May I be allowed to point out to the Rev. W. P. Wylie, some important historical omissions in his interesting article. The whole Catholic Hierarchy (with the exception of John Fisher, George Athequa and William Macherel) accepted the Supremum Caput of Henry VIII, and therefore became schismatic. On 30 November 1554, Reginald Pole, the Apostolic Delegate, with full authority of the Holy See absolved the Hierarchy and Nation from the sin of schism in fora externo. Thus there was a complete break between the policy and protestantism of the past.
On the accession of Elizabeth there was a full Catholic Hierarchy in possession of their sees and seats in the House of Lords. The Bishops however were suspicious of Elizabeth and refused to crown her, which would have been a serious setback for the beginning of her reign. Finally Christopher Ogelthorpe consented to place the crown on her head, and she took the oath to maintain the Catholic Faith as it had been in the reign of Edward the Confessor. In spite of this the Queen in face of opposition from the whole Hierarchy and the Abbot of Westminster revived the Supremum Caput. deprived the Catholic Hierarchy, prohibited the Catholic Missal, removed the Blessed Sacrament from St. Paul's and drove the Religious Orders out of the country. No Catholic Bishop, except Kitchen. OSB, of Llandaff, took the oath of supremacy, and thus there was a complete break between the restored hierarchy of 1554 and the Queen's settlement of 1560. to which was added the Second Prayer Book of Edward VI as a schedule to an Act of Parliament. The "Nag's Head Plot" and the Queen's excommunic.etion were posterior to this.
The Queen was at her wit's end to produce another hierarchy and a bishop to fill the see of the late Cardinal Pole, She was therefore forced back on the ecclesiastical odds and ends of Edward VI's reign and these took the form of four apostate religious: Coverdale, Aug. (an out-and-out Protestant), Scory, 0.P., Hodgkins, 0.S.B., and Barlow, Aug. as consecrator. This latter married an apostate nun, Agatha Welshbourne. The rite used was the aforesaid schedule to the Act of Parliament.
How can any Catholic worthy of the name regard this consecration as regular. quite apart from invalidity? The act was carried out in defiance of the Primate of England, the Catholic Hierarchy; those concerned had no sees and no seats in Parliament; Barlow had not been reconciled; and the rite used had been declared invalid by Paul IV in the Praeclara Carissind of 1555. By this Pole was instructed vis vis the Edwardian Rite which was found to have been used that only those Bishops and Archbishops who were not ordained and consecrated in Forma Ecclesem could be said not to be properly and validly ordained.
Following this no single Bishop ordained by the Edwardian Ordinal was allowed to remain in his diocese or was restored to it.
The break with a Catholic past was complete. Those who remained faithful to the Holy See were "beaten, bobbed and thumped, and in record left the heirs of shame", till, through 300 years of persecution, they blossomed out into our present wonderful Catholic Hierarchy who are just as much in communion with the Holy See now (in 1963) as were the Catholic Hierarchy who refused the Supremum Caput (in 1560).
Stephen C. Barber Wallasey, Cheshire.
As a layman of the English Church, I would reply to Mr. Weeke's letter of December 21st, to say that there are indeed many laymen who do accept fully the teaching of Fr. Simmons and the many other Anglican Priests who have consistently taught the full Catholic Faith ever since the beginning of the Oxford Movement 150 years ago.
I am the General Secretary of the Catholic League, an Anglican Society, founded fifty years ago, which soon after its foundation accepted as a condition of membership the articles of the Tridentine Creed. as 'being the simplest available document of the Faith of the Western Church and the Church of England before she was co-erced by the State at the Reformation'. The League has also since its inception worked and prayed for the restoration of Unity between the Church of England and the Holy See, in fact it was the C.L. which first took up the promotion of the Church Unity Octave, inspired by an Anglican Priest, Fr. Spencer Jones, for this express purpose.
An increasing number of lay people as well as Priests have come to see the necessity of this definite acceptance of the full Faith to be essential, not because it is taught by certain Priests but because it is believed and taught by Holy Church and we now have several hundred lay people on our roll.
The attendance at other Anglican Churches, where perhaps the full Faith is not taught as we accept it, does not present the difficulties envisaged by Mr. Weekes. We steadfastly believe that out Orders and Sacraments are valid and accept the Catholic precept that we are in Communion with whom our Bishop is in Communion. We hold that the Book of Common Prayer forced on us by the State against the will of the Church under the Tudor despotism provides Catholic Sacraments. we therefore witness to this belief by attending the local Church in normal circumstances.
When we are abroad we naturally worship with the local Church as being the Catholic Church of the county in which we are staying and offer the fact of our being deprived of the Sacraments as an act of sacrifice and reparation for the sin of disunity.
L. G. Fisher
General Secretary, The Catholic League.