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Clergy and military service

27 April 2018

April 26th, 1918.

[Diocesan bishops had met at Lambeth Palace to discuss how they would allow the clergy to respond to their country’s call.]

THE Bishop of London has set the example, which some of his brethren are following, of a comb-out of the clergy in his diocese. Neither he nor the priests under him desire to avail themselves of the exemption from military service granted them by the Act, and every man under fifty-one will be at liberty to volunteer, even for service as a combatant, the Bishop promising them dispensation from the consequences of irregularity. So far as is possible, one priest will be left to minister to each parish, but the withdrawal of many of the younger men will involve the suspension of many parochial activities. This is, of course, very regrettable, but worse things would befall us if every man who can be spared did not play his part in the defence of the country. But, in whatever capacity the clergy may serve, they will still be priests, and, we may be sure, will remember that they are such. Their opportunities for influencing their comrades will be immense, and we should hope that they will be given facilities for exercising their priestly office at the Front or at home, so far as their military duties will allow.

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