Conditional Ordination Unprecedented

In a “precedent-shattering” ceremony in Münster, Westfalen, Germany, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Münster, Dr. Joseph Höffner, has administered conditional ordination to the priesthood to the Rev. Jay Hughes, a former priest of the Episcopal Church who became a Roman Catholic in 1960.

Hitherto, Anglican clergy entering the Roman Catholic Church have been treated as laymen and permitted to exercise their priesthood only after being re-ordained absolutely to all orders by a Roman Catholic bishop. This practice was confirmed by the bull Apostolicae curae issued by Pope Leo XIII in 1896, which pronounced Anglican Orders “absolutely null and utterly void.”

At the time of his reception into the Roman Catholic Church, Fr. Hughes was conditionally confirmed, but his Anglican baptism was recognized as valid and was not repeated. The ordination ceremony in Germany, which was held in Bishop Höffner’s private chapel and closed to the public, is believed to be the first of its kind since the Reformation.

From The Living Church, March 17, 1968, p. 11.

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