Directions for flying them on churches
Sir,-It seems that Mr. Grant Searle and I arc talking largely at cross purposes. There are 2 ways
of considering the.flying of a flag: it can be hoisted (I) To denote
nationality, status or denomination,
and (2) In honour of some event or anniversary. Flags in Category (I) are or should be, for obvious reasons, down daily and never changed; those in Category (2) ale or should be flown on certain (lays only and
changed as appropriate. In my recent letter I was rescuing to flags in the 2nd category only, whilst Mr. Grunt Scarfe is primarey concerned, I think, with those in the 1st category, and in so far as this is so. I am in complete agreement with him.
his distinction in the use and purpose ot flags may seem artificial but is well inustrated by reterence to the practice at sea. In ( ategory (I) comes the ship's own ensign, worn at a special position (i.e. the peak or the ensign staff) from which position no other flag may ever be flown. The ensign, since it denotes the nationality and status of the ship, is always tne same itflU is hoisted daily. In Category (2) falls the flag worn at the niastneao (a position of honour which Oft ordinary days, is unoccupied), on days when the ship is "dressed" in honour of some event or other. 'I his Ilag will change with the reason tor "dressing ship"; it may ie certain circumstances, be d foreign ensign. I hi a last is an im
portant point. On Mr. Grant Scarfe's argument, no one should ever fly anyone else's flag and yet
this precise thing is frequently done at sea where it is a recognised universal practice. The wearing of the other fellow's flag at the masthead on certain occasions, far trom being a slight on him, is regarded as doing him a signal honour. Take an actual example: at the British Coronation Naval Review in 1953, all ships were dressed with flags and every foreign warship present wore the British White Ensign at the main. Did we object to this use of our flag ? Of course not, we appreciated the gesture. The foreign
vessels on their part, in thus honouring us, were doing no more than 'is required by the rules of international courtesy. Not to have done so would have been a bad breach of flag etiquette. 'These principles are I think, equally applicable on shore.
For what purpose is a flag flown
from a church tower ? To denote the nationality or denomination to
which the particular church be
longs ? or to honour some least or anniversary ? If the former, then logically, like the ship's ensign, tbe satne flag should be flown daily, for it is not only on feast-days
that this information is required to be made known; but if the latter which is more usually the case I think, then almost any flag. other than a Royal standard in personal tag, might be flown as appropriate. To those who would question the propriety of the use of certain flees onshore, I would answer, it all depends on the circumstances and reasons for which the flag is hoisted and the position from which it is flown. though this last admittedly applies chiefly to a flagstaff rigged with a gaff.
Despite its unique Christian origin. the Union flag because it is the National flag, is now commonly regarded as the appropriate flag to hoist on National anniversaries etc.
There seems to he no reason why
churches should not also hoist it on surh OrCaSiOnS if they so desire, but there ought surely to be some distinction between the flag flown on for instance, the Queen's birthday. and that hoisted on Easter
Sunday. in my view the flag of St. George would he the more appro
priate flag to use on the latter day as this flag has nowadays a more specific religious significance.
It should now I think, he clear from what 1 have said above, that my original suggestion for the flying of the St. George's flag by C atholic churches on certain feast days. does not entail any dispute
on the claim to the title of National Church. To start an argument on this subject would he a fatal pro ceeding especially as there is at least a possibility that we might win ! are we not still entitled to be called the "Ecclesia Anglicana" ? No ! rather than dispute with us.
right-minded Anglicans will. I feel. rejoice that Catholics. despite their loyalty to Rome, still have room for loyalty to their native land and to its Patron Saint.
Ronald M. Marshall, Lieut. R.N. (Retd.)