THE Bishop of Manchester, with eight other diocesan bishops, six of whom belong to the Northern Province, calls attention in the Press to a manifesto to the Archbishops, and invites signatories. The purport of the document is a protest against the proposal of the Canterbury Convocation to allow the use of an alternative Order of Holy Communion “largely borrowed from the First Edwardian Prayer Book”. Among the reasons urged against it is the belief that “the cumulative effect of the proposed changes tends to emphasize the Roman conception of the Mass”. If it is not disrespectful to say it, such a statement suggests that the nine prelates have forgotten the thirty-sixth Article of Religion. That article refers to the Ordinal of the second year as containing “all things necessary to such consecration and ordering; neither hath it any thing that of itself is superstitious and ungodly.” Now, the Ordination rite formed part of the service then called “The Supper of the Lord and the Holy Communion, commonly called the Mass’’, from which we conclude that the Edwardian Missal was free from the charge of superstition and ungodliness. In fact, that book was based on the sound principle that the three names given to the rite are identical terms, and the view that it was not then at least the aim of the Reformers to turn the Mass into the Communion, but to show that the two are one and the same thing, gets strong support. The memorialists make a more effective point where they deprecate the emphasising of our unhappy divisions by the permission of alternative uses. But the objection comes ill from bishops who are striving by an abuse of authority to compel their clergy to celebrate the Mass without the vestments appointed by the Prayer Book. In the diocese of Manchester, for instance, there are a few churches where the authorized use prevails; in the great majority there is an alternative use.
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