The Status of Bishop Torok (1934)

WE ARE publishing in this issue two letters bearing upon the election of Dr. John Torok as Suffragan Bishop of Eau Claire that are both interesting and important. It will be recalled that we reprinted in our issue of July 28th a letter from Canon J. A. Douglas, originally published in the Church Times, which appeared to cast doubt upon Bishop Torok’s consecration ten years ago and upon his election last May as Suffragan Bishop of Eau Claire. We observed at that time, “If Canon Douglas has in his possession facts that are not generally known and that ought to be taken into consideration by General Convention before ratifying Bishop Torok’s election, he ought either to make those facts public or to communicate them to the Presiding Bishop.” In reply to this editorial Canon Douglas has sent us the letter that we are publishing in this issue. In it he raises two points that he thinks ought to be cleared up. We referred his letter to Bishop Wilson of Eau Claire who is at once Bishop Torok’s Diocesan and the chairman of the special committee appointed by the Presiding Bishop to investigate Bishop Torok’s status, and we are also publishing his reply herewith.

It seems to us that Bishop Wilson has answered Canon Douglas’ objections very satisfactorily and we hope that his statement will remove any lingering doubts as to Bishop Torok’s status. The situation is admittedly a unique one and one for which there is no provision in the Constitution and Canons of our Church. Nevertheless, the project of which Bishop Torok’s election as Suffragan of Eau Claire is a part is so significant that we feel that no mere legalistic objection should be allowed to interfere with it. Bishop Wilson’s letter makes it clear that Bishop Torok has no “entangling alliances” that would complicate his status as a bishop of the Episcopal Church. The invitation to Bishop Weller to participate in his consecration appears to have come from the former Uniates who had chosen him to be their bishop, rather than from the Orthodox. Anyhow, Bishop Weller did not so participate, and discussion of that question is therefore futile and confusing.

The point is that Dr. Torok is a priest in good standing in the Episcopal Church, in Orthodox orders as a bishop, regularly consecrated but without present jurisdiction in any Orthodox Church, and Suffragan Bishop-elect of Eau Claire. The ratification of his election will make it possible for him to go ahead with the work among foreign-language Americans that was interrupted through no fault of his own a decade ago. Certainly there is no intention on the part of this Church or of Bishop Torok to infringe upon the rights of the Eastern Orthodox in this country or to proselyte among their members or the members of any other religious body. We are confident that if Canon Douglas is fully reassured on this point he will have his last objections to the project removed and, indeed, his letter so indicates.

The Living Church, September 29, 1934, p. 385.

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