Christmas 2017

The Apostolic Episcopal Church wishes all a very happy Christmas.

Posted in Church news, Ecumenical news, Notices

The Apostolic Episcopal Church is featured in the journal “Polish Free Mason”

The current edition of the journal Wolnomularz Polski – The Polish Free Mason – includes an article on the Apostolic Episcopal Church and its relationship to Freemasonry.


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Bestowal of the Sokolnicki Medals at ceremony in Poland

On 24 April a ceremony took place in Poland at which the Juliusz Sokolnicki Memorial Medals were presented by H.E. Dr Norbert Wójtowicz, Grand Prior for Continental Europe of the San Luigi Orders. The Medals, which are awarded in silver and in gold, were instituted by the Apostolic Episcopal Church to commemorate the late Count Juliusz Nowina-Sokolnicki, who was a bishop of the Apostolic Episcopal Church. They are charity medals and for each medal, a donation will be made to support activity centres for children from poor families in Wrocław, Poland.

Dr Wójtowicz presents the Gold Medal to Ryszard Złociński

Recipients of the Sokolnicki Medals in Gold: Stanisław August Chmura, Maciej Myczka and Ryszard Złociński.

Recipients of the Sokolnicki Medals in Silver: Jerzy Mieczysław Korwin Małaczyński, Wacław Nowak, Jolanta Cieśla Zagórska, Jan Stanisław Posiew.

Posted in Church news, Ecumenical news, Notices

Death of the Revd. Richard Pumphrey

The sudden death of the Revd. Richard Pumphrey as a result of injuries sustained in a car accident has deprived the Apostolic Episcopal Church of one of her most effective priests.

Charles Richard Pumphrey was born in 1947 in Evansville, Indiana. Strongly traditionalist in his beliefs, his advocacy of traditional Anglicanism was of a piece with a worldview that he saw as defending a threatened Western civilization. He graduated with an Associate of Arts degree with a major in Bible from Freed Hardeman College in 1967 and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education and History from David Lipscomb College, Tennessee, in 1969, also studying for a year at Memphis Theological Seminary. In 2003 he received the degree of Master of Theology in Pastoral Counseling from Campbellsville University, Kentucky.

Faced with the modernist changes in the Anglican Communion that became particularly visible towards the end of the twentieth-century, he initially joined the Orthodox Anglican Church. This church was founded as the Episcopal Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of America by Episcopalians in 1963, and was not originally a “continuing Anglican” body, but in 1999 a decision was taken that it would orientate itself to a greater extent with the Continuum, with its name changing to the Orthodox Anglican Church in 2005. He was ordained deacon in 2001 and priest in 2002 by that church’s presiding bishop, the Most Revd. Scott McLaughlin. In 2002, he received the degree of Master of Arts in Biblical Studies from St Andrew’s Theological College and Seminary of the Orthodox Anglican Church, and then served that seminary as a professor between 2002 and 2008. He also undertook pastoral charges as associate priest of Holy Apostles, a Bolivian ministry in Elizabethtown, Kentucky (2004-06), and student chaplain to Ephraim McDowell Memorial Hospital in Danville, Kentucky (2003). He also served as chaplain to his local fire department for several years.

In secular life, he worked in the field of insurance, and was latterly Senior Field Representative for the Pennsylvania Lumbermens Mutual Insurance Company.

In April 2008, faced with declining opportunities for ministry in the OAC, he was received into the Anglican Catholic Church, one of the Continuing Anglican churches that derived from the 1977 Congress of St Louis, and was inducted as celebrant at All Saints, Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee. He was advanced to Rector of that church in May 2010.

Later that year, he became interested in the opportunities for ministry in the Ecclesia Apostolica Divinorum Mysteriorum, a new communion of the Apostolic Episcopal Church that had been formed with a specific mission towards the inner and contemplative traditions. He was received by incardination into EADM from the ACC in December 2010 and subsequently licensed as a priest in the Apostolic Episcopal Church in February 2015. He was further admitted to membership in the First Class of the Order of Antioch and to membership of the Order of Corporate Reunion.

He was married five times, lastly in 2012 to Tricia, who survives him. Their marriage was close and resulted in a loving home life. One interest they shared was the raising of chickens. By his first marriage he had two daughters, Jennifer and Rebecca, and with his fourth wife he adopted Stephanie. He was also a foster parent and between 2002-07 he served as Chairman of the Washington and Marion County, Kentucky, Foster Care Review Board and as a member of the Interested Party Review Board.

