Project Canterbury

Church Reform in Spain and Portugal

A Short History of the Reformed Episcopal Churches of Spain and Portugal, from 1868 to the Present Time.

By H. E. Noyes.

London, Paris, Melbourne: Cassell and Company, 1897.

Chapter IV. The Lambeth Conference and the Reformed Churches.

IT may be well, before proceeding further with our narrative, to review briefly the steps taken from the first for obtaining the transmission of the episcopate to the Reformed Churches of Spain and Portugal.

The difficulty of obtaining the services of any Bishop of the Anglican Communion for ordinations and confirmations was keenly felt by the Reformers at the very earliest stage of their movement. Accordingly, when the press gave notice of the first Lambeth Conference of Bishops as about to meet in July, 1878, it was resolved that this was a fitting opportunity to make known the need and press the case, and a Memorial was drawn up by the nine congregations, which then formed the combined organisation of the two Churches, in the following terms and duly presented to the Conference:--

"Memorial from Reformed Congregations in Spain and Portugal to the Bishops of the Church of England.

"To the Right Reverend the Archbishops and Bishops of the Church of England.

"We, the undersigned members of the Spanish and Portuguese Reformed Episcopal Church, venture to address your Lordships on a matter of grave importance [57/58] to the well-being of our Church, and, as we believe, to the cause of religious reformation in the Peninsula. Though terming ourselves Episcopal, we are so as yet only in name and principle, and we would therefore earnestly request your Lordships to consecrate a Bishop for us--the first Bishop of an independent Peninsular Church.

"Our reasons for venturing to hope that you will take this request into your favourable consideration are as follows:

"Convinced that an ab intra reformation of the Roman Catholic Church in the Peninsula is impossible, we have formed a separate Church, and are working under a Society--the Spanish and Portuguese Church Missions, which has as its patrons two of the Bishops of your Church.

"Convinced, too, that you sympathise with the work of reformation in the Peninsula, we would urge upon you most earnestly our belief that a church framed as regards both doctrine and discipline upon the model of the Church of England is the best fitted and most likely to meet with wide and permanent success.

"A (so-called) episcopal work having now been in existence both in Spain and Portugal for ten years, there is a great and urgent necessity that we should have a Bishop at our head to ordain our candidates for the ministry, to confirm our children, to assist and direct us in the work of organisation, to unite us more closely together, and to encourage both our workers and our congregations generally by Christian counsel and supervision.

"Some of our candidates for the ministry have been awaiting ordination for years, and have as laymen [58/59] ministered during that time to congregations who have been dependent for the sacraments upon the occasional visits of an episcopally ordained minister.

"We believe that the possession of the episcopate would give us a far better position in our contest with the Roman Catholic Church, and would draw into our ranks many who, while alive to the corruptions of Rome, feel a strong objection to uniting themselves with a Church which is not episcopal.

"We would respectfully call your Lordships' attention to the following declaration of our principles, which, with the exception of some necessary alterations, is the same as that of the Church of Ireland.

"(a) The Spanish and Portuguese Reformed Episcopal Church accepts and unfeignedly believes all the Canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testament as given by inspiration of God, and containing all things necessary to salvation, and desires ever to hold the faith of Christ as professed by the Primitive Church.

"(b) The Spanish and Portuguese Reformed Episcopal Church will continue to minister the doctrine and sacraments and the discipline of Christ, as the Lord hath commanded, and will maintain inviolate the three orders of Bishops, Priests, Deacons, in the sacred ministry.

"(g) This Church as a Protestant Church affirms its constant witness against all these innovations in doctrine and worship whereby the primitive faith has been from time to time defaced and overlaid.

"(d) This Church retains and approves the Book of the Articles of Religion, commonly called the Thirtynine Articles, together with the Book of Common Prayer and administration of the sacraments, and other rites [59/60] and ceremonies of the Church, and the form and manner of making, ordaining and consecrating of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, according to the use of the Church of England, and this Church will continue to use the same, subject to such alterations as may be made therein from time to time by the lawful authority of the Church.

"(e) This Church will maintain communion with the Church of England, and with all other Christian Churches agreeing in the principles of this declaration, and will set forward, so far as in it lieth, quietness and peace and love among all Christian people.

"(h) This Church as regards organisation hopes to constitute itself as far as possible upon the model of the Anglican Churches, differing from them only in such matters as the circumstances of the Peninsula may render advisable.

"We would further urge upon your Lordships that it is important, both for other reasons and to draw closer the bonds of union.between ourselves and the Anglican Communion, that our first Bishop should be a clergyman of the Church of England, and we would suggest the extreme advisability that he should be one who is acquainted with the character of the people of the Peninsula, and able to speak both Spanish and Portuguese. Should your Lordships feel enabled to consecrate a Bishop for us, we would wish to leave the nomination of our first Bishop in the hands of his Grace the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury and the Right Rev. the Lord Bishop of London. Should your Lordships, on the contrary, feel unable to consecrate for us, we venture to beg you in that case to kindly take such steps as may enable us to procure the episcopate from the Church of Ireland, and under these circumstances we should desire [60/61] to leave the nomination of our first Bishop in the hands of the Irish Primate, the Lord Bishop of Armagh.

