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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 69

(Christchurch Press. February 11.)

page 11

(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.