The American Catholic Church in the United States | Validity of Holy Orders in the ACCUS
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Validity of Holy Orders in the ACCUS

References from the

Roman Catholic Church


Stating Our Validity In Their Documents


As you read the following, please keep in mind that we are not under the jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic Church and as such are not subject to their laws and regulations.  This frees us to be more pastoral and sacramental to the People of God.  The information provided is merely to assist one in the understanding that our orders are considered valid by the Roman Catholic Church as well as other various denominations.




On occasion members of the Roman Catholic Church who initially come into contact with the American Catholic Church of the United States (ACCUS), inquire of their pastors, clergy, and supposedly “informed” laity as to the position of the Roman Catholic Church on the validity of the Sacraments which are administered by the ACCUS.  Frequently the response by the Roman Catholic Church is that our Sacraments are not recognized by Rome.  This is written to clear up any confusion that there might be on this point, although the Roman Catholic Church is quite aware of its validity in all things and has no interest in gaining “recognition” from any other quarters. This is not in our defense nor is it written to justify our being.  It is to inform the uninformed.




The common teaching of the Catholic theologians, expressly confirmed by Pope Leo XII in Apostolicae Curae (1896), is that where a minister performs the sacramental ritual using the correct matter and form, with no appearance of jest or simulation, he is presumed with moral certainty to have acted validly.  After all, to render a sacrament invalid, one must be deliberately lying while uttering the sacramental formula.  Even a grossly erroneous sacramental doctrine and the intention not to produce the sacramental effects do not destroy the sacrament if the minister has a predominant intention to do what Christ instituted, as is normally the case.


In Apostolicae Curae, Pope Leo XII taught that when a sacrament is seriously administered according to the rite of the Church, the minister’s intention is to be presumed sufficient.


Pope Leo XII also taught in the same document that even a heretic can validly confer a sacrament, describing this as a “doctrine.”


At the time of the French Revolution, Talleyrand, Bishop of Autun, joined the schismatic national church, thus leaving the Catholic Church, and consecrated a number of bishops in the new church.  Some of the bishops whom he had consecrated wished to be reconciled with the Roman Catholic Church.  Pope Pius VII confirmed them in their Episcopal offices without requiring them to be re-consecrated, even conditionally.  Thus, he accepted as definitely valid the consecrations administered by Talleyrand and by extension all Orders outside the Papal authority which conform to the proper form, matter, and intent.


During the reign of Pope Pius XII, Bishop Duarte Costa (appointed Bishop of Sao Paula, Brazil by Pope Pius XI) left the unity of the Roman Catholic Church.  This was in response to political practices of Pius XII, who was giving Vatican Passports to Nazi war criminals and his perceived indifference to the plight of the poor in South America.  The origin of the ACCUS was with +Duarte Costa’s separation from the Roman Catholic Church.  After breaking with the unity of the Catholic Church, +Duarte Costa consecrated to the Episcopacy Salmeo Fernaz (August 15, 1945), who in 1958 was restored to the peace and unity of the Catholic Church without any subcondition consecration.  This acceptance was confirmed by Pope Paul VI who appointed +Fernaz as Titular Bishop Eleuterna.


Again, the continuing practice of the Roman Church is to accept as valid those orders that take place outside their boundaries, provided they follow the proper form, matter, and intent.  An argument has been adduced from Paul IV’s Cum ex Apostalatus (1559) purporting to show that a heretic cannot ordain.  This is based either on a misunderstanding or a mistranslation.  They claim that if anyone is raised to the episcopate after falling into heresy, his elevation is “null, void and worthless” and that “each and all of [his] words, deeds, actions, and enactments…shall be without force….” This nullifies the acts of heretical prelates from a juridical point of view only, but it has nothing to do with sacramental validity.


A concordat was signed between the Holy Father Paul VI and Archbishop Glazmaker of Utrecht in 1976, recognizing the Catholic status of one another, and the validity of one another’s sacraments.


Canon Law says that those who are ordained by heretics need to be dispensed to be allowed to function, but have no need of re-ordination.  This has always been the Church’s position because those who have departed from the unity of the Pope are not bound by the Canons of the Catholic Church subject to the Pope.  Orders performed by Prelates not in union with Rome are not to be considered illicit because they are not bound by the Canons of the Roman Catholic Church.




