There is another, personal, often unacknowledged, benefit of absolute ordination (and confirmation) for Anglican clergy converts: it makes it utterly clear that the ordinand is converting to the Catholic faith. As the name implies, Anglo-Catholics of a certain disposition believe that they are already Catholic. These emphasize the word “Roman” in “Roman Catholic,” to distinguish themselves as Anglican Catholic, separated from the Roman Church by geography and history, but not by doctrine or liturgy. Priests of this thinking who become Catholic often protest that they did not change; rather, it was ECUSA who defected from the faith and left them. The move to Catholic orders is a mere correction of jurisdiction.
To an Anglican Catholic’s self-image, for such a change to be considered conversion carries a certain degree of offense, implying that they were wrong in believing that they were Catholic. While the Anglo-Catholic claim to catholicity is generally respected as the belief of the holder by Catholic authorities, Apostolicae Curae makes clear that the Catholic Church does not agree with their belief. Despite claims to Catholic identity, including a recognition of papal supremacy on the part of Anglo-Catholics, there is, among many, manifestly an incomplete submission to the judgment of the Roman pontiff on this point. It is, in fact, nothing less than stark self-contradiction to disagree with the Holy Father on the grounds that one has already submitted to him. Those who hold back from becoming Catholic in protest that they are already Catholic demonstrate that they are, in fact, still Protestant.