Tuesday, 29 April 2008

So It Is

As pointed out here (100 years ago today) and here it is 100 years since Arnold Harris Ochterlony Mathew (1852-1919) was consecrated bishop (28 May 1908 - my blogging clock is 50 minutes fast) and subsequently came to the United Kingdom to form the Old Catholics here and whose main legacy became, by default, the Liberal Catholics (who broke away from him).

Many in Anglican circles may well have forgotten about this minor figure for Anglican history, but he had a relative importance around Anglo-Catholics and was regarded as something of a nuisance by the hierarchy, leading on to an antagonistic relationship between Anglicanism and a semi offical view of Episcopi Vagantes, as they get called.

It is a viewpoint I would reject, and regard as unwarranted. He was ecumenically minded, but his (never realised) potential was feared, particularly at a time of difficult memories around the rise of the Oxford Movement and an issue keenly felt about the Catholic legitimacy of Anglican orders.

There is more on Arnold Harris Mathew here and also I wrote about him and much more.

Here were some of his stages on the way. Interesting regarding today's Anglican controversy, he was always discovering homosexual activity and running away from it! Also not the pretty lousy encounters with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Randall Davidson.

  • Anglican ordinand, but left
  • Ordained into the Roman Catholic Church on June 24, 1877
  • Troubled by papal infallibility; left when troubled by homosexuality between others
  • Sought ministry in Unitarian Christianity then the Church of England
  • Officiated at Holy Trinity, Sloane Street, London (never formally became Anglican) and left to avoid homosexual scandal in that church
  • Married in 1892 - a lesser excommunication by Rome
  • Mathew signed the Declaration of Utrecht of 1898 rejecting papal infallibility
  • Church of England rejected Mathew's idea for a Church of England bishop to be an Old Catholic coadjutor, as a bridge between Anglicanism and the Roman Catholics
  • So he was elected regionary Old Catholic Bishop for Great Britain and Ireland for Utrecht Union of Old Catholics
  • Consecrated April 28 1908: Church of England objected
  • 29 December 1910 severed his Church's connection with the Utrecht Union
  • 1911 Mathew became Archbishop and Rome gave him the greater excommunication
  • 1911 separated from his wife
  • Became convinced that Anglican orders were invalid
  • Approached the Church of England 1915 to reordain and reconsecrate Bishop of London for Catholic unity that was rejected
  • Anglicans sent objections that thwarted ecumenical moves towards Russian Orthodox
  • Provided re-ordinations (by the end of his life for an estimated four hundred Anglican priests)
  • Communion with the Orthodox Church of the Jerusalem Synod
  • Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, Metropolitan-Archbishop Mesarra of Beirut, Syria, received the Old Catholics into union and full communion
  • Supported married priests, the possibility of ordaining women, liturgy in the venacular, and the acceptance of Theosophy at least until 1916
  • Probably homosexuality issues were involved in break with those linked with Theosophy who later became Liberal Catholics
  • 16 December 1915 wrote to Pope Benedict XV offering him his complete submission, but Rome wanted him effectively as a lay person
  • Rescinded his submission 5 March 1916 and continued leading remnant Old Catholics - renamed as Uniate Western Catholic Church with Bernard Mary Williams
  • 15 April 1916 suggested to Archbishop of Canterbury that the Uniate Western Catholic Church could be an Anglican Uniate Church - rejected but met Davidson with mutual apologies
  • Williams effectively leading renamed Church to Old Roman Catholic Church of Great Britain and Ireland - its original title
  • Mathew could not be fully reconciled with Anglicans - could not officiate and still hostility from Davidson
  • Died December 19 1919 at South Mimms, had been in its choir in bishop's robes, laid to rest by the Church of England


Anonymous said...

Good heavens -- a more tangled journey even than that of Orestes Brownson -- but roughly contemporaneous -- maybe it was the times...

Pluralist (Adrian Worsfold) said...

Brownson was around earlier, surely: your point stands though in that there was something about the turn of the twentieth century that set romanticism and Catholic ritual to come together briefly, the end of the Oxford movement escalator perhaps, and a difficulty of institutions at that time. All else is from this. AHM was a part of this, though also tried to be a standard Catholic, and could not fit in anywhere. From him the romanticism had a liberal turn, as it had already elsewhere.