Richard Pumphrey was passionate about making a difference to the world around him. He was politically engaged in what he believed was a struggle for the survival of Western civilization and the Christian values that were at its heart. He advocated for the American Freedom Party and, via social media, was a frequent commentator on political and social issues. In all of this, he avoided any suggestion of bigotry or hatred and grounded his commentary in sound religious principle, careful research and a genuine regard for his community. He also displayed a sense of humour that made his writings accessible and invited others to share his world and the deeply-held values that illuminated it. One of the most significant roles that he took on was as a mentor to young people interested in Traditional Anglicanism.

Our thoughts and prayers at this time are with his widow Tricia and his family.

Memory Eternal! Memory Eternal! Memory Eternal!

Posted in Church news, Notices

St Alban’s Church, Buenos Aires, joins the AEC

The Apostolic Episcopal Church has received St Alban’s Church, Buenos Aires, Argentina, into membership. St Alban’s is a Continuing Anglican community meeting at a church in Buenos Aires for worship according to the Book of Common Prayer and Bible study.

The Deacon-in-charge of St Alban’s, the Revd. M.R. Salguero, has been incardinated and the Lay Reader, Mr Edward A. Kesting, has been appointed within the AEC.

Details of worship arrangements and location can be found on the Missions page.


Posted in Church news

New agreement with the Venerabile Confraternita di Maria del Buonconsiglio della Buona Morte e Misericordia, Città di Castello, Italy

The Apostolic Episcopal Church has entered into a Treaty of Full Collaboration, Partnership, Accreditation and Recognition with the Venerabile Confraternita (o Compagnia) detta del Buonconsiglio di Città di Castello and the OR.VEN. – Ordine Venerabile della Venerabile Confraternita di Maria del Buonconsiglio della Buona Morte e Misericordia, Città di Castello, Italy (Order of the Venerable Confraternity (or Company), known as of (Our Lady of) Good Counsel of Good Death and Mercy of Città di Castello). This chivalric and Christian brotherhood can trace its origins to the last years of the first millennium (990-999 A.D.) and in its present form dates to 1230, making it probably the oldest religious brotherhood in continuous existence today. The Order is based at Città di Castello (Province of Perugia) where it has its own Magistral Church, and is governed by a Grand Prior (Grand Master). Dr Kersey has the honour to be a Perpetuum (Grand Cross) of the Order, its highest rank.

>>Further information


Posted in Church news, Ecumenical news

Easter 2017

He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

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Christmas 2016


The Apostolic Episcopal Church wishes everyone a very happy Christmas.

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Launch of the Anglican Association of Colleges and Schools

aacs-armsThe Apostolic Episcopal Church has publicly launched the Anglican Association of Colleges and Schools as a ministry for the wider Anglican community.

The Association’s mission is to assure the maintenance of high standards in Christian education. It is international in scope and is a non-profit body. It serves both those educational institutions established by the Apostolic Episcopal Church and those in the wider Christian community, with an emphasis on those institutions that define themselves as broadly Anglican in ethos, whether or not they are affiliated to the Anglican Communion. The Association does not discriminate based on denominational affiliation, and is also open to institutions that are non-denominational in their approach.

The website of the Association is at

Posted in Church news, Ecumenical news, Notices

Changes at the Association of Independent Evangelical Lutheran Churches

As a result of continued ill-health, Bishop Pedro Bravo-Guzman OCR has announced that he is stepping down in favour of Bishop Manuel A. Acuna of Argentina who will now lead the Association.

The representative in the United States will now be AEC Emeritus Primate Archbishop Francis Spataro.

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Death of Mgr. Roger Fawcett

100_2051galileeThe death has been announced of Mgr. Roger Fawcett, priest of the Old Roman Catholic Church and Dean of St Lucy’s Old Roman Catholic Cathedral in New York.

Mgr. Fawcett, who resided in Greenwich Village, Manhattan, served as a priest for 25 years in a wide range of settings. He served at St. Leonard’s, St. Augustine’s, Ss. Johns and Holy Trinity, St. Columba and St. Lucy’s churches in Brooklyn and Manhattan. He was appointed Dean of St Lucy’s in 2009 and came to know many of the AEC and OCR clergy through their involvement there. An indication of the regard in which he was held was that he was at one point entrusted with the responsibility of a parochial vicariate in the Roman Catholic Church. The photograph above shows him on a visit to the Holy Land.

Before being ordained by the late Archbishop James Hubert Rogers, Primate of the North American Old Roman Catholic Church, at the age of 43, Mgr. Fawcett was a professional actor and appeared all over America in productions in the Musical Theatre as well as Shakespeare, Shaw, Moliere and all the moderns. He supported Bob Goulet, John Raitt, Bernadette Peters, Celeste Holm, William Bendix, Richard Kiley and many other stars. He starred in commercials, appeared in two pre-Broadway productions and a dozen Off-Broadway shows.

