« VorigeDoorgaan »
ELECTORAL QUALIFICATIONS The electoral qualifications of Church members have not apparently been considered in the Welsh Church Bill. It is a matter in which the Church in Queensland has made some valuable experiments. And while the qualification is not yet exactly identical throughout Queensland, development is proceeding in various dioceses upon much the same lines. At first the qualification for a parishioner was left as vague as it is now in England. Next a written declaration of bona-fide Church membership was required, with proof that the candidate had contributed a certain fixed sum during the previous year to Church funds. This monetary qualification was manifestly undesirable, and a very strong effort was made to insist upon a communicant qualification instead. It was decided in 1906, largely through a traditional dread of tests, to make a loophole for the 'accustomed attendant' who might or might not be a communicant. The declaration in North Queensland at present runs :
I, A.B., declare that I am a baptised member of that branch of the Holy Catholic Church commonly known as the Church of England in the Dioceses of Australia and Tasmania : that I am of the full age of twentyone years, that I am a communicant as defined by the Book of Common Prayer (or that I have been an accustomed attendant for the twelve months last past at Church within this district); and that I am not registered in any other district as a Parishioner.
It may, en passant, interest the supporters of Women's Suffrage to learn that women have equal voting power with men. They are at present excluded from Church offices and from Synod, but I am not prepared to maintain that such exclusion is rational, or that it is likely to continue.
A great deal can be said against the theory of enfranchising the accustomed attendant.' In practice it is found that the loophole is seldom utilised. It is becoming more and more felt by the laity that a parishioner should be in full communion with the Church. The canon at present sets Holy Communion as a standard rather than a test for parishioners. None the less, the trend of Church opinion is towards insisting that only those who are communicants shall take any part in the elections of the Church. The importance of electoral qualifications cannot easily be overestimated. In both England and Wales at the present moment the position is simply chaotic.
CHURCH APPOINTMENTS The basis of all Church appointments in Queensland is strongly democratic. The parishioners elect the churchwardens, the auditors, the lay members of Synod, the parochial members of the nomination board for the appointment of their respective rectors and vicars, and two-thirds of the number of the parochial
council. The members of Synod, clerical and lay, elect in Synod the diocesan members of the nomination board. The diocesan members act in all appointments. The parochial members act only in the appointments affecting their respective parishes. The members of Synod also elect the Bishop when a vacancy in the see occurs. The Bishop, therefore, holds office and authority by virtue of a democratic vote.
The method of election of a Bishop in open Synod is often open to grave criticism in practice, although it usually results in the selection of 'safe men.' The choice of Bishops by a Prime Minister, on the other hand, although it may be wrong in theory, works out in practice extremely well. I am unable to suggest any completely satisfactory plan of electing Bishops in an unestablished or disestablished Church. On the whole, I think it is better to have a committee of clergy and laity appointed by each Diocesan Synod, and called a Bishops' Election Committee, who shall, acting together with the provincial Bishops, make an election. A method of escape can be arranged in case of deadlock.
ENDOWMENTS AND FINANCE Questions connected with the justice of disendowing the Church in Wales do not fall within the lines laid down for this article. But the payment of clergy is a constant source of anxiety in a Church where there are no parochial endowments. The experience of all Free Churches is identical on this point. There is a general movement throughout Australia towards payment through central diocesan funds. It has everywhere been found practically impossible otherwise to guarantee a fixed and reliable stipend to any clergyman coming to a parish. Payment is made by results, and the clergy very often receive much less than they were led to expect when they were appointed. This ‘payment by results,' satisfactory as it may appear in theory, in practice renders it not only difficult to obtain clergy for particular appointments, but it militates against men of education and power coming forward for ordination. The clergy never expect, in Australia, large salaries, but, like men in any other walk of life, they wish their small stipends to be secure. The present system also tends to make congregations and clergy regard constant popularity as being the chief qualification of a clergyman-a very regrettable and dangerous view of the Christian ministry. The remedy for this seems to be the payment of clergy through a central fund-parishes paying into the diocesan office the parochial contributions to stipend, and the office paying out the full stipend every month to the particular clergyman. To bring this into practice a central clergy endowment fund will be necessary in order to assist poor parishes to pay a living wage, and to adjust any temporary deficit
in the parochial contributions. This method of payment, where it is worked well, has been found to promote security and sound finance. If the Church in Wales is disestablished and partially disendowed, it is devoutly to be hoped that a central endowment fund sufficiently to augment contributions from poor parishes will be formed at the beginning. Otherwise the work of the Church will be temporarily paralysed at least in the poorer parts. The fund should be vested in the central governing body for administration. For this purpose it is necessary to constitute the representative governing body as a 'corporation sole
corporation sole' to ensure corporate action and continuity of tenure as trustees.
