1911 Statement of Union
- HEAD OF THE CHURCH – The Foundation Head and Supreme Pastor and Bishop of the Church is Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, from Whom all Bishops and Pastors derive their spiritual powers and jurisdiction.
- OBEDIENCE – Bye the law and institution of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Gospel, all Christians owe obedience and submission in spiritual things to them who have rule and authority within the Church.
- MINISTERIAL AUTHORITY – Our Lord Jesus Christ did not commit rule and authority within the Church to all the faithful indiscriminately, but only to the Apostles and to their lawful successors in due order.
- APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION – The only lawful successors of the Apostles are the Orthodox and Catholic Bishops, united by profession of the self-same Belief, participation in the same Sacraments, and mutual recognition and Inter-communion. The Bishops of the Church being true successors of the Apostles, are by Divine right and appointment the rulers of the Church.
In virtue of this appointment each individual Bishop is supreme and independent in that part of the Church which has been committed to his care, so long as he remains in Faith and Communions with the united company of Catholic Bishops, who cannot exclude any from the Church, save only them who stray from the path of virtue or err in Faith.
By virtue of this same Divine appointment, the supreme Authority over the whole Church on earth belongs to the collective Orthodox and Catholic Episcopate. They along form the highest tribunal in spiritual matters, from whose united judgement there can be no appeal; so that it is unlawful for any single Bishop, or any smaller group of Bishops apart from them, or for any secular power or state, to usurp this authority, or for any individual Christian to substitute his own private judgement for that interpretation of Scripture or Authority which is approved by the Church.
- CHURCH AUTHORITY – The collective body of the Orthodox-Catholic Episcopate, united by profession of the Faith, by the Sacraments, and by mutual recognition and actual Inter-communion, is the source and depository of all order, authority and jurisdiction in the Church, and is the center of visible Catholic Unity; so that no Pope, Patriarch or Bishop, or any number of Bishops separated from this united body can possess any authority or jurisdiction whatever.
The authority of this collective body is equally binding, however it may be expressed: whether by a General Council or by the regular it may be expressed: whether by a General Council or by the regular and ordinary consultation and agreement of the bishops themselves.
It is an act of schism to appeal from the known judgement of the Orthodox and Catholic Episcopate, however it may have been ascertained;or to appeal from any dogmatic decree of any General Council even though such appeal be to a future Council. For the Episcopate, being a continuation of the Apostolate, is clearly a Divine institution, and its authority is founded in Divine right. But General Councils are not of themselves of direct Divine appointment; and so the Episcopate having clearly the Scriptural promise of Divine guidance into all Truth, cannot be hampered in the exercise of its authority by the necessity of assembling a General Council, which may obviously be rendered impossible through natural circumstances.
There have been seven General Councils only, which are recognized by the whole of Catholic Christendom, held respectively in Nicaea (A.D.325), Constantinople (381), Ephesus (431), Chalcedon (451), Constantinople (553), Constantinople (680) and Nicaea (787). At no other Councils was the entire body of the Orthodox-Catholic Episcopate representatively assembled; and the decrees and pronouncements of no others must of themselves be accepted as binding upon the conscience of the faithful.
The authority of the Church can never be in abeyance, even though a General Council cannot be assembled. It is equally to be submitted to and obeyed in whatever way it may be exercised, and although it may be exercised only through the ordinary administration of their respective jurisdictions by individual Bishops.
- HIERARCHY – All Patriarchs, Archbishops, and Metropolitans (that is to say, all Bishops who exercise any authority over other Bishops) owe that authority solely to the appointment or general consent of the Orthodox and Catholic Episcopate; nor can they ever cease from owing obedience to the collective body of the Episcopate in all matters concerning Faith and Morals.
- THE FIVE PATRIARCATES – There are five Patriarchates, which ought to be united and form the supreme authority in the administration and government of the Holy Catholic Church. These are Jerusalem, Antioch, Rome, Alexandria, and Constatinople. Unfortunately, owing to disputes and differences on the one hand, and to the lust for power and supremacy and domination on the other, the Patriarchs are not at present in Communion; and the welfare of Christendom is jeopardised by their disedifying quarrels, which, we pray, may soon have an end.