Scandals in army chaplaincy

28 April 2017

April 27th, 1917.

WE HAVE received a number of letters, elicited by our recent article on the Chaplains’ Department, which afford abundant evidence of the incompetency to which we drew attention. For the most part our correspondents complain of the method of selection by which men with little or no experience, but with friends at court, are given the preference over others strongly recommended for service by their diocesans, in some cases without application on the part of the priests themselves. Others call attention to scandals which seem deserving of the strictest censure. In one case a large camp of some thousands of men was suddenly planted in a rural district. No provision was made for their spiritual well-being, and the parish priest undertook to do what he could, taking the services, opening a canteen, and carrying on without any recognition or help from the Chaplains’ Department until, to the annoyance of the officers and men, he was superseded by a curate of two years’ standing. In another case a body of men was sent to another rural parish on special duty. No spiritual provision was made for them, and the parish priest took the care of them in hand. Correspondence on his part with the Chaplains’ Department resulted, after a long interval, in a letter which intimated that no services were possible, and suggested that the parish priest’s zeal was of a kind usually shown only by men who wished to increase their clerical incomes, a suggestion which — as we happen to know — is the last that should have been made against the priest m question, and in any case would have been insolent.


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