SIR FRANCIS NEWBOLT . . . has lately delivered a very curious judgment in yet another crucifix case, a matter in which it may almost be said quot cancellarii tot sententiae, suus cuique mos. Sir Francis Newbolt ranged at large over a wide area of facts which were irrelevant, calculating the proportion of parishioners and non-parishioners who attend the church and the proportion of seats occupied, mentioning that a statue of the Virgin and Child was given to a missionary going to Africa, enumerating the altars and “stoups” — we had thought that no instructed person to-day spoke of “stoups”’ in connexion with the use of holy water — stating that the sale of candles last year brought in £6 4s. 1d., recounting the vestments worn by the celebrant, and so forth, absolutely in the manner of Mr Kensit. When, at last, he approached the matter at issue, he laid down that a stone crucifix is much less open to criticism than a wooden figure, that he saw nothing in a service which included the use of incense and holy water to which he ought to object, that Mr Kensit’s interpretation of the Second Commandment is strictly true, and, lastly, finally, and in conclusion, that the crucifix must be removed. Incidentally, the Chancellor suggested that “a proper war memorial should be set up, perhaps a granite cross with the date only.” We are not maintaining that the case of the petitioners was faultless. But we must point out to the authorities of the diocese of Exeter that we are not living in the year 1821, and that discursive pronouncements of this kind tend to bring Courts and Chancellors into open ridicule, and render our defence of them in the discharge of their functions an extremely delicate and sometimes disheartening task.
The Church Times digital archive is available free to subscribers