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A Dissenter in Durham’s pulpit

07 February 2020

February 6th, 1920.

BISHOP WELLDON informed readers of the Daily Mail on Tuesday that [the Congregationalist minister] Dr [J. H.] Jowett’s sermon will certainly be preached in Durham Cathedral on Sunday week. The proceeding, he repeats, has the Bishop’s sanction, as though that made the slightest difference if in giving it he is overriding Catholic order. Neither does the Dean help his case by asking how “some few extreme High Church clergymen who have long been living in disobedience to their own bishops should take it upon themselves to censure me for obeying mine”. Who those are that have criticized him he does not say, nor does he explain what he means by their disobedience to episcopal authority. As a matter of fact, disobedience on the part of High Churchmen to a bishop acting canonically is so rare as to be negligible. In this Durham business the Bishop is acting uncanonically, and has no power nor right to authorize the admission of a Dissenter to the Cathedral pulpit. We entirely agree with the Dean when he writes: “The time, I think, cries aloud for Christian reunion or intercommunion,” but it will not come by forcing. It is largely due to the policy which he is trying to advance in this arbitrary way that he finds himself complaining that “already the desire for intercommunion shows signs of fading away.” That it was bound to do as soon as it appeared that there was an endeavour on the part of some prominent persons to play at intercommunion while yet there continue differences on essential principles. The Dean of Durham’s plan, if it tends to reunion on the one side, tends also to disunion on the other. He cannot have it both ways; he must take his choice between Dissenters and his own people.


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