Project Canterbury

From The Works of the Rt. Rev. Charles C. Grafton (Volume 7),
edited by B. Talbot Rogers, New York: Longmans, Green, 1914, pp.


January 7th, 1894


I want if possible to work out our Cathedral system with the cordial cooperation of yourself and the other clergy. Perhaps it is providential that questions arise thus early in order that we may together consider them and their solution, before any grave trouble arises. The mistake I think you are making lies in your taking your office of Senior Canon to be that of a Rector.

This is what you said to me—that you regarded it as such, and that leads to your feeling hurt at times, and hinders harmonious working. You look at everything from a Rector's point of view—a Rector's place, privileges, rights, precedences, etc.

Now in my idea of a Cathedral (it seems to me to be involved in the very idea of a Cathedral), there is no such office or officer as a Rector. A Rector is one who has the charge of a parish, but a Cathedral has no Rector. There is no such officer known nor can there be, because it is so absolutely antagonistic to the Cathedral system that it would destroy it. There is no one who can be Rector, neither Bishop, Dean, nor Canons. The powers, rights, privileges, and all that belongs to a Rector in a parish are divided up and shared in by all, Bishop, Dean, and Canons.

It takes them ALL TOGETHER to make up a Rector.

A Cathedral is a system where the officers have different departments of work, and are independent of each other in them—but in all those things in which they have common work to do, and have common duties, they must act together in common, and have their duties and places, etc., provided for by their common action in Chapter and by Statute or Rule.

The order of service, what services, the hours, the persons who are to be responsible for them, the celebrants and preachers, and the Ritual all come under this head.

You may ask me, what is the office of a Senior Canon and what "having the spiritual care" includes. I say first: No Canon is a Rector nor could a Dean be such—for it is destructive of the Cathedral system that there should be such an office—and none such is known.

A Canon is one who gives up the independent position and privileges of a Rector to take part in an organization, and take a department of what in a parish would be a Rector's work. "Spiritual care" marks for you your portion of a Rector's work. It includes the duty of visiting, care of Sunday School work in the Church, the Church guilds, the marrying, burying, visiting of the sick, the parish business, the Confirmation classes for those out of the schools.

As to Confessions, the rule of the Church allows her children to go to whom they choose, and any parishioner has a right to go to any priest of the Cathedral. This is the custom in all Cathedrals, and parishes where there are clergy houses, or more than one priest. All the clergy of the Cathedral should have their hours to see penitents in the clergy room or elsewhere.

This defines "the spiritual care."

The Privilege of a Senior would be that when the service was not arranged by Statute or Rule—or some matter came up not provided for, the Senior is the one who decides for the occasion. I have thus put down what I think is the main difficulty, in fact the only one, and believe it comes from your confounding the position of a Canon with that of a Rector.

I don't want to have you troubled, and it pains me to see you so at times. I don't care who takes this or that service, and only want to help on, and if we can cooperate and work together in the establishment of a Cathedral system, I shall be very much pleased.

Yours sincerely in Christ,


Project Canterbury