Primatial Decree of the Metropolitan Synod of the Apostolic Episcopal Church in the matter of The Catholic Apostolic Church (Catholicate of the West)
The Metropolitan Synod of the Apostolic Episcopal Church, having convened a Committee of Inquiry into this matter and having received that Committee’s Report, upon the resolution of the Primate and Presiding Bishop motu proprio decrees as follows:
Of the Old Catholic Orthodox Church and the Antecedence of the Catholicate of the West
- Whereas on 8 October 1941, the Primate and Presiding Bishop of the Apostolic Episcopal Church, Dr Arthur Wolfort Brooks (Mar John Emmanuel, 1889-1948) issued a Certificate of Acceptance in which he accepted the additional Office of Presiding Bishop of the Old Catholic Orthodox Church.
- And whereas the Old Catholic Orthodox Church had come into existence as a result of the promulgation of a new Constitution by Archbishop Bernard Mary Williams of the Old Roman Catholic Church of Great Britain on 12 April 1925, whereby those members of that Church who could not in conscience accept the new Constitution declared that the true Old Catholic Movement was vested in them, and that they should be known as the Old Catholic Orthodox Church, placing themselves under the Most Revd. James McFall, Regionary Old Catholic Bishop for Ireland, but that Bishop McFall had not been able or willing to provide for their continuing oversight.
- And whereas the acceptance of the primacy by Mar John Emmanuel restored the Old Catholic Orthodox Church to canonical standing, it having previously functioned for some years without episcopal oversight.
- And whereas the Old Catholic Orthodox Church and the Apostolic Episcopal Church were in de facto intercommunion by virtue of the personal union of their respective primacies from 8 October 1941 onwards.
- And whereas on 26 October 1941 Mar John Emmanuel appointed Fr. Hugh George de Willmott Newman (1905-79) as Titular Abbot of Saint Albans, Abbot Nullius, in the Order of Corporate Reunion and Superior-General of that Order in the United Kingdom, and that Fr. de Willmott Newman’s authority in that Order was dependent upon Mar John Emmanuel.
- (i) And whereas on 8 October 1943 a Pro-Synod of Clergy and Laity of the Old Catholic Orthodox Church under Dr Brooks as Presiding Bishop elected Fr. de Willmott Newman to the Sacred Order of the Episcopate under the title of Archbishop and Metropolitan of Glastonbury. (ii) And whereas Mar John Emmanuel on 20 November 1943 issued a Mandate for Mar Basilius Abdullah III, Patriarch of Antioch in the Ancient Orthodox Catholic Church, to perform the consecration.
Of the Formation and Nature of the Catholicate of the West
- And whereas on 23 March 1944 by a Deed of Declaration, the agreement of Mar John Emmanuel having previously been obtained, the churches known as the Ancient British Church (Ancient Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church in the British Isles) and the British Orthodox Catholic Church and the Independent Catholic Church united with the Old Catholic Orthodox Church to form the Western Orthodox Catholic Church, which was erected by Mar Basilius Abdullah III into the Catholicate of the West.
- And whereas at a meeting of the Governing Synod of the Western Orthodox Catholic Church on 28 March 1943, Abbot de Willmott Newman was elected Catholicos of the West.
- (i) And whereas on 10 April 1944, Mar Basilius Abdullah III consecrated Abbot de Willmott Newman to the episcopate and inducted, installed and enthroned him as Mar Georgius, Archbishop and Metropolitan of Glastonbury, and Catholicos of the West. (ii) And whereas on this occasion Mar John Emmanuel retired from office as Presiding Bishop of the Old Catholic Orthodox Church in favour of Mar Georgius.
- And whereas on 29 June 1944 the Catholicate of the West made Mar John Emmanuel “a member with life seat in the Synod and named Titular Archbishop of Ebbsfleet, Kent,” also constituting him as Exarch of the Catholicate in the United States of America. [See, inter alia, Hieratica, October 1947, p.11]
- (i) And whereas the Holy Patriarchal Synod of the Patriarchate of Antioch in the Ancient Orthodox Catholic Church met near Huddersfield between August and September 1944, and at this time agreed to the division of the Patriarchate into three Catholicates: that of the West (comprising Europe and America), under Mar Georgius; that of the East (comprising Asia), under Mar Basilius Abdullah III, and that of the South (comprising Africa) to which no appointment had yet been made. The Catholicates would in turn be divided into Exarchates. (ii) And whereas it was agreed by the Synod that “both the Patriarch and the Catholicoi will not interfere in the internal affairs of their respective subordinate jurisdictions, as it is desired to allow the fullest local autonomy and not to imitate the highly centralized Roman system. This principle of local autonomy is of course one of the outstanding features of Orthodoxy.” [Orthodox Catholic Review, vol. 1 no. 5, Aug-Sept. 1944, p.24]
- And whereas on 22 February 1945 the Apostolic Episcopal Church appointed Mar Georgius as an Episcopal Member of its Synod, constituted a deputy, and empowered him to represent the AEC in the British Isles.
