Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Authority of Bishops and the Authority of the State


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The Authority of Bishops and the Authority of the State

'The unity of the Church of England is not, therefore, a product of religious faith, but of law, history and politics; and it is undoubtedly a great asset that its unity is thus protected from internal religious tension. It means however that the Church of England has to observe the terms and obey the limits of the unwritten social contract between itself and the State... If it derives its unity from the establishment, hence the State, there is a sense in which its authority too is dependent on the State.1'

One of the earliest demands of the Oxford Movement was for the bishops to exercise their divine calling as successors of the Apostles within the Church. The nineteenth century saw bishops taking far more seriously their exercise of episcope over their flocks and clergy. As this developed so they saw the need for changes, for more self government for the Church and essential liturgical changes needed to preserve Church order. These needs were not easily met, for Parliament was reluctant to lose control of the Church whose whole structure was founded on numerous Parliamentary statutes and had been regarded as much an institution of the State as was the Civil Service.

A movement within the Church which sought more freedom for the Church toexpress its views and to have more say in its affairs led to the Enabling Act of 1919 and the establishment of the Church Assembly. The Church Assembly was permitted to suggest measures for Church government but these had to pass through theEcclesiastical Committee of Members of Parliament and be passed by Parliament itself before they could be enforced.

Prayer Book Revision 1927-1928

A growing need for revision of the 1662 Prayer Book led the Church Assembly to propose a new Prayer Book in 1927. This book was a composite of liturgical reform and an attempt at Church discipline by the bishops, as it allowed Reservation of the Sacrament and some practices desired by the Anglo Catholics. It was hoped that by allowing some of these practices the bishops would be strengthened in their ability to get their clergy to obey them and cease from more extreme ritualism.

Archbishop Davidson himself was not convinced of the merits of change. He wrote in his diary, concerning the proposed 1927/1928alterations to the Holy Communion service, that he believed the wish for change came not from the majority of churchgoers,

'my own instinct would have been for leaving that Office alone and ?adhering to what has satisfied people for more than three centuries. And I am certain that such is the view of the overwhelming majority of English churchmen throughout the country... Ought it to be one's policy to fall in with that wish or give leadership in that direction, and practically refuse what ecclesiastically minded folk want in the way of change or reform or revision to older usage? The answer is not easy... The majority of churchmen want no change. But the people who do want the change are the people who have studied the subject and care about it most!2'

However he pleaded in the House of Lords for the new Prayer Book in 1927, basing his request for their acceptance of the Book on the need for ending internal divisions within the Church, and pledged that the bishops would exert themselves to the utmost to ensure that it was obeyed3.

The bishops were almost unanimous in their support for the changes, especially the regularising of the position over Reservation and vestments. The clergy and laity were less enthusiastic, some wanted a far more drastic revision, others preferred only a non-doctrinal revision. Bishop Knox of Manchester, widely known for his Evangelical views, organised a petition containing over 3052C000 signatures demanding no revision at all.4 Even though most bishops wanted changes there was divergence of opinion about the nature of these changes. Considerably different approaches were put forward by groups led by William Temple and those influenced by Frere.

Many aspects of the Prayer Book caused contention. As well as Reservation and vestments, wafer bread and prayers for the dead were permitted. Changes in the Holy Communion service included the addition of an epiclesis, an the optional use of prayers such as the Benedictus Qui and the Agnus Dei which more extreme Evangelicals contended would lead to a belief in Transubstantiation.5 The question of Reservation was the one which caused the most difficulty. Although it was permitted, it was hedged around by lots of restrictions. Permission was only granted when there was real necessity for the Communion of the sick and under strict conditions that there were to be no ceremonies or services in connection with the Sacrament so reserved. Reservation had to be in an aumbry, not above or behind the Holy Table, both bread and wine to be reserved, and there was to be no exposition apart from the Holy Communion service.6 These rubrics were carefully worded to cause the least offence to the Evangelicals by Cyril Garbett, then Bishop of Southwark. He tested them carefully for loopholes on his own domestic chaplain and then on Mervyn Haigh, principal chaplain to Archbishop Davidson,7. The majority of bishops were prepared to accept the Prayer Book as a compromise which they hoped would restore a sense of order and unity in worship. It was an attempt to restore some ?degree of conformity in discipline by granting limited concessions to the Anglo Catholics, but the bishops also hoped that such restricted concessions would not be enough to alienate the rest of the Church.

Church Assembly passed the 1927 edition of the Book by 517 votes to 133, but the House of Commons rejected it by 238 to 205 votes. The following year the bishops made another attempt to get the Book passed. Modifications were made including further restrictions on Reservation forbidding hanging pyxes and tabernacles. This had the effect of further alienating Anglo Catholic opinion and doing nothing to placate the Evangelicals. It was less acceptable to the Church Assembly achieving a smaller majority 396 votes to 153. Before the Book was submitted to the Commons a statement was issued by the Central Council of Catholic Societies composed of the English Church Union, the Federation of Catholic Priests, the Anglo Catholic Congress, and the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament affirming belief in the Real Presence, Eucharistic Sacrifice and the rightfulness of adoring Christ present in the Reserved Sacrament. This statement was accompanied by a letter of support signed by over 2000clergy. It was hardly surprising that Parliament again rejected the Book.

The bishops failed in their attempt to impose clerical discipline with a selective liturgical revision. Evangelical opposition to it was due to,

'A spurious pretence at a discipline being used to conceal changes of doctrine'

And Anglo Catholic opposition claimed it was,

'The iron hand of discipline in the velvet glove of liturgical revision'8

Parliament rejected the Book because they too felt it was an unworkable compromise despite the bishops' attempts to convince them otherwise. Archbishop Davidson had told the House of Lords in 1927,

'I am absolutely unconscious of any departure from the principles of the reformed Church of England to which I declared allegiance at my ordination 52 years ago. If I thought our proposal was calculated to controvert or to impair these principles I should not be standing here.'9

The bishops were supported too by some peers like Lord Gorell who was concerned at their lack of authority and felt that the failure to pass the Prayer Book would weaken that authority still further.10 That some bishops actually opposed the Book even in the House of Lords itself also weakened the chances of it being passed. Bishop Knox of Manchester was quoted to great effect11 and the Bishop of Norwich pleaded with the Lords not to pass the Book claiming,

'I beg you not to dissipate the influence of our National Church by making the Book which voices its standards optional and alternative on critical points...'

'I believe that you are rather being asked to make strong and firm the Temple of Discord.'12

Even so the Lords did pass the Book, it was left to the Commons subsequently debating the matter to reject it. The words spoken in the Upper House were noted by the Commons where Sir William Joynson-Hicks put up a spirited defence of the Evangelical position on the Book13. He denounced it as an attempt by the bishops to sanction indiscipline14 warning that even the passing of the Book would not enable the bishops to restore discipline in ritual matters. He blamed the bishops for using their patronage to appoint some of the clergy who were the foremost in breaking the ecclesiastical laws15.

The second attempt in 1928, to get the Prayer Book through Parliament led to similar criticisms made worse by the petition of 2000 Anglo Catholic priests against it. As Sir Samuel Roberts stated,

'How can the Bishops prosecute and deal with 2000 priests who have signed their name to that document? They have behind them the most powerful Anglo Catholic body in England, the English Church Union, and I for one cannot possibly believe that, in a position of that sort, it will be possible to obtain order even under the restrictions that are set out in this book.'16

The Bishop of Lincoln had written in The Times (May 26th 1928), shortly before the Commons debate, that if the Commons rejected the Book it would not prevent it being widely used and that it was the bishops' right to avail themselves of this liberty. This did not have the effect of encouraging the Commons to pass the Book but rather to question how a bishop who did not appear to be loyal to the legislative authority of the State could possibly expect his clergy to show him any loyalty by respecting any discipline he attempted to impose17. The issue ?was widened from the refusal of clergy to obey their bishops to the refusal of bishops themselves to accept the authority of Parliament over the established Church. Few who heard the debate could have been surprised when the Commons rejected the Book a second time by an even larger majority.

