So far as is possible, the majority of my creative work is licensed under various Creative Commons licences and can be reproduced under the conditions provided by those licenses.

Some of my writings can be found at the website of the Traditional Britain Group. I have also blogged for the former Libertarian Alliance.

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Honours and awards: Royal Fellow and Branch-Governor for Europe of the Royal Academy of Aristocracy

I have been appointed a Royal Fellow of the Royal Academy of Aristocracy and Branch-Governor for Europe of the Academy.

The Royal Academy of Aristocracy is an institution of the Kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara (Uganda) designed to bring together the aristocrats of the world. Each appointment is made subject to the approval of the Royal Commission of Royalty and Nobility of the Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom.

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Honours and awards: The Most Honourable Order of Omukama Chwa II Kabalega

I have been honoured to receive appointment as a Knight Grand Cross in the Most Honourable Order of Omukama Chwa II Kabalega in the Kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara. Bunyoro-Kitara is one of the constituent kingdoms of Uganda and the Sovereign, Grand Master and Protector of the Order is the reigning Omukama of Bunyoro-Kitara, H.M. Rukirabasaija Agutamba Solomon Gafabusa Iguru I.

HM The Omukama (King) of Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom and the Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom were restored by the Amendment [No. 8] Act – Statute No. 8, Article 118 (1)- of 1993 enacted by the Parliament of Uganda and officially recognized and protected by the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda by Chapter IV. –Article 37.-, Chapter XVI. -Article 246. (1) – (6)- of 1995 and by the Amendment [No. 2] Act -schedule V. -Article 178.8- of 2005 and by the Acts Supplement [No. 4] -Act 6. of 2011.

The Order was founded in 2010 and commemorates the present Omukama’s grandfather, the last absolute ruler of Bunyoro-Kitara.

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Honours and awards: Senator, Senior Fellow and Member of the Academic Council of the Royal Scientific Senate (Bunyoro-Kitara)

I have been honoured with an appointment as a Senator, Senior Fellow and Member of the Academic Council of the Royal Scientific Senate for Humanity, Health and Development Affairs of the Kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara (Uganda).

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Honours and awards: Recognition of Royal House Polanie-Patrikios by the Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom

The Royal Office of Orders, Honours and Awards Affairs of the Kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara (Uganda) has officially recognized the Royal House Polanie-Patrikios, of which I am head. Consequently, the titles and honours of the Royal House Polanie-Patrikios are fully recognized and may be used officially in the Kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara.

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Honours and awards: Royal Patron and Council Member of the Heraldry Society of Africa

I have been honoured with appointments as Royal Patron and Council Member of the Heraldry Society of Africa. The Society is registered as a non-governmental organization (NGO) in The City of Hoima, Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom (Republic of Uganda), no. 220498.

>>Further information
>>Objects and Means

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Honours and awards: Honorary Royal Chaplain to H.M. the Omukama of Bunyoro-Kitara

I have been honoured with an appointment as Honorary Royal Chaplain to H.M. the Omukama of Bunyoro-Kitara (Uganda).

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Honours and awards: Fellowship of the College of Violinists

I was greatly honoured recently to be elected a Fellow of the College of Violinists “for services to the International Private Education Sector”. The College of Violinists was founded in 1890 and has been administered by the Victoria College of Music since 1962. I was elected a Fellow honoris causa of the Victoria College of Music for services to the Performing Arts in 2010.

Today, the Fellowship of the College of Violinists is the highest honorary award of the Victoria College of Music, and is awarded to both violinists and non-violinists for services to the arts. It is awarded rarely and requires the unanimous agreement of Executive Council.


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Life in the Church – part 5 “Quis et unde?”

In 2018, I was faced with a challenging combination of circumstances. With our third child now expected, my family had outgrown San Luigi House and needed a bigger home. Moreover, having elderly family members living on the other side of the country, we no longer wished to make marathon train journeys to see them. Added to this, the AEC had continued to grow overseas, but had dwindled in Great Britain to the point where I was now the only remaining clergyman in major orders. With the exception of my own family, the remaining laity were, through age and geographical disparity, no longer in a position to form a viable worshipping community.

