Seal of confessional: its future in the CofE

In our post CofE to axe seal of confessional? we reported the story in The Mail on Sunday which quoted “a Church of England spokesman” as saying:

“‘The guidelines for clergy are being considered for debate in November at General Synod. The Australian model is one of a number of options which will be considered as part of the on-going discussions”.

We noted the Private Member’s Motion (PMM) that had been tabled by Revd Simon Cawdell of Hereford

“PROVISO TO CANON 113 (July 2014)

That this Synod call on the Business Committee to bring forward legislation amending the proviso to Canon 113 of the Code of 1603 so that a minister who, in the exercise of the ministry of absolution, receives a confession of a serious criminal offence (including in particular a sexual offence involving a child or vulnerable adult) is not required to keep the confession confidential,”

which had attracted 4 signatures[1], but in view of on-going government initiatives on safeguarding &c, suggested that the issue was likely to be considered in detail by the Church, although any changes might take some time to agree and implement.  Whilst Simon Cawdell’s PMM has not been chosen for debate at the November General Synod, other initiatives are in progress within the Church.

At its meeting on 30th September the Archbishops’ Council considered the proposed revision of the Guidelines for the Professional Conduct of the Clergy, and what advice to offer to the Convocations on its treatment of the ministry of absolution (i.e. confession) for which provision is made in Canon B 29, GS Misc 1085: the Annex to this paper sets out the background to the revision process, and states, [emphasis in original]: Continue reading