Henson, then Bishop ofDurham, went so far as to describe the defeat of the Book in the House of Commons as, 'a vote of censure on the bishops', because they had continually failed to restrain their clergy from ritualistic practices which were held to be contrary to the Law of both Church and State. He actually listed the bishops whom he felt to be most at fault,

'the foolish language of the Bishop of London, the ceremonial absurdities of the Bishop of St. Albans and the bitterness of feeling aroused by the Bishop of Birmingham, and the intense lobbying of Bishop Knox and the Bishop of Norwich'.18

The real failure of the Book was undoubtedly the bishops' attempts to blend liturgical revision with the imposition of Church discipline. A Roman Catholic comment on the action of the House of Commons must have summarized the feelings of many Anglicans,

'the House of Commons, having now obtained the ultimate power once vested in the Tudor Crown, was very consistently exercising the ultimate control over the belief and worship of the Church of England19.'

The Consequences of the Defeat

Following the rejection of the 1928 Prayer Book by Parliament both Convocations, York and Canterbury, passed motions reaffirming their belief that the Church of England had the right to formulate its own doctrine and liturgy. All the diocesan bishops, except two who could not be contacted, agreed to a statement to this effect,

'It is a fundamental principle of the Church -that is, the Bishops together with the Clergy and the Laity -must in the last resort, when its mind has been fully concentrated, retain its inalienable right, in loyalty to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, to formulate its Faith in Him and to arrange the expression of that Holy Faith in its forms of worship....'

'It is our firm hope that, when the facts have been quietly ?considered, some strong and capable committee of statesmen and churchmen may be appointed to weigh afresh the provisions of the existing law in order to see whether any ajustment is required for the maintenance, in the conditions of our own age, of the principle which we have here and now reasserted.20'

This statement of the bishops' belief and their assertion that a possible change in the Law was necessary was even agreed to by the four diocesan bishops who were opposed to the 1928 Prayer Book, Pollock of Norwich, Barnes of Birmingham, Pearce of Worcester and Cecil of Exeter.

On the 29th September 1928 the bishops announced a consultation throughout their dioceses of clergy and laity concerning the 1928 Prayer Book. After these deliberations were completed the bishops issued a series of directions which had the effect of permitting clergy to use any of the deviations from the 1662 Prayer Book allowed by the 1928 Prayer Book, asserting that their use,'cannot be regarded as inconsistant with loyalty to the principles of the Church of England.' Henceforth the bishops would try enforce discipline in worship on this basis,

'the bishops, in the exercise of that legal or administrative discretion, which belongs to each bishop in his own diocese, will be guided by the proposals set forth in the Book of 1928, and will endeavour to secure that practices which areconsistent neither with the Book of 1662 nor with the Book of 1928 should cease.'

They also insisted that the Parochial Church Council of any Church should agree to the use of the 1928 Book before the incumbent began to use it21.

By permitting their clergy to use the 1928 Prayer Book the bishops were of course encouraging them to break the law of the land. From this time onwards, until the new rites were permitted officially in the 1970's, clergy increasingly did break the law as more variants from the Prayer Book became the norm in many parishes inan attempt to overcome what were thought to be the inadequacies of a seventeenth century work. The bishops realised their clergy's difficulties and as they had been powerless to steer the new Prayer Book through Parliament they turned a blind eye to these variations22.

Between 1928 and 1974 the continued use of he 1928 Prayer Book was a cause of much unease to at least some bishops and clergy. Bishop Stephen Neill wrote of its use,

'Any clergyman in England who uses any part of the 1928 Prayer Book is breaking the law. Yet such illegalities are committed ?every day and have become almost a normal part of the practice of the Church. It is an impossible, intolerable, and humiliating situation'23

Bishops who had previously tried to end putative illegalities in ecclesiastical practices, which were without question against the will of Parliament, found themselves in an almost impossible situation. Either they concurred with the Parliamentary vote and denied the right of the Church to formulate its doctrine and worship and acknowledged themselves entirely organs of the State, or else they concurred with violations of the law and tried to tell their Anglo Catholic clergy that some violations of the law were permissible while others were not. In such a situation it was almost impossible for them to assert practical authority over the conduct of worship in their dioceses.

A typical episcopal reaction to the problem of what was or was not to be allowed in liturgical practice after the failure of the 1928 Book is that of Kenneth Kirk, Bishop of Oxford, who wrote in 1941,

'I do not indeed think that a bishop ought to be asked formally to 'authorise' or 'sanction' any deviation from the Prayer Book of 1662. But I think he might quite well be invited to say whether he would regard any such proposed deviation with disfavour, as calculated to be harmful rather than beneficial on the whole.24'

Throughout this whole period clergy at their ordination, their institution to a living and at other times took an oath assenting to the use of the Prayer Book only except, 'so far as shall be ordered by lawful authority'. For most of this period, from 1928 until the new alternative services came into use under the Worship and Doctrine Measure of 1974, 'lawful authority' became a very vague term. It could be taken as Convocation, one's diocesan bishop or even one's own conscience. If diocesan bishops sanctioned the use of a prayer book not allowed by Parliament were they really in a position to forbid the use of other liturgical works such as the English Missal or the Roman Missal? This attempt by the bishops to exercise some kind of authority over liturgical chaos put their clergy in a very ambiguous position,

'it means that at the very outset of his ministry a priest must either adopt standards of honesty far lower than those he will recommend to his flock, or else must flounder through the difficulty in a fog of good intention and bad logic, reassured perhaps by his bishop and by the feeling that 'after all everyone does it''25

The overall result was an even greater weakening of episcopal authority. Sparrow Simpson, a staunch Anglo Catholic, wrote in 1933,

'The Church has been overruled by the State, its principles ignored, directions have been given by the State affecting its ministration in cases which the Church distinctively disapproves. The impression created in the popular mind has been that the Church will no doubt protest and then submit, and can be trusted to fall in line with what the State may rule. The impression has too much evidence to support it, and nothing can be more fatal to the religious influence of an authority so regarded. The confusion between the spiritual and the temporal authorities is most serious and disastrous.26

This breakdown in authority was clearly manifest in the continued resistance to all episcopal attempts to restore even a limited conformity in worship over the next thirty years. Ritualism became almost entirely unrestrained and no bishop could invoke the use of ecclesiastical courts in such matters because of their knowledge of previous consequences of such actions.

Those who opposed the new Book rejoiced at its defeat, among the most important of these were the Evangelicals in the Church. It is largely to them that the 1970 Report on Church and State refers when it said,

'many members of the Church of England regarded themselves as better represented in religious matters by the House of Commons than be the Church Assembly27.'

This suggests that they preferred the authority of Parliament to that of the bishops of the Church's representative body. Possibly the divisions in the Church over the new Prayer Book made those who called for disestablishment more cautious as this would have increased these divisions. Even the unity of the bishops in opposing Parliament's right to refuse the Book might have disintegrated had there been actual moves towards disestablishment.

