The Revised Order of Corporate Reunion (1912)

By D. J. Scannell O’Neill
London, just now, seems to have more than her due share of bishops. Of course the only real bishop there is he who sits in S. Augustine’s chair at Westminster, holding authority from the Chief Bishop of Christendom. But unfortunately, certain men refuse him obedience and set up rival altars, despite the anathema levelled against such practice by S. Cyprian and the other Fathers of the Church.
Of these hireling shepherds we have the Protestant Bishop of London, Dr. Mathew (of whom we wrote in a former article); Dr. Herford, consecrated by the Jacobites; Dr. Marsh-Edwards, consecrated by Vilatte; Dr. Whitebrook, consecrated by the infamous Miraglia, and the two bishops, Howarth and Beale (Catholic priests of the diocese of Nottingham), lately consecrated by Mathew. Egerton, another of Mathew’s bishops, a few weeks since informed the Tablet that he was on the point of making his submission to the Holy See.
Dr. Mathew, after starting out on a kind of No Popery crusade, and finding it would not work, and that his offers of the episcopate to Father Paul of Graymoor, and the Rev. Spencer Jones, were indignantly rejected, has now decided to revive the Order of Corporate Reunion, made notorious by Dr. Frederick George Lee and Dr. Mossman, both of whom, however, submitted to Rome on their deathbed.
To foster interest in his reunion work, Dr. Mathew publishes a monthly magazine which he styles the Torch. Like everything else that Mathew attempts (save bishoping) the Torch is admirable after a fashion. In a late number we read the following concerning the purpose and plans of the revised society.
Since the extinction of the Order of Corporate Re-Union by the death of its three Bishops, the Rt. Rev. Frederick George Lee, of All Saints, Lambeth, the Rt. Rev. Thomas W. Mossman, of Torrington, and the Rt. Rev. Dr. Seccombe, who were all of them consecrated to the episcopate by the Most Eminent Lord Cardinal Archbishop of Milan in his domestic chapel, no definite step has been taken in the direction of Corporate Reunion with the Holy See.
The letter of Sacerdos Hibernicus in the Torch Monthly Review, of May 15, created a profound interest and brought together a body of persons who decided to revive the old Order of Corporate Reunion.
Facing the facts, that the Roman Church has repeatedly denied the validity of Anglican Orders, and that the ordinations of the Church of England are not recognized by any church claiming to be Catholic, the promoters of the Revived Order felt that all doubt must be set at rest so far as the Orders of clerical members were concerned, and they appealed to Archbishop Mathew, of the Old Roman Catholic Church, asking if he would accept the position of Honorary Prelate of the Order, and in that capacity give conditional ordination to such members as had received Anglican Ordination. His Grace replied expressing his willingness to become the Honorary Prelate of the Order and conditionally ordain such members as are clergy of the Established Church and who, having received conditional Baptism and the Sacrament of Confirmation, sign a profession of the Catholic Faith.
The Archbishop stipulated that it must be made perfectly clear to all concerned that his services, in connection with this delicate and important matter, will be given on the express condition that no fee, stipend or reward of any description whatever should be offered to or will be accepted by him.
The Order has now started on its way and seeks to enroll members. Mere Ritualists are not invited, but earnest-minded Catholics who sincerely desire to help forward the work of Corporate Reunion with the Holy See will be cordially welcomed.
The most charitable construction to be placed on this latest move of Dr. Mathew is that he is not mentally sound. Being an Irishman, it is strange that he has not sufficient humor to see the absurdity of falling away from the Catholic Church in order to assist others to unite with the Holy See.
The Fortnightly Review, XIX:18 (1912), pp. 515-516.

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Filed under Anglo-Catholicism, Order of Corporate Reunion

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