THE ORDER OF MELCHISEDECH
by Michael Davies
------------------------------ Chapter V
Most readers will know something of the Anglo-Catholic Party in the Church of England. Anglo-Catholic clergy believe that they are priests with valid orders, intent upon restoring Catholic doctrine and practice to the Church of England; some are also dedicated to achieving reunion with Rome. Since Vatican II we have seen the emergence of an Anglican-Catholic Party within the Catholic Church. This Anglican-Catholic Party is motivated by the belief that the most urgent task of the Catholic Church is to achieve visible unity with the Anglican Communion. It would be more accurate to speak of an obsession rather than a belief, and it is an obsession to which any Catholic doctrine or tradition must be sacrificed if it is an impediment to unity. Official discussions to achieve visible unity have been conducted by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, which has produced the three notorious Agreed Statements. As the Catholic members of this Joint Commission clearly adhere to the Anglican-Catholic Party, it would be more accurate to term it the Anglican/Anglican-Catholic International Commission. Matters could, in fact, be simplified by doing away with all pretence and calling it the Anglican International Commission, since the Agreements it produces consist of straightforward Anglicanism. Father Edward Holloway has remarked, apropos the Windsor Agreement on the Eucharist:
In the Agreed Statement of the Commission no evidence whatever can be found of a convergence of doctrine which has any definite meaning. Nothing in it can be found which would distinguish Roman Catholic from Anglican doctrine, or either of these from Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, or Congregationalist doctrine for that matter. To speak therefore of a "substantial agreement" which would satisfy Roman Catholic Eucharistic doctrine is totally an illusion. One does not wish to use the stronger words which come to mind. Good intentions and earnest desires are not a substitute for honest theology or for spiritual integrity. 1
Fr. Holloway considers that the fact that the Agreement does not affirm the Eucharist to be a sacrifice constitutes
a betrayal of the Catholic Faith, and hence also a betrayal to our Anglican brothers of that sincere portrayal of the essential Eucharistic Faith of the Roman Catholic Church, which the Catholic delegates, and especially the bishops concerned, were accredited to present. 2
One of the bishops concerned is Bishop Alan Clark, joint Chairman of the International Commission. In an interview on Independent Television on 17 July 1977, he made public his most ardent desire. "I look forward," he said, "to the day when I can call myself an Anglican-Catholic."
Bishop Clark is also Chairman of the Catholic Truth Society, which now appears more concerned with propagating Agreed Statement ecumenism than Catholic Truth. Bishop Clark has not hesitated to ban from sale in the C.T.S. bookshops books or journals which do not toe the ecumenical line. It appears that a book is no longer judged by its truth or orthodoxy but by whether it will promote or impede ecumenism. If the truth is likely to impede ecumenism then it must be suppressed. It is no small irony that the present policy of "openness, pluralism, and tolerance" needs to be enforced by a policy of repression and rigid censorship.
The facilities of the C.T.S. were put at the disposal of Fr. Edward Yarnold, S.J., who has produced a pamphlet entitled: Anglican Orders-----A Way Forward? Fr. Yarnold is, like Bishop Clark, a member of the joint International Commission and an ardent ecumenist.
Incredible as it may seem, Father Yarnold has unearthed some of the most out-of-date arguments used by Anglo-Catholics in an effort to prove that they have valid orders. Time and again these arguments have been shown to be quite untenable by Catholic, scholars, not least in C.T.S. publications.
Father Yarnold summarises Catholic teaching on the priesthood
and the Mass as follows:
(1) Holy Orders are not a human invention; bishops and priests exercise a commission which derives from the commission which Christ Himself gave to His apostles.
(2) The Eucharist is not only a source of grace and unity for Christ's followers; it is a sacramental action by which the Church is associated with Christ's unique sacrifice on Calvary.
Fr. Yarnold then adds with considerable satisfaction that "both these points are contained in official Anglican teaching". 3 And why should they not be? For what Fr. Yarnold has written about Holy Orders and the Mass does not safeguard the Catholic position on a single point; it is Modernism of a nature ambiguous enough to be acceptable to any and every Protestant sect without actually denying the teaching of the Church.
Fr. Yarnold suggests that the Preface to the 1552 Ordinal "seems" to express the intention of doing what the Church does in this Sacrament. 4 The section of the Preface to which he refers merits close analysis. It reads as follows:
It is evident unto all men diligently reading Holy Scripture and ancient authors, that from the Apostles' time, there hath been these Orders of Ministers in Christ's Church, Bishops, Priests and Deacons.
This passage simply states as a matter of historical fact that these orders have existed from apostolic time. It does not state that they are of Divine institution or that they are absolutely necessary.
The Preface continues:
Which offices were evermore had in such reverent estimation that no man by his own private authority might presume to execute any of them, except he were first called, tried, examined, and known to have such qualities as were requisite for the same. And also by public prayer, with the imposition of hands approved and admitted thereunto.
