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74

§ 20. Anglo-Catholic Correspondence with the Russo-Greek Church.

The Reformation of the sixteenth century proceeded entirely from the bosom of Latin or Western Catholicism. The Greek or Eastern Church had no part in the great controversy, and took no notice of it, until it was brought to its attention from without. The antagonism of the Greek Communion to Western innovations, especially to the claims of the Papacy, seemed to open the prospect of possible intercommunion and co-operation. But, so far, all the approaches to this effect on the part of Protestants have failed

1. The first attempt was made by Lutheran divines in the sixteenth century, and ended in the condemnation of the Augsburg Confession.151151    See above, § 13.

2. Of a different kind was Cyril's movement, in the seventeenth century, to protestantize the Eastern Church from within, which resulted in a stronger condemnation of Calvinism and Lutheranism.152152    See §§ 15–18.

3. The correspondence of the Anglican Non-Jurors with Russia and the East, 1717–1723, had no effect whatever.

Two high-church English Bishops; called 'Non-Jurors' (because they refused to renounce their oath of allegiance to King James II., and to transfer it to the Prince of Orange), in connection with two Scottish Bishops, assumed, October, 1717, the responsibility of corresponding with the Russian Czar, Peter the Great, and the Eastern Patriarchs.153153    The letters of the four Bishops signing themselves 'Jeremias, Primus Angliæ Episcopus; Archibaldus, Scoto-Britanniæ Episcopus; Jacobus, Scoto-Britanniæ Episcopus; Thomas, Angliæ Episcopus,' are given by Lathbury, in his History of the Non-Jurors, pp. 309–361, as documentary proof of their doctrinal status, but the answers are omitted. They were prompted to this step by a visit of an Egyptian Bishop to England, who collected money for the impoverished patriarchal see of Alexandria, and probably still more by a desire to get aid and comfort from abroad in their schismatical isolation. They characteristically styled themselves 'The Catholic Remainder in Britain.'

After a delay of several years, the Patriarchs, under date, Constantinople, September, 1723, sent their ultimatum, requiring, as a term of communion, absolute submission of the British to all the dogmas of the Greek Church. 'Those,' they wrote, 'who are disposed to agree 75with us in the Divine doctrines of the Orthodox faith must necessarily follow and submit to what has been defined and determined by ancient Fathers and the Holy Œcumenical Synods from the time of the Apostles and their Holy Successors, the Fathers of our Church, to this time. We say they must submit to them with sincerity and obedience, and without any scruple or dispute. And this is a sufficient answer to what you have written.' With this answer they forwarded the decrees of the Synod of Jerusalem of 1672.

The Russians were more polite. The 'Most Holy Governing Synod' of St. Petersburg, in transmitting the ultimatum of the Eastern Patriarchs, proposed, in the name of the Czar, 'to the Most Reverend the Bishops of the Remnant of the Catholic Church in Great Britain, our Brethren most beloved in the Lord,' that they should send two delegates to Russia to hold a friendly conference, in the name and spirit of Christ, with two members to be chosen by the Russians, that it may be more easily ascertained what may be yielded and given up by one to the other; what, on the other hand, may and ought for conscience' sake to be absolutely denied.154154    The two letters of the Holy Synod, the one signed Moscow, February, 1723, the other without date, are given by Blackmore, Doctrine of the Russian Church, Pref. pp. xxvi.–xxviii. The anonymous author (probably Dr. Young, now Bishop in Florida) of No. II. of the Papers of 'the Eastern Church Association' supplies the signatures of nine Church dignitaries of Russia from personal inspection of the archives of the Holy Synod, at a visit to St. Petersburg, April, 1864.

But such a conference was never held. The death of Peter (1725) put an end to negotiations. Archbishop Wake, of Canterbury, wrote a letter to the Patriarch of Jerusalem, in which he exposed the Non-Jurors as disloyal schismatics and pretenders. The Eastern Patriarchs accused the Anglicans of being 'Lutherano-Calvinists,' and the Russian Church historian, Mouravieff, in speaking of the correspondence, represents them as being infected with the same 'German heresy,' which had been previously condemned by the Orthodox Church.155155    History of the Church of Russia, translated by Blackmore, pp. 286 sq., 407 sqq.

4. A far more serious and respectable attempt to effect intercommunion between the Anglican and Russo-Greek Churches was begun in 1862, with the high authority of the Convocation of Canterbury, and the General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States. The ostensible occasion was furnished by the multiplication 76of Russo-Greeks on the Pacific coast, and by the desirableness of securing decent burial for Anglican travelers in the East, but the real cause lies much deeper. It is closely connected with the powerful Anglo-Catholic movement, which arose in Oxford in 1833, and has ever since been aiming to de-protestantize the Anglican Church. Hundreds of her priests and laymen, headed by Dr. John H. Newman, seceded to Rome; while others, less logical or more loyal to the Church of their fathers, are afraid of the charms or corruptions of the Papacy, and look hopefully to intercommunion with the Holy Catholic Orthodox and Apostolic Mother Church of the East to satisfy their longing for Catholic unity, and to strengthen their opposition to Protestantism and Romanism. The writings of the late Dr. John Mason Neale, and Dr. Pusey's Eirenicon, contributed not a little towards creating an interest in this direction.