In such circumstances, a public chapel could no longer easily be sustained, and when we moved to Shropshire in December 2018, it was with an awareness that the provision of congregational worship in Great Britain would no longer be a priority. Even in far larger and better-resourced churches than ours, the decline in congregational worship was endemic. For all that Anglicanism is built upon the worshipping community, it proved necessary for us to reconsider how and where ministry can take place when people are no longer turning to the church as they have done in the past. Our solution was in various forms of voluntary service in the community and in the preservation of the distinctive history, tradition and identity of our communion through curation of its archives, the preparation of further book and article publications, and the maintenance of its detailed and informative website. Through all of this, we continued to support our overseas parishes and missions through practical assistance and in prayer.

During 2019, I was particularly pleased when a group of Brazilian clergy joined the Byelorussian Patriarchate, having previously been part of the related Belarusian jurisdiction of the American World Patriarchates. The creation of the Brazilian Exarchate under Dom Nagui Zayat brought about a new headquarters for our mission there in the form of the Cathedral of St George and St Sebastian in Rio de Janeiro.

Postscript – some general observations

I am sometimes asked how my office as a bishop in the smaller churches differs from that of bishops in the larger, mainstream denominations. Clearly there is a difference in the numbers concerned, both in respect of clergy and laity. That makes the bishop a more immediate and accessible figure in the smaller church, and also means that the bishop can undertake more in the way of a presbyteral ministry. Bureaucracy is generally more streamlined internally, but no less so in respect of conformity to external laws and requirements, which can involve multiple jurisdictions and require some degree of legislative expertise and linguistic dexterity.

A smaller church will inevitably bear the imprint of the bishop who leads it. In the modern age of centralized, committee-run churches, this is unusual, as is the directly hierarchical structure in which the presiding bishop has the final say on all matters. The model that works best in this situation is that of the benevolent dictator, but it is crucial that in exercising authority, the bishop is aware of the implications of his decisions on the church as a whole. He may have the ultimate responsibility before God, but he would be foolish not to listen to his clergy and laity. I have been surprised over the years how many outside my churches have wrongly assumed that the policy of my churches is merely a direct reflection of my own views. In fact, policy is carefully crafted bearing in mind the significance of tradition, external requirements (such as legislation), the need for accountability and the nature of the body of active clergy and laity as it may be constituted from time to time. My role is to integrate these factors and to consider, after prayer and reflection, how they may be best expressed in practice.

Probably the biggest point of similarity with the larger churches is in dealing with the clergy and the challenges they face. These raise familiar and universal themes, but within a structure such as the AEC where the clergy are all non-stipendiary, there is the additional factor that the connexion between the clergy and their church is more readily frangible; there are many competing denominations, and where church buildings are not owned centrally, they can move jurisdiction with the clergyman in question. This tends to produce a pressure for smaller churches to advance their clergy irrespective of pastoral necessity, in order not to lose them to other churches where they might find such advancement more readily. I have always taken the view that this pressure is to be resisted. Holy Orders are conferred for the Church, not for the individual benefit of the person concerned, and it means considerably more to be a priest in a well-run church than it does to be a bishop in those jurisdictions where the episcopate is indiscriminately conferred. With most smaller churches being “top heavy”, what is actually needed is more deacons and priests, more lay ministers, and of course, more laity.

The experience of working with others within small religious bodies tends to heighten differences that would be more readily absorbed within a larger organization. When the group of clergy is small, there is a risk of dominance of the more extrovert personalities at the expense of others, and where there is a clash of ideologies or personalities it will become more readily apparent at an early stage. Over the years, I have been privileged to work with some outstandingly gifted clergy, who have been every bit the equal of those to be found in the larger churches. Notwithstanding this, there have been occasions when it has been necessary to admit that the paths of clergy have diverged to an incompatible extent from the nature of our church, and occasions where working relationships have sadly broken down. Wherever possible, my duty is to assure stability and to manage change in a way that is organic and that offers reassurance as to the way ahead.

The AEC was open to the ordination of women as deacons between 1998 and 2015, but in practice it did not exercise this prerogative. Under my primacy from 2015 onwards, this practice has ceased and I do not intend that it will be revived. The ministry of women is in my view properly exercised through the lay office of Deaconess and within religious orders of women, as well of course as through other positions of specialist lay ministry.