- And whereas the Catholicate of the West at all times upheld the Faith of the Seven Ecumenical Councils, accepted the 1889 Declaration of Utrecht, the 1672 Synod of Jerusalem and the 1549 Council of Trent, and, accepting the Hypostatic Union, rejected Monophysitism [Orthodox Catholic Review, vol. 2 no. 7, Sep.-Nov. 1948, pp.29, 32, Hieratica, vol. 2 no. 2, August 1952, p.12, and vol. 2 no. 4, October 1952, p.28].
- (i) And whereas the Catholicate of the West promoted Western Orthodoxy as a distinct tradition from Eastern Orthodoxy, vide “We are trying to propagate WESTERN and not Eastern Orthodoxy. That is to say, it is the Orthodox Faith and not Eastern customs, language or Liturgy…There can be no doubt whatever that the Orthodox Faith as held by the Undivided Church is the true Faith established by Christ and his Apostles, and this every faithful Christian should freely accept.” [Orthodox Catholic Review, vol. 1 no. 3, June 1944, p.14] (ii) And whereas the mission of the Catholicate was further defined in the statement, “We are trying to help Anglo-Catholics, who are in a church tossed about by every wind of spiritual doctrine, to find an anchorage in Orthodoxy. And we are trying to get those who are without a spiritual home, or who have ceased to attend Church, to re-evalue the Catholic Faith in the light of Orthodoxy.” [Orthodox Catholic Review, vol. 1 no. 6, October 1944, p.30] (iii) And whereas the diversity of the Catholicate did not compromise its unity of vision, vide “It is true that both our membership and Orders contain many constituent elements, but our mission to the religious world is not to turn people into Syrian, Armenian or Chaldean Christians, or into Old Catholics, but to contend for that Apostolic Catholicism which is the very backbone of true Orthodoxy.” [Orthodox Catholic Review, vol. 1 no. 9, May 1945, p.35]
- And whereas the member jurisdictions of the Catholicate of the West were admitted on the basis of “retaining their own autocephaly, hierarchies, and customs.” [Orthodox Catholic Review, vol. 1 no. 11, Sept.-Nov. 1945, p.56]
Of the Development of the Catholicate of the West
- (i) And whereas on 29 January 1945, Mar Jacobus II resigned the office of British Patriarch (which originated in the lineage of Mar Julius of Iona (Ferrette)) in favour of Mar Georgius (vide separate Decree regarding the British Patriarchate), but that it was not until on 11 April 1946 that the British Patriarchate was formally joined to the Catholicate by act of the Holy Governing Synod of the latter body, with retrospective effect from the former date. (ii) And whereas the British Patriarchate had between its foundation in 1874 and 1919 been attached to the See of Caerleon-upon-Usk, but under Mar Georgius his existing Archbishopric and Metropolitanate of Glastonbury and Caertroia was elevated to a Patriarchal See and the British Patriarchate was merged therein. (iii) And whereas Mar Jacobus II resigned the office of Primate of the United Armenian Catholic Church in the British Isles which church also became merged with the Catholicate of the West. (iv) And whereas it was later construed that the Order of Corporate Reunion insofar as that Order was represented in the person of Mar Jacobus II was likewise in personal union with the office and person of the Catholicos of the West [vide A Chapter of Secret History].
- And whereas on 4 February 1945 the name Western Orthodox Catholic Church was relegated to an unofficial sub-title and the new name Catholic Apostolic Church (Catholicate of the West) was adopted for the body under Mar Georgius. [Orthodox Catholic Review, vol. 1 nos. 7&8, Feb. 1945, p.33]
- And whereas on 17 March 1945 the Catholicate of the West entered into intercommunion with the Ancient Christian Fellowship under Dr Wallace de Ortega Maxey, successor of the original jurisdiction of Archbishop Vilatte.
