The Truth About the Primacy.
Nelson Printed By R. Lucas and Son 'Evening Mail' Office, Bridge-St.1890.
The Bishop of Nelson and the Primacy Dispute.
The object which the compilers of this pamphlet have in view is to set forth a few facts in connection with the Primacy election and the subsequent proceedings, which, they believe, are not so generally known as they should be, or, at least, have not been sufficiently emphasized in the discussions which have taken place on the question. They are of opinion that Bishop Suter has been most unfairly treated and completely misjudged throughout. Anonymous opinions, it may be urged, are not entitled to much weight. Possibly so; but the facts upon which they are based may be well deserving of consideration. These facts will be stated as briefly and concisely as possible. The readers are asked to form their own conclusions.
To begin with, the Primacy had not been vacated when the Synod proceeded to the election. Had the vacancy been created previously, as it should have been, Bishop Suter would have been President of the Synod. This was carefully guarded against. The election was in direct contravention of the Synod's laws. This is admitted, indeed it cannot be denied. But it is argued that this is a matter of no importance—that the Synod is supreme and can act as it pleases. It is not stated in which capacity it is to be regarded as supreme, whether as lawmaker or law-breaker. Clearly supremacy cannot be claimed for it in both capacities.
The Canons provide against any competition or rivalry amongst the Bishops for position of Primate. There are to be no avowed candidates offering themselves for the office. The results of the ballots as they proceed are not to be made known. In the late election what was the course of procedure? It was known beforehand that Bishop Suter was the favourite of the laity, and if their vote could not be changed, that he, as Senior Bishop, would succeed to the Primacy in the absence of a majority in all three orders. This would not suit the Clerical element, so two Bishops (Wellington and Melanesia) and the Dean of Christchurch interposed, and obtained the sanction of the Synod to the results of the ballots being declared. Then, when it was seen how matters stood, and that Bishop Suter had received a larger total of votes than any of the other Bishops, the Episcopal influence was again brought to bear upon the laity, and successfully. They were told it would be exceedingly unsatisfactory if the Primacy were allowed to go by default, and on this ground they were persuaded to support Bishop Hadfield, whose election was secured by a transference of their votes. It does not appear to have occurred to those who made use of this argument, that it must be equally unsatisfactory that the Primate should be elected by the votes of those who had previously declared their opinion that he was not the most suitable of the candidates for the office. Thus, from beginning to end, the election was in direct violation of both the letter and spirit of the Canons, and was, moreover utterly unfair to Bishop Suter.
After the session had closed, Bishop Suter was advised that irregularities had taken place which might lead to future complications of a very grave character. Being impressed with their importance, he wrote to bishop Harper informing [unclear: n]of them, pointing out the difficulties that might arise if he were to resign, the Primacy, and asking him, in view of the alleged illegality of the election, to defer sending in his resignation, and to consider the position. Bishop Harper replied to the effect that he was satisfied of the legality of the proceedings, and forwarded his resignation forthwith to Bishop Suter, as Senior Bishop.
Two days after the receipt of the resignation. Bishop Suter wrote to Bishop Hadfield again placing before him the view which he took of the position of affairs, and suggesting either that the matter be referred to the Standing Commission, or as "a speedier method" To have a Special Meeting of the General Synod Convened at Wellington for the Purpose of Validating me Proceedings of the Synod. [See extract below] Bishop Hadfield, in his page 4 reply, made no reference to the proposal to summon the [unclear: Synod] but contented himself with telling Bishop Suter that, if he believed he had a case for the Commission, he agreed with him that it should be submitted without delay.
The Senior Bishop and the late Primate, conjointly, then submitted a case to the Standing Commission.
The Commission decided that the election was illegal, and that the Primacy devolved upon Bishop Suter.
Two or three days later, Bishop Suter received a letter from Dean Jacobs, addressed to him as Primate, requesting him to proceed with the arrangement for the appointment of Archdeacon Julius as Bishop of Christchurch. This Bishop Suter did, and has since done everything in his power to facilitate the [unclear: consetion] of the Bishop elect.
