THE action of the Lower House of Convocation in rejecting the proposal to add the name of King Charles the Martyr to the black-letter saints is regrettable. Last year, when they carried it, the Upper House turned down the proposal, and the Lower House was apparently afraid to risk another snub, and of course the episcopal men were against it. What is the meaning of the bishops’ action? No one who knows anything of the political history of the post-Reformation Anglican episcopate can suppose that they have the least dislike to arbitrary government. For social reform they have done much, for civil liberty nothing. If, however, they feel keenly about military government, it is open to them in the House of Lords to protest against the continuance of Dora, or the militarist regime in Ireland or Egypt. Lord French’s Irish policy, by the way, may or may not be justifiable, but it is far more arbitrary than that of Strafford. On all such matters the bishops are silent, as their predecessors have been silent before them. Why, then, should they object to the commemoration of Charles the First in the Prayer Book, seeing that, as the Dean of Canterbury said, he gave his life for the Church of England? The explanation is that their lordships are frightened to death of offending Nonconformity and Erastianism. From the point of view of Moderate Anglicanism this decision is fatuous. If the bishops desired to foster a distinctly insular Church of England feeling, they should do justice to true Church of England men like Charles the First and Laud. To offer a shoddy Erastianism as an alternative to Catholic unity is silly beyond words; Dean Wace is not of our way of thinking, but he proved himself on Tuesday, not for the first time, a true Church of England man. We trust that the question will not be dropped.
The Church Times digital archive is available free to subscribers