- And whereas on 2 July 1945 the Syro-Chaldean Metropolitical See of India, Ceylon, Mylapore, Socotra and Messina was merged in the Catholicate of the West by Instrument of Mar Hedley (Bartlett), successor of Bishop Ulric Vernon Herford as its Administrator.
- And whereas on 14 July 1945, Mar Georgius by Treaty with Mar Basilius Abdullah III ended the ecclesiastical relationship that had existed between the Catholicate of the West and the Ancient Orthodox Catholic Church [Orthodox Catholic Review, vol. 1 no. 10, June-Aug. 1945, p.41].
- And whereas an Instrument of Ratification of Holy Governing Synod of the Catholicate of the West of 1 August 1945 placed the Catholicate of the West in a position of full autonomy and confirmed the Catholicos in office [Orthodox Catholic Review, vol. 1 no. 10, June-Aug. 1945, p.48].
- And whereas Act 3 of the Holy Governing Synod of 1945 resolved that the Catholicate had come to regard “the work of the Catholic Apostolic Church as a model or pattern of a greater and more extensive work yet to be brought into manifestation among the peoples of the world.” [Mar Georgius, A Personal Statement, Metropolital Press, 1971, p.7]
- (i) And whereas on 6 June 1946 Mar Georgius conferred conditional consecration upon Dr Maxey, appointing him as Mar David I, Patriarch of Malaga, Apostolic Primate of all the Iberians and Supreme Hierarch of the Catholicate of the West in the Americas with plenary jurisdiction, and investing him with the Sacred Pallium and Patriarchal Cross, and that Mar David’s status was recorded through formal registration at the American Embassy in London. (ii) And whereas Mar David at no time executed any oath of canonical obedience to Mar Georgius. (iii) And whereas Mar David had equal jurisdictional standing with Mar Georgius in the Catholicate of the West in that both were Apostolic Primates. (iv) And whereas Mar David was a member of the Holy Governing Synod of the Catholicate of the West, taking his seat at the meeting of 23 June 1946. (v) And whereas it was stated of this development that Mar David’s “patriarchal throne in California would become a centre of unity to which all clergy and laity interested in the development and extension of a truly Oecumenical work, free of all the mistakes, controversies, and heresies of the past, have now the opportunity to rally and engage in active participation.” [Orthodox Catholic Review, vol. 2 no. 1, June 1946, pp.1, 3]
- (i) And whereas the governance of the Apostolic Primacy of all the Iberians was at all times autonomous and independent from that in the Apostolic Primacy of all the Britons under Mar Georgius. (ii) And whereas Mar Georgius’s position as Catholicos of the West was in the Orthodox understanding a primacy of honour, having regard to the aforementioned definition of the Synod of the AOCC that “both the Patriarch and the Catholicoi will not interfere in the internal affairs of their respective subordinate jurisdictions, as it is desired to allow the fullest local autonomy and not to imitate the highly centralized Roman system.” (iii) And whereas the Standing Orders of the Archidiocesan Synod of the Patriarchal Archdiocese of Glastonbury and Caertroia provide a model of governance for the Apostolic Primacies and affirm the autonomy of their Patriarch as “Supreme Ruler of his Diocese as the Legate of our Lord Jesus Christ” [Hieratica, vol. 1 no. 6, September 1948, p.33].