There are inevitable difficulties in relations with members of other churches who have a prejudiced view of our traditions and practices. The smaller churches have not proved immune from the scandals of abuse that have affected the mainstream communions, and so there is a particular need for vigilance in respect of the selection of ordinands and others who may be placed in positions of trust. On a more subjective level, there are issues where I take a particular position in view of some of the more justified criticisms that have been levelled at the smaller churches over the years. I have always insisted that candidates for admission to the clergy be of graduate standing and undergo background checks (including in some cases psychological testing by a qualified professional). Those convicted of criminal offences are not eligible for admission to the clergy. I require of the clergy that they conduct a purposeful and visible ministry in the community, or follow a contemplative vocation guided by a Rule of Life.

More generally, I try to avoid “hard edges” in theological interpretation, mindful that it is the pastoral application of theology that is at the heart of Christian ministry. I have also always taken a studied disinterest in the minutiae of liturgy, ceremonial, and ecclesiastical robes, having too often seen these things lead clergy down the wrong paths and away from our proper priorities. I hold, in the words of Mar Georgius of Glastonbury, that “the most spiritual people are usually the most natural”.

Regarding the question of titles, I believe that these should serve a practical purpose within the body concerned, and be integral to the preservation of its distinctive ethos. Often, those who object to titles are objecting primarily to the hierarchy that they signify, and yet hierarchy is fundamental to the nature and governance of all the churches that I lead today, having been inherited by me as a living tradition and continued accordingly. I do not interpret Christianity as supporting egalitarianism, and neither did the overwhelming majority of Christians prior to the second half of the twentieth-century.

I am a firm believer that integrity in the episcopal office is best served by a thorough knowledge both of the Church and her mission and of oneself. The diversity of character among those called to the episcopacy is considerable; some are obvious saints, some are of almost monastic mien, some are parish priests writ large, while others are sadly clearly more at home with administrative responsibilities than with people. My own approach is to be and give of myself as much as I can, and through this, to try to lead people to Jesus by my own, inevitably flawed, example. Key to my approach is to try to meet people at the point they have reached on their spiritual journey.

The Anglican tradition of “muscular Christianity” has a certain appeal for me, and points towards a degree of unstuffiness in which the Christian way becomes the natural context for our values and behaviour, integrated indelibly into the archetypal English character and the history of our nation. I also identify with the concept of the guardian of multiple traditions, maintaining and preserving these in good order so that in due course they will survive me. Although these are sober and sometimes weighty responsibilities, I try to remain as grounded as possible and not take myself too seriously, which is an easy task with three young children.

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Life in the Church – part 4 “Quid non Deo juvante?”

The late Dom Klaus Schlapps OPR (1959-2013) was responsible for the revival of the Order of Port Royal (OPR) and the foundation of its Abbey of St Severin in Germany where he and other men served as Cistercian monks. In 2004, the Order became a part of the Union of Utrecht of the Old Catholic Churches, and Dom Klaus was recognized as a bishop of the Union of Utrecht, sharing a number of the Apostolic lineages that I had myself received at my consecration in 2008. However, the modernist direction of the Union did not sit well with the theology of the Order, and in 2010 it became independent once more, establishing its own synod, the Christ Catholic Church in Germany. This was in 2012 accepted as the German administration of the Nordic Catholic Church under the Union of Scranton. Sister communities were established in the USA, Haiti and Cameroon, the latter two of which were under the protection of Anglican bishops. Dom Klaus was appointed an Honorary Canon of St Michael’s Anglican Cathedral, Cameroon, in 2008. He was German Superintendent of the International Council of Community Churches.

A Cistercian monk’s life is necessarily one dominated by silence, but each day, Dom Klaus and I would set aside time to communicate via an online messaging application. I was struck by the high priority that he gave to this contact, amid the stringent demands of his monastic life and the administration of the monastery. He became both a friend and a mentor.