As a priest, Mgr. Fawcett taught at St. Francis Seminary (Brooklyn; now defunct), lectured at Hunter College, New York University, Lock Haven State College and Beloit College, and served as Retreat Master for hundreds of retreats all over the east coast and midwest, mostly for people in recovery, for the Matt Talbott organization. He performed hundreds of weddings, again as far as Hawaii.

Mgr. Fawcett lived within close reach of Ground Zero and wrote movingly of his ministry after the attacks of 9/11. He was a friend of Fr. Mychal Judge who lost his life that day. He said “I know my heart will never again be the same. Yet, I also know – don’t ask me how it may be possible because He does indeed work in mysterious ways – that I have several thousand new friends who walk with me and protect me in a way I’ve never known before.”

A Requiem Mass will be held at St Lucy’s Cathedral on 19 November at 1pm.


Posted in Ecumenical news, Notices

Death of Archbishop Cecil Mercurius

The death has been announced of Archbishop Cecil Mercurius, Primate for Outreach of the African Orthodox Church. Archbishop Cecil passed away on 28 October at the age of 83 after a long period of illness. He was a member of the Order of Corporate Reunion and participated in a number of ecumenical services of the Order at St Lucy’s Old Roman Catholic Cathedral and elsewhere.

Archbishop Cecil, known familiarly as Brev, was originally from Guyana and worked there as an adviser to the Prime Minister on co-operatives and latterly on religious affairs. On moving to the United States he established himself in Brooklyn, New York. He had much to do with the Guyanese-American community and visited his homeland on a number of occasions. His funeral took place in New York on 4 November.

In the photograph below he is pictured right with Archpriest Lamed Burrison of the Ethiopian Coptic Orthodox Church of New York (left) and the late Patriarch Yuri I of the American World Patriarchates (centre).



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New intercommunion agreement with the Union Apostolique Gallicane

The Apostolic Episcopal Church has entered into an agreement of intercommunion with the Union Apostolique Gallicane, which is headquartered in France and registered as a non-profit association there. The UAG is a descendant of the French ministry of Archbishop Joseph-René Vilatte and has had links with the Order of Antioch for several years now.


Posted in Church news, Ecumenical news, Notices

Consecration service for the Norfolk chapel

The Vilatte Chapel at King’s Lynn, Norfolk, was consecrated in a service today that included the formal enthronement of Dr Kersey as Presiding Bishop of the Apostolic Episcopal Church and Catholicos of the West. In the photograph below, Dr Kersey is seated on his cathedra wearing the gold bullion stole and pectoral cross of Archbishop Vilatte, and the cope of Archbishop Forest Barber of the Apostolic Episcopal Church.

The Vilatte Chapel is a private chapel located in the grounds of Dr Kersey’s Norfolk home and will serve as the worldwide headquarters for the AEC, the Abbey-Principality of San Luigi and related church bodies.

Prince-Abbot enthronedIMG_0690IMG_0670

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Funeral Mass and Interment for Archbishop Brennan

+PPB funeral mass

+PPB funeral 2

Photo credit: Fr. Marek Bozek

The Funeral Mass was celebrated by Archbishop William Manseau and the Eulogy was given by Bishop Pedro Bravo-Guzman. Archbishops Spataro and Lorentzen represented the Apostolic Episcopal Church. A Memorial Service will follow; details to be announced.

Image | Posted on by

Death of Archbishop Peter Paul Brennan

Archbishop Peter Paul Brennan OCR, OA, passed away on 1 August following a short illness.

+PPBArchbishop Brennan was appointed Universal Primate of the Order of Corporate Reunion in 2004 and led that Order with distinction until his death. The Order is a nineteenth-century foundation that came into being at the behest of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Milan, who saw in its organization a means of overcoming any perceived deficiencies in Anglican orders through a system of conditional ordinations and consecrations designed to impart indisputably valid Catholic and Orthodox lineages. Having not succeeded in obtaining official approbation from the Anglican hierarchy, the Order consequently carried out its mission in a clandestine fashion. It was highly active under Archbishop Arnold Harris Mathew, its Primate between 1911 and 1919, who conditionally re-ordained many Anglican priests of the Anglo-Catholic persuasion, much to the ire of Canterbury. The Order continued the same work in a much lower-key fashion into the succeeding decades; even today there are OCR clergy within the Anglican Communion.

