Religion and law round-up – 5th July

A fairly quiet week in which we were trying to do our day-jobs while Laudato si’ and Obergefell v Hodges continued to dominate the religion law headlines

In the courts

In Congregation of the Poor Sisters of Nazareth & Anor, for Judicial Review [2015] CSOH 87 Lord Woolman rejected a challenged to the appointment of Ms Susan O’Brien QC to chair the forthcoming inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005 into historic child abuse in Scotland. The petitioners alleged apparent bias and that she had had “a close association with an interested party” to the Inquiry, contrary to s 9 (1) of the Act: Lord Woolman was unconvinced.

In St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust v P & Anor [2015] EWCOP 42 the Court of Protection considered and overruled an application by the NHS Trust “to discontinue life sustaining treatment” for a devout Muslim who had been severely brain-damaged after a massive heart-attack in November 2014.

We will be posting full notes on the two cases in the coming week.

“Freedom of Panorama” and the European Parliament

Never heard of Freedom of Panorama? Never heard of the Pirate Party? Nor had we – but you’re about to. The EP’s Legal Affairs Committee has been considering a draft report on copyright by one of its members, Julia Reda MEP, sole representative of the Piratenpartei Deutschland, which advocates freedom on the Internet and data protection and opposes government regulation. Her report was adopted on 16 June but with significant amendments. Her draft had included the following:

“Calls on the EU legislator to ensure that the use of photographs, video footage or other images of works which are permanently located in public places is permitted;…”

– affirming the so-called Freedom of Panorama, which allows anyone to publish photographs, documentary films and other works depicting public places without restriction. But the Committee changed that to:

“Considers that the commercial use of photographs, video footage or other images of works which are permanently located in physical public places should always be subject to prior authorisation from the authors or any proxy acting for them;…”

As Ms Reda points out on her blog, the need to acquire a licence for such everyday activities as sharing one’s holiday pictures on social media is anachronistic. Posting a pic on Facebook or Instagram might be regarded as “commercial use” because they are commercial sites; and she argues that Freedom of Panorama should become the rule across the entire EU.

It remains to be seen what will happen to the report once it is considered by the Plenary; but if the Legal Affairs Committee’s version were to become law, how would it affect social media (and, for that matter, bloggers like us)? It only applies to stuff under 70 years old; but would pictures of modern statues on the exteriors of churches (the West Front of Wells has several) count as “works which are permanently located in physical public places”? And what about photographs of modern churches themselves? Coventry Cathedral? Guildford? Liverpool Metropolitan? The Welch Regiment Memorial Chapel at Llandaff? And it’s a serious enough prospect to be worrying the Wikimedia Foundation.

Presumably we’ll learn the answer to all this if and when the EP decides the matter: but, in principle, we’re with the Pirates.

The Kirk and ministers in same-sex relationships

The kirk sessions of two congregations seeking new ministers – Hamilton Hillhouse and Dunfermline Townhill and Kingseat – have chosen to uphold the traditional position of the Church of Scotland on sexuality and have resolved that their vacant charges will not be open to applicants in civil partnerships. The Church’s Ministries Council has published new guidelines for Interim Moderators of congregations in the vacancy process on compliance with the new measures agreed at the General Assembly 2015. The Interim Moderator at Hamilton Hillhouse, the Revd Gordon Palmer, said:

“The congregation had already discussed its positon on civil partnerships before the General Assembly, so there was a clear understanding of the issues involved. Most of the questions members were asking related to the administration of the new process. Once we got the new guidelines we felt we had clarity and the process was reasonably straightforward.”

New saints, old saints, and ex-saints

At an ordinary consistory in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican on Sunday 27 June, Pope Francis approved decrees permitting the canonization of four Blessed, including Vincenzo Grossi [1845 – 1917], a priest in the diocese of Lodi, Lombardy. Don Vincenzo is not as well-known as Louis and Zélie Martin, the parents of St Thérèse of Lisieux, who are also to be canonized on 18 October, along with a Spanish nun, Blessed Mary of the Immaculate Conception. Coincidentally, the relics of Don Vincenzo are located in the chapel of a convent in Lodi where David and two other Cardiff LLMs stayed during a choir tour in the mid-1990s. During the consistory, the Pope decreed that the Blessed are enrolled among the saints Sunday, October 18, 2015.

Meanwhile in Scotland, the Catholic Herald reported that “Pilgrims flock to Scottish town to honour medieval Queen” when Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews and Edinburgh carried the relics of St Margaret, the 11th-century Queen of Scots, through the streets of Dunfermline on last Sunday “accompanied by a school pipe band”. The St Margaret pilgrimage dates back to the 13th century but this year was the first time it had been held since 1974.

However, across in the US Anglican Ink reports “Saints on the chopping block at [Episcopal Church] General Convention”, at which Resolution A056 authorized for temporary use during the next three years “A Great Cloud of Witnesses: A Calendar of Commemorations” (GCW) prepared by the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, and for trial use “Weekday Eucharistic Propers 2015, … replacing Holy Women, Holy Men.” This initiated the process of “examining local commemorations, pruning the existing calendar, and setting recognizable standards for the future additions”.

It will be remembered that after the Second Vatican Council, St Christopher and other saints whose commemorations were based more on tradition than on historical fact were removed from the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar. We’re not that into saints in Wantage, but it is likely that S Vincenzo Grossi will be incorporated into the Litany of the Saints.

Quick Links

And finally …. Embarrassing typo of the week

On Tuesday we posted an analysis of the comments made in Jonathon Porritt’s blog where he was less than complimentary on the Church of England’s approach to climate change. Subsequently we note that Item 25 on the General Synod Agenda for Monday 13 July, GS 1987, states:

“The Bishop of Salisbury (Chair of the Environment Working Group) to move: ‘That this Synod, believing that God’s creation is holy, that we are called to protect the earth now and for the future, and that climate change disproportionately affects the world’s poorest, and welcoming the convergence of ecumenical partners and faith communities in demanding that the nations of the world urgently seek to limit the global rise in average temperatures to a maximum of 20C, as agreed by the United Nations in Cancun”.

Er, not quite, but let’s put this down to a slip-up in the proof reading. Ctrl Shift + and save the world?

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