Dom Klaus was strongly involved in chivalry and was of the same mind as me regarding the sacred nature of kingship and the existence of noble prerogatives within the historic Churches. He held senior office in branches of the Order of St John and the Order of St Lazarus, and was also expert in the nobiliary and chivalric traditions of Africa. When, prompted by my contact with some of its few surviving members, I raised with him the possibility of the revival of the Abbey-Principality of San Luigi, whose headship had been vacant since the death of the seventh Prince-Abbot, Edmond II, in 1998, he became one of the major architects of the revival. San Luigi was briefly an independent monastic state in the Fezzan during 1883-84, and had then passed through a succession of bishops in France and the USA, with notable connexions with European and African royalty. In 1962, King Peter II of Yugoslavia gave official recognition to Prince-Abbot Edmond II, also granting to him Royal Yugoslav honours. Notably, Prince-Abbot Edmond II had also been a bishop of the Apostolic Episcopal Church.

Another important friendship that developed at this period was with Prince Kermit Poling de Polanie-Patrikios. He was a direct descendant of Russian, Polish, European and Byzantine kings, held a number of hereditary titles of nobility, and was head of the Royal House Polanie-Patrikios, which had been established in 1970 when he was elected by the Orthodox Patriarch of Belarus as the candidate for a proposed Belarusian monarchical restoration. Moreover, having been consecrated bishop by Mar Basilius Abdullah III (Dr William Bernard Crow), he was now the only living bishop of the Apostolate of the Holy Wisdom, one of the leading jurisdictions of its time to combine Orthodoxy with esoteric study. He had spent his career in ministerial service, having served in the pastorate of the United Methodist Church, and was now living in retirement in West Virginia. His connexions in the church, nobility and chivalry ranged very widely. Importantly, he had been a good friend of Prince-Abbot Edmond II of San Luigi, and was honoured by him both through senior rank in the San Luigi Orders and with a dukedom.

With Dom Klaus’s and Prince Kermit’s help, it was established that the Supreme Council of San Luigi was the responsible body for electing a successor to the last Prince-Abbot, who had died without nominating an heir, and the present representation of Supreme Council in descent from that body as it had stood in 1998 was traced in detail. Following this work, new appointments were made to the Supreme Council by its President and I was asked by the Supreme Council to accept election to the vacant Prince-Abbacy. I duly became the eighth Prince-Abbot of San Luigi with the regnal name Edmond III on 25 August 2011.

After my election, application for recognition was then made to H.M. the Omukama (King) of Bunyoro-Kitara. Bunyoro-Kitara is today one of the constituent kingdoms of Uganda, with its monarch recognized under the Constitution, but when the monks of San Luigi arrived there in 1885, it was an absolute monarchy under Omukama Chwa II Kabalega. The Omukama had granted to the Prince-Abbot the title of Mukungu, translated as Prince-Governor, in perpetuity, and our application to the present Omukama, who is the grandson of Omukama Chwa II Kabalega, was therefore to recognize the succession to this title. On 25 January 2012, His Majesty responded to our petition by issuing Letters Patent accordingly.

Moreover, H.M. the Omukama graciously consented to become a Royal Patron of the dependent chivalric Orders of San Luigi, the Order of the Crown of Thorns and the Order of the Lion and the Black Cross. This placed these Orders under the patronage of a reigning monarch.

The work of re-establishing San Luigi would take up many hours of research, writing and administration. From the outset, I took the view that the membership of the San Luigi Orders would be highly selective and that we would take as our model the dynastic Orders of the European former ruling houses. Equally, I was determined that the membership would not be restricted to the wealthy or well-connected. As had always been the case in the past, we looked to merit wherever it was to be found, without distinction of class or background. As part of the administration a Charitable Trust for San Luigi was established in the United Kingdom. A permanent chapel for San Luigi was also established by the membership in France. Prince Kermit became a Royal Patron, and Dom Klaus oversaw the Grand Priory for Continental Europe.

The church tradition of San Luigi was extremely rich, including its Benedictine Roman Catholic foundation, the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of San Luigi itself (re-established by a bishop of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church in 1945), and the Order of Antioch, a religious order which had been established in 1928 by the Western extensions of the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate. Two past Prince-Abbots had also been Anglican clergymen. New appointments of clergy were made, but as with the Orders, this was done selectively rather than with a view to building up numbers.

