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THE LEADERS OF THE BRITISH CHURCHES
SUMMON CHRISTIANS TO A LEAGUE OF
BASE THE APPEAL ON THE PROPOSALS OF THE PRESIDENT
OF THE UNITED STATES
HE following appeal has been issued over the
signatures of the Archbishop of Canterbury, 1 the Bishop of Winchester, the Bishop of Oxford, the Bishop of Southwark, the Bishop of Peterborough, the Rev. Dr James Cooper, Moderator of the Established Church of Scotland; the Rev. Dr. W. B. Selbie, the Rev. Dr. J. Scott Lidgett, the Rev. Dr. F. B. Meyer, the Rev. Dr. D. S. Cairns, the Rev. Dr. J. Estlin Carpenter, the Rev. Dr. Alexander Connell, the Rev. Father Plater, Lord Henry Bentinck, Lord Parmoor, the Rt. Hon. Arthur Henderson, George Lansbury, Arthur Mansbridge, Professor A. S. Peake, and Principal T. F. Roberts:
“We, the signatories of this document, belonging to various Christian bodies, have noted with the greatest satisfaction the prominent place given by the President of the United States and by successive Prime Ministers and Foreign Secretaries of our own country to the proposal of a League of Nations. The idea has also, as was to be expected, won wide support among the official repre
sentatives of Christian communions, e.g., in the Pope's appeal to the powers last summer and in the recent Convocation of Canterbury.
“But more is yet needed to make manifest and effective the full force of Christian conviction in its favour, still largely latent, but capable of being evoked if only the vital import of the idea be brought forcibly home to Christian people at large.
“In the name, then, of the Prince of Peace, we would call on them duly to consider and openly to welcome the idea of such a league as shall safeguard international right and permanent peace and shall also have power in the last resort to constrain by economic pressure or armed force any nation refusing to submit to arbitration or international adjudication in the first instance any dispute with another tending to war.
"We believe that a new system of international law and authority, acting through an inclusive League of Nations in place of any balance of power, is a condition of a just and lasting peace, particularly as it affords means whereby the fresh demands of national life as they arise can be adjudicated upon and equitably satisfied.
“Accordingly, we hold it to be of the utmost importance, as President Wilson has just emphasized, that such a league should not merely be contemplated as a more or less remote outcome of a future settlement, but should be put in the very forefront of the peace terms as their presupposition and guarantee.
"Whether it be or be not practicable, without any slackening of the energy with which the war must be waged, to make a beginning upon the league as regards the Allies and neutrals, even before the peace conference, we do not venture to decide, though we think this course has much to commend it. But we are sure of the pressing need there is here and now of giving the League of Nations the backing of an organized body of strong conviction; sure, also, that this task offers to the Christian consciousness an opportunity to make its own spirit felt in national policy such as has not occurred heretofore since the outbreak of this war."
ANGLICAN BISHOPS ENDORSE LEAGUE OF
Sitting in Convocation during February, 1918, the Bishops of the Church of England gave definite and clearly expressed support to the idea of a League of Nations. The Bishop of Oxford proposed the following resolution:
"That this House notes with special satisfaction the prominent place given by the President of the United States, and successive Prime Ministers and Foreign Secretaries of our country, to the proposal for a League of Nations. We desire to welcome in the name of the Prince of Peace the idea of such a league as shall promote the brotherhood of man and shall have power at the last resort to constrain by economic pressure, or armed force, any nation which should refuse to submit to an International Tribunal any dispute with another nation. And further we desire that such a League of Nations should not merely be regarded as the more or less remote consequence of peace, but that provision for its organization should be included in the conditions of the settlement."
Dr. Gore said that no one in that House could have any doubt about the duty of fighting through the war, because it is a war in a great cause. Every time he went over the old ground he came out with the same assurance on this point. At the same time he was certain that the Church could not be true to its mission if it were not alive to the danger of taking mere patriotism by itself as a complete guide. From time to time the Church had an opportunity of saying not the popular but the right thing at the moment. They had the call that a great statesman had given them, and they ought to welcome the idea of a League of Nations and keep it to the fore, not as a remote idea belonging to some Utopia, but as something that could be brought into effect as the basis of an actual settlement at the end of the war. It was an opportunity that the Church must not miss. A considerable section of the nation was watching anxiously to see what the Church would do, and as yet was disappointed. He felt that the time was fully ripe for such a resolution as he brought before the House. Before he sat down Dr. Gore emphasized the fact that the resolution was not in any way opposed to the sedulous prosecution of the war, which they all desired.
The Bishop of Hereford said that the imagination of the working classes in the country had been touched by the utterances of President Wilson and our own Prime Minister on the subject of the League of Nations. They felt that the great sacrifices of the war could only be justified if some such scheme took practical shape as the outcome of it. He felt sure they were right, and it was with a real conviction that the Church was acting in this matter on the lines of her own divine and public duty that he seconded the motion. The people were filled with a passionate longing for peace, but also with a grim determination, from which nothing could turn them, to see the thing through to the only conclusion that could have justified its beginning or compensate for its sacrifices.
The Archbishop of Canterbury said that the moment was one of supreme importance. They were one, heart and soul, in what they desired to say and do. The matter was a little outside their ordinary orbit of work, which