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capable of understanding human needs.' Does it? Do people ever prefer a married doctor, or a married lawyer, or a married tutor, because they think that the fact of his having a wife will make him understand their needs better? Then why prefer a married clergyman? And do not any of us who know priests in both Churches know how much more frequently one meets human 'Roman' priests than human ‘Anglican' clergy? And are not the human types one does meet in our communion almost invariably unmarried men?
The third objection is that the wife and family of the clergyman do such good work in the parish. That there are many splendid women who wives of clergymen and daughters of clergymen, I do not for an instant deny. But that there are many wives and daughters of clergymen who are a byword in their parishes for silliness and scandalmongering is also true. Mrs. Proudie is not yet dead. And where they are not as bad as that, how little they matter in many cases, either way! The fine women in the community, be they wives of clergymen or simple lay folk, will always be a help or comfort in the parish. As for the others, it would be a relief to their immediate surroundings if they were eliminated, and so ceased to bring the Church into contempt. I would quote, in this connexion, two letters that appeared in the Church Times of the 10th of February 1911.
One, signed ‘A Vicarage Lady,' complains bitterly that the laity wish the wives of the clergy to be dowdy.' One smiles at the hopeless incongruity of the wife of a priest setting up as a leader of fashion. It would be funny if it were not tragic.
The second letter, from a layman, signed 'Cherchez la femme,' states : It is also my misfortune, and that of a vast number of country churchmen, to know from personal experience what an exceedingly bad influence can be exercised by the Vicarage Lady'-an assertion which many laymen will bear out. I use the term in the vulgar tongue. I am quite alive to the fact that the wife of a country parson occupies a position of great difficulty. But it is not made easier by the deplorable want of judgment usually displayed by these good men in the choice of wives.
Both letters speak for themselves.
We come now to a graver aspect of the matter. person can have any objections to a Protestant minister, of whatever denomination, marrying. He does not believe in the Sacraments--that is, he does not believe in any supernatural power as residing in the Sacraments. He does not believe in the Apostolic Succession. He is at best a moral and ethical adviser to his flock. The Anglican Church, on the other hand, preaches the Real Presence, the necessity for Confession, the miraculous
nature of Baptism. Let us take only one of these SacramentsConfession. For Confession to be possible there must be a clear line of demarcation between confessor and confessed. Every man or woman of the world would pronounce it a dangerous and a false position for, let us say, a young and attractive woman to discuss the inmost secrets of her soul with a man, unless there were between them some absolute gulf which could not be bridged. It is nauseous to think of a girl relating her sins to a possible husband. Yet, without the safeguard of celibacy these things must occur. And because, as the conscience of the country awakens (which, thank God, it is doing every day), the inherent need of Confession to most, if not all, human souls becomes an acknowledged fact, so the need of the priest not trammelled by earthly ties will become more apparent. I do not say that a man cannot be an excellent person, a true friend and a public benefactor, as a married clergyman--there are many such. I only say that he can never be a priest, in the fullest sense of the word. He will never have that hold over his flock or that direct communication with God which a priest has.
'But,' says the average Englishman, 'I don't want a priest, it's just what I dislike. I want & clergyman-a cut above me perhaps in morals, but a nice jolly fellow who preaches interesting sermons about the topics of the day, and gives plenty of ripping hymns and music in the service, and has beautiful flowers on the altar.' By all means, my friend-but don't talk about 'belonging to the Catholic Church.'
There are plenty of other nice bodies to belong to that fulfil all your conditions.
There is no reason why there should not be an order of lay married ministers' who read Matins, help in the village cricket matches, go to parties, organise private theatricals and bazaars, and give out soup tickets. It is an excellent opening for people with a taste for philanthropy and organisation. But they should not be allowed to celebrate the Sacraments. It is cheapening the Sacraments to allow anyone to administer them save those who— for so great a privilege—have renounced all. And the nation will
. never be won back to believe in the Sacraments till the Church again shows, by the reverence with which it handles them, that the Sacraments exist.
* But,' say my horrified readers, 'we are a Christian country -we all accept the Sacraments.' We are not a Christian country. To the great majority of us the Sacraments are a dead letter. If ever a country needed conversion it is England at this moment. And for the great fact of conversion to become true, the established order of things has to be swept away. 'Was fällt, das soll man auch niederreissen.'