On 3 November 2012, Dom Klaus in his capacity as Grand Prior of the Confraternitas Oecumenica Sancti Sepulcri Hierosolymitani (Ecumenical Brotherhood of the Holy Grave of Jerusalem, or COSSH) erected a Prefectory of Great Britain under my leadership. The COSSH is an ecumenical fraternity open to men and women that draws inspiration from the “pilgrims to Jerusalem from the chivalric Brotherhood of the Holy Land in Haarlem” founded in 1394. It was revived in 1996 and Dom Klaus was elected Grand Prior in 2009. In May 2012, I received the Gold Cross of Merit of the COSSH, and in October 2012 I was appointed as a Brother of COSSH honoris causa.

The sudden death of Dom Klaus in January 2013 prevented many of our plans from coming to fruition, and it became necessary in a number of cases to take decisive action in order to preserve the organizations he had led. Accordingly, I exercised the sovereign prerogative of San Luigi in order to ensure that his representation of the Johannine and Lazarite Orders could continue, and worked with the Revd. Christian Kliver, who as Prefect of Bavaria was now the only other remaining senior officer of the COSSH, to ensure that the COSSH was not suppressed as was the intention of some others.

In July 2014, Archbishop Francis C. Spataro appointed me as his co-adjutor with right of succession to the Primacy of the Apostolic Episcopal Church.

Archbishop Spataro subsequently announced that he would retire as AEC Primate on 5 February 2015, his seventy-ninth birthday, and I duly succeeded him the following day. As an urgent priority, I promulgated canons for the AEC after a long period of rule by decree, and worked to re-activate fully the historical, jurisdictional and canonical legacy of the AEC, most particularly in its role as the successor of the Catholicate of the West. This was ultimately the fulfilment of the commission I had received in respect of the Ancient Catholic Church in 2008 and the Apostolic ordination I had received within the communion of the AEC in 2006. The AEC’s corporate nonprofit status had been unclear for some years, and in order to resolve this and manage its affairs effectively, I established a nonprofit religious Corporation Sole for the Primate and Presiding Bishop of the AEC under the special legislative provision that exists for such corporate entities in Hawaii.

To my surprise, after many years of the friendliest contact, Bertil Persson opposed my election to the Primacy, proposing that he should resume that office instead. A power struggle ensued for some months, in which (despite severe provocation and threats) I refused to criticize my opponents or descend to their level. Likewise, Archbishop Spataro was steadfast and unflinching in his support for me. The Persson camp, which consisted of Persson and a young bishop who he had recently consecrated, was implacably opposed to a canonical or hierarchical organization for the AEC, despite this being the original historical basis of the church, and also rejected anything that represented the legacy of Mar Georgius of Glastonbury. It was further apparent that, for them, these issues had become deeply politicized, and that they favoured a progressive theology of the style of Pope Francis rather than my traditionalist Anglican outlook. It was necessary to quash the dissenters firmly, and after much forebearance, rejected attempts at dialogue, and an abortive attempt at schism, they were excommunicated by the AEC.

It was also my duty to conduct a thorough review of the serving clergy and the state of the various intercommunions that had been entered into over the years. I came to the conclusion that the extremely wide scope of the ecumenical developments in the AEC during the primacy of Bertil Persson (1986-98) had taken the AEC into a position where its core identity was in danger of being lost. Following the work of Archbishop Spataro, I therefore re-emphasised the Continuing Anglican and Orthodox core identity of the AEC, while making clear its openness to diverse intellectual traditions including the esoteric.

On 1 March, Prince Kermit adopted me as his successor in all his honours, and on 31 March he died, whereupon I succeeded him as Ecclesiast of the Byelorussian Patriarchate of St Andrew the First-Called Apostle and as head of the Apostolate of the Holy Wisdom. The administration of the Apostolate was combined with that of the AEC, while the Byelorussian Patriarchate was maintained separately as part of the administration of Royal Belarus.

I moved from London to Norfolk in September 2015, and took up residence at what was to become San Luigi House. This was a magnificent Victorian home that was the subject of an extensive and painstaking restoration by the previous owner and myself. It became the headquarters for San Luigi and the AEC.

Among the outbuildings was a former store that I converted into a fully-fledged chapel. I embarked on the project intending that this would serve not only as a domestic chapel for the worship of my young family and myself, but that it would form a focal point for San Luigi and AEC members in Great Britain. The resulting Vilatte Chapel was duly registered with the civil authorities as a place of worship.