Later on, Bishop Suter received an informal intimation from Bishop Harper to the effect that it was probable that two Bishops would request him to [unclear: conv] the Synod, not for the purpose of validating the election of Bishop Hadfield but to consider the decision of the Standing Commission. Bishop Suter in replying expressed the opinion that there was no necessity to summon the Synod, and that it would be inexpedient to do so giving his reasons for so thinking. But he received no request and gave no refusal. Between an expression of opinion on the desirability or otherwise of adopting a certain course, and a definite refusal to grant a request, it is needless to point out the difference.
A torrent of abuse has since been poured upon Bishop Suter. Has he deserved it? Not for his actions, for Dean Jacobs in a letter to the Christchurch "Press," dated 18th February, says:—"It is not his action which requires explanation. "His alleged sins, then, are not those of commission. But some excuse must be found by the Clerics, to whom Bishop Suter is unacceptable as Primate, for attributing blame to him, so the Dean proceeds to say—"it is his inaction in taking" no steps for the convening of a special session of the Synod, which require "explanation," and he goes on to ask "why his Lordship, under the circum "stances, did not immediately on the decision of the Standing Commission being" given, move two other Bishops to request him to convene it?" But why should Bishop Suter 'move the Bishops'? Why have not the two Bishops, if it be so essential to hold a meeting of the Synod, requested him to convene it without waiting to be moved thereto? It is perfectly competent for them to do so; it is in fact their manifest duty if it is so important that the Synod should meet. Wherein lies the fairness or the justice of blaming Bishop Suter for the neglect of the "two other Bishops"? Can it be that the Prelates with whom the motion should originate, are afraid to make the request, lest by so doing they should be deemed to have recognised Bishop Suter as lawfully occupying the position which the Standing Commission has adjudged him to be holding?
Let it be distinctly borne in mind that, according to Dean Jacobs—who may be accepted as an authority on such a subject—the only blame to be attached to Bishop Suter throughout the whole of this painful affair is for not moving two Bishops to do that which they were entitled to do, and should have done, on their own motion. In the light of this admission of the Dean's, the readers this pamphlet are invited to say whether the discourteous articles from the "Press" quoted therein, and similar outpourings which have appeared elsewhere are in the smallest degree justified; and whether public opinion upon the merits of the dispute has not been formed upon a misconception of the real facts of the case.
The Lay-members of the Church, who are certainly respecters of the law, however regardless of it the Bishops and Clergy may be, are invited to carefully read the extracts from Bishop Suter's letter to Bishop Harper, the then Primate, which appear in the article re-published from the "Nelson Evening Mail." They can then say whether Bishop Suter, acting with a full knowledge of the misinterpretation which he felt sure would be placed upon his actions, was not inspired solely by a spirit of loyalty to his Church in upholding her laws whether, by his appeal to the Primate to stay his hand in the matter of his resignation and to consider the position before sending it in, he did not clearly and unmistakeably show that his object was not to temporarily gain for himself an empty title, but that he was actuated by the single desire of asserting the laws of the Church?
These are a few considerations which have not hitherto been placed prominently before the Laity, who are now respectfully invited give to them their earnest and unbiassed attention.
Bishop Suter to Bishop Hadfield.
The following is an extract from the letter addressed by Bishop Suter to Bishop Hadfield two days after receiving Bishop Harper's resignation of the Primacy. Having stated his belief that the office of Primate was now vacant, the General Synod having had no power to elect a successor to Bishop Harper until the vacancy had been created, he proceeded to say:—"I suggest, therefore, that the matter be referred to the Standing Commission, as it is a question of interpretation of various Canons, especially of Clause 28, Whether "until the General Synod shall make other provision, is to be constructed to mean unless the General Synod shall have made," &c. For this I am prepared to state a case for the consideration of the Standing Commission; or, which I venture to think a speedier method, to have a special meeting of the General Synod convened at Wellington for the express purpose of validating certain proceedings in connection with the election of a successor to Bishop Harper as Primate. * * * As it can easily be set right where there is no disposition to disturb the express will of the General Synod, I have the less reluctance in proposing this, as it is most desirable that there should be a Primate without delay, and that his title to the position should be unquestioned."
