Apostolic succession: Cause for the validity of episcopal consecrations

By Admin

The basic question that is emerging pertains: the authenticity and validity of this consecration as seen from the point of view of Antiochian Orthodox Church and the 23 independent Churches within the Catholic Church led by Pope Francis.

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By Fr. Richard Mwebe

The coming Episcopal consecration of our brother and self-excommunicated Priest Kibuuka Jacinto has raised many questions in people’s minds.

The basic question that is emerging pertains: the authenticity and validity of this consecration as seen from the point of view of Antiochian Orthodox Church and the 23 independent Churches within the Catholic Church led by Pope Francis.

Indeed this question should be examined from the above two points of view since the mentioned priest has at one time claimed to be part of the Antiochian Eastern Catholic Church which is in communion with Pope Francis and at other times to be part of the Antiochian Orthodox Church which is led by his Beatitude John X (Yazigi) successor of His Beatitude Ignatius IV. So far it is clear to us all that he does not belong to the Antiochian Eastern Catholic Church (presided over by his beatitude Moran Mor Ignatius Joseph III Jonan) since as stipulated in the 1983 Code of Canon Law, canon 112, § 1, 10, a Roman Catholic needs the permission of Pope Francis to cross over to any Eastern Catholic Church, which permission he lacks.

As far as the validity and authenticity of Episcopal Consecrations in the Orthodox and Catholic Churches are concerned, the apostolic lineage/succession is of paramount value. The notion of succession/ lineage is not foreign even to many of our cultures. For example, in the Ganda Culture it is brought out in the “Okutambula” in which one spells out his parents, grandparents, great grandparents and so on, so as to prove his or her right of belonging to a particular clan and family.

“Apostolic succession” refers to the lineage from the 12 Apostles to the current Bishops in the Orthodox and Catholic Churches. This lineage is very important in evaluating the validity of Episcopal Consecrations. The 12 Apostles laid their hands over their successors and prayed over them, hence, consecrating them Bishops (Acts 1: 19-26; Acts 13:1-3; I Tim 1:18-20; 1 Tim 4: 14; 1 Tim 3:1ff). These in their turn also laid their hands over their successors and prayed over them and the line continued up to the present day Catholic and Orthodox Bishops.

In this Article, the writer would like to enlighten the Public on the possibility of the lack of apostolic succession in EOC and at the same time challenging the mentioned group to prove with documentation i.e. Episcopal Mandates granted by the Antiochian Orthodox Patriarch, either His Beatitude Ignatius IV or His Beatitude John X of its claims that one of the EOC Bishops was consecrated in the Apostolic lineage within the Antiochian Orthodox Church. In this article the author has consulted the bi-annual book “Orthodoxia” published for many years now by the Institute for Ecumenical Studies of the University of Fribourg-Switzerland, in which all the Genuine Orthodox Churches are recorded, with all orthodox Bishops who bear this privilege of Apostolic succession and the Annuario Pontificio 2017 in which all the Eastern and Western Catholic Bishops with Apostolic succession are recorded. The two documents are available at the Byzantine Orthodox headquarters at Namugona and the Vatican Embassy in Uganda. The Orthodoxia can also be accessed on the Internet, see “http://www.orthodoxia.ch/en/page 5/ show”. The author of this Article after reading the two documents and tracing therein no EOC Bishop, went ahead to do more research on the History of EOC to find out the extent to which Episcopal consecrations in EOC can be regarded as apostolic hence valid.

The guiding questions in this research were: “was the first EOC Bishop at its inception in 1979 or even before in 1977, consecrated by any of the Antiochian Orthodox Bishops bearing this apostolic succession?” Secondly, “did this consecrating bishop have a written and signed mandate from the Antiochian Orthodox Patriarch- Ignatius IV or not?”

According to the history available on the EOC official website, this church struggled to get this apostolic succession, the words used on this website page are: “The belief of needing apostolic succession” led some EOC members to travel to Istanbul (current Turkey) so as to meet the Patriarch of Constantinople, who denied them audience. Then they got in touch with Fr. John Bartke of the Antiochian Orthodox Diocese in America who connected them to His Beatitude Ignatius IV, during his historic visit to Los Angeles. No way in this history is it written that His Beatitude Ignatius IV consecrated some members of EOC Bishops or mandated any Orthodox Antiochian Bishop to carry out that consecration on his behalf. Supposing that Patriarch Ignatius IV consecrated or mandated that one of the EOC members be consecrated a Bishop, then, let the EOC members produce the patriarchal mandate and let us trace the Apostolic lineage of the consecrated EOC bishop in the orthodoxia. The fact that Patriarch Ignatius IV visited the EOC is not enough to claim apostolic succession. Besides, this apostolic succession is neither claimed nor obtained by osmosis, it is handed over by the competent authority.

Our brother would do well to let the public know of the possibility of apostolic succession in EOC in the line of the Antiochian Orthodox Church. Otherwise one gets the impression that the Antiochian Orthodox Church has nothing to do with the EOC (Evangelical Orthodox Church).

The writer has known Jacinto as a person who studied philosophy. Let him not put his philosophical competence at any moment under doubtable grounds. In Philosophical studies there exists a topic on Fallacies (illogical argumentations) and one of these Fallacies is known as Ad baculum. Ad baculum is a Fallacy in which one instead of giving verified and purified reasons to defend his or her school of thought, resorts to threats, spreading lies, character assassination, abuses on media, to mention but a few. Our brother is also encouraged to avoid this Fallacy and use philosophical tools in providing authentic proofs for the existence of the apostolic succession in EOC. Let us appeal to reason and not to emotions. Are there some authentic proofs to back up the apostolic succession in EOC? And if there is no apostolic succession in EOC, then this consecration will always remain “Invalid and fake” in the Catholic Church and in the Antiochian Orthodox Church. Secondly, if EOC is neither recognized by the Antiochian Orthodox Church (to which it claims to belong) nor by the Communion of the Orthodox Churches as recorded in the Orthodoxia, then EOC is a sect.

The writer is a lecturer in St. Mary’s National Major Seminary Ggaba