Funeral Mass and Interment for Archbishop Brennan

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.

Posted in Ecumenical news, Notices

Death of Archbishop Peter Paul Brennan

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

Archbishop 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.

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.

The 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”.

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.

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.

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

Book review by Dr Kersey

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

This 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

Death of Archbishop Irl A. Gladfelter

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.

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 exercise his Holy Orders in that church and spent his retirement years among the laity.

Memory Eternal! Memory Eternal! Memory Eternal!

Posted in Ecumenical news

Charity medals in memory of Bishop Juliusz Nowina-Sokolnicki


The Primate has authorized the issue of two charity medals in memory of the late Bishop Juliusz Nowina-Sokolnicki. The Most Revd. Juliusz Nowina-Sokolnicki (1920-2009) served as Assistant Bishop of the Apostolic Episcopal Church in Great Britain both as deputy to the late Archbishop-Count George Boyer and as bishop with special responsibilities for the Polish-speaking peoples. He was consecrated for the Apostolic Episcopal Church on 27 May 1983.

Juliusz Nowina-Sokolnicki is best-known in his capacity as the head of one of the two entities that maintained rival claims to be the Polish government-in-exile between 1971 and the fall of communism in 1990. He was Prince Grand Master of the Order of St Stanislas.

The Charity Medals are issued in gold (for outstanding merit) and silver. The silver medal is available for a donation of PLN 120 which includes an individually-named certificate signed by the Primate. For each medal, a donation will be made to support activity centres for children from poor families in Wrocław, Poland.

If you would like to receive the silver charity medal, please write to Dr Norbert Wójtowicz who is co-ordinating the project and can receive your donation. He can be reached at

Below are pictures of the gold and silver medals. The ribbon is based on the colours used for the arms of Bishop Juliusz Nowina-Sokolnicki. The reverse of the medal bears the arms of the Apostolic Episcopal Church.

Sokolnicki medal obverseSokolnicki medal reverse

Posted in Uncategorized

Easter 2016

The Apostolic Episcopal Church wishes all a very happy Easter.


Posted in Uncategorized

Christmas 2015


The Apostolic Episcopal Church wishes all our members, friends and visitors to our website a very Happy and Holy Christmas.

Posted in Uncategorized

Death of Patriarch Yuri I

Patriarch Yuri I (centre) with Archbishop Spataro of the AEC and Archbishop Peter Paul Brennan of the Order of Corporate Reunion at St Lucy’s Cathedral

The death has been announced of Patriarch Yuri I, Apostolic Administrator of All American World Patriarchates and Patriarch of the Byelorussian Orthodox National Church in Exile. He had been suffering from cancer for some years and passed away yesterday aged 82.

The episcopate of Emigidiusz Jerzy Ryzy was intimately connected with that of his late brother, Uladyslau Ryzy-Ryski (1925-78). Uladyslau Ryzy-Ryski was a Byelorussian priest who during the 1960s came into contact with Patriarch Wolodymyr (Walter Myron Propheta) (1912-72) of the American Orthodox Catholic Church. The AOCC, which was incorporated in 1965, was an attempt to build an indigenous American Orthodoxy inspired by the earlier example of Archbishop Aftimios Ofiesh (1880-1966), being non-ethnically and non-nationally established and welcoming all who sought Orthodoxy. Patriarch Wolodymyr based his church upon a steadfast witness to the seven Ecumenical Councils but allowed his bishops a free choice of liturgical and other matters provided these were in accordance with an Orthodox understanding.

On Christmas Day 1965, Metropolitan Peter Zhurawetzky (who was recognized by the Ecumenical Patriarch) then-acting Archbishop of Miensk and all Byelorussia of the Apostolic Synod of “SUBOZHNIA” and Patriarch of the Holy Orthodox Catholic Patriarchate of America elevated to the rank of Archbishop and consecrated Ryzy-Ryski, to be the Apostolic Administrator of the Byelorussian Orthodox Catholic Church of St Apostle Andrew in both the Eastern and Western Rite. Ryzy-Ryski also served as Chancellor to the Holy Orthodox Catholic Patriarchate of America.

