Part 2 – 1941-48

The Catholicate of the West

Mar GeorgiusOn 16 August 1941, the British priest Fr. Hugh George de Willmott Newman (pictured left) addressed a letter to Mar John Emmanuel of the AEC requesting that Mar John Emmanuel should become the Presiding Bishop of a body called the Old Catholic Orthodox Church in England. The Old Catholic Orthodox Church had formed in 1925 when a small number of laity of the Old Roman Catholic Church of Great Britain, led by William C.D. Evans, had rejected the new proto-Uniate constitution imposed by their archbishop, Mgr. Bernard Mary Williams, and had elected to continue independently. Based at Hounslow, they had for some time received ministry from a priest of the American Catholic Church, before adopting de Willmott Newman in 1939, but had no bishop of their own.

Patriarch_Athenagoras_(1967)Mar John Emmanuel consulted with his friend Archbishop Athenagoras (pictured right), then the Greek Orthodox archbishop in America, before accepting the office of Presiding Bishop of the OCOC on 8 October 1941. On 26 October, he issued a Brief constituting de Willmott Newman as Abbot Nullius of St Albans in the Order of Corporate Reunion, under the authority that he had received in that body from Bishop Ignatius Nichols in 1933, and appointed de Willmott Newman as a Superior-General in the OCR, having authority over its members in the British Isles. On 30 October, Mar John Emmanuel appointed de Willmott Newman as Archpriest and Vicar-General of the OCOC. In “A Twig on the Tree of Life” (1960) de Willmott Newman wrote, “Thus did the faithful remnant of the Movement started in England by Archbishop Mathew, who derived his Orders from the Old Catholic Archiepiscopal See of Utrecht, come under the jurisdiction of a Bishop in America whose Orders were derived from the Uniate Patriarchate of Babylon in far-off Chaldea.” Mar John Emmanuel was generous in his support, too, sending frequent consignments of Holy Oils across the Atlantic for the use of the church.

On 17 October 1943, de Willmott Newman had represented Mar John Emmanuel and the OCOC, at the Council of London headed by Archbishop Herbert James Monzani Heard (Mar Jacobus II) (1866-1947), the senior bishop of the Syrian succession via Mar Julius of Iona (Ferrette) that was known by then as the Ancient British Church. This council had met to consider the repudiation, published in 1939 and attributed to the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch (although what actually appeared was a much-elaborated version of his original statement), of those British clergy who stood in its succession via the consecration of Archbishop Joseph René Vilatte by that church in 1892, and the pejorative resolutions of the 1920 Lambeth Conference concerning the Free Catholic movement.

Comprised of the representatives of the British Vilatte-succession churches and other related bodies, the Council took the view that this unjust repudiation was a deliberate act of schism. It had come about as the result of a combination of factors; weakness in the Syrian Orthodox Church, Anglican pressure from those who saw the Vilatte succession as a threat to their dominance, and the refusal of the American Catholic Church, a major Vilatte-succession body, to agree to a substantial increase in its payments to the Syrian Orthodox Church.

patriarchcrowAccordingly the Council declared, citing canons 35 and 37 of the Quinisext Council for precedent, that the Patriarch of Antioch was deposed and that the lawful and legitimate continuation of the Syrian Orthodox Church rested with their numerically tiny body, which they renamed the Ancient Orthodox Catholic Church for the avoidance of confusion. Since the leading voices of the Council of London were staunch Legitimists, they were inclined towards a strictly legalistic view of these matters, even though they could not hope to enforce their conclusions regarding the Syrians in any practical sense. William Bernard Crow (1895-1976), Bishop of Santa Sophia and a noted esotericist, was elected Patriarch of Antioch in the AOCC as Mar Basilius Abdullah III (pictured left). In 1944, Mar Basilius Abdullah III conferred upon Mar John Emmanuel the degree of Doctor of Sacred Scripture honoris causa of the Apostolic Academy of St Peter at Antioch, and appointed him a Legate to the Patriarchal Throne of Antioch. The Ancient Orthodox Catholic Church entered into intercommunion both with the Apostolic Episcopal Church and the Old Catholic Orthodox Church.