"Should your Lordships bestow upon us the episcopate, you will do us an act of brotherly kindness for which we shall be for ever grateful, and we believe that you will do very much to bring about unity of action and sentiment in reformation work in the Peninsula, as well as to give a powerful impetus to that work itself.

"Awaiting your reply, which the Director of the Spanish and Portuguese Church Missions, the Rev. L. S. Tugwell, will kindly receive for us, praying that the God of all grace will bless you and enable you to help us in this very important matter, and asking for your Christian sympathy and prayers, we are, with much respect, your Lordships' obedient, humble servants:--"

(Here follow the signatures of native Spanish and Portuguese missionaries and churchwardens of nine congregations.)

This memorial was laid before a Committee of Bishops at the Lambeth Conference (1878) and considered by them. The following resolution was unanimously adopted: "That your Committee, having carefully considered a memorial addressed to the Archbishops and Bishops of the Church of England by four priests and certain other members of the Spanish and Portuguese Reformed Episcopal Church, praying for the consecration of a Bishop, cannot but express their hearty sympathy with the memorialists in the difficulties of their position, and having heard a statement on the subject of the proposed extension of the episcopate to Mexico by the American Church, they venture to suggest that, when a Bishop shall have been consecrated by the American Church for Mexico, he might be [61/62] induced to visit Spain and Portugal and render such assistance at this stage of the movement as may seem to him practicable and advisable."

Acting upon this resolution, the Archbishop of Canterbury (Tait) sent the following communication--

"Now we, Archibald Campbell, by Divine Providence Archbishop of Canterbury, having taken into consideration the foregoing resolutions, and having likewise been informed that the Right Rev. Henry Chauncey Riley, D.D., consecrated to be Bishop of the Valley of Mexico, is ready to visit Spain and Portugal for the purpose of advising and otherwise assisting the members of the aforesaid Spanish and Portuguese Reformed Episcopal Church, do hereby commend the said Right Rev. Henry Chauncey Riley, D.D., to the sympathy and goodwill of the faithful in Christ Jesus. Given at Lambeth under our hand and Archiepiscopal seal, this nineteenth day of December, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and seventy-nine, and in the eleventh year of our translation.

"(Signed) A. C. CANTUAR."

Bishop Riley having received the foregoing letter of commendation, wrote on the 29th of December to the Rev. L. S. Tugwell, stating that he proposed to visit the Peninsula in the spring of the following year. Bishop Riley had also received a letter of encouragement and sympathy from the Most Rev. Lord Plunket, Bishop of Meath.

Accordingly, in February, 1880, we find Bishop Riley in Madrid, where he received a hearty welcome from the congregation attending the ministry of the Rev. Juan B. Cabrera. The Bishop attended a large gathering [62/63] on February 24th, when it was decided definitely to join with the congregations in Seville and Malaga for the purpose of constituting a Spanish Reformed Church. The congregation present accepted without a dissentient voice the general bases of discipline which had been proposed, and named a parish junta for the year, giving to it the faculty of electing a delegate to the General Synod about to be held.

At the beginning of March, the first General Synod of the Spanish Church was held in Seville, and was attended by clergy and delegates from the churches of Madrid, Seville, and Malaga. The Bishop of the Valley of Mexico presided. The general bases of discipline which had been previously accepted by the congregations were received and adopted, the Spanish Episcopal Church was formally constituted, and the Rev. Juan B. Cabrera was unanimously elected as Bishop-elect for the Reformed Church. Until the Bishop-elect should be consecrated, Bishop Riley was asked to exercise his episcopal functions in the church. In this capacity he ordained as Deacon and subsequently as Presbyter, Don J. Dominguez, the Pastor at Malaga. Señor Dominguez had been educated in England for five years, and since his return to Spain, four years previously, had worked in Malaga, and given them full proof of his aptness for the ministry.

The following month a communication was sent from the Synod of the Spanish Church to the Standing Committee of the Lambeth Conference. The following extracts from this document will be of interest:--

"The Spanish Church declares herself to be the faithful guardian and teacher of the Holy Scriptures, the only rule of faith and life, and to maintain and teach the [63/64] faith once delivered to the saints. She preserves and administers the two sacraments of Baptism and the Holy Communion, maintains the orders of Bishops, Presbyters, and Deacons of the Primitive Church, and recognises, as her Governor and Head, the Lord and Redeemer Jesus Christ.