In 1967, without leaving Patriarch Wolodymyr’s jurisdiction, Ryzy-Ryski began a new mission, the American World Patriarchates, and became known as Patriarch Uladyslau I. This loosely-structured mission sought to create an international hierarchy of bishops. It was formally separated from the jurisdiction of Patriarch Wolodymyr when, just before his death in 1972, Patriarch Wolodymyr excommunicated Patriarch Uladyslau.

people's university of the americas

The work of Patriarch Uladyslau was organized from the Bronx in New York, where he established a Cathedral of Learning and the People’s University of the Americas. This offered courses in English as a second language and the humanities for immigrants (particularly Spanish-speakers) at affordable fees, and became extremely popular. Meanwhile, the American World Patriarchates expanded with the appointment of patriarchs for Puerto Rico, Colombia, Haiti, Santo Domingo, Brazil, Peru, Argentina, El Salvador, Nigeria, the West Indies, Norway, Sweden, Taiwan and the Ukraine.

Patriarch Yuri, like his brother, had spent his entire adult life in exile. In Poland, where he lived in the city of Ustka, he trained and worked as an engineer for over a decade. He came to the United States in 1976 and began training for ordination the following year. His rapid advancement was in recognition of the responsibilities that his brother’s illness would soon require him to assume.

When Patriarch Uladyslau died on 1 March 1978 he was succeeded by his brother, who had been consecrated on February 19 that same year by Patriarch Uladyslau, Metropolitan Peter Zhurawetsky and other bishops, and who now became Patriarch Yuri I. On 29 May 1978, Metropolitan Zurawetzky elevated Patriarch Yuri to be Apostolic Administrator of the American World Patriarchates while still recognizing him to be a Bishop of his own Byelorussian jurisdiction.

Under Patriarch Yuri the American World Patriarchates continued its growth and mission. By 1997, the AWP could report 19,457 members, 17 congregations, and 54 priests in the United States; one congregation with three priests in Canada, and work affiliated with the AWP taking place in 17 additional countries.

A great wish of Patriarch Uladyslau was that he should re-establish Orthodoxy in his homeland of Byelorussia (Belarus). This was accomplished under Patriarch Yuri during the 1990s and at this point congregational numbers began to increase substantially. His first visit to his homeland since childhood took place in 1993, and thereafter he returned annually. As of 1993, there was one bishop there, six assisting priests in Minsk, Lida, and Siomki Goradok, and a lay membership of thirty-five thousand which was continuing to grow. However, this activity was opposed by the Belarusian regime, which suppressed many of the churches that had opened.

On January 28 2001 Patriarch Yuri was also raised to Archbishop of the Holy Orthodox Church, Archdiocese of the Atlantic, by bishops of the Uniate Western Orthodox Catholic Church, the Apostolic Episcopal Church, the African Orthodox Church, the Order of St Benedict the Moor, the Anglican Independent Communion and the Order of Corporate Reunion in St. John’s Episcopal American Catholic Church, New York City.

Patriarch Yuri continued to reside in New York and ran a Belarus Home Mission there as well as being active in Belarusian civic associations. The AWP entered intercommunion with the AEC and Patriarch Yuri was often an ecumenical guest at St Lucy’s Old Roman Catholic Cathedral where services of the Order of Corporate Reunion have been held over the years. He was held in great respect and affection by all as a source of wise spiritual counsel and sound teaching.

The wake and funeral will be at the memorial home in Ossining, likely on Friday night at 8 pm. The funeral, which will be according to the Western Rite, will be led by bishops who were friends and colleagues of Patriarch Yuri, followed by burial at the family plot on Saturday.

Patriarch Yuri’s son Piotr has been elected bishop to succeed him.

Memory Eternal! Memory Eternal! Memory Eternal!

Posted in Church news, Ecumenical news

Death of Bishop Philip James Thompson

The death of Bishop Philip James Thompson of the African Orthodox Church, Order of Antioch and Order of Corporate Reunion has been announced. Bishop James passed yesterday following a cardiac arrest.

An obituary has been posted at the website of the Abbey-Principality of San Luigi.

Memory Eternal!

