A joint statement by the Metropolitan Archbishops of the Old Roman Catholic Church in Great Britain and Europe:
“Feast of St Botolph, Abbot, 17 June 2013
WE, as the acknowledged leaders of the canonical Old Roman Catholic Church in Great Britain and Europe give warning that a group currently calling itself the “Old Roman Catholic Society of Pope Leo XIII” led by an individual named “Archbishop David Bell” (formerly known as James Atkinson-Wake) has no connection whatsoever with any historical nor canonical Old Roman Catholic jurisdiction.
Furthermore, having concern for all those committed to our pastoral charge and with regard to recent determinations by the Holy See concerning the actions and status of “Archbishop David Bell”, we direct that the same person is “to be avoided”* by all Old Roman Catholic clergy and faithful.
This joint Statement has been issued in response to title changes on the website http://www.hrcac.org.uk/.
The “Society of Pope Leo XIII” has also previously claimed to be a Roman Catholic institution and historically to be a part of the Igreja Católica Apostólica Brasileira, an independent church founded by Dom Carlos Duarte Costa (former Roman Catholic bishop of Botucatu) in Brazil; both assertions have been strenuously refuted by the respective authorities.
Mgr Marcus Stock, General Secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales was quoted in “The Catholic Herald” (7 September 2012) making similar statements later made by Apostolic Nuncio, Mgr Giovanni D’Aniello on behalf of the Vatican’s Secretary of State to the President of the Brazilian Bishops’ Conference, Cardinal Raymundo Damasceno Assis, that: “…the Pope Leo XIII community is schismatic and as such cannot receive official recognition from the Catholic Church” and that “…bishops ordained in that community cannot carry out a ministry in the Catholic Church as it does not recognise these ordinations… All organisations or associations linked to that society should be treated as one would treat any non-Catholic institution.” (Protocol 1177/12) dated 8 October 2012. Similarly, Archbishop Luis Ladaria Ferrer, Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith wrote to Bishop Thomas MacMahon of Brentwood stating that David Bell “…must not be allowed to exercise any ministry in the Catholic Church.”
The conclusions of recent determinations by British Law Courts concerning the “validity” or otherwise of “Archbishop David Bell’s” holy Orders not withstanding, the Old Roman Catholic Church like the Roman Catholic Church is not obliged to accept “as valid” for its own purposes, the validity of any sacramental ministrations performed by “Archbishop David Bell” nor of any person ordained/consecrated by him. For information about recognising genuine Old Roman Catholic clergy and jurisdictions we refer enquirers to this previously published advice.
*”Vitandus” i.e. “To be avoided”. This Statement is expressly not a declaration of “vitandus excommunicate” i.e. a sentence reserved canonically [ref CIC 1917 Canons 2343 §1 n. 1 & 2258 §2] in the Western Latin tradition to the Holy See; but rather a direction to the clergy and faithful subject to the jurisdiction of the Old Roman Catholic Church in Great Britain and Europe to behave “as if” such had been decreed.