Clerical attire, officiants and safeguarding

Different aspects concerning the status of Church of England clergy have been in the news recently:

  • In December, the disciplinary tribunal considering Re Hawthorne [2015] addressed the court’s jurisdiction over a former Anglican priest who had joined the Ordinariate; this emphasized that clerks in Holy Orders must satisfy the provisions of the Clerical Disabilities Act 1870 before they cease to be subject to ecclesiastical law;
  • In January, the CofE’s legal office issued guidance relating to retired and other clergy who do not hold office and who purport to conduct funerals on a “freelance basis”;
  • Also in January, in relation to the alleged wearing of a clerical collar by a former vicar, deposed from Holy Orders following a custodial sentence for indecent assault, the Archbishop of Canterbury is quoted as saying:

“Regrettably, although we can ban someone from ever officiating at worship and wearing robes for worship, or passing themselves off as a priest in good standing, we cannot prevent them from using the title ‘the reverend’ or even wearing a clerical collar … anyone is able to wear such dress, providing they do not do so for illegal purposes. It is not contravening any law unlike, say, dressing as a police officer.” Continue reading