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The Limits of Ritual and Ceremonial in the Anglican Communion.

By Philip Vernon Smith.

London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1914.

IN the autumn of 1913, by a formal document dated September 30, 1913, the Bishop of Zanzibar represented to the Archbishop of Canterbury (a) that the Bishops of Mombasa and Uganda had attached their signatures to a proposed scheme of federation of Missionary Societies working in British East Africa, agreed to at a Conference held in Kikuyu on June o that year, which be regarded as containing provisions disloyal to the doctrine and principles of the Ecclesia Anglicana; and (b) that on the closing day of the Conference the Holy Communion was celebrated in a Presbyterian church by the Bishop of Mombasa in the presence of the Bishop of Uganda, the Sacrament being given to many members of Protestant bodies, whose very existence the Bishop of Zanzibar regards as hostile to Christ's Holy Church. He accordingly charged his two brother bishops with the grievous faults of having propagated heresy and committed schism, by teachings and actions contrary to the faith of the Catholic Church and to her practices, and be desired to appear and make and sustain his charges before the archbishop, and not less than twelve comprovincial bishops sitting with the archbishop as judges of the cause, conformably with Catholic precedent. The archbishop has declined to entertain proceedings for heresy and schism against the accused bishops; but he will refer the question [1/2] of the propriety of their action in the two matters in respect of which it has been challenged to the meeting in July 1914 of the Central Consultative Body of Bishops of the Anglican Communion constituted under resolutions of the Lambeth Conferences of 1897 and 1908.

The second point in the Bishop of Zanzibar's accusation-namely, the conduct o the Bishop of Mombasa, with the concurrence of the Bishop of Uganda, in celebrating the Holy Communion in a Presbyterian place of worship, and admitting to communion as many of the delegates of non-Episcopalian bodies attending the Kikuyu Conference as cared to present themselves-raises not merely the question of the propriety of the particular act to which exception is taken, but further the general question of the law as to public worship in the Anglican Communion and the legal limits of ritual and ceremonial in connection with that worship. Under the conditions existing in Kikuyu this question emerges in its broadest form. For, while in different branches of the Anglican Communion the limits are prescribed by local laws which have been the product, in part, of special circumstances, the East African bishops and dioceses implicated in the Kikuyu incident are only governed by such laws and limited by such restrictions as are common to the whole Anglican communion.

In the two provinces of Canterbury and York the limits of ritual and ceremonial are laid down by the Act of Uniformity of 1662, and the Prayer Book authorised by that Act, as modified by the Prayer Book (Tables of Lessons) Act 1871, and the Act of Uniformity Amendment Act 1872. The archbishops and bishops have no legal power, either unitedly or singly, to order or allow any modifications or additions in the form of Divine service, or in the observance of the rubrics in the Prayer Book, otherwise than in the matter of hymns, except to the extent permitted by those Acts. If doubts arise as to the true interpretation of the regulations in the Prayer Book, or as [2/3] to the exact procedure which they prescribe, the matter may be referred to the bishop of the diocese, and if he is in doubt upon it, he may refer the point to the archbishop of the province for decision. But neither bishop nor archbishop has power to make an order which m any respect adds to or departs from the regulations of the Prayer Book. In other words, the present ecclesiastical law in England and Wales does not recognise any jus liturgicum in the archbishops or bishops, collectively or severally, otherwise than m the matter of hymns, beyond the limits expressly authorised by statute. But, of course, in the present day, the two provinces of Canterbury and York are only a portion of the Anglican Communion; and the legal position in other portions of it is very different. In the Episcopal Church of Scotland, the regulation of ritual and ceremonial rests with the College of Bishops; and they have lately sanctioned some very valuable additions to and deviations from the English Prayer Book, which, with the Scottish Liturgy, has always been the standard Service-book of their Church. In the Church of Ireland the power of regulating these matters is vested in the General Synod, in which the bishops and representatives of the clergy and laity vote by orders. Similar conditions prevail in the American Episcopal Church, and in the other Anglican provinces, alike within and outside the British Empire, which have a settled constitution. The Churches of Ireland and of the United States have made considerable alterations in their versions of the Book of Common Prayer; and elsewhere, local circumstances have occasioned some deviations from it. On the whole, however, a desire to maintain a close connection with the Mother Church of England, as well as a high appreciation of the excellence of the book itself, have everywhere prevented further departures from the Prayer Book of 1662 than appeared to be absolutely required by considerations of necessity or expediency.

[4] The Limits of Ritual and Ceremonial But how does the matter stand in the case of those missionary dioceses of the Church of England which are extra-provincial, and whose sole organic connection with the Mother Church consists in the original creation of the diocese and the appointment of the bishop, and in the oath of canonical obedience to the Archbishop and the Metropolitical Church of Canterbury taken by the bishop of the diocese at his consecration? How far are the bishops and clergy of these dioceses bound by the Act of Uniformity of 1662, and the amending statutes, and by the provisions of our English Prayer Book? And, if and so far as they are not so bound, in whom does the jus liturgicum in these dioceses reside? As regards the first of these questions, we must remember that if, as is usually the case, the bishop and his European clergy were ordained in England, they solemnly declared that in public prayer and administration of the Sacraments they would use the form prescribed in the Book of Common Prayer and none other, except so far as ordered by lawful authority, and that if they had at any time been admitted to a benefice or curacy in England, they then repeated this declaration. But it is clear that the Act of Uniformity and the amending Acts have no legal force beyond the limits of the two English provinces, and that the declaration as to using only the form prescribed in the Prayer Book does not apply to the performance of Divine Service outside those provinces; since otherwise it would be impossible for any of our English bishops or clergy to officiate when on a visit to Ireland or the United States.

