For the past few months I have been following an excellent blog dedicated to a less than excellent, though fascinating subject, Charles Webster Leadbeater – C.W. LEADBEATER
Leadbeater was known for many things, chief among them was being one of the founding Bishops of what would become the Liberal Catholic Church. As readers of MOTO may know I spent several years worshiping at the Cathedral-Church of St John the Divine of the LCC in Perth. I would perhaps still be attending if I had not come to the happy realisation that my esoteric spirituality was actually better suited and served by joining a non-esoteric Church. Go figure! 🙂
However, I have many happy memories of my time at the LCC and warm feelings towards its clergy and members and so have more than a passing interest in its history and status. I started attending there fully aware of the history of Leadbeater, Wedgewood and others, having read Dr Gregory Tillett’s excellent biography of Leadbeater, ‘The Elder Brother’, and later his Doctoral Thesis on the subject. So I knew what I was getting into, but went for the connection to Christ anyway.
What amazes me now, in 2016, is the repeated denial, obfuscation, misinformation and downright lies LCC leaders and members are still promulgating regarding Leadbeater. I have tried to have clear conversations on the matter with some lovely LCC folk on Facebook, but nothing is ever fully resolved. Hence the writing of this blog, to make it clear where I stand, and where (cos I still care) I would like to the see the LCC head.
To take but one example referred to recently on the C.W. LEADBEATER blog: the date of Leadbeater’s birth. It has been shown comprehensively, undeniably by Dr Tillett (and the research reproduced and then accepted by Theosophists themselves) that Leadbeater was actually born February 16, 1854 not February 17, 1847 as he consistently claimed for many decades, most probably to provide a fictional link with birth year of his main Theosophical collaborator, Annie Besant.
This means Leadbeater lied. Pure and simple. I’m sorry but there is no way out of this, and once we accept he lied on that simple matter for decades all else starts to unravel.
This was clearly understood by the Liberal Catholic leadership. Again, drawing from the blog, in the ‘Liberal Catholic’, November 1996, Vol. LXIV, No. 4:22, we read that the Bishops of the LCC’s 11th General Episcopal Synod accepted “for all official purposes Bp Leadbeater’s own version that he was born on 17th February 1847” … “to do otherwise would make him out to be deceitful, which runs very much against the tenor of his life and teachings.” (Emphasis added).
Yet, in the face of overwhelming evidence by 2003 the official LCC table of Apostolic Succession gives Leadbeater’s correct birthdate, and this is often given in other LCC documents these days too. This means the LCC hierarchy in seven short years moved from denial to, in their own words, accepting Leadbeater as ‘deceitful’. It then beggars belief, that time and time again the LCC refers to Leadbeater as a paragon of virtue and spiritual ‘advancement’ and tries to defend his many other lies and delusions.
If you want examples of this go to http://www.cwlworld.info/ which is an out-and-out Leadbeater apologetic site. It clearly states that Leadbeater ‘used a different date’ for his birth date than the truth but says the reasons are ‘unknown’, as if there is some excuse for this lie. The site also states ‘Leadbeater’s claim to have had a younger brother, Gerald, travelling to Brazil is not supported by archival evidence obtained in that country.’ It does not however explain why Leadbeater’s humungous series of lies here, which occurred as part of a fantasy worthy of ‘Boy’s Own’ passed off as fact, has not prompted LCC folk to take Leadbeater off the Saintly pedestal he is consistently placed upon.
It is time the LCC grew up. We all have relatives and ancestors, even immediate family and progenitors who were rascals, deceitful folk or out and out criminals. It does not have to affect us. The same with the LCC, which may or may not have a commission from Christ to do His work in the world, something I and every other human cannot (and should not) judge. However, in the area of research and evidence, truth and common decency, we can and should discern.
For the Liberal Catholic Church to begin to function properly, it needs to accept, and disseminate the truth: Leadbeater was a serial liar, fantasist and child sex abuser who was mired in his own delusions. This does not mean he was not kind to people, it does not obviate fond memories of him nor impact on his published works which rise or fall on their own merits. But it does mean the Church will be free of something that will hold back the manifestation of any Commission from Christ – the covering up of lies and child sexual abuse. Thanks.