"The Spanish Church has its basis of general discipline. Its first Diocesan Synod and its first General Synod were held in Seville during the month of March this year, when both were attended by the much-valued presence of the Right Rev. H. C. Riley, D.D., to whose wise counsels it is largely and gratefully indebted. The Spanish Church in its national character is now forming a liturgy based on the ancient Mozarabic rite, and necessary steps have been taken that in accord with the Church of Mexico, and with its valuable co-operation, results may be expected which shall fully satisfy the desire of possessing a liturgy which may be used in every country where the Spanish language is spoken, and serve as a bond of union among the Hispanian Churches. [By the term Mozarabic Liturgy is meant the liturgy in general use in the Spanish Church from the time of St. Isidore of Seville, who, about the beginning of the 7th century, arranged it in its present form, until the a 11h century, when it was set aside (except in one or two places) through Romish influence. As to the name Mozarabic, Neale says: "The real derivation is simple enough: Arab, Arabe signifying an Arab by descent (like Hebrew of the Hebrews): Arab, Most Arabs, an Arab by adoption, the latter term having been gradually softened and applied to the liturgy."] We believe in Christian unity. We believe in the Communion of Saints, and are convinced that this fellowship is formed by the bonds of faith, made fast by those of love. In this assurance we apply to you, asking your fellowship, friendship, and sympathies. Pray for us, enlighten us with your mature counsel, and [64/65] strengthen our hands with a little out of the abundance of those good things wherewith the Lord in His loving kindness has blessed you. It is a great privilege to have brethren unto whom we may turn, and surely it is no less a privilege to be able to succour and defend the feeble, and those who are in want. The Spanish Church looks to you for assistance, and asks you to receive her friendship, love, and profound gratitude.

"We venture to indicate some of our pressing necessities. It is indispensable that a theological seminary be established as soon as possible, unless our Church has to be indefinitely confined within its present circumscribed limits. Our anxiety on this point is very great.

"We also desire a church in Madrid. The largest Spanish congregation is unquestionably that of El Redentor, in this city.

"The building in which its services are held is an old ruinous house quite inadequate to meet the demands made upon it, while its annual rent is £160, a sum kindly provided by some good brethren in Holland. The architects advise us to leave the house on account of its dilapidated state, but hitherto no opportunity has occurred for doing so. We are anxious that when a change is made the congregation should have a church purposely built upon a site of historic associations. During the year 1869, when the question of religious liberty was discussed in the Spanish Parliament, by a coincidence, the works for extending the boundaries of Madrid were being carried on at the same time. In these works the line of a street passed through the centre of a site called the 'Quemadero,' where the horrible autos de fé were anciently celebrated. Ashes of the martyrs were discovered, and many had the [65/66] privilege of finding precious relics. To the said street had been given the significant name of Carranza. Upon the Quemadeto, the actual spot of the autos da fé--upon this land bedewed by the blood of martyrs, if it be possible to buy it--we desire to raise a church, suitable buildings for schools, and a theological seminary, and are confident that with your aid this may be speedily accomplished. A good church upon this spot would not only supply a great want felt in Madrid, but would also be a permanent protest against the intolerance and barbarity of Romanism, the triumph of truth over error, and the most appropriate resting-place for the ashes of the victims of the Inquisition. But whether on this spot or elsewhere, the Spanish Church requires a place of worship and seminary which shall form the centre of its work throughout the country Apprising you that we have conferred full powers of representation upon the Right Rev. H. C. Riley, D.D., and the Rev. L. S. Tugwell, from whom full information may be obtained, we conclude, praying to the Lord for your spiritual and temporal welfare, and by offering you the dutiful homage of our Christian love and gratitude. In name and by charge of the General Synod of the Spanish Church.

"(Signed) JUAN B. CABRERA, Bishop-Elect.
"Madrid, April 3rd, 1880."

We have given in another chapter the account of the rise and progress of the Portuguese (or Lusitanian) Reformed Church, and have referred to the fact that representatives from Portugal joined with those of Spain in the original petition to the Lambeth Conference. In [66/67] accordance with the resolution of that Conference, Bishop Riley paid a visit to Portugal and explained to the congregations there how the question stood. After this visit the Lusitanian Church gathered in Synod and addressed a communication to the Standing Committee of the Conference, some extracts from which we will now give, omitting those portions which are common to the Spanish letter quoted above. After expressing gratitude for the warm sympathy manifested by the Conference, and referring to the visit of Dr. Riley in pursuance of the resolution then passed, the Synod said:--

"At the time of the Bishop's visit, our Church was composed of three congregations. Since that time two other congregations have decided to join us, and we are now taking the necessary measures to complete the union, and bring them within our organisation. Our Church therefore consists at present of five congregations, each of which has its school attached. Each congregation has a minister at its head. Of these ministers, four are in priest's orders; the fifth is a layman.

"Believing that a reformation from within the Church of Rome is impossible, we have accordingly separated from her, and formed our present Church, which, instead of being Roman and foreign, is national and Portuguese, and seeks to give to every dweller in this kingdom the pure Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

"As regards our faith, liturgy, and government, we have bound ourselves not to teach any doctrine contrary to the Thirty-nine Articles of faith of the Anglican Communion.