A memorial service will take place at St Lucy’s Old Roman Catholic Cathedral, New York (see the Missions page for contact details) on Thursday 5 November. The schedule will be as follows:

9am Viewing
10am Mass of the Resurrection
11am Viewing
11:30am Closing

By kind permission of Archbishop Louis Elias Milazzo of St Lucy’s, Archbishop Peter Paul Brennan OCR OA, Bishop of the African Orthodox Church, will preside at the Mass and will be assisted in concelebration by other bishops and priests of the African Orthodox Church and ecumenical friends. This will be followed by interment at Rose Hill Cemetery in Linden, New Jersey.

Emeritus Primate Dr Spataro will represent the AEC and the Order of Antioch at the ceremonies.

Condolences may be sent to Mrs Stacy Thompson at 4 Lester Drive, Orangeburg, NY 10962.

Posted in Church news, Ecumenical news

Anglican – Oriental Orthodox International Commission Agreed Statement on Christology

The Anglican-Oriental Orthodox International Commission has been working on an Agreed Statement on Christology for many years, and this has led to the publication of an initial statement in 2002 that was revised in 2014. This has now been signed by representatives of the churches concerned following meetings between theologians in Gladstone’s Library at Hawarden, North Wales.

The full text of the statement can be read here.

The Apostolic Episcopal Church takes a close ecumenical interest in such developments. While the AEC, as a Continuing Anglican denomination, is not a member of the Anglican Communion, it nevertheless shares with that communion a common Anglican identity, history, worship and traditions. Likewise, there has in the past been extensive contact between the AEC and several of the Oriental Orthodox churches.

The Statement affirms the understanding of both parties of the hypostatic union. Crucially, it explicitly rejects the heretical position of Monophysitism. In the past, the AEC and its constituent communions have likewise expressed their rejection of Monophysitism, and have ascribed that position to churches of the Oriental Orthodox family. The present Statement allows us to move forward by acknowledging that the Oriental Orthodox churches do not hold that erroneous understanding of Christology today, but instead agree with Anglicans in a Christological understanding that is common to all of Orthodoxy and to Catholicism.

There remain significant differences in faith between the Oriental Orthodox and Anglicans. The Oriental Orthodox hold the non-Chalcedonian position, whereby they do not accept the fourth to seventh Ecumenical Councils as de fide. By contrast, traditional Anglicans including the AEC hold that all seven Ecumenical Councils are de fide and must be accepted as an integral part of the Orthodox Faith.

The AEC continues to be open to dialogue and ecumenical co-operation with the Oriental Orthodox churches, and to pray for the continuing progress of the work of the Anglican-Oriental Orthodox International Commission.

Posted in Uncategorized

Death of the Most Revd. Prince Kermit of Miensk

The death has been announced of the Most Revd. Prince Kermit Poling (Polanie-Patrikios) of Miensk (in ecclesia Mar Titus), titular Bishop of Tayma in the Apostolate of the Holy Wisdom and the Ancient Orthodox Catholic Church, and Ecclesiast of the Byelorussian Patriarchate of St Andrew the First-Called Apostle. He was 74 years of age.

Dr Poling was the only living bishop of the Apostolate of the Holy Wisdom and the Ancient Catholic Church, which derive their succession from the nineteenth-century consecration of Mar Julius of Iona by the Syrian Orthodox Church. The Ancient Orthodox Catholic Church entered into intercommunion with the Apostolic Episcopal Church immediately following its formation in 1943.

Dr Poling was a friend of the Primate and he and Dr Kersey maintained a lively and extensive correspondence during his last years. He was also a friend of the late Archbishop George Boyer of the A.E.C. and a member of the Order of Corporate Reunion.

As the head of the House Polanie-Patrikios and descendant of the Byzantine emperors, as well as heir-elect to the Byelorussian crown, he was much involved with chivalric matters, and served latterly as Royal Patron of the Abbey-Principality of San Luigi, with which he had been involved for forty years and which is also headed today by Dr Kersey.

Upon his passing, Dr Kersey succeeds him in the Ancient Orthodox Catholic Church as canonical head-at-line of that communion, which will be united with the Apostolic Episcopal Church. With the consent of Dr Poling’s family, Dr Kersey was additionally adopted as his heir in his other ecclesiastical and nobiliary offices, and further announcements concerning these will follow in due course.