On 1 August 2016, Archbishop Peter Paul Brennan, Universal Primate of the Order of Corporate Reunion, died. Archbishop Brennan had been a friend for many years and we would meet on his regular visits to London. He was one of the rare breed of clergymen who had the ability to work both within conservative and liberal church traditions, and sought throughout to bring about unity and to find common ground between groups of Christians. His successor Michael Kline was unfortunately lacking in this ability, and despite many attempts at help and guidance, insisted on taking an autocratic and insensitive approach that lost him key support, especially when this involved interference in other jurisdictions. When it became apparent that any remonstrance or constructive suggestion was simply being ignored by Kline, it became necessary to act, and the AEC in consequence separated its historic representation of the Order of Corporate Reunion (which dates from 1933) from Kline’s recently-formed Missouri corporation in April 2018. The result of this action, the reasons for which were detailed in an official statement of the AEC, was a campaign of online personal vilification against me by Kline, which spoke eloquently as to his character and suitability for office.

The AEC has always remained an intentionally small communion, with something of the character of a church society, but under my Primacy I was delighted to see fresh growth with new missions joining us in Scandinavia and in Latin America. I was also particularly pleased to sign an intercommunion agreement between the AEC and the Patriarchate of Bunyoro-Kitara. In Great Britain, I had dialogue with several clergy of the Church of England who were concerned about developments in that communion, and one of our clergy was also accepted to minister in the Free Church of England in parallel with his AEC responsibilities.

Against this, there was the continual difficulty that both clergy and laity were predominantly of the older generation, and one of my duties was to deal with a steady flow of retirements and obituaries. Past experience in the LCAC and EADM had shown that the younger generation rarely stays the course in the smaller communions. This highlights, of course, the considerable challenges of undertaking this kind of independent, self-reliant ministry, but it also speaks of a generation that has either rejected institutional and formal religion, or that regards the larger communions as fulfilling adequately the need for such.

>>Continue to part 5

Posted in Church

Life in the Church – part 3 “Adveniat regnam tuum”

Following my ordination and consecration by Dom Phillip Kemp, the church which I co-led experienced a period of growth and development. The new name The Liberal Rite was adopted with effect from 1 January 2007 and reflected our position as part of the Liberal Catholic movement, consisting of churches that used the Liturgy or Rite of the Liberal Catholic Church.

The word “liberal” means different things to different people. I am liberal in some aspects, particularly in my pastoral approach and in my openness to the study of esoteric teachings, but conservative in others, such as the essentials of orthodox theology and my preference for a hierarchical church organization. Others draw the line in different ways. I also believe that liberalism in the context of the Liberal Catholic movement should signify adherence to a positive set of precepts rather than an absence of theological principles and organization.

In many respects, the Liberal Catholic Church from which the Liberal Catholic movement descends is highly conservative. The liturgy is formal, ceremonial in nature and differs little from the pre-Vatican II Tridentine Mass (hence the attraction of the Liberal Catholic Church to a number of Traditional Catholics). The church is administered hierarchically and according to a corpus of canon law, policies and regulations. Its emphasis is sacerdotal rather than evangelical, and it is oriented towards the contemplative and mystic. It has never laid great emphasis on numbers of parishes or followers, and is more concerned with reaching those who have a particular calling to follow its distinctive charism.

What is certainly liberal, however, is the freedom of individual interpretation that is permitted. For many years, this was wholly unrestricted, and in some cases came to embrace a good deal of syncretism and Eastern teachings, but in more recent years more orthodox official Summaries of Doctrine or lists of Teachings have been adopted by some Liberal Catholics. For those who, like the founders of the LCC, had come from a background of Roman dogma and unquestioning constraint, interpretative freedom must have seemed revolutionary. From an Anglican perspective like my own, it was a much more natural approach to faith, in which the intellect is welcomed and the spiritual journey of the individual emphasised. However, during my time, I saw a number of people come into the Liberal Catholic movement whose background was not necessarily in the LCC or its related churches, but instead in theological and liturgical liberalism, with its opposition to traditionalism, hierarchy and formality. This approach was not in line with my own, and indeed it was a major reason why I had left the Church of England.