The OCR has been continuously united with the Apostolic Episcopal Church since 1933, when our founder Archbishop Brooks was appointed to the Order. In 1998, the then-Archbishop Persson resigned from the Primacy of the AEC and accepted that of the OCR; his six year pontificate saw the original mission of the OCR replaced by a much wider ecumenical worldview that was in keeping with his tenure as AEC Primate. When he installed Archbishop Brennan as his successor on 11 July 2004, it was doubtless with an awareness that he would continue on similar lines. Under Archbishop Brennan, the OCR took on a particular mission to bring unity and ecumenical understanding among clergy of the smaller churches. It also saw Archbishop Brennan himself pursue friendly relations with many prominent clergy of the Orthodox, Catholic and Anglican churches. By the end of his life, there were few well-known church leaders who had visited the United States and not met him in the course of an ecumenical service or gathering, often learning something of the OCR and its mission on the way.

Archbishop Brennan with Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia

Archbishop Brennan with Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia

Peter Paul Patrick Brennan was born in 1941, and was of Irish ancestry. He pursued his vocation as a Franciscan friar at Graymoor, attending St John’s Atonement Seminary in Montour Falls, New York, until 1959, and then at St Pius X Seminary, Graymoor, Garrison, New York, until 1964, when he began studies at St Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry, transferring the following year to Immaculate Conception Seminary where he completed the third year of studies in 1967.

PPB marriage to Marie Kirby 1968The course of his life seemed set. But God had other plans. While a seminarian, he met his future wife, Marie Kirby, who was then a member of another Roman Catholic community, and they both left their respective communities in order to marry. This inevitably caused a change of focus, and they pursued careers as teachers, with Brennan graduating from Manhattan College in 1974 and spending thirty-five years in the service of the New York public school system. They had three children, and in due course, five grandchildren, before Marie predeceased her husband, a loss which he felt very deeply.

During the 1970s, the call to the priesthood was still strong, and it was in that context that Brennan discovered the Old Roman Catholic Church under Archbishop Richard Marchenna of New York. Unlike the Vatican, the Old Roman Catholic Church had no bar on married priests, and consequently Brennan was ordained priest by Marchenna on 20 May 1972. Two years later, he was incardinated into the African Orthodox Church, a historically Black church that derived its Holy Orders and jurisdictional authority from Archbishop Joseph René Vilatte, and was conditionally reordained priest in that church on 29 June 1974. On 10 June 1978, he was consecrated bishop in the African Orthodox Church by Bishop Richard McFarland assisted by Leonard J. Curreri, and would serve as a bishop of that church until his death. Latterly he was active in the ongoing attempt before the courts to return Holy Cross Church in New York to its proper ownership among the African Orthodox Church hierarchy.

Subsequently Brennan received conditional consecration on a number of occasions for the purposes of additional commissioning, and was entrusted with episcopal office in a number of different churches and prelatures. He was among the very few prelates who was able to work effectively both in highly traditionalist and highly liberal settings. Being by nature prayerful of manner and willing to meet others on their own terms – values that  stemmed from his Franciscan origins – he was at home wherever the people of God were to be found. During his long pontificate he became a leading source of Holy Orders for bishops of the independent sacramental movement running the gamut from ultramontane traditionalists to ultrajectine progressives. He also supported the ordination of women and was friendly with the “Danube Seven”.

PPB at installation of Metropolitan Jonah Dec 08

Archbishop Brennan with Metropolitan Jonah (Paffhausen) at the latter’s installation as Primate of the Orthodox Church of America

From 1984 onwards he had responsibility for the Ecumenical Diocese of the Americas, today known as Good Shepherd Companions, of which he was latterly International President. This was a successful vision of a church without boundaries, catholic in the most expansive sense of that term, and uniting a number of leading progressive clergy.

Archbishop Brennan concelebrates the Mass with Archbishop Milingo in Korea

Archbishop Brennan concelebrates the Mass with Archbishop Milingo in Korea

His most visible position latterly was within the Married Priests Now! Prelature, a cause which attracted wide support from within and outside the Roman Catholic Church. One notable supporter was the Catholic bishop Emmanuel Milingo, who was himself married, and in 2006, Brennan was one of several bishops to be conditionally consecrated by Milingo. The Vatican maintained that this act had no effect on his clerical status, but it was nevertheless happy to extend an Apostolic Blessing from the Pope on the anniversary of his original episcopal consecration.

apostolic blessing on +PPB

In retirement, Brennan took to breeding Irish setters, a pursuit that he much enjoyed. He visited London, UK, regularly and took the opportunity to meet with Dr Kersey and our clergy there. His friendship with Dr Kersey dated from just after the latter’s ordination to the priesthood in 2006. He was frequently an ecumenical guest at St Lucy’s Old Roman Catholic Cathedral, New York, and on occasion presided at the Mass as relief for the clergy there.