What had effectively happened was that the Syrian Orthodox Church, having created two distinct Western missions (those of Archbishops Ferrette in 1866 and Vilatte in 1892) with deliberate autocephaly, had also compromised its organisational integrity in so far as those missions were deliberately affiliated to the church, and to that extent a part of it, but under a deliberately loose control, and without the usual staticons limiting jurisdiction; moreover they accepted the Western faith of the Seven Ecumenical Councils rather than the Oriental Orthodox position. This gave these missions the potential to continue to claim to be a part of the Syrian Orthodox Church without actually being directly subject to it. They were, indeed, no less a part of that church than any other parish or mission, but the mother church had placed itself in a position where she was effectively being held responsible for something over which she had less and less control. Perhaps this status quo could have continued indefinitely, but the political situation (in this case occasioned by Anglican interference) would more likely have induced a crisis point sooner rather than later. This would inevitably lead to schism, with two groups each claiming validly to represent the Syrian heritage, but independent in their governance, and each (unsurprisingly) repudiating the other.

de Willmott Newman, writing with the hindsight of later years, expressed the following sentiments, “…viewed from the standpoint of the particular time, there would seem to have been little other alternative, – that is if the action of Ignatius Ephrem was to be challenged at all. Yet, today, in the light of the knowledge of subsequent events, it is clear that the course adopted was inexpedient in view of the fact that there was never any real possibility of enforcing the purported deposition of Ignatius Ephrem, or securing the submission of the Syrian and Malabar Bishops. It would have been wiser for the Council to have contended itself with exposing Ignatius Ephrem and his lies, and to have repudiated all further connection with him.”

Doubtless this makes sense in practical terms, and could well have fended off some of the worst external attacks on the Council. But it ignores the crucial question of identity. Churches, and indeed entire races and peoples, have through history had to contend with situations in which they were placed in exile, under oppression, and with their authority usurped by a seemingly invincible hostile party, finding themselves reduced to a handful of adherents meeting in semi-secret. Too often, the rightful party has had to play David to a Goliath-like opponent. Thus it was with the Council of London; thus it must also have seemed to bodies such as the Polish Government in Exile, meeting powerless in Paris, then Belgium, then London, for over half a century while the Soviet-backed Communists exercised power in their homeland.

But what mattered about the Council of London was not the prospect of realistically or otherwise claiming the church property that it held to be rightfully its own, nor of aiming to subjugate other elements of Christendom; it was the assertion of its Syrian heritage as a powerful, unified and cogent identity in the body of a valid church and ecclesiastical movement with an ecumenical vision that has endured to this day. It is that statement of what those Apostolic communions were, as far as ideology, theology and presence in Britain was concerned, that is the lasting legacy of the Council of London.

Mar John Emmanuel at this time suggested that de Willmott Newman should seek election to the episcopate as Archbishop and Metropolitan of Glastonbury. de Willmott Newman was duly elected at a Pro-Synod of the OCOC on 8 October 1943 and a mandate signed by Mar John Emmanuel on 20 December was then sent to Mar Basilius Abdullah III authorising him to perform the consecration.

St Andrew's Collegiate ChurchThe former St Andrew’s Collegiate Church, Tottenham, where the consecration of de Willmott Newman for the Catholicate of the West took place in 1944.

