Consistory court judgments and CFCE Determinations – August

This month’s round-up of judgements and determinations within the Church of England

This round-up includes: summaries of the Church’s Independent Reviewer’s reports; determinations of the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England, (CFCE), at its meeting on 23 July 2015; judgements of the Court of Arches and the consistory courts. Further recent consistory court judgements will be reviewed in a later post.

Reports of the Independent Reviewer

Whilst these are not judgements per se, the reports produced by the Church’s Independent Reviewer, Sir Philip Mawer, provide important guidance in relation to resolving disputes arising from the operation of the House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests. As part of the settlement by which the Church of England agreed to the ordination of women as bishops in 2014, it established an ombudsman-style procedure by which those with concerns about the operation of the new arrangements could appeal to an Independent Reviewer.

The first report was published on 31 July 2015 and concerns a complaint raised by Hilary Cotton, Chair of Women and the Church (‘WATCH’) about the fact that a number of chrism masses were to be held in 2015 at which bishops of the Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda would preside. However, Sir Philip concluded that the masses are not in themselves a breach of the principles set out in the House of Bishops’ Declaration.

“[r]ather they are a consequence of the underlying division and of the pastoral arrangements the Church has thought it right to make for those who hold the minority view. Provided the masses continue themselves to be conducted within the spirit of the Five Principles, with due sensitivity to the feeling of others, and with full regard to the lawful authority of the relevant diocesan bishop” [42].

Sir Philip issued his second report on 10 August 2015 following a letter from Dr Colin Podmore, Director of Forward in Faith, enclosing an expression of concern about the operation of the House of Bishops’ Declaration in respect of the Parish of All Saints, Cheltenham in the Diocese of Gloucester. As with the earlier report, Continue reading