On 24 June, Archbishop Brennan entered Mount Sinai Hospital as a result of symptoms later discovered to be a heart attack, together with pneumonia and a lung infection. He specifically requested that no public mention be made of his condition. He was released to the Meadowbrook Care Center and on 1 August was visited by Archbishops Spataro and Lorentzen of the AEC and OCR. Archbishop Lorentzen anointed him and gave him Holy Communion. He passed away shortly after they had left.

The Requiem Mass for Archbishop Brennan will be celebrated at the altars of the Apostolic Episcopal Church.


Posted in Church news, Ecumenical news

Dr Kersey and senior colleagues appointed Pontifical Academicians

Dr Kersey and Dr A. Michael D.G. Walsh, lay member of the Apostolic Episcopal Church, have been appointed Pontifical Academicians, becoming Honorary Academicians of the Pontificia Accademia Tiberina in Rome.

In addition, the Accademia has conferred full accreditation and recognition upon the Western Orthodox University, which is under Dr Kersey in his capacity as Catholicos of the West.

TiberinaThe Accademia Tiberina was founded in 1813 and received official recognition from the Sacred Congregation of Studies under Pope Leo XII in 1825. Already in 1816, the Papal States had granted the Accademia the right in perpetuity to display on its door the coat of arms of the Senate and the Roman people. In 1878 the Accademia was given permanent hospitality in the palazzo of the Cancelleria Apostolica by Pope Leo XIII.

medagliaaccademia-tiberinaThe Accademia counts five popes among its distinguished past membership: Pius VIII, Gregory XVI, Pius IX, Leo XIII, and Pius XII, and numerous Cardinals of the Catholic Church. Among its many other distinguished members are the composers Liszt, Bellini, Rossini and Respighi, the inventor Marconi and the chemist Marie Curie.

The Accademia has also honoured Eastern Catholic prelates, including the Patriarchs of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church and the Syrian Catholic Church. During the 1930s, as a means of improving relations between the Holy See and the Abbey-Principality of San Luigi, the Duc d’Allery de Bourbon, who was a member of the Camerier Secret of the Pope, arranged for Prince Edmond I de San Luigi to be admitted an Academician of the Accademia Tiberina. The present appointment of Dr Kersey, his successor, some eighty years on stands as testament to continued friendly relations with Rome.

Posted in Church news, Ecumenical news, Notices

Book review by Dr Kersey

The Other Catholics: Remaking America’s Largest Religion
by Julie Byrne
Columbia University Press, New York, 2016. ISBN 9780231166768

Byrne - Other CatholicsThis book, despite the comprehensive title, is in fact a study of one particular denomination in the firmament of independent Catholicism, the Church of Antioch founded by Patriarch Herman Adrian Spruit. Those who want an honest, affectionate and illuminating account of that church, whose liberal embrace has given birth to a host of esoteric and modernist daughter churches up and down the United States, will find it here. Regarding its theology, which diverges substantially from our own while nevertheless maintaining certain important points of contact, it can certainly be said that it has always embraced the widest of viewpoints; regarding the mainstay of the book, Archbishop Richard Gundrey, formerly head of the Church of Antioch, we can only say that in our contact with him some years ago he was courtesy itself and gave every assistance in understanding what his church stood for and how it saw its mission.

This, then, is a book that is generally about interesting, good people whose interpretation of Christ’s mission, though it may not meet our definition of orthodoxy, nevertheless should give all of us pause to reexamine our own convictions and understand that where others see a different path to their experience of God, there can be much to gain from appreciating their perspective even when we do not share it. It is the story of a church that ultimately, at the end of this book, suffers a deeply damaging and, it seems at the time of writing, enduring split when a presiding bishop is elected who is out of sympathy with the prevailing currents of the church as it has been constituted in the past, resulting in the majority of the clergy leaving the church.

Here we recall the lesson expressed simply by Mar Georgius, who like myself had learned it from experience: without dogmatic agreement there can be no meaningful unity. There can be a temporary form of unity around a charismatic leader, but that unity will not outlast the leader in question. The only unity that counts; the only unity that will endure, is a steadfast witness to the Christian Faith. It is precisely because the Church of Antioch conceived its theology so widely that there was no unity of vision to call upon when personal conflicts and divergent views divided the community, and without that vision, its people suffered greatly, even if they did not entirely perish. Liberalism cannot be conceived purely as open-mindedness, for open minds can all too easily become empty heads. It must be a precisely articulated statement of positive values to which individuals can subscribe, and of signal importance is that such a vision must be sufficiently distinctive so that its followers do not simply find that there is little to choose between their communion and another.