This point has been provided for in the Bill, and it has been clearly provided that the representative body should be the trustees and administrators of all Church funds so far as the Government is concerned. But as I have already indicated, from an answer made by Mr. McKenna to a question by Mr. Ormsby Gore it would seem probable that the Government contemplates making some amendment in Committee by which two Church bodies will be created--a representative body to hold and manage Church property,' a Synod 'with power to lay down and alter the doctrine, discipline, rules and articles of the Church in Wales.' Here there arises a grave danger of dual control and probable antagonism. Why cannot Synod be constituted a corporation with both powers in its own hands? Australian experience is entirely in favour of an undivided control.
Again let me say, I hold no brief either for the Government or for the Opposition. I have tried to the best of my ability to avoid taking sides, but I venture to hope that the experience of an unendowed Church may be of interest and use to both parties. Government statesmen, in my humble judgment, will not be just if, in their desire for what they believe to be national justice, they end by leaving the Church in Wales crippled and unable to fulfil its mission. Opposition Churchmen, also in my humble opinion, will not be wise if in their opposition to the present Bill they fail to present, at least in Committee, some definite constructive plan for a disestablished Church in Wales in case the present Bill become law.
GEORGE H. FRODSHAM,
Bishop of North Queensland.
(II) THE CLERGY AND DISESTABLISHMENT: A REPLY TO THE
REV. FRANCIS POWELL
IF Mr. Francis Powell's exposition of the reasons 'why some of the clergy will welcome Disestablishment'? be intended as a serious contribution to the discussion on Welsh Disestablishment, it is open to the same criticism as most of the speeches of Ministers on the second reading of the Home Rule Bill. These speeches are said, not unjustly, to have been vague dissertations on the abstract desirability of Home Rule for Ireland, and practically to have ignored the Bill which was supposed to be their subject. Mr. Powell's article shows no interest whatever in the Government's proposals for dealing with the Church in Wales, but merely uses the agitation against those proposals as a convenient text to urge immediate disestablishment of the Church in England. Mr. Powell may reply that the greater includes the less, but this is hardly practical politics at the present time. Nevertheless his arguments are well worth discussion, if only because they are opposed to the opinions of the great majority of his clerical brethren, and probably a still greater majority of the professed laity of the Church of England. People who place themselves in disagreeable antagonism to the greater number of those among whom they live and move and have their being have, as a rule, not only courage, but good reasons and a good conscience.
Mr. Powell admits readily enough that Establishment is not a definite status given by the State to the Church by a special Act at a certain definite time, but he does compare it to the setting up of the territorial forces. Where,' he asks, 'would be the amour propre of our territorial forces if, in defiance of the nation's will, they objected to their disbandment?' But the analogy does not hold good. The territorial forces are purely a State creation for State purposes only, and have neither use nor meaning apart from the State. But Mr. Powell assuredly does not so conceive of the Church. The statement would be erroneous even in respect of establishment. It has been, he admits, the growth of long ages. Crescit occulto velut arbor aevo' is the true account of the relations between Church and
Nineteenth Century and Ifter, May 1912.
State. The one Church with her one Faith gave to the uncivilised tribes whom she found here the unity Constantine hoped she would give to the decaying Roman Empire. By her example those tribes developed into one nation, by her the nation was admitted within the Christian commonwealth, through her it was brought under the influence of the civilisation and learning of the rest of Christendom. Naturally the Church, which was co-extensive with the nation, although never merely identified with it-still less looked upon as its creation, even in the aspect of 'establishment'-was regarded as the source and centre of all that was highest and best in the national life; hence the continuance of that common growth and mutual support which afterwards came to be called Establishment and almost defies analysis. There is not, then, the smallest resemblance between the Church and the territorial or other forces in respect of their relations with the State. But perhaps even the territorial forces might, without any damage to amour propre, protest against disbandment if a foreign force had just invaded the land and were threatening the national existence. Establishment means the outward and visible recognition of Christianity by the nation as the true religion, and of the Church as the Society which brought her that religion, and in which it has concrete embodiment. The Church is surely not clinging to privilege-what privilege does she possess? Are not the Nonconformists rather the 'spoilt children' of the nation now?—but is simply clinging to the post of duty, if she strains every nerve to preserve that recognition, in the hope of making it again the reality it once was.
This brings us to Mr. Powell's palmary argument. “That both Church and State,' he writes, are weakened through Establishment few intelligent observers can fail to notice.' If, indeed, he can make that good, the question is settled. But he makes no attempt whatever to show that the State, even from his point of view, has been let or hindered in any good course by her connexion with the Church. It is against the Church, as established, that his diatribe—he must allow me the word-is directed; and the head and front of the Church's offending seems to be that the immense majority of her clergy and zealous laity decline to support the Liberal party.
It was the attitude of the Church as a whole she tells us] during the last two General Elections, when it is not too much to say that the hard-won liberties of our race were in considerable jeopardy, which made the writer vow that never again would he support the Establishment.
Well, well! It is quite impossible for Mr. Powell to understand that many of us thought, and still think, that 'the hardwon liberties' were not only threatened but have been seriously