Law and religion round-up – 19th June

 A week in which everything else paled into insignificance in the wake of the murder of Jo Cox MP and the massacre at Orlando…

“Out-of-school” education

As we have noted previously, the Government has been blowing hot and cold on the issue of inspecting education – broadly defined – outside the school system. Ministers had at first given assurances that they did not intend that Ofsted should start regulating Sunday schools, summer camps and intensive choir rehearsals. It then appeared that the Counter-Extremism and Safeguarding Bill was going to include provisions – unspecified – on the inspection of out-of-school education settings. However, in reply to a Question in the Lords from Lord Mawhinney, Lord Nash (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education) seems to have clarified the situation:

“The Government is committed to safeguarding all children and protecting them from the risk of harm and extremism, including in out-of-school settings. The Prime Minister announced plans to introduce a new system of oversight for out-of-school education settings – such as supplementary schools and tuition centres – which teach children intensively, on 7 October 2015. These were confirmed in the Government’s Counter-Extremism Strategy which was published on 19 October. These plans to regulate out-of-school settings which teach children intensively were set out in the call for evidence which ran for 6 and a half weeks between 26 November and 11 January. We are not proposing to regulate settings teaching children for a short period every week, such as Sunday schools or the Scouts, or one-off residential activities, such as a week-long summer camp. We are looking specifically at settings providing intensive education outside school where children could be spending more than six hours a week” [emphasis added].

So that’s all right then. Presumably.

Immigration and Article 9

In Hamat (Article 9 – freedom of religion : Afghanistan) [2016] UKUT 286 (IAC) the nub of the argument was whether or not the actions of the Home Secretary in refusing to grant asylum to Mr Hamat, an Afghan who had been working as the de facto imam at the Afghanistan Islamic Cultural Centre, unlawfully violated the Article 9 rights of the Afghan community to choose its own religious leaders. We hope to post a full note on the case in due course.

The ECtHR on deportation and religious persecution

In RD v France [2016] ECHR (No. 34648/14) the applicant, Ms RD, is a Guinean national born in 1993 and living in France. The case was about the procedure for her deportation to Guinea. She is married to a Christian and has endured violent reprisals from her Muslim brothers and her father, an imam. She fled to France in February 2014 and was subsequently arrested at the Paris Gare du NordI In April 2014 she was served with an order for immediate removal to Guinea and an administrative detention order. She unsuccessfully sought judicial review; and her asylum application, which was processed under the fast-track procedure, was rejected. An appeal on her asylum application is still pending and, under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court (interim measures), the ECtHR directed the French Government not to deport her to Guinea for the duration of the present proceedings.

She alleged that deporting her to Guinea would expose her to the risk of treatment contrary to Article 3 ECHR (torture and inhuman or degrading treatment). She also argued that, because her asylum application had been examined under the fast-track procedure, she had not had access to an effective remedy under French law by which to assert her Article 3 complaint, contrary to Article 13 (effective remedy). The Court held that there would be a violation of Article 3 in the event of her removal to Guinea but that there had been no violation of Article 13 taken in conjunction with Article 3.

Canada legalises physician-assisted dying

On Friday, Royal Assent was given to Bill C-14: Medical Assistance in Dying which, when it comes into force, will legalise physician-assisted dying in Canada – subject to a set of fairly strict criteria. We noted the news here.

Iuvenescit Ecclesia

At a news conference in the Holy See’s Press Office on 14 June, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) issued a Letter on “the relationship between the hierarchical and charismatic gifts for the life and the mission of the Church”. Vatican Radio reported:

Iuvenescit Ecclesia (The Church rejuvenates) … stresses that whilst the hierarchical and charismatic gifts are co-essential in the life of the Church, the charismatic movements and groups need to obey the ecclesial hierarchy and do not have the right to an autonomous ministry. The Letter notes the importance and vitality of the charismatic realities but also spoke of the need for them to have ‘ecclesial maturity’”.

The objective of this 12,000-word document, with its 118 references, was summarized in a Crux headline as “Vatican tells bishops and new lay movements to play nice” – a remarkably similar paraphrase as that used by in the Church Times in relation to advice given to Synod Members by the CofE in “Grace and dialogue: shared conversations on difficult issues” ahead of their discussions on sexuality.

Eleventh Lyndwood Lecture

The eleventh Lyndwood Lecture will be given at St Mary Moorfields, Eldon Street EC2M 7LS on Thursday 17 November by the Revd Dr Nicholas Schofield, author of The English Cardinals. The title of his lecture is A Church Without Bishops: Governance of the English Catholic Mission 1594-1685. Tickets, priced £40 and including buffet supper and wine, are available from Kate Dunn, Canon Law Society, Candida Casa, 8 Corsehill Rd, Ayr KA7 2ST. Cheques should be made payable to “Canon Law Society of GB & I”.

Quick links

  • CARA Catholic Poll (CCP) 2016: Attitudes about Climate Change: the poll indicates that a year after the publication of the encyclical Laudato Si’, Roman Catholic adults in the United States are generally more likely to be concerned about climate change than other Christians are.
  • LSE: Religion and the Public Sphere: a new interdisciplinary blog, launched last week, that seeks to explore the place and role of religion in British public life today: “how religion does and doesn’t matter in British public life, and how it should and shouldn’t”. Worth watching.
  • New Philanthropy Capital: published a study, Understanding the Size, Income and Focus of Faith-Based Charities: interesting study of the income of faith-based charities, the areas they work in, and how long they have been established: though it appears to deal only with registered charities – and there are still a large number of church congregations that are excepted from registration with the Charity Commission and, therefore, under the radar.
  • Church of England: Week in Westminster, 13th-17th June 2016: The Bishop of Gloucester read prayers in the House for the first time, becoming the first woman to do so in the history of Parliament. Bishops also asked questions on the attacks in Orlando, persecuted Christians in the Middle East, fostering of child refugees and the impact of stop and search on the black community. Bishops also spoke in debates on the Government’s Children and Social Work Bill and the migrant crisis. The Bishop of St Albans’ bill on gambling received its First Reading in the Lords. In the Commons the Second Church Estates Commissioner answered a question on deprived communities. Parliament rose on Wednesday for the short EU referendum recess.


And finally… on Kings and car-parks revisited

On 25 October 2012, Sir Tony Baldry said “… I never thought my career would involve the question of how we might bury kings [i.e. Richard III]. I am glad to say that the Church can account for all of them. I am afraid to say that the head of Charles, King and martyr, is still separated from his body, but they are both at St George’s, Windsor. The only one still missing is Henry I, who seems to have got lost somewhere in Reading after the dissolution of the monasteries. I can account for all the other kings and queens being properly and Christianly buried”.

The Guardian has now reported that archaeologists have started exploring the area surrounding the ruined Reading Abbey, which is thought to contain the remains of King Henry I. According to Wikipedia, he died on 1 December 1135 and his corpse was taken to Rouen, where it was embalmed. The embalmed body was sewn into a bull’s hide and then taken to Reading and interred at the Abbey in a silver coffin. Records show that he was buried in front of the high altar.

Subsequently, a school was built on the site; and calculations based on the size of the Abbey appear to put him underneath the school car park. You couldn’t make it up…

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