A IANDMARK DECISION by a consistory court has ordered the return of a 19th century pulpit to St Luke's Church, Derbyshire.
The Rev David Piper, priestin-charge, had previously declared the pulpit to be redundant, and intended to sell it. However, a concerted campaign by parishioners has ensured its restoration.
The Rev Ryner is the latest in a ever-growing catalogue of clergy to suffer the public humiliation of a climbdown, and he is unlikely to be the last.
The long list of cases includes that of Cardinal Basil Hume, who was restrained by the High Court in 1993 from demolishing the altar in the Church of Our Lady, Muswell Hill, London.
Regrettably, not all cases of ecclesiastical vandalism are brought to the attention of either of these courts, though well-deserving of similar sanction.
In 1994, Bishop Christopher Budd of Plymouth decreed that the high altar of the cathedral church of St Mary and St Boniface be demolished.
Opponents of his plan, though at that time lacking in the legal expertise, never the less rallied media attention and public opinion to prevent further radical modernisation, all to no avail.
The ornate Gothic altar and tabernacle were removed without parishioners' consent or approval, and the whereabouts or means of disposal of these relics remains a mystery.
A national newspaper has reported that altar fittings, including a tabernacle, are being used as bar decorations in the aptly named Fallen Angel in Rochdale could this be Plymouth's missing altar?
In the light of these revelations, lay people should demand that the consistory court, which has taken action over a single pulpit, be more consistent in its investigation and judgement of the improper and arbitrary destruction of church altars and artifacts in recent years. TG Oliver