Yet a few suggested that the bishops, by advising their clergy to break the law of the land in using the 1928 Book, were in fact trying to increase their authority. Dean Inge was one who spoke firmly against the bishops for allowing the use of the 1928 Prayer Book. Inge was a firm supporter of an older view ?of establishment and disapproved of the Enabling Act and the setting up of the Church Assembly. He wrote of the bishops in 1932,

'The bishops, meanwhile are steadily increasing their power, drawing all patronage into their own hands, and claiming to dispense the clergy from obeying the very laws which as bishops they are pledged to support!28'

The Question of Disestablishment and Spiritual Freedom

Another outcome of the failure of the 1928 Prayer Book was an expressed desire for disestablishment as a possible answer to the Church's difficulties with the State. This was voiced by a number of bishops who regarded the action of Parliament as unbridled Erastianism. As Bishop Rawlinson expressed it,

'the majority of the speeches made in the House of Commons, as well as the votes which were given... and the whole tenour of the debate was no less than its result, an assertion of the most naked and unabashed form of Erastianism.29

Writing shortly after Parliament rejected the 1928 Prayer Book, William Temple already a bishop, later Archbishop of Canterbury, was most emphatic that it was Parliament not the Church that was in the wrong,

'Now it is most emphatically not the business of the State to determine what is, and what is not, compatible with theological truth. The State which handles such themes has transgressed the limits of its own province and must be resisted30'

On the subjugation of the Church of England to Parliament in respect to its worship he stated that it,

'is a prolific source of evils, but they are rather evils of lawlessness and insincerity than of undue servility to the State. What actually happens on a large scale is not that congregations find their mode of worship unduly controlled by the State, but that clergy square it with their conscience to break the law.31'

At this point he was even prepared to reject the establishment of the Church of England if it were prevented from having freedom in spiritual ?matters32, such was the heat engendered by the Book'srejection. Yet by the time he came to Canterbury his attitude to the establishment had modified.

The 1928 Prayer Book Debate led to a radical change in attitude of Hensley Henson. Before 1928 he had been very pro-establishment and his very appointment as a bishop was due to the choice of a prime minister rather than the advice of an archbishop of Canterbury, but his horror that the government should so reject a major Church reform led him to become strongly opposed to establishment for the rest of his life33. At first he tried unsuccessfully to get Archbishop Lang, who succeeded Davidson later in 1928, to take action.

His diaries bear witness to this anger over the Prayer Book rejection and his desire for the bishops to band together to take some form of corporate action. He received no support from either Archbishop Lang, or from Archbishop Temple appointed to York in Lang's place. He claimed he told Lang,

'that he had the chance of his life, and ought to make a great pronouncement. His predecessor had his chance, and failed to take it. I cannot feel very hopeful.34'

Henson's attempts to persuade the archbishops to speak with authority to demand rights for the Church were doomed to failure.

He could only make clear his own opinion, as a bishop of the Church of England, which course he thought the Church should take. This view formed the subject of his next book Disestablishment (1929), in which he made clear his change of attitude on the subject. He had firmly believed that the Prayer Book of 1928 would enable the bishops to restore discipline in Church worship, now the bishops had been left with even less authority to deal with their errant clergy35. Nothing came of these strong protests by Temple and Henson, but many in the Church including bishops felt a need for a reappraisal of the whole Church and State position. Archbishop Temple brought before Church Assembly a resolution requesting,

'the Archbishops to appoint a Commission to enquire into the present relations of Church and State, and particularly how far the principle stated above (i.e. the inalienable right of the Church to formulate its Faith and to arrange that Holy Faith in its forms of worship) is able to receive effective application in present circumstances in the Church of England, and what legal and constitutional changes, if any, are needed in order to maintain or secure its effective application.36'

This was milder than some bishops would have liked. Bishop Bell wished for a resolution stating a direct protest against the House of Commons for rejecting the new Prayer Book, but Temple overruledhim37.

The report on Church and State, which appeared in 1935, set preliminary conditions on their proposals - that disagreement within the Church over Reservation and the Holy Communion service, and future guarantees on discipline be resolved, before any attempt was made to demand further spiritual freedom for the Church from Parliament38. If such conditions could be met then it was proposed that the State be asked to exempt purely spiritual measures from legislation, such measures being declared spiritual by the two archbishops, the Lord Chancellor and the Speaker of the House of Commons39. However since these disagreements were never resolved the proposed attempt to secure relief for purely spiritual bills proceeded no further.

There followed a period when there was sporadic debate on Church and State but no decisions were made. Some leading churchmen like Norman Sykes were sure that the status quo was an ideal position. He pointed to the many concordats Rome had established with rulers of other States concerning the appointment of bishops contending that England's position was similar and that the Church had all the freedom it needed.

Although ultimate Parliamentary control over doctrine and liturgy and the prime minister's appointment of bishops came under increasing criticism during this period it was not shared by the whole Church.Norman Sykes writing in 193640 upheld the method of episcopal appointment as,

'fully consonant with historic Catholic tradition, and, it may be added, especially with papal procedure, as may well be illustrated from concordats concluded by the Vatican with republican no less than monarchical governments and with States of the New World, such as Chile, as well as of the old, such as France and Austria.41'

Sykes also believed that the Church had enough independence through the Church Assembly and as a sign of this pointed to the fact that of the 63 measures presented by Church Assembly to Parliament, from its inception until the time he wrote, 59 had been enacted.Even the rejection of the Prayer Book in 1927 and 1928 he blamed largely on the divisions over the subject within the Church42,

'It is difficult indeed to substantiate an indictment against the ?House of Commons as violator of the spiritual independence of the Church, when, according to Davidson's assertion, its action prevented the enactment of a project which had not commended itself to "the overwhelming majority of English churchmen."43'

Others were less certain. Archbishop Garbett of York was among the foremost advocates of more spiritual freedom for the Church in doctrine, worship, discipline and the choice of bishops. While not advocating complete disestablishment, he constantly pleaded for more freedom and self-determination for the Church during the 1940's and 1950's,

'A living Church must have spiritual freedom in formulating its faith, in arranging its worship, in choosing its chief officers, and in exercising discipline over its members.44'

Yet he pointed out too that while the Church of England officially suffered many restrictions of Parliament in practice there was little to hamper bishops and clergy who ignored these restrictions45.

He was influential in the establishment of the next Commission on Church and State which was set up in 1949. This eventually recommended that power should be given to the Church for optional and experimental deviations from the Prayer Book but made no suggestions of transferring any real authority to the Church46.

Kenneth Kirk, Bishop of Oxford was a staunch Anglo Catholic, and as such was determined to speak out on what he believed to be Parliament's usurpation of episcopal authority,

'The episcopate, in its apostolic priestly character, is the administrator of Christian worship and the guardian of Christian doctrine. Yet a situation has arisen in the last four centuries which enables Parliament, or, in default of statutary legislation, the King's courts, to claim to be the final authority in determining what are the Christian faith and worship, should either of them come into dispute. Nor can it be said that the corporate episcopate has ever contested this claim or led the Church in protest against it. The bishops may not indeed have actually surrendered this vital part of their apostolic functions to the Parliaments and the judges; but at least they have taken few if any steps to recover that of which they have been deprived.47'

Kirk clearly believed that the collective episcopate of the Church of England had a duty to reclaim the authority they had ?lost and to administer that authority in the Church in a way that befitted the successors of the Apostles. Other bishops did not take up his challenge of 1946 to such radical action and so the matter rested for many years.

The Episcopate and the House of Lords

There is a presence of the episcopate in the House of Lords consisting of the archbishops of Canterbury and York, the bishops of London, Durham and Winchester and twenty one other bishops by seniority. Here they can contribute on behalf of the Church in debate but cannot seriously influence any issue unless they have support from other secular lords or from the Commons. They have not been recognised as a real influence even on moral issues. When Church issues come before the House they have certainly put the point of view of the Church Assembly or latterly General Synod but even here their voice has not always been united, as in the 1928 Prayer Book debate.

Their presence, and possible influence, in the Lords is a factor as the then Prime Minister, James Callaghan, pointed outin 1976 when the system of nominating bishops by a Commission was accepted. Callaghan asserted that the Commission could not have complete freedom and there had to be a right of veto.48.

The efficacy of bishops in the House of Lords has been questioned even by a bishop, Hensley Henson, Bishop of Durham and one of the most senior bishops in the Church, who wrote in 1939,

'It has been pleaded that the presence of the bishops in the House of Lords has more than justified itself by the public witness which they are thus enabled to bear to principles and causes which, apart from their advocacy, might easily be neglected or forgotten. But reflection will make evident that in this plea there is really little validity. Even if it could be shown that episcopal activity in the House of Lords has been sometimes serviceable to those high concerns which are confessedly congruous with the spiritual character, can it be denied that such occasions have been few, and that for the most part the bishops in the House of Lords have followed the conventional lines of secular politics?49'

Although Henson wrote as one who was firmly convinced that disestablishment was in the best interest of the Church, there is little evidence to suggest that bishops have exerted much influence in the Lords apart from speaking on behalf of Church bills. Even here there is little proof they greatly influenced the course of those. Some bishops, and certainly Archbishop Ramsey, felt that their influence was largely behind the scenes in their contacts through the Lords. However this would come very much under the heading of influence and not authority.