"We omit the thirty-fifth Article as the Homilies [67/68] do not exist in Portuguese. We also omit the local allusions in the other Articles, and the clause which permits capital punishment, inasmuch as this penalty has been abolished in this kingdom. We have always used the Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England, and we have now solemnly adopted it, subject only to such alterations as the supreme authority in our Church may deem fit to make in it, in order to adapt it to the circumstances of this country. And as regards Church government, we desire to retain the episcopal form, because we deem it to be most conformable to the teaching of the sacred Scriptures and the practice of the Primitive Church. In fine, we have thus always sought to maintain Evangelical truth and Apostolical order.

"We accept the Bible as the only rule of faith; we uphold the great Catholic doctrines of the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity, of the divinity and allsufficient atonement of the Saviour, of justification by faith, and sanctification by the blessed Spirit of God. Following the Primitive Church, we admit two sacraments only--Baptism and the Supper of the Lord; and desiring in all things to conform to the primitive model, we have adopted episcopal regimen and a liturgical service.

"Such, then, are but principles; you cannot fail to sympathise with us, and if you sympathise with our principles, we are sure you will also sympathise with our wants. We need your sympathy, your prayers, and your help. Our people are poor, and are face to face with a dominant and hostile Church; they cannot as yet maintain their Church. Like the woman at Bethany, they have done what they could for the Lord, and each year they endeavour to do more; but it is almost certain [68/69] that for a good many years yet to come, this incipient Reformed Church will have to lean in a great measure upon foreign help. We need a training college for our ministers and teachers. We need churches. At present we have not one church building in the capital.

"Our congregations meet in private houses, and we are convinced that as long as we do not possess edifices consecrated to and duly fitted up for the worship of God, it will be difficult to attract the wealthier classes to our services. We desire to thank you very cordially for the kindness which you have shown us in time past, and we pray to God, the Giver of all good and perfect gifts, to bless you abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Lord. We are, with the deepest respect,

"T. GODFREY P. POPE, President of the Synod.
J. J. DA COSTA ALMEIDA, Rio de Mouro.
J. M. CHAVES, Church of Jesus, Lisbon.
JOSE G. BANDOIN, Church of Jesus, Lisbon.
CANDIDO DE SOUZA, Secretary and Minister of St. Paul's, Lisbon.
J. G. D'ARANGO VELLOSO, Minister of St. Paul's, Lisbon

"Lisbon, July 19th, 1880."

For the next eight years, until the meeting of the Conference at Lambeth in 1888, the questions of the consecration of Bishops for these churches was in abeyance. The reports, however, show that the work of evangelisation and organisation went on vigorously, with a steady increase both of congregations and members. The publication of the liturgy and its hearty use in all the congregations formed a new and happy bond [69/70] of union, and a report most gratifying to all concerned was presented to the Lambeth Conference of 1888. Much anxiety was felt by all friends of reform in Spain and Portugal as the time drew near, but all felt that the cause being represented there by his Grace the Archbishop of Dublin--so warm and tried a friend, and one so well acquainted with all the details of the movementeverything possible would be done, so that there might be no further delay. It will be remembered that no report of speeches made in the Conference is made public; only the conclusions arrived at are given. With regard to this special question, the following resolutions were passed nem. con.:

"(1) That with regard to the Reformers in Italy France, Spain, and Portugal, struggling to free themselves from the burden of unlawful terms of communion we trust they may be enabled to adopt such sound forms of doctrine and discipline, and to secure such Catholic organisation, as will permit us to give them a fuller recognition.

"(2) That without desiring to interfere with the rights of Bishops of the Catholic Church to interfere in cases of extreme necessity, we deprecate any action that does not regard primitive and established principles of jurisdiction and the interests of the whole Anglican Communion."

Now arose the question as to the meaning of the resolutions. It seemed quite clear to the friends of the Reformers that the Bishops of the Anglican Communion had re-affirmed their offer of help to those who are endeavouring to free themselves from the yoke of error and superstition, and moreover that they had repudiated the idea that those who for conscience' sake resist the [70/71] novel doctrines of the Roman Church are to be regarded as schismatics.

It was equally manifest that the Bishops had expressed the hope that these Reformers might be enabled to secure such Catholic organisation as would permit them to give on some future occasion a "fuller recognition." By no means did it seem possible to gather that it had been the intention of the Conference to put any bar in the way of the consecration of a Bishop. It was only necessary that any who might be called to act in the matter should satisfy themselves as to the need, and proceed with the caution demanded by the importance of the action, and carefully guarding against the use of any territorial title such as might imply an infringement of the rights of any other Bishop, or that the new Bishop desired to claim jurisdiction over any but those of his own communion. For this all friends of reform were deeply thankful, and hopes were raised high that ere long the reproach of an imperfect organisation might be removed. But the one most competent to speak and explain the mind of the Conference was the Archbishop of Dublin himself, and his statement was anxiously awaited.

