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Out of the question: Open Episcopalians

26 May 2009

Write, if you have any answers to the questions listed at the end of this section, or would like to add to the answers below.

Your answers

The recent funeral of the late Jade Goody was conducted by a “bis­hop” from the “Open Episcopal Church”. . . Can anyone enlighten me about the status of the Open Episcopal Church?

The Open Episcopal Church (OEC), of which I was once a member, was founded on 10 November 2001 by the Rt Revd Richard Palmer, anapo­stol­ically consecrated bishop in the Liberal Catholic Church (which he left in 1999), and the Revd Jonathan Blake, an ex-Anglican priest, whom Bishop Richard con­secrated on that day, and who was the bishop who married Jade Goody and her hus­band.

The OEC proved fissiparous, and is now a small organisation under the care of Archbishop Jonathan, since Archbishop Richard Palmer left to found yet another Church!

It is liberal in its theology, open to all, and has a small lay and priestly membership with five other bishops, all of whom have been apostolically consecrated by at least two bishops. It tends to lean to­wards Rome, though there are ex-Orthodox and ex-Anglican as well as ex-Roman Catholic members, and these tend to be people who have been “damaged” by their rela­tion­ship with more main­stream Churches.

In the main, this Church and its members are doing good work among the disadvantaged, and there is little of the seeking for “advance­ment” so often seen in such Churches (and also in the mainstream.)

In my view, it is not proper to refer to these clergy as “bishop” in inverted commas, since they are canonically and apostolically con­secrated, and their ordinations are recognised by Rome as “valid but illicit”. (I must declare an interest here, since I was consecrated as a bishop in the OEC by four bishops — three of whom have sincemoved to other Churches, as I have done, and a fifth from another jurisdiction.)

(The Rt Revd) Roger Whatley
Melksham, Wiltshire

The Open Episcopal Church is a member of the International Council of Community Churches and the World Council of Churches. Its bis­hops, we are told, trace their apo­stolic succession from the Dutch Old Cath­olic Church in Utrecht, through the line of A. H. Mathew.

He was subsequently disowned in the Netherlands, but continued to describe himself as Archbishop of the London area and as “Archbishop and Metropolitan of the English Catholic Church”. This irregular Mathew succession was repudiated by the 1920 Lambeth Conference.

(Canon) Terry Palmer
Magor, Monmouthshire


Your questions

Can anyone explain why many churches now seem to refer to “Easter Sunday” rather than to “Easter Day”? M. R.

In this age of litigation, could a priest be sued for refusing to give absolution? D. N. P

Address for answers and more questions: Out of the Question, Church Times, 13-17 Long Lane, London EC1A 9PN.


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