Law and religion round-up – 7th August

“Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is ….

Perhaps the most important news of the week was the resignation of Dame Lowell Goddard as Chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. The new Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, responded:

“I want to assure everyone with an interest in the inquiry, particularly victims and survivors, that the work of the inquiry will continue without delay and a new chair will be appointed.”

Whether she will be able to find someone is another matter. Joshua Rozenberg comments on Facebook, here. The Chair of the Home Affairs Committee, the Rt hon Keith Vaz MP, has written to Dame Lowell and the Home Secretary requesting that they appear before the Committee to give oral evidence at the House of Commons on the afternoon of Wednesday 7 September 2016.


Our more observant readers may have spotted the absence of  our next update, Brexit Basics – 7. As we anticipated, there have been far fewer legal developments and analyses so far during August and the major events are still some time off. Although the Government must file a detailed response to the claims in The Queen on the application of Hardy v Prime Minister And First Lord Of The Treasury [CO/3527/2016], the two-day hearing will not start until 15 October. This is fortuitously timed before the first of the hour-long question sessions in the House of Commons for The Department for Exiting the European Union (DEXIT?) on Thursday 20 October.

For those who have developed Brexit withdrawal symptoms by the end of the month (are there any such?), Brexit Basics – 7 will appear as a catch-up edition and on Monday 5 September there is to be a Westminster Hall debate on the motion “That this House has considered e-petition 131215 relating to EU referendum rules”: but don’t hold your breath for any new insights. For light relief, the current status has been summarized in The Book of Brexodus, Chapter 7, vv1-12.

Soccer and sectarianism in Scotland

Before the Scottish Parliament adjourned for the summer, James Kelly MSP lodged “A proposal for a Bill to repeal the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012”. The proposal, which is subject to a

The proposal, which is subject to a consultation from 1 August to 23 October, proceeds on the premise that the Act is illiberal, fails to tackle sectarianism and is unnecessary because the police already have appropriate charges under which to prosecute offensive sectarian behaviour. Further, Kelly argues that the legislation engages Articles 9 and 10 ECHR and that the boundary between stirring up hatred on religious grounds (prohibited under section 6) and expressing antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult or abuse of religions or the practices of adherents of a religion (not prohibited under section 7) is unclear and uncertain and that it is difficult to distinguish the one from the other.

He is proposing that the Act be repealed in its entirety, not merely the sections relating to offensive behaviour at football matches.

Commission for the Study of the Diaconate of Women

Vatican Radio reports that Pope Francis has announced the membership of his promised commission on women in the diaconate, “especially with regard to the first ages of the Church.” He has appointed Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer SJ, Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as president of the Commission for the Study of the Diaconate of Women. In addition to Archbishop Ladaria Ferrer, it is composed of six women and six men:

  • Sr Nuria Calduch‑Benages MHSFN, member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission;
  • Prof. Francesca Cocchini, of La Sapienza University and the Patristic Institute Augustinianum, Rome;
  • Msgr Piero Coda, President of the University Institute Sophia, Loppiano, and member of the International Theological Commission;
  • Fr Robert Dodaro OSA, President and Professor of Patristics at the Patristic Institute Augustinianum, Rome ;
  • Fr Santiago Madrigal Terrazas SJ, Professor of Ecclesiology at the Pontifical University Comillas, Madrid;
  • Sr Mary Melone SFA, Rector of the Pontifical University Antonianum, Rome;
  • Fr Karl‑Heinz Menke, Professor emeritus of Dogmatic Theology at the University of Bonn and member of the International Theological Commission;
  • Fr Aimable Musoni SDB, Professor of Ecclesiology at the Pontifical Salesian University, Rome;
  • Fr Bernard Pottier SJ, Professor at the Institut d’Etudes Théologiques, Brussels, and member of the International Theological Commission;
  • Prof. Marianne Schlosser, Professor of Spiritual Theology at the University of Vienana and member of the International Theological Commission;
  • Prof. Michelina Tenace, Professor of Fundamental Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome;
  • Prof. Phyllis Zagano, Professor of Religion at Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY.

The “seal of the confessional” again

Earlier this week, Howard Friedman posted an interesting piece on Religion ClausePenitent May Testify To Her Statements To Priest In Confession, about a US case on the confidentiality of sacramental confession. It brought to mind the more general question of whose privacy is supposed to be protected: the priest’s or the penitent’s. We posted about it here.

New books

  • Religion & Public AuthorityReaders may be interested in the announcement by Hart Publishing of Religion and the Exercise of Public Authority. The publishers suggest that the issue of how religion figures in the decisions, actions and experiences of those charged with performing public duties is an area that has received insufficient attention: the editors, Richard Moon and Benjamin L Berger, aim to remedy that, drawing particularly on recent Canadian experience.

Quick links

  • Church of England: Guidelines on Daily Digest Compilation: Church of England Media’s explanation of the aim and purpose of its daily media digest (which, by the way, is well worth subscribing to) and how it is compiled.
  • House of Lords Library: Lobbying and Political Campaigning: Charities and Trade Unions, Lords Library Note LLN-2016-0041 “sets out the legislation that regulates the statutory register of lobbyists, and outlines the rules governing the ability of charities and trade unions to engage in political activity and to campaign in relation to elections … written in preparation for the debate in the House of Lords on 8 September 2016 on the role that charities, trade unions and civil society groupings play in a democracy and the case for regulating lobbying activities”.

And finally …

The beginning of the month, Lammas Day/Yorkshire Day marked a time for celebration and reflection on what its inhabitants believe to be “God’s Own County”. On Twitter, Eccles (of the Eccles and Bosco blog) provided a link to his earlier post We ‘ad it tough before Vatican II:

“In ‘onour, er, honour of Yorkshire Day… the original version of the Four Yorkshiremen sketch”.

“Aye, them were difficult days when I were a lad. We’d go to church and t’priest wouldn’t even look at us. Kept ‘is back to us and said ‘e were too busy lookin’ towards God. We ‘ad to face in t’same direction as ‘e did. Aye, we used to dream that ‘e’d turn round and grin at us, like priests do these days.

What’s more, t’service were in Latin. Very confusin’ that were. We’d go to furrin parts like Lancashire or Benidorm for our ‘olidays, and t’Mass were still in Latin, rather than t’vernacular. Aye, I paid ninepence for a Yorkshire-Lancashire phrase book, and I never got to use it in t’church. What a waste that were … “.

To which all we can add is “Gradely” [Whatever that might mean – FC]. Read the full post, and enjoy.

2 thoughts on “Law and religion round-up – 7th August

  1. The Yorkshire Day post is great fun, but with a sting in the tail (and what is the significance of the final sentence about bishops supporting their deacons?)
    ‘Gradely’ is not just Yorkshire: it was used by Gracie Fields of Rochdale folk, as well as by Charlotte Brontë. A useful word.

    • Bearing in mind the oltre Tevere origins of the post, I would suspect that the Bishops/Deacons comment refers to the Protect the Pope blog set up by Deacon Nick Donnelly, which closed down following comments from Bishop Michael Campbell of Lancaster, here

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *