Documents related to the Rumanian Recognition of Anglican Orders The Christian East, July, 1937, pp. 6-10.
Letter of the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Rumanian Patriarch.
LAMBETH PALACE, S.E.I.
BELOVED BROTHER IN CHRIST,
You will remember that during the course of Your Holiness's memorable visit to London last summer you handed to me a copy of the Resolution of the Holy Synod of the Church of Rumania dated March 20th, 1936, wherein was declared the acceptance by the Holy Synod of the validity of Anglican Orders, subject to the ratification by the Church of England of the statements contained the Report of the Conference held in Bucharest in May, 1935.
In accordance with the terms of that Resolution I have submitted the Report to the two Convocations of Canterbury and York and am happy to be able to inform you that both Convocations have, after careful consideration, finally accepted and approved the Report by overwhelming majorities. This means that the agreements reached at Bucharest have now been authoritatively accepted by the Convocations or Synods of the Church of England.
I enclose a Memorandum setting out in detail the terms of the solutions passed, with only six dissentients, in the Convocations Canterbury and York.
I trust that Your Holiness and the other members of your Holy Synod will be as gratified as I am at the achievement of this happy result, and I pray that the fraternal relations thus achieved may bear abundant fruit in years to come, to the glory of God and to the building up of the Body of Christ.
It is the hope of myself and of all who have the unity of the Church of Christ at heart that the agreements already reached may lead to further progress along the road to that full intercommunion between the Church of England and the Orthodox Churches of the East, which is the burden of our prayers and the goal of all our efforts.
I am, etc.,
(Signed) COSMO CANTUAR.
To His Beatitude, The Patriarch of Rumania.
When the Church of England delegates left Bucharest in 1935, on the conclusion of their conversations with the Rumanian Commission, they brought home with them a duly signed and accredited copy of the Report and handed it to His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury.
His Grace gave orders, with as little delay as possible, for the printing of the Report for the information of Church people in England.
The next step was to submit the Report to the ancient Synod? of the Church of England, the Convocations of the two Provinces of Canterbury and York, for their approval. Each of the Convocations consists of two Houses, called respectively the Upper and the Lower House. In the Upper Houses sit the Diocesan Bishops of the Province--in the Lower Houses sit representative clergy of the Province, some ex-officio and some elected.
In order to arrive at any conclusion with regard to the Rumanian Report that could be regarded as carrying with it the assent of the duly constituted synodical authorities of the Church of England it was necessary to submit the Report to the two Convocations for their approval.
This was done in MAY, 1936. The result was that in that month:
(1) both Houses of the CONVOCATION OF YORK passed (in the Upper House unanimously and in the Lower House, nemine contradicente) the following Resolution:--
"That this Synod thankfully accepts and approves the Report and trusts that it may lead to yet closer relations with the Rumanian Church and other branches of the Orthodox Communion."
(2) both Houses of the CONVOCATION OF CANTERBURY passed (in the Upper House, unanimously, and in the Lower House, nemine contradicente) the following Resolution:--
"That this House, while adjourning further consideration of the Report, expresses its thanks to the members of the Rumanian Commission and of the Anglican Delegation for preparing it, and trusts that it may lead to yet closer relations with the Rumanian Church and other branches of the Orthodox Communion."
At the next Meeting of the CONVOCATION OF CANTERBURY in JANUARY, 1937, the consideration of the Report, adjourned at the last session, was resumed. On this occasion, the following Resolution was proposed:--
"That inasmuch as the Report of the Conference at Bucharest between the Rumanian Commission on relations with the Anglican Communion and the Church of England Delegation appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury is consonant with Anglican formularies and a legitimate interpretation of the faith of the Church as held by the Anglican Communion, this House accepts and approves of the Report."
The above Resolution was passed in the Upper House of Bishops nemine contradicente and in the Lower House of Clergy by a majority of 104 to 6.
The Implementation of the Bucharest Report by the Convocations of Canterbury and York.
BY agreement the Report of the Conference at Bucharest from June Ist to June 8th, between the Delegation appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury to confer with a Commission appointed by the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Rumania was not o be released until it had been considered by the Rumanian Synod.
Circumstances prevented the Rumanian Synod from considering he Report until March, 1936; and the Report was not published until after the Rumanian Patriarch had taken the opportunity of his visit to the Archbishop of Canterbury in May, 1936, to communicate to his Grace the Resolution upon the Report which had been passed unanimously by the Rumanian Synod on March 20th, 1936. That Resolution, the Rumanian text of which with a certified English translation, may be found together with the full English ext of the Report in the Christian East, Jan.-July, 1936, Vol. XIV, Nos. I and 2, pp. 16-30.
In it the Rumanian Synod unanimously accepted the recommendation of its commission contained in the Report that it should declare its recognition of Anglican orders, but very reasonably required that before that acceptance should become definitive the
final authority of the Anglican Church "should ratify" all the statements of its Delegation concerning the Mystery of Holy Orders."
