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Spanish Reformed Church

SPANISH REFORMED CHURCH (Iglesia espanola reformada), a small community of Protestants in Spain organized on the model of the Anglican Church. This body of Spanish Episcopalians had its origin in a congregation which met for the first time, in June 1871, in the secularized church of San Basilio at Seville, under the leadership of Francisco Palomares, a priest who had left the Roman communion. Before long it was joined by numbers of lay people and several clergymen, including Juan Cabrera, an ex-Roman priest, who had for some time been a Presbyterian minister. In July 1878 a memorial was presented to the Lambeth Conference by nine congregations in Spain and Portugal (see below) asking for the episcopate. The reply expressed the sympathy of the bishops, but only suggested that Dr Riley,recently consecrated by the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States to minister to the reformed congregations in Mexico, should be invited to visit them and ordain and confirm for them. Archbishop Tait wrote a formal letter to Bishop Riley to this effect, and the request was complied with. A second petition for the episcopate was sent to the Irish bishops in 1879, and early in 1881, at their request, Lord Plunket paid his first visit to the Spanish Reformed Church, though nothing immediately resulted from it. In 1880 the first " synod-"' of the Church was held, under the presidency of Bishop Riley; the principles of the Church were laid down, Senor Cabrera was chosen bishopelect, the preparation of a liturgy was begun, and the Thirtynine Articles of Religion of the Church cf England, with certain modifications, were formally adopted as a standard of doctrine. Archbishop Plunket continued his efforts on their behalf; and at length the Irish bishops, having again received from them a petition for a bishop, brought the matter before the Lambeth Conference of 1888. The conference deprecated " any action that does not regard primitive and established principles of jurisdiction and the interests of the whole Anglican communion." The archbishop interpreted this as a modified consent; but the Irish bishops understood it otherwise, and again declined to consecrate a bishop for them. Meanwhile the movement prospered, being largely helped with money from friends in England. The foundation-stone of a new church was laid in Madrid in 1891, on the site of the Quemadero, where the autos de fe were formerly held ; and after considerable legal and other difficulties, religious toleration in Spain being still imperfect, it was dedicated and opened for service. At length, at the meeting of the Irish House of Bishops on the 21st of February 1894, a letter was read from the archbishop of Dublin and the bishops of Clogher (C. M. Stack) and Down (C. Welland), in which they declared their intention, unless a formal protest were made by the bishops, or by the general synod, to consecrate bishops for the Reformed churches in Spain and Portugal, subject to certain conditions being fulfilled by those churches. The bishops resolved, nemine contradicente, although the bishops of Derry (W. Alexander, subsequently primate of Armagh) and Cork did not vote, that they would not regard such action as " an indefensible exercise of the powers entrusted to the episcopate "; and the general synod passed a resolution leaving the matter in the hands of the bishops. Accordingly, on the 23rd of September 1894, the three bishops laid hands on Senor Cabrera. The matter occasioned no little stir in the English Church, more especially as the Old Catholic bishops (see OLD CATHOLICS) had recently refused to take any part in the matter. It called forth a letter of protest and repudiation from Lord Halifax, as president of the English Church Union, to Cardinal Monescillo, archbishop of Toledo; and this in turn evoked a letter from Cardinal Vaughan, which was widely circulated in Spain.

The consecration of Bishop Cabrera certainly produced, from the point of view of Anglican churchmen, a somewhat anomalous state of things, and the action, or inaction, of the Irish bishops laid them open to criticism from many who were not unfriendly to such movements (see e.g. Bishop John Wordsworth, Ministry of Grace, pp. 176-177, London, 1901). Objection was made to the act as contrary to church order, and as unjustifiable in view of the nature of the Spanish Reformed Church itself. As regards the latter, it is true that the Prayer-book of the body (first made in 1881 and published in a revised form ; n 1889) cannot really justify the claim made on its behalf as a " revised Mozarabic rite": it contains indeed many beautiful prayers from the Mozarabic and other offices, but its doctrinal teaching is more unambiguously " Protestant " than that of the English Prayerbook. The Church possessed in 1906 ten congregations with some dozen clergy.

Lusitanian Church. A similar movement began in Lisbon in 1867, owing to the work of a Spanish priest there, Sefior Mora; and at first its success was even greater than the movement in Spain, in spite of the fact that Portuguese priests who left the Roman communion had either to leave Portugal or to become subjects of another power. In 1875 the adherents of this movement threw in their lot with their Spanish brethren, and when Bishop Riley visited them in 1878 the Portuguese members organized themselves as the " Lusitanian Church," and the Rev. T. Godfrey Pope, D.D. (d. 1902), the English chaplain at Lisbon, was subsequently chosen by them as president of the synod. A request made to the Irish bishops in 1897 for the consecration of Canon Pope as their bishop led to an examination of the Lusitanian Prayer-book, which was found to be even more defective from the Anglican point of view than that of the Spanish Reformed Church. Consequently no action was taken. In 1 906 the Church had only some 500 adherents with five clergy.

AUTHORITIES. H. E. Noyes, Church Reform in Spain and Portugal (London, 1897) ; F. D. How.Life of ArchbishopPlunket(London,igoo) ; A. C. Benson, Life of Archbishop Benson, vol. ii. (London, 1899); Officios divinos, etc. en la iglesia espanola reformada (Madrid, 1898; Eng. trans., Dublin, 1889; new ed., 1894); Divine Offices and other Formularies of the Reformed Episcopal Churches of Spain and Portugal (London, 1882); Church Quarterly Review, xxxviii. 283 (July 1894), art. "The Proposed Episcopate for Spanish Protestants."

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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