Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church -UK (ICAB-UK)

          Founded by decree as a Sui Iuris Catholic Church by His Holiness, Patriarch Dom. Luis Fernando Castillo Mendez. 

What is Apostolic Succession ?

Apostolic succession is the line of bishops stretching back to the apostles. All over the world, all Catholic bishops not just of the Roman Catholic Church are part of a lineage that goes back to the time of the apostles, something that is impossible in Protestant denominations (most of which do not even claim to have bishops). The role of apostolic succession in preserving true doctrine is illustrated in the Bible. To make sure that the apostles' teachings would be passed down after the deaths of the apostles, Paul told Timothy, "What you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also" (2 Tim. 2:2). In this passage he refers to the first three generations of apostolic succession-his own generation, Timothy's generation, and the generation Timothy will teach.

The Church Fathers, who were links in that chain of succession, regularly appealed to apostolic succession as a test for whether Catholics or heretics had correct doctrine. This was necessary because heretics simply put their own interpretations, even bizarre ones, on Scripture. Clearly, something other than Scripture had to be used as an ultimate test of doctrine in these cases.

Thus the early Church historian J. N. D. Kelly, a Protestant, writes, "Where in practice was the apostolic testimony or tradition to be found? . . . The most obvious answer was that the apostles had committed it orally to the Church, where it had been handed down from generation to generation. . . . Unlike the alleged secret tradition of the Gnostics, it was entirely public and open, having been entrusted by the apostles to their successors, and by these in turn to those who followed them, and was visible in the Church for all who cared to look for it" (Early Christian Doctrines, 37). For the early Fathers, "the identity of the oral tradition with the original revelation is guaranteed by the unbroken succession of bishops in the great sees going back lineally to the apostles. . . . An additional safeguard is supplied by the Holy Spirit, for the message committed was to the Church, and the Church is the home of the Spirit. Indeed, the Church's bishops are . . . Spirit-endowed men who have been vouchsafed 'an infallible charism of truth'" (ibid.). Thus on the basis of experience the Fathers could be "profoundly convinced of the futility of arguing with heretics merely on the basis of Scripture. The skill and success with which they twisted its plain meaning made it impossible to reach any decisive conclusion in that field" (ibid., 41).


Pope Clement I. "Through countryside and city the apostles preached, and they appointed their earliest converts, testing them by the Spirit, to be the bishops and deacons of future believers. Nor was this a novelty, for bishops and deacons had been written about a long time earlier. . . . Our apostles knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that there would be strife for the office of bishop. For this reason, therefore, having received perfect foreknowledge, they appointed those who have already been mentioned and afterwards added the further provision that, if they should die, other approved men should succeed to their ministry" (Letter to the Corinthians 42:4-5, 44:1-3. A.D. 80).


Hegesippus. "When I had come to Rome, I visited Anicetus, whose deacon was Eleutherus. And after Anicetus died, Soter succeeded, and after him Eleutherus. In each succession and in each city there is a continuance of that which is proclaimed by the law, the prophets, and the Lord" (Memoirs, cited in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 4:22 .A.D. 180).


Irenaeus. "It is possible, then, for everyone in every church, who may wish to know the truth, to contemplate the tradition of the apostles which has been made known to us throughout the whole world. And we are in a position to enumerate those who were instituted bishops by the apostles and their successors down to our own times, men who neither knew nor taught anything like what these heretics rave about" (Against Heresies 3:3:1.A.D. 189). "But since it would be too long to enumerate in such a volume as this the successions of all the churches, we shall confound all those who, in whatever manner, whether through self-satisfaction or vainglory, or through blindness and wicked opinion, assemble other than where it is proper, by pointing out here the successions of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul-that church which has the tradition and the faith with which comes down to us after having been announced to men by the apostles. For with this Church, because of its superior origin, all churches must agree, that is, all the faithful in the whole world. And it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the apostolic tradition" (ibid., 3:3:2).


"Polycarp also was not only instructed by apostles, and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed bishop of the church in Smyrna, whom I also saw in my early youth, for he tarried on earth a very long time, and, when a very old man, gloriously and most nobly suffering martyrdom, departed this life, having always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles, and which the Church has handed down, and which alone are true. To these things all the Asiatic churches testify, as do also those men who have succeeded Polycarp down to the present time" (ibid., 3:3:4).