The principal causes of division between the different churches of the Liberal Catholic movement are long-standing and as seemingly intractable as the other principal obstacles to ecumenical reunion. Firstly, there is controversy as to the importance of Theosophy and its teachings. It should be stated that there has never been an official relationship between the original LCC or any of the churches of the Liberal Catholic movement and the Theosophical Society, and indeed the Theosophical Society early on issued a statement dissociating itself from the LCC. The fact remains, however, that the founding clergy and many other members of the LCC have also been members of the TS, and this has led to a number of Theosophical ideas entering into some Liberal Catholic jurisdictions. Principal among these are belief in the Ascended Masters, compulsory vegetarianism and abstention from alcohol and tobacco. A strong connexion between the LCC and Co-Freemasonry is also evident. In the modern era, there have been further divisions concerning the ordination of women.

The position of The Liberal Rite was that it did not endorse Theosophy or any other esoteric school, holding that it was for the individual to determine to what extent they accepted such views. Nor did it prescribe vegetarianism or teetotalism. It also followed the practice of the non-Theosophical Liberal Catholic churches in ordaining women to the major orders. While I had not been part of the vigorous opposition from Anglo-Catholicism to the ordination of women in the Church of England, neither did I agree with the “progressive” view in favour of the matter that had its origins in egalitarian politics. Instead, influenced by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware’s comments on the female diaconate, the practice of the Greek Orthodox Church and a number of the esoteric churches, and ultimately by the Eglise Gnostique of Doinel, I took the view that the ordination of women was a parallel but separate ministry to that of the ordination of men, with its own distinctive character and charism. Some years later, I would come to see this view as excessively idealistic. The fact was that where the ordination of women was being advocated, it was being done in the name of egalitarianism rather than with reference to any origins in orthodox theology and church history, and it was being used to undermine the traditional values that I wished to support.

Having made positive contact with other Liberal Catholic groups, including The Young Rite on the Continent, The Liberal Rite also had a good working relationship with the Apostolic Episcopal Church and the Ancient Catholic Church as two jurisdictions with similar approaches and aims. Our worship continued to be based in London, but, reflecting both perceived need and our resources and interests, had moved from a general congregational outreach to a more specialized mission that would of its nature be of interest to a smaller group of people.

On 15 August 2007, I was the principal consecrator for two bishops at the former Well Chapel at Witnesham, Suffolk. Assisted by Andrew Linley and Old Catholic bishop Michael Skelly, I consecrated priests Charles Mugleston and Alistair Bate, who had both previously been members of other Liberal Catholic churches. Charles was responsible for the community of the Well Chapel and in secular life is a professional actor. He worked tirelessly to try to achieve reunion between the churches of the Liberal Catholic movement and remains in communion with my church today. After some years during which he served as a bishop in my jurisdictions, Alistair ceased to be in communion on 31 May 2011.

During the earlier part of 2008, I was much occupied with the complex ecclesiastical and legal aftermath of the loss of the Cathedral Church of the Good Shepherd in Clapton to the Ancient Catholic Church, which I have written about elsewhere. The eventual outcome was that the Ancient Catholic Church merged with The Liberal Rite to create the new Liberal Catholic Apostolic Church, which I led as its first Metropolitan Primate.

In August 2008, I returned to the Well Chapel when Bishop Charles Mugleston ordained Sr. Magdalena Stebbing to the priesthood.

With the death of Archbishop George Boyer in the same year, the Apostolic Episcopal Church (AEC) elected me to succeed him as their Archbishop of Great Britain; I was also appointed as Bishop and Rector Pro-Provincial of Canterbury in the Order of Corporate Reunion.

The AEC required me to undergo subconditional consecration, this being necessary since the AEC was a Continuing Anglican body and maintained the Anglican practice of having a minimum of three bishops consecrate rather than allowing for consecrations to take place solus by a single bishop (as is more commonly accepted by Rome). This took place on 23 November 2008 in the beautiful Arts and Crafts setting of Golder’s Green Unitarian Church. The principal consecrator was Archbishop Bertil Persson, Primate Emeritus of the AEC, assisted by Archbishop Paget E.J. Mack of the AEC (acting as Commissary of the Primate, Archbishop Francis C. Spataro) and Archbishop-Primate Phillip Lewis of the Ethiopian Coptic Orthodox Church of North and South America and Europe. Other bishops were present, including Andrew Linley and Alistair Bate of the LCAC and Leila Boyer of the Church of the Ascension. During the service, I was enthroned as Archbishop of Great Britain in the AEC and confirmed in my positions within the LCAC and the Ancient Catholic Church. As well as the outer aspect of the ceremony, there was also an inner aspect, in which all the bishops present gave each other additional commissioning.