Dr Byrne, who is Mgr. Thomas J. Hartman Chair in Catholic Studies at Hofstra University, a Roman Catholic institution, has worked assiduously to create a work worthy of its subjects. Her writing is intelligent and clear, and it is to her credit that it not merely stands scrutiny as an academic text, referenced with comprehensive footnotes, but is very readable for the generalist who wishes to approach the subject from the perspective of the interested layperson without necessarily engaging with the labyrinthine intricacies of the independent movement.

The problematic aspects of this book are not in its discussion of the contemporary Church of Antioch but in its chapters on historical matters that deal with the smaller independent churches. Here, it is impossible not to become acutely aware of the problems facing the modern scholar on such matters. The source material that is widely available gives an incomplete and far from impartial record of events. Indeed, its very preservation and destruction reflects agendas of support and suppression that in turn originate in personal and denominational rivalries generations deep. It is only by immersing oneself in a world of handwritten documentation and private publications so ephemeral that their rarity is now legion that one can gain any true picture. It may be reflected that this is an academic area where veracity and value are not to be judged simply by the ability of an author to attract a mainstream publisher and issue books for profit. The world of closed private archives and elusive long out-of-print pamphlets is certainly not for everyone, and it can at times seem as if its entry criteria (not limited to extreme persistence and deep pockets) are far removed from the lofty aims of dispassionate historical scholarship. But this is the nature of the beast, and those who would seriously engage with this subject must come to terms with it accordingly. To do otherwise is to cut the individuals concerned out of their own story.

Some scholars in this field have endeavoured to bring at least some of this material to a wider public so that it can aid in the search for truth; this is why, for example, several comprehensive examinations of the life of Archbishop Vilatte (by Archbishop Philippe de Coster and myself) have been released in open source full text through the internet publisher Scribd.

Moreover, the choice of sources in itself speaks of a selectivity of outlook that can result in bias, however unintentional. If the desire is to speak of the Church of Antioch, it must be acceptable to choose primarily sources from within that church and of its same liberal persuasion, unless the author wants to perform the dubious academic contortion of “writing against the subject” (which has been offered as a justification for traducing the independent churches before now). If the desire is to speak of Archbishop Vilatte and others of his ilk, it is as well to bear in mind that they were by no means liberal figures in their theology and neither can the same be said for the majority of their proper, jurisdictional successors. If contemporary scholarship seems to serve aspects of the liberal, progressive independent churches well, the same cannot be said of their conservative counterparts, which are justifiably unhappy at being indiscriminatingly lumped together with that which represents the antithesis of what they stand for, not merely in theology but in their concept of the church and of order and hierarchy within it. Indeed, conservative independents have always found few friends among mainstream scholars and, like their counterparts in Anglo-Catholicism, have acquired a marginal identity because of this. From these margins have come such figures as the late Bishop Karl Pruter, whose Old Catholic Sourcebook remains, though out of date and long out of print, the only reasonably reliable survey of the American independent churches and their histories. It is unfortunate that it does not figure greatly in the footnotes of this book.

Vilatte would certainly not have recognized or approved of the theology and approach of the Church of Antioch. That does not necessarily make that theology and approach wrong and Vilatte right, but it does mean that claims to the Vilatte legacy by prelates who in reality represent little of his beliefs and have inherited none of his jurisdictional authority are problematic.

Some of the errors are egregious, because they misrepresent the nature of clergy or organizations to the point where they are made to stand for something they in fact opposed. Page 158 tells us that “By 1955, independent bishop Hugh de Willmott Newman [Mar Georgius] in England was consecrating women as deacons”. The late Mar Georgius, who published a comprehensive work outlining with reference to all the significant theological arguments exactly why women could not be ordained to the major orders, would surely turn in his grave at this sentence. It would also be news to him that one could consecrate anybody to the diaconate rather than simply ordaining them, but the record shows that he certainly did not ordain women to any major order. What he did do was to set several women aside to the ancient office of Deaconess, which is a lay order quite different from the male diaconate. Unfortunately, Byrne here takes the work of Bishop Lewis Keizer “The Wandering Bishops: Apostles of a New Spirituality” on trust in supplying this information.

A far more serious problem is Byrne’s reliance on the now-discredited book of Serge Theriault concerning Vilatte, which contains numerous false statements and even false documents designed to support Theriault’s tendentious claims to jurisdiction and descent. Theriault was excommunicated by this church as a result of his behaviour. He has made much of claiming a lineal descent from Archbishop Vilatte, even though he is not even licitly in Archbishop Vilatte’s apostolic succession, but his denomination is purely and simply a work of modern reconstruction even by the open evidence of its own documents, and has no continuous traceable jurisdiction from the nineteenth-century origins he claims. Rather, Vilatte’s original jurisdiction was decreed in 1946 by Mar Georgius as Catholicos of the West to be inherent in the Ancient Christian Fellowship of the late Mar David (Maxey), and thus it passed into the Apostolic Episcopal Church upon the formal union of that church with the ACF in 1948.

Page 142 repeats the frequent error that “the inheritor of [Richard Duc de] Palatine’s church was Stephan Hoeller.” While Bishop Hoeller was certainly closely associated with Palatine for a time and received his Holy Orders from him, the two came to separate their work definitively some years before Palatine’s death in 1978, at which point Hoeller became independent. At Palatine’s death, his church, and the Sovereign Imperium of the Mysteries of which it was a part, was inherited by the Council of Three comprising, inter alia, the late John Martyn Baxter, who was Palatine’s life partner and closest associate, and the late George Boyer, who would subsequently receive episcopal status in the Apostolic Episcopal Church. It should be noted that an examination of the published and unpublished teachings of Palatine, preserved in our archives, shows them to be significantly different from those promoted by Dr Hoeller’s church.

Pages 112-113 suggest that it was Archbishop Vilatte who “revived…the Order of the Crown of Thorns”. It was the Patriarch of Antioch who was the revived Order’s chartering authority in 1891, though certainly at least partly at Vilatte’s prompting, but the Patriarch had previously received a petition in respect of the Order in 1880, over a decade before Vilatte came to his attention, from the Revd. Gaston Jean Fercken, and it was Fercken whom he appointed the Order’s Grand Master in preference to Vilatte, who only succeeded to that office on Fercken’s resignation a year later. What is particularly unfortunate, and could easily have been corrected by a simple reference to the website of the Order which contains copious historical materials, is Byrne’s assertion that the Order “harboured esoteric theology or incorporated Freemasonry”. This is another Theriault fantasy built upon fictitious documents, notably a Masonic text claimed by Theriault to be from the original prospectus of the Order but in fact completely absent from it (that prospectus has been published online in full by us). The theology of the Order from its foundation to today has always been entirely orthodox, and while freemasons may become members, the Order has never been Masonic in character and has never had any formal connection with any Masonic fraternity. Nor has it ever had any connection with Theriault, who has never been a member of the Order of the Crown of Thorns and simply usurped its name for his own ends by founding a schismatic body in the late 1990s.

The claim that Vilatte “permanently linked independent Catholicism to western esotericism” (p. 111) is also somewhat wide of the mark. By the time he met Vilatte, Joanny Bricaud was far more orthodox in his theology than he was esoteric. That is not to say that he had altogether ceased to engage with esoteric theology, but he certainly earned a rebuke from Vilatte when he sought to introduce anything to him that departed from traditional Catholicism. Vilatte was never an esotericist. He was orthodox throughout his life. His friendship with Bricaud was above all exactly that; a friendship between two men with common interests and in Bricaud’s case, a vital mission for ensuring the continuation of Vilatte’s work. Vilatte did not consecrate Bricaud, and he himself did nothing to encourage his esotericism or that of anyone else.

P. 111 also suggests that “relics of Vilatte occasionally surface for sale on eBay”. Such a statement cannot entirely be contradicted, of course, but it seems on the face of it most unlikely. The Vilatte archive was preserved with enormous care and attention during his final years in France, and at great cost to those doing the preserving. No items were separated from it until very recently when part of that archive came to its current home in the United Kingdom under my charge. The current archivists regard the continued preservation of these artefacts as a sacred trust. In this country, the Vilatte relics are owned by a charitable trust of which I am a trustee, and wherever possible are maintained in active liturgical use. Their terms of ownership do not permit them to be sold, and any person who is offered Vilatte relics for sale would be very well advised to establish beyond reasonable doubt that they are authentic before parting with any money.

We are told on page 122 that “when the African Orthodox Church branched to South Africa, its bishop, Daniel Alexander, communicated with Vilatte, who invited him to join the Order of the Crown of Thorns.” This is not the case. The invitation to Alexander to join the order was extended not by Vilatte, but by his successor as Grand Master of the Order, Prince-Abbot Edmond I de San Luigi (F.J.E. Barwell-Walker) in a letter of 10 March 1938, the original of which is preserved in the archive of the African Orthodox Church at the Pitts Theology Library at Emory University. Vilatte was well into his retirement among the Roman Catholics at the point of Alexander’s consecration in September 1927. We are not aware of any evidence that the two men were ever in contact.

Page 351 note 89 confuses the contemporary denomination called the Mexican National Catholic Church under Archbishop John Parnell with the original MNCC, a body founded by Archbishop Carfora which was in communion with our church and whose last bishop, the late Emile Rodriguez y Fairfield, was personally well-known to a number of our clergy. There is no connection whatsoever between these two bodies, nor is such a connection now claimed on Archbishop Parnell’s website.

