The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 69
How The Election Was Conducted
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.