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'To the Most Reverend the LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBUKY, Presi
dent of the Commission constituted by the Bishops of the Anglican Communion, to consider the relations between the “ Old Catholics” and others who have separated themselves from the Roman Communion :
London, August 4, 1878. Most Reverend Father in Christ -At length, when, after a long and grievous period of waiting, the prayers of many hearts have been answered, and France is open to the preaching of another Catholicism than that of the Vatican, I have felt it my duty, as a Catholic priest, to come to the aid of so many minds which, in the midst of great dangers and of great sufferings, are struggling against the two contrary currents of superstition and infidelity. I have held several conferences in Paris, which have been attended by large and attentive audiences. The moment seems to me to have arrived for uniting under one and the same banner, and, above all, in one and the same sanctuary, those of my fellow-countrymen who desire to re-unite themselves to the principles of the ancient Catholic Church, so long and so gloriously preserved in the Gallican Church.
Unhappily, evil days have made our Episcopate such that we count in its ranks many adversaries, and we have not one to exercise pastoral superintendence over us. And yet in France more than elsewhere it is of essential importance that the restorative action should come from above-I mean, from the power established by God for the government of His Church. Without this, instead of reform we should have revolution ; and should not heal the evils of ecclesiastical absolutism by introducing those of religious anarchy in their stead. Recent events have only strengthened this conviction, which is with me of long standing; and it is this which causes me to turn towards you, most Reverend Father in Christ—towards you who have been placed, by the providence of God, in the oldest see of an Episcopate which not only embraces in its powerful circle the vast area of the Anglo-Saxon world, but which also dates back in an uninterrupted and unbroken succession to the Apostles.
We have heard with emotion and gratitude the words in which, during their recent conference, the Bishops of the Anglican communion have so generously offered their support in the isolation and spiritual conflict in which we are engaged :-“ We do not demand a rigid uniformity ; we deprecate needless divisions ; but to those who are drawn to us in the endeavour to free themselves from the yoke of error and superstition, we are ready to offer all help, and such privileges as may be acceptable to them, and are consistent with the maintenance of our own principles as enunciated in our formularies.”
"We thank you for these words, and we believe with the Anglican Episcopate, that if each Bishop has received individually the charge of a particular Church, all Christian Bishops have received collectively “in solidum,” as St. Cyprian of Carthage so well expresses it, the care of the Universal Church. Hence it was that in ancient times they never refused to the neighbouring Christian bodies the help which they demanded of them in their time of need. We ask you to
help us to maintain ourselves upon the basis you have yourselves indicated in the document just quoted, as that of the Catholic Union of Churches, viz. :—“One Divine Head ; One Catholic and Apostolic Church, holding the one faith revealed in holy writ, defined in the creeds, and maintained by the Primitive Church ; one and the same Canon of the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as containing all things necessary to salvation.”
* Public conferences, more or less philosophical and polemical, do not suffice for the work we are undertaking. What we need, above all things, is liturgical worship and evangelical preaching. We desire to re-establish, as speedily as possible, the use of the ancient Gallican Liturgies adapted to our present necessities, following the principles which are common to us both, and which are set forth in your "Letter.” The strength of a Church lies not only in the symbol of its faith, but also in its Book of Prayer.
• Above and beyond the material aid which is necessary to us for the worthy celebration of public worship, that which we most earnestly desire is the official recognition of the Catholic work of the priests and laity who are endeavouring to restore, upon a basis at once larger and more ancient than that of the Council of Trent, the Gallican Church, which has been officially suppressed by the Vatican Council. We ask to be recognised by the Anglican communion as forming in France a Christian mission-Catholic and Gallicanplaced provisionally under the government of one or several of its Bishops, until the day when it shall be possible for us to constitute ourselves a complete and autonomous Church.
Count Joseph de Maistre, an Ultramontane in heart and in spirit, has written thus in his considérations sur la France :-“If ever the time should come when Christians should draw towards each other, as everything invites them to do, it seems as if the movement must emanate from the Anglican Church. She may be considered as one of those solvents capable of uniting elements that otherwise would be unable to combine.” Permit me, Most Reverend Father in Christ, to conclude with these memorable words, which express at once a duty and a prophecy.