On 23 March 1944, the agreement of Mar John Emmanuel having previously been obtained, a Deed of Declaration under Mar Jacobus II united the bodies known as the Ancient British Church, the Old Catholic Orthodox Church, the British Orthodox Catholic Church and the Independent Catholic Church into a single organisation, to be called The Catholicate of the West. These were churches that had a continued legal existence from their historic foundations, but at that point very few clergy and no significant lay membership. At a meeting of  the Governing Synod of the new church on 28 March, under the presidency of Mar Jacobus II, de Willmott Newman was elected Catholicos of the West; he had also been separately elected to the episcopate by the Pro-Synod of the Old Catholic Orthodox Church. He was consecrated and enthroned as Mar Georgius by Mar Basilius Abdullah III on 10 April 1944, in the Cathedral Church of St Andrew, Stonebridge Road, Tottenham, and immediately established intercommunion between his jurisdiction and the Apostolic Episcopal Church under Mar John Emmanuel. On 29 January 1945, Mar Jacobus II resigned the office of British Patriarch (which originated in the lineage of Mar Julius of Iona (Ferrette)) to Mar Georgius, who thus became the sixth head of the “oldest of all non-Ultramontane Catholic movements, for it was erected as long ago as 1866″.

Formal relations between the AEC and the Catholicate of the West were cemented when on 29 June 1944 the Catholicate made Mar John Emmanuel “a member with life seat in the Synod and named Titular Archbishop of Ebbsfleet, Kent; … also constituted… a Legate of the Patriarchal Throne of Antioch, with jurisdiction as Exarch of the Americas.” In turn, the AEC on 22 February 1945 appointed Mar Georgius as an Episcopal Member of the Synod, constituted a deputy, and empowered to represent the AEC in the British Isles. Mar John Emmanuel referred to this position as “the British-American Union of Christians of Orthodox Faith and Order.” On 29 April 1945, Mar Georgius was conditionally consecrated by Mar Carolus (Charles William Keller), a chorbishop of the AEC, acting on commission of Mar John Emmanuel.

Mar Georgius had been born into the Catholic Apostolic Church (sometimes called the “Irvingites” or The Universal Church) in which his father and grandfather had been a deacon and subdeacon respectively. The CAC received what they believed to be a divine revelation that led to the calling of twelve men as a Renewed Apostolate in the 1830s, with the belief that this would prefigure an imminent Second Coming. These dramatic developments produced a widespread and at one point numerous following, assisted by the fact that the CAC did not seek to present itself as a separate church but as a universal body dedicated to presenting the Renewed Apostles to mankind in general and specifically to other churches, which it hoped would then adopt and support their cause.

The failure of such bodies as the Church of England and Roman Catholic Church to accept the CAC’s Testimony forced the CAC to pursue a more independent existence as a church body than it would have chosen for itself, and in time divisions within the Apostles and their successive deaths without the Second Coming having occurred led to the movement slowly fading away. There was no provision for the calling of further apostles to replace those who had died (although one body in continuation of the CAC held otherwise and established an episcopal succession which continues to this day), and no new clergy could be ordained to major orders after the last Apostle, Francis Valentine Woodhouse, had died. Mar Georgius had felt a vocation to the priesthood from the age of sixteen, and he had become convinced that his role was to lead a church that was a continuation of the CAC’s mission.

Mar Georgius’ Holy Governing Synod of the Catholicate of the West passed Act no. 3 at Christmas 1944, stating that, “It hath now come to regard the work of the Catholic Apostolic Church as a model or pattern of a greater and more extensive work yet to be brought into manifestation among the peoples of the world, and accordingly hath been moved to bring the Ministry, Organisation, Usages and Worship of the Catholicate into general conformity with this pattern.” As a direct result, the title “The Catholic Apostolic Church (Catholicate of the West)” was adopted, with the subtitle “The Western Orthodox Catholic Church”, and the CAC Liturgy was adopted with a Supplement, together constituting the Glastonbury Rite.