When this is taken in conjunction with Bishop Suter's letter to Bishop Harper prior to the resignation by the latter of the Primacy, it may confidently be asked, what more the Bishop of Nelson could have done to meet the difficulty.
To gum up the facts, which are given at somewhat greater length elsewhere—Bishop Suter was treated with deliberate unfairness at the illegal election of Primate by the Synod in the manner in which it was conducted:
Upon his attention being directed to the irregularity and illegality of the election, he warned Bishop Harper of the probable consequences of his sending in his resignation of the Primacy; pressed him to postpone it and to consider the position; and at the same time informed him of what he, as Senior Bishop, should deem it his duty to do if his resignation were forwarded to him. A similar communication was sent to all the other Bishops prior to the Primate's resignation:
This warning was disregarded:
Bishop Suter then wrote to Bishop Hadfield suggesting that the matter should be referred either to the Standing Commission or to a special meeting of the Synod to be convened at Wellington for the purpose. Bishop Hadfield preferred the former:
Acting in conjunction with the late Primate, and with the knowledge and approval of Bishop Hadfield, Bishop Suter appealed to the Standing Commission to decide upon the legality or otherwise of the election:
He has done all in Lis power since the decision of the Commission, to facilitate the election and consecration of' the Bishop elect of Christchurch:
The sole fault with which he is charged by the Clerical authorities is, that he did not move two other Bishops to request him to convene the Synod, whereas it was the "two other Bishops" who should have taken the initiative:
He has not refused to convene the Synod:
Bishop Suter has been freely charged with allowing himself to be actuated by base and unworthy motives:
In ignorance of the facts, the public have been disposed to accept the charge as true, and from this standpoint have viewed the whole of his actions:
The charge is proved by his letters to Bishops Harper and Hadfield to be utterly groundless.
The Primacy Dispute.
(Nelson Evening Mail, February 14.)
"I deeply regret that any such difficulties should have arisen, because my motives are in danger of being-misunderstood, but I should never forgive myself if, from fear of being misunderstood, I allowed what, as far as I know, was contrary to the laws, to be done with my acquiescence. I have by Mr Pitt's advice made similar communications to the other Bishops."
"I yesterday received your letter enclosing an opinion on its subject matter by Mr Pitt together with a copy of the Bishop of Christchurch's resignation of the Primacy. As you say you are 'prepared to state a case for the Standing Commission,' I write to say that I agree with you that it is very desirable that this should be done 'without delay.'"
Thus it will be seen that neither the late Primate nor the Primate (illegally) elect offered the slightest objection to the course Bishop Suter proposed to adopt bat, on the contrary, that they both encouraged him in following it. The case was duly submitted to the Standing Commission, presided over by the Bishop of Auckland, and including among its members two lawyers of high standing, one of them being Sir Frederick Whitaker, In due course their decision was made Known. It was as follows:—
"1. That there was no vacancy in the office of Primate in February, 1889, when the General Synod elected the Bishop of Wellington.
2. That a Primate cannot be elected by anticipation of a vacancy in the office.
3. That on the resignation of the late Primate (the Bishop of Christchurch) in September, the senior Bishop by Consecration (the Bishop of Nelson) became Primate to hold office until the General Synod shall make other provision in that behalf. Bishop Suter has therefore been declared Primate."
