Law and religion round-up – 31st July

Call(s) to remembrance…O Lord!

Richard Farrant, 1530-1581

The Lambeth Conference and same-sex relationships

As we watched the slow-motion car crash that was the reference to same-sex relationships in the original version of the Lambeth Conference “Call” on Human Dignity, we both wondered how, if at all, to deal with something that was obviously an important development for “religion” in its Anglican manifestation but which seemed to have little apparent connection with “law”. Fortunately, Mark Hill came unprompted to our rescue: you can read his analysis here.

On Tuesday, after Mark’s piece had been posted, a revised text was issued. The relevant section now reads as follows:

“2.3 Prejudice on the basis of gender or sexuality threatens human dignity. Given Anglican polity, and especially the autonomy of Provinces, there is disagreement and a plurality of views on the relationship between human dignity and human sexuality. Yet, we experience the safeguarding of dignity in deepening dialogue. It is the mind of the Anglican Communion as a whole that “all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation are full members of the Body of Christ” and to be welcomed, cared for, and treated with respect (I.10, 1998). Many Provinces continue to affirm that same gender marriage is not permissible. Lambeth Resolution I.10 (1998) states that the “legitimizing or blessing of same sex unions” cannot be advised. Other Provinces have blessed and welcomed same sex union/marriage after careful theological reflection and a process of reception. As Bishops we remain committed to listening and walking together to the maximum possible degree, despite our deep disagreement on these issues.”

You can see the full text here.

Given the intensity of the debate on social media after the original version of the “Calls” was published, we cannot help wondering about the extent to which that debate influenced the decision to issue the revised version. Nevertheless, Professor Hill subsequently tweeted that the revised version “still perpetuates the myth that the Lambeth Conference has the capacity to declare the mind of the Anglican Communion”. Perhaps Angela Tilby summed it up most neatly:

COMMENTS ON MARK HILL’S POST ARE NOW CLOSED.

Lambeth Conference documents and comments

Our own post, Lambeth Conference 2022, has links to the various documents and to comments on the proceedings relating to legal issues at the conference. We cannot claim that it is comprehensive, but we are updating it regularly as new material is published. Other blogs are acting as a forum for dialogue on the issues arising, and consequently, the next important legal milestone will be the launch at an evening event on 5 August 2022 at the Lambeth Conference of the revised Principles of Canon Law, below. 

Principles of Canon Law common to the Churches of the Anglican Communion

Originally produced in response to a request from the Primates’ Meeting in 2002, The Principles of Canon Law common to the Churches of the Anglican Communion was launched at the Lambeth Conference 2008 (left). In late 2020, working closely with the Ecclesiastical Law Society, the Centre for Law and Religion at Cardiff began an 18-month global project to revise the document. The revision committee, in consultation with legal advisors from across the Provinces, has produced a revised version which will be launched on 5 August 2022 at an evening event at the Lambeth Conference. The revised Principles has been published by the Anglican Consultative Council and is available for purchase online in hard copy here – it is expected that the ACC will make a PDF download available on its website in due course. 

Contributing a new foreword to this edition, the Archbishop of Canterbury describes the Principles as “absolutely essential” and “not only for lawyers, but for all those who seek to understand the different influences on the complex ecosystem that is the Anglican Communion.”

Attachment of Jersey to the Diocese of Salisbury

At the Privy Council meeting on 19 July 2022, an Order was made under the Channel Islands Measure 2020 for the attachment of Jersey to the Diocese of Salisbury: The Attachment of Jersey to the Diocese of Salisbury Order 2022, SI 867. The Order transfers episcopal responsibility for Jersey from the Bishop and Diocese of Winchester to the Bishop and Diocese of Salisbury. It is intended that this single Order in Council should attach the Bailiwick of Jersey to the Diocese of Salisbury as a matter of both Jersey law and English law. The Order comes into force on the day on which it is registered by the Royal Court of Jersey. The Canons of the Church of England in Jersey were also registered at this Privy Council meeting.

Faculty granted for destruction of mural

In Re St Peter St Helier [2022] ECC Swk 2, the Chancellor granted a faculty for the removal of a mural from the west front of the church, an unlisted brick building consecrated in 1933. The mural represented the Last Judgment and had been painted by a local artist who also painted a series of Stations of the Cross. In July 1977, by their petition the Vicar and Churchwardens had “craved the bishop’s judgment”, which meant that the faculty had been granted by the diocesan bishop and not by the Chancellor. 

The mural had never been popular and was not thought to be of great merit. In 1991, the then Vicar and his churchwardens petitioned, unsuccessfully, for a faculty for its removal, although the Chancellor permitted the removal of the paintings of the Stations of the Cross as these were the source of more objections. The mural has now faded, and its subject-matter, showing towers ablaze, was a cause for concern in view of the Grenfell Tower fire. The Chancellor considered that the removal of the mural and the restoration of the brickwork on the west front “would be a benefit from the point of view of heritage and mission”.

Laïcité in France

The French Conseil constitutionnel has upheld the constitutionality of the law “against separatism” – Law No. 2021-1109 of August 24 2021 confirming compliance with the principles of the Republic – the constitutionality of which was contested by the Conference of Bishops of France, the Protestant