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Canon Green: Nolo episcopari

18 October 2019

October 17th, 1919.

THERE have been many reasons that weighed in the minds of men to whom bishoprics have been offered, prompting them to say nolo episcopari. Those which Canon Peter Green has given for his refusal of the See of Lincoln do him the greatest honour. He says, in the first place, that he is ignorant of the rural problems — social and ecclesiastical — with which he would have had to deal in that diocese. But his chief reason is that he has a very definite ideal of a bishop’s life, a life in which episcopal palaces, incomes and motorcars have no part. These things, he maintains, are “a real stumbling-block to a working-man in accepting Christianity”, and a big battle will be fought over them in the near future. If he were to enter into the fray as Bishop of Lincoln he would, he feels, stand to lose, presumably because he would not have the backing of influential Churchmen in the diocese. The spectacle of the bishop defeated in his attempt to remove what is found to be a stumbling-block in the path of possible converts would be disastrous in its effects. A sphere in which he could fight the battle with some prospect of success Canon Green would accept, but not the bishopric of Lincoln. But we are not so certain that he would have failed even there.

[Canon Green, who lived until 1961, turned down several offers of a bishopric in the course of his long ministry to working people and the unemployed in Salford. William Temple called him “the ideal parish priest”. Editor]

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