In order to satisfy that requirement the Archbishops of Canterbury and York arranged that the Report should be considered by the Convocations of Canterbury and of York, at the sessions in May, 1936.
Both the House of Bishops and the House of Clergy of the York Convocation unanimously accepted and approved the Report but the House of Bishops of Canterbury on May 22nd, 1936, decided to postpone its consideration until its next session in January, 1937, in order that there might be ample time for the contents of the report to be studied and considered.
During the autumn of 1936 the extreme Protestant section in the Church of England subjected the Report to a continuous and vehement attack, which did not refrain from personal invective against the personnel of the Delegation and even the Archbishop of Canterbury himself. Nothing was left undone by certain militant Protestant organisations to prejudice public opinion. The violence of their misrepresentations, however, defeated itself. As the contents of the Report became widely known in the Church of England it became increasingly approved.
When the Canterbury Convocation met on January 20th, 1937, its implementation of the Report was a foregone conclusion, but that the opposition to it would collapse completely was hardly expected.
The Upper House of Bishops, however, resolved without a dissentient voice and the Lower House of Clergy resolved by the overwhelming majority of 104 to 6 " that inasmuch as the Report of the Conference at Bucharest between the Rumanian Commission on relations with the Anglican Communion and the Church of England Delegation appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury is consonant with Anglican formularies and a legitimate interpretation of the Faith of the Church as held by the Anglican Communion, this House accepts and approves of the Report."
In the Upper House of Bishops this resolution was moved by the Bishop of Gloucester and seconded by the Bishop of Derby; and the President, the Archbishop of Canterbury, commended it.
The Bishop of Lincoln, the leader of the Delegation who supported it in a telling speech, had also published a pamphlet a few weeks earlier which dealt very frankly with the Report.
In the Lower House of Clergy, Canon Deane, the distinguished writer, moved the Resolution and Canon J. A. Douglas, the secretary of the Delegation who had stood for a vacant protectorship of the London Diocese in November, in order to have the opportunity of doing so and had been elected by a two to one majority, seconded it.
Very wide interest was taken in the motion by the general public and except among extremely sectionally minded Protestant Evangelicals the greatest satisfaction was felt at the result.
The Times gave place of honour among its leading articles on January 22nd to one which contained the following:
"How notable a step towards reunion was taken on Wednesday, when the Church of England finally approved the Rumanian report, and the marked degree in which it is likely to aid future discussions, are facts as yet not generally understood. As an indirect result of the Lambeth Conference, the Rumanian Church desired to investigate the ecclesiastical status and doctrines of the Anglican Church. In 1935, Anglican delegates, appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, led by the Bishop of Lincoln, and representing various schools of thought, went to Bucharest and interchanged views with Rumanian delegates. Ultimately the conference framed a series of doctrinal statements, worded for the most part in the theological idiom familiar to the Rumanians, but of a character which the Anglican delegates were able to accept as consonant with their own Prayer-Book and Articles of Religion. The Rumanian delegates also advised their Holy Synod to admit, as justified by careful investigation, the full validity of Anglican orders, and the Holy Synod unanimously endorsed both this recommendation and the doctrinal concordat.
"The significance of this becomes greater when it is remembered hat the Rumanian Church, with its 11,000,000 adherents, is the largest and perhaps the most influential of the autocephalous branches of the Eastern Orthodox Church. But, before the report could become effective, to the formal acceptance of it by the Church if Rumania had to be added formal acceptance by the Church of England. The duty of giving or withholding it lay with the four houses of the two English Convocations. Both the Northern Houses welcomed and adopted the report last June. The two Canterbury Houses also considered it at that time, but felt that so important a matter needed further examination. After an interval of seven months an identical motion, approving and adopting the report, was moved in both this week. In the House of Bishops it was proposed by the Bishop of Gloucester, who for years past has worked untiringly to promote a better understanding between the English and Eastern Churches. After an amendment had been overwhelmingly defeated, the Bishop's motion was carried nem. con. in the Lower House it was moved by Canon Deane and supported in a most effective speech by Canon Douglas, himself a member of the Bucharest delegation, and one whose devoted labours in the cause of Christian unity are beyond praise. In this House the motion for adoption and approval was carried by the striking majority of 104 votes to six. The agreement thus finally ratified makes no pretence of establishing full intercommunion. Yet it brings that ultimate stage perceptibly nearer. Moreover the completion of this preliminary agreement, and the action of the Rumanian Church in expressly admitting the full validity of Anglican orders, are bound at once to lave a powerful influence on other Churches of the Near East. After Wednesday's debates a sagacious diocesan Bishop observed that the day's events were, from the ecclesiastical point of view, the most important that had occurred since the Reformation, and history may yet prove his remark to have been justified."