During the 1940s and 1950s, in keeping with the mission of the Catholicate to act as a centre for the reunion of Christendom, Mar Georgius accepted additional commissioning from other bishops through subconditional consecration until he had gathered all of the major lineages from the Orthodox, Catholic and Anglican churches into a unified Ecumenical Apostolic Succession. This work was in direct furtherance of a resolution of the 1920 Lambeth Conference that was partly implemented by the Church of England after the Bonn Agreement of 1931, when Old Catholics began to participate in Anglican consecrations in order to secure the validity of Anglican Holy Orders in the eyes of Rome. It had already formed part of the work of the AEC under Mar John Emmanuel, who had undergone such additional commissioning on several occasions. However, it was not the case that either Mar John Emmanuel or Mar Georgius believed that these acts had any effect on the validity of their original episcopal consecrations. They were undertaken for one reason only; to remove obstacles to ecumenical acceptance. As Mar Georgius explained, “The work of creating an Oecumenical Apostolic Succession, in which I have been engaged for many years, depended not only upon the fortification of an original line by the conditional reception of other lines, but also upon the fortification of each individual line by branches of the same line. If this were not done, the chain might be imperfect at some link…I should, however, explain that I am not, and never have been, a succession “chaser”; that is to say, I have at no time gone out seeking Bishops and importuning them for their lines of Apostolic Succession; but have always waited until God brought me into contact with the prelates concerned, and thus opened the way for me to secure the particular line in question.”

Most importantly, external authorities and the Christian community at large, to whom the mission of the Catholicate of the West was addressed throughout, would find that this body was indeed “all things to all people,” to cite a phrase from the consecration liturgy. Those who sought a Roman Catholic heritage would find it in the Order of Corporate Reunion lineage. Those who sought an Orthodox heritage would find lineages from the Syrian, Russian, Jacobite and other churches. Those whose faith was Anglican or Liberal Catholic would also find their heritages represented, and nor were these the only lines to be passed into the Catholicate. With an œcumenical basis such as this to draw upon, no critic could reasonably find the sacraments of the Catholicate invalid. Liturgically too, we should recall for analogy the process of synthesis of the different Christian traditions that had culminated in the liturgy of the CAC, and that was to find further expression in the Glastonbury Rite of the Catholicate.

On 6 June 1946, Mar Georgius episcopally consecrated an American, Wallace David de Ortega Maxey (1902-92), having previously conditionally baptised him, confirmed and tonsured him, and conferred upon him the four minor orders, diaconate and priesthood. Maxey had originally been priested by Archbishop Vilatte, and had in 1929 established a body initially called the Old Catholic Church of America (as a continuation of the erstwhile Vilatte church of the same name). In 1936, this body was renamed the Ancient Christian Fellowship. Maxey had served as priest and bishop in several Old Catholic bodies before 1929; he was General Secretary of the Temple of the People, Halcyon, California (a Theosophical organization) from 1931-32, and from 1934-36 ministered as a priest in the Episcopal Church. The Ancient Christian Fellowship was incorporated in the State of California on 13 July 1944 and was led from Maxey’s Cathedral Chapel of the Holy Spirit at 4205 West Third Street, Los Angeles. It published the “Ancient Christian Fellowship Review” under Maxey’s editorship between 1946 and 1949. In 1945, it published Maxey’s book “The Divine Liturgy of the Eucharist…According to the Order and Usage of the Ancient Christian Fellowship”. It entered intercommunion with the Catholicate of the West on 17 March 1945.

Writing in the Ancient Christian Fellowship Review, Maxey hailed the Catholicate of the West as “marking an epoch in history” and presenting a viable ecumenical solution by “providing an ecclesiastical center of union within the Universal Church to which other bodies may affiliate without being absorbed unnecessarily.” Likewise, in “The Orthodox Catholic Review” of June 1946, Mar Georgius announced “yet another step forward in the work of unifying the independent Episcopal Churches throughout the world upon the basis of Apostolic Catholicism and Orthodoxy.” Maxey’s “patriarchal throne in California would become a centre of unity to which all clergy and laity interested in the development and extension of a truly Oecumenical work, free of all the mistakes, controversies, and heresies of the past, have now the opportunity to rally and engage in active participation.”

