Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Bishops and Church Discipline

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CHAPTER 5

The Bishops and Church Discipline

The Issue of Ritualism

The late nineteenth century was a time of great conflict over the growth of ritualism. From the 1850's onwards the Tractarians had introduced vestments, incense, Reservation, Devotions and many other practices, some unknown in the Church of England since the Reformation and others adopted from current Roman Catholic usage. This was part of their attempt to reassert that the Church of England was truly part of the universal Catholic Church. This caused considerable problems when bishops felt obliged to exercise their episcopate in the area of discipline. There were no precedents for them to be guided by except suppression by legal procedures rather in the manner of the seventeenth century.


Many attempts were made to halt these practices through the ecclesiastical courts and finally by act of Parliament, the Public Worship Regulation Act of 1874.1 Appeals from ecclesiastical courts passed to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council which frequently did not uphold the findings of ecclesiastical courts. The use of secular courts to determine what was the doctrine and practice of the Church of England caused widespread concern2 in the Church among many who were not supporters of the ritualists as well as those who were. Hostility to the use of such legal procedures was increasingly fuelled by the trial of Edward King, Bishop of Lincoln, in 1890.3 King was accused of minor ritual practices, such as making the sign of the cross
in services, by the Church Association, a Protestant group in the Church of England who were determined to act as watchdogs to stamp out any incipient Romanism they could detect. His trial before Archbishop Benson's court of special jurisdiction, with a verdict which ignored previous decisions of the secular courts and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, caused such public feeling that the Public Worship Regulation Act soon fell into disuse and a Royal Commission was established to investigate the problems of ecclesiastical discipline.


This Royal Commission reported in 1906 and recommended certain practices for the regulation of Anglican worship. Among these were the repeal of the Public Worship Regulation Act, the revision of Church courts, the discontinuance of Reservation, Benediction and other such ritual innovations, and suggested that the Ornaments Rubric in the Prayer Book was replaced by a new rubric which made clear the Anglican position on ornaments and vestments. The Commission effectively returned the problem to the bishops to sort out.


By the time the Commission had reported the practices of the Anglo Catholics in the Church were far too widespread to be successfully suppressed. The bishops had few weapons left to use now they had seen the unpopularity of the courts. In fact as late as 1945 Cyril Garbett, Archbishop of York, could write,



'The judicial system of Church Courts as far as they relate to ritual offences is almost inoperative at the present time, for a large number of clergy and laity refuse to respect the decisions of the Bishops' or Archbishops' Courts on the ground that they are bound to follow the decisions of the final Court of Appeal which receives its authority solely from the State. It is thus most difficult for the bishop to attempt to enforce by law his directions.'4



By 1911 they were definitely prepared to sanction Reservation as long as its purpose was the Communion of the Sick and not for purposes of adoration. Accordingly a draft rubric was prepared by the Upper House of Convocation5. This rubric was henceforth accepted by all the bishops and officially governed their attitude to Reservation. How strictly it was interpreted varied from diocese to diocese and widespread variations took place.

The First World War did much to undermine the bishops unity of approach. Those of Anglo Catholic persuasion, laity as well as clergy, felt an increasing need to pray before the Reserved Sacrament. The bishops of London and Chichester turned a blind eye to the fact that more and more churches were placing the Reserved Sacrament in a tabernacle or aumbry in a chapel to which the public had ready access, and other bishops were forced to slowly follow suit, even Bishop Gore of Oxford who had originally been one of the most insistent bishops in demanding that the draft rubric was followed to the letter. By 1915 Archbishop Davidson was writing to Gore,


'I wonder myself how far there ever has been such complete uniformity of Episcopal action. Has it not been an ideal rather than a fact ? And may not the difficulty or impossibility of attaining it be an example of those characteristics of the English Church upon which Dean Church so often dwelt?'6

By 1917 Archbishop Davidson experienced a complete feeling of defeat, episcopal authority was totally unenforceable in ritual matters,

'I come to the question of boundaries of legitimate ritual variety, and here I must sadly confess to myself that, whether it be my misfortune or my fault, I have been quite unsuccessful in ?introducing a comprehensiveness of a reasonable and, in a large sense, law abiding kind. At this moment, January 1917, there is I think a larger body of clergy than there ever has been before who quite deliberately resent, and even defy, the exercise of 'episcopal authority for inculcating, or, if need be, enforcing compliance with what may be largely Prayer Book rules ... I do not think it is so much due to a widespread spirit of lawlessness among otherwise sober men, for I doubt whether there is such, as to a wisely manoeuvered accentuation of the difficulties about Ecclesiastical Courts etc. which have been cleverly used by E.C.U. officers and the like to discredit the duty of obedience to authority exercised by the Bishops in any formal manner.'7

Throughout the 1920's the Anglo Catholics with their 'ritualistic' notions showed their strength. In 1920 the first Anglo Catholic Congress filled the Albert Hall for a whole week and 1,200 of its priests processed through Holborn for High Mass at St.Alban's.8 By 1923 they had their first bishop when Frere, the Superior of the Community of the Resurrection, was made Bishop of Truro. Davidson having decided that they were now so strong they must be represented among the episcopate9. However he tried to chose one of their more moderate representatives10 and Frere had at least questioned the wisdom of sending a telegram of greeting to the Pope from the second Anglo Catholic Congress.11

His sentiments were justified by the presentation of a 'Memorial' to the Archbishop of Canterbury and York that same year. The 'Memorial' was signed by nearly a thousand Church of England clergy who petitioned that the faithful might have access to the Reserved Sacrament, and it contained a refusal to obey any regulation (referring to the 1911 draft rubric) which forbade adoration.12 This refusal was stated in such terms that these clergy clearly believed any restrictions the bishops placed upon them were in direct conflict with their duty to Christ.


Many theological works on this subject were produced around this time. Among the most interesting is Darwell Stone's The Reserved Sacrament (1917) in which he claimed it is the duty of all parishpriests to reserve the Sacrament based on the Constitutions of John Peccham, Archbishop of Canterbury in the thirteenth century, as these had never been expressly repealed at the Reformation.13 This argument was to figure in many of the pamphlets published over the next few years concerning the reform ?of the Prayer book.