A full obituary has been published at the website of the Abbey-Principality of San Luigi.

mar titus

Posted in Uncategorized

Easter 2015

The Apostolic Episcopal Church wishes all our members and visitors a very happy Easter.


Posted in Uncategorized

Death of Archbishop Albert Berube

The Apostolic Episcopal Church has been informed that Archbishop Albert J. Berube died this morning following a long illness. He is to be cremated, and a memorial service for him is planned.

Archbishop Berube was Chancellor of the North American Old Roman Catholic Church (Archdiocese of New York). He assisted at St Lucy’s Old Roman Catholic Church in Brooklyn for many years. Together with Archbishop Spataro, Emeritus Primate of the AEC, he was a member of the Brooklyn Council of Churches.

Archbishop Berube was present at many of the ecumenical services involving members of the Apostolic Episcopal Church and Order of Corporate Reunion over the years. He is pictured above in 2008 with Archbishop Peter Paul Brennan of the OCR.

Memory Eternal!

Posted in Ecumenical news

Death of +Leila Boyer

+Leila Boyer with Archbishops Phillip Lewis (Ethiopian Coptic Orthodox Church) and Paget Mack (Apostolic Episcopal Church), London, November 2008

The Apostolic Episcopal Church has been informed of the death from cancer of +Leila Boyer, Presiding Bishop of the Pre-Nicene Ekklesia and Church of the Ascension, and extends its condolences to her family and clergy.

+Leila Boyer, née Christian, was the wife of the late Archbishop-Count George Boyer, OCR (1921-2008), who served as Archbishop of Great Britain and sometime Secretary of Metropolitan Synod of the Apostolic Episcopal Church. Archbishop Boyer was the designated successor of the esotericist Richard, Duc de Palatine (1919-78), who had been installed as Presiding Bishop of the Pre-Nicene Catholic Church (later renamed the Pre-Nicene Ekklesia) and Lord Bishop-Abbot of the Order of St Raphael (in addition to numerous other ecclesiastical, chivalric and academic offices) by Mar Georgius of Glastonbury in 1953. In consecrating the Duc de Palatine, Mar Georgius acted under the authority of the British Exarchate of the Order of Antioch.

Following the death of Archbishop Boyer, Archbishop John Kersey, now Primate of the AEC, was installed in the offices he had held within the AEC and the Order of Corporate Reunion, while +Leila Boyer succeeded her late husband as Presiding Bishop of the Pre-Nicene Ekklesia and as a member of the Council of Three established by the Duc de Palatine. As an esoteric jurisdiction, the Pre-Nicene Ekklesia accepted the ordination of women to the major orders, and accordingly +Leila had been consecrated bishop by her husband in 1990.

+Leila was a welcome guest at Archbishop Kersey’s installation service and at several subsequent ecumenical services in London. In her later years she completed a biography of Richard, Duc de Palatine, and edited his works for publication. She was generous in sharing a number of archival, documentary and liturgical resources concerning the Duc de Palatine with Archbishop Kersey, and helped make the Duc de Palatine’s work better known among those who had a capacity to benefit from it.

Her concern for others was notable, and although deliberately self-effacing and unconcerned with personal status, the effect of her spiritual presence was striking. After her husband’s death she was increasingly concerned with working outside formal church structures, and emphasised the unified nature of her mission across all boundaries of denomination or creed. May she rest in peace and rise in glory!

Posted in Church news, Ecumenical news

Missions of the AEC in Scandinavia and Continental Europe (including Hungary)

From 6 February 2015 the following changes have been in effect:

Scandinavia and Continental Europe (including Hungary)
There are no authorized AEC missions in these areas at the present time. All future activity will be under the direct authority of the Primate for the time being.

Dr Bertil Persson
Dr Persson served as Primate of the AEC between 1986 and his retirement in 1998 on health grounds. Between 1998 and 6 February 2015, Dr Persson was designated Emeritus Primate and held the titles of Archbishop of Scandinavia and of Continental Europe.