Maxey consecration 6.6.46Barnet 6.6.46Consecration of Mar David (Maxey) by Mar Georgius assisted by Mar John (J.S.M. Ward), Mar Leofric (C.L. Saul), Mar John (J. Syer), Mar Francis (F.E. Langhelt), and Mar Benignus (R.K. Hurgon), Abbey Church of Christ the King, Barnet, 6 June 1946.

Maxey visited England in May 1946, staying with Mar Georgius and his wife Lola. On June 6, Mar Georgius appointed Maxey as Mar David I, Patriarch of Malaga, Apostolic Primate of all the Iberians and Supreme Hierarch of the Catholicate of the West in the Americas with plenary jurisdiction. At his consecration in the Abbey Church of Christ the King, Barnet, Mar David was invested with the Sacred Pallium and Patriarchal Cross. His status was further recorded through formal registration at the American Embassy in London. Within the Catholicate of the West, Mar David and Mar Georgius had equal jurisdictional status as the only two Apostolic Primates. Also on 6 June 1946, Mar David conditionally consecrated John Sebastian Marlow Ward (Mar John), Primate of the Orthodox Catholic Church in England, and Richard Kenneth Hurgon (Mar Benignus), head of the Order of Christ our Most Holy Redeemer and King, as well as two auxiliary bishops of the Catholicate. These actions affirmed the intercommunion that existed between Mar David and the member churches of the Catholicate, and that would endure after some of those churches had left that organisation. However, Mar David subsequently expressed some reservation about the part of the ceremony in which he had consecrated the other bishops, and in particular that he had concelebrated the Mass rather than celebrating it, that none of the consecrands had concelebrated, and that the full rites of the Pontifical had not been used. To assuage any doubt, he reconsecrated Mar Georgius at Kew on 10 June 1946, using the Roman Pontifical, and intended that Mar Georgius should then reconsecrate the other bishops who had been present on 6 June. However, Mar Georgius did not do this, and did not express any public misgivings concerning the ceremony until over five years later, by which time disputes had developed with some of those who had been involved that appear, from his correspondence, to have coloured his view of the matter considerably. The conclusion drawn by the AEC concerning these issues is that the consecrations of 6 June by Mar David were valid, and that his reservations concerning the ceremony, although sincerely held, did not affect it in such a way as to render it invalid.

consecration of wardConditional consecration of John Sebastian Marlow Ward as Archbishop of Olivet in the Catholicate of the West by Mar Georgius assisted by other prelates; Abbey Church of Christ the King, Barnet, 25 August 1945.

On 23 June, a meeting of the Holy Governing Synod of the Catholicate of the West was held in the King’s Dining Room at the Royal Palace of Kew, at which Mar David was introduced and took his seat. This meeting elected Matthew N. Nelson to the Episcopate as auxiliary to the Patriarchal Throne of Malaga and Titular Bishop of Hawa’ii; he would be consecrated by Mar David the following year. A Patriarchal Bull of Mar Georgius of 7 June 1946 recognized the Ancient Christian Fellowship and Mar David as the sole legal heirs of the Old Catholic Church of America established by Archbishop Vilatte in 1892.

As of the beginning of 1946, the ACF consisted of Mar David as Patriarch and eight priests, with Nelson as Archpriest. The Order of Deaconesses was headed by the Very Revd. Dr. Marie A. Hunt as Mother General with six other members. The Cathedral Chapel of the Holy Spirit, Los Angeles, was served by Nelson with Deaconess Erie Hall as Organist. Membership was given as 27 communicants and 77 supporting members.

In July 1946, a formal union was announced between the Ancient Christian Fellowship and the Apostolic Episcopal Church, which were already in communion via their mutual connexion with the Catholicate of the West. This union provided for whichever of Mar John Emmanuel or Mar David would outlive the other to succeed to the primacy of the two churches, and established Provinces of the West and East United States within the AEC, the former to be headed by Mar David from California and the latter by Mar John Emmanuel from New York. On 13 July, Mar John Emmanuel conditionally consecrated Mar David in Christ’s-Church-by-the-Sea, and the following day enthroned him as AEC Provincial of the West; Mar David further described his position in the AEC as “a patriarchal-archbishop”. On 1 February 1947, the provisions of the union were officially endorsed by the senior clergy concerned, and subsequently enshrined in a Concordat registered with the civil authorities in the State of New York on 15 October 1947.