Although no English bishops were prepared to permit Devotions before the Reserved Sacrament some did feel the need to understand why so many clergy and laity felt so strongly in favour of these. Hence in 1926 the Bishop of Winchester, F.T.Woods, called a conference of distinguished clergy and lay theologians at Farnham to discuss the theological implications of Devotions and himself edited the proceedings of their discussions.14 Such moves almost certainly increased the hostility of the more Protestant members of the Church.


A final attempt was made by the bishops as a body to control Reservation in the ill-fated 1928 Prayer Book. Yet the introduction of the permitted practice of Reservation was the main reason why Parliament rejected the Book as has been shown in the chapter on 'Church and State'.


Although Parliament had rejected the book in July 1929 the bishops decided as a body to give their consent to the unofficial use of the 1928 book. Inevitably the practices permitted by the book, Reservation, vestments, prayers for the dead, and wafer bread became more widespread. Vestments were so widely used that the 1906 Royal Commission had recognised that their use could not be easily discontinued and that most bishops were prepared to sanction them. They had been declared illegal in the Purchas judgement of 1870 and the Ridsdale judgement of 1877 and were to remain illegal until the passing of the Vesture ofMinisters Measure of 1964.


During the 1930's and 1940's there was some debate about episcopal jus liturgicum and whether or not this enabled bishops to sanction additional services to those in the Prayer Book. The consensus of thought of Lowther Clark and Gregory Dix was that the use of the term to suggest that bishops had an ancient right to authorise services which contradicted the Prayer Book doctrinally was invalid and this applied to their sanctioning of the 1928 Prayer Book. Dix claimed that the term was a nineteenth century invention of,


'Anglican ecclesiologists, who invented it as a means of lifting the dead hand of Parliamentary statutes off Anglican worship'.15

The Church of England in 1928 was a very diverse body. There were such wide variations in ecclesiastical practice and belief that it was clear most bishops had abandoned attempts to enforce any form of unity or discipline. The Evangelical wing interpreted the Prayer Book and the Thirty Nine ?Articles in a most Protestant direction, celebrated Holy Communion from the north end of the Holy Table and wore a surplice and black scarf. Some extreme Anglo Catholics celebrated Holy Communion from the English Missal and occasionally even in Latin, they reserved the Sacrament in tabernacles, used incense,and gave Benediction every Sunday evening. All of which were officially 'forbidden practices'. They had formed the Society of St Peter and St Paul in 1911, the main function of which was to 'improve' the liturgy and its setting which it did by producing over 300 publications. These included many translations from various parts of the Roman Liturgy for use on all possible occasions in their churches. Adrian Fortescue's Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Described (1917), often distilled in the form of Ritual Notes: A Complete Guide to the Rite and Ceremonies of the English Church, became their liturgical Bible. Their churches are well described in Peter Anson's Fashion in Church Furnishing 1840-1940 (2nd edn.1960). In between these two extremes there were many variations but the number of churches adopting Reservation and vestments grew year by year. The more moderate churches still followed Percy Dearmer's The Parson's Handbook (1899). Dearmer devised a form of ritual which he believed to be that of the second year of the reign of Edward VI and therefore in conformity with the Ornaments Rubric in the Prayer Book. The followers of Dearmer therefore insisted all these practices were absolutely legal and what should be the general practice in the Church of England. Here Gothic style vestments were worn and if there was Reservation hanging pyxes were often favoured. Altars were surrounded by curtains suspended from riddel posts, incense was used, but above all dignity and decorum prevailed and their worship was regarded as more 'English' than the flamboyant services sometimes found in more extreme Anglo Catholic churches who tried to copy Italian forms of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The Anglo Catholics poured scorn on the followers of Dearmer and termed their style of worship 'British Museum Religion'. Never has there been such diversity of worship in the Church of England as was found between 1900 and 1965. Not suprisingly many bishops completely abandoned any attempt at discipline or enforcing any kind of uniformity in worship. Dearmer's form of worship would not be acceptable throughout the Church even if it was declared legal and no bishop wished to make 'martyrs' of their more extreme clergy.

The 1930's were the heydey of Anglo Catholicism.16 They had producedtheir own scholars and liturgists such as Gabriel Hebert and Gregory Dix who were widely revered through much of the Church.They had a sense of victory in that they had triumphed over bishops and persecution.They ignored the paradox that they who were the upholders of Apostolic Succession and the Catholic doctrine of the Church could only have achieved their current position by completely flouting the authority of bishops and the Church courts by which the bishops had sought to enforce discipline. To some of their number this attitude to bishops had caused moral difficulties but others actually seem to have ?enjoyed the conflicts. Any sense of discipline and order was completely within their own ranks and to their own ideals and beliefs. In practice bishops were largely ornamental if they could be persuaded to participate in Anglo Catholic rites. Bishops were subjected to the judgement of individual clergy or Anglo Catholic groupings, if their instructions were regarded as in accord with 'Catholic' teaching they were obeyed, if their instructions were regarded as contrary to 'Catholic' teaching the clergy believed it to be their duty to disobey them. It never seemed to occur to them that in the Roman Catholic Church, which they so often emulated in other ways, obedience to a bishop was then paramount. For some the inconsistency of the Anglican position with the Catholic doctrine of the Church proved an insurmountable hurdle which the casuistry of their relationship with Church authorities could not satisfy, hence there was a steady trickle of converts to Rome.


Episcopal Struggles for Discipline


It was against this background that some bishops, after the failure of the 1928 Prayer Book, tried to regain a semblance of authority over the liturgy in the churches of their dioceses. Garbett's perplexity must have been echoed by many bishops when he wrote,

'In the visions of the night I see them approaching me with the 39 Articles in the one hand, and in the other the Act of Uniformity or some forgotten code of Canons. Like all my brother bishops I am often asked to do what I know I have no power to do, or to act when I am uncertain as to what I may do and what I may not do! Of course the whole position is profoundly unsatisfactory.'17

Garbett was adamant that the Church courts should not be used against ritual offenders as imprisonment would inevitably result from this and he believed that,

'Neither Church not public opinion would tolerate the imprisonment of good and hard working men on account of their doctrinal views or practices in worship.'18

The bishop had to rely entirely on his spiritual influence, his attempts to reason with the cleric concerned and the moral support of his position upheld by the diocesan synod or equivalent. There was no possibility that Anglo Catholicism could be suppressed. It was estimated that by the early 1930's a third of the Church was sympathetic to the movement.19 Some clergy made public their intention to defy their bishops especially over the matter of Reservation as can be seen in letters to the ?Church Times in the 1930's20.

Winnington Ingram was Bishop of London from 1901until 1939 and during that time he was to see Anglo Catholicism take an increasing hold on many churches in his diocese. He was a dedicated bishop and his recognition of the good work of many more ritualistic priests in slum areas made him reluctant to act against them. Out of a sense of loyalty to Davidson he attempted to enforce the 1928 restriction on Reservation. In 1928 there were 170 priests in his diocese who reserved the Sacrament and of these twenty one protested strongly at Winnington Ingram's action. Many of the others preferred to just ignore their bishop's directions rather than make an open protest. A diocesan synod was called in October 1928 which resulted in the clergy voting to reject the new rubrics by 655 votes to 29221. The twenty one protesters rejoiced at this and began a long interchange of letters with their bishop which were later published. In these they contended that the Church of England was part of the Catholic Church and that their practice was fully in accord with the 'essential fundamental belief' of the Catholic Church. In their volume entitled Obedience: A Plea for Catholic Order they contended that,


'Authority in the Church of England cannot be relied upon to give guidance which is binding on conscience owing to the confusion which as a matter of fact has resulted from the method of appointment to the episcopate.'22.

Winnington Ingram soon gave up the attempt at discipline and for the rest of his long episcopal reign his clergy followed their own inclinations entirely in ritualistic matters.


This was not the first occasion when he had difficulty trying to enforce discipline. In 1917 he had tried to resolve problems at St. Saviour's, Hoxton where the vicar had introduced the Latin Missal, a tabernacle, Benediction and other 'Romish' innovations. He was not prepared to take action in the ecclesiastical courts but refused to visit the church or let his suffragans go there, refused to licence new curates to it or give it diocesan grants.These being the only other sanctions available to him. These sanctions were thwarted two years later when Frank Weston, the English Bishop of Zanzibar, was in London. He visited the parish, confirmed there, celebrated Holy Communion according to the Zanzibar rite in Swahili, gave 'Pontifical' Benediction and led the congregation in the veneration of a relic of St. Cornelius which he had brought with him23. Winnington Ingram was still trying to enforce discipline in this church well into the 1920's until the vicar resigned on account of ill health and joined Rome. Actions like this by colonial bishops, often retired and living in ?England, were to thwart other episcopal attempts at discipline.


Winnington Ingram gave evidence to the 1935 Commission on Church and State concerning ecclesiastical discipline. He blamed the system of State appointments to bishoprics as one of the causes of indiscipline on the grounds that,


'if the Church had more voice in the appointment of bishops, the bishops would have greater moral influence in enforcing discipline.'24

He was voicing a real objection of many clergy. If bishops were appointed by prime ministers who were not always even Anglicans, and sometimes these bishops were chosen against the wishes of other senior Church figures, how could these bishops then claim respect and filial obedienceCharles Gore in both his bishoprics, Birmingham and Oxford, tried hard to keep ritualism under control by granting restricted Reservation and moderate use of incense but little more. He tried hard to win support for the revised Prayer Book of 192725 but felt unable to support the changes made by the bishops in their attempt to get the Book passed by Parliament in the following year. His resignation as bishop shortly after this deprived the episcopal bench of one of its staunchest disciplinarians.

The controversial Bishop Barnes of Birmingham was one of the last bishops to make a serious attempt to deal with ritualistic clergy. His predecessor Russell Wakefield had allowed many illegal practices in the diocese as he liked a quiet life and hated controversy with his clergy26. Barnes was appointed in 1924 and soon took on the staunchest Anglo Catholic parishes when he refused to institute a new vicar at St. Gregory's, Small Heath in 1925 unless he agreed to give up certain practices. The new vicar C.A.Brown threatened a law suit to compel the bishop to institute him and Barnes finally compromised by instituting him in his private chapel thereby not associating himself with Brown in a public ceremony27. This was to be the first in a line of refusals to institute without assurances over tabernacles, Devotions, Benediction etc.


The next real challenge to his authority came over the appointment of a new incumbent to St. Aidan's , Small Heath in 1929. Barnes demanded that Simmonds, the new incumbent, promise to cease the practice of Reservation before he would agree to institute him. Simmonds, backed by the patron trustees and the English Church Union, refused and denied that Barnes had any right to demand such a promise. The case finally ended up in the Chancery Division of the High Court which supported Simmonds. Barnes still refused to ?institute him. The English Church Union actually had it in their power to obtain Barnes' imprisonment for disobeying the High Court. A compromise was reached however and Archbishop Lang instituted Simmonds to the living himself in 1931 by a legal fiction of pretending the see was vacant at the time.28


The use of a secular court by the E.C.U. was an interesting turn of events and showed how far the Church had come from the late nineteenth century situation where prosecution was always initiated against ritualists rather than by them. It is doubtful whether the E.C.U. would ever have exercised their power to send Barnes to prison fearing that, like those five clergy imprisoned under the Public Worship Regulation Act, this would have gained public sympathy for him. The outcome of the case with its legal precedent meant that no bishop felt able to impose more than slight restrictions on ritualist clergy and certainly not to take such matters to the courts.


When Winnington Ingram finally retired from London in 1939 he was succeeded by Fisher. Garbett, then Bishop of Southwark, said of Winnington Ingram's rule,


'He always told us at bishops' meetings that in London there was no disobedience, but this was only because there were no rules to obey. He left the diocese in a condition of ecclesiastical chaos, every man a law unto himself.'29

Fisher,finding that all the clergy had long been allowed to go their own way in ritual matters, made an early attempt to assert his authority. He issued a set of Regulations stating which deviations from the Prayer Book had the assent and approval of most bishops and added a few more deviations concerning which he proposed to take no action. He also made a point of holding talks with members of the Federation of Catholic Priests and other groups of Anglo Catholic clergy. The majority of his Anglo Catholic clergy completely ignored his list and he found his only way of returning these parishes to his accepted norms was to appoint clergy who would accept them whenever a vacancy occured. This could only apply to livings where he was patron or had considerable influence and he achieved little success30. By the time of his elevation to Canterbury in 1945 he had made little progress and in matters of doctrine and worship some of the parishes in his diocese remained in his own words, 'a fortress inside which no bishop was able to enter.31'

When Bell was appointed Bishop of Chichester in 1929 he found himself in a similar position to Fisher, Ritualism was widespread, Reservation was practised in about 50 churches and some had been holding services of Devotions for over 30 years.32. Bell consulted the theologians Oliver Quick, J.K.Mozley and Will Spens, and then Archbishop Lang before he came up with a compromise. This allowed services of Devotions to continue with his dispensation provided the form of service used was submitted to him. He implied that such dispensations would only be given where it was the long standing practice of the churches to hold such services. By 1937 he could write that he believed,


'Those Regulations, to the best of my belief, have been faithfully observed33'.

and he felt certain he had been able to prevent additional parishes introducing Devotions. This practice he continued throughout his long episcopate. He realised that it was very much a compromise and a legalisation of the status quo but he felt it did give him some control over the spread of more extreme forms of Anglo Catholicism.