- And whereas on 7 June 1946 Mar Georgius issued a Patriarchal Bull confirming “(1) that the said Old Catholic Church of America (commonly called the Ancient Christian Fellowship) is the only lawfully constituted body in continuance of and in continuity with The Old Catholic Church of America erected by the consecration of the Most Reverend Joseph René Vilatte in 1892; (2) that the said Most Reverend Wallace David de Ortega Maxey by the title and style of His Beatitude Mar David I, Patriarch of Malaga, Apostolic Primate of All the Iberians, and Supreme Hierarch of the Catholicate of the West in the Americas is the only lawful successor of the said Mar Timotheos I (Joseph René Vilatte) in respect of The Old Catholic Church of America founded by him.” [Ancient Christian Fellowship Review, 1 sect. 4, Oct.-Dec. 1946, p.12]
- (i) And whereas on 13 July 1946 Mar David was conditionally consecrated by Mar John Emmanuel and appointed as Provincial of the West in the Apostolic Episcopal Church. (ii) And whereas on 1 February 1947 a Concordat was agreed whereby whichever of Mar David and Mar John Emmanuel should survive the other should succeed to the united Primacies of the Apostolic Episcopal Church and the Ancient Christian Fellowship, and that this Concordat was duly registered with the civil authorities in the State of New York on 15 October 1947. [vide Ancient Christian Fellowship Review, 2 no. 1, Easter Day 1949, pp.2,5]
- And whereas on the death of Mar John Emmanuel on 7 July 1948, Mar David succeeded him as Primate and Presiding Bishop of the Apostolic Episcopal Church and Rector of California in the Order of Corporate Reunion, remaining Patriarch of the Ancient Christian Fellowship, which was re-constituted on Easter Day 1949 as an ecclesiastical chivalric and religious order under the patronage of St John-the-Divine, with membership consisting of ten degrees reflecting the religious and secular aspects of its work. [Ancient Christian Fellowship Review, vol. 2 no. 1, Easter Day 1949, pp.1,6]
- And whereas on the death of Archbishop Bernard Mary Williams on 9 June 1952, he having nominated no successor and decreed that his Pro-Uniate Rite should be closed down and his clergy should submit to Rome, the jurisdiction of Archbishop Arnold Harris Mathew so far as Great Britain was concerned devolved upon Mar Georgius as Old Roman Catholic Head-at-line in Britain, his succession as such being derived from Mar David, and on 12 November 1952 the Holy Governing Synod of the Catholicate of the West formally proclaimed him Archbishop of London in succession to Archbishop Mathew. [Orthodox Catholic Review, vol. 2 no. 11, December 1952, p.40]
Of the Incorporation of the Catholicate of the West
- And whereas from its foundation on 23 March 1944 onwards the Catholicate of the West existed as a canonically established branch of the Universal Church, and had the legal status of a voluntary unincorporated religious body both in England and (from 6 June 1946 onwards) in the United States of America.
- (i) And whereas on 5 February 1950 the Catholicate of the West was chartered in India as Registration no. 5/1950 under the Societies Registration Act XXI of 1860 with three Constituent Corporations: The Catholic Apostolic Church (Catholicate of the West); The Western Orthodox University; and The International College of Arms of the Noblesse. (ii) And whereas under this registration the Catholicate was “constituted a Body Corporate, with Perpetual Succession” and the other two Constituent Corporations likewise; that the Catholicos of the West was himself constituted a Corporation Sole “with Perpetual Succession” and accorded “the status of a Sovereign Prince-Religious, with the privilege of extra-territoriality.” (iii) And whereas under this registration the scope of the organization was defined as being worldwide. [Hieratica, vol. 1 no. 10, July 1950, pp.50-52]
- And whereas the Members of the incorporated body were defined as being of two categories, personal and collective, and that in the first category, item (a) was defined as “Clerical Members: being Bishops, Priests, Deacons, Subdeacons and other Ministers, including Deaconesses, of The Catholic Apostolic Church (Catholicate of the West).”
- And whereas it was stated of the incorporation that its effect was that it “places our branch of Christ’s Holy Church in a position more favourable than that of any other religious body outside the Church of Rome. Whilst retaining complete freedom in spiritual matters…we are now a State recognized Church, possessing important powers and authority in the sphere of temporalities. No longer can it be said that we are ‘unrecognized’ or ‘unconstituted’. No longer can the right of our Catholicos to confer academic degrees, noblesse titles, knighthoods and other honours be disputed…for our discipline can now be enforced by pecuniary penalties recoverable in the civil courts.” [Hieratica, vol. 1 no. 10, July 1950, p.49]
- And whereas the nature and procedures of membership in the incorporated Catholicate of the West were clarified in an exchange of correspondence between Mar Georgius and Fr. William Martin Andrew of the Orthodox Catholic Church of Great Britain in November 1950, in which Mar Georgius made it clear that the clergy and laity of the OCCGB were members of the Catholicate as a result of the intercommunion of that church and the Catholicate entered into on 25 August 1945, “which being a spiritual act was not affected by the fact of incorporation,” and that it was not necessary for them to make separate application for such membership nor to pay a subscription, and that the same by extension applied to those other clergy and communities who were members of the Catholicate prior to 5 February 1950.
