Roman Catholicism denying that Episcopacy as a separate order (basically Presbyterianism)

Discussion in 'Non-Anglican Discussion' started by Stalwart, Feb 17, 2021.

  1. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    So I've been asked to start a discussion about the Roman Catholic theology of holy orders, specifically their denial that the episcopacy is a separate holy order. They will only accept the priest as the highest order.

    Indeed, I will show that Roman history has cases where the Pope has allowed priests to conduct ordinations. This makes Roman Catholic holy orders essentially indistinguishable from Presbyterians and Baptists. By contrast, Anglican tradition teaching that Episcopacy is jure divino, makes it a far better keeper of the Ancient Church. (I won't discuss Rome making holy orders into a sacrament, which is a gross violation of the Early Church in its own right.)

    So, what is the classic Roman doctrine of holy orders? This famous diagram captures it:

    13_01_06_minor_orders.jpg

    This captures the traditional RC doctrine of seven holy orders. The five 'minor' orders: Porter, Lector, Exorcist, Acolyte, Subdeacon. And the two 'major' orders (the real ones): Deacon, culminating in Priest.

    A bishop in the RC scheme is seen as a "the fullness of the priesthood", namely a priest which has the complete set of the rights granted to him from the Pope, such as a right to ordain, and to confirm. A bishop is not a separate 'thing', as in the Anglican tradition.

    If this was the RC doctrine, then we should expect to find instances where regular priests were allowed to do things like wear the mitres of a Bishop (without being one). We should expect to find instances where regular priests make ordinations (just like in Presbyterians and the Baptists do).

    And indeed we do. Here is a passage from the travels of Marco Polo, written in the 1200s:

    "... when they [Marco Polo & his companion] had been thus honourably conducted to Acre they proceeded to the presence of the Pope, and paid their respects to him with humble reverence. He received them with great honour and satisfaction, and gave them his blessing. He then appointed two Friars of the Order of Preachers to accompany them to the Great Khan, and to do whatever might be required of them. These were unquestionably as learned Churchmen as were to be found in the Province at that day—one being called Friar Nicolas of Vicenza, and the other Friar William of Tripoli. He delivered to them also proper credentials, and letters in reply to the Great Khan's messages, and gave them authority to ordain priests and bishops, and to bestow every kind of absolution, as if given by himself in proper person"

    The Travels of Marco Polo, chapter 12, https://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/10636/pg10636.html
    Written 1271-1295

    I don't need to tell you all that this is undoubtedly where the Presbyterians and Baptists got their belief that holy orders essentially consists of Deacons and Presbyters. And that their 'elders' could ordain others, without any bishops whatsoever. In the traditional Roman theology, a bishop is just a Pope's servant, a kind of super-charged priest who does the Pope's bidding. Just one more example of how far the Roman communion strayed from anything like apostolic Christianity.
     
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  2. Moses

    Moses Member

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    The current Romish catechism mentions the Episcopacy, Presbyterate, and Diaconate as three seperate orders, here.

    To the best of my knowledge, Episcopal succession has been the norm in Roman doctrine and practice since early times.
     
  3. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Yes, in Vatican II, the Roman church has adopted many things which actually seem to be very Anglican. They even had Anglican advisors present at the council. The liturgy became vernacular (although the Novus Ordo is awful), Rome became 'in' the Church of Christ rather than 'the' Church of Christ, and the Holy Orders was completely rebuilt from scratch, from the 7 orders ending in priest, into 3 orders of deacon/priest/bishop just like Anglicans have had for centuries.

    That being said, Vatican 2 is not considered to be a 'doctrinal' Council, so it cannot be that they adopted any new doctrines there. Furthermore, even if these doctrines were officially adopted, they fly in the face of at least 1000 years of prior Roman teaching about holy orders, including that diagram in my OP from the 1950s, which clearly defined holy orders as the 7 ending in priest. To contradict that (very old) teaching with something new and foreign that appeared in the 1960s would indicate a contradiction in the Magisterium and thus would undo the Roman church altogether. So there's no way for them to formally and completely come toward the Anglican doctrine of bishops as a separate rank within the Holy Orders, without serious internal calamity.