You have probably have never heard of the English chameleon who claims to be a “Catholic bishop”, has gone by several names and has ordained quite a number of “bishops” which form a shady international network. He claims his movement is “A Vatican One Latin Rite Catholic Church“, and both attacks and seeks recognition from the ‘Vatican II Catholic Church’. He has also tried to draw Anglo-Catholics to his cause, and sort to undermine the Ordinariates created by Pope Benedict XVI while showing how Catholic he is by posting pictures of him shaking hands with the Holy Father emeritus. He has claimed the titles (among others) of the Bishop of Cambridge, Archbishop of London and now Cardinal of the UK- so who is this guy?
In 2012 a number of Catholic news outlets posted articles about “Bishop” David Bell who headed the Society of Pope Leo XIII and their bid for union with the Holy See (claiming to have 8.5 million followers). Fast-forward to 2018 and the same photo can been seen on the website of “The Catholic Church OF England and Wales” (CCEW), with it’s head “Archbishop” James Atkinson-Wake shaking hands with Pope Benedict: it turns out David Bell and James Atkinson-Wake are the same person.
In 2012 David Bell and the Society of Pope Leo XIII were declared in schism and excommunicated from the Catholic Church, with their ordinations not recognised. He then changed his name back to James Atkinson-Wake and under his new flagship of the CCEW posts sedevacantist material on one of their websites download section, under the titles “Vatican II Ordination Rites Invalid” and “Vatican II Bishops not Valid” – attacking the validity of the Church he just tried to join.
James Atkinson-Wake has gone under a number of banners : ICAB-UK, the Old Roman Catholic Society of Saint John Paul II, the Society of Pope Leo XIII, the Episcopal Diocese of St Peter, the Holy Roman Catholic Apostolic Church, and the Catholic Church of England and Wales. His network has been termed an “Ordination Factory”, with key support (in the form of co-cosecrators) being a group of Australian “Bishops” in this ‘Vatican One Church’, half of whom are open Freemasons and Occultists.
The origins of this articles principle character is shrouded- what little is known is that he was born in Northern Ireland and had a career as a mental health nurse before being ordained in the Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church (ICAB) which broke from the Catholic Church in 1945. James Atkinson-Wake returned home and set up the UK branch of the ICAB which also covered the tiny holdings in Australia and the USA.
During the period when the Vatican announced the formation of Personal Ordinariates for Anglicans seeking union with Rome, David Bell/James Atkinson-Wake headed the ICAB-UK “Episcopal Diocese of St Peter” whose motto was “a diocese bringing Anglicans and Catholics into Unity” and on its front page “We are former Anglicans who have entered into and became Catholics with pure Roman Vatican One Lineage.”- which offered Anglican groups their own Ordinariates if they joined ICAB instead of Rome.
There was a similar mission with his society “The Priestly Society of Pope Leo XIII joins Anglican & Catholic clergy into Unity since 2005 and was extended into the USA by Abp. David Bell – Primate.”
ICAB still clearly has interest in Anglo-Catholic communities: The Church of the Torres Straits, which was a member of the Traditional Anglican Communion arranged a deal to enter into the Catholic Church as part of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross (OLSC), but then they suddenly pulled out and joined ICAB- more on this story can be found here.
The USA branch of the Society of Pope Leo XIII split with David Bell/James Atkinson-Wake posting this text and image in support:
“On July 2017 Archbishop Ementis James Wake chose to leave the ICAB church and family and join and convert to Orthodox and officially establishing his own orthodox church COCEW and change his name …
He has officially placed the ICAB in England handed to him in 2005 by Dom Mendez as a
” Redundant Church ” …
He will truely be missed but will remain in our prayers on his new joirney …“
At the very same time James Atkinson-Wake’s FB page shows he changed his profile and cover images to what is in the picture, and web-searches show up “James Wake (Mar Alexandria Demetrius)”, and on the website of Holy Roman Catholic Apostolic Church (the HRCAC website has been retasked as a CCEW website) he is referred to by that name:
On the morning of October 29, 2009 in the Patriarchal Palace, His Beatitude Patriarch Dom. Castillo Mendez suffered a severe heart attack…. Many worldwide bishops, including Roman Catholic Prelate Faustino Sainz Muñoz sent his condolences to the Mar Alexandria Demetrius of the Catholic Church of England & Wales (CCEW) .
He also posted on his timeline during this time:
James Atkinson-Wake has now split with the ICAB, taking a large chunk of ICABs foreign branches with him, but he still claims to be the chosen successor of its late leader and rightful “Patriarch” of ICAB.
Things Don’t Add Up
Although the website of the CCEW shows a legion of bishops, you will not find any addresses to any churches. On the very first image of the slide show on the front page of the CCEW website, you will see an impressive looking church claimed to be the “Patriarchal Cathedral of St’s. Mary & John” for the CCEW-
-but a quick Google image search revealed it is the Mortuary Chapel at Handsworth Cemetery in Birmingham, UK which is administered by the local council. After a lot of web-searching the two only discernible communities in the UK were until fairly recently members of the ‘Anglican Catholic Church’ (UK), with their priests now “bishops” of the CCEW. One of these is Philip James French who is listed as the “Titular Bishop of Lindisfarne” and secretary to James Atkinson-Wake and has the parish of St Ninians in Whitby (interestingly his Facebook cover image is of the Vatican). The other is the community of ‘Our Lady and St Benedict’ which was the Devon mission of the ACC (also meeting in a cemetery chapel) until Michael Clothier who was ordained a priest in the ACC in 2010, resigned in early 2016 to be ordained a bishop in the CCEW.
