The Torok Case (1936)

The Living Church, April 4, 1936, p. 420

TO THE EDITOR: It was my hope, and that of the bishops with whom I am acting, that no further statement on the action of the Bishop of Eau Claire in regard to Dr. Torok would be necessary until the meeting of the House of Bishops, but your editorial (L.C, March 28th) gives a distinctly wrong impression as to my relation to the case and I must therefore ask you kindly to publish this brief statement in correction. Your claim that “The Living Church has taken no part in this controversy” is an extraordinary one in view of the editorials and other statements on this matter which you have published during a period of more than two years.

The case is far indeed from being one mainly of discussion between the Bishop of Eau Claire and myself, as all know who have read the published statements. What I have felt compelled, most unwillingly, to write on this matter represents, as you know, the conviction and position of a great number of the bishops of this Church, and this conviction has not been reached without careful thought and consideration.

The primary question is not that of Dr. Torok’s fitness for the office of a bishop in this Church as your editorial indicates. That question has now fallen into the background. In spite of the position taken in this matter by the House of Bishops at Atlantic City, and at Houston, the Bishop of Eau Claire, acting apparently with the assent of the Presiding Bishop (see the Presiding Bishop’s published reply to the protest sent to him by Bishop Mann, Bishop Ward, and myself), has taken action purporting to give Dr. Torok status as a bishop in this Church, and The Living Church has announced this action in its columns, and has recorded it, and published it as though it were official action in the Living Church Annual for 1936 (see page 500, and elsewhere, in that volume).

Apart from all personal questions relating to Dr. Torok, therefore the question now before the Church is, Has the Bishop of Eau Claire, or any individual bishop, the right to “receive” one who claims to hold the office of bishop, and give him status as “a bishop in this Church”? This vital constitutional matter, which your editorial ignores, is the question now before us, and this question must be dealt with, and can only be dealt with, by the House of Bishops itself, or by the General Convention, and not by another unofficially appointed committee.

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

TO THE EDITOR: May I file a respectful but emphatic protest against the statement in your editorial column of March 28th, that “The dispute (about Dr. Torok) has been principally between Bishop Manning, who opposes vigorously the recognition of Dr. Torok, and Bishop Wilson who is equally determined to have him recognized.”

The Bishop of New York is not waging single combat, but is clearly and strongly giving expression to the view of many other bishops, members of the House which on two occasions, at Atlantic City and Houston, refused to approve of the election of Dr. Torok and declined to give him the status of a bishop in this Church.

The main question to be considered at the next meeting of the House is not the other matters in this case, important as they may be, but the constitutionality of the action of the Bishop of Eau Claire; and for this decision the House does not need guidance by a committee.

(The Rt. Rev.) John C. Ward, Erie, Pa. Bishop of Erie.

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