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A Statement
The Society of the Holy Cross

The Order of Corporate Reunion,

An Appendix upon
the Jurisdiction and Mission of
The Bishops of England.

Printed for the Society by
W Knott, 26, Brooke Street, Holborn, EC

THE following Statement is based upon a Report prepared by a Committee of the Society of the Holy Cross, appointed to consider the position and claims of an Association known as "The Order of Corporate Reunion."

The Society of the Holy Cross has no desire to condemn other voluntary associations among Churchmen; but inasmuch as one of its objects is "to maintain and extend the Catholic Faith and Discipline," and in this case, unhappily, the first principles of Church order have been violated, it becomes a duty to point out the true character of this movement.

Information regarding the Order has been obtained from a document entitled The First Pastoral of the Order of Corporate Reunion, and from the serial organ of that Association, called The Reunion Magazine (Nutt: 270, Strand). But such pains have been taken by the promoters of the scheme to shroud its proceedings in mystery, that no evidence in support of its claims has been obtainable.

The Order professes to remedy alleged defects in the validity of Anglican Jurisdiction and Sacraments; but it is evident from its publications, which are characterized by marked hostility to the English Hierarchy, that its practical tendency is merely to implant doubts and suspicions in untrained and wavering minds; and as it tenders no proof whatever in support of its own ministrations or authority, it leads those who join it to what is in fact a secession from the Catholic Communion of the Church in this land.

For it must be borne in mind that the reason alleged for the formation of the Order of Corporate Reunion is that the Bishops of the Church of England no longer possess any spiritual jurisdiction. (Pastoral, 2nd edition, p. 11, and Reunion Magazine, pp. 91, 94, 96.)

Now the exercise of spiritual authority is part of Christ's ordinance in the Gospel, and is necessary for the spiritual welfare of those placed under it; so that if the Bishops of the Church of England have lost all spiritual.jurisdiction, it is necessary that any organization, professing to take the place of that which is alleged to be defunct, should manifestly possess both jurisdiction and mission in England; without which it can neither validly control any who voluntarily profess to submit to it, nor licitly administer the Sacraments.

If the Order of Corporate Reunion do really possess these powers, obedience to it becomes matter of necessity; and for this reason it is bound to do what it has hitherto scrupulously avoided, viz., to offer such proofs as will fully and publicly substantiate its claims.

But the very fact that it has chosen to represent itself as a voluntary society, which persons are at liberty to accept or neglect as individual will or fancy may dictate, proves that it is no part of a Divine scheme, binding on the conscience, but a mere human invention, having no claim to our obedience.

The two salient points, to which our attention should be directed, are:—

1. The reason alleged for calling into existence the Order of Corporate Reunion.

2. Its claim to spiritual authority over its members.

1. The first official document of the Association says, on p. 11 (2nd ed.), that "the Bishops of the Church of England, having yielded up all Canonical authority and jurisdiction in the Spiritual order, can neither interfere with, nor restrain, Us in Our work of recovering from elsewhere that which has been forfeited or lost,—securing three distinct and independent lines of a new Episcopal succession, so as to labour corporately, and on no sandy foundation, for the healing of the breach which has been made." (a) (Pastoral, p. 11.)

We would point out that spiritual jurisdiction cannot be yielded up, save by formal resignation of office, any more than it can be assumed, by the voluntary act of the person exercising it. Bishops may refuse to exercise their jurisdiction in a canonical manner, but they do not thereby forfeit it, because it pertains to them as Ordinaries, and therefore is inherent in the Office which they hold. The English Bishops, moreover, do still expressly claim spiritual authority and jurisdiction, and therefore cannot be said to have laid it down.

Further, it is to be noted that spiritual jurisdiction is of two kinds, "administrative," or as it is technically termed "voluntary," and "contentious." The former is by far the most important; it has nothing to do with judicial proceedings, but is that which is directly concerned with the spiritual life, as it is that which validates or makes licit (as the case may be) the ministration of the Sacraments and all the acts of the priesthood. By "voluntary," we may remark, it is not meant that such jurisdiction can be either voluntarily assumed, used, or dispensed with as the subject may choose, but only that such jurisdiction is to be contrasted with that which, being concerned with the enforcement of penalties in foro externo, is called "contentious."

Contentious jurisdiction would never in an ideally perfect state of the Church be called into action, but voluntary jurisdiction must always be actively in use. But it cannot even colourably be alleged that such a matter as the assumed concurrence of the Bishops in the passing of the Public Worship Regulation Act touches in any way whatever their voluntary jurisdiction; and however much the exercise of their contentious jurisdiction may have been hindered thereby, we do not admit that it has been destroyed.