Although the CCEW lists a large number of clergy and religious, a closer look shows these “Vatican One” Traditionalists reveal some interesting finds. One of the “nuns” listed on the CCEW website, Julie Cottingham, had an article written on her in the Sun Newspaper, when as a mother of three in the UK she married a US convict doing a life sentence for murder. From the article:
“She was working part-time as a sister at a Catholic society when she came across an advert in the church catalogue featuring American prisoners looking for pen pals.”
It seems a lot of the “Bishops” for the CCEW are part-timers as well, as most have no congregations (or even contact details on the CCEW website). One of James Atkinson-Wake’s key lieutenant in the CCEW is the head of the Australian section, “Archbishop” Neville Anderson, a former Anglican priest of 20 years before ‘Converting to the Catholic Faith’ and going to Brazil to be ordained a Bishop, with his branch later coming under ICAB-UK. I had an online chat with the CCEW’s Jean-Michel David about his role as the Titular Bishop of Perth:
“It is more that my location reflects the where. My role is to assist Neville Anderson in any ordinations and consecrations where and when needed. I have not been requested to undertake other responsibilities at this stage…”
Jean-Michel David also runs a website called “Four Hares” and has this in his “About JMD” section:
“I have been involved in various offices in masonic lodges and other esoteric societies, given papers on various aspects of freemasonry, rosicrucianism and related esoteric impulses, and been actively involved in the development and implementation of masonic education.
In terms of anthroposophically oriented involvement (apart from teaching in both a secondary school and in teacher education), I have presented and run workshops at conferences both in Australia and overseas on various aspects of Steiner’s works, and on the anonymously written Meditations on the Tarot.
My spiritual orientation is Judeo-Christian (influenced and syncretised with some neo-pagan, secular-Humanist and Hindo-Buddhist elements). I am an consecrated priest (by archbishop Neville Anderson et al., himself consecrated by the Patriarch of Brazil) – in one of the few catholic bodies allowing married priests, and I am actively involved with Sophia Australis.
With regards to tarot, apart from running various courses since 1990 … and a co-founder of the Association for Tarot Studies…”
David stated he has known Anderson for decades, and in the Four Hares Freemasonry section Anderson is credited as consulting on an article:
“My appreciation and warm thanks to Wor. Bro. Rev. Neville Anderson, Bro. Rodney Campbell, and, not least, to my mentor, Wor. Bro. Mal Watson, PSGD, for their feedback [these grades were correct at the time of first writing].”
The abbreviation “Wor Bro” is short for “Worshipful Brother”, a title give to a Master of a Masonic Lodge, of which there is a record of Neville Anderson being made so in 1999. Anderson has given talks for the Freemasons about the Esoteric and Christianity, including a talk on “Esoteric movement out of the Reformation“. He is still giving such talks, including advertised on the Star Astrology Healing website for a series called “Awakening and Directing the Fire Within” which states in his presenters bio:
“Reverend Neville Anderson Esoterically, I have been following a path of spiritual discernment all my life, a path that led me to become a student of Kabbalah. This has given me a personal gnosis of formative depth, that has enriched my catholic faith.“
Last I checked, Gnosticism is a heresy in the Catholic faith, it does not matter if it is the Jewish Gnosticism of Kabbalah.
Another Australian CCEW “bishop” has on his Linkedin.com profile his study of Reiki and his involvement in a Masonic Lodge is ‘Sir’ William Blinkhorn– the “knighthood” comes from the Imperial Order of St George who James Atkinson-Wake just happens to be “Grand Master” of.
Just so it is said, and a challenge to James Atkinson-Wake who headed the Society of Pope Leo XIII, the Pope who wrote the encyclical Humanum Genus against Freemasonry: if the CCEW is a ‘Tridentine Vatican One Church’ would not these individuals be automatically excommunicated from the CCEW for Freemasonry? (not including Tarot, Kabbalah and Reiki). In the CCEW’s Canon Law section they even show a copy of the 1917 Code of Canon Law which under code 2335 states any member of the Church who is a Freemason is automatically excommunicated. Or are such things allowed in the CCEW?
I could go on and on about James Atkinson-Wakes network, and I have a feeling there will be follow up articles in the future. But what I can leave you with this:
The Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of the Southern Cross will be submitting a report to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), informing them “David Bell” has changed his name to James Atkinson-Wake, the elements of ICAB-UK and the Society of Pope XIII which still follow him are now “the Catholic Church of England and Wales” (included the details of members listed on their website), as well as his new pet religious order “the Benedictine Celestine Renewal“- all of which can wait expectantly to be named in an updated CDF notification declaring them in schism, excommunicated and with invalid orders.
Update: After reading this article residents of Whitby contacted the blog about James Atkinson-Wakes secretary, “Bishop” Phillip James French which lead to this article: