Q. 1. Are Anglican Holy Orders valid? If an Anglican minister wanted to join the Catholic Church, would he automatically become a Catholic priest or would he have to be ordained in the Catholic Church?
A. 1. According to the Vatican, Anglican ordinations to the priesthood according to the Anglican/Episcopalian rite are invalid.
This conclusion is arrived at by the following:
- For the Holy Orders to be valid, it must have been received from a validly consecrated Bishop. (Canon Law # 1012) Without validly consecrated Bishops, you do not have validly ordained priests.
- If you do not have validly ordained priests, you do not have valid Sacraments, with the exception of the Sacrament of Baptism. The consecration of Anglican Bishops do not enjoy traceable Apostolic succession to Saint Peter. Any claims of Apostolic succession by Anglicans, especially in the US, is to be rejected in view of the fact that during the reign of Henry VIII, from 1509 to 1547 A.D., they rejected communion with the Catholic Church.
During the reign of Pope Leo, a commission was formed to determine if the Anglican ordinations were valid. In 1896, Pope Leo declared publicly that in the eyes of the Catholic Church, ordinations performed using the Anglican rite were, and always had been, absolutely null and void. This was because of the changes done in the ordination ritual during the reign of King Edward VI (1547-1553). The changes contained in the new Edwardine Ordinal, the Anglican liturgical book at the time, was greatly different from the Catholic ordination ritual, such being enough that its administration did not confer the true sacrament of holy orders.
Consequently the Catholic Church teaches that Anglican ministers are not equal to Catholic priests, nor are Anglican Sacraments equal to Catholic Sacraments.
Therefore, if an Anglican minister wants to become a Catholic priest, he must spend a period of time in spiritual formation before his Catholic ordination, providing a Catholic Bishop will accept him as a seminarian.