Changes of bishop in dioceses sometimes caused considerable problems for incumbents. Frere had been Bishop of Truro until 1935. As a staunch Anglo Catholic and a member of the Community of the Resurrection he had allowed ritualists in his diocese to continue with little episcopal restraint. In 1935 he was succeeded by Hunkin, a Liberal Evangelical who had started his ministry as a Methodist. Hunkin regarded perpetual Reservation as,'a dangerous practice especially in view of the recrudescence of superstition among the general public.'34 He had however voted for the 1928 Prayer Book in the Church Assembly. As bishop his practise varied, sometimes imposing restrictions on new incumbents to AngloCatholic parishes and sometimes not,35 but always he made his views on discipline very clear.Even though Truro had a rather unusual arrangement whereby until 1960 the bishop was also dean of the cathedral, Hunkin had to deal with a chapter which was almost solidly Anglo Catholic. It was not until 1945, after many of the chapter had been replaced through age and moves, that he managed to terminate the practice of Reservation in the cathedral.36 Many parishes in the diocese which had Reservation under Frere continued to do so at least while they retained the same incumbent as Hunkin expressed his disapproval in words rather than actions. He remarked of some of his clergy, 'They're always calling me Father-in-God, but I wish they would give me filial obedience.'37


Most bishops increasingly accepted that they could do little to discourage ritualism in their dioceses as they had but few weapons to use if they were disobeyed so generally they prefered not to put themselves in that position. The most effective measure was to try to ensure new incumbents conformed ?with their wishes, but even this was only possible where the bishop was patron of the living or had influence with the patrons. Bishops frequently found that clergy once appointed later became more extreme in their practices. On rare occasions bishops might refuse to visit a church or licence further curates to it but Anglo Catholic clergy found ways round these difficulties by using retired colonial bishops when they needed them, and by sending their confirmation candidates to other churches for the service, likewise they often found means of getting additional clerical help. Except in the case of Bishop Barnes, where the initiative came from the patrons and the E.C.U., there was no case of litigation in the courts over the rights of ritualistic priests to introduce more advanced Anglo Catholic practices. Where the bishop himself was of Anglo Catholic inclination, as Kenneth Kirk, Bishop of Oxford in the 1940's and 1950's, he made no attempt to supress illegal ritualism and avoided any kind of persecution even when he might not have given his assent personally to some practices in his diocese.38 Cyril Garbett, writing as Archbishop of York in 1945, suggested that instead of trying to reform the ecclesiastical courts the answer might be for bishops to use Convocation and the Diocesan Synods to,


'gain sufficient moral support in restraining incumbents who deliberately defied their authority. It would be no longer the individual bishop, but the Bishop with his clergy, who censured the law breaker.'39

In this way he thought that clergy would be more ready to obey if they felt the bishop was expressing the 'mind' of the Church. This novel approach never seems to have been put into practice. Possibly in ritualistic cases the Synods would have been too divided on some of these issues to have delivered any effective censure.

The 1935 Report on Church and State recommended that the Fourth Recommendation of the Royal Commission of 1906 be given legal effect. This stated that bishops should be able to refuse institution to a benefice of any clergyman,


'who has not previously satisfied the bishop of the diocese of his willingness to obey the law as to the conduct of Divine Service and as to the ornaments and fittings of the churches, and to submit to directions given by the bishop.' 40

This recommendation was never acted upon, possibly because the legal position was not clear concerning ornaments and fittings.

Archbishop Fisher believed that a revision of Canon Law would ?help the bishops to restore discipline stating in 1947,


'The reform of Canon Law is, I believe the first and most essential step in the whole process of Church reform... Because we have no body of Canons to turn to, the Church has lost its sense of obedience to its own spiritual ordinances.'41

This revision occupied much episcopal energy over a period of more than twenty years before it was complete. Although it provided update and clarification on many Church matters, it had little effect in practice on ritualism which was beginning to decline following the liturgical innovations in the Roman Catholic Church that took place after Vatican II.

The Shrine of Walsingham


The prime example of ritual innovation in this period is the restoration of the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham. When Hope Patten became the incumbent of the church in Walsingham in the early 1920's he soon started making his dream come true inbuilding a new Shrine and reintroducing one of the most famous of medieval pilgrimages to the Anglican Church. Such innovation did not pass without comment and his plans were attacked as early as 1926 by Hensley Henson, Bishop of Durham42.

The Bishop of Norwich was the diocesan for Walsingham and at the time of Hope Patten its incumbent was an Evangelically inclined bishop, Bertram Pollock. They had a curious relationship, for although Pollock strongly opposed the Shrine, he collaborated with Hope Patten in an attempt to end the prospects of the 1928 Prayer Book by requesting Hope Patten to help him get large numbers of Anglo Catholics to declare openly that they would refuse to use the Book43.


To establish the Shrine it had to be regarded as a private chapel and a trust was formed early to provide for its continuance with the appointment of clerical and lay guardians including Lord Halifax. When the foundation stone of the Holy House was laid it was inscribed that the restoration had taken place in the pontificate of Pius XI and the episcopate of Bertram Pollock. This was of course done without the bishop's permission and he immediately demanded the removal of his name44. Hope Patten had strong support from Bishop O'Rorke, the retired Bishop of Accra, who was then serving as the rector of nearby Blakeney. O'Rorke became one of the first guardians of the Shrine and willingly took part in all its ceremonies lending them episcopal dignity. Pollock thoroughly disapproved of O'Rorke's participation but O'Rorke cared nothing for that and knew that Pollock was virtually powerless to prevent him45.


