amounts to sub conditione ordination.

      I should point out to readers of my blog that, unlike Baptism, there is no difference in the rite between absolute ordination and conditional ordination (unless there are such differences in the Pauline rite I know nothing about).

      I personally believe in your absolute integrity as a priest. You have my prayers and respect.

  6. Stephen K says:

    Well, I’ve read Father Hunwicke’s four-part letter and the comments he elicited. Quite informative. (I found very interesting the comment made by one reader that Pope Pius XII said moral imposition of hands was sufficient.) But I’m not going to comment on Father Hunwicke’s view, or the Ordinariate’s issues. No, I just want to think aloud a little here on the subject of sacraments generally, for after reading the posts, I felt I had to consult my copy of Apostolicae Curae.

    If I have it correctly, the ratio of the decision was the view that a form (words) devised by those (the Carolines) with an intention to rectify a defect of sacerdotal signification could not so rectify it because the defective form had historically been devised by those (the Edwardians) with an intention to repudiate the sacerdotal signification intended by the Roman Church. But it seems this argument was not independent of the view that a fatal effluxion of time occurred before the Carolines attempted to remedy the ordinal: for, so the argument went, none of these revisionist bishops had been ordained/consecrated in an acceptable rite and so were not thought capable of passing on a sacerdotal commission.

    Thus I find the Pope’s argument combined a psycho-semantic element – what people make words mean or read them to mean at any time – and a metaphysical element – what people believe is objectively real about power, in this case believing that ordination/consecration bestows, by the enunciation of the words, a transmissible quality from one person to another.

    There seems to me, however, to be an undeniable empirical aspect to any notion of quality or power, that gives these things their reality, and that is a certain dependence on consent and attitude: i.e. if people refuse to recognise x or y, then for all intents (no pun!) and purposes, x or y do not exist; if they insist on recognising x or y, then they do (aka the sound of a tree falling in the forest). (Was that what was behind Pius XII’s comment about moral imposition?)

    The matter is clouded of course because the state of affairs on anything is rarely unanimous, and, as Father points out, some causes just become tiresome. But there is no evidence I can immediately discern that Pope Leo ever or would ever have, entertained that his analysis might turn out to have such an uncertain basis: certainly, his closing words that they were “now and forever in the future valid and in force” purport to close the door on any official reconsideration.

    I don’t think he can be too criticised for his view. He was, after all, a product of his formation and era, an aristocratic person, and no doubt conscious of the weight of papal precedent. He was probably right that no priest could ever have been made, ordained or commissioned under the Edwardians who did not believe in them, but probably wrong in hindsight that no priest could ever have been made where there was right belief, intention and community acceptance, since sacraments are not magical incantations or wholly independent of the participants, but effective signs of grace. And as we probably all might agree, God is where love is, is He not?

    Just some late night thoughts on sacraments in general, and the challenge of avoiding both Donatism and Magic.

  7. Christopher William McAvoy says:

    “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them”.
    Perhaps it is best to judge the validity of ordination by the fruits of that come from the communities and hierarchy in question. Within the Catholic and Orthodox Churches there are plenty of miracles one can see that have happened since 1970. This alone suggests to me that any newer rites, despite potentially serious flaws, are likely to be valid.

    For the anglican and or protestant episcopal churches than I might ask, where are the miracles which are the fruit of validity?

      • ed pacht says:

        Indeed, smug . . . and dangerous. Is an apparent miracle necessarily a witness to truth? I read this:

        2 Thessalonians 2:8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,

        I’m not questioning the miracles reported in RC and Orthodox circles. In fact I hope them to be exactly as claimed, but one must remember that miracles can be very convincingly faked and sometimes have been by ordinary human beings — to say nothing of what such supernatural beings as Satan and his fallen angels could do. “Lying wonders” can be, and I am sure are, used to give credence to lying doctrines. That is why Rome is so very cautious in giving recognition to reported miracles.

        And, yes, there have been reports of the miraculous in Anglican circles, and also among other Christian bodies that don’t even claim apostolic succession — and besides, what is more miraculous than answered prayer? This is widely attested. Miracles are measured by their conformity with true Christian teaching — NOT the reverse.

        Besides all that, what do non-sacramental miracles have to do with the sacramental gifts of the ordained ministry? The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, etc. , whereas Paul includes contention and strife among the works of the flesh.

        Christopher’s statement is logically faulty and unnecessarily offensive.

      • Apologetics for this or that institutional church are just going to keep on going whatever we say. Those people are just fixed in their ideas. A short while ago, I came up with the analogy of having afternoon tea in the garden in September with a wasp always flying back to the same point on the jam jar rim however much you try to swat it.

        I might be more interested in defending “mere” Christianity, as our churches become harder and harder to defend. Look for sanctity and beauty, but I leave a word of warning. The greatest holiness and beauty are usually in secret and known only to God and a few of us. Holiness and beauty are found everywhere, outside Christianity too, and perhaps above all outside Christianity. In the absolute, Christianity needs no defence – it is either within us or nothing will convince us of it. That’s how it has always been.

        I get tired of Roman Catholics and Orthodox folk coming to this blog to trash it, so I’ll just use the same swatter for the same wasp. Should I use insecticide? 😉

    • Dale says:

      Christopher, normally when you post your contributions are quite sound and level-headed, this is not. Having lived for a time in the American South, surrounded by a very low-church Christian culture I can attest to the deep faith of many of these people and yes, there are miracles amongst them.

      Also, the faith and devotion of especially Anglican nuns is well attested to by history (this is especially true of Anglican nuns who were interned by the Japanese in Asia during the last Great War).

    • Michael Frost says:

      Hmmm… miracles. In our modern developed secularized commercialized Western world, I wonder if it isn’t almost miraculous when there are still clergy celebrating Word and Sacrament and laity still in the pews? No matter how few? Esp. in places like Belgium, England, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Russia, Spain, and Sweden which seem to be post-Christian? And even in places like America where rates of atheism and agnosticism are rising? Let alone in places like China, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria where martyrdom is still possible! All we can do is pray, Come Holy Ghost!

      • It is very difficult to understand the way the modern world is turning. I have tried my own speculations as someone who does not idolise the “old days”. The “hedonism” and “freedom” of the 1960’s and 1970’s was but a blip in history. I see a re-run of the 1930’s but in a different way, either a turning of the screws towards some kind of “Orwellian” world or a complete breakdown in which millions would die. For Catholicism (Roman, Eastern Orthodox and Anglican) the future looks bleak and lacks the optimism of the Benedict XVI era that ended just over one year ago.

        There will always be miracles. The only thing is we won’t know about them unless they happen to us. For me, a miracle is any sign of God’s presence, since with quantum physics we are no longer sure of any distinction between “natural” and “supernatural”. We priests still celebrate in our chapels, and those laity who want to attend services can still do so, either easily or with difficulty. I see miracles in new-born babies – human and non-human alike, in spring, in the beauty of those parts of the world human greed has not yet raped.

        We look for miracles and persecution to justify ourselves, but where is our faith? Where is our innocent candour and complete trust in God and the ways he can manifest himself outside churches and fallen human nature and sin? We can pray, but there are still things we can do – do beautiful things and be beautiful people.

      • Michael Frost says:

        “I see miracles in new-born babies”… A most hearty AMEN to that! Though I say this as a father anticipating becoming a grandparent in the hoped-for-not-too-distant future. (My two children are in their early 20s. Son married in 2012. Daughter gets married in May. At least once a week I think that one of these days the phone will ring and one of my children will be on the line saying, “Dad, I’ve got great news for you….”)

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