James Wedgwood was in
England. Charles Leadbeater was in Australia. Both were moving in the same
spiritual direction, but their paths were separate and distinct. In 1915,
Father Wedgwood decided to travel to India and Australia. This is the first of
three tours that would have great results years later.In Sydney, Australia,
Father Wedgwood met Charles Leadbeater. Leadbeater had been an Anglican priest
but had resigned to study Theosophy. By the time the two met, Leadbeater was a
well-known author of mystical books. During the trip, Leadbeater attended Mass
said by Father Wedgwood. Later, Leadbeater would remark that he was impressed
by the energy felt at the young Anglican's Mass. Things came into focus when
Leadbeater realized that the Mass could be a source of Light and Love for all
creation, not just for those present.
Back in England, Father
Wedgwood's bishop decided to go back to the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church.
The English bishop's assistant—Bishop Willoughby—decided to do the same.
However, Bishop Willoughby agreed to elevate two priests so that the Old Catholic
Church could continue. The two new bishops—Robert King and Ruppert
Gauntlet—were consecrated hastily. While Father Wedgwood was still in
Australia, these two new bishops elected him to be Bishop-elect. They intended
him to become the new Presiding Bishop of the Old Catholic Church. Since he was
half a world away, he couldn't say No!
1916—The consecration of Bishop James Ingall Wedgwood
(seated, l-r) Bishop Robert King,
Bishop James Wedgwood, Bishop Frederick Willoughby, Bishop Ruppert Gauntlet.
This ritual is marked as the official start of the Liberal Catholic Church.
Bishop Wedgwood continued
his experimentation with the liturgy, even though he had to add the
administrative duties of a bishop to his workload.
Over the next
few years, the "Mother Church" in Utrecht, Holland, began to see the
young group in England as an independent movement. This is an important change
in thinking because it let Bishop Wedgwood and the others in England make their
movement an international church, and that's
exactly what they did.