'In the hope that they maybe realised by you and by us, in England and in France, I now sign myself your very humble and very devoted servant and son in the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Catholic Church,
HYACINTHE LOYSON, Priest.'
"To R. & R. HYACINTHE LOYSON.
'Hedgefield House, Inverness, Sept. 25, 1878. Reverend and dear Sir,-I have been requested and authorised by his Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, and other mem bers of the Committee nominated by the recent Lambeth Conference, to confer with you on the subject of your letter of August 4, addressed to his Grace as President of that Committee. It has seemed good to the members of that Committee, with the view of obviating the inconveniences and possible delay which might arise from the difficulty of bringing together its different members, and as the best mode of providing the aid which you are seeking, to select one of their number to whom they might refer you for guidance and direction. Recalling the traditional alliance and friendly relations which formerly existed between France and Scotland, the selection of a Scottish Bishop as the medium of reviving such friendly relations, and of establishing, if it please God, an alliance between our ancient Churches, on a higher and more enduring basis than even that which now so happily exists between our two countries, may perhaps be as acceptable to you, Reverend Sir, and to those of your countrymen who are associated with you in this religious movement, as it is pleasing to myself.
'I have before me your letter to the Archbishop, and I gather from it that the object which you and those who are acting with you are seeking to accomplish, is, not the formation of some new Protestant sect, but the initiation of the Reform, both in doctrine and discipline, of your own old Church of France, on the same primitive and Catholic principles as those on which the Church of England reformed itself in the sixteenth century ; to re-assert its national independence, and to recover for it those liberties and that freedom which have been crushed out by a foreign and unauthorised usurpation. That to prevent such Reform from degenerating into Ecclesiastical revolution you desire to be directed and governed by an authoritative Episcopal oversight, strong enough to keep out of the movement all un-Catholic and Rationalistic elements; and that, failing to obtain such oversight and guidance from any one of your National Bishops, you turn to the Anglican Episcopate, asking from it the recognition of your Mission in France, and that your priests and laymen may be placed provisionally under one or several of its Bishops, until you may be able to constitute yourselves a complete and autonomous Church.
'In ordinary times, and under ordinary circumstances, the Anglican Episcopate could have returned but one answer to such a request. They would have been constrained to decline acceding to it as being in violation of the Canonical Rule and Order of the Catholic Church, that no Bishop or Priest of any other Church should exercise his functions in the diocese of another Bishop without the consent of the Bishop thereof. But the times are not ordinary times. Never since the agitation of the sixteenth century has there been such a widespread religious and ecclesiastical movement as that which marks the present day. It is not, as then, limited to Europe, but it is felt in all parts of the world. Attendant upon this religious movement there has arisen a wide-spread spirit of scepticism and scientific doubt, which aims at sapping the very foundations of the Church of Christ. At such a moment as this, and under circumstances such as these, the whole body of the Church may fairly turn to the Christian Episcopate for guidance and instruction. For such guidance and direction you, Reverend Sir, and your brethren have turned to the Anglican Episcopate, and have asked their sympathy and aid in the peculiar cir
VOL. VII.- NO. XIV. G G
cumstances and pressing difficulties under which you labour. Nor are you alone in thus looking for aid to the Anglican Episcopate. The fact came before the Lambeth Conference that solemn protests had been raised in many Churches and Christian communities throughout the world against the usurpations of the See of Rome, and against the novel doctrines promulgated by its authority, and that appeals had been made by them also for the intervention of the Anglican Episcopate in difficulties similar to your own. Application from members of Churches thus circumstanced to Bishops not under the same bondage was felt by the Conference to be justifiable, while a consideration of the position of these Christian communities rendered hopeless by the recent decree of the Vatican Council, in any effort to reform themselves unless aided from without, seems to make the line of duty to be pursued by such Bishops towards their struggling brethren only the more clear and definite. For their position is this: The demand which has been made and repeated for centuries by many of the most eminent and faithful adherents of the Church of Rome, for Reform both in 'Head and Members,' has at length been met, though it cannot be silenced, by the claim of an Authority assuming to itself the prerogative of Infallibility, which has decreed that all the definitions of doctrine on faith and morals by the Roman Pontiff are irreformable. This decree, being from its very nature retrospective as well as prospective, has for ever closed the door against every effort for Reform by those Churches or Members of the Roman Communion who, protesting against an authority which invades the attributes of the Lord Jesus Christ, and against the novel and un-Catholic doctrines which have been promulgated by its authority, are seeking to reform themselves on the model of the Primitive Church, and who are refused all aid and sympathy by their own Bishops.