This passage certainly does not state that Ordination is a Sacrament; that it confers new powers on the person ordained (to consecrate and forgive sins); that it is anything more than a ceremony denoting the bestowal of authority to exercise an office within the community, or that it is even absolutely necessary for the exercise of this function. It is fully in accord with Lutheran teaching that, while bishops are the appropriate persons to ordain, where necessary the local community could ordain its own presbyters and superintendents (bishops). The Preface continues:
And, therefore, to the intent that these Orders should be continued, and reverently used and esteemed in this Church of England, it is requisite that no man (not being at this time present Bishop, Priest or Deacon) shall execute any of them, except he be called, tried, examined and admitted according to the form hereafter following.
The important point here is that once more there is no reference to the conferring of specific powers not already possessed by the ordinand. He is simply given authority to "execute" (namely, exercise) an office within the Church. He is "admitted" to an office in accordance with Luther's teaching that ordination does not confer new powers but simply the authority to exercise an office.
With regard to the claim that "these Orders should be continued" in the Church of England, Father Messenger is not only citing the consensus of Catholic opinion but straightforward common sense when he comments that it could not possibly have been Cranmer's intention to continue the threefold ecclesiastical ministry as it had existed in this country hitherto but:
. . . a ministry of the word and sacraments, and not, as hitherto, a sacrificial priesthood . . . Only thus can we reconcile Cranmer's statement that he intends to "continue" the threefold ministry with the patent fact that he at the same time draws up an entirely new rite of ordination, in which the sacrificial function, so prominent in the ancient rite, is not merely put into the background, but, as we shall see, is altogether excluded, and excluded in such a way as to make it plain that its exclusion is deliberate and is equivalent to a denial that any such powers belong to the Christian ministry. 5
As regards Cranmer's use of the word "continue", the Catholic Dictionary of Theology notes that:
This ambiguous word could possibly mean "to keep on with an existing practice", but it also bears the meaning "to take up again; from a point of interruption", and it was exactly this taking up again from the apostolic age that Cranmer had in view . . . In his Miscellaneous Writings (p. 117) there is a paper he wrote in 1540 where in answer to a question he says: "In the New Testament he that is appointed to be a bishop or a priest needeth no consecration by the Scripture; for election or appointing thereto is sufficient." He puts the case that in some regions all bishops and priests have died, and says that it is not forbidden by God's law that the king of that region should make bishops and priests, so that the Word of God should not remain unpreached (ibid.). 6
Father Yarnold argues quite correctly that a false belief about what the Church does in a Sacrament does not by itself prove an absence of the intention to do what the Church does. This is a fact which is examined in Appendix II. Had Cranmer continued to use the Catholic rite, even his known heretical belief might not have been sufficient to invalidate his ordinations, but by introducing a rite intended to exclude the essence of the Catholic priesthood he made manifest and public his intention to do other than the Catholic Church does. As was shown in the last chapter, this was a factor of which Pope Leo XIII took full cognizance when pronouncing Anglican Orders to be invalid, and it is scarcely credible that Father Yarnold should have considered it worth raising in his pamphlet.
Father Yarnold also advances the fact that the Edwardine Ordinal contains the words "be thou a faithful dispenser of the word of God, and of his holy sacraments" as an argument in favour of the validity of Anglican Orders. 7 On the contrary, it indicates precisely the opposite.
When considering the liturgical texts of the Protestant Reformers, it is essential to do so within their historical context and within the entire corpus of their writings. For example, it would be possible to extract certain statements by Cranmer to give the impression that he believed in the Real Presence in the Catholic sense but, as I have shown in Cranmer's Godly Order, such a procedure is not only dishonest but manifestly unjust to Cranmer. When a man is willing to die for a particular belief he should at least be given the credit for actually believing it.
In 1530 the Emperor Charles V ordered the Lutheran princes to present a statement of their beliefs at a diet to be held at Augsburg. Accordingly, the famous Confession of Augsburg was drawn up. It was mainly the work of Philipp Melanchthon, but the text received Luther's approval. The Lutheran position was put in somewhat muted tones, in fact with deliberate ambiguity, in order to disguise the radical break from Catholic teaching. Article 5 was headed The Ecclesiastical Ministry and stated that there had been instituted "a ministry of teaching the gospel and of giving the sacraments (ministerium docendi evangelii et porrigendi sacramenta)". Superficially the statement appears to be orthodox, but it was clarified in the following year by Melanchthon, in his Apology for the Confession, when he set this phrase in specific opposition to the Catholic concept of a sacrificing priesthood.
