Law and religion round-up – 9th May

European Commission Special Envoy for FoRB outside the EU

The European Commission has appointed Christos Stylianides, a Cypriot national, as its Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief outside the EU. He will be attached to Vice-President Schinas, who is in charge of leading the Commission’s dialogue with churches, religious associations and philosophical and non-confessional organisations. Mr Stylianides is a former Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management.

Upcoming Church of England funeral guidance

The Diocese of Oxford has indicated that an update to Managing a Funeral guidance will be published early in the coming week. The updated guidance will make clear that, from May 17, each venue’s capacity will be limited by the number of people able to safely social distance. In other words, the number attending a funeral will be determined by the ‘COVID-secure’ limit of the building. In the meantime, the current arrangements hold.

Eight more label stops for St Mary’s Beverley

Following the installation of eight Narnia-themed label stops* on the North Nave Clerestory, for which permission was granted on 16 December 2018, HH Canon Peter Collier QC, Diocesan Chancellor, approved stonework repairs to the South Nave Clerestory at St Mary Beverley, comprising the replacement of one missing carved grotesque and eight label stops; Re St Mary Beverley [2021] ECC Yor 2. As with the existing carving for which a Licence was granted by the CS Lewis Society, consents are required for some of the proposed label stops; Helen Sharman, Britain’s first astronaut, is known to have given her consent but a response is awaited in relation to Her Majesty the Queen. 

The simple question that is posed for the Chancellor is whether the petitioners have made out the case for their proposal; there is no suggestion that any heritage damage will be done by the taking away of something that was there, and the only heritage body to comment has said that this will “enhance the aesthetic, historic and communal heritage values” of the building. Consequently, “this is not a case that engages the Duffield questions at all [15]”. However, “[t]here is no clear authority about what is and what is not appropriate in the way of decoration of a church either externally or internally”. The Chancellor’s approach is described in paragraphs [16] to [22]. 

In contrast to this prospective approach to memorialization, this week Bristol Cathedral announced that it is seeking to appoint a Research Partner to undertake an audit of the Cathedral monuments to contribute to the data held by Bristol Cathedral regarding those who are memorialised in the Cathedral, with particular reference to their links to transatlantic slave trafficking. Last year, permission was granted for the removal of some stained-glass elements from the north transept memorial window of Edward Colston. Aspects of “contested heritage” are considered further in our posts here and here

[” label stops are the smaller carvings which can be found at the ends of the hood moulding around the window arches] 

And two more bells for All Saints, Hawton

In the other consistory court judgment circulated this week, Re All Saints Hawton [2021] ECC S&N 3, a faculty was granted to augment the ring of eight bells to ten, funded through the use of money still available from that collected through the fund-raising campaign for the restoration. An interesting case concerning a church better known for its Easter Sepulchre and excellent carvings where, prior to the restoration, the bells had not been rung for nearly 70 years. None of those who wrote letters of objection lived within the sound of the bells. 

The Chancellor concluded:

[12]. The project appears to me to be in principle desirable: the proposed work will add to the church’s assets and attractions and will cause no diminution of them. There is nothing in the papers before me that would give any proper ground for refusing the faculty sought, which will accordingly issue. That will mean that the augmentation can take place.

[13]. Whether it should take place is not a decision for this court, but for the parish. A faculty permits: it does not compel…The process of this petition has enabled all those who were concerned about it to express their views. Those who have expressed such views include some members of the congregation who do not live in the parish, and a larger number of people who do live in the parish. The parish itself needs to decide whether to reconsider the matter or to proceed on the basis of the decision already taken by the PCC” [emphasis added].

This appears to be a case of “watch this space”, but in the absence of legal context it should be via the Newark Advertiser rather than through this blog. 

Forthcoming conference

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Quick links

And finally…

In English, maybe?


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