“While prepared, therefore, to sympathise with any movement for Reform which is in harmony with those principles on which the Church of England reformed itself, and to express its readiness to aid those. Churches and Communities which, under such insuperable difficulties, are striving to free themselves from the yoke of error and superstition, the Conference was not unmindful of the Canonical Rule of the Church to which I have already referred, and of the respect, which is due to the legitimate action of Church Order in the different provinces and dioceses in Christendom. The general principle which the Lambeth Conference affirmed, with special reference to the Churches of the Anglican Communion, applies with equal force to the Catholic Church everywhere, viz. :-The legitimate action of National Churches, and the authority of Bishops in their own dioceses. But this principle assumes the rightful liberty and independence of National Churches and their Bishops-a principle which is, however, entirely traversed by the present Constitution of the Church of Rome. The application of those principles of Church Order which are essential for discipline in ordinary times, are, however, subject to modification or suspension when the necessities of the Church demand the application of a principle of yet higher obligation. Hence we find from the teaching and practice of some of
the most eminent Fathers and Bishops of the Primitive Church, that whenever the faith was endangered by heresy or persecution, and heretical Bishops would ordain none but heretical clergy, they did not hesitate to act in virtue of the commission which the Episcopate has received from Christ for the preservation of the faith and government of His Church, and to ordain orthodox men in such dioceses, though contrary to the common rule of the Church. They asked for no dispensation from the Bishop of Rome, or from any other Bishop, but as members of the one Episcopate to which Christ had entrusted the preservation of the Faith, and as Catholic Bishops of the Universal Church, they felt themselves bound, individually, to exercise their Episcopal power in any part of the world where the necessities of the Church required it and the Faith was endangered.
' It was in virtue of this great commission which the Episcopate has received from Christ for the preservation of the Faith and the Government of His Church, and for the protection of those who should suffer for it, that the Bishops of the Anglican Communion, convened at Lambeth, authorised a Committee of their own number to offer such help as they might need to those Churches and Christian communities which, seeking to free themselves from the intolerable yoke of Papal usurpation, and from the compulsory acceptance of novel and un-Catholic doctrines enforced upon them by their own Bishops, were striving to reform themselves on the model of the Primitive Church, and should appeal to them for assistance. As. members of a Church thus circumstanced you and your brethren have availed yourselves of this offer and have appealed to that Committee.
"As I intimated to you at the commencement of this letter, the Committee, in acknowledgment of your appeal, has authorised me to communicate with you, and has referred you to me for guidance and direction, with the view of providing for you the aid which you
need. I am prepared to undertake the work thus far entrusted to me, and by recognising your Mission, based upon the principles enunciated in ... your letter, and tendering to it a provisional oversight, to place you in a position to confer with me officially on the details of the work in which you are engaged. You will readily understand that it would be impossible for us to pledge ourselves to the administration of Episcopal functions in your Mission until we have had the opportunity of becoming acquainted with your proposed revised Ritual-the order and forms to be observed in the celebration of Divine Service and administration of the Sacraments, and other sacred offices of the Church. “We do not demand," to use the language of the Conference, "we do not demand a rigid uniformity;"nor, I would add, would we desire to abridge in the slightest degree the liberty of a National and Catholic Church to frame its own Liturgy and to decree, its own rites and ceremonies. But “lex Orandi, lex Credendi.” And if, in compliance with your request, we are to administer Episcopal functions according to your ritual, we can do so only in the event of that ritual, in its language and ceremonies, containing nothing incon-. sistent with the Word of God, with the principles enunciated in our