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100 years ago: Bishop’s mud-throwing

31 May 2024

May 30th, 1924.

[The Bishop of Exeter, Lord William Cecil, had written an article described by the Church Times as “throwing mud” at priests in slum parishes. It referred to the priest who was “really efficient in stating the reasons for and against the Johannine authorship of the Fourth Gospel and why the ablutions should be taken at a certain point in the Communion service, and he thoroughly understands the reason why the Gothic chasubles should be preferred to any other. I grant that he shows great self-denial, for he will reside in a slum which he thoroughly dislikes and which never understands him. . .”]

IN OUR correspondence columns, Canon Partridge, Secretary to the Central Board of Finance, replies to our observations last week on the publication in the Church Assembly News of the Bishop of Exeter’s article. . . We do not question the value of the News. Indeed, the service rendered by the Press and Publication Committee, and particularly by the Press Bureau, is of the greatest utility, and is very well worth the comparatively small annual cost which it entails. Our point in objecting to the Bishop of Exeter’s article was that its appearance in an official publication was bound to indicate some measure of official approval. No editor can altogether avoid responsibility for the articles he publishes, even though they be signed, and the editor of an official publication is in a position of more than ordinary difficulty. Either his pages must contain nothing but strictly official news, or he must lay himself open to attack for circulating opinions which may not be generally acceptable. Many articles which might reasonably appear in an independent journal are unsuitable in an official publication, and in our view that of the Bishop of Exeter is one.

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