Now, we desire to call attention to a letter recently addressed to the Press by the Very Rev. H. Jacobs, Dean of Christchurch, an extract from which appeared in our Saturday's issue. To day we will content ourselves with giving the following quotation: "The Church's only resource, I think, is to turn to the Bishop of Wellington and say, 'To you we look, under God for deliverance from our terrible embarrassment. We implore you to take the decided step of convening a special session. If your Lordship is known to be ready to take this J action if called upon to do so, we doubt not that two at least of our Right Reverend Prelates will come forward to make the request.' "When our readers have contrasted these words with a letter addressed to Bishop Suter immediately after the decision of the Commission was published, they will know what to think of Dean Jacobs' consistency, and the full extent of the reliability that is to be placed upon his opinion and advice. In a letter addressed to "The Most Reverend the Lord Bishop of Nelson, Primate," he enclosed certain documents relating the the election of Archdeacon Julius as Bishop of Christchurch by the Synod of that Diocese, and mentioned the day when he should like the consecration to take place, and then there occur these words which are deserving of special attention:—"It is a matter of congratulation to us all that the suspense in the matter of the Primacy is ended, and the question settled for the present." Then, after again referring to the papers: Will your Lordship kindly let me know your views and wishes in the matter,"
Has Dean Jacobs been loyal to his acknowledged head since writing these lines? Has he endeavoured to shelter him from the storm of abuse, the calamities, and misrepresentations to which he has been subjected? Has he done all in his power to uphold the decision of the Tribunal appointed by the General Synod to adjudicate on the occasion of such a difficulty arising as that which has been magnified and tensified by those whose business it was to reduce and remove it? Has he sought to show that he was honest and earnest when he said that it was a matter of congratulation to us all that the suspense in the matter of the Primacy is ended)" In fine, has he sought to set his recognised Primate right with those who have concocted and circulated, and those who must have been influenced by, the gross falsehoods that have been told about him? We leave the answer to Dean Jacobs' conscience, and the columns of the Press.
We think that we have very clearly shown by a relation of the facts of the case that up to the time of the publication of the decision of the Standing Commission the Bishop of Nelson had not been guilty of any impropriety, and the question will naturally be asked, "But what has he done since?" To this we reply—absolutely nothing except to endeavour to the utmost of his power to facilitate the necessary arrangements for the confirmation of the appointment, and the consecration, of Archdeacon Julius as Bishop of Christchurch, thereby giving the lie to the scandalous imputation to which publicity is given in one of the articles we reprint to-day that he has been actuated by "a desire to [unclear: impele] the acceptance of office by Archdeacon Julius, fearing that his reputation for vigour, eloquence, and well directed zeal would soon cast his own into the shade." We repeat the assertion that Bishop Suter has, with this solitary exception, done absolutely nothing But, it may be asked, if he has not been actively obstructive, has he not been so passively? Has he not refused to call the Synod together in order that they might settle the dispute? We know that in many instances this has page 8 not only been asked, but it has been asserted that such is the case. To this, how ever, we give an absolute denial. Bishop Suter has never refused to summon the Synod. As a matter of fact he has no power to convene it until asked by two Bishops, and such a request he has never received.
In appealing to the Tribunal constituted by the General Synod, for their judgment on a certain action of that body, the Bishop made a bold and a manful and against an attempt to ignore the Canons laid down by the Synod for its own guidance, and showed a commendable determination that, for his own part at least, he would not allow it to go forth that the New Zealand branch of the Church of England was an utterly lawless body, which made laws one day only to break them the next. By their action the Bishops and others who have striven hard to show that the Church's laws need not be obeyed except when they suit those who are supposed to be bound by them, have done an irreparable injury to the Church; they have struck it a blow under which it will stagger for many years to come, if, indeed, it ever recovers its previous firm footing, and for the mischief they have wrought they have endeavored to lay all the blame on him who would not acquiesce in their illegal actions. With the example that has been set by some of the Bishops and Clergy before their eyes, it is scarcely to be expected that the Laity will conform to anything like Church discipline, except when it pleases them to do so. Naturally enough they will ask, "If our prelate and priests acknowledge no law, why should we?" Bishop Suter alone appears to have foreseen this inevitable effect of the Synod setting its own laws at defiance, and because he would not be a party to bringing about that result he has been vilified and calumniated in the most shameful manner, and has had the most unworthy motives imputed to him. As the Press says—"As the Primate is really nothing more in this colony than the titular head of the Bishops and the Chairman of the General Synod, it is not of much consequence which of the Bishops is Primate," and yet it accuses a man of the highest character, than whom, by the Laity at least no Bishop in New Zealand is more honoured and respected, of acting in a manner nothing short of scandalous" in order to obtain this empty honour. Our contemporary says, "We tell His Lordship, that outside his own Diocese, public opinion is dead against him" This we take leave to doubt. Many correspondents in various parts of New Zealand, some of them men of excellent reputation and of high standing in the legal profession, have heartily upheld Bishop Suter in the action he has taken. And we add to this that in many places where public opinion may be dead against him now, it is because the real facts are not known; because he has been scandalously misrepresented. It would be well if some of those who are not ashamed to c st stones at Bishop Suter, were to remember that there is another and very powerful order in the Church besides the Bishops and Clergy, and we make bold to say that when the Laity understand the true position of affairs, as they will one of these days, there will be an expression of "intense indignation," not with Bishop Suter, but with those who have for the last few weeks been so busily engaged in hounding him down. Ay, we undertake to pay that even in Christchurch itself, where the mud has been most actively and persistently stirred, if it could be so arranged that Bishop Suter could address a meeting of the Lay members of the Church, there would be a revulsion of feeling that would astonish and make exceedingly uncomfortable some of the mischievous wire pullers whose delight it has been to bring a grate scandal upon the Church they pretend to love.
