From the Rev Richard Martin SIR — I have read Stuart Reid's piece (Charterhouse, October 24) entitled "The last archbishop?" (and also noted the advertisement for services organised by the Latin Mass Society under this title) with some dismay.
Mr Reid writes that it is a sad fact "that there has not been an Archbishop of Canterbury since Pole died in 1558. Matthew Parker, who succeeded him" ("How then did he `succeed'?" one might ask) "was consecrated bishop using the Edwardine Ordinal, which the Church did not and does not recognise."
If he, or others of your readers interested in this matter, will consult Saepius Officio, the Reply of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to the letter Apostolicae Curae of Pope Leo XIII, (republished in 1977 by the Church Literature Association) he will find an extremely erudite refutation (the work of John Wordsworth, then Bishop of Salisbury) of the papal bull, drafted by the antipathetic Cardinal Merry del Val, which has never been officially answered.
The argument is too complex to be summarised here, but Pius XII's ruling in 1947 that the assisting bishops at an episcopal consecration are co-consecrators raises the question of the effect on Anglican orders today of the participation by Old Catholic bishops in English consecrations since 1932.
Since we are on the threshold of another exodus of Anglican clergy who will be seeking unity with the see of Peter, it is saddening to note the persistence of old attitudes and misunderstandings in such quarters.
Yours faithfully, RICHARD MARTIN Oxford