Before his death on December 4 1959, Father Henry Joy Fynes-Clinton, Rector of S Magnus the Martyr by London Bridge (FC in what follows), had for many years been a ... or the ... leading light in the Papalist Movement within the Church of England. Many people at that time, and since then, have found it hard to understand the model of Ecumenism which was the policy of FC and his associates.
It consisted of two stages, each ... in my unhumble view ... admirable!
Firstly: it consisted of acting as if the Tudor Schism had never happened, and the Provinces of Canterbury and York (many papalists declined to use the syncope 'Church of England') were but two provinces of the Western, Latin, Church, irregularly severed from the other provinces by the Tudor Tyranny. So they regarded the Rite of S Pius V as their proper and lawful liturgy and all the culture of Western Catholicism as their legitimate playground. If you enjoy doing so, you can call them mad, but it is not fair to call them unprincipled.
Secondly, they acted as if the schism between East and West had never happened. Hence, those dear old photographs of FC leading a Dalmatian archbishop into the Holy House at Walsingham, or deaconing the Metropolitan of Cyprus at the 1920 Anglo-Catholic Congress. Hence, all the Orders, Dignities and Decorations FC hoovered up in Orthodox Eastern Europe! Neither the probability that some of these Orthodox clerics were violently anti-papal, nor the fact that Rome regarded them as schismatics, caused him any anxiety, despite his ultra-papalist ecclesiology. Since his days, increasing doubts have indeed arisen about whether the break between East and West was ever formal ... doubts which I share. Perhaps FC was prophetic!
As all well-informed people will be aware, today is the CENTENARY of the Treaty of Sevres. In the chaos surrounding Turkey's defeat in the First World War, the victorious powers divided up the old Ottoman Empire, and in anticipation of this, from November 13 1918 (until October 4 1923), Constantinople had been occupied by French and British troops ... I think, by Italians as well.
This caused high and optimistic hopes among British Byzantinophiles, who, of course, included FC. He had chosen Our Lady of Victory (or 'victories') as Patron of his 'Catholic League' because her commemoration (October 7; Lepanto) was not only redolent of Baroque Catholicism but also "marked the turning of the tide of the aggession of the Moslem power, when a defeat would probably have meant the subjugation of most of Europe to the arch-enemy of the Faith." He looked forward to "the final ejection from the great capital city of Eastern Christendom of the anti-Christian and bloodstained power that has too long ground under foot the 'cattle' (as our co-religionists are called). ... May the coming Easter see the Risen Body of Christ adored on the altar of St Sophia!"
But a disagreement arose. An English RC representative, having pointed out that, on the eve of the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, the Great Church had been in communion with the See of Rome, argued that it ought to be restored to ... the Uniates!! FC blew his top and furiously replied: "Separated bodies would regard the handing over of the Church to Rome or to the Uniate Patriarch ... as an intolerable outrage to the age-long sentiment and dream. Nothing could more hopelessly retard the hoped-for reunion of East and West ... On the other hand, nothing could, I believe, lead the Greeks and all Orthodox to modify their unhappy suspicion and antagonism to Rome, and prepare the way for reunion, more than to understand that the Roman Church not only favoured but actively assisted in handing over of the Church to their Patriarch."
Of course, none of this came to anything. There were suspicions that the Vatican's Ostpolitik (not to mention French foreign policy) was rootedly opposed to any extension of Hellenic influence in the Middle East as being likely to create a dangerous Byzantium redivivum. Such a sophisticated Diplomatic Service they have in the Vatican: what a shame it so often gets things wrong!!
May S Chrysostom of Smyrna, Great Martyr, pray for us all!
I did once suggest a 'Hunwicke Solution': that Hagia Sophia be returned to the Orthodox and, in compensation, 'Westminster Cathedral' ... already equipped with a superb minaret ... should be handed over to Islam. The sound wafting over Buck House of the muezzin calling the Faithful to prayer would add quite a lot to the atmosphere of Palace Garden Parties. But nobody ever takes any notice of anything I say.
Essential reading: The Anglican Papalist: a Personal Portrait of Henry Joy Fynes-Clinton, by Fr A T John Salter. ISBN 978-0-9560565-2-8