Asserts Dr. Torok is Bishop of No Church (1936)

Bishop Manning, in Reply to Bishop Wilson, States That Dr. Torok Claimed Orthodox Orders

New York—Bishop Manning of New York has made public a reply to Bishop Wilson’s letter to the members of the House of Bishops (L. C, March 7th) in a letter also addressed to the members of the House, asserting that “the claim has been all along in one form or another that Dr. Torok is a bishop with the orders of the Eastern Orthodox Church” and that “this claim has been officially and publicly rejected … by the Ecumenical Patriarchate after synodical action.”

Bishop Manning also states that “the Episcopal Church was not responsible for Dr. Torok’s consecration,” and repeats his belief that the “unconstitutional action of the Bishop of Eau Claire purporting to give Dr. Torok status as a bishop in this Church” if allowed to stand uncorrected “would establish a dangerous precedent in the Church.”

The text of Bishop Manning’s letter follows:

“My dear Bishop:

“I regret greatly that it is necessary to refer to this matter again at this season. The duty imposed upon the bishops who are protesting against the action of the Bishop of Eau Claire purporting to give Dr. Torok status as a bishop in this Church is in every way a distasteful one, but the situation has been forced upon the Church and it must be met. The whole case is most unfortunate, but it would be still more unfortunate for the Church if this action should be allowed to stand and there are some statements in Bishop Wilson’s letter of February 27th which must not pass without comment.

“1. In that letter the Bishop of Eau Claire refers not very respectfully to, and in fact calls in question the good faith of, Archbishop Athenagoras who is held in the highest possible esteem and regard by all who know him. The tone of Bishop Wilson’s letter toward the official representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch is not calculated to strengthen the relations between our own Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches nor to aid the cause of unity. Certainly the attitude shown in that letter toward Archbishop Athenagoras does not represent the feeling of our bishops generally.

“2. The Bishop of Eau Claire goes so far as to write, ‘Not until June of 1934 did Athenagoras communicate this information to the Patriarch. He received a reply last March which he held for ten months. Now it suddenly comes to light when the Patriarch is safely dead.’ But Bishop Wilson ignores the statement in the Patriarch’s letter that this pronouncement was made ‘after a synodical decision.’ The judgment given is not that of the Patriarch alone. It is the judgment of the Patriarchate. And the Patriarchate is not dead. The official pronouncement refers to the fact that ‘this person has changed successively three confessions,’ and also the fact of Dr. Torok’s marriage, and states definitely that ‘his recognition as an Orthodox Bishop is inadmissible.’

“3. Bishop Wilson declares that the pronouncement by the Patriarch that Dr. Torok cannot be recognized as an Orthodox bishop is of no importance in the case. He writes ‘What of it? Nobody ever expected that he would be so recognized. I have repeatedly explained that he never intended to be an Orthodox bishop and was not consecrated for that purpose.’ But in this same letter Bishop Wilson writes that Dr. Torok requested Archbishop Athenagoras to forward his resignation to the Head of the Eastern Orthodox Communion. If Dr. Torok did not claim to be an Orthodox bishop and if ‘nobody ever expected that he would be so recognized’ why did he make this application to the Ecumenical Patriarch? The Patriarch in his pronouncement says that Dr. Torok asked ‘that his orders should be recognized as valid,’ and the official reply is that Dr. Torok’s ‘recognition as an Orthodox bishop is inadmissible.’

“4. With regard to the statement in Bishop Wilson’s letter concerning Bishop Gorazd it is at this time sufficient to say that his address to the House of Deputies in 1922, which Bishop Wilson cites, has no bearing on his status in 1924, the year of Dr. Torok’s consecration. It was in this year, 1924, that the priests ordained by Bishop Gorazd were re-ordained by the Ecumenical Patriarch’s representative in Czechoslovakia, Archbishop Savvaty of Prague.

A COMPLICATED CASE

“The case is a complicated one, but the main facts are clear enough. Leaving aside the serious questions which have been referred to previously and which would of course have to be fully enquired into before Dr. Torok could be given status as a bishop in this Church, the following facts can be shown from the records.

“1. The claim has been all along in one form or another that Dr. Torok is a bishop with the orders of the Eastern Orthodox Church. On this claim the whole case has been based, and it is this claim which has been officially and publicly rejected not only by the Ecumenical Patriarch but by the Ecumenical Patriarchate after synodical action.

“2. Dr. Torok has never been recognized as a bishop in the Eastern Orthodox Church and there is no Church of which our Church has any knowledge in which he is recognized as a bishop.

“3. The Episcopal Church was not responsible for Dr. Torok’s consecration, and never assumed nor recognized any responsibility for it. This can be proved from the records beyond all question.

“4. As Bishop Wilson expresses doubt in regard to my statement that Dr. Torok was notified some time ago of the pronouncement by the Patriarch I may say that this information was given to me by Archbishop Athenagoras himself. Whether Dr. Torok has yet received the communication I cannot say, but I can and do state on the authority of Archbishop Athenagoras that the official notification was sent to him.

“This- case has been an unfortunate one for the Church from its beginning but the important facts can be clearly shown from the records and these facts will be presented to the House of Bishops when it meets.

“The matter of most immediate concern to the Church is the unconstitutional action of the Bishop of Eau Claire purporting to give Dr. Torok status as a bishop in this Church. If that action should be allowed to stand uncorrected it would establish a most dangerous precedent in the Church.”

(The Rt. Rev.) William T. Manning,
New York City. Bishop of New York.

The Living Church, March 14, 1936, pp. 339, 351.

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