In this series of posts, I’ll attempt to answer some of these questions. These will also be posted in the comment box over at imonk.
The first question:
1) Do Roman Catholics consider Protestant ministers like myself valid ministers? More particularly, if a good friend becomes Roman Catholic, are they now confessionally required to believe that I was never called of God to be a minister?
I might be able to shed some light on some of these (ok, this is getting a lot longer than I thought. This post will tackle the first question. I’ll attempt to get to the rest later):
I believe this hinges on what you mean by ‘valid ministers’. The Catholic concept of Holy Orders brings with it several other things of note. The first would be the ability to be ministers of the sacraments, and the second would be the three ‘levels’ of holy orders (diaconate, priesthood, and bishopric).
Each ‘level’ can do different things. The Diaconate’s main job is ‘proclaiming of the word’. That is bringing the scriptures to the people by reading and preaching. They also may be ministers of the sacrament of marriage and baptism. Priests can do all the above, plus Reconciliation, Holy Communion, and Anointing of the Sick. Bishops may do all of the above, and in addition may confirm and may be the minister of Holy Orders.
So, knowing all of this, we come back to the initial question: would a Protestant minister be a ‘valid minister’.
If by ‘valid minister’ you mean ‘partaking in the graces of Holy Orders’, then I believe the answer would have to be an emphatic ‘no’. If by ‘valid minister’ you mean ‘Someone who preaches the word, and attempts to bring his/her fellow people to holiness’, then I believe the answer would be somewhere between ‘it depends’, and ‘yes’.
The Catholic Church has a long tradition of people being preachers who are outside the sacrament of Holy Orders. Should you ever run into a ‘brother’ or ‘friar’, you’re most likely not talking to someone who has Holy Orders, but someone who is trying to live a life of holiness, and bringing others to that life.
Should a Protestant minister convert to Catholicism, and show sufficient knowledge and fidelity to the teachings of Catholicism, it wouldn’t surprise me if they could be brought quickly into the Diaconate. Note: This would be a pastoral decision made by the local bishop, rather than a specific procedure/ruling from Rome. It would depend on many other factors as well.
So, the brief answer to the question is that a Protestant minister could be akin to a minister without Holy Orders within the Catholic Church.
 Priests may confirm when given direct permission from the Bishop for that instance of Confirmation.
 For the record, I’m leaving aside the more tangled questions of ministers from the Eastern Orthodox, Anglican/Episcopalian, and (some?) Lutheran traditions.
 Though ‘friar’ may be a more generic term for someone in a religious order, regardless of their ‘level’ in Holy Orders or lack there of.