Friday, January 13, 2012

A Pedigree Does Not A Bishop Make...

Often times you will here in the ISM that "I have xyz orders, which makes me an xyz bishop/priest/deacon." Let me assure you, dear reader, that having orders through a particular source does not make one entitled to that tradition. Apostolic Succession (or tradition depending on your outlook) is not something that one owns like the pedigree of a horse. It is a tie to the universal priesthood of Christ Jesus. That succession is as equal in a Roman Catholic ordination as it is in an Orthodox ordination as it is in an Old Catholic ordination... you get the drift.

Some interesting precedents have pointed to going outside one's tradition for receiving the Apostolic Succession. There is a well-known Sedevacantist group that initially received orders from an Old Catholic Bishop. Receiving these orders did not make the recipients Old Catholics (and they made all sorts of abjurations and oaths to prove it) but it connected them with the timeless succession from the apostles. So, too, with the Charismatic Episcopal Church, which received orders from the Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church. They did not necessarily care about the venerable history of (St.) Carlos Duarte Costa--they only wanted to share in the historic succession.

This does not mean that it is anathema to want to receive a certain lineage because of a link to a tradition or an idealization towards the founder. Like it or not humans are a concrete people who value ties to those who are important to their faith--we keep relics, prayer cards, etc., so it goes to reason that lineage should be no different. However, receiving that lineage is not the be all and end all of claiming the tradition. That takes years of careful theological and historical study, but also a sincere adherence to the faiths and beliefs of that group or background.

So, receiving apostolic succession through an unlikely source does not genetically curse your succession and that of your successor's successors. In that same manner, though, receiving succession through someone like Archbishop Thuc doesn't make you a Traditionalist Catholic. If you doubt this, ask Sinead O'Connor.

1 comment:

  1. What is great about the USA is that one may worship however they choose regardless of "ORDERS". That is a guarentee of our constitution.