The Jurisdiction of the Episcopate of the Provinces of Canterbury and York is still alive. It is active in its voluntary form, and if not also active in its contentious form, it is therein no more than dormant. To that jurisdiction it is the bounden duty of all Catholics within the Realm of England which is coterminous with those Provinces to submit themselves.

2. The Order of Corporate Reunion seems to rest it claims to jurisdiction over its members on the ground of voluntary submission and mutual association, depending thus on the mere free-will of the governed. "We have solemnly and formally associated ourselves together . . . promising a true and hearty allegiance to our chosen superiors and to one another." (Pastoral, 2nd ed., p. Reunion Magazine pp. 94 &; 95.) Upon this we observe, that such a self-originated association cannot confer ecclesiastical or spiritual jurisdiction, which, as already stated, is an essential part of a Divine scheme, and therefore inseparable from those conditions which the Church, in virtue of our Lord's Commission, has been Divinely empowered to ordain: thus jurisdiction is subject to the recognised organisation of the Body of Christ, and can neither be conferred nor destroyed by any combination of individuals, nor by any independent action whatsoever. Hence the assent of the governed does not of itself suffice to confer spiritual jurisdiction. Moreover, the novel theory of jurisdiction, by which the Order of Corporate Reunion attempts to justify its action, reveals but too plainly that whatever else it may lack, it is certainly characterised by the radical evil of Protestantism, in originating with man rather than with GOD.

But jurisdiction in spirituals cannot, any more than order, have a human origin. It cannot be created afresh, but must descend in an uninterrupted stream from our Lord’s first commission to the Apostles; and since jurisdiction authorises and regulates the exercise of ministerial functions, it is inherent in office, and cannot be separated from it. The assent of the governed is indeed required in accordance with the maxim, nemo detur invitis, but only to express concurrence in the election of the governor to the office, and that office confers the jurisdiction divinely inherent therein. Thus a Bishop, however originally selected for the office (i.e. not office of Bishop at large, but office of Bishop of a certain See), must be accepted, at least implicitly, by his diocese (excluding mere riotous rejection) and by his comprovincials: (b) he thereby acquires a lawful occupation of his chair, and from and out of his chair proceeds his jurisdiction. In no other way can anyone possess spiritual authority as a Bishop. It is in accordance with these principles that reference is so constantly enjoined in the Book of Common Prayer to "the Bishop of the Diocese;" who, as "Ordinary of the place," is possessed of jurisdiction (jure suo) as the lawful occupant of a particular See, entrusted with the government of the Church within certain territorial limits, being chief Pastor under Christ) the one Head and King of the Universal Church.

All ecclesiastical power is from above, and belongs either to the hierarchy of order, or to the hierarchy of jurisdiction; that is to say, whether it be derived to the person possessing it through his orders or his jurisdiction, in either case it descends in an uninterrupted stream of spiritual authority from one sacred Source and Origin. Hence a new jurisdiction is impossible. Such a thing, equally with a new order, would in reality be a preaching of another Gospel, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of St. Paul has anathematised. We may add as a noteworthy fact, that while Irvingism invented a new order, the Order of Corporate Reunion has invented a new jurisdiction.

But even were we to assume that the Order of Corporate Reunion claims not to have created a new jurisdiction by the assent of the governed, but only to accept one which has been conferred in some manner from without (and the extreme vagueness of their organs makes it somewhat difficult to determine which is the exact position they assume), we would in this case observe:—

(i.) That there is no evidence of the reality, much less of the regularity, of the supposed consecration of a Bishop or Bishops for the Order of Corporate Reunion.

(ii.) Neither is there any evidence as to the position of the consecrator or consecrators, nor as to the nature of the jurisdiction assumed to be bestowed.

(iii.) On the contrary, a degree of silence and mystery, which is in itself highly suspicious, has been maintained; and the wording of such documents as have appeared is in our judgment calculated to mislead enquirers by studied ambiguity of language.

But further, the consecration having been clandestinely performed, and not in facie ecclesi¾, it is unrecognised by the hierarchy of the Church, and virtually repudiated by the Ecclesiastical authorities who are in visible communion with the consecrator, and would undoubtedly be formally repudiated if known; so that it can only be an act which, even if valid in conferring episcopal order, is irregular, and probably sacrilegious. Any persons so consecrated would be incapable of performing even validly any episcopal act, saving consecration and ordination, and possibly confirmation, and even in performing these would involve both themselves and those to whom they ministered in the guilt of sacrilege.