Maxey 1946Mar David (seated) with his clergy, Los Angeles, 28 April 1946. Standing behind him are the Revd. C.W. Powell, the Very Revd. Mgr. Bartholomew, and the Revd. Matthew N. Nelson. Also seen are five Deaconesses wearing white gowns.

Mar David’s contact with Mar Georgius in England had not been an unqualified success. Mar David found on his arrival that the connexions with the Eastern churches that he had understood from Mar Georgius’s literature to be alive and well were in fact merely dead letters, particularly in the light of the events that had led to the Council of London. While official relations remained unaffected, there was much private disquiet on the part of both Mar David, who regarded his trust in Mar Georgius as being impaired, and Mar John Emmanuel. Nevertheless, Mar John Emmanuel did see fit to bestow upon Mar Georgius a special medal which was presented to him in a service in Barnet on 10 January 1948. This medal had been first laid upon earth from the Mount of Olives, then aspersed with water from the River Jordan, then anointed with Holy Chrism blessed by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem. Lastly, it was blessed by Mar John Emmanuel in New York.

Abp.Abbinga 18.11.47Herman Philippus Abbinga (1894-1968) (pictured left on 18 November 1947), a Dutchman, had been ordained priest in the Liberal Catholic Church, a body with many Theosophically-oriented members, in 1927. He had spent twenty-seven years in Java and the East Indies, and from 1939-46 was Professor at Tokyo University, Japan. In California on 30 September 1946 he was conditionally reordained priest by Mar David, and was then consecrated bishop in New York on 13 October by Mar John Emmanuel and appointed AEC Missionary Bishop for The Netherlands and The Dutch East Indies as Mar Philippus, also being appointed Vicar-Apostolic of the Catholicate of the West in the Netherlands and East Indies. Mar Philippus then returned to Holland by way of England, and on 28 November 1946 was reconsecrated conditionally by Mar Georgius, who had appointed him First Missionary Bishop for Holland and Indonesia. On 12 November 1947, Mar Georgius enthroned him as Patriarch of Amersfoort and Apostolic Primate of all the Frisians in the Catholicate of the West.

In the Catholicate of the West, Mar Georgius had adopted the idea of twelve apostolikoi, chosen from among his fellow Free Catholic bishops and the men whom he himself had consecrated. He also affiliated the churches associated with the Twelve as autocephalous tropoi of the Catholicate, but relations with these bodies were not to run smoothly. The very wide diversity of the theologies represented was inevitable given their roots, and their autonomous origins meant that they saw their ties with the Catholicate as readily frangible when, as frequently happened, disputes developed. Nor was there any effective strategy to resolve these matters; there was no agreed disciplinary structure within the organization and any measure, however justified, had little or no effect upon those concerned.

On 1 June 1952, concerned to put his work on a firmer footing, Mar Georgius promulgated a dogmatic statement of belief entitled the Glastonbury Confession, intending that the Catholicate of the West would “cease to be a mere union of organisations, but rather a centre of dogmatic union…under a United Hierarchy and subject to its discipline.” It was stated that no free copies of the Glastonbury Confession would be supplied, which measure was presumably intended to compel the clergy to purchase the work which was now held to be binding upon them. By December 1952, it was announced that Mar Georgius was suffering from the effects of over-work, such as to cause prayers to be said for his health.