We have a few words to say in conclusion. The Press "deeply regrets that the closing days of Bishop Harper's episcopacy should have been embittered by this unseemly dispute and we are glad to bear testimony to the fact that he is to be acquitted of all blame in the matter". We, too, are sorry for the venerable Bishop, to know whom is to revere and respect him, but we sympathise far more deeply with Bishop Suter, who has been so disgracefully treated. And, moreover, we cannot acquit Bishop Harper of all blame in the matter. It was to the error he first made in not resigning prior to the meeting of the Synod that the difficulty was primarily due; it is to his refusal to "consider the position," as advised by the Bishop of Nelson, who warned him of the difficulties looming in the near future that the "very disgraceful dispute" which has arisen is owing. Of course he could not foresee all that was going to happen, but the outlook was sufficiently serious to cause him to pause, and at least to consult his brother Bishops before resigning the Primacy. Whatever may be said of some of the other Bishops, he at least is devoted to the service of the Church of which he has for so many years been the honoured head in New Zealand, and we feel sure that it must bitterly grieve him now that he did not pay more attention to the warning conveyed to him in Bishop Suter's letter.
(Christchurch Press, February 6.)
All persons who care for the welfare of the Episcopal Church in this colony, and, indeed, all who are even well affected towards religious organizations of any kind, must sympathise with the tone of the letter from Dean Jacobs, published by us yesterday, relating to the disgraceful—the very disgraceful—disputes about the Primacy. The conduct of the Bishops of Wellington and Nelson is nothing short of scandalous. That is by no means too strong a term to use, and we are sure that we only echo the general feeling of the community when we make use of the phrase. We are not concerned to enquire which of the Bishops is the most to blame. The general public, both the religious and the irreligious, care but little about the merits of the dispute, if indeed a shameful quarrel about technicalities can be said to have any merits at all. Ecclesiastical lawyers and Laymen of an ecclesiastical turn of mind may find it a labour of love to discuss the pros and cons, and argue upon the interpretation of Canons, but we are sure that the vast majority of persons anxious for the welfare of the Church of England in this colony fee nothing but shame and anger in watching the progress of the struggle between these two Christian prelates for the possession of an empty title. If any men more than others in the Church are expected to set an example of Christian charity and unselfishness, surely two aged Bishops, neither of whom can expect a much extended lease of life, are those men. But, as it is, there is no half fledged curate in the colony who would not be ashamed to have caused such embarrassment to the Church as they have done. The Bishop of Wellington forfeited much of the respect due to his long services and high position when it was discovered that he was the secret slanderer of Mr. Bryce; and the Bishop of Nelson's love of political controversy has, ere now, got him into hot water. But we certainly never expected that these Bishops would, in this manner, raise their hands against the Church which they have both for so long served. We do not agree with those who attribute the conduct of the Bishops to even the meaner motive of a desire to impede the acceptance of office by Archdeacon Julius, fearing that his reputation for vigour, eloquence, and well directed zeal would cast their own into the shade. But it is, perhaps, as well that the Bishops of Wellington and Nelson should know that there are many uncharitable persons who give them credit for no higher motives than this, and it must be admitted that the Bishops' conduct lays their motives open to this misconstruction. We see in their action nothing but a proof that Bishops are but mortal after all, and have their full share of vanities and follies. Still it is distressing to find that the vanity of two Bishops should have been brought into such bold relief by this unhappy quarrel. We entertain no doubt whatever that the Bishop of Wellington, morally, at all events, had originally the best of the dispute. He can at least claim to have been the chosen Primate, and his claims to assume that dignity are, if invalid, invalid only on technical grounds. Had the Bishop of Nelson not endeavored to take advantage of these technicalities, no