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Leo XIII.'s Apostolicæ Curæ, on Anglican Orders, Sept. 13, 1896.

[It would seem as if the infallibility of this deliverance was not fairly open to question, as it concerns one of the sacraments of the Roman Church. Certainly papal language could scarcely be more vigorous and positive. See Leo's Works, Bruges ed., VI., 198–210; Roman ed., VI., 258–73; Mirbt, 491; Denzinger, 529; Trans. in Wynne: The Great Encyl., Letters of Leo XIII., N.Y., 1903; Answer of the Abpp. of England to the Apostol. Letter of Pope Leo XIII., London, 1877.

This papal deliverance pronounced Anglican orders invalid. Leo XIII., as the document states, appointed a commission of eight, with a cardinal at its head and including the historian Duchesne, to investigate the validity of Anglican orders. The members, so the rumor went, were, at the time of its appointment, equally divided on the question, but by study in the Vatican archives reached a unanimous decision. Leo's bull declares that Anglican ordination was 'vitiated at its origin' and 'under Edward VI. the true sacrament of orders as instituted by Christ lapsed.' This judgment, so the decision continues, had been given by Julius III. and Paul IV. in their dealings with the English Church during Mary Tudor's reign, as also later in the case of John Clement Gordon, Bishop of Galloway, who, passing over to Rome, was ordered by Clement XI., 1704, to be 'ordained to all orders from the beginning and unconditionally.' Moreover, the vitiated origin is evident from the 'animus of the Edwardean Ordinal against the Catholic Church. It is defective both in form and intention—the two equally essential to sacred orders.' The words 'Receive ye the Holy Ghost' were not followed in the Ordinal by the further words 'for the office of priest or bishop.' Additions made subsequently, 1662, were not sufficient to correct the alleged vitiated origin. Leo's sentence was announced in the following words]:


Itaque omnibus pontificum decessorum in hac ipsa causa decretis usque quaque assentientes eaque plenissime confirmantes ac veluti renovantes auctoritate nostra, motu proprio, certa scientia, pronunciamus el declaramus, ordinationes ritu anglicano actas, irritas prorsus fuisse et esse, omninoque nullas.

Strictly adhering in this matter to all the decrees of deceased pontiffs and most fully confirming them and of ourselves, as it were, reasserting them, we do of our own motion and with certain knowledge pronounce and declare ordinations performed according to the Anglican rite to have been and to be null and wholly void.


Then, after announcing the joy with which English clergymen returning to 'the bosom of the Catholic Church' would be welcomed, the pontiff further declared that his decision 'is and shall be perpetually valid and in force,' and observed 'without exception in law and otherwise.' 609Two months later, writing to Richard, Cardinal-archbishop of Paris, Leo repeated himself when he pronounced the decision 'permanent, authoritative and irrevocable—perpetuo firmam, ratum et irre vocabilem.'398398    The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, Doctors Temple and Maclagan, in their reply addressed to 'the bishops of the Catholic Church' called for the documents on which the papal decision had been based, adduced the references in the Edwardean Ordinal to the sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise and the sacrifice on the cross, and laid stress on changes which the Roman rite itself had in the course of time undergone. To the humiliation of the larger part of the Protestant world, the reply, while parrying Leo's statements, laid no emphasis on the spiritual call to the ministry nor intimated the essential connection of the Anglican Church with the Reformation of the sixteenth century. Dr. C. A. Briggs, Theol. Symbol., pp. 14, 226, 234; Church Unity, p. 121, reporting an audience he had with Pius X., represented Pius as having stated that 'Leo's decision was not a doctrinal but a disciplinary decision and cannot be classed as infallible and symbolical' and that Pius assured him 'in a private interview that Leo's decision does not belong to the catalogue of infallible decisions.' Dr. Briggs went on to say that 'Pius is certainly correct.' It is possible that the American professor misunderstood the language of the pontiff or put upon it an interpretation the pontiff did not intend. He has Roman Catholic writers on Canon Law against him. Leitner, Handbuch d. kathol. Kirchenrechts, p. 127, pronounces Leo's decision final, ' eine endgültige Entscheidung. Der Grund der Ungültigkeit ist der defectus formæ et intentionis. '—'The cause of the invalidity is the defect in form and intention. It brings to a close an extensive and prolonged discussion.' So also Straub, de ecclesia, I, 325, and Eichmann, Handbuch d. kathol. Kirchenrechts, p. 295.

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