Others have suggested that the presence of bishops in the House of Lords is incongruous with contemporary understanding of episcopal authority. A.G.Hebert declared in 1963,

'already in England it seems incongruous that a bishop should rank as a Peer of the Realm, and be designated the 'Lord Bishop'; for his proper authority is a spiritual authority50'

Throughout the debates of the 1960's and 1970's concerning the reform of the House of Lords by the Labour Party, Ramsey firmly supported the retention of bishops in the Lords. He believed that as long as the Church of England was the established Church it ought to make its voice heard there51 on national and moral issues. Chadwick does not state that one of Ramsey's main interests in retaining bishops in the Lords was to use their presence to exert pressure on the government to grant more freedom for the Church, both by their Parliamentary utterances, but more importantly by behind the scenes contacts with government ministers52.

When Michael Ramsey became Archbishop of Canterbury in 1961 there were immediate signs of a more determined attitude to win new freedoms for the Church, particularly over liturgical revision. In his enthronement speech he explicitly stated this and went on to say,

'If the link of Church and State were broken, it would not be we who asked for this freedom who broke it, but those - if there be such - who denied that freedom to us.53'

Here he indicated that unless changes were made, he would be prepared to contemplate disestablishment. Among his notable victories for Church freedom were the Vesture of Ministers Act (1964) which enabled clergy to wear vestments legally, although they had been worn illegally over the previous hundred years. Owen Chadwick in his biography of Ramsey related that the Conservative government was reluctant to discuss this measure at that time as they felt it to be highly controversial. Ramsey exerted himself to get it included in the Parliamentary agenda without delay, writing to the Prime Minister Douglas-Home that,

'If the Assembly were told that the measure is being postponed for lack of Parliamentary time I believe that people would get the impression that the Conservative Party had acted out of a consideration for electoral advantage... There would consequently arise a real question of principle on which Disestablishment could ?be demanded and the Church would be divided.54'

The Measure passed through Parliament although not without protest from some non Anglicans.

Archbishop Ramsey and Liturgical Freedom

Ramsey's support for liturgical reform was one of the factors that led the Church to produce another report on Church and State in 1970 which demanded more freedom for the Church in composing new liturgies55 and led eventually to the Worship and Doctrine Measure of the General Synod which embodied their desires to introduce new forms of worship. This measure in turn enabled the Church of England to modify the form of subscription to the Thirty Nine Articles.

Another fruit of the Church and State report of 1970 was the increased advisory role of the Church's representatives in the appointment of bishops which commenced in 1976, this also owes something to Ramsey's influence. Likewise he had much to do with the alteration in the form of assent to the Thirty Nine Articles, which was one of the results of the 1967 Doctrine Commission he established with Archbishop Coggan.

One member of the Commission that composed the 1970 report Church and State, Valerie Pitt, demanded the ending of the ceremony of episcopal homage as being totally unsuitable for the role of clergy as 'servants of peace', pointing out that the ceremony was a reminder from the days when bishops were, 'the military vassals of a feudal Sovereign.'56. The act of homage with its accompanying words must stand as a reminder to the new bishop of his role as servant to the State as well as to God. Her suggestion was never taken up and no moves have been made to abolish this oath.

The Anglican-Methodist Unity Scheme had within it wide implications for the relationship of Church and State as a considerable amount of ecclesiastical legislation would have been necessary to put the Scheme into practice had it been accepted by the General Synod. Full unity between the two Churches would have been possible only if the combined Church had freedom over its worship, doctrine and discipline and the choice of its bishops as the Methodists would not have been prepared to lose their previous autonomy fromParliament and the prime minister. Archbishop Ramsey and some of his colleagues saw this as a way forward for the Church to regain her freedom from State control. However they had to be guarded in their expression of these aims until the Church of England had agreed to the Unity Scheme as it would then have been difficult for Parliament to have refused the necessary legislation for the stages of implementation of the Scheme. Unfortunately for Archbishop Ramsey the Scheme failed so he had to work for the lesser freedom of the Worship and Doctrine Measure of 197457.

Archbishop Ramsey had already started on moves for liturgical reform before the 1970 report on Church and State. In his approach to Parliament he exhibited more skill than his predecessors. When the Church next came to Parliament asking for permission for liturgical change the subject was approached with more caution. Archbishop Ramsey used the word 'experiment' in introducing the Prayer Book (Alternative Services) Measure of 1965. Parliament was asked to permit experimental services for a limited period only.

After this he presented to Parliament the Worship and Doctrine Measure of 1974 at the close of his period as archbishop pointing out that the powers to experiment granted in 1965 would expire in 1980. Again he did not try to present Parliament with a new Prayer Book which might well have run into the same problems as in 1928. After heated debate in the Commons the measure was accepted but with the proviso that the 1662 Book was to be kept as well and that it, plus the Thirty Nine Articles and the Ordinal, should continue to form the basis of all Church of England doctrine.58

Enoch Powell M.P. spoke for those who wished to retain the authority of the State over the bishops and the Church when he stressed the nature of the relationship,

'The Church owes this, its comprehensive character, to the very fact that its formulae and its liturgy, being established by the Law of Parliament are peculiarly rigid and difficult of change59.'

This position was accepted by Archbishop Ramsey who believed Parliament's protection of the role of the Prayer Book of 1662,the Thirty Nine Articles and its Ordinal,

'is a necessary condition for the privileged position of the Church in relation to the State. If the State gives privilege to one particular Church, it must know the identity of that church -in this case a church that is definable Anglican and not one that might decide at will to be Calvinist or Roman Catholic. The place of the Prayer Book as a visible standard, which may be used when it is asked for, is a mark of the Church's identity60.'

Keeping the Church shackled to seventeenth century formularies however, would cause difficulties in ecumenical discussion where more freedom for a restatement of position would be essential.

It was felt in some quarters that even these clauses did not do enough to assure the 1662 Prayer Book of an ongoing place in the Church. Subsequently attempts were made in 1981 and 1984 to introduce bills into Parliament to protect its use for the future.

The Worship and Doctrine Measure 1974 received a certain amount of opposition in Parliament, not only from Anglicans. 61 In the Lords it faced less problems, possibly due to Ramsey's advocacy. He made it clear that he had no intention of abolishing the Prayer Book but stated the sentiments held by some of his predecessors and many of his fellow bishops since 1928,

'Ought a Christian Church, through its own chief pastors, ministers and laity, to have the ordering of its own forms of worship? I do not believe that there is a single Church in Christendom which would not answer,"Yes, a Christian Church ought to have the ordering of its own forms of worship".'62

This act gave power to General Synod to make liturgical experimentation through the work of its liturgical committees. The bishops shared in the debate on the changes but the new schemes were very much the product of the whole body. No longer were bishops involved in some of the minutiae of wording and rubrics as had happened in 1928.

Although permitting the Church greater freedom of experimentation with modern liturgical formulae, sixteenth and seventeenth century statements of doctrine are still insisted on by Parliament as the doctrinal norm upon which all modern formulae must be based. Also congregations and clergy are free to reject any modern liturgy and continue to use the 1662 Book.

Such action by Parliament causes immense problems in ecumenical ?dialogue especially with the Roman Catholic Church as it affirms the impossibility of the Church of England altering its doctrinal position, even if the majority of General Synod voted for such a restatement of beliefs. Their position is immutable unless this act of Parliament (and others) is changed.

