By Peter Anson
EPISCOPI VAGANTES AND THE ANGLICAN CHURCH, by Henry R. T. Brandreth. 2nd edition (S.P.C.K., 18s. 6d.).
LT may be a shock to some readers of this newspaper to learn that at the present time there arc well over two hundred prelates roaming around the world, all claiming to have received "valid" consecration, who don mitres. wieldcroziers. and in some cases play at being Primates or Patriarchs even in a few instances maintaining that they are infallible !
None of them are recognised by the Holy See, the Eastern Orthodox Courches the Anglican Communion, or the larger Protestant bodies.
Neither has the World Council of Churches, which is nothing if not comprehensive, admitted any of these schismatic sects to membership. All of them have come into being within the past hundred years. At least half of them owe their origins. either directly or indirectly, to apostate Catholic eriests.
Some of those in North America claim to have been founded by men who were consecrated by bishops of various Eastern Churches, both Catholic and Dissident.
THESE episcopi vo2antes, whose numbers have multiplied since the first edition of this book was published in 1947, have to be reckoned with by Catholics as well as Anglicans. For this reason this unique source of reference ought to find a place on the shelves of every Catholic bishop. priest and layman who feels it his duty to be informed about curious ...Ltd sometime dangerous byways in contemporary religious life.
Some of these prelates are harmless enough, but others go around roaring like lions, to find their prey in the depths of the ecclesiastical underworld, and need to be faced boldly.
The author is to be commended for his always sympathetic though critical study of these bishops, with their impressive titles. Their schismatic sects. as he is careful to remind us, sometimes exist only on paper; if not, then consist of perhaps less than a dozen persons all told.
It is difficult if not impossible for us to take them seriously, but the fact remains that there are, and probably always will be. men and women who are happier in belonging to some obscure "wee Free" denomination meeting in a room in a back street than in any of the great historic Churches Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican. Lutheran, or Calvinist. They have not the least desire to bring about a United Christendom.