It so happened that the annual meeting of the Society was held a few days after the close of the Conference, when the looked-for statement was made. His Grace said: "But there is another lesson to be learned from this Conference and from the Report which it has just issued. Coincidently with this uprising of the Anglican Communion in its new strength [of which he had just spoken] we find among the lapsed Churches of the Roman Communion throughout the world a widespread craving for reform upon the primitive model; and they [71/72] who are thus returning to the old paths seem all to regard the Anglican Communion as the one centre to which to look for sympathy and help in the hour of their perplexity and need. Let us see, then, how this remarkable coincidence affects our own position in connection with the Reformation work in Spain. In the first place it reminds us that this work is not an isolated movement, due to some local, spasmodic, transitory cause, but that it is part of a larger movement--a movement so general and so real that we can trace it to nothing else than the operations of that Spirit by whom the whole body of the Church is governed and sanctified. We cannot but feel, as we contemplate it, somewhat of the awe which the prophet experienced when in vision he saw the shaking amidst the dry bones. We see the fig-tree and all the trees putting forth, as it were, their leaves, and we know that the redemption of these nations is drawing nigh.

"Once more, not only do we behold these Reformers turning toward the Anglican Communion with a cry for help, but in this Report of the Lambeth Conference which I hold in my hand we find a ready response to their appeal. We find the Committee to whom these questions were referred repudiating the notion that those who have been excommunicated from the Roman Church are necessarily to be considered as schismatics from the Catholic Church of Christ. We find them reaffirming the offer of help and sympathy made by the Conference of 1878 to those who were endeavouring to free themselves from the yoke of error and superstition; in other words, we find that by the imprimatur of this Conference the very course which has been adopted by this Society is now described as [72/73] the course that ought to be followed by the Church at large. But there is another feature in the Report of the Conference which has a special interest in our eyes. Many of us have been looking forward with no little anxiety to the possible result of this Conference in relation to the proposed consecration of a Bishop for the Reformed Church of Spain, and there have been fears lest some utterance might be made which would close the door against the accomplishment of this object. Such fears, as we now learn, were groundless. The Conference has not, indeed, recommended that a Bishop should be so consecrated; but this was neither expected nor (as I, who brought the subject before the Conference, can testify) was it asked. And for this simple reason: before definitely recommending such a step, it would have been necessary for the Conference to satisfy itself upon several points into which it was impossible for it, in the time at its disposal, to enter. The Bishops would have had to prosecute inquiries as to the reality and extent of the movement, the soundness of faith of those engaged in it, and the fitness of the person on whose behalf consecration was sought. This was manifestly out of their power. But let us see what the Report of the Conference does say upon the subject. It has expressed its sympathy with the 'brave and earnest men' who are seeking 'to free themselves from the burden of unlawful terms of communion.' It trusts they may be enabled to secure such 'Catholic organisation'--in other words, such an episcopate of their own--as may permit of a fuller recognition of their position. It enjoins caution in the taking of so grave a step, but it admits the rights of Bishops of the Catholic Church to interfere in cases of [73/74] 'extreme necessity,' merely deprecating any action that does not regard 'primitive and established principles of jurisdiction.'

"Such, briefly, is the pronouncement of the Conference. It remains to ask what is meant by this reference to the principles of primitive jurisdiction. One thing it clearly cannot mean. It cannot mean that a Bishop has no right, under any circumstances, to exercise his episcopal office within the diocese (geographically defined) of another Bishop unless with that Bishop's consent. Such a pronouncement would involve a condemnation of the old Catholic Church of Holland, whose Archbishop did this very thing when conse crating Bishop Reinkens, and whose 'dignified and independent' position is in this very Report recognised with thankfulness. Such a prohibition would also condemn the whole body of the American Bishops who recently signed a declaration asserting not only their right but their duty under certain circumstances to adopt such a course; and who, in the case of Mexico and Hayti, have put that assertion into practice.

"It would also condemn the Church of England for authorising a Bishop of Gibraltar to exercise his episcopal office in dioceses under the jurisdiction of Roman Catholic Bishops, whose permission for so doing he is not expected to obtain.

"What, then, do these words mean? Simply this: that in the event of a Bishop being consecrated for one of these Reformed communities, he ought not to claim jurisdiction over any flock save his own, or to assume any territorial title wherefrom such a claim might be inferred. Such a condition was observed in the case of Bishop Reinkens, whose conduct in this respect is [74/75] praised elsewhere in the Report. To follow this example would seem reasonable. But that a Bishop should be precluded from ministering to the needs of those who, having been excommunicated and disowned by the Church of Rome, no longer belong to her flock, is an assertion which would be altogether inconsistent with the spirit of ancient usage, and which, as I have shown, could not have been intended by those who framed the resolution in which these words are found. Let me add that when in our sub-committee it was proposed to insert these words in the Report, I asked for a definite explanation of their meaning, and it was only on receiving an assurance that the interpretation I have put on them was a legitimate one that I consented to their being made a part of our Report.

"The result of the whole matter is that it remains perfectly open to any Bishops of the Anglican Communion to consecrate a Bishop for the Reformed Church of Spain without thereby running counter to the pronouncements of the Lambeth Conference, provided only that they proceed with the caution demanded by the gravity of such a step, and take special care that there shall not be conveyed to the Bishop so consecrated any such territorial title as would imply a claim on his part to jurisdiction over others not belonging to his own flock."