trouble would ever have arisen, and we think that his action was wholly unworthy of his position as a high officer in the Christian Church. But, of course, the action of the Bishop of Wellington, in disputing the action of the Standing Committee, again on technical grounds, and still claiming to be Primate, and endeavoring by the suggestion of further technical difficulties to impede the consecration of the new Bishop, brings him quite down to the level of Bishop Suter. We are simply amazed that the Bishops do not see the error of their ways. The contention that they are only asserting their claims in order to avoid confusion hereafter is akin to the excuse which some men make for going to law or doing other harsh things when they claim to be acting on principle. The only safe principle for a Christian Bishop to act upon in matters relating to his own position is the golden rule of the Divine Head of their Church.
We believe that the Bishops have very likely been led astray by that little knot of satellites and parasites who always surround persons in high office with high-sounding titles, and they may possibly have been induced to believe that the public were anxious that the dispute should be settled by a binding decision as to who is legally in the right. But if so, their Lordships have been most woefully misled. In the first place, it is a matter of very little consequence who is primate. It is of some consequence who should be a Bishop, but as the Primate must be a Bishop, and is really nothing more in this colony than the titular head of the Bishops and the Chairman of the General Synod, it is not of much consequence which of the Bishops is Primate. Nor does it matter to anybody but persons with a diseased appetite for argument as to the construction of Canons, whether the Bishop of Wellington was rightly or wrongly elected Primate, But page 10 it does matter very much that there should be two persons at the same time claiming the Primacy, and it is of the utmost importance that the dispute should be ended at once, and peace restored to the Church.
The question then is, How is the matter to be settled? for as the dispute has arisen some decision must be arrived at. The Bishop of Nelson's proposal preposterous and insulting to everybody of intelligence. One suggestion which found a considerable amount of favor was that the three Bishops should call together the General Synod, An alternative proposed by Dean Jacobs, which has a great deal to be said in its favor, is for the Bishop of Wellington to resign the Primacy. If he will do so, he will have made the best amends now in his power for whatever ill he has done, and he will earn the gratitude of all who are anxious for the welfare of the Church. If Bishop Hadfield takes this course, then Bishop Suter will, beyond all doubt, become the acting Primate, or, at any rate, become entitled to call together the General Synod, and if he should then decline to summon it for the election of Primate he will deserve universal condemnation, and will render it most manifest that his only object is to grasp, by an accident, a position and power which he feels he would never acquire in the proper way by the suffrages of the Clergy and Laity of the Synod.
There can be no doubt that this is the course which the Bishops will follow it they have any regard for their Church. But we do not think it is well to proceed on the assumption that the Bishops have come to their senses, and will do what is right without pressure. We think, therefore, that Churchmen, both Clerical and Lay, should take care, either by public meetings or petitions, to let the Bishops know at once what is expected of them. If, unhappily, the Bishops or either of them should still prove obdurate, we feel sure that their conduct will lead to large secessions from the Church. The Constitution of the Church will have been proved to have been too autocratic for this democratic age, and there will be many Churchmen who will desire to worship God in some other Church, where their endeavors for its progress and welfare cannot be thwarted by the high handed and autocratic conduct of any vain or arrogant Bishop.
We deeply regret that the closing days of Bishop Harper's episcopacy should have been embittered by this unseemly dispute, and we are glad to bear testimony to the fact that he is to be acquitted of all blame in the matter. It is a pity that the Bishops of Nelson and Wellington had not more regard for their venerable colleague than to bring all this trouble about his head just as he is closing his long and useful career as a Christian Bishop.
