DR RUNCIE having several times recently — and notably in the presence of the Pope — claimed to be the successor of St Augustine, Mrs Veronica Welsh July 23 deserves an adequate reply.
She asked, "if Runcie is the successor of St Augustine (though the succession was broken at the Reformation) of whom is Cardinal Hume the successor?" It turns on the events of 1558-9, the year of the accession of Elizabeth I. The relevant facts are these:—
Every move of Elizabeth to reintroduce Protestantism was voted against by every one of the bishops both in Convocation and in Parliament. By virtue of her assumed headship of the Church in England and Wales she removed them all from their sees — a wholly uncanonical and invalid deprivation — thus leaving the kingdom without one bishop able to exercise his authority.
Kitchen, of Llandaff, failed in his courage, submitted and was restored, but had no hand in later events. He was a canonist, and appreciated the irregularities of what took place, and he died four years later.
Three of the bishops managed to escape abroad and sat in the Council of Trent as diocesan bishops.
The rest were either imprisoned or subjected to some form of "house arrest," among the latter being Archbishop Heath, of York, Primate of England.
In 1559 the Queen appointed Matthew Parker to Canterbury and within a few days he consecrated enough bishops to complete a new hierarchy not only for the sees vacant by death, but for those which were not canonically vacant.
Thus from that year there were two distinct hierarchies, the Catholic and canonical one, deprived by the civil power, and the Anglican, a state creation.
In 1585 the hierarchy dating back to St Augustine became extinct with the death of its last surviving member, Goldwell, of St Asaph.
Conditions under the penal laws made it impossible to organise the bishops (vicars apostolic) into a teritorial hierarchy until 1850, and even then political considerations made it impracticable for the bishops to adopt the old titles of Canterbury, York, London and Durham, etc., as has been done with the restored hierarchy in Scotland, and in Ireland.
Archbishop (later Cardinal) Wiseman, having his see at Westminster, was nevertheless the canonical successor of Cardinal Richard Pole (of. 1555), the last Catholic incumbent of the see of St Augustine.
Archbishop Runcie is successor of Matthew Parker, the source of the Anglican succession, who derived his authority from Elizabeth, as "Supreme Governor."
It is only in the light of these facts that the term "Restoration of the Hierarchy" has any meaning whatever, and it is important to realise that later controversies about the validity or otherwise of Anglican orders, though obviously a related subject, have no bearing on the destruction and later restoration of the original Catholic hierarchy.
Rev Hubert Grant Scarfe. Bucks.