This explanation gave great satisfaction to all who heard it, and through the press to the thousands of Church people in England and Ireland who had been anxiously awaiting it. But, alas! from this time there sprung up an agitation in England with regard to the question which caused a serious delay. The extreme party--more, it is to be feared, in sympathy with Rome [75/76] than with the Reformers--raised objections on various grounds: some on the subject of jurisdiction, and others on some supposed defects in the liturgy; and the war waged hotly in the Church press for many weeks.

Many of the objections arose from lack of full information of the facts, and were completely answered by Lord Plunket and others, who did all that was possible to give explanations and facts, and to remove false impressions. Questions were asked in Convocations, gravamens put forth, and petitions presented on both sides. All this had its effect. Some few wavering in their allegiance to the work were influenced to stay their hand, but old friends were firmer than ever, and many new friends were found who had only become fully acquainted with the work through the agitation about this question of the consecration.

Much anxiety was felt about the meeting of the Irish Bench of Bishops which was to be held in the early part of 1889, and the worst fears were realised when the following resolutions were made public, adopted at a meeting of the Bishops on February 19th of that year.

"(1) That in reply to the memorials presented to us by the Reformed Episcopal Churches of Spain and Portugal, a message be sent to the following effect:--That we, the Archbishops and Bishops of the Church of Ireland, continue to watch with unabated interest the efforts in which the memorialists are engaged, and cordially appreciate their desire for that further episcopal organisation without which their work of Church Reform must remain incomplete. But while willing to aid them so far as we legitimately can in securing the object which they have in view, we cannot shut our eyes to the wide difference of opinion which exists among the [76/77] members of the Anglican Communion generally, and even among ourselves, concerning many questions, some of principle, to which the prayer of the memorialists has given rise; and more particularly as to how far a compliance by the Irish Episcopate with that prayer would be in accord with the resolutions of the Lambeth Conference, to which body this matter was formally submitted at our instance. Nor can we ignore the doubts entertained by some as to whether the consecration by us of a Bishop for a foreign Church, and the use for such a purpose of a service differing from that prescribed in our own ordinal, is within our competence.

"Under these circumstances, we are compelled, in the interests of unity and peace throughout our own Church; and the Anglican Communion at large, to inform the memorialists that we cannot see our way to comply with their prayer. But, while so saying, we would express our hope that they may before long succeed in obtaining the aid for which they seek, from some source where the difficulties which embarrass us do not exist; and sincerely do we trust that they may secure thereby even a larger measure of sympathy and support than, in the event of our compliance, they might have reason to expect.

"(2) The Archbishop of Dublin having intimated to us his intention of shortly visiting Spain and Portugal, we hereby request him to convey to the memorialists the message contained in the foregoing resolution."

It was a great disappointment to all concerned, and one began to fear a very long delay before the accomplishment of our hopes. Especially must it have been a disappointment to the Archbishop of Dublin. But [77/78] instead of angrily resisting the judgment of his brethren, his Grace gave up for the time his cherished desire, while he retained his resolution to help his Spanish brethren, as he felt they so sorely needed. "A man of less even temper, we might say of less spiritual mind, might easily have been led to wash his hands of the matter and to throw upon his opponents . . . the responsibility of letting things in the Peninsula run their course and of seeing the disappointed aspirants to government by Bishops absorbed by Presbyterianism or inorganic Protestantism."

Very soon after this decision Lord Plunket paid his third visit to Spain, to convey the message of the Irish Bishops and to consult with the Reformers as to the next step. Following upon this visit, his Grace paid a visit to Germany, and made formal application to Bishop Reinkens, of the Old Catholic Church, and through him to Bishop Hertzog, of the Old Catholic Church in Switzerland, as to whether they could take part in the proposed consecration: But here unexpected difficulties arose and the negotiation fell through. A, visit was also arranged to America for consultation with the American Church, but this was prevented by the serious illness and death of Lady Plunket.

We pass on now to notice an agitation that arose on account of the action of his Grace in ordaining Mr. Andrew Cassels, of Oporto, to the deaconate, as it forms an important link in our story. Lord Plunket had promised to perform episcopal functions for these Reformed Churches at their request, until they should obtain a Bishop of their own, and in the year 1891 ordained Mr. Andrew Cassels--long tried in the work--to minister to the congregation at Candal, a suburb of [78/79] Oporto. This action of his Grace caused an unwarrantable amount of criticism, and gravamens were introduced into the lower Houses of Convocation, both in the northern and southern provinces, in which an attempt was made to censure the Archbishop. But good arose out of this, for it caused considerable irritation in the Irish Church, which, occupying as it does an independent position, did not consider itself amenable to such animadversions. The natural result was the strengthening of the Archbishop's hands, and the issue of the following declaration from the Irish Bench of Bishops:

"(1) That we express hereby our sympathy with the Reformers in Spain and Portugal, who, under many exceptional difficulties, are struggling to free themselves from the burden of unlawful terms of communion.