Our opponents (in other words the Catholics) understand the priesthood to be, not the ministry of the word and the sacraments to others, but the power to offer sacrifice, as if it were necessary in the New Testament to re-establish the Levitical priesthood charged with sacrificing to obtain the forgiveness of sins. 8
The description of a minister as "a dispenser of the Word and sacraments" became firmly established in Protestant (not simply Lutheran) theology. In a scheme of Church government drawn up by Lutheran divines at Wittenberg in 1545, and subscribed to by Luther and Melanchthon among others, it is stated that:
The mandate given in ordination should be to teach the Gospel and administer the sacraments, and not other works such as sacrificing for the living and the dead. 9
Calvin anathematized those who claimed that a priest was ordained to offer sacrifice. He insisted that: "True priests are ordained by the mouth of Jesus Christ to be dispensers of the Gospel and of the sacraments." 10
The phrase had achieved such notoriety that it was actually condemned by the Council of Trent in the canons anathematizing the Protestant heresy (see Canon III in Chap. II). The inclusion of this phrase in Cranmer's Ordinal can be construed as nothing other than a rejection of Catholic teaching on the priesthood, and yet Fr. Yarnold actually puts it forward as proof that Catholic teaching is safeguarded in this Ordinal!
Fr. Yarnold's pamphlet is so replete with errors that it would require a disproportionate amount of space to deal with each one individually. Perhaps the most serious is his acceptance of a theory popular with Hans Küng and other Modernists, that there is an extraordinary means of entering the apostolic succession, simply by seeking to be faithful to the teaching of the Apostles. 11 Those who do so, it appears, automatically acquire valid Orders. This absurd hypothesis is dealt with in Appendix IV.
Fr. Yarnold is also seriously at fault for failing to alert his readers to the fact that there is an influential body of opinion within the Church of England which holds the straightforward Protestant belief that there is no difference in essence between an ordained priest and a layman, and that there is no reason in principle why a layman should not preside at the Eucharist.
As Chapter II establishes, there are Anglican ministers who believe that lay people should be allowed to preside at the Eucharist. This view was put very bluntly by the Reverend John Goldingay, Director of Studies at an Anglican theological college preparing students for the ministry. It would probably tax even Father Yarnold's ingenuity to reconcile Mr. Goldingay's position with that of Trent.
There are no pointers in the New Testament that suggest it would be appropriate to concentrate any specific functions (such as presiding at the Eucharist) in one man . . . This is not to say that the creative contribution of a gifted leader will not be of key importance to the growth of a church; nor that a theologically equipped leader and teacher will not play a big part in the maturing of a church; nor that in our society a church may not function much more efficiently if it has a full-time stipendiary executive officer; nor even (for the sake of argument) that the presidency at
the Eucharist may not be located at least normally in one particular person. It is rather to say that we should not look for all functions to be fulfilled by the same person, but rather that should be a genuinely corporate leadership of the local cl exercised by its elders. There is no place for the traditional concept of the clergyman. There is no theology of ordination. The emperor has no clothes. 12
Appendix VI contains the text of a letter sent by Pope Leo to Cardinal Richard of Paris. He explains that it was his intention to deliver a formal judgment on the question of Anglican Orders with his encyclical and that
all Catholics were bound to receive it with the utmost respect being finally settled and determined without any possible appeal. We must, however, confess that certain Catholics have not responded to it, a matter which has caused Us no little sorrow. We have written this to you, beloved Son, because it especially applies to a certain journal called the Revue Anglo-Romaine, published in Paris. There are some amongst its writers who, instead of defending and illustrating this Constitution, try instead to weaken it by explaining it away. Wherefore you must see that nothing is put forth in this journal which is not in full accordance with Our Statements, and it will certainly be better for it to cease and be silent rather than bring difficulties against these excellent statements and decisions.
Few of those who knew the Catholic Truth Society before Bishop
Clark became its chairman would have believed that in 1977 what Pope Leo XIII had written concerning the Revue Anglo-Romain would be applicable to the C.T.S. But there could be no more accurate assessment of Anglican Orders-----A Way Forward? by Edward Yarnold, S.J., than as an attempt to weaken and explain away the encyclical Apostolicae Curae which, Pope Leo XIII has stated in its concluding passage,
. . . shall be always valid and in force, and shall be inviolably observed both juridically and otherwise, by all of whatsoever degree and preeminence, declaring null and void anything which, in these matters, may happen to be contrariwise attempted, whether wittingly or unwittingly, by any person whatsoever, by whatsoever authority or pretext, all things to the contrary notwithstanding.
1. The Eucharist: Unity or Truth? (Faith-Keyway Publications, 1973), p. 28.
2. Ibid., p. 29.
3. AOWF, p. 7/8.
4. AOWF, p. 13.
5. RMP, vol. I, pp. 458/9.
6. CDT, vol. III, p. 362.
7. AOWF, p. 13.
8. RMP, vol. I, p. 145.
9. Ibid., p. 149.
10. Institutes, Lib. IV, cap. xix, 28, col. 780.
11. AOWF, p. 1 1.
12. Authority and Ministry (Grove Books, 1976), p. 24.