The statements presented here are from official authorities, theologians and publications of the Roman Catholic Church in the affirmation of the validity of Old Catholic Holy Orders and Sacraments.


Rev. Konrad Algemissen, Christian Denominations.

“The Old Catholic Church has received valid Episcopal consecration.” 


Donald Altwater, A Catholic Dictionary.

“Their (Old Catholic) Orders and Sacraments are valid.”


Apostolicae Curae

” . . . Whenever there is no appearance of simulation on the part of the minister, the validity of the sacrament is sufficiently certain . . . “


Addison Arnold. Roman Catholic Dictionary.

“The [Old Catholics] have received valid orders.”


Catholic Almanac, (1993), p. 319.

“Old Catholics have valid Sacraments and a valid Priesthood. The Old Roman Catholic Church disavows connection with Old Catholics.  The Old Roman Catholic Church accepts the first seven Ecumenical Councils only and rejects Papal Infallibility.  They accept only those doctrines formulated before 1054.”


Thomas P. Doyle, O.P., Rights and Responsibilities, A Catholics’ Guide to the New Code of Canon Law, p. 44.

“When a Catholic sacred minister is unavailable and there is urgent spiritual necessity, Catholics may receive the Eucharist, penance, or anointing from sacred ministers of non-Catholic denominations whose holy orders are considered valid by the Catholic Church.  This includes all Eastern Orthodox priests, as well as priests of the Old Catholic or Polish National Church.”


Dr. Ludwig Ott,(1952), Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma. p. 456.

“Every validly consecrated bishop, including heretical, schismatic, simonistic, or excommunicated bishops, can validly dispense the Sacrament of Order, provided that he has the requisite intention, and follows the essential external rite (set. Certa). Cf. D 855, 860; CIC 2372.”


Dominic Prummer, O.P., Handbook of Moral Theology, “The Minister of Valid Ordination”, p. 383.

“The Ordinary Minister is every consecrated bishop and no one else. (Council of Trent. Sess 23, c. 7.)  Therefore even a schismatic bishop or one who has been degraded or one who has been declared irregular etc, may ordain validly provided that his own consecration was valid and that he uses the essential matter and form.”


Feliecian A Roy, OFM, (1974) Catholic Almanac, “The Sunday Visitor”, p. 368.

“The Roman Catholic Church recognizes the validity of Old Catholic Orders and other Sacraments.”


St. Columban Fathers of St Columbans, NE, (1928, June), The Far East Magazine.

“These (Old Catholics) Orders are valid.”


William Whalen, Separated Brethren, pp. 204, 248.

“We have no reason to doubt that the Old Catholic Orders are valid.  The Apostolic Succession does not depend on obedience to the See of Peter, but rather on the objective line of succession from Apostolic sources, the proper matter and form, and the proper intention . . . likewise Old Catholic bishops are bishops in Apostolic Succession . . . The Old Catholics, like the Orthodox, possess a valid Priesthood.”


Father Stanislaw Woywood, OFM , Cardinal Billot, de Sacraments, 6th ed., vol. 1, p. 201, Practical Commentary of the Code of Canon Law.

“If a person has seriously and correctly used the due matter and form, he is that very reason presumed to have intended to do what the Church does.” (Apostolicae Curae) . . .” “Whenever there is no appearance of simulation on the part of the minister, the validity of the sacraments is sufficiently certain . . .”


Father Stanislaw Woywood, OFM LLB , A Practical Commentary on the Code of Canon Law, (revised and enlarged edition), Vol 1, sec 881, p. 558.

“A validly consecrated bishop can validly confer all orders from the minor orders to the episcopate inclusively…for this reason the ordinations performed by the Bishops of the Old Catholics and Old Roman Catholics are considered valid.”


[These sources were printed with the imprimatur of various Roman Catholic Bishops.]




If the Roman Catholic Church is your source of truth in these matters, see what the Roman Catholic Church teaches in its official documents.  The “Dominus Iesus,” was issued during the reign of Pope John Paul II, June 16, 2000, and signed by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, August 6, 2000.  Refer to Section IV: Article 17:

“Therefore, there exists a single Church of Christ, which subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in the communion with him.  The Churches which, while not existing in perfect communion with the Catholic Church, remain united to her by means of the closest bonds, that is, by apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist, are true particular Churches…”