Project Canterbury

From The Works of the Rt. Rev. Charles C. Grafton (Volume 7),
edited by B. Talbot Rogers, New York: Longmans, Green, 1914, pp. 212-215


February 9, 1907


I HAD not before heard that the mode of administering the Sacrament by the Old Catholic Polish Church had been a ground of objection to entering into Christian fellowship with them. It never came up in any official dealings with Bishop Kozlowski, and he would not, I believe, have objected, had it been made a condition of conforming to our custom. Indeed he did so on some occasions. The feast of St. John is one of special observance by the Poles and in his church the Sacrament was administered in both kinds. It is fair to presume he would have done it always if asked to by us whose advice and counsel he sought. Administration in both kinds was commonly done, I know, in one of his churches. The Old Catholics in Europe, of which his organization was a part and by whose Bishops he had been consecrated, give the Communion in both kinds.

I have three congregations of the Old Catholics (French) under my jurisdiction, and the same rule obtains. We should remember and make allowance for the fact that under Bishop Kozlowski the large body of Poles were being led out of Romanism and were in a transition state.

The objection raised by some was that in putting forth the Quadrilateral, we were only stating the preliminaries to a conference and that we should in practice demand much more than an acceptance of them. It was argued that we ought to have an authoritative statement of the faith of anybody seeking fellowship with us. In response a series of articles was drawn up and adopted in Synod by the Polish Old Catholics. I subjoin a copy. You may have published them before. But as such matters are quickly forgotten, I would respectfully ask their reinsertion. If we can bear in our communion with Pusey and Keble and Liddon and all of that school of Churchmanship, I do not see why we could not have allowed intercommunion between ourselves and these Old Catholics.

It is true that the opposition of Bishop McLaren had something to do with the failure. But with all respect to his great ability and theological learning, he, like some others, did not look kindly on any who left the Roman obedience. He thought they ought to stay where they were. He had no sympathy with the Old Catholic movement and consequently was opposed to Bishop Kozlowski. But if the Old Catholics had no right to break with the Papacy, neither had we, and I venture to think his ground was not in accord with the spirit of the Quadrilateral.

Concerning the latter, its third condition is somewhat ambiguous. It requires that there shall be in the administration of the Lord's Supper "the unfailing use of Christ's words of Institution and of the elements ordained by Him." I think the general teaching of Catholic Christendom is that the priest in the prayer of consecration should purpose to do what Christ did. Our own words of consecration seem to be descriptive of what He did, rather than a repetition of the exact words He used. Does any part of the Church claim to know or use the words just as Christ spoke them? Then as to the elements, the condition was chiefly to guard against the practices of those who substitute water or grape juice or who do not use proper bread. While so far agreed as to the requisites of a valid consecration as to the administration of the Sacrament, the Catholic Church is not so unanimous. The Eastern Church administers by intinction. The Roman to the laity under one species. We may hold ours the better and more scriptural way, but it would be temerarious to say that the Roman laity did not receive Christ. And if this is the more charitable opinion, is it right for us to make the mode of administration a condition of intercommunion? I am loath to believe this is the determined position of our Church and the meaning of our peace-loving and peacemaking Quadrilateral. It would make the reestablishment of intercommunion with the East and West an impossibility.

Allow me to say one word for Bishop Kozlowski. I had much intercourse with him. He was a well-read theological student, a man of marked sincerity, one who made great sacrifices in leaving Rome, who was notedly humble and most responsive to advice, who lived in great poverty and self-denial, who had heavy burdens to bear and was incessantly attacked and plotted against, who suffered as few are called to do. He could not but feel the way his overtures and himself were treated by us. For one I am thankful his life of toil and suffering is over. He was a Christian hero and a devoted servant of God.


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