- (i) And whereas on 7 April 1951 Mar David relinquished the Patriarchate of Malaga and related offices in the Catholicate and that the Holy Governing Synod elected his nominee Mar Paulos (Lowell Paul Wadle, 1900-65) in his stead. (ii) And whereas Mar David retained the personal rank of Archbishop in the Catholicate of the West thereafter. (iii) And whereas these changes were reported in Hieratica, vol. 1 no. 13, July 1951, p.74. (iv) And whereas notwithstanding his acceptance of positions of employment in the Universalist Church and in secular occupations during the following years, Mar David retained intact his office of Archbishop ad personam in the Catholicate of the West, his office as Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Apostolic Episcopal Church, and his office as Patriarch of the Ancient Christian Fellowship, and at no point resigned or relinquished the same.
Of the Purported Dissolution of the Catholicate of the West
- (i) And whereas on 29 November 1953 the Holy Governing Synod purported to dissolve the United Hierarchy of the Catholicate of the West, its clergy being released nolens volens; to abandon the Indian incorporation, which was to be struck off; and to “change the name of this Rite to The Catholic Apostolic Church (United Orthodox Catholicate)”. (ii) And whereas the Synod purported to transfer “all the powers and prerogatives of the Prince-Catholicos” under the Indian incorporation to the new body. (iii) And whereas the new body was confined (item 5) to Britain and continental Europe only, and initially made no claim of authority over Iberia or the Americas, and consisted of Mar Georgius and those clergy and laity whom he had selected for the purpose [Orthodox Catholic Review, vol. 2 no. 12a, January 1954, p.44]. (iv) And whereas it was published that the Indian incorporation had been struck off by August 1954. [Hieratika, vol. 4 no. 1, August 1954, p.1]
- And whereas Mar Georgius said of these events, “It falls to the lot of very few religious leaders to have to publicly announce the voluntary abandonment of the body over which they preside of a large and widely-spread organisation, built up at the cost of much labour and expense, in order to tread the humbler path of a small and, humanly speaking, insignificant Rite.” [Glastonbury Bulletin, no. 53, May 1979, p.65]
- And whereas the action of corporate dissolution under the Societies Registration Act 1860 in India required (article 13) the determination in favour of dissolution of not less than three-fifths of the members of the society, their votes to be delivered in person or by proxy at a general meeting convened for the purpose.
- (i) And whereas both Mar Paulos and Mar David, as well as numerous others, were Members of the Society as defined in item 26 above and would have had the right to vote at any general meeting of members at which the dissolution of the Society was proposed, but that no such general meeting or ballot of members took place. (ii) And whereas Mar Paulos, and Mar David before him, had by virtue of his office as an Apostolic Primate been a co-Judge of the Supreme Ecclesiastical Tribunal of the Catholicate of the West; that this Tribunal did not at any time consider any charge against either prelate relating to canon law or ecclesiastical discipline, nor was any due process entered into whereby their membership of the Catholicate might have been lawfully revoked. (iii) And whereas although a pretext was later given that neither prelate had assented to the Glastonbury Confession, such a pretext could not form a lawful basis for the revocation of membership of the Catholicate ex post facto under the terms of the Societies Registration Act 1860 [vide Constitution of India, 26 January 1950, article 20(1), which prohibits ex post facto penalties], nor indeed was it cited as such in the published decisions of Synod on 29 November 1953 [Orthodox Catholic Review, ibid.]
- And whereas in a letter of 30 October 1977 Mar David stated that “the Catholicate in America was never notified” of the proposed or actual dissolution.
- And whereas the said dissolution was therefore unjust and unlawful, and could and should have been challenged at that time by the members of the Catholicate in legal proceedings in India, but that the absence of proper notification of these events together with the other circumstances of the time prevented this from taking place.
- (i) And whereas the definition of the Catholicate and the office of the Prince-Catholicos as having perpetual succession meant consequently that that body and that office would continue irrespective of the exit from the corporation of any member or members. Note Salmond, Jurisprudence, fourth ed., London, Stevens and Haynes, 1913, p. 371, “a legal person does not of necessity lose its life with the destruction or disappearance of its corpus or bodily substance. There is no reason why a corporation should not continue to live, although the last of its members is dead; and a corporation sole is merely dormant, not extinct, during the interval between two successive occupants of the office.”