On 31 December 2014, Dr Persson submitted a request to the Primate that he should retire from all clergy duties in the AEC, and this request was duly accepted. A copy of the document issued by Dr Persson is given below.

Bertil resignation from the AEC

As of 6 February 2015, Dr Persson has not been a member of the AEC and has no authority to represent the AEC in any capacity. Any ordination, consecration or clergy appointment undertaken by him after this date will not be recognized within the AEC.

Dr Bertil Persson är inte medlem i den Apostoliska Episkopala Kyrkan efter den 5 februari 2015. Han har inte tillstånd att vidta några åtgärder på uppdrag av den Apostoliska Episkopala Kyrkan. Eventuella åtgärder som han kan ta (samordning, invigningen av biskopar, etc) kommer inte att erkännas av den Apostoliska Episkopala Kyrkan. Den Apostoliska Episkopala Kyrkan har några godkända uppdrag eller präster i Sverige eller Kontinentaleuropa.

Although the AEC appointed a titular bishop for Scandinavia and Continental Europe until February 2015, in practice there has been no authorized ministerial activity in these areas for some years, with the exception of Hungary (see below).

Excommunication of Bertil Persson

The actions of Dr Persson during the period before and after 6 February 2015 have caused Metropolitan Synod of the Apostolic Episcopal Church to formally excommunicate him. The reasons for this are as follows:

  1. His repeated disrespectful comments towards the Primate and Emeritus Primate of the Apostolic Episcopal Church, and latterly the promotion of schism against them.
  2. His open and public endorsement of the Church of Scientology, a sect whose beliefs are completely incompatible with the Orthodox Faith professed by the Apostolic Episcopal Church.
  3. His open and public endorsement and holding of office in the Universal Peace Federation, an organization affiliated to the Unification Church (“Moonies”) of the Revd. Sun Myung Moon, a sect which again is considered completely incompatible with the Orthodox Faith as professed by the Apostolic Episcopal Church.

As evidence for the second point, let us cite the following reference from a journal of the Church of Scientology, one among many such references. The reference pertains to the erection of the “European Church of Scientology” in Malmö, Sweden: “Dr. Bertil Persson, Professor of Religion and Scandinavia’s Permanent Representative at the UNESCO University for Peace: “With the opening of this Church, we are really at a turning point. The future activities based on Scientology are, in fact, predestined for great success for humanity.” This statement and the beliefs and practices of the Church of Scientology are anathema to our Church and to the Orthodox Faith.

As evidence for the third point we cite the reference where Dr Persson is described as “National Peace Council Member” for the Universal Peace Federation. Whilst our Church endorses work for global peace, it cannot extend such an endorsement to an organization that has been described as a “Moonie peace group” since the beliefs and practices of the Unification Church (“Moonies”) are anathema to our Church and to the Orthodox Faith.

By resolution of the Metropolitan Synod, ordinations and consecrations conducted by Dr Persson between his episcopal consecration for the Apostolic Episcopal Church in 1971 and his resignation as Primate in 1998 will continue to be recognized within our Church. Ordinations and consecrations undertaken by Dr Persson between his resignation as Primate in 1998 and 6 February 2015 at the commission of the Primate of the Apostolic Episcopal Church only will also be recognized. However, any consecration or other episcopal act performed by Dr Persson after 6 February 2015 will not be recognized within our Church, and likewise any “private” ordination or consecration from before that date that was not endorsed by the Primate of the Apostolic Episcopal Church will also not be recognized.

Mission activity was recommenced in Hungary in November 2014. Due to the situation that had developed there by February 2015, it was decided that it was not appropriate that this work should continue to be a part of the AEC. For the purposes of clarification, as of 6 February 2015, the AEC has had no authorized missions in Hungary and no authorized clergy. No Hungarian website has been authorized to use the distinctive emblems or logos of the AEC. Nor have any Hungarian book or pamphlet publications, whether liturgical or discursive, been authorized by the AEC.

