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Episcopacy:

Members:
Most Rev Robert W.M. Edmondson, CSP, MDiv, STM , DMin, ThD, DD
Chancellor Pro Tempre:
Very Rev Patrick Mc Douglas, MDiv, ThM

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THE ORDER OF CORPORATE REUNION

In 1877, a rather unusual overture was made by the Roman Catholic Church to the "high-church" party of the Church of England with the establishment of a unique religious order of the Order of Corporate Reunion. The Roman Catholic Church (or at least Pope Pius IX and key members of the Roman Curia) intended that this new order would be the nucleus of a pre-Uniate movement within the Church of England whose deacons, priest, and bishops would be recognized by the Roman Catholic Church as being within the valid Apostolic Succession. The eventual goal was the return of groups of Anglican clergy and people involved in the Oxford Movement to union with Rome as a Uniate Anglican Rite as had occurred with elements of the Eastern Orthodox Church without having to reordain the Anglican clergy, as the Apostollic Succession of the Anglican Church has recently been declared invalid. The Order also had as its apostolate, the formation of Uniate and pre-Uniate Churches and movements among the liturgical churches including the Lutherans.

Two Church of England priests and one physician (Frederick George Lee, Thomas Wimberley Mossman, and John Thomas Seccombe) had been quietly received into the Roman Catholic Church by Baptism and Confirmation, and received Holy Orders up to and including Ordination to the Priesthood by Luigi Nazari Cardinal di Calabiana in the chapel of his residence in Milan, Italy. The Consecrations of Lee as Bishop of Dorchester and 1st Primate of the Order of Corporate Reunion, Mossman as Bishop of Selby, and Seccombe, as Bishop of Caerleon, were autherized by Pope Pius IX and the Catholic authority for the founding of the of the Order was Joseph Aloysius Cardinal Trevisanato. The founding Bishops of the Order of Corporate Reunion were actually consecrated Bishops in the Roman Petrine (Rebiban or Vatican)Succession using the Ambrosian Rite on June 24, 1877 in Milan, Italy by Dominicus Cardinal Agostine,assisted by Luigi Nazari Cardinal di Calabiana, Vincentius Cardinal Moretti, and Uniate Eastern Orthodox Archbishop Ignatios Ghiurekian. At that time, the names of the Consecrations of Wimberley, Mossman, and Seccombe and the validity of any Ordinations and Consecrations they performed or which were performed by all Bishops in their succession were guaranteed by the Vatican to anyone who inquired. Eventually, the names of the consecrators were released.

The Church of England was not at all happy with those consecrations, the clandestine circumstances under which they occurred, and was furious about the Order of Corporate Reunion's conditional (sub-conditione) reordination of Anglican deacons, priests in its jurisdiction. A public outcry against the OCR was led by the Anglican Order of the Holy Cross, but this only served to drive the Order even further underground. Even Anglican critics of the Order of Corporate Reunion like Henry Brandreth admitted that these consecrations occurred and that the OCR lineage was valid. However, past and present critics in the Church of England and the Anglican Communion at large claim that Bishops Lee, Mossman, and Seccombe and all past and present members of the OCR were (and are) clandestine Uniate Roman Catholics.

The Vatican continues to recognize the validity of all Diaconal and Priestly Ordinations and Episcopal Consecrations performed by Bishops who are members of the OCR or are in its lineage and a "special relationship continues to exist between the Vatican and the Bishops who are actual members of the OCR.

Today, the Order of Corporate Reunion is more active than ever, and is organized in Great Britain, Continental Europe, Scandinavia, and North and South America.

The above document was provided by The Most Revd Irl Gladfelter.


 
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