Pollock did make an attempt to restrict the Shrine in the mid 1930's by declaring the Shrine unlicensed and forbidding the celebration of Holy Communion there. The guardians took legal advice and declared that the original Shrine had been a 'peculiar' and therefore outside the administration of the diocesan bishop. As this right had never been withdrawn in law they claimed that a reconstruction on the same site would lawfully be entitled to the same privileges 46. Pollock knew that any further attempts to prevent the work of the Shrine proceeding would involve him in a lengthy and costly legal battle so he capitulated and until his resignation in 1942 made no further attempts to prevent proceedings at the Shrine. When the Shrine church was finished in 1938 it was duly consecrated by Bishop O'Rorke47.The Shrine was resplendent with all the ornaments favoured by the ritualists. There was a tabernacle of course, a large statue of the Madonna crowned and with an embroidered cope, a replica of the Holy House at Loreto and fifteen side altars dedicated to the Mysteries of the Holy Rosary.


No subsequent Bishop of Norwich has ever raised any difficulties concerning the Shrine although that bishopric has been generally held by clergy of Evangelical persuasion. After the Second World War the Shrine began to attract even larger numbers of pilgrims and soon Anglo Catholic bishops were found among its ranks of guardians, among them Graham Leonard who was a guardian when he was Bishop of Willesden and continued his support of the Shrine as Bishop of Truro and then as Bishop of London. In recent years even archbishops of Canterbury have participated in the Walsingham pilgrimage which includes the majority of ritualistic practices objected to throughout the history of the Anglo Catholic movement. Time and popular appeal have led to the Shrine's acceptance by a large number of Anglicans and its treatment by the episcopate in the usual spirit of Anglican compromise.48


Post 1945 Attitudes


During the post war period attitutes slowly changed. Many bishops now had worn vestments for most of their priestly life and requests for faculties for tabernacles no longer caused objections. The effect of the Parish Communion Movement which was recognisable in the Anglican Church from the 1930's led to churches of all shades of churchmanship coming to make Holy Communion their central act of Sunday worship with the majority of the congregation receiving communion.

Anglo Catholic clergy enjoyed increasing freedom and that of the religious communities was unbounded. The monks at Nashdom in the 1960's used the Roman missal and breviary regularly and stated that if they joined Rome they would only have to change one word in their service, the name of the bishop.49 Bishops had by now completely abandoned attempts to modify such practices.This freedom led to a wide diversity as Anglo Catholicism had no overall authority to direct it,

'it lacked authority of the kind invested in the Pope, in the church councils, in a synod of bishops, or in a bishop himself ... it was said of Anglo Catholic clergy that every man was his own Pope and could therefore do precisely what he wanted to.'50

In 1964 the Vesture of Ministers Measure was passed enabling clergy to wear vestments legally if they wished to do so. Itpassed through the Church Assembly without too much difficulty but was subject to a long debate in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. When the Archbishop of Canterbury introduced it to the House he tried to indicate that no doctrinal change was involved,

'I want wholly and entirely to repudiate any allegation that in this practice which I have described I have been teaching or encouraging doctrines contrary to those of the Church of England.'51

He continued by stating that he regarded vestments as a symbol of the continuity of the Church throughout the ages and that he thought their colours brightened liturgical proceedings.52Nowhere did he mention any doctrinal significance attached to the wearing of vestments .

A considerable number of Church of England clergy did attach doctrinal significance to the wearing of vestments but as they had become part of Sunday worship in many churches and were frequently worn by the bishops themselves. It was decided that vestmentsshould be legalised but in a way that caused as little friction as possible.


Owen Chadwick gave an interesting account of the Vesture of Ministers Measure in his life of Michael Ramsey53. Chadwick shared the attitude of the historic Anglo Catholic movement that vestments were legal according to the Prayer Book's Ornaments Rubric but had fallen into disuse in Elizabethan times. Therefore ?the nineteenth century judgements of the Judical Committee of the Privy Council which had condemned them were 'ridiculous'. He stated that in 1961 vestments were used in 25% of churches, 29 out of 43 cathedrals and 17 out of 27 theological colleges, and 90% of clergy used coloured stoles which were also regarded as illegal by the same judgement.


Ramsey's speech in the House of Lords deliberately avoided their doctrinal dimension as in the previous months a considerable campaign had been mounted by the Evangelical section of the Church to try to persuade Parliament that this was a dangerous drift towards Rome. In spite of a lengthy debate in both Houses of Parliament Ramsey's fears of the effect of this campaign on the members proved unfounded and the measure was passed with little opposition. The archbishop was concerned that to bring about this essential legalization on a purely ecclesiastical subject a measure had to be passed by Parliament, many of whose members were not Anglican or even attended any place of worship. Although he never seriously contemplated disestablishment for the Church of England his experiences over this measure encouraged him to work for more independence for the Church in matters of doctrine and worship.


As was made clear at the beginning of this thesis authority rarely equates with power in the Church of England, and nowhere is this more clearly exhibited than in the field of discipline. Bishops have been reluctant to use the ecclesiastical courts, forall except moral offences, because of the risk of higher appeals to courts of State. Both bishops and clergy had grown increasingly troubled in conscience about the use of State jurisdiction over ecclesiastical matters.


The Anglo Catholic party within the Church paid only 'lip service' to the high status they accorded theologically to bishops. If the bishop's views on doctrine and ritual was not in accord with their view of what the Church's teaching should be, then his requests for modification in their practices was consistently ignored. Bishops who were Anglo Catholics or Evangelicals especially tended to lose even their moral influence among those of a different persuasion within their diocese. Only a great deal of episcopal tolerance and turning of a blind eye prevented more open hostility especially in the period up to the 1960's. The exercise of episcope in the area of ritual discipline proved totally impossible. From the time of Vatican II onwards many of these difficulties have resolved themselves. The Vesture of Ministers Measure meant that vestments were no longer illegal. Catholic ceremonial was copied by the Anglo Catholics, and the variety of forms of worship now permitted by the Worship and Doctrine Measure meant that most clergy and congregations could find an acceptable legal form of worship. This has been further aided by a growing tolerance within the Church. Those bishops who felt their authority was best served by patience and a reluctance to attempt to enforce standards have been much justified by the passage of time.