"Since therefore we have such proofs, it is not necessary to seek the truth among others which it is easy to obtain from the Church; since the apostles, like a rich man depositing his money in a bank, lodged in her hands most copiously all things pertaining to the truth, so that every man, whosoever will, can draw from her the water of life. . . . For how stands the case? Suppose there arise a dispute relative to some important question among us, should we not have recourse to the most ancient churches with which the apostles held constant conversation, and learn from them what is certain and clear in regard to the present question?" (ibid., 3:4:1)."It is incumbent to obey the presbyters who are in the Church-those who, as I have shown, possess the succession from the apostles; those who, together with the succession of the episcopate, have received the infallible charism of truth, according to the good pleasure of the Father. But it is also incumbent to hold in suspicion others who depart from the primitive succession, and assemble themselves together in any place whatsoever, either as heretics of perverse minds, or as schismatic’s puffed up and self-pleasing, or again as hypocrites, acting thus for the sake of lucre and vainglory. For all these have fallen from the truth" (ibid., 4:26:2). "The true knowledge is the doctrine of the apostles, and the ancient organization of the Church throughout the whole world, and the manifestation of the body of Christ according to the succession of bishops, by which succession the bishops have handed down the Church which is found everywhere" (ibid., 4:33:8).

Tertullian. "The apostles founded churches in every city, from which all the other churches, one after another, derived the tradition of the faith, and the seeds of doctrine, and is every day deriving them, that they may become churches. Indeed, it is on this account only that they will be able to deem themselves apostolic, as being the offspring of apostolic churches. Every sort of thing must necessarily revert to its original for its classification. Therefore the churches, although they are so many and so great, comprise but the one primitive Church, founded by the apostles, from which they all spring. In this way, all are primitive, and all are apostolic, while they are all proved to be one in unity" (Demurrer Against the Heretics 20 A.D. 200)."What it was which Christ revealed to them 'the apostles' can, as I must here likewise prescribe, properly be proved in no other way than by those very churches which the apostles founded in person, by declaring the gospel to them directly themselves . . . If then these things are so, it is in the same degree manifest that all doctrine which agrees with the apostolic churches-those molds and original sources of the faith must be reckoned for truth, as undoubtedly containing that which the churches received from the apostles, the apostles from Christ, and Christ from God. Whereas all doctrine must be prejudged as false which savours of contrariety to the truth of the churches and apostles of Christ and God. It remains, then, that we demonstrate whether this doctrine of ours, of which we have now given the rule, has its origin in the tradition of the apostles, and whether all other doctrines do not ipso facto proceed from falsehood" (ibid., 21). "But if there be any heresies which are bold enough to plant their origin in the midst of the apostolic age, that they may thereby seem to have been handed down by the apostles, because they existed in the time of the apostles, we can say: 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. For this is the manner in which the apostolic churches transmit their registers: as the church of Smyrna, which records that Polycarp was placed therein by John; as also the church of Rome, which makes Clement to have been ordained in like manner by Peter" (ibid., 32)."But should they even affect the contrivance of composing a succession list for themselves, they will not advance a step. For their very doctrine, after comparison with that of the apostles as contained in other churches, will declare, by its own diversity and contrariety, that it had for its author neither an apostle nor an apostolic man; because, as the apostles would never have taught things which were self-contradictory" (ibid.). "Then let all the heresies, when challenged to these two tests by our apostolic Church, offer their proof of how they deem themselves to be apostolic. But in truth they neither are so, nor are they able to prove themselves to be what they are not. Nor are they admitted to peaceful relations and communion by such churches as are in any way connected with apostles, inasmuch as they are in no sense themselves apostolic because of their diversity as to the mysteries of the faith" (ibid.).

Cyprian of Carthage. "The Church is one, and as she is one, cannot be both within and without. For if she is with the heretic Novatian, she was not with Pope Cornelius. But if she was with Cornelius, who succeeded the bishop of Rome, Fabian, by lawful ordination, and whom, beside the honour of the priesthood the Lord glorified also with martyrdom, Novatian is not in the Church; nor can he be reckoned as a bishop, who, succeeding to no one, and despising the evangelical and apostolic tradition, sprang from himself. For he who has not been ordained in the Church can neither have nor hold to the Church in any way" (Letters 69.75:3 A.D. 253).

Jerome. "Far be it from me to speak adversely of any of these clergy who, in succession from the apostles, confect by their sacred word the Body of Christ and through whose efforts also it is that we are Christians" (Letters 14:8 A.D. 396).

Augustine. "There are many other things which most properly can keep me in the Catholic Church's bosom. The unanimity of peoples and nations keeps me here. Her authority, inaugurated in miracles, nourished by hope, augmented by love, and confirmed by her age, keeps me here. The succession of priests, from the very see of the apostle Peter, to whom the Lord, after his resurrection, gave the charge of feeding his sheep (John 21:15-17), up to the present episcopate, keeps me here. And last, the very name Catholic, which, not without reason, belongs to this Church alone, in the face of so many heretics, so much so that, although all heretics want to be called 'Catholic,' when a stranger inquires where the Catholic Church meets, none of the heretics would dare to point out his own basilica or house" (Against the Letter of Mani Called "The Foundation" 4:5. A.D. 397).

Furthermore on August 6, 2000, the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. The present Holy Father in his former role of Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued "DOMINUS IESUS" IV. UNICITY AND UNITY OF THE CHURCH.

