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100 years ago: Evangelical and his Catholics

21 July 2023

July 20th, 1923.

THE frank and generous message which the Bishop of Chelmsford addressed to the Anglo-Catholic Congress has a sad significance, for it was read on the day of the operation which was followed by his death. It was entirely characteristic of the spirit in which the Bishop had set himself to administer his diocese. He addressed those whose opinions were not his, whose action he admitted to cause him some anxiety; but whom he took to be one with him in devotion to our Lord, and whose lives he saw to show forth the fruits of His redemption. And that was to him the bond with men from whom he differed, whose work he gladly acknowledged to have enriched the spiritual life of the whole Church, and whom he bade to a new consecration of their lives. Dr. Watts-Ditchfield had from the moment of his consecration desired to be the Father in God of all his flock. He did not understand Anglo-Catholics fully, but he sought to do so. He desired to rule, not merely with justice, but also with sympathy and love. He trusted very fully men from whom he differed very widely; there will perhaps be now no harm in saying that on several occasions he honoured us with his confidence in matters on which he wished to be informed of our position, in order that he might make a real effort to meet Catholics. It is good to think that the Chelmsford Synod, upon which he had spent so much care, had this among other happy results, that it bound him even more closely than before to a diocese which had long ago learned to admire and to love him.

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