General Synod: Burial of suicides, vesture

Legislative business scheduled for discussion by General Synod for the morning of Saturday 8 July includes the First Consideration of Draft Amending Canon 36, on which there is a particularly helpful Explanatory Memorandum: this explains [2]

  1. Draft Amending Canon No. 36 makes amendments to Canon B 8 (Of the vesture of ordained and authorized ministers during the time of divine service) and Canon B 38 (Of the burial of the dead).

2. The General Synod called for this legislation to be introduced when it passed two private members’ motions, one – in relation to Canon B 38 – in February 2015 and the other – in relation to Canon B 8 – in July 2014.

Whilst the joint consideration these two disparate issues might be an administrative convenience, the common factor is provided in Hamlet, i.e. they are both “More honour’d in the breach than the observance”’. The proposed changes are not designed to address any significant mischief or radical development in ecclesiastical law; with such a pedigree, such changes do not give the impression of a heavy legislative timetable in Synod. The Amending Canon will require a two-thirds majority in each House of Synod for Final Approval because it constitutes a provision “touching … the services or ceremonies of the Church of England or the administration of the Sacraments or sacred rites thereof”. Nevertheless, if leaving aside the inevitable trivial treatment that this proposal has attracted in the media, the Amending Canon does introduce a degree of clarity to these issues. Continue reading