"(2) That, regarding their case as having become one of extreme necessity, and recognising the rights of Bishops of the Catholic Church to interpose in such cases, we do not feel called upon to protest against the action contemplated by his Grace the Archbishop of Dublin, who has announced his purpose of holding ordinations on behalf of the Reformers in Spain and Portugal in the course of the ensuing year.

"(3) That we have received with satisfaction his Grace's assurance that, when carrying that purpose into effect, he will confine his ministrations within the limits of those countries, and use during the laying on of hands the words enjoined in the service of our own Church.


[80] This answer to the gravamen was most gratifying, showing that in the opinion of the Irish Bishops at least that gravamen was unwarranted, and that, to their mind, the doctrines of the Reformers did not differ in any essential respect from those of their own Prayer-book. The excitement drew forth a declaration of sympathy from the clergy of the United Kingdom, which was very largely signed. Indeed, petitions and counterpetitions mark the controversy at this period, but the climax was drawing near.

On February 21st, 1894, a meeting of the Bishops and Archbishops of the Irish Church was held at the office of the representative body, Dublin. The Archbishop of Dublin read the following communication to the Most Rev. the Lord Primate, from the Most Rev. the Lord Archbishop of Dublin, the Right Rev. the Lord Bishop of Clogher, and the Right Rev. the Lord Bishop of Down:--

"Most Reverend and Dear Brother in the Lord, we desire to approach your Grace, and through you our other brethren of the Irish episcopate, in relation to a matter which has much exercised our minds of late, and which we deem of great importance to the interests not only of the Church of Ireland, but of the Church of Christ at large. We refer to the resolutions adopted by the Synods of the Spanish and Portuguese Churches respectively towards the close of 1892, and made known to the Irish Bishops at their meeting on the 16th of March, 1893. In these resolutions, as your Grace will remember, the Reformers of Spain and Portugal described the great straits to which they were reduced from the lack of a native episcopate, and prayed the Irish Bishops under the altered circumstances of the [80/81] present time to reconsider the decision which they formed when presented with similar memorials in the year 1889. Upon a careful consideration of the whole question, and in the light of the deliberations that have since been held among ourselves upon the subject, we venture to submit to our brethren the conclusion at which we have felt it our duty in the sight of God to arrive. It is clear to us, in the first place, that the reason given by our episcopate collectively for the adoption of the resolutions of 1889 was not any objection on the ground of principle to a compliance with the prayer of the memorialists. That decision was evidently based on two principal grounds--first, 'a difference of opinion' which then prevailed to such an extent as to render it inexpedient, 'in the interests of unity and peace' that the Irish Bishops should take such a step themselves; and secondly, a hope which was then entertained that the memorialists might 'before long' succeed in obtaining the aid for which they sought from some other source. It has, we think, been made sufficiently plain that this 'difference of opinion' has undergone considerable modification, especially within our own Church. It has also become clear that the hopes which were entertained six years ago concerning the transmission of the episcopate to these Reformers from other legitimate sources have been unfortunately and hopelessly disappointed. Upon these grounds alone we are of opinion that the altered circumstances of the present time are such as fully to justify a reconsideration of the decision arrived at in 1889. But there is another reason for providing these Reformers with a native episcopate, which touches closely our relations with the sister Church of England, and which has recently obtained a special prominence. [81/82] In a resolution passed by the Lower House of the Canterbury Convocation, when dealing with a kindred question, complaint was made that candidates ordained by an Irish Bishop for the Churches of Spain and Portugal would thereby be placed on a par with clergymen ordained at home, and if appointed to home benefices, might claim institution at a Bishop's hands. For our own part, we deem this to be only one of the many disadvantages entailed by the continuous intervention of a Bishop from our own Church in the affairs of a foreign community. That such intervention is necessary and justifiable as a provisional expedient we firmly hold. But believing that it prolongs friction at home, and gives a handle to the enemies of Reform abroad, we are strongly of opinion that the sooner the present period of suspense and dissatisfaction is brought to an end by the transmission of a native episcopate to these Reformers, the better for the very 'interests of unity and peace' that prompted our former decision.

"Nor can we shut our eyes to the fact that in other respects the lapse of time has materially strengthened the claims of these memorialists. It is now almost fifteen years since these Reformers first approached the Irish Bishops with the same request which they are making at the present time.