- (i) And whereas under these circumstances, when the Indian corporation was dissolved in 1954, the Catholicate of the West continued to enjoy legal existence as an unincorporated branch of the Universal Church of worldwide scope (as it had done prior to its incorporation), and that it would continue so to exist for as long as there were living members, since the basis of its existence was “a spiritual act…not affected by the fact of incorporation.” (ii) And whereas the corporation sole of the Catholicos of the West likewise continued in existence after 1954, and was by its 1950 definition extraterritorial. (iii) And whereas the constitutional and organizational basis of the existence of the Catholicate as a religious body continued, in the absence of other arrangements, to be the Deed of Declaration of 23 March 1944, the registration document of 5 February 1950 which functioned by way of a constitution, and such canons and other internal regulations as had been lawfully adopted prior to 29 November 1953.
- And whereas the various ecclesiastical jurisdictions, offices and powers of the former Indian corporation after its dissolution properly devolved upon the Catholicate of the West as an unincorporated religious body, represented by its remaining members who formed its hierarchy in order of their seniority within the organization; that is to say Mar Paulos as the sole remaining Apostolic Primate, Mar David and the other clergy of the Apostolic Primacy of all the Iberians, Mar Petros in India as Exarch-elect, in addition to those other clergy of the Catholicate of the West who did not join in the formation of the United Orthodox Catholicate.
- (i) And whereas the effects of the actions of 29 November 1953 were that Mar Georgius thereby relinquished his various offices and powers within the Catholicate of the West, in an act described in his own words as “voluntary abandonment”, and that those clergy whom he wished to remain attached to his work thereafter thereby also vacated their offices in the Catholicate of the West. (ii) And whereas these persons then formed a new unincorporated religious body in Britain and continental Europe entitled the Catholic Apostolic Church (United Orthodox Catholicate). (iii) And whereas the Catholic Apostolic Church (United Orthodox Catholicate) asserted on 29 November 1953 that it had transferred to itself certain privileges that had previously attached to the Indian incorporation, but that such a transfer could not have been lawfully effected while the original Catholicate of the West as owner of those privileges remained in existence as a religious body (whether incorporated or not), without the prior and formal consent of that body’s membership having been obtained, nor could it have involved the treatment of the ecclesiastical jurisdictions and other rights of the Indian incorporation merely as the personal property of Mar Georgius to be transferred at will by him, since such was contrary to Indian law (Societies Registration Act XXI of 1860, 14) and therefore to the regulations of the incorporation adopted in 1950.
Of the existence of the Catholicate of the West after November 1953
- And whereas the Apostolic Primacy of all the Iberians continued de jure under Mar Paulos until his death on 29 April 1965, and that, by determination of this Committee of Enquiry, he was also de jure Catholicos of the West from 29 November 1953 until his death.
- (i) And whereas the episcopal consecration sub conditione of Mar Petros (Jonas Gnanadiravian Peters) took place at the hands of Mar Columba (Odo Acheson Barry) on 20 September 1953 consequent upon a Mandate issued by Mar Paulos (in his capacity as Primate of the American Catholic Church, an affiliated jurisdiction of the Catholicate of the West) at which point Mar Petros was affirmed as Bishop of Ambur in the Orthodox Catholic Apostolic Church, otherwise known as the Apostolic Church of the Indies and likewise incorporated as the Church of India, Ceylon and Malaya under the Societies Registration Act 1860 (which entity had been in communion with the Catholicate of the West since 14 February 1948, vide Orthodox Catholic Review, 2 no. 7, Sept.-Nov. 1948, p.29.) (ii) And whereas the Catholicate of the West under Mar Paulos endorsed Mar Petros as Supreme Hierarch of the Catholicate of the West in the Indies, following his conditional consecration.
- (i) And whereas on the death of Mar Petros in April 1956, he being the last Indian member of the Catholicate, the Catholicate’s rights in India devolved upon the remaining members of the Catholicate under their hierarch Mar Paulos, de jure Catholicos of the West. (ii) And whereas Mar Petros had not consecrated any bishop nor nominated a successor, his jurisdiction of the Orthodox Catholic Apostolic Church, otherwise known as the Apostolic Church of the Indies and the Church of India, Ceylon and Malaya, devolved upon Mar Paulos as his canonical head-at-line.
