Category Archives: Defending Anglican Validity

Part of my series on Defending Anglican Validity

Defending Anglican Validity: Part 2 – Three or Seven Orders?

I am going to begin this post, as with many to say this very strongly: I am not anti-Roman Catholic. I have many good friends that are Roman Catholic and I view them to be fellow brothers and sisters in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. While I may respectfully disagree with them on matters of the Church I in no way view what I, as an Anglican, that the errors in their discipline and doctrine have somehow brought them out of the love of Christ.

In the modern Church in Western Christianity there is a agreed upon view that of ordained ministers, that is Ministers who are in Holy Orders, there are three: Bishops, Priests, and Deacons. This has been the Anglican view since the Elizabethan settlement in 1559. It has also been the largely settled view in in the Roman Church since the 1970s that there are three orders as well. However, this was not always the case, especially at the time of the Reformation.


St. Thomas Aquinas

If one goes back to the Reformation, and back to the 13th Century under St. Thomas Aquinas, we see that the view in the Latin Church of the time was there were Seven orders, that is:

  • Priest,
  • Deacon,
  • Subdeacon
  • Acolyte
  • Exorcist
  • Lector
  • Porter

The orders we split as well into the Major Orders (Priest, Deacon and Subdeacon) and the Minor Orders (Acolyte, Exorcist, Lector and Porter). You might have noticed that the Order of Bishop is missing altogether. That is because it was viewed that the Priesthood was actually consisted of two classes: the Presbyterate and the Episcopate. One relic we find in English is that the term Consecrate is used for the Ordination services of a Bishop. This is in part because of the Theology of Aquinas which pinned his view on Orders of Ministers to their function in the Eucharist and not the overall function of the Church. I would strongly encourage all to read Aquinas on the matter in Supplementum Tertiæ Partis, Question 37, Article 2 in his Summa Theologica.

The Priesthood and Diaconate were Sacramental Orders in that the act of Ordination involved the laying on of hands and gave a Sacramental Character. The ordination of a Subdeacon, nor of the minor orders, did not impart the Sacramental Character.

In 1972 Pope Paul VI issued Ministeria quaedam, which utterly changed the practice the Roman Rite used Orders: The Subdiaconate was removed, and the minor Orders were turned into “Ministries”. Conversely, the doctrine surrounding the Episcopate shifted to its present form with it being a separate order from the Priesthood rather than a different class in the same order.

So, how many orders are there: Seven or Three? I would categorically say Three as would Roman Catholic doctrine of today. The only persons who would strongly defend the notation of their being Seven orders would be traditionalist Roman-Rite Catholics, some of whom view the Second Vatican Council and the present Papacy as illegitimate and heretical.

The point I am trying to make in this post is not that the post-Vatican II Church is illegitimate; the point I am trying to make is that between the English Reformation and now the Roman view on Holy Orders has shifted fairly significantly but not necessarily very massively. However, it is significant enough in my view that to point out a potential hypocrisy when criticism is leveed from the holder of the “Chair of St. Peter” about those who changed the nature of orders only to have one of his successors change them as well.

God Bless,


Defending Anglican Validity: Part 1 – An Introduction

I have been trying to do this in video form for nearly three years and have all but given up. In the end I might use this series of blog entries as the basis for a script. So, if all else fails, here we go.

The Rev'd Alberto R. Cutié
The Rev’d Alberto R. Cutié

This is the Rev’d Alberto Cutie. He has been the Rector of the Church of the Resurrection in Biscayne Park, Miami, Florida, which is part of the Diocese of Southeast Florida in the Episcopal Church. However, Father Cutie has not always served in the Episcopal Church; He was from 1995 until 2009 a priest in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Miami. He left in, what is all fairness, a scandal when he was caught kissing his future wife Ruhama on a beach. One of his primary reasons for leaving the Roman Catholic Church was the discipline of mandatory celibacy for Priests. I would encourage all persons to read his book on the matter which is called Dilemma.

Monsignor Jeffrey Steenson
Monsignor Jeffrey Steenson

This is the Rev’d Monsignor Jeffrey N. Steenson PA. He is has been the Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter (a body for former Anglicans who have sought Full Communion with the See of Rome) since it was incorporated in 2012. He has been a Priest of the Roman Catholic Church (originally in the Archdiocese of Sante Fe) since his ordination on February 21, 2009. However, Monsignor Steenson was previously Bishop Steenson of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande. He was ordained a Priest in the Episcopal Church in 1980, and a Bishop in 2005. He left the Episcopal Church on December 1, 2007 to seek Communion with the See of Rome. When he became a Roman Catholic he was accepted as a layman with his Orders in the Anglican Communion (and Episcopal Church) viewed as being Utterly Null and Void.

Why is it that Father Cutie, when he was received into the Anglican Communion in 2009, was accepted as a Priest of the Church and when former Bishop, now Monsignor, Steenson was received into the Roman Catholic Church in 2007 he was not? The answer comes to a number of Roman Catholic theological positions, and a Papal bull which declared that since the Reformation any and all Anglican Ordinations have been invalid leaving the recipient a layman. Over the course of this series I would like to go into more depth, and show that the orders of our Bishops, Priests and Deacons are perfectly valid. It should be a lot of fun. Or, pretty boring to the average person. In this series I hope to cover:

  • The events of the English Reformation
  • The papal bull Apostolicae Curae, which formally nullified Anglican Orders in the eyes of the Papacy… and the issues arising from the Papal bull
  • The Ordination services used by Anglicans until the mid-20th Century… which are perfectly valid, and
  • The services of the Holy Eucharist used by Anglicans, Catholics (Roman and Eastern Rite), Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Christians… all of which are perfectly valid

So, who’s with me?