With very few exceptions the bishops of the Church of England have accepted establishment and not tried to change the system. This does not always mean they have approved it in entirety,rather that they felt such immense energy would have to be spent by the Church of England to achieve its demise it would debilitate the Church from carrying out its everyday functions and necessary legislation in worship, evangelism, pastoral care and other areas. Many too have the fear that such a move could be regarded as a destabilising element in the life of a nation and to imply that England no longer regarded itself as a Christian country.63 With such attitudes among the episcopate there seems little prospect in the immediate future of a change in the relationship of Church and State and therefore in its ecumenical implications.

The Appointment of Bishops

Bishops in the Church of England are appointed by the Sovereign and since the eighteenth century they have been generally appointed on the advice of the prime minister, even if the prime minister is not an Anglican but a member of a Free Church denomination or has no particular Christian affiliation.

Following the prime minister's choice and the Sovereign's approval a cong82 d'82lire is sent to the cathedral chapter of the diocese accompanied by a letter missive containing only the name of the Crown's nominee in accordance with the Appointment of Bishops Act of 1534. If the chapter does not elect the nominee within twelve days the Crown may appoint its nominee by Letters Patent and the members of the chapter were until 1967 liable to the penalties of Praemunire, which include forfeiture of their possesions and imprisonment at the Sovereign's pleasure!64

There were occasions when the election by dean and chapter did not proceed smoothly. At Worcester in 1919 Canon Lacey even proposed an alternative candidate65 and several times votes have been recorded against the official candidate but in no instance has the Crown's nominee not achieved a majority vote.

The new bishop is consecrated, if he is not already a bishop, by the archbishop and at least two other bishops. Prior to 1967, the archbishop would have been also liable to the penalties of Praemunire if he refused to consecrate. The new diocesan bishop then pays homage to the Sovereign for the spiritualities and temporalities of the see, the Oath of Homage explicitly acknowledges the royal supremacy over the Church. The new bishop acknowledges that,

'your Majesty is the only Supreme Governor of this your realm in spiritual and ecclesiastical things, as well as in temporal, and that no foreign prelate or potentate has any jurisdiction within this realm.66'

Previous to 1976 prime ministers often consulted the archbishop of Canterbury about appointments although they were not obliged to do so. Bell, in his biography of Randall Davidson,67 attempted to show that Davidson exerted considerable influence over all seven prime ministers of his primacy until he retired in 1928. Yet in his time there was the great controversy over the appointment of Hensley Henson to Hereford and then to Durham, and the appointment of Barnes to Birmingham was also not well ?received among his fellow bishops. Neither of these appointments met with Davidson's approval but the only protest weapon he had was that of resignation and in neither instance was he prepared for such a sacrificial gesture.

Occasionally prime ministers have been forced to accept a candidate they did not like because the man was outstandingly suitable for the job. This was the case when Winston Churchill appointed William Temple as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1942 although Churchill was known to dislike Temple's socialist views. When Temple died in 1944 Sir Alexander Cadogan, the secretary to the Cabinet, recorded in his diary, 'Thursday, 26th October 1944. News came of the death of the Archbishop of Canterbury. P.M delighted'68. Churchill next appointed Fisher bypassing George Bell, Bishop of Chichester, who many felt to be a more suitable candidate, possibly because Bell had denounced the widespread bombing of cities and civilian areas in Germany in his speeches in the House of Lords.

As Edward Carpenter wrote on the subject of the appointment of Fisherrather than Bell,

'It does, however, raise questions as to the nature of the limitation involved in the process of nomination by the Crown on the advice of the Prime Minister...The Archbishop holds a unique place in English Society. He is regarded as the representative mouthpiece of the Church; what he says is news. If his views run counter to government policy he can become an embarrassment69.'

Archbishop Lang gave an interesting account of his own appointment to Canterbury in 1928 in his diaries,

'He (the Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin) told me that he proposed to recommend me to the King as the next Archbishop of Canterbury and that the King had given his ready assent... at once the Archbishop (Davidson), the Archbishop now designate (Lang), and the Prime Minister settled the other consequent appointments - William Temple to be transferred from Manchester to York, Guy Warman to be translated from Chelmsford to Manchester, and Wilson to be appointed to Chelmsford. It was quick work!70

When Lang was Archbishop he said of his relationship to Churchill as Prime Minister that,

'he has always given full deference to my recommendations and has ?almost always accepted them; and like other prime ministers, I am sure he would never advise any applicant of whom the archbishopreally disapproved71'

Although this consultation with the archbishop of Canterbury was by then a regular practice it always depended on the individual prime minister who could dispense with it at will and appoint almost any cleric he chose. It also meant that the archbishop of Canterbury was the sole voice of the Church of England in such nominations, no other bishops even being consulted.

According to his biographer Edward Carpenter, Archbishop Fisher believed firmly, 'that the role of the prime minister was neither in practice nor theologically an improper one.72' As archbishop he exercised considerable influence on the various prime ministers' patronage secretaries, yet there were several occasions on which his choice was completely overruled, as with his desire for John Moorman to become Bishop of Ely in 195673 and again when he was overruled twice by prime ministers in the appointment of Michael Ramsey first to Durham in 1952 and then to York in 195674.

Between 1870 and 1964 nine Commissions and committees have included inquiries into the appointment of bishops as part at least of their area of enquiry.75 Throughout the period there has been growing opposition to this means of appointment as it was felt that the views of the Church as a whole were not properly represented in the choice of those very men who became the Church's leaders.

The various reports on Church and State during the period considered the issue. That which reported in 1935 only dealt with the matter in its volume on evidence of witnesses76. Here opposition to the system of prime ministerial appointment was made by the Church Self-Governing League77 which wanted a system like that of the disestablished Church in Wales. The Bishop of London, Winnington Ingram,78 wanted an advisory committee made up from the three houses of Convocation. He also made a very significant remark that,

'If the Church had more voice in the appointment of bishops, the bishops would have greater moral influence in enforcing discipline79'

He suffered considerably from ritualistic disobedience in his diocese and his protests were often ignored, hence his call for a sense of greater moral authority which he hoped might resolve such situations. The issue of episcopal appointments was debated in the Convocation of ?Canterbury, following the report and the need for a consultative committee of bishops, clergy and laymen was strongly emphasised80. During the 1930's a separate move was made to abolish the penalties of Praemunire which could be invoked against the cathedral chapter or the archbishop if they refused to accept the Crown's nominee. Church Assembly approved the measure in 1938. However, the Ecclesiastical Committee of the Commons refused to let the matter proceed to Parliament and Church Assembly voted to adjourn consideration of the report following this refusal rather than provoke a crisis. Archbishop Lang had warned the Church Assembly throughout that he had received information that the government would not be prepared to waive the Royal Prerogative81. In the years immediately following the rejection of the Prayer Book both Parliament and the Church were anxious to prevent a further crisis.

Archbishop Garbett of York, writing in 1950, showed that the tradition of the Sovereign as nominator of England's bishops stretched back into the Middle Ages when it had received the full sanction of the Papacy. He pointed out that various concordats had permitted similar arrangements to take place in many European countries, even as late as when he was writing, with full Papal consent.82Garbett admitted that,

'In principle it is impossible to defend the appointment of the chief spiritual officers of the Church by a layman who may be neither a Churchmen or even a Christian. He may do his best, but it is hard for him to have either the knowledge or the interest of a man who is a member of the Church and has its welfare deeply and naturally at heart... There is also the danger that political factors may have undue weight... Nor is all the danger of unsuitable appointments removed by the fact that it is now the habit of the Prime Minister to consult the Archbishops. There is no guarantee that in the future the Archbishops will always be asked for advice, and that this will be taken.83'

The possibility that a prime minister might appoint bishops who would be politically acceptable to his party is often mentioned as a criticism, not unreasonably as twenty six bishops sit in the House of Lords and episcopal utterances on social and political matters have habitually made headlines in the media. A prime minister would be hardly likely to choose a bishop who would soundly denounce his party on a large number of issues, even if the bishop might feel such a course his moral duty.