This consecration conferred upon me the Apostolic Succession through the Anglican Communion (Philippine Independent Church) and Old Catholic Union of Utrecht successsions. The validity of the orders of the Apostolic Episcopal Church had been confirmed by the Bishop of London in the Church of England during the 1980s when several AEC clergy were incardinated into the Church of England.

Inevitably some reorganization of my responsibilities became necessary, and I retired as Metropolitan Primate of the LCAC in January 2009. There were already tensions in the LCAC between those clergy who were, in line with the Liberal Catholic movement, traditionalists who were open to esotericism, and those clergy who saw the phrase “liberal catholic” as signifying a commitment to liberal theology and practice within a broadly Roman context. On September 26, 2009, Adrian Glover was consecrated bishop for the LCAC at Golder’s Green Unitarian Church and he would eventually succeed to its primacy. The principal consecrator was Andrew Linley, and the assistant consecrators were Alistair Bate, Charles Mugleston and myself.

On Easter Day, 2010, I established a new ekklesia within the Apostolic Episcopal Church called the Ecclesia Apostolica Divinorum Mysteriorum (EADM; Apostolic Church of the Divine Mysteries), in which I was designated by the name Tau Eleutherius. This reflected a number of lessons learned from the way the LCAC had developed. EADM positioned itself as a reformed Liberal Catholic rite in the contemplative tradition. The strands that were of particular importance in its identity were a pre-Nicene Western Rite Orthodoxy and Traditionalist Catholicism emphasising Johannine spirituality, and an openness to esotericism, including the traditions of the Eglise Gnostique, Rosicrucianism and the Wisdom Traditions. EADM was hierarchically and formally governed by a Council of Three operating under a corpus of canon law, and had soon come to include all of the esoterically-minded clergy of the LCAC. As well as activity in London, there was an active parish in Edinburgh and other missions in Europe and the Americas.

On 19 June 2010, EADM chartered the Companions of the Cross and Passion, an order of men following the Passionist charism. In July 2010, EADM provided a charter and constitution for the new Mission Episcopate of Ss. Francis and Clare, and the necessary mandates for the consecration of its two bishops, Br. Thomas and Sr. Magdalena Stebbing. This was to be an independent body whose ministry would be carried out chiefly in the United States. On 14 August, these bishops were consecrated at Newington Green Unitarian Church by Alistair Bate assisted by myself, Andrew Linley, Adrian Glover and Louise Lombard, bishop of The Young Rite.

The impetus of EADM was sound, but it did not succeed in achieving stability. This was largely due to the divergent personalities involved, some of whom were not committed to living within a disciplined and ordered canonical community. As 2011 progressed, the majority of EADM’s clergy defected in order to form a new church that would be more in line with the looser and less accountable norms of the independent sacramental movement. This set in place a process of complete reorganization that saw EADM emerge with its purpose and mission intact, but occupying a more specialized role and with a significantly lower profile compared to the other aspects of my ministry.

Around this time I was completing the research for my biographies of Arnold Harris Mathew and Joseph René Vilatte. These built on a much more extensive earlier book that traced the history of the smaller sacramental churches from the nineteenth-century to the present day. The archival holdings of my jurisdiction were continuing to expand, with many gifts of historic papers and church publications that were often rare and ephemeral. My book on Mathew had been expanded from my doctoral thesis at the Universidad Empresarial de Costa Rica, and I was pleased some years later to see it extensively referenced in further doctoral work at a British university.

Meantime, several events happened that would set the tone for my life in the church during its next phase. The first was my election to the vacant Prince-Abbacy of San Luigi, and the second was the beginning of my friendships with the late Dom Klaus Schlapps and Prince Kermit de Polanie-Patrikios.

>>Continue to part 4

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