In the General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States, held in New York, October, 1862, a joint committee was appointed 'to consider the expediency of opening communication with the Russo-Greek Church, to collect authentic information upon the subject, and to report to the next General Convention.' Soon afterwards, July 1, 1863, the Convocation of Canterbury appointed a similar committee, looking to 'such ecclesiastical intercommunion with the Orthodox East as should enable the laity and clergy of either Church to join in the sacraments and offices of the other without forfeiting the communion of their own Church.' The Episcopal Church in Scotland likewise fell in with the movement. These committees corresponded with each other, and reported from time to time to their authorities. Two Eastern Church Associations were formed, one in England and one in America, for the publication of interesting information on the doctrines and worship of the Russo-Greek Church. Visits were made to Russia, fraternal letters and Christian courtesies were exchanged, and informal conferences between Anglican and Russian dignitaries were held in London, St. Petersburg, and Moscow.156156    See the details in the Occasional Papers of the two Eastern Church Associations, published since 1864 in London (Rivington's) and in New York, and the Reports in the Journal of the General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States, held in New York, 1868, Append. IV. p. 427, and Append. XI. p. 480, and of the Convention in Baltimore, 1871, Append. VI. pp. 565–85. These reports are signed by Bishops Whittingham, Whitehouse, Odenheimer, Coxe, Young, and others. A curious incident in this correspondence, not mentioned in these documents, was the celebration of Greek mass, by a Russian ex-priest of doubtful antecedents, in the Episcopal Trinity Chapel of New York, on the anniversary of the Czar Alexander II., March 2, 1865.

77

The Russo-Greeks could not but receive with kindness and courtesy such flattering approaches from two of the most respectable Churches of Christendom, but they showed no disposition whatever either to forget or to learn or to grant any thing beyond the poor privilege of burial to Anglicans in consecrated ground of the Orthodox (without, however, giving them any right of private property). Some were willing to admit that the Anglican Church, by retaining Episcopacy and respect for Catholic antiquity, 'attached her back by a strong cable to the ship of the Catholic Church; while the other Protestants, having cut this cable, drifted out at sea.' Yet they could not discover any essential doctrinal difference. They found strange novelties in the Thirty-nine Articles; they took especial offense at Art. 19, which asserts that the Churches of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch have erred; they expressed serious scruples about the validity of Anglican orders, on account of a flaw in Archbishop Barker's ordination, and on account of the second marriage of many Anglican priests and bishops (which they consider a breach of continency, and a flagrant violation of Paul's express prohibition, according to their interpretation of μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἄνδρα, 1 Tim. iii. 2); they can not even recognize Anglican baptism, because it is not administered by trine immersion.

On the other hand, the Russo-Greeks insist on the expulsion of the Filioque, which is their main objection to Rome; the recognition of the seventh œcumenical Council; the invocation of the Holy Virgin and the Saints; the veneration of icons; prayers for the departed; seven sacramental mysteries; trine immersion; a mysterious transformation (μετουσίωσις) of the eucharistic elements; the eucharistic sacrifice for the living and the dead.157157    See the documents in the Journal of the General Convention for 1871, pp. 567–577, viz., the answers of Gregory, Patriarch of Constantinople, dated Sept. 26, 1869, to a letter of the Archbishop of Canterbury, accompanied by a Greek copy of the English Liturgy; the report of the Greek Archbishop of Syra to the Holy Synod of Greece, concerning his visit to England (1870); also the report of an interesting conference between the Greek Archbishop of Syra and the Anglican bishop of Ely (Dr. Browne, the author of a Commentary on the Thirty-nine Articles), held February 4, 1870, where all the chief points of difference were discussed in a friendly Christian spirit, but without result.

5. The latest phase of the Anglo-Greek movement is connected with the Old Catholic reunion Conferences in Bonn, 1874 and 1875.158158    See the results of the Bonn Conferences, at the close of Vol. II. pp. 545–554. Here the 78Filioque was surrendered as a peace-offering to the Orientals; but the Orientals made no concession on their part. It is not likely that the Anglican Church will sacrifice her own peace, the memory of her reformers and martyrs, and a Protestant history and literature of three centuries to an uncongenial union with the Russo-Greek Church in her present unreformed state.

 


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