(Christchurch Press, February 11.)
"To the Editor of the Press, Christchurch.—Having received the necessary sanction of the Standing Committees, I have communicated with the Venerable Archdeacon Julius that I am making arrangements for his consecration to the Bishopric of Christchurch, and expect him to be present at the Cathedral on April 25th for that purpose. The responsibility of any delay must rest on the right parties.—(Signed) A. B. Suter, Bishop of Nelson, Primate.—Nelson, February 10th."
While the Bishop of Nelson has thus taken the matter into his own hands efforts are being made in other quarters to arrive at a settlement of the difficulty likely to be satisfactory to the Church at large. We have received information from reliable sources to the following effect:—The Bishop of Wellington is earnestly considering the several courses of action he has been urged to take and wishes a short space of time for deliberation and counsel. He is to meet the Bishops of Auckland and Waiapu at Napier on the 17th instant, the Bishop of Auckland being en route for Dunedin to attend the special meeting of the University Senate. It is probable also that Dean Hovell, Archdeacon W. L Williams, and Mr. Arthur J. Cotterill, the Chancellor of the Diocese of Waiapu may be present and take part in the conference. The Bishop of Wellington will be prepared unreservedly to take any course which may appear to the majority of his right reverend brethren to be best for the Church at the present crisis. Is is understood further that the Bishop of Auckland has a plan to propose at the conference on the 17th, which he confidently believes will lead to a solution of the difficulty without entailing the necessity of a special session of the General Synod being held.
(Christchurch Press. February 11.)
We have heard of the obstinacy of the Bishop of Nelson, but we were hardly prepared to find His Lordship at the present stage taking up the attitude disclosed by the telegram which he has addressed to us, and which will be found in another column. The Bishop of Wellington is taking counsel as to the course he ought to pursue, and, we are informed, "is prepared unreservedly to take any course which may appear to the majority of right reverend brethren to be best for the Church at the present crisis." The Bishop of Nelson, it would seem, is prepared to take counsel with nobody, but intends to usurp a title, his claim to which the Church at large will never acknowledge, and peremptorily to call on Archdeacon Julius to present himself for consecration on the 25th of April next. "The responsibility of any delay," his Lordship adds, must rest on the right parties." The sole responsibility, not only for the delay, but for the deplorable scandal which must follow such a course, will rest on the Right Reverend Dr. Suter, Bishop of Nelson, and nobody else, and will unquestionably be to his Lordship a cause of obloquy, if not of remorse, to the end of his career. The Bishop of Nelson may have the avowed support of his own Clergy, who, hidden away in the sequestered valleys of the Nelson Province, probably hardly realise the magnitude of the interests at stake. We tell his Lordship, however, that outside his Diocese not only is public opinion dead against him, but his conduct has caused the greatest amazement, as well as intense indignation. This is not only the case in New Zealand, but, as will be seen from the extract which we publish from the Melbourne Argus, his Lordship's conduct is condemned in equally emphatic terms outside our own colony. That any Bishop could be found so utterly regardless, not only of the interests of his Church, but also of his own reputation, as to act in the grasping self-opinionated way which Dr. Suter has apparently mapped out for himself is absolutely astounding. We trust that his Lordship will even yet see the wisdom as well as the propriety of altering his steps before it is too late. If he should be so ill-advised as to persist in behaving as if he were the unquestioned Primate of New Zealand, there is only one course, and that is a very painful one, for the authorities of the Church to adopt. They must be prepared to act independently of the Bishop of Nelson. It is hardly to be supposed that Archdeacon Julius will be satisfied with the logic which has apparently convinced the Bishop of Nelson as to the claims of the latter to be Primate, and the general legality of the position. It is the duty, therefore, of the ecclesiastical authorities of the Church as a body to take prompt and energetic steps, at whatever sacrifice, to relieve the Church and Archdeacon Julius from the present unseemly entanglement. To the Bishop of Nelson two courses are open. He may either join in the efforts which are being made to remove the reproach which rests on the Church, or he may persist in a course which may bring about a worse scandal than the Jenner case. We shall have on the one hand a misguided prelate masquerading as the head of the Church, and on the other practically the whole communion, from his Right Reverend brethren on the Bench downwards, repudiating his authority and scouting his pretensions. As to how this unhappy diocese in particular is likely to fare during the indecent wrangle we hardly like to imagine. We cannot even yet believe that the Bishop of Nelson will blindly persevere in a course which will be productive of the greatest heartburning and strife, and will bring the gravest discredit on himself, bis Church, and even on the religion whose fair name it is his first duty to shield from reproach. At present his Lordship bids fair to deal that religion the most deadly blow which it has received in this quarter of the globe.