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 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.

Therefore, the Church of Christ is present and operative also in these Churches, even though in the Patriarch of the West's opinion they lack full communion with the Roman Catholic Church, since they do not accept the Catholic doctrine of the Primacy, which, according to the will of God, the Bishop of Rome objectively has and exercises over the entire Church.

Our forefather such matters as:

Pope Leo XIII answers clearly and with solemn authority: "Concerning the mind or intention, inasmuch as it is in itself something internal, the Church does not pass judgement; but in so far as it is externally manifested, she is bound to judge of it. Now, if in order to effect and confer a Sacrament a person has seriously and correctly used the due matter and form, he is for that very reason presumed to have intended to do what the Church does. It is on this principle that the doctrine is solidly founded which holds as a true Sacrament that which is conferred by the ministry of a heretic or of a non-baptized person, as long as it is conferred in the Catholic rite."

Saint Thomas Aquinas, the Prince of Theologians, says the same thing: "In the words uttered by the minister, the intention of the Church is expressed; and this suffices for the validity of the Sacrament, EXCEPT THE CONTRARY BE EXPRESSED EXTERIORLY on the part of the minister"Therefore, in the conferral of the Sacrament of Holy Orders or of any other as long as the ordaining bishop, be he Catholic or apostate, observes externally the rite prescribed for the Sacrament, he MUST be presumed to have the right intention, and the Sacrament MUST be accepted as valid. 

Let us recall one more time that there is not the least question of the possibility of receiving valid ordinations from a bishop who has abandoned the faith. In fact, such ordinations received from heretics or others are normally valid. 
In defining this truth of faith, "Pope Paschal II does not add the least qualification, not even an implicit reference to cases where such ordinations might not be valid: Therefore, instructed by the examples of our Fathers, who at diverse times have received Novatians, Donatists, and other heretics in their orders [i.e., acknowledging the validity of the orders which they had received in their heretical sects]: We receive in the Episcopal office [i.e., as valid bishops] the bishops of the aforesaid kingdom, who were ordained in schism ..." October 22, 1106.Let us consider momentarily a few more points on the intention required in the minister of a Sacrament.We shall distinguish the intention of doing what the Church does, and the intention of doing what the Church intends. The Church does (performs) a sacred rite instituted by Christ, and by this rite she intends to confer grace —and in some Sacraments, the character. The minister does not at all need to intend to confer grace by the rite which he performs. It suffices that he intends to perform a sacred rite. (So teach all theologians.) Indeed, he does not even have to believe that the rite which he is performing is sacred. It suffices that he intends to perform seriously a rite which Christians hold as sacred. Thus, for example, a Jew can validly baptize a Christian child, even though he believes that Baptism is a completely meaningless ceremony, if he intends to perform a rite which Christians hold to be sacred. Thus, also a priest who has lost the faith in the Sacraments can still confect them validly as long as he has the intention of performing seriously the rites which the faithful ask of him and which they consider sacred.

Saint Thomas teaches the same: "Sometimes the minister intends to do what the Church does, although he considers it to be nothing.

"The minimum intention required in the minister of a Sacrament is, then, this: That he intends to perform a rite which the Church considers sacred, and to accomplish seriously all the prescribed externals. Indeed, who could possibly lack this minimal intention in administering a Sacrament? We have seen that the Church considers the presence of the required intention the normal case as regards Sacraments administered by heretics, schismatic’s, etc. According to the solemn teaching of the Church, therefore, and the conclusions of sound theology, there is ABSOLUTELY NO JUSTIFICATION for any doubts on the validity of the Holy Orders of the Most Reverend Dom. Carlos Duarte Costa and the Most Reverend Dom. Castillo Mendez. In our case as  valid Catholic bishops consecrated by the Most Reverend Dom. Castillo Mendez who in turn consecrate fellow bishops.

St. Thomas Aquinas states; laws are ordinances of right reason made for the common good promulgated by one who has authority in society. A fundamental principle of law is that “Law ceases automatically:1. if through changed conditions, it has become harmful, impossible or irrational;2. if its very purpose has ceased to be verified for the whole community” (Moral Theology, Ff. Henry Davis, 1958).

Now for a valid consecration there needs only be a validly consecrated bishop 'three (3)  bishops according to Canon I of the Apostolic Canons for the consecration of a bishop must be accomplished, ( by three (3) or more bishops) to perform the rite and a validly ordained priest, who intends to receive consecration, there are just THREE requirements essential for validity:

1. The imposition of hands by the consecrating bishop (technically called the matter of the sacrament).

2. The essential sixteen word formula recited by the consecrating bishop (technically called the form of the sacrament).

3. A minimal intention on the consecrating bishop's part "to do what the Church does" (called ministerial intention).

Though all the ceremonies prescribed in the rite should be observed, the three foregoing elements are all that is required for an Episcopal consecration to be valid.