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Apostolic Succession

with The Archbishop of Oceania

Most Reverend Rima Tamaiparea-Puki

Bishop Te Haara.jpg

"Let them produce the original records of their churches; let them unfold the roll of their bishops, running down in due succession from the beginning in such a manner that [their first] bishop shall be able to show for his ordainer and predecessor some one of the apostles or of apostolic men—a man, moreover, who continued steadfast with the apostles." —Tertullian

The Archbishop with the late Bishop Ben Te Haara, Anglican Bishop Emeritus of Te Tai Tokerau.

1. What is Apostolic Succession?

So, I want to clarify that I am not an apostle; having apostolic succession does not mean I am a claimant to being an apostle but rather that I have succession to one or more of the Apostles having received such from another bishop in possession of it.

Apostolic Succession is much like a Family Tree. A bishop can trace their succession back to the Apostles, through the bishops who consecrated them. Our Lord Jesus Christ, called the Apostles (Mt 10:1-4). The Apostles were given the mandate to continue the work of Our Lord, so they in turn called others to be overseers in the household of Faith, the Assembly of God -- that is the Church. These Overseers or Bishops are the Successors to the Apostles.

2. Why is Apostolic Succession Important?​

Much like a Family Tree, Apostolic Succession traces a bishop's line back to the Apostles. It is not passed on genealogically but rather by one who is in possession of it, through the laying on of hands in accordance with the rite of consecration as prescribed by the Church. The Founder of Christianity left an important legacy and gave instructions for it to be continued (Mt 28:20). As a bishop of the Church, I lay claim to that legacy through my lines of succession. Having the succession means we can say who we are and here’s the proof. No one becomes a Bishop with the intention of not continuing what they have received.

3. How do you start a Church? How does the succession apply?

​Anyone can start a Church... Label it ‘Christian’... And have it legalised... But that means naught if they have no clear line of authority.

The Church teaches that Form and Matter are essential elements for the Sacrament to be considered valid. For baptism we refer to two scriptural texts “Except a person is born of water…” (Jn 3:5) in this instance the necessary ‘matter’ is water, and “baptise them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit…” (Mt 28:19) and the ‘form’ being the words. For that of the consecration of a bishop is the laying of hands (Matter) and the prayers of consecration (Form). They are essential for the validity of the Sacrament.

4. What then is your opinion on the other Churches who do not have Apostolic Succession?

There’s no such thing as a ‘Church without Apostolic Succession’. The Church is the means by which the Faithful may obtain salvation, through Jesus Christ. Otherwise, they’re simply Communities or social organisations. From a superficial perspective, there’s nothing bad about that, except if they claim to possess the same principles as the Church, then I would revert to the questions answered in my earlier point (question 3).

5. Are you familiar with the Document Dominus Iesus put out by the Roman Catholic Church, August 6, 2000 and what are your thoughts on it?

Unfortunately, yes. And I say "unfortunately" because many from our tradition, that is, the Independent Sacramental Movement (ISM), use it to validate their existence.

Unlike the organisation that replaced the Roman Catholic Church after the second vatican council, we have maintained the Apostolic Succession. That's primarily what the ISM is about. To answer the original question, "Yes", I have read the Document from The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. What are my thoughts on it? I think Rome is finding things are not so black and white anymore and are scrambling to find boxes for different communities that do not fit in the strict sense of the word "Church".

The Primate's succession is produced here and The Archbishop's is presented here. A document on Valid Orders can be purchased from Church Publishing.

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