We therefore hold that the assumed jurisdiction of the Order of Corporate Reunion is without any lawful foundation, that its claims cannot be substantiated, and that Catholics should therefore be warned against joining the association, as involving themselves thereby in the guilt of schism, and probably of sacrilege.

1. Because it denies the lawful jurisdiction of the successors of St. Augustine and St. Paulinus in the Provinces of Canterbury and York, thereby sinning against Catholic obedience.

2. Because it professes to set up a new episcopate destitute of all spiritual jurisdiction, and consequently schismatical.

We cannot but add the sincere expression of the feeling of deep pain with which we have learned that any of our fellow Churchmen have given support to the Order of Corporate Reunion, and of our hope that further consideration of the true character of this movement will induce them to withdraw from an Association which rests upon no Catholic basis, but is in truth merely a Protestant venture, though insidiously disguised by the garb and phraseology of the Church.


The following historical facts are of importance as bearing witness to the lawful Mission and Jurisdiction of the Bishops of England:—

1. In consequence of the Ecclesiastical irregularities during the reign of Mary, such as the invalid (i.e. pretended) deprivation of the Primate of all England and of the Archbishop of York, none of the Bishops consecrated or translated from 1554 to 1557 had canonically regular Jurisdiction and Mission; since they were placed in their respective Sees, without the consent of the Metropolitan, by the assumed authority of the Crown or of the Holy See. Consequently none of these Prelates who survived to the Consecration of Archbishop Parker were canonically qualified either to confirm or reject his election to the Primatial Chair.

Even Cardinal Pole himself, though possessed of the temporalities of Canterbury, received Jurisdiction and Mission only uncanonically and irregularly from those diocesan Bishops who were in canonical possession of their Sees; in consequence of the informality of his election, hastily carried out without first depriving canonical process. It is no solution of the difficulty to allege that Cranmer's conduct merited deprivation; the question is one of fact not of morals, and the fact is that Cranmer's deprivation was not valid; consequently Pole's election to a See not at the time vacant was likewise not valid. Pole therefore, not being canonically Metropolitan, could neither canonically perform nor concur in any of those acts needed to confer Jurisdiction and Mission on the Suffragans of his Province.

Thus it came to pass that at the time of the Consecration of Archbishop Parker, Deo. 17, 1559, the only Bishops canonically entitled to their respective Sees were Bonner of London (then uncanonically deprived), Kitchen of Llandaff, and Stanley of Sodor and Man; together with Barlow sometime of Bath and Wells, and Coverdale of Exeter, who having both been uncanonically thrust out or compelled to resign by Mary, were still possessed of valid Jurisdiction and Mission as comprovincial Bishops. All these, save Bonner, accepted Parker, who was consecrated by Barlow then Elect of Chichester and still de jure of Bath and Wells, (c) Scory Elect of Hereford, Coverdale still de jure of Exeter, and Hodgkyn Suffragan of Bedford, as Primate of all England and Metropolitan.

2. It is important to observe that Scory, who had been consecrated to Rochester by Cranmer according to the English Ordinal in 1551, and then intruded into the See of Chichester in 1552, had in 1554 been "rehabilitated" by Bonner, who reinstated him as "our beloved brother, John, lately Bishop of Chichester, .... to exercise within our Diocese of London the public function and discharge of his Ecclesiastical Ministry and Pastoral Office." (d) Therefore it is not too much to affirm that this act of "rehabilitation" carried with it the formal recognition of Scory as authorized by the Bishop of London to act Episcopally within his Diocese and jurisdiction.

Hodgkyn, the remaining Consecrator of Parker, as Bishop of Bedford held the office of Suffragan to the Bishop of London. It is true that he was deprived of his benefice and Prebend in St. Paul's in 1554; probably on account of his recognition of Ridley when uncanonically intruded to the exclusion of Bonner under Edward VI.; but in 1555 he was "admitted to the Church of S. Peter, in Cornhill;" this is evidence that the cause of his deprivation was condoned, and proves his reconciliation with the Bishop of London.

And as it may surely be recognized as a sign of God's providential care over the Church of England at this crisis in her history, that of the Bishops who confirmed and consecrated Parker, two were canonically empowered as Suffragans of the Province over which he was elected to preside; while the action of the remaining two, who were canonically competent to afford their aid as "vacant" Bishops of the Province, was emphasised by the fact of their holding the official recognition of the Bishop of London in the public discharge of their Episcopal functions. Thus it is not a little remarkable that Bonner (who, though ex officio Dean of the Province of Canterbury, remained passive in this business of confirming and consecrating the Archbishop-Elect) by not prohibiting Scory and Hodgkyn from taking part therein, virtually became a consenting party thereto; at all events their action may be regarded as accentuating the value of his silence, and as pointing to the conclusion that Parker was confirmed and consecrated with the implied concurrence of all the Bishops of his Province.

