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Where the Protestant Episcopal

Church Stands



HAT the Protestant Episcopal Church is a part


of the Holy Catholic Church is a fact universally admitted by all classes within our communion, and did the present agitation for a change of name contemplate nothing further than the mere expediency of emphasizing that fact upon the title page of the Prayer Book or elsewhere, little objection would or could be raised to it. In reality, however, the object of this movement is of far deeper significance. It is not merely to emphasize the fact that this Church is a legitimate branch of the Catholic Church that this matter has been systematically kept before the General Conventions of the Church for years past. The real, underlying motive of the movement is to bring about a further fundamental change in the doctrinal position of the Church. This, indeed, should have been obvious

when the attempt was made to strike out the word "Protestant" from our legal title. But while the significance of this resolution in behalf of this particular change is now, perhaps, fairly well appreciated, it so happens that there are few apparently, who are alive to the real meaning and intent of the other titles suggested. All these, in one way or another, propose to incorporate the word "Catholic" in the official title of this particular branch of the Universal Church. That such an attempt, irrespective of the motive involved, is necessarily beset with difficulties should be obvious even upon a casual examination of the problem. For, first of all, it must be remembered that as long as the organic unity of the Church Universal is not an existent fact, denominational titles—which are necessarily differentiative— are absolutely essential to distinguish the several branches of the Catholic Church, nor could the mere adoption of some common appellation, in itself, effect the unity desired, or accomplish anything but confusion worse confounded. If every legitimate branch of the Church Catholic, simply because of its consciousness of substantial connection therewith, should follow the lead of the Roman Church and call itself "The Holy Catholic Church," this, in itself, would accomplish nothing for the cause of organic unity or union between the several "branches." On the other hand, it would lead to hopeless obscurity in all legal and practical affairs. Moreover, the adoption of such a title would be as illogical as it would be inexpedient. For to give to this "branch"

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of the Catholic Church, as its denominational or "branch" title, any such appellation as "The Catholic Church," "The Holy Catholic Church,' etc., such as was actually suggested at one stage of the discussion, would involve the absurdity of designating a part by the title belonging only to the whole. It would be nothing less absurd than to call the State of Wisconsin the United States of America, merely because the former rightly claims to be a legitimate part of the latter. Unless we are prepared to make the monstrous claim that the entire Church Catholic is coterminous with that particular body known as the Protestant Episcopal Church, and that all other "churches" so called, are but human societies having no real connection with the true Body of Christ, there is obviously no sensible pretext for the adoption of such a title. The Roman Church, indeed, does actually make such an extravagant claim for herself, and it is because of this very fact that she does consistently repudiate all Christian Bodies not in visible communion with the Roman See, condemning them as mere man-made societies.

Even the most ardent supporter of the Fond du Lac agitation is not prepared for such extravagant pretensions on our part. The most extreme "Catholic" Churchman fully recognizes the claims of Roman, Greek, and Anglican Churches to be legitimate parts of the Catholic Church. This being the case, we say that the adoption of such a name as the official title of this particular communion would be senseless, even from their point of view, since it would not

even have the pretense of rational justification that the Roman view involves, and would entail endless confusion. To have a number of Churches each calling itself the "Holy Catholic Church"; yet refusing to enter into organic union with one another would simply mean chaos in the Ecclesiastical world. From the standpoint of expediency, then, the proposition is impracticable, while from the standpoint of logic it is absurd. We would not notice it here at all, were it not that such a title has been seriously proposed from time to time. In short, for this denomination to adopt the title "The Catholic Church," or "The Holy Catholic Church," as its official name would be simply to do one of two things -either (a) to claim that this Church is the one and only Church Catholic on earth-all others being excluded from the visible Body of Christ; or else, (b) to be guilty of the absurdity of giving to a part the title which can only logically belong to the whole. It was doubtless to avoid this dilemma, which must indeed have been patent to the leaders of the movement, that the more defensible title of "The American Catholic Church" came gradually to the forefront.

The American Catholic Church

The advantage of this appellation is that it is undeniably a branch title and so avoids the absurdity of either of the above implications. If we should adopt it, we would neither be guilty of claiming to

be the whole Church on Earth, nor could it be said that we had given to a part the title belonging to the whole. In short, the name American Catholic directly connects us with the Church Universal throughout the world, while it simultaneously differentiates or distinguishes us from all other parts or branches of that Church. To borrow an expression from a little book entitled A Handbook of Information published some time ago by the Young Churchman Co., of Milwaukee, this proposed name has the advantage of suggesting "Historic Identity with the Church of the Ages" (i.e., in the word "Catholic") and simultaneously by the prefix "American" such identity is further "localized" so "as to imply this particular body in the United States and none other." Here then we have a proposition presented, which, on the surface, appears to be a very harmless one, even, if to many of us, the necessity for it is not so apparent. For to those who do not look beneath the surface, it seems at first sight to be a reasonable proposition that if that part of the Holy Catholic Church originating in Italy be designated the Roman Catholic Church-that part originating in Greece be designated the Greek Catholic Church— that part originating in England, the Anglican or Anglo-Catholic, then that part which originated in America should likewise be legitimately termed the American Catholic. But what about the Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Congregationalist, and other bodies likewise in America? Are they to be excluded from the Catholic Church? Is this Protestant

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