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Critics of Enabling Bill plan

14 December 2018

December 13th, 1918.

[Anglo-Catholics were worried about what proposals for a National (Church) Assembly were turning into.]

WE HAVE received from the S.P.C.K. a Minority Report of the Committee of the Representative Church Council on the Archbishops’ Committee’s Report on Church and State. The signatories are Sir Frederick Holiday, Canon Douglas Macleane, and Messrs Cyril Cobb, Athelstan Riley, and Arthur Symonds. Unable, by reason of the Committee’s rule of procedure, to issue a Report dealing with, and stating the reasons for, their dissent from certain important features in the scheme as adopted by their colleagues, they give here the reasons for the conclusions to which they have come. Put concisely, they are these. The scheme, they think, has departed from its avowed purpose to create a machinery for obtaining legislative sanction to Church measures, and now bases itself on statutory authority, “which, in the event of disestablishment, will be taken to be the supreme legislative and governing body of the Church of England”. It substitutes for the Apostolic government of the bishops, consulting with their presbyters and supported by the laity, a parliamentary conception of Church government. It tends to the supersession of the Convocations. It obscures, if it does not entirely overthrow, the authority of the Spirituality, by providing that the bishops and the clergy shall sit as members of an assembly including laymen and eventually (in all likelihood) women. It makes all the assembly’s functions depend for their exercise on Acts of Parliaments and the tutelage of the Privy Council. It aims at democratizing the Church, by granting to every baptized person not excommunicated a share as of right in the government of Christ’s Kingdom; and it leaves unreformed the method of appointing bishops, the ecclesiastical judicature, and the lack of disciplinary authority. This is a serious indictment against the scheme, and this is not the last that we may expect to hear of it.

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