When it was suggested that Reeves, the ejected Bishop of Johannesburg, should be given an English see Macmillan refused the advice of Archbishop Ramsey on the grounds that such an ?appointment would cause friction with the South African government84.

Having weighed the pros and cons of the choice of bishops by prime ministers Garbett suggested four amendments to the system :-

1. That the penalties of Praemunire should be removed.

. That the relevant cathedral chapter should submit its own list of nominees to the prime minister which could be accepted or refused.

3. That before the choice became public the Chapter should be told who was the nominee and give their opinion on him.

4. The archbishop should have the right to, 'hear objections on the ground of heresy,' and be free of all penalties should they refuse to confirm the prime minister's choice.85

Garbett did not like the idea of a committee to advise the Prime Minister as he felt it would be difficult to maintain the necessary secrecy.86

The 1949 committee on Church and State reporting in 195287 noted many of arguments against the current system, especially the potential political influence on the choice of bishops, the fact that it encouraged people to see the Church as a branch of the Civil Service, the hypocrisy of cong82 d'82lire procedure, the stress put upon the bishop's temporal rather than spiritual functions by appointment by a temporal power, and the loss of loyalty by both clergy and laity who feel the bishop has been imposed on them from above88. The report rejected these criticisms claiming that through this system worthy bishops had been appointed with little sign of political bias89. It concluded that to give the Church more say the archbishops should have to aid them a joint committee of bishops, clergy and laity so increasing the moral authority of the archbishop's advice to the prime minister90 and the Praemunire penalties should be abolished91.

The choice of Michael Ramsey to succeed Fisher as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1961 was very much that of the Prime Minister Macmillan, who telephoned Ramsey and asked him to accept the position and asked him at the same time if he agreed with him over proposing Coggan for York. Archbishop Fisher disapproved of this choice as he wanted Coggan for Canterbury and felt that Ramsey was unsuitable.92 and Macmillan made it quite clear to Ramsey that he had overruled Fisher. It is interesting that all of Ramsey's appointments, to Durham, York and Canterbury were made by prime ministers against Fisher's advice, and Ramsey in turn was to encourage a change in the system to ensure the archbishop of Canterbury's voice was less heard over appointments.

Although the prime ministers were advised by archbishops of Canterbury on an informal basis and by their appointments secretaries who were often committed churchmen, such as Sir John Hewitt and Mr. Colin Peterson, increasing disquiet was felt about the system by the 1970's. Archbishop Ramsey in 1961 soon after taking office, expressed the desire of the Church to appoint a Commission to examine the question93. This Commission, chaired by Lord Howick of Glendale, reported in 196494. This report proposed that each diocese should have a vacancy in see committee which would report on the diocese's needs to the archbishop and prime minister when a vacancy occurred. Discussions between the prime minister and the archbishops would follow until the archbishops were ready to submit two names for nomination. It was also proposed that the election by dean and chapter be abolished and that new bishops would be appointed by Letters Patent95.

This report was not received with much enthusiasm by the Church as it was felt the changes were too small and too much power would be given to the archbishops. Only the vacancy in see committees were approved. Over the next few years these advised the archbishop of Canterbury on the kind of bishop they felt would be most suited to their diocese but did not actually name men they felt suitable. Church Assembly then called for another committee on the whole relationship of Church and State. This was chaired by Owen Chadwick and reported in 197096.

The new report suggested the setting up of an electoral board representing the diocese concerned and the Church at large to present the Church's views on suitable episcopal candidates. However, the committee was divided about whether the board should present the names of the candidates to the prime minister or elect the new bishop and present the name directly to the Sovereign97. The committee which produced the report was not unanimous as some members favoured abandoning the role of the prime minister and advising the Sovereign directly98.

The outcome of this report was a compromise, reached by 1976. ?General Synod established a Crown Appointments Commission of twelve members - the two archbishops (except when an archbishopric is vacant), three members elected by the House of Clergy, three members elected by the House of Laity, and four members of the vacancy in see committee of the vacant diocese. If the diocese is in the south the archbishop of Canterbury is chairman, if in the north the archbishop of York. For the appointment of an archbishop of Canterbury the chairman is a layman appointed by the prime minister, if an archbishop of York the chairman is a layman appointed by the standing committee of the General Synod. The Commission thus formeddrew up a list of two names which were given to the prime minister who was not obliged to accept the first name on the list and who could call for a third name to be added99. This system still left the actual choice in the hands of the prime minister but at least the man chosen would be a nominee of the Church even if not their first choice. Since the whole issue was a matter of royal prerogative no legislation was involved. Although the names of nominees are supposed to be kept secret it is widely known that the first name on the list has not always been that of the final appointee. It is certain however that neither Barnes nor Henson would have become a bishop had this system been in operation at the time of their appointments.

Although it has been criticized for not giving the dioceses enough say in the choice of their new bishops it did reduce the influence of the archbishops in the choice of new bishops as previously they had often been the main choice of consultants by prime ministers. It also provided a better process for the choice of archbishops obviating the risk of archbishops nominating their successors. However it has been widely suggested that Graham Leonard was appointed Bishop of London by Mrs Thatcher against the advice of this new body100.

An attempt to modify this procedure by abolishing the cong82d'82lire procedure and confirmation of the nominee by the cathedral chapter and vicar general finally came before Parliament in 1984 when it was rejected by the House of Commons101. The opposition to the measure in the Commons was quiteconsiderable with figures such as Enoch Powell and Viscount Cranbourne denouncing it as, 'undermining the stability of the Church of England,' and attempting, 'to reduce to nugatory proportions the reality of royal supremacy'102. Among those who voted against the measure were several prominent non-Anglicans 103.

The Commons was still prepared to show the Church that although it might be given some concessions no fundamental change in ?procedure was possible and the position of the Sovereign and the prime minister in the appointment of bishops was sacrosanct.

The Commission which advises the prime minister has not been without its critics. It has been suggested that since it came into operation few staunch Anglo-Catholic or really Evangelical clergy have been chosen and that it is easy for an important figure on the Commission, such as an archbishop of Canterbury, to exercise undue influence in the selection of nominees104.

Those who see bishops as national leaders are still keen to justify the State's role in their appointment, as G.R.Dunstan wrote in 1982,

'Are bishops and deans still to be men of such stature, and their offices still of such significance, that they count for something in national life? That it matters who shall occupy these positions? If so the Crown is the apt embodiment of that national interest105.'

Ecclesiastical Law and Canon Law.

The ecclesiastical law of the Church of England has six components|-

.Papal and domestic Canon Law. The remains of medieval Canon Law which were judged not to be, 'contrary or repugnant to the laws, statutes and customs of this realm', by the Act for the Submission of the Clergy of 1533.

2.Ecclesiastical Common Law - the ecclesiastical counterpart to temporal Canon Law.

3.Relevant parts of Corpus Juris Civilis.

.Parliamentary statutes dealing with Church matters.

.Measures of Church Assembly and General Synod which have been affirmed by Parliament and thereby have the same force and effect as acts of Parliament.

6.Canons passed by Convocation, and latterly by General Synod which have received Royal Assent and which are not 'contrary or repugnant to the royal prerogative or the customs. laws and statutes of this realm'.106

A Commission was appointed by the archbishops of Canterbury and York in 1939 to consider the status of Canon Law and its revision. This reported in 1947107. The revision of Canon Law was described by Archbishop Fisher as, 'the most absorbing and all embracing topic of my whole archepiscopate'.108. His influence was very strong in the earlier stages of this work throughout his time in office. In fact this revision occupied much of the Church's attention until its completion in 1969. The Canons first passing through Convocation, although the House of Laity of the Church Assembly was consulted, and when the General Synod was established the making of Canons passed to them.

During the course of its work the revising committee was increasingly aware of the restrictions placed upon the Church by Parliament. Eric Kemp, later Bishop of Chichester, as secretary to the steering committee listed twelve areas where proposed new Canons needed statutory legislation before they could become enacted109. Many of these might appear trivial, but under the Act for the Submission of the Clergy and the Act of Uniformity the Church had no power to make even minor changes on its own.