From the 1930's other aspects of the continental liturgical movement also affected worship in the Church of England. Under the influence of such works as Der Christliche Altar by J.Braun S.J.54 it became more usual for altars to become freestanding. The first I can trace in the Church of England is that of St. Philip, Cosham (1938) designed by Sir Ninian Comper. By the 1950's and 1960's new altars were designed for westward celebrations and many older churches adapted their furnishings to the change of approach. Many Evangelicals adopted the westward position along with most of the other Anglican clergy and this lessened the differences of past years.


The introduction of new rites of worship following the Prayer Book (Alternative Services) and the Worship and Doctrine Measure (1974) led to a very wide range of options being legal within the Church and most clergy of whatever churchmanship found some form of series I, II or III acceptable. Once the Roman Catholic Church began to use a fairly simple English Liturgy the Anglo Catholic wing of the Church had to follow suit. The English Missal rapidly disappeared and most became used to using Series III with a few borrowed interpolations. The newly permissible forms of worship and in vesture meant that bishops no longer had to 'turn a blind eye' to rites and practices that were illegal, there was no longer any feeling that discipline was not being enforced. The Anglican spirit of adaption and compromise had triumphed and what had once been regarded as 'transgressions' were now to become part of the accepted life of the Church in their new forms.


The actual legal position over Reservation and form of Devotions before the Reserved Sacrament, along with many aspects of Church ceremonial and furnishings is far from clear even today55 but no member of the clergy feels at all at risk of censure from his bishop over any of these matters.


Bernard Pawley writing in 196956 called for a rebuilding of 'oversight and discipline, of overall episcope' as part of the needs of the Church of England in a new ecumenical age. He suggested that the breakdown in authority was due to 'fundamental assumptions' that law and Gospel could not co-exist. He admitted that many in the Church would be firmly opposed to any attempt at disciplining the laity preferring what they would term the 'pastoral approach'. Likewise opposition would come from the strong Evangelical section of the Church who regarded discipline as 'Romanism' and preferred a freedom which they thought comparable to the Free Churches. Pawley declared this a myth and insisted that Presbyterians and Methodists were often more disciplined by Church authority than their Church of England equivalent. He called for bishops to regain respect by reasserting discipline which he believed to be their essential scriptural role. Yet he did not underestimate the difficulties,


'The episcopal office, as exercised in the provinces of Canterbury ?and York, is probably further from the ideal of the episcopate than any other, except perhaps the Roman titular bishop consecrated to sit in a Vatican departmental armchair, which is the nadir.'

Further,



'It was an English bishop who said that for him episcopos should be translated 'onlooker'.'57

He admitted readily the problems of the freehold of the clergy and the refusal of the laity to accept any form of discipline but pointed forcefully that this was leading to the disintegration of the Church which no longer appeared to have definite standards on doctrinal or ethical teaching. It was the bishops to whom the Church should look for a solution. Subsequent moves in the General Synod seem to have done little to strengthen the episcopal role.

At the consecration of a bishop in the Prayer Book rite the bishop promised to uphold discipline in his new diocese,


'... such as be unquiet, disobedient and criminous within your Diocese, correct and punish according to such authority as ye have by God's Word, and as to you shall be committed by the Ordinance of the realm?'

The Alternative Service Book of 1980 very much modifies these demands and the new bishop is only asked at his consecration,

'Will you accept the discipline of this Church and faithfully exercise authority within it?'58.

Although bishops have been called upon officially to exercise disciplinary authority throughout this period, it has always been far easier for them to exercise this in matters of criminal or moral offences than in matters of doctrine and ritual.

The Parson's Freehold and Patronage

Clergy become incumbents of livings at the hands of many possible patrons. Those livings which are in the gift of diocesan bishops, deans and chapters of Cathedrals, parochial clergy and diocesan boards of patronage amount to about a third of all benefices. This figure has slowly increased this century. Those in the gift of the Crown and various officers of State amount to about a fifteenth of benefices. The rest are in the hands of universities, colleges, schools, religious societies and private patrons, the private patrons accounting for at least as many livings if not more than those held by ecclesiastical authority.59. This caused considerable difficulties to bishops in the years when they were trying to enforce discipline in worship. If the patrons wanted a ritualistic clergyman it was almost impossible for the bishop to refuse to institute him, as was seen in the case of Bishop Barnes and Mr. Simmonds of St. Aidans, Small Heath60. If the P.C.C. didnot like the patron's nominee it could appeal to the bishop under the Benefices (Exercise of Rights of Presentation) Measure,(1931) and then the bishop could decline to accept the nominee. Otherwise the bishop had to have grounds for opposing the patron's nominee such as immorality or simony and be prepared to face court action in the matter61. A bishop could not refuse to institute a cleric nominated by a patron on the grounds that he is unsuitable for the parish, or that he proposes to reverse the teaching and services then the current practice in the parish. Bishops sometimes made choices of men who turned out other than they expected. Reference was made in the House of Commons debates on the 1928 Prayer Book to the strongly ritualistic clergy who practised many illegalities but in fact received their livings from their bishops' patronage62.

Today most diocesan bishops do not greatly resent this widespread distribution of patronage as it removes a lot of work from their shoulders, and as more than one bishop has remarked if the patrons chose an incumbent the parishioners later come to dislike the bishop cannot be blamed. Often the patrons will consult the bishop or other senior clergy. It would seem that the future incumbents who might be deemed unsuitable by the bishop are often the choice of colleges and institutions. These sometimes seek to impose a particular brand of churchmanship and choose their candidates on these grounds rather than for their pastoral abilities.63 Generally it would seem that many bishops are increasingly coming to believe that it might be better if patronage was removed from lay and institutional hands but such a measure is not high on their priorities.


Once a clergyman was instituted to a living he had Parson's Freehold which made it impossible to eject him from that living unless he was convicted in a civil court of a criminal offence or found guilty of a grave moral offence such as adultery.


A Church Assembly measure of 1926 was designed to enable the bishop to suspend lazy clergy but in practice it was almost ineffective. The Incumbents (Disability) Measure, (1945) replaced it and established panels to deal with any case where a clergyman was incapable of performing his functions on account of age or ill health, and the Ecclesiastical Offices (Age Limit) Measure (1975) which requires clergy to retire at an age stipulated by the diocese, normally 70, provides the bishop's only means of removing many clergy64, but it has dealt with the problem of aged clergy, sometimes in ill health or out of touch with parishioners, who refused to resign.