Page 359 note 40: possibly pace J. Gordon Melton, Mar Georgius did not “found the Catholicate of the West”. The details of the foundation of the Catholicate are to be found elsewhere on this website. The practice of multiple consecrations meant something very different to Mar Georgius compared to what it meant to Spruit, as witnessed by their respective writings.

Posted in Reflections

Ecumenical luncheon in New York

On Friday, Archbishop Francis C. Spataro, Emeritus Primate of the Apostolic Episcopal Church, joined Archbishop Peter Paul Brennan OCR and other guests at a luncheon hosted by Archbishop Louis Elias Milazzo OCR of the Old Roman Catholic Church at Castro’s Mexican Restaurant on Myrtle Ave, Brooklyn.

The luncheon was to honour visitors from Medellin, Colombia, who were from the Brazilian Hispanic Confraternity of Christian Doctrine founded by the late Archbishop Hector Roa y Gonzalez OCR. In Colombia there are 50 priests  and 5 bishops in this community. Information was exchanged and promises made to contact each other via email.

Posted in Uncategorized

Death of Archbishop Irl A. Gladfelter

St Francis Chapel, Queens

Archbishop Gladfelter (back row, third from left) with Archbishops Brennan, Spataro and Mack and other clergy of the Order of Corporate Reunion.

The death has been announced of Irl A. Gladfelter, founder and first Metropolitan Archbishop of the Anglo-Lutheran Catholic Church until his resignation from that church in 2011, upon which he reconciled with the Roman Catholic Church without seeking to exercise his Holy Orders.

Irl Allen Gladfelter was born in 1944 and graduated with the degree of Doctor of Dental Surgery “with distinction” from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry and was a career officer in the Dental Corps of the United States Army, retiring as a lieutenant colonel after serving more than 20 years on active duty. He graduated (with honors) from the United States Army Command and General Staff College. His military decorations included the Meritorious Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Army Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Army Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal with one bronze service star, the Korea Defense Service Medal, the Army Overseas Service Ribbon, and the Army Service Ribbon. Gladfelter also held a commission as a Kentucky colonel.

Gladfelter received the diaconate and priesthood at the hands of Archbishop Peter Paul Brennan, OCR, and was consecrated bishop on 10 January 2004 at St Peter and Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church, Astoria, New York. Archbishop Brennan was the principal consecrator assisted by the Primate of the Apostolic Episcopal Church, Archbishop Francis C. Spataro, and AEC Archbishop Paget E.J. Mack. This consecration canonically established the standing of the Anglo-Lutheran Catholic Church in the historic Apostolic Succession. Within that church, an Augustinian Order was established in which Gladfelter served. He was an active and enthusiastic member of the Order of Corporate Reunion, writing a useful summary of the nature and position of the Order.

The Anglo-Lutheran Catholic Church had been founded in 1997 as an outgrowth of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and was headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was one of the churches to form the movement of High Church Lutheranism, looking throughout towards unity with Rome and with other traditionally minded Anglo-Catholics. Viewing Lutherans to be in a state of temporary involuntary schism from Rome, the ALCC taught that Lutheranism was a development of the Catholic Church, and was only Protestant inasmuch as its adherents adopted the teachings of Calvin and Zwingli. As such, it accepted the Unaltered Augsburg Confession, the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, and the Small Catechism of Luther insofar as these were not in conflict with Catholic teaching. It did not accept the Formula of Concord. Like the Apostolic Episcopal Church, the ALCC accepted the seven Ecumenical Councils and the Thirty-Nine Articles of Anglicanism, interpreting these according to the writings of Blessed John Henry Newman. It further accepted the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, papal primacy and papal infallibility. After June 2008, ALCC clergy were required to sign a version of the Roman Catholic mandatum, which affirmed that they would not teach anything contrary to the beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church.

On 15 May 2009, the ALCC submitted a formal petition to the Vatican to enter the Roman Catholic Church as a unified body, leaving the form of such entry to be decided in future negotiations. This petition remains with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the time of writing. Subsequent developments in the wake of Anglicanorum coetibus meant that the ALCC was invited to enter into discussions with the American Ordinariate with a view to reception within that body. Having subsequently undergone a change of name, the ALCC is today known as the Augustana Catholic Church.

Although he continued to be listed as Metropolitan Archbishop Emeritus of the ALCC, Gladfelter decided to pursue the path of personal reunion with Rome and retired from his offices in order to reconcile. He did not seek to exercise his Holy Orders in that communion and spent his retirement years among the laity.

Memory Eternal! Memory Eternal! Memory Eternal!

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