- (i) And whereas it was determined in 1976 that on the death of Mar Paulos on 29 April 1965 he was succeeded in his offices in the Catholicate of the West de jure by Mar David, Mar David being then the sole remaining lawful Prelate of the Catholicate of the West, and that the said succession was enacted de facto when Mar David came out of retirement in 1976 and resumed his previous offices. (ii) And whereas such succession was independent of the succession of the American Catholic Church, in which arrangements had been made to elect a successor to Mar Paulos from among the surviving bishops of that church following his death.
- And whereas Mar David invested the Most Revd. Robert Ronald Ramm (Mar David II) “in all titles, ranks and Episcopal Offices” held by him, consecrated him sub conditione to the episcopate and conferred upon him the corporate rights of the Ancient Christian Fellowship in a private ceremony before two witnesses on 8 August 1976.
- And whereas the Holy Governing Synod of the Catholicate of the West (Western Orthodox Catholic Church) met at Fresno, California, on 6 August 1977 and resolved that the administration of the Catholicate of the West should be formally united with that of the Apostolic Episcopal Church, such that Mar David II was designated as Patriarchal-Archbishop and Mar David I as Patriarchal-Archbishop Emeritus in the united organisation, and whereas this was duly recorded in an official act filed in the office of the Secretary of State of California on 18 October 1977.
- And whereas on 23 October 1977 Mar David I again conditionally consecrated Mar David II in a public ceremony before three bishops as witnesses, at which point Mar David II was formally installed as Patriarch of Malaga, Apostolic Primate of all the Iberians and Supreme Hierarch of the Catholicate of the West in the Americas, with plenary jurisdiction.
- And whereas by letter on 30 October 1977 Mar David I stated to Mar David II “You as the newly commissioned Patriarch can accept any religious catholic body into communion under the Catholicate”.
- And whereas on the death of Mar David II on 26 December 2000 the Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Apostolic Episcopal Church, Mar Timotheos III (Francis C. Spataro, 1936-), is declared to have succeeded him in all offices relating to the Catholicate of the West under the terms of the resolution of Holy Governing Synod of 6 August 1977.
- Now therefore we declare that the office of Catholicos of the West has continued in formal union with the headship of the Apostolic Episcopal Church from 6 August 1977 to this day.
- And whereas the Western Orthodox University and International College of Arms of the Noblesse continue to be constituent bodies of the Catholicate of the West under the terms of the 1950 constitution.
- The lineage of the office of Catholicos of the West is therefore as follows:
- Mar Basilius Abdullah III (23 March 1944-10 April 1944)
- Mar Georgius (10 April 1944-29 November 1953)
- Mar Paulos (29 November 1953-29 April 1965)
- Mar David I (29 April 1965-8 August 1976)
- Mar David II (8 August 1976-26 December 2000)
- Mar Timotheos III (26 December 2000-5 February 2015)
- Mar Joannes Edmundus (5 February 2015-)
Of the jurisdiction of Mar Georgius after 29 November 1953
- And whereas the jurisdiction of Mar Georgius after 29 November 1953 was in all respects separate, independent from and not in communion with the Catholic Apostolic Church (Catholicate of the West) which he had voluntarily abandoned and whose clergy he repudiated.
- (i) And whereas the acts of the Catholic Apostolic Church (United Orthodox Catholicate) and its successor bodies after 29 November 1953, are regarded as questionable on account of their dubious canonical standing, and are not automatically accepted within the Catholic Apostolic Church (Catholicate of the West). (ii) And whereas the acts of Mar Georgius within the Order of Antioch in respect of Richard, Duc de Palatine, are accepted within the Catholic Apostolic Church (Catholicate of the West).
- And whereas the Catholic Apostolic Church (United Orthodox Catholicate) adopted the name Catholic Apostolic Church (Catholicate of the West) on 10 May 1959, but that it did so in violation of the rights of the authentic Catholicate of the West which continued to exist under the aforementioned circumstances, and in any case that it abandoned the same on 1 January 1968 when it purported to dissolve the Catholicate of the West for a second time.
- And whereas on 30 December 1967 the Catholic Apostolic Church (United Orthodox Catholicate) issued a complete repudiation of the “Free Catholic Movement” and thereby repudiated the basis, origins and aims of the Catholicate of the West.