Parson's Freehold meant that bishops could not move their clergy around unless the clergy were willing to move and a suitable vacancy occured. Bishops could do nothing about clergy who carried out the barest minimum of duties, who were totally unsuited temperamentally to their parish, who had marital or alcohol problems unless these caused a serious moral scandal, and even clergy who had just grown 'stale' in the face of the challenges of their particular parish. Those newly ordained clergy could serve their curacies in any parish that accepted them, with the funds to pay them. These conditions fulfilled, the bishops' approval was largely a formality. New curates often had no previous links with the diocese, as was the position with many new incumbents.


Parson's Freehold formed a protection for many clergy who did not wish to move to other parishes where they might be more suitable. Bishops found clergy are often reluctant to move because their wives had well paid jobs, their children were settled at school, or they were located near elderly parents. Because of Parson's Freehold only gentle persuasion could be used to encourage such clergy to move and this often failed.


In recent years the bishops have not had patronage problems to any great extent as the shortage of clergy and resources have led to many benefices being united under team vicars and the appointment of clergy as 'priests in charge' where a church has an uncertain future, so the clergyman cannot claim Parson's Freehold. These changes have not been brought about so much out of a desire for discipline as to answer the Church's current needs. It has however meant that bishops have often been free to appoint clergy of approved churchmanship and loyalty to livings within their diocese so reducing disciplinary problems.


Clergy have become reluctant to surrender their Parson's Freehold and surveys in the 1960's have shown that this reluctance was based on fear of encroachments by bishops and laity.65 Leslie Paul ?a knowledgeable contemporary critic of the Church believed this to show that,


'the clergy attitude to the episcopacy, and the clinging to freehold, suggests a frightened ministry.'66

It would certainly indicate that clergy are reluctant to grant any concessions in this area that might increase the authority of episcopal oversight into parishes.


The Ecclesiastical Courts.

In 1883 Sir Lewis Dibden wrote of the ecclesiastical courts of the Church of England,

'The only thing which repeated experience has made clear about Church judicature is that it will not work.'

Guy Mayfield writing about Church courts in 1958 quoted Dibden with the affirmation, 'The estimate is true today'67 In practice the Church courts had long lost their ability to pronounce judgement on the laity, even though theoretically they can still require of them public penance under pain of imprisonment, and also imprison negligent churchwardens. No bishop, since 1928 or some years before, has ever tried to assert his authority in this way for he knew he had little chance of enforcing such punishments on the laity.

The use of the ecclesiastical courts in cases involving the clergy in the nineteenth century had brought more problems than they had solved as appeal from these courts was to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. The 1906 Royal Commission on Ecclesiastical Discipline had said of these appeals,


'A court dealing with matters of conscience and religion must above all others rest on moral authority if its judgements are to be effective. As thousands of clergy, with strong lay support, refuse to recognize the jurisdiction of the Judical Committee, its judgements cannot practically be enforced68.'

Despite these difficulties the Church Assembly established more courts by various measures. The Incumbents (Discipline) Measure,(1947), (amended in 1950). The Church Dignitaries (Retirement) Measure, (1949), The Bishops Retirement Measure (1951) and The Incumbents (Discipline) and Church Dignitaries (Retirement) Amendment Measure (1953).

In practice legal proceedings under the Public Worship Regulation Act of 1874 were almost never used this century because of the risk that clergy might again be imprisoned with the ensuing public outcry. Hence clergy were tried under the Clergy Discipline Act, 1892, which dealt with offences of a criminal or moral nature and not ritual offences69.Under the Public Worship Regulation Act and the Clergy Discipline Act laity as well as bishops can set in motion proceedings against the clergy. When attempts have been made to do so during this period against ritualistic clergy the bishops have been able to veto prosecutions which they considered, 'vexatious, oppressive, or likely to be harmful to the Church'.70The Church Assembly measures enlarged this field of legislation to deal with clergy reluctant to resign when aged or infirm and for a few other offences. Since these cases were largely non controversial the bishops were able to effectively proceed. In most cases the hearing was before the bishop who pronounced the sentence.


In 1954 the Church of England's Commission on Ecclesiastical Courts made their report on the current state of the courts and suggested various reforms71. This report eventually led to the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure of 1963 which replaced much of the old judicial machinery with a new system. This new system has shown itself equally open to criticism72. The bishop plays a key role in most cases and frequently presides over trials. In some instances, especially where the offence concerns morality the bishop can pronounce sentence without any court proceedings if the accused consents, thus sparing much publicity. If the case is one which concerns doctrine, ritual or ceremonial the bishop is obliged to interview the accused and the complainant before deciding whether there is a case to answer. The case is then heard before a committee which includes a bishop (appointed by the archbishop) and two diocesan chancellors. This committee can order a trial, decide there is no case to answer, or decide that further proceedings would not be in the interests of the Church of England73.


Moral offences can pass for trial to the Consistory Court but ritual and doctrine offences pass to the Court of Ecclesiastical Causes Reserved but for a first offence monition is the maximum sentence permissible. Appeals pass to a Commission of Review appointed by the Crown. These procedures involve a tribunal of six diocesan bishops, three Law Lords, two Supreme Court Judges and many other dignitaries. If the offence is allegedly committed by a bishop an even more impressive array of complainants must be invoked before they can start.74It is hardly surprising that these impressive procedures are never invoked especially as the maximum sentence for a first offence is only a censure. Although deposition from holy orders is possible for subsequent offences such a case has never occured over a ritual matter. As in all judicial proceedings ecclesiastical and temporal, the Crown can grant a free pardon with remission of all penalties75.


One reason why bishops have exhibited great reluctance to use the Church courts, especially against clergy suspected of moral offences, is the enormous legal costs involved in such court cases. Bishops only resort to such measures where they have a considerable amount of evidence and when a public scandal is likely to be caused by the clergyman's refusal to resign.


Next Previous
Index


1) Accounts of these conflicts appear in Owen Chadwick, The Victorian Church, pt. II (1972), and M.A.Crowther, Church Embattled, (1970)

2) N.P.Williams and Charles Harris, Northern Catholicism,(1933), pp.406 ff.