How The Election Was Conducted.
By Title A., Canon I., Section 28, it is provided at in case of a vacancy in the Office of Primate, by death, resignation, or otherwise, the Senior Bishop for the time being shall be and act as Primate until the General Synod shall make other provision in that behalf.
Yet another right, too, is conserved to the Senior Bishop under similar circumstances, namely, that of succeeding to the Primacy after certain trials to elect have failed. This right was seriously interfered with during the proceedings at the election in February of last year.
The rules laid down for the election of a Primate provide (by Clause 23) that the election of a Bishop to fill the office of Primate shall be made by ballot in manner hereafter provided; also, (by Clause 24) on the motion that the Synod page 12 proceed to the election of the Primate, it shall not be competent for any member of the Synod to propose any candidate for the office, and the only question to be spoken to shall be the subject matter of the motion, that is "That the Synod proceed to the election of the Primate."
There are two intentions clear in these instructions. First, that the Church desired to avoid an unseemly struggle for supremacy by the mention of names, or any interference with the individual members of Synod; Secondly, that the Church wished to prevent the array of Synodsmen into rival camps.
Thus the spirit of the Canons was violated when it was resolved on the motion of the Bishop of Melanesia, seconded by Mr. George Joachim, after the scrutineers had reported "no election" had been made, "that the scrutineers declare the result of the ballot taken." The Clerical Secretary then read out the number of votes given, but not the names of the Bishops voted for.
It was then moved by the Bishop of Wellington, seconded by the Dean of Christchurch, "That the names of the Bishops, with the votes recorded for each, be read aloud.'
This, too, was done at each step of the election, and it is reported in the English Guardian of December 24th, 1889, on no doubt good authority, that just before the third and final ballot, the Bishop of Melanesia, when he found that the Senior Bishop had a majority of the Laity, appealed to them not to permit so important a matter as the election of the Primate to go by default This appeal was successful in detaching the number of Laity needed to give Bishop Hadfield a majority in each house, and he was declared elected. Could there nave been a more flagrant violation of the spirit of the Canons?
The distinct intention of the Church was deliberately ignored. That such a breach of its own laws could be committed by such an assembly seems inconceivable. It is a transgression of rules that would not occur in the election of a Borough Councillor nowadays, if the conditions of the ballot were similarly laid down; and if such a thing were attempted under similar conditions of ballot in the Lodge of any Friendly Society, the common sense of the members would revolt against it.
The scrutineers had, so far, fulfilled their duty when they reported that no election had been made, and beyond this the Synod was not entitled to any information whatever.
The claims, the rights, and the interests, of the Senior Bishop for the time being are tacitly recognised by the Church, yet they were all alike disregarded by the action of the Synod. Under a legal election of Primate, the Senior Bishop would have presided and conducted the election. He would thus have had the opportunity of preventing such an infringement of the rules, and from an analysts of the ballots there can be no doubt that, had the election been legally conducted, he would have succeeded to the Primacy, for the Bishop of Melanesia would not have been permitted to make his appeal to the too accommodating Laity.
A daring defiance of the letter, and a deliberate disregard of the spirit, of the Canons were the prominent features of the so-called election which has brought such a scandal upon the Church of England in New Zealand. And for that scandal a too successful attempt has been made to cast the sole responsibility upon the Bishop of Nelson.
This pamphlet is issued as a protest against the discourtesy and disrespect displayed towards Bishop Suter in certain quarters, and the gross injustice with which he has been treated from the time of the opening of the Synod up to the present day.