Having incorporated the Catholicate of the West together with the Western Orthodox University and the International College of Arms and Noblesse under the Indian Societies Act on 5 February 1950, Mar Georgius accordingly moved to surrender the corporation on 29 November 1953 and issued an Encyclical Letter “concerning the Dissolution of the Catholicate of the West”, also citing difficulties that had arisen in his relations with his Exarch-Elect of the Indies, Mar Petros (J.G. Peters). However, in 1976, Mar David, erstwhile Apostolic Primate of the Iberians in the Catholicate of the West, concluded that the purported dissolution had neither been lawful nor effective and that the Catholicate of the West had continued to exist independently of Mar Georgius. Indeed, Mar Georgius himself had characterized his actions as the “voluntary abandonment” of the Catholicate. Meanwhile, Mar Georgius spent a year on retreat, having established a new body, the United Orthodox Catholicate, to make a “clean start”. He continued to serve as a senior bishop of the AEC, and so the connexion of the AEC with his work was perpetuated despite this organizational change.

In as much as the key intention of the Catholicate was that it should become an organization with a lasting and substantial lay following, it did not achieve its aims, although at its zenith in 1946, Newsweek credited it with 140,000 communicant members worldwide. Everything in legal and hierarchical terms had been done to enable it to attract and retain members, and the theological position was likewise extensively thought-out and expounded in numerous publications, including lengthy and detailed answers to critics. Although the liturgy was complex, it was no more so than that of its antecedent the Catholic Apostolic Church. Likewise the appointments within the hierarchy and the titles accorded their holders served a wider purpose for their existence, rather than being empty of meaning as was the case with some of the Free Catholic bodies. There were several notable London churches attached to the movement, including the Cathedral Church of the Good Shepherd in Lower Sloane Street, Chelsea, and the Cathedral Church of St Andrew in Tottenham (although these were not churches of the Catholicate itself, but of bodies affiliated with it), and a number of gifted clergy had been recruited. There were several public events, such as the 1948 Congress of Healing organised by Fr. John Beswarwick, one of the priests of the Catholicate, at the Kingsway Hall in London, when 1,750 people were present and Mar Georgius spoke and gave a blessing. But there was also significant opposition from the Anglicans, which drove away both clergy and laity, and from other Free Catholics and Spiritualists, the latter being accused of attempting to take over the body. Where acceptance and even assistance had been hoped for from other churches, the response was only a sour-faced hostility that has lingered long in the memory. In 1947 Mar Georgius won an apology and damages in libel from the publishers of Crockford’s Clerical Directory, and was also successful in a libel action against a Spiritualist newspaper; this was in addition to the numerous responses issued by him to hostile material in various journals, some by named critics and some anonymous.

Chelsea CathedralThe altar of the former Cathedral Church of the Good Shepherd of the Ancient Catholic Church, Lower Sloane Street, Chelsea; one of the places of worship affiliated to the Catholicate of the West.

The Catholicate was not successful in creating a permanent financial endowment for its continuation, despite frequent appeals for such. Its tendency towards damaging internal dissent also eventually left Mar Georgius isolated and, perhaps in an over-reaction to Anglican attacks on those esoterically-minded clergy associated with the Catholicate, moving towards a stricter and narrower Orthodoxy and the abandonment of his original mission. As a leader, he had demonstrated an ability to relate successfully to each person on their own terms in a wide ecumenism, but he could not ultimately unite them in the service of a common cause, and perhaps unjustly blamed himself for this failure. Nevertheless, the Catholicate was not without its successes. It had created a body that brought ecumenical reunion into reality. It had established a theological position that was cogent, orthodox and consistent without being exclusivist or narrow in its perceptions. It had brought together a number of men of undoubted calling and ability, whose work together resulted in worthwhile ministry, even if they did not remain together for long. The greatest achievement of the Catholicate was thus ultimately as an enabler of the ministries of others. We should also note its synthesis of esoteric authorities, particularly from within Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry, of which Mar Georgius divested himself in toto during 1953-55 in favour of Archbishop Richard, Duc de Palatine (Ronald Powell).

>>Continue to Part 3 – The years of division (1948-86)