Arnold Harris Mathew and the Old Catholic Movement in England 1908-52
The life of Arnold Harris Mathew, who was consecrated by the Union of Utrecht as Old Catholic bishop for Great Britain in 1908, is the subject of a recent study by John Kersey.
The present work consists of a revised reprint of material from the earlier work A History of the Old Catholic Movement in England (European-American University Press, 2010) with an intention of providing a more accessible historical volume aimed at the general rather than the specialist reader. At its heart is a biography of Arnold Harris Mathew, and the work then goes on to consider some of the major extensions of his movement, specifically the Old Roman Catholic Church of Great Britain and the Liberal Catholic Church. In addition, a profile of the Old Catholic Orthodox Church is included. The period considered is demarcated for convenience by the death of Bernard Mary Williams in 1952, which marked a period of significant change for the Old Catholics and indeed which poses a considerably more complex task for the historian, given that it is during the 1950s and 1960s that churches which had hitherto been united divided – and indeed sometimes reunited – in a number of ways.
English Old Catholicism is a tremendously diffuse movement in which the outsider can find it difficult to discern structure or commonality. Between 1908 and 1910, that structure was provided through the formal alliance of the Old Catholic Church of Great Britain with the Union of Utrecht of the Old Catholic Churches on the Continent. The Union appointed Arnold Harris Mathew, a former Roman Catholic priest who had also served as a curate in the Church of England, as Old Catholic Regionary Bishop of Great Britain. However, the Union was moving ever closer towards Canterbury as Mathew was moving closer towards a Romanist position in keeping with the original mission of Old Catholicism. These and other factors caused a breach whereby Mathew declared his autonomy from Utrecht in 1910.
Between 1910 and 1915, although the English Old Catholics were no longer in union with Utrecht, they were nevertheless a homogenous group under Mathew’s common leadership. In 1915, as a result of a split within the church, two main groupings emerged; one, which sought to develop a proto-Uniate Roman rite, with its principal differences from the Roman Catholic Church being the acceptance of a married priesthood and a vernacular liturgy, and the other adopting those aspects but adding to them a background context of Theosophy and other esoteric traditions. These two divisions can be referred to as Old Roman Catholic and Liberal Catholic respectively. Both divisions claim to be the true successors of Mathew to the exclusion of other claimants.
This work is published by the Arnold Harris Mathew Center for the Study of the Independent Sacramental Movement at European-American University (Commonwealth of Dominica). Available in softcover. 280 pages including illustrations and tables. To purchase a copy, please visit the European-American University Press page at Lulu.com here.
The entire book is also available to read online at http://san-luigi.org/publications/arnold-harris-mathew-and-the-old-catholic-movement-in-england-1908-52/