The Church had to abandon a proposed Canon making it unlawful for a priest to marry divorced persons in church as this conflicted ?with the law of the land which gave the clergy discretion in the matter.110 A resolution of Convocation which stated that remarriage of divorced persons in church was wrong could only exert moral influence and had no binding authority111 Legally clergy are prevented from refusing Communion to divorcees, whatever the Church's teaching is on divorce112 Before the completed revised Canons went to the Queen for Royal Assent it was made clear that two further Canons, on the marriage of the unbaptised, and on the seal of the confessional , had to be withdrawn as Royal Assent would be refused for these.113 So it is clear that the Magisterium of bishops, and indeed the will of the Church on some doctrinal matters, is circumscribed by the law of the realm.

The Canons of 1969, like their predecessors, embody the teaching of their predecessors concerning the establishment of the Church (A1), that its doctrines are to be found in the Prayer Book of 1662, the Thirty Nine Articles, and the Ordinal (A5), that its government by archbishops, bishops and clergy is under the Queen's Majesty (A6), that the Queen, 'is the highest power under God in this kingdom, and has supreme authority over all persons in all causes, as well ecclesiastical as civil'(A7),that an Oath of Allegiance to the Queen is due from all bishops and clergy at various points in their ecclesiastical careers (C13), and that the Queen by appointing a Commission or through the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is the final appeal from all ecclesiastical courts(G1). These serve to show that the place of archbishops and bishops is as functionaries in a hierarchy headed by the Queen and Parliament. Their authority is delegated by these superiors and circumscribed by their edicts and assent. Their freedom is considerably hindered by clauses of limitation in doctrine, worship, ethics and other areas.


After the expectations of new freedom for the Church brought about by the Enabling Act of 1919 and the establishment of the Church Assembly, Parliament's refusal to accept the new Prayer Book in 1927 and 1928 came as a bitter blow.

The freedom from State control gained by the Church before the 1970's was small. It was still subject to Parliamentary approval of any new measures it wished to make affecting doctrine, worship, discipline, organisation, and often ethics as well. Royal Assent was necessary even for Convocation to meet and for any changes in Canon Law. The bishops rarely used the ecclesiastical courts in matters of discipline as the appeal from them was to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council which had overturned their verdicts in the previous century and whose jurisdiction many in the Church refused to ?accept. As archbishops and bishops were chosen by prime ministers, often with little ecclesiastical consultation and sometimes against the wishes of other bishops, it cannot be denied that,

'within the Established Church that the officials of the Church are officials of the State; that the governmental organs of the Church are governmental organs of the State; and that the Church's judges are as much the Queen's judges as are the secular judges, with their decrees enforced by the machinery of State'114

Archbishop Ramsey, succeeding to Canterbury in 1961,endeavoured to make some changes. He managed to get a widespread practice in the Church legalised in the Vesture of Ministers Measure, he helped to get the General Synod established although initially it had little more power that the Church Assembly. He succeeded in getting some freedom for the Church to experiment liturgically in the Worship and Doctrine Measure of 1974, but even here Parliament would not let the 1662 Prayer Book be abandoned and insisted that it, together with the Thirty Nine Articles and the Ordinal be retained as the doctrinal standard. To Ramsey also the Church owed much of the behind the scenes work which enabled it to have a little more say in the choice of its archbishops and bishops. Even here the veto was kept and it was made clear from the outset that names chosen must be acceptable to the prime minister partly because of their role in Parliament.

The prime ministerial role in episcopal appointments has met with limited criticism from within the Church of England. Although Ramsey and the Chadwick Commission worked towards a modification in the position there was no large scale demand from within the Church for the removal of the State's function in this area. It seems to be of more concern to members of the Roman Catholic Church and the Free Churches as they contemplate future union with the Church of England than it does to Anglicans115.

Archbishops and bishops have limited freedom in their exercise of authority and full episcope over their flocks and clergy, there are so many immutables placed in their path by Parliament and the onus of Royal Assent. There is always the fear that the measures on which they spend so much energy pursuing through General Synod could be lost in Parliament. As recently as 1984 Parliament refused to abandon the cong82 d'82lire and other relatively meaningless processes in the appointment of bishops.Archbishop Ramsey, who worked so hard for the success of the Anglican Methodist Unity Scheme, later admitted116 that had it succeeded there might have been many difficulties with Parliamentand attempts made to transfer the restrictions suffered by the Church of England to a united Church.

From time to time there have been calls for the disestablishment of the Church of England, even by some of its bishops like Hensley Henson. Archbishops Garbett and Ramsey mentioned it as a possibility if Parliamentary limitations prevented the Church's gradual struggle for more freedom. But these threats had little substance and even after the anguish of 1928 no serious movement for disestablishment ever arose within the Church and few bishops supported the idea117.

Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Roman Congregation of the Faith, writing about the Agreed Statement, pointed out the unique position of the Church of England in the Anglican Communion and the State restrictions to which it was subject. He raised a valid point when he queried,

'Should one not also have gone into the question of the relation between political and ecclesiastical authority in the Church which first touches the nerve point of the question of Catholicity of the Church or the relation between local and universal Church? In 1640 Parliament decided as follows: 'Convocation has no power to enact canons or constitutions concerning matters of doctrine or discipline, or in any other way to bind clergy or religious without the consent of Parliament.' That may be obsolete, but it came to my mind again in 1927 when on two occasions a version of the Book of Common Prayer was rejected by Parliament.'118

Next Previous

1) Clifford Longley, The Times, 1st November 1982.

2) G.K.A.Bell, Randall Davidson, vol.2, pp.1331-2, See also on Davidson's attitude, H.H.Henson, Retrospect of an Unimportant Life, 1920-1939, vol.2, p.162

3) Bell, Randall Davidson, vol.2, p.1344

4) H.Davies, Worship and Theology in England 1900-1965, (1965), p.298

5) R.R.Osborn, Holy Communion in the Church of England, (1949), p.115

6) ed.C.S.Philips, Walter Howard Frere, (1947), p.139

7) C.Smyth, Cyril Foster Garbett,(1959), p195

8) C.O.Buchanan 'Prayer Book Revision in England 1906-1965', in Towards a Modern Prayer Book, ed. R.T.Beckwith(1966),p.12

9) Hansard, Lords, (1927), vol.69, 773

10) Ibid. vol.69, 895

11) Ibid. vol.69,818

12) Ibid. vol.69,968.

13) Hansard, Commons, (1927) vol.211, 2542 ff.;Hansard, (Commons) (1928), vol. 218,1190

14) Ibid, vol.211, 2545

15) Ibid. vol.211, 2547

16) Hansard, Commons, (1928), vol. 218, 1027

17) Ibid, vol.218, 1085

18) H.Hensley Henson,Retrospect of an Unimportant Life, (1943), vol.2,p.167

19) Vincent McNabb, 'Archbishop Davidson', in Blackfriars Vol, XVII, No.191, February 1936, p.105

20) The Church of England 1815-1948 : a Documentary History, ed.R.P.Flindall, (1972), pp.398-9

21) Ibid.p.400

22) The problem is discussed in Guy Mayfield, The Church of England, (1958), pp.9-10

23) S.Neill, Anglicanism, (3rd edn. 1965), p.398

24) E.W.Kemp, The Life and Letters of Kenneth Escott Kirk, (1959), p.101

25) M.J.M.Paton, 'Can we ignore the Establishment?', in Essays in Anglican Self-Criticism, ed. David M.Paton, (1958), ?p.137

26) W.J.Sparrow Simpson 'The Spiritual Independence of the Church', in Northern Catholicism, ed. N.P.Williams and Charles Harris (1933), p.414

27) Church and State, (1970), p.15 See also G.R.Balleine, A History of the Evangelical Party in Church of England, new edn. (1951), p.255