3. The Supplentes Clause, (i.e. the clause in the Royal mandate for Parker's consecration by which the Queen supplied by her authority any defect in the statutory powers of the consecrating Prelates ;) was added to the Letters Patent authorizing the Confirmation and Consecration of the Archbishop Elect, in order to give legal force (i.e. according to the law of the State) to the canonical action of the consecrating Prelates; and the terms employed in the Act of Confirmation bear witness" that its purpose was:—

(i.) To remove any legal (not canonical or spiritual) defect attaching to any of them in consequence of de-deprivation by Royal Authority under Mary; since they were not legally qualified (i.e. according to the law of the Realm) to act as Diocesans unless in lawful (i.e. civilly lawful) possession of Episcopal Sees;

(ii.) To indemnify the consecrating Prelates for legal informality in the use of the English Ordinal; which, having been abrogated by Statute in the first year of Queen Mary's reign, had not then been legally restored.

This clause has been studiously misrepresented, as if it had respect to the spiritual and ecclesiastical aspect of the proceeding; whereas its avowed purpose, as attested by its wording, and by all the circumstances to which it was due, was to remove by means of Royal Authority certain legal difficulties created by Statute Law. We must carefully bear in mind the double position of the Bishops as officers of the State, being Peers of Parliament, as well as officers of the Church, and therefore subject to Statute as well as Canon Law.

4. It is commonly said that, when Parker was consecrated, the Bishop of Llandaff alone conformed; it is true that he was the only Diocesan in the Province of Canterbury then in legal (i.e. parliamentary) possession of his See; but it is important to note that in the Province of York the only remaining Diocesan likewise conformed, viz., Thomas Stanley, Bishop of Sodor and Man, consecrated in 1530; who accepted Archbishop Young as Metropolitan, and presided over his Diocese until his death, about the year 1570.

To these two legally qualified Diocesans must be added the canonically possessed Diocesans of Bath and Exeter, together with Scory, lawfully authorized in the Diocese of London; and at least five surviving Suffragan Prelates, consecrated in the reign of Henry VIII.; who, having continued in the discharge of their Episcopal functions during the reigns of Edward VI. and Mary, acquiesced in the settlement under Elizabeth. These were:—

(i.) John Hodgkyn, Bishop of Bedford, consecrated in 1537; who took part in the consecration of Parker, having previously assisted both Bonner and Cranmer in Episcopal Consecrations.

(ii.) John Salisbury, Bishop of Thetford, consecrated in 1536; who was one of the six Prelates names in the Letters Patent for Parker’s Consecration, and in 1571 succeeded Bp. Stanley in the See of Sodor and Man.

(iii.) Thomas Sparke, Bishop of Berwick, consecrated by Abp. Lee of York, in 1537; who was distinguished on the Catholic side as Cuthbert Tonstall’s friend and Suffragan in the Diocese of Durham, and continued in office until his death in 1571. (e)

(iv.) Robert Pursglove, Bishop of Hull, consecrated by Abp. Lee in 1538; who in 1562 obtained Royal License for the foundation of the Jesus Hospital and Grammar School at Gisburgh, Yorkshire, where he had formerly been Prior; also for a similar Hospital and School at Tideswell, Derbyshire; and in 1575 vested the Patronage of these Foundations in "the Archbishop of York and his successors for ever." (f) Bishop Pursglove survived until 1579, and lies buried at Tideswell beneath an Altar Tomb bearing a Monumental Brass in which he is represented in Pontifical Vestments and bearing his Pastoral Staff.

(v.) William More, Bishop of Colchester, consecrated in 1536; who was Suffragan of Ely, and survived until after the time of Archbishop Parker's Consecration. (g)

There were other Suffragan Bishops who may have continued in their Sees but from our want of exact information we are unable to speak of them with certainty.

Thus not one only, but ten Bishops at least, witnessed by their active concurrence or acquiescence to the unbroken continuity of the Episcopate; while not one offered any opposition to Parker's Consecration, or challenged the spiritual validity of what was done.

On the whole therefore it may be said that all the canonical Bishops in both Provinces accepted the settlement under Archbishops Parker and Young, with the single exception of the Bishop of London; who entered no formal protest either at the time or subsequently, and by a singular combination of events was virtually represented at Parker's Consecration by two of the Consecrators, whose Ecclesiastical position as "vacant" Bishops of the Province (under no prohibition from the provincial Episcopate, and without intrusion on the jurisdiction of any other Bishop) was such as fully to justify the part they were then both canonically and legally empowered to perform.

