A lot of people who should really know better have been going nuts over the fact that Pope Francis called an Anglican pastor a "brother bishop". Everyone is invoking the fact that Anglican orders have been declared null and void, yada, yada, yada.
There are just two problems with this:
Problem #1: Anglican orders aren't necessarily as null and void as you would think.
Anglican orders were indeed declared null and void. The Anglicans began with valid orders when Henry VIII broke away, but for a period of about a century, the Anglican ordination rite specifically denied the sacrifice of the Mass. By the time they repaired their rite so that it did not do this, there were no validly ordained Anglicans left. Thus, the declaration was based on the fact that Anglican orders had died out.
But Old Catholic holy orders were never declared valid. Old Catholics are another schismatic branch of the Church, sort of the fore-runner of the SSPX and their spiritual brothers in the FSSP. Old Catholics broke off in the 1800s, and they have ALWAYS had valid orders.
The Anglicans have joint communion with the Old Catholics. Anglican ordinations frequently have Old Catholic bishops present at the ordination. If an Old Catholic bishop is present at an ordination, there is a very good possibility that the particular Anglican ordination IS, in fact, valid.
Problem #2: Pope Francis is following Benedict's example.
At the above statement, conservatives around the room are undoubtedly sputtering in amazement. "No, he did NOT! How can Kellmeyer get away with such blatant lies!" Etc.
But Pope Benedict essentially declared a whole raft of Anglican bishops "brother bishops" and in a Church document, no less.
You doubt me?! Hah! Consider the Anglican Ordinariate. Anglican orders are null and void. But in Anglicanorum Coetibus, the document establishing the Ordinariate, Benedict effectively raised the laymen who operate as Anglican priests and bishops to the level of Catholic bishops.
"And, with this virtually schismatic act by the bishop of Calgary, we now clearly see why the Holy Father released the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus. If you read through this document, you see a very peculiar thing, which is now clearly explained by the action in Calgary.
AC specifically allows individual Anglican communions within the Catholic Church to be headed by an "ordinary" who is not necessarily an ordained bishop. This is, to say the least, unprecedented. Indeed, given that Anglican orders are not valid, the fact is that every Anglican "priest" and "bishop" is really just a layman who dresses funny.
Yet these laymen, who have baptism as their only valid sacrament, will be treated as retired bishops and ordinaries in their own right - they will be given episcopal powers. The laymen who are the Anglican "priests" and "bishops" will be given their own liturgical rite.
True, they will all have to be properly ordained, but the rite is theirs, promised to them, before the consecrated oils touch their hands or their heads.
Not since Ambrose have laymen been raised to such a high level of authority so quickly."I don't know why conservative (not orthodox, merely conservative) Catholics are such haters of Pope Francis. The man is following precisely in Benedict's footsteps, but they refuse to see it. Instead of looking for the continuity, they always insist that there is a break with Tradition. Rightly or wrongly, bishops associate these uncharitable attitudes with communion rails and Gregorian chant. Whether conservative Catholics like it or not, only bishops can accomplish what these lay people want to accomplish. You need bishops as friends. This constant negative attitude is not friendly.