- And whereas, notwithstanding the previous item, by a Trust Deed of 3 February 1970 the Catholic Apostolic Church (Metropolis of Glastonbury) otherwise known as the Orthodox Church of the British Isles acquired legal form, and that this body asserted that it was the successor (a) of the “Catholic Apostolic Church of the West, otherwise known as the Ancient British Church, lawfully and canonically erected in 1866 upon the authority of Mar Julius, Metropolitan of Homs in Syria, afterwards Mar Ignatius Peter III, Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and of the East” and (b) of the “Old Catholic Orthodox Church, being the faithful remnant of the Old Catholic Church in Great Britain, erected in 1908 upon the authority of Monsignor Gerardus Gul, Old Catholic Archbishop of Utrecht in the Netherlands, and which in 1911 and 1912 had been granted canonical recognition and status as an Orthodox Church by reception into union with the Greek Orthodox Patriarchates of Antioch and Alexandria respectively,” and further that the jurisdiction of the “Ancient Syro-Chaldean Metropolital See of Ceylon, Mylapore, Socotra, and Messina” was stated to be “vested in the Primate.”
- (i) And whereas the said Orthodox Church of the British Isles throughout its existence confessed the Faith of the Seven Ecumenical Councils and accepted the Hypostatic Union as defined by the Fourth Ecumenical Council, the Council of Chalcedon [vide Glastonbury Confession, all editions, Trust Deed of the Orthodox Church of the British Isles, 3 February 1970, p.7]. (ii) And whereas the Glastonbury Confession states of the Seven Ecumenical Councils that they are “inerrant and therefore binding on all Christians” [Glastonbury Confession, Second Edition, 1960, Glastonbury, Tit.VI, chap.3, p.15]. (iii) And whereas the Glastonbury Confession specifically defines Monophysitism as heresy, and “rejects, condemns, repudiates and anathematizes” it. [Glastonbury Confession, Second Edition, 1960, Glastonbury, Tit. VI. chap.7, p.16]
- (i) And whereas the Synod of the said Orthodox Church of the British Isles on 19 March 1994 voted to join the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate, and that on 6 April 1994 a Protocol was signed by the Primates of both jurisdictions. (ii) And whereas on 29 October 1995 the British Orthodox Church within the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate, which was formed following the Protocol of 6 April 1994, issued “A Declaration Concerning the Episcopal Progenitors of the British Orthodox Church” wherein (p.3) it is stated that “The British Orthodox Church confesses the same faith as the Coptic Orthodox Church and rejects all that the Coptic Orthodox Church rejects.”
- (i) And whereas the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate does not accept the Seven Ecumenical Councils, but only the first three. (ii) And whereas notwithstanding scholarly discussion as to what is meant by the term “Monophysitism” and whether that term can be accurately applied to the beliefs of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate, it can be said to accept “Monophysitism” as that term was understood in the Glastonbury Confession. (iii) And whereas therefore by the published definitions of the Orthodox Church of the British Isles, it is a heretical body.
- And whereas nothing in the foregoing item should be taken to imply any disrespect to the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate, its beliefs or its clergy, with whom we have enjoyed and continue to enjoy good ecumenical relations, but merely that it should establish that they have no more right over our patrimony as Western Orthodox faithful than they would accord us over their own church and heritage.
- And whereas as stated by Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) in his seminal work “Orthodoxy”, “The doctrinal definitions of an Ecumenical Council are infallible. Thus in the eyes of the Orthodox Church, the statements of faith put out by the seven councils possess, along with the Bible, an abiding and irrevocable authority…Among the various elements of the Tradition, a unique pre-eminence belongs to the Bible, to the Creed, to the doctrinal definitions of the Ecumenical Councils: these things the Orthodox accept as something absolute and unchanging, something which cannot be cancelled or revised.” [1993 ed., pp.202-06]
- (i) Now therefore we reject unreservedly any claim by clergy of the Coptic Orthodox Church to authority within the Catholic Apostolic Church of the West, otherwise known as the Ancient British Church, and the Old Catholic Orthodox Church, for the foremost reason that membership in those bodies rests upon the Faith of the Seven Ecumenical Councils and that the clergy of the Coptic Orthodox Church do not accept this Faith. (ii) And we reject unreservedly any claim by clergy of the Coptic Orthodox Church to pass any form of judgement on the canonicity, jurisdiction, succession, licitness or validity of any aspect of our communion and reserve our response to any such actual or purported interference with our affairs.
(L+S) ++JOANNES EDMUNDUS
1 August 2015 a.d., no. 15 of 2015
Secretary to the Metropolitan Synod of the Apostolic Episcopal Church