Hence it will be seen that there is no need to look elsewhere, or to devise unauthorized schemes in order to secure valid Orders, Jurisdiction, and Mission in England, since the legal and historical argument demonstrates that these spiritual powers have, in the good providence of GOD, been canonically preserved and transmitted in the Church of our fathers. And being so transmitted, those now in possession of them are the only lawful Pastors of the people of GOD in this realm; therefore all others are schismatical intruders, and any joining themselves to them, or recognizing them in any way, do so to the exceeding peril of their souls.


(a) Attention is requested to the singular ambiguity of this statement. It implies at the very least that three priests have been consecrated Bishops, that the consecrations were distinct, and the consecrators in each case different. Is this the fact? We have grounds for doubting it. Moreover, what is the meaning of "three distinct lines?" How far is the distinction carried back? Also, what is the meaning of a "new Episcopal succession?" The phrase is distinct contradiction in terms—a lucus a non lucendo, or rather, a successio a non succendo.

(b) It is to be observed that according to the practice of the Church for many centuries, such acceptance is assumed unless formal protest to the contrary be expressly made. Hence, in the case of Archbishop Parker, canonically elected to the Metropolitical See of Canterbury in 1559, then vacant by the death of Cardinal Pole, the fact that no protest was raised by any comprovincial Bishop must be regarded so equivalent to virtual acceptance.

Otherwise the jurisdiction of the Roman See itself must have become utterly extinct, in consequence of the intrusion of Popes by the courtezans Theodora and Marozia, without any canonical election whatsoever, or subsequent acceptance by the Clergy, as Card. Baronius declares, during the period that elapsed between the deposition of Leo V. in 903, and the election of Leo VII. in 986.—(Cf. Annales Ecclesiastici, sub Anno 912)

It is further to be remembered that the only exception taken in the Council of Trent (Session xxiii. 1662) to the ecclesiastical position of the Bishops of England, (who, with the Bishops of Muscovy and other Catholic Prelates, were invited to that Synod through their respective princes;) was simply their non-confirmation by the Roman Pontiff (quia non sunt a Pontifice Romano adsciti); and on this point there was much difference of opinion, many of the Fathers of the Council holding that such recognition could not be required ex jure divino. While an Irish Prelate, who evidently knew what had been passing in England, insisted upon its importance, in order to prove his case against the English Bishops; urging that "by this means alone and by no other, do we confute (convincimus) them, for they themselves show that they have been called, elected, consecrated, granted mission."— (Cf. Bishop Forbes on The Articles, 2nd ed pp. 719, 720. Mendham’s Council of Trent, pp. 167—8, 251—2.)

(c) For further information see the valuable Defence of Holy Orders in the Church of England by Rev. T. J. Bailey, London and Oxford. James Parker & Co., 1871, p. 78; with Jurisdiction and Mission of the Anglican Episcopate, by the same, pp. 62—64. Also Vindici¾ Eccles. Anglican¾, by Archdeacon Mason, bk. 3, c. 10. Edit. 1625.

(d) Bonner’s register, 347. See Defence of Holy Orders in the Church of England, pp. 92, 93. This fact effectually disposes of the modern Roman objection to the validity of the English Ordinal. Ibid. p. 98 for information respecting Hodgkyn.

(e) Bishop Sparke, who began his clerical life as a Monk of Durham, and was subsequently Prior of Lindisfarne, held his Prebendal Stall in Durham Cathedral from 1542 until his death in 1571, and from 1547 was also Rector of Wolsingham.

From Depositions before the Consistory Court of Durham we learn that, in a case of Misconduct in the Church of Wolsingham in 1570, the service of an extern priest was objected to, "unless he had my Lorde suffragane’s letter, or admitt to serve the parish, as the other preist was." This reference to the admission of a Curate by "my Lorde suffragane" proves that Bishop Sparke still retained his Commission from the Ordinary. See Publications of the Surtees Society, vol. 21, p. 230. Also Hist. Dunelm. Scriptores Tres, p. 156, where Sparke is noticed as "homo pereruditus . . . . egenis perliberalis."

(f) Wood (Athen. Oxon.) says that Pursglove was deprived, probably he resigned the Archdeaconry of Nottingham in 1560; certainly by his acts he recognised officially the Established Order both in Church and State.

(g) Bishop More had been previously Prior of Worcester.— (Cf. Bp. Brett, Bishops Suffragan, pp. 49, 50.)

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