Humbert of Silva Candida was an important medieval theologian, best known for his involvement in the excommunication of the Patriarch of Constantinople in 1054.

He was also a vocal proponent of a number of views, such as papal authority and clerical celibacy. On this latter point, Everett Ferguson writes that he "said that sacraments administered by married clerics were invalid," and then continues:

Humbert's later work Against the Simoniacs in three books made a similar claim: Any cleric appointed to office by a layman, no matter how honestly, could not administer valid sacraments, a doctrine that revived the viewpoint of Donatism, which made the validity of sacraments depend on the status of the administrator. (Church History, I, 19.V.B)

This does sound like Donatism to me, but I don't see any indication on Wikipedia or elsewhere that Humbert's views actually violated Catholic dogma. In light of subsequent clarifications of the doctrines of the sacraments, are these views of Humbert's considered problematic in modern Catholicism?

  • 3
    IIRC, Donatism's error is that the validity of the sacraments depends on the personal holiness of the priest rather than the office of the priest. I'm not familiar with Humbert's arguments. If he argued that an improperly appointed priest did not hold the office of priest, I think he would avoid Donatism. It would seem in that case Humbert would not have attached the validity of the sacraments to the person of the priest, only the office.
    – bradimus
    Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 13:01
  • Do you have a reference to Humbert's works and where the reference appears?
    – bradimus
    Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 13:07
  • 1
    Some tidbits in this article? Might not add much to your understanding of Humbert, but see p. 7 @ n. 21 and other scattered references.
    – Dɑvïd
    Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 13:57
  • 1
    This may help. Apostolicea Curae (1896) makes the same case on the nullity of Anglican Orders along the same lines as Humbert did earlier. They lacked Holy Orders. newadvent.org/library/docs_le13ac.htm
    – SLM
    Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 15:51
  • 1
    Could there be some confusion here between "valid" and "licit"?
    – Marc L.
    Commented Mar 12, 2023 at 6:20


You must log in to answer this question.