"During that interval they have met with sore discouragements. They have encountered the bitter hostility of open enemies; they have been treated with apathy, sometimes with obloquy, by those whom they had expected to be their friends. And yet in spite of every inducement to obtain the episcopate through some irregular channel, or to throw in their lot with the various unepiscopal denominations by which they are [82/83] surrounded, they have nevertheless adhered with singular patience and steadfastness to the resolve that, come what will, their Church shall be organised after the primitive model. Each passing year has thus borne fresh witness to their constancy. But in the interests of justice and of church order alike, the time, we think, has come when the fidelity of these Reformers should be no longer subjected to so severe a strain. Meanwhile the movement which they represent has been deepening and spreading. As regards the organisation of their several congregations, the conducting of their services, the increase of their church offerings, and the intelligent and reverent use of their liturgy, a marked improvement is everywhere manifest. And what is better still, the evidence of spiritual life continues to abound on all sides. Nor is it of little moment to note that they are at unity among themselves, and exhibit towards their leaderstheir Bishop-elect in Spain, and the President of their Synod in Portugal--a loyal attachment which betokens their fitness for an episcopate of their own. Lastly, the number of those at home who take an interest in these Reformers is daily increasing, and the society through which they receive aid occupies at present a position of greater stability than has ever been reached in the past. In view of all these circumstances, we now submit to your Grace the intention which--not lightly--we hope, we desire, God helping us, to carry into effect. Unless, as we trust may not be the case, we be met by a formal protest in the shape of a resolution passed by the Bench of Bishops, or by the General Synod of our Church, it is our purpose--God willing under the further conditions specified below, to visit Spain and Portugal, and there to consecrate for each of these two Churches a Bishop who [83/84] shall have been chosen by the Synod of that Church, and of whose fitness we ourselves, after due investigation, shall be fully satisfied. It remains for us to say that, while so far prepared to comply with the request of the memorialists, we can only do so on the following conditions:

"I. In the first place we shall require an affirmation by the Synods of these Churches of guarantees similar to those which, of their own accord, they offered in the year 1883, and which were to the following effect

"(1.) That until they shall have in each case three Bishops of their own, there shall be associated with their own Bishop or Bishops a Provisional Council consisting of two or three Bishops of the Church of Ireland.

"(2.) That during the same interval the Synod of each Church shall be pledged, (a) not to permit the election or consecration of any Bishop for the said Church without the written consent of the Provisional Council of Bishops; (b) not to alter or add to the doctrines, formularies, or discipline of the said Church without the previous approval of the Provisional Council; (c) to submit for the examination and sanction of the Provisional Council every resolution of a fundamental character that may be proposed for adoption by a future Synod.

"II. But secondly,we shall require that an endowment fund of at least £5,000 shall be guaranteed by those friends at home who may be willing to help in the accomplishment of this good work. We are willing that the guarantors, if they desire it, should pay in their contributions by annual instalments, spreading over five years, providing that the guarantee be made at once. [84/85] We shall also require that this endowment fund shall be invested, and allowed to accumulate at compound interest, and that until by this means (or by further contributions) it shall have reached the sum of £10,000 the Spanish and Portuguese Church Aid Society shall engage to make the yearly stipend of at least £300 a year to each Bishop a first charge upon their funds. Such are the conditions with which we are prepared, with God's help, to enter upon a work which, as we believe, He has given us to do. It is not a work of our own seeking. The doing of it, we are aware, involves a very grave responsibility, but in the face of such an appeal as that which has reached us from these Reformers in their hour of need, we dread far more the greater responsibility of leaving that work undone. We remain your faithful brethren in the Lord,

"PLUNKET, Dublin.

"February 20th, 1894."

The foregoing communication having been considered by the Bishops, the following Resolution was proposed by the Bishop of Derry, and seconded by the Bishop of Cork: "That the Archbishops and Bishops do not see sufficient reason for departing from the spirit of their resolution of February 19th, 1889."

This Resolution was lost, and the following Resolution was then proposed by the Bishop of Killaloe, seconded by the Bishop of Meath, and passed, the Bishops of Derry and Cork not voting:

"That considering the length of time during which the applications of the Spanish and Portuguese Reformers for the consecration of Bishops have been before us, the [85/86] difficulties under which they have laboured, and the progress made during that time in numbers, in the adoption of liturgical services, in the building of churches and in the forming of congregations, they would not regard it as an indefensible exercise of the powers entrusted to the episcopate if, at the request of such congregations, the Archbishop of Dublin, who is intimately acquainted with the history of the movement, and with the characters of those who are carrying it on, acting in concert with two other Bishops, who may be willing to act with him, either of the Church of Ireland or of a Church in communion with the Church of Ireland, should, if he should so deem fit, proceed to Spain and Portugal, and there confer episcopal orders upon the two clergymen chosen in those two countries respectively, by the representatives of the said congregations, and of whose personal fitness the consecrating Bishops shall be fully satisfied."

This resolution practically settled the matter. The consecration was to take place, the necessary guarantees being given to the consecrating Bishops. There was, however, a feeling in the Irish Church--not general, but with some--that before the matter went further the General Synod of the Irish Church should have an opportunity of discussing the question. On the other hand, there were some who feared that an adverse opinion might be there expressed and cause further delay.

The more courageous course was taken, and the matter was formally brought before the Synod which met in April, 1894. The debate was a most interesting one, and resulted in a Resolution leaving the matter entirely in the hands of the Bishops. This [86/87] resolution I have already quoted in another chapter (p. 58).

The outcome was received by all friends of the Reformed Churches with great thankfulness to Almighty God, who had after so long waiting removed the obstacles which at one time seemed insurmountable.

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