By what authority?

by
22 March 2019

March 21st, 1919.

WE WELCOME with much thankfulness the correspondence published last week between the Bishop of Birmingham [Henry Russell Wakefield] and certain priests of his diocese relative to the practice of Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. We are convinced that the priests concerned have taken the right course, the only course consistent with their canonical obligations, and the Church owes them a debt of gratitude for an example which we hope to see widely followed. No less gratitude is due to them for their clear statement of the value of this practice regarded in itself, and for their unquenchable hope that the Bishop will see his way, sooner or later, to give the necessary approbation for its regular introduction. They have gone the right way to procure that approbation. Those who obey a lawful command have a right to plead for its withdrawal. Those who ignore it, or resist it, have no standing ground for expostulation. On the other hand, to resist an unlawful command is sometimes the only way to secure its nullification. It is often right, on the ground of charity and peace, to obey even an unlawful command; but when it threatens an important principle it ought to be resisted. The history of the English Church during the last sixty years illustrates the value of such resistance. The time has come when submission to a lawful command, however irksome, is still more important. Apart from this, there is cause for thankfulness in the tone of the correspondence. It moves on a high plane, and in a religious atmosphere. Discussion of such matters has not always been so happy. . .

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