Recollections of Malines
by Walter Frere, C.R.
[London: The Centenary Press, 1935 119pp]
FOR a great many years past now there has been a movement for reapproach on the part of Anglicans and Roman Catholics. This was begun and continued on a small scale. From time to time blows have been dealt at the movement which would have reduced its activities to little or nothing; but the movement has continued and still continues.
After the Vatican Council of 1870 the prospects of the movement were not favourable, but the reverse. The spirit of the movement seemed to have abated, when quite suddenly it broke out afresh in the Appeal for the recognition by Rome of Anglican Orders. This Appeal was originated chiefly by two persons: Lord Halifax in England, and the Abbe Portal in France. They soon gathered round it a number of supporters both French and English, men of learning as well as men of heart. Then again came the day of disappointment and disillusionment, as the reply of the Pope ultimately turned out to be hostile to the claims of Anglican Orders. So once more the movement for reapproach sank back. It did not, however, become inactive; for after the war when there were openings on all hands, the same two stalwarts, Lord Halifax and Abbe Portal, determined to make a fresh attempt towards reapproachment.
I had kept in touch with both of them, in England and in France; we had shared hopes and dreamed dreams; and meanwhile a quiet propaganda had been carried out especially by M. Portal and his distinguished circles of friends and allies, with Paris at its centre. But I had never dreamed that such an opening would occur, as did occur. So as I go back to a great pile of letters and papers connected with the Conversations at Malines, 1921 to 1927, I am filled with thankful surprise still. From these letters and papers I have put together a few personal recollections or reminiscences which were written as articles for the Truro Diocesan Gazette (1934) and are now reprinted in book form. They are in no sense a history of the doings at Malines in those years, still less do they give an account of the whole movement of the reapproach. As one of the two surviving English people who took part in those Conversationsin fact the only one left who took part in them at all, besides the present Cardinal of Malines (Mgr van Roey)I had specially good opportunities for recording, as time went on, the events of those days. So I make a small contribution to the big history that will surely sometime be written authoritatively when the day has dawned, and the official archives are opened and the full correspondence is available.
WALTER FRERE, C.R.
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