Another class of readers will exclaim : 'Why hope to put flesh
and blood on the dead bones of the English Church? Why not join the Roman Communion?' Firstly, because I would repeat more insistently, that I believe that the Anglican bra'nch of the Catholic Church is as living and as important as the Roman or Orthodox ones. That, in spite of its many faults and failings, its centuries of perversity and disobedience and cowardice, it is now trying to purge itself from its age-long faults. Because it is animated by a greater spirit of Charity, a wider comprehension of the teaching of its Founder, a more intense reverence for the practice of the Early Church, and because it has refused to admit those innovations which Rome has not only admitted, but made part of the dogma necessary for salvation. Finally, because I see by results that the Anglican Church makes for righteousness in a way that neither the Eastern nor the Roman Churches do. Anyone who has lived in either Orthodox or Roman countries must allow that these two great Churches have in practice, if not in precept, lost sight, as it were, of the wood for the trees. In the close observance of the letter they have confused the spiritual facts of which the letter is a mere helpful symbol.
What is more, I believe that, in the end, reunion will come to Christendom through us; that if only we hold fast to the faith that is in us, in God's good time the wounds will heal, and we shall be one.
But where divisions exist, because one branch of the Church is manifestly in the wrong, it is for that branch to make the first effort, and acknowledge the error. And this question of the marriage of the clergy is fundamentally an error, made by vast numbers of people in perfectly good faith, but nevertheless an error. No one who has studied the history of the Reformation in England can have failed to realise how the marriage of the clergy slowly crept in, fostered by men who wished to kill the spiritual life of the Church, and make of it an instrument for the use of the State. It was deliberately encouraged by those who hated the power of the priest, and knew that the surest way to undermine it was to weaken the priest's hold on the laity by making his standard a lower one. No one, I say, who has studied these
I things with an open mind can deny that the loosening of the tie of celibacy went sorely against the grain of all that was best and noblest in the Church. Even Elizabeth, who cannot be said to have been biassed towards Romanism, spoke her mind on the subject, somewhat crudely, perhaps, but with no uncertain voice.
Many of the clergy, and of the laity too, will say “It is a great sacrifice, too great for us to make.' Of course it is a tremendous sacrifice, and one which should never be required of the very young. .No man should be ordained before he is twentyfive. By that time he knows if he is fit for the priesthood. And
even then, let him wait till thirty before he takes the final Orders. Let the Church contain a body of trained men who help with the philanthropic and social work. There is an endless amount to be done entirely apart from what, for want of a better term, I may call consecrated service. And for the former the training required should be thorough, and the salaries adequate. But do not let us any longer confuse such workers, much as we should respect and venerate them, with priests. That has been done for too long. Men's souls are crying out for salvation. They are seeking real shepherds.
RURAL DEPOPULATION IN ENGLAND
The increased importance attached to all problems connected with the grouping and distribution of population gives an added interest to the Census Returns of the past year. These returns point to new tendencies in urban grouping of great significance, but even more noteworthy is their witness to the arrest in England of the rural exodus, the rapid progress of which had been strikingly demonstrated by the returns of the five preceding decades. It is easy, no doubt, to over-estimate the importance of the slight increase now recorded in the majority of rural districts. The increase is irregular, and very small compared with that of the towns. The proportion of the urban to the total population is even higher than before (78 per cent.). The depopulation, too, of the country parishes had already gone so far that in the nature of things a considerable slackening of the process was inevitable. At the same time there are distinct indications that the rural problem has entered on a new phase, and the present seems a suitable time for a short retrospect of some of its chief features, which may help us to estimate how far the causes of the exodus have really been removed.
That these causes should have been widely misunderstood, or at any rate very imperfectly appreciated, is not surprising. For more than half a century the urban population has preponderated over the rural to such an extent that the industrial questions of the towns have tended to monopolise the attention of the great majority of men and women interested in social problems. They have visited the country only for health or pleasure, and to escape from problems altogether. They have considered rural England as a field for physical or aesthetic enjoyment, not for economic or social study. To the aesthetic sense uncultivated heathland is more gratifying than arable, and the distant view of an ancient, half-timbered cottage, however insanitary, is almost invariably more satisfying than that of a modern six-roomed house of staring brick. Those parts of the country where the position of the peasantry is, from the economic point of view, most interesting and suggestive are the parts which the average visitor from the town seldom sees. The rural El Dorado of the jaded townsmen is