Tamas Szeles
The position of Tamas Szeles, who was appointed to the office of AEC Archbishop of Hungary in November 2014, was reviewed in the light of subsequent developments, and it was decided that his Faculties as a clergyman of the AEC should be withdrawn for cause. As of 6 February 2015 he has not been a member of the AEC and has no authority to represent the AEC in any capacity. Any ordination, consecration or clergy appointment undertaken by him after this date will not be recognized within the AEC.

Szelés Tamás nem tagja az Apostoli Egyház Episzkopális után február 6 2015. Ő nem eljárásra felhatalmazott az Apostoli Egyház Episzkopális semmilyen módon. Minden olyan cselekmény történik vele (teszi papok, püspökök stb) készülék nem ismer az Apostoli Egyház Episzkopális. Jelenleg nincs engedélyezett missziókon és weboldalak közé tartozik, és nem engedélyezett könyvek magyar nyelven.

Excommunication of Tamas Szeles

The actions of Dr Szeles during the period before and after 6 February 2015 have caused Metropolitan Synod of the Apostolic Episcopal Church to formally excommunicate him. The reasons for this are as follows:

  1. His promotion of schism against the Primate and Emeritus Primate of the Apostolic Episcopal Church by the establishment of a sect “Magyar Apostoli Epizkopális Egyház” (supported by Dr Bertil Persson) that illegally uses the name and symbols of the Apostolic Episcopal Church.

“Magyar Apostoli Epizkopális Egyház”
This Hungarian body has been formed by Tamas Szeles and Bertil Persson, former bishops of the Apostolic Episcopal Church, following their departure from our communion. Both men are excommunicates and neither possesses any form of jurisdiction or authority from our church. The use of the name and symbols of the Apostolic Episcopal Church on websites or videos by these men is illegal and fraudulent.

Posted in Church news, Notices

Book review by Archbishop Spataro

Turning to Tradition; Converts and the Making of an American Orthodoxy. By D. Oliver Herbel. Oxford University Press, 2013.

Reviewed by Francis C. Spataro

This is the story of recent movements in the United States which greatly expanded the Eastern Orthodox Church in America. Russian explorers to Alaska brought their Ancient Faith to North America. However, the men mentioned in this book ignited a light which still glows today.

The first of these is St. Alexis Toth who was a Catholic priest from Austria-Hungary, sent to the USA to work as a missionary among the many thousands of Uniates who had immigrated to this country to seek a better life. He ended up converting them en masse to the Russian Orthodox Church which had been the religion of their ancestors. It is an amazing study in the inability of the local Roman Catholic hierarchy to adjust to Catholics of a different Rite and History. The majority Irish bishops were trying to keep immigrants from the Irish Potato Famine from being lost to the Catholic Church. So they lost thousands of immigrants from Austria-Hungary instead.

Then we have the turning to Orthodoxy of Black Americans who eventually founded the African Orthodox Church here, in the West Indies and Africa. The first Black man ordained a priest was Fr. Raphael Morgan. Then we have Fr. Moses Berry and the Order of St. Moses the Black. Fr. Berry was first attracted to non-canonical Orthodoxy through the Holy Order of MANS and the Brotherhood of Christ the Saviour. Having personally known Metropolitan Pangratios and Bishop Joseph Langdon, I can comment knowingly about this phenomenon. Eventually,both the Order of MANS and the Brotherhood converted to canonical Orthodoxy, joining either the Orthodox Church of America (OCA) or the Antiochian Orthodox Church.

Finally we have the saga of the Evangelical Orthodox Church and Pastor Peter Gillquist. This large group from the Campus Crusades have already documented their journey in Becoming Orthodox: A Journey to the Ancient Christian Faith. Unfortunately the change from Fundamentalist, Evangelical Protestants was too radical an effort. Many “deconverted” after joining the Antiochian Orthodox Church. In some cases ethnic Orthodoxy was not severe enough for these Fundamentalists who wanted to live like the Thebaid Monks of Egypt. Some changed to the OCA while others just went back to being Evangelical Orthodox.

This is a very fascinating book, especially for me who since 1976 through the Vilatte Guild has watched and recorded so many persons in both Independent – Autocephalous and Canonical Orthodoxy. The Bibliography is well done and very complete. I highly recommend this study to all interested in American Orthodoxy.

Posted in Reflections