3) John A.Newton, Search for a Saint : Edward King, (1977), pp.93 ff

4) C.Garbett,Physician, Heal Thyself, (1945), p.60

5) G.K.A.Bell, Randall Davidson, (1935), pp.805ff

6) Ibid. p.807

7) Ibid.pp.797-8

8) A.Hughes, The Rivers of The Flood, (1961), p.68

9) Although Bishops King and Gore might be termed Anglo Catholic they were not prepared to give the freedom to more extreme Anglo Catholic clergy that their successors would do, and their own Anglo Catholicism was quite moderate.

10) G.Bell, Randall Davidson,vol.2,p.1251

11) By the Sixth Congress of 1948 there were 17 bishops actively participating in the Congress including four English diocesans - Wand of London, Wynn of Ely, Hudson of Newcastle, and Kirk of Oxford. Hughes, op.cit.,p.101

12) B.Pollock, Holy Communion and Reservation, (1911), pp.vii-viii

13) Stone, The Reserved Sacrament, p.88

14) F.T.Woods, ed. Reservation, (1926)

15) G.Dix, The Shape of the Liturgy,(1945),p.588, see also W.K.Lowther Clark, Liturgy and Worship,(1932), p.4; K.Sansbury, Truth, Unity and Concord, (1967), p.311

16) John Wilkinsoned.Catholic Anglicans Today, (1968), p.318ff.

17) Garbett, Physician, Heal Thyself, pp.61-2

18) Garbett,The Claims of the Church of England,(1947), p.106

19) N.Abercrombie writing in The Dublin Review, vol.97,(1933),p.77

20) C.P.S.Clarke, The Via Media, (1937) p.172

21) A.Hughes,The Rivers of the Flood, (1961), p.93

22) C.P.Shaw ed., Obedience : A Plea for Catholic Order (1937), pp.2,5

23) S.C.Carpenter, Winnington-Ingram, (1949), pp.171-3

24) Church Assembly, Church and State, vol.2, pp.96-7

25) G.L.Prestige, The Life of Charles Gore, (1935), p.504ff

26) John Barnes, Ahead of his Age : Bishop Barnes of Birmingham, (1979), p.164

27) Ibid.p.172

28) Ibid. p.236ff. See also Alec R.Vidler,Scenes from Clerical Life (1977), pp.57-74 and A.R.Vidler 'Bishop Barnes : A century in Retrospect', Modern Churchman XVIII, (Spring 1975), pp.87-98. Vidler was curate at St. Aidans from 1924-1931 and actually suggested Simmonds to the trustees as a suitable incumbent.

29) C.Smyth, Cyril Forster Garbett, (1959), p.184

30) William Purcell, Fisher of Lambeth, (1969), pp 400-401

31) Edward Carpenter, Archbishop Fisher, (1991), p.116

32) C.D.Jasper,George Bell.Bishop of Chichester, (1967), p.166

33) Ibid.p.170

34) Letter to the Church Times, 21st February 1928

35) Alan Dunstan and John Peart-Binns, Cornish Bishop, (1977), p.98-9

36) Ibid.p.127

37) Ibid.p.129

38) E.W.Kemp, The Life and Letters of Kenneth Escott Kirk, (1959), p.108

39) C.Garbett, Physician,Heal Thyself, (1945), p.31

40) Church Assembly, Church and State, Report of the Archbishops' Commission on the relations between Church and State, (1935), vol.1,p.89

41) Quoted in P.A.Welsby, The History of the Church of England 1945-1980, OUP, (1984), p.41

42) Colin Stephenson, Walsingham Way (1970), p.144

43) Ibid.pp.149-50

44) Ibid p.159

45) Ibid.p.133

46) Ibid.p.199

47) Ibid.p.200

48) The Administrator of the Shrine, Revd Roy Fellows, has given me a list of the current bishop guardians (1990) which included the then bishops of Wakefield, London, Chichester and Leicester. Among the bishops who have preached at the Annual National Pilgrimage or who have led their own diocesan pilgrimages are Archbishops Runcie and Ramsey, and the bishops of Sheffield, Chelmsford, Norwich, Bath and Wells, Huntingdon (for Ely), Birmingham, Blackburn, Manchester, Truro, Winchester, Portsmouth, St.Edmondsbury, and Peterborough. This indicates how widely the Shrine is now accepted in the Church.

49) P.Ferris, The Church of England,(1962), pp.196-7

50) W.S.F.Pickering writing in Tradition Renewed, ed. G.Rowell, (1986), p.164

51) Hansard Lords (1964), vol.260,49

52) Ibid.vol.260,50

53) Owen Chadwick, Michael Ramsey, Oxford, (1990), p.177ff

54) Munich (1924)

55) E.Garth Moore and Timothy Briden,Moore's Introduction to English Canon Law, 2nd edn. (1985)

56) Lambeth Essays on Ministry, p.87ff

57) Ibid.p.90

58) Alternative Service Book, p.389

59) I am indebted for this information to Church House Westminster

60) Barnes, Op.cit.p.236 ff.

61) Moore and Briden, Op.cit. pp.40-1. The The Patronage Measure of 1986 has given the bishop and the congregation more choice concerning the acceptance of a new incumbent. However this measure does not apply to livings in the gift of the Crown.

62) e.g Hansard, Commons (1927), vol.211,2547

63) These comments are based on correspondence and conversations with a number of retired bishops.

64) Moore and Briden, op. cit.p.42ff.

65) Leslie Paul, The Church by Daylight : A Reappraisement of the Church of England and its Future, (1973), p.139

66) Ibid.p.139

67) Guy Mayfield, The Church of England, (1958), p.139

68) Mayfield. op. cit. p.144

69) Mayfield, op. cit. p.146f

70) Episcopacy Ancient and ?Modern, (1930), p.111

71) Church of England. Commission on Ecclesiastical Courts,The Ecclesiastical Courts(1954). Chapter II of this gives an excellent summary of the history of the courts and their problems from 1832 to 1954. The intricacies of the Church Assembly measures are dealt with on p.35 ff.

72) Moore and Briden, op. cit. p.143ff

73) Moore and Briden, op. cit. p.147f

74) Moore and Briden, op. cit. p.149f

75) Ibid. p.152

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