It appears, then, that the law and practice as to public worship in our extra-provincial dioceses depend upon more general principles. What are these principles? In the first place, there must clearly be conformity to the doctrine of the Church of England, and there must be no deviation from that doctrine by way either of addition or of subtraction. But the in the Anglican Communion [4/5] doctrine of the Church of England is authoritatively set forth in the Thirty-nine Articles and the Book of Common Prayer and of the Ordering of Bishops, Priests and Deacons; and, therefore, in the ritual and ceremonial observed in these dioceses in the conduct of public worship, nothing must be added to or withdrawn from the forms and rubrics of the English Prayer Book which distinctly involves any new doctrine not contained or implied in that Book or the omission of any doctrine set forth in it. These may be laid down as the limits of what is permissible in respect of ritual and ceremonial in an extra-provincial diocese.

But who possesses the right to prescribe what shall or shall not be done within these limits? Here the jus liturgicum of the bishop would seem to come in, which, as we have seen, is practically almost in abeyance in the two English provinces. As to this, it is stated in Gibson's Codex that "In the more early ages of the Church, every bishop bad a power to form a Liturgy for his own diocese, and if he kept to the analogy of faith and doctrine, its circumstances were left to his own discretion" (vol. i. p. 259). What follows has no application to an extra-provincial diocese, namely that "Afterwards the practice was for the whole province to follow the service of the Metropolitan Church, which also became the general rule of the Church" (ibid.). To the same effect is the statement in the Handbook of Church Law, by the Rev. T. A. Lacey, that "The legislative jurisdiction of a diocese is properly exercised by the bishop or synod with the concert of the clergy; but by custom a bishop may make certain regulations, as m regard to details of divine worship (jus liturgicum) without synodical publicity. It is considered that an order so made lapses with the removal of the bishop making it, while a synodical order continues in force until abrogated. A bishop may not legislate contrary to provincial or more general constitution or custom" [5/6] (p. 153). And the Encyclical Letter put forth by the Lambeth Conference of Bishops in 1897 contained the following pronouncement: "We think it our duty to affirm the right of every bishop within the jurisdiction assigned to him by the Church to set forth or sanction additional services. But we hold that his power must always be subject to any limitations imposed by the provincial or other lawful authority." It would seem, then, that within the legal limit above defined the bishop of an Anglican extra-provincial diocese may prescribe for himself and his clergy and for any laymen to whom he gives a licence to officiate, the forms and ceremonies which shall be used in public worship in his diocese.

But what then, it may be asked, becomes of the oath of canonical obedience to the Archbishop and Metropolitical See of Canterbury, taken by the bishop of an Anglican extra-provincial diocese? In the case of the oath of canonical obedience to a bishop taken by a clergyman at his ordination and at other prescribed times, it was laid down in the case of Long v. The Bishop of Capetown, (1863) I Moore's Privy Council Cases (New Series), p. 411, that it "does not mean that the clergyman will obey all the commands of the bishop against which there is no law, but that he will obey all such commands as the bishop by law is authorised to impose" (ibid., p. 465). Construing the bishop's oath of canonical obedience in the same manner, it follows that the Archbishop of Canterbury could command an extra-provincial bishop to observe the permissible limits, if he was transgressing them in the ritual or ceremonial which he practised himself or prescribed for his diocese, but could not control the bishop's discretion in the matter as long as he kept within those limits.

These appear to be the principles by which the Central Consultative Body of Bishops will be guided in July 1914 in their consideration and advice upon the Communion Service in the Presbyterian place of [6/7] worship in Kikuyu of which the Bishop of Zanzibar complains. Without presuming to lay down beforehand what line the Consultative Body should take upon the question, it may be pointed out that there have been many precedents for both of the two points of which the Bishop of Zanzibar appears to complain. The loan of a non-Episcopalian place of worship in a Swiss village has often been gratefully accepted by English and American tourists for their Anglican services, including Holy Communion; and non-Episcopalian Christians have been welcomed as guests on special occasions at our celebrations of the Lord's Supper.

It remains to consider what consequences might result from a transgression of the due limits of ritual and ceremonial on the part of either bishop or clergy in an extra-provincial diocese. The bishop, of course, could withdraw his licence from the clergy if they transgressed without his approval; but what would be the position if he sanctioned it or was himself actually a party to it? The only tribunal from which he could receive ecclesiastical censure would be that of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The appeal against the Bishops of Mombasa and Uganda which the Bishop of Zanzibar made to the archbishop and bishops of the province of Canterbury jointly, is clearly misconceived. For the bishops against whom the complaint is made are entirely unconnected with that province; and in the case of Read v. The Bishop of Lincoln (Law Reports, (1888) 13 Probate Division, p. 221; (1889) 14 Probate Division, p. 88) it was expressly decided that even the bishop of a diocese within one of the two English provinces is amenable solely to the archbishop of the province, sitting with or without other bishops as assessors, and not to the whole episcopal body. The Archbishop of Canterbury, then, might correct the erring bishop, in the first instance by admonition, and if that were disregarded, by some drastic spiritual censure amounting even to [7/8] deprivation (Bishop of St. David's v. Lucy, (1699) I Lord Raymond's Reports, p. 447). If this extreme sentence were inflicted, he would lose his position as a bishop of the Anglican communion, and he and his clergy would cease to be in communion with the Church of England. At the same time he and they would forfeit any right to salaries or revenues to which they had been entitled by virtue of their Anglican connection. A dispute as to the enforcement of this forfeiture would necessitate proceedings in the civil courts, which might thus incidentally be required to pronounce upon the guilt or innocence of the incriminated bishop (Bishop of Natal v. Gladstone, (1866) Law Reports, 3 Equity Cases, pp. I, 59).

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