28) W.R.Inge, The Church in the World, (1932), p.21

29) A.E.J.Rawlinson, The Church of Englandand the Church of Christ, (1930), pp.79-80

30) William Temple, Christianity and the State, (1928), p.194

31) W.Temple, Citizen and Churchmen, (1941), p.67

32) Ibid.pp.196-7

33) Contrast H.Hensley Henson, Anglicanism, (1920), with his The Church of England, (1939)

34) Diary entry for Tuesday November 27th, 1928, from H.H.Henson, Retrospect of an Unimportant Life, (1943), Vol.2 p.227

35) Henson, Disestablishment, especially p.12ff

36) Church Assembly Proceedings, 1930,Vol.XI pp.60-108

37) R.Jasper, George Bell - Bishop of Chichester, p.191

38) Ibid. vol.I.p.57

39) Ibid.p.59

40) N.Sykes, 'The Ideal of a National Church', in The Church and the Twentieth Century, ed. G.L.H.Harvey, (1936)

41) Ibid.p.36

42) Ibid.pp.40-42

43) Ibid.p.42

44) C.Garbett, Physician, Heal Thyself, (1945), p.28

45) Ibid.p.29

46) Church and State, (1952)

47) The Apostolic Ministry, ed.K.E.Kirk (1946), p.50

48) John Whale, The Future of Anglicanism, (1988), p.52

49) H.H.Henson, The Church of England, Cambridge (1939), p.146

50) A.G.Hebert, Apostle and Bishop, (1963), p.155

51) Chadwick, Michael Ramsey, p.182ff

52) Information from private conversations with Lord Ramsey after his retirement.

53) Quote in D.Morgan, The Church in Transition, (1970),p.72

54) O.Chadwick, Michael Ramsey, (1990), p.180

55) Church and State, (1970),pp.27-28

56) Church and State, (1970), p.76

57) Owen Chadwick's biography of Michael Ramsey does not draw out sufficiently his intentions over the Scheme, probably because of his discretion while in office. I base my comments on discussions ?with him after his retirement.

58) The official interpretation ofthe wording of this act states, 'References in this measure to the doctrine of the Church of England shall be construed in accordance with the Statement concerning that doctrine contained in the Canons of the Church of England, which Statement is in the following terms : "The doctrine of the Church of England is grounded in the Holy Scriptures, and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as agreeable to the said Scriptures. In particular such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty Nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Ordinal" ... the canon shall provide for requiring the forms or service and variations approved, made or used thereunder to be neither contrary to, nor indicative of any departure from, the doctrine of the Church of England in any essential matter'. Church of England (Worship and Doctrine) Measure No.3, in The Public General Acts and General Synod Measures 1974, part II, (1975) p.1888.

59) Hansard (Commons), vol.882, no.31, 1674

60) A.M.Ramsey, Canterbury Pilgrim, (1974), p.180

61) Hansard, (Commons) 1974, vol.882, 1587-1698. See also Peter Cornwell, Church and Nation, (1983),p.28ff.

62) Hansard (Lords), 1974, vol.354,868-9

63) This is based on comments in correspondence and conversations with retired and present bishops.

64) The full details of the procedure and legal references are to be found in E.Garth Moore and Timothy Briden, Moore's Introduction to English Canon Law, 2nd edn. 1985, p.19ff

65) A.Hughes, The Rivers of the Flood, 2nd edn (1963), p.58

66) Quoted in H.H.Henson, The Church of England,(1939), p.137

67) G.K.A.Bell, Randall Davidson, (1935), p.1236ff

68) Trevor Beeson, The Church of England in Crisis, 1973, p.101, Ronald Jasper, George Bell, Bishop of Chichester, (1967), p.284ff

69) Edward Carpenter, Cantuar, The Archbishops and their Office, (1971), p.488

70) J.G.Lockhart, Cosmo Gordon Lang ,(1949),pp.310-311

71) Quoted in Bishops, ed.G.Simon (1961), p.65

72) Edward Carpenter, Archbishop Fisher, (1991), p.130

73) Ibid.pp.216-7

74) Owen Chadwick, Michael Ramsey : A Life, (1990),p.90

75) Crown Appointments and the Church, (1964), p.9

76) Church Assembly, Church and State, vol.II Evidence of Witnesses etc. (1935)

77) Ibid.p.32ff

78) Ibid.p.95ff

79) Ibid.pp.96-7

80) Crown Appointments, op.cit.p.15

81) Ibid. p.16

82) Cyril Garbett, Church and State in England (1950), pp.180ff. In fact this was not strictly true. The Vatican concordats from the 1920's onwards often gave the governments in European countries the right to veto episcopal appointments in practice, but the acceptance of government nominees was not a right enshrined in those concordats.

83) C.Garbett, The Claims of the Church of England, (1947), pp.95-6

84) Owen Chadwick, Michael Ramsey : A Life (1990), p.136

85) Church and State in England, p.202

86) C.Garbett, The Claims of the Church of England (1947), p.97

87) Church Assembly, Church and State, (1952)

88) Ibid.pp.34-7

89) Ibid.pp.37-42

90) Ibid.p.46

91) Ibid.p.47

92) O.Chadwick, Michael Ramsey (1990), pp.106-7

93) Church Assembly : Report of Proceedings, vol.XLI, No.2.p240

94) Crown Appointments and the Church, (1964)

95) Ibid.p.49ff

96) Church and State.Report of the Archbishops' Commission

97) Ibid.p.64

98) Church and State, (1970), p.64

99) For further details see P.A.Welsby, How the Church of England Works (1965) p.46 and Quintin Edwards 'The Canon Law of the Church of England' in Ecclesiastical Law Journal, No.3, July 1988,p.23

100) I am indebted for this information to Rupert Davies.

101) Hansard (Commons), 1984, vol.64, p.127ff

102) Ibid. pp.143,133 especially

103) Such as Sir John Biggs-Davidson (Roman Catholic) and Rev Ian Paisley (Presbyterian) Ibid.p.14

104) Gareth Benett, To the Church of England, Worthing (1988) - which contains a copy of his preface to Crockford's, see especially pp.218ff

105) G.R.Dunstan, 'Corporate Union and the Body Politic', in Their Lord and Ours, ed. M.Santer (1982), p.114

106) This position is set out with greater clarity in Quintin Edwards, 'The Canon Law of the Church of England| its implications for unity', in Ecclesiastical Law Journal, vol.1, no.3, July 1988, p.18ff

107) The Canon Law of the Church of England, (1947)

108) William Purcell,Fisher of Lambeth, (1969), p.411

109) E.W.Kemp, Counsel and Consent, (1961),pp.203ff.

110) M.J.M.Paton, 'Can we ignore the Establishment?' in Essays in Anglican Self-criticism, ed. David Paton, (1958),p.138

111) . The clergy's right to refuse was strengthened by the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1965, although they still legally retain the option whatever the Church wishes to teach.

112) Moore and Briden, op.cit.,pp.88-89

113) Church and State, (1970),pp.70-71

114) E.Garth Moore and Timothy Briden, Moore's Introduction to English Canon Law, 2nd. edit.(1985),pp.15-16

115) I base this assertion on the many conversations and correspondence I have had with influential clergy of these denominations.

116) Conversations with the Lord Ramsey in retirement.

117) It is only in the period following ARCIC I that the debate on disestablishment has been reopened with the advocacy of Bishop David Jenkins of Durham and Bishop Colin Buchanan, both of whom constantly allude to the difficulties for ecumenism in an established Church. David Jenkins in particular, has frequently used his episcopal influence and authority to contradict government policy in various areas as part of his rejection of the establishment, as he has written, 'In the light of the Kingdom of God, Christians probably ought to be far more concerned with an understanding and responsible criticism of the "powers that be" than with being identified with them'. The House Magazine, April 2, 1990,p.15

118) J.Ratzinger, 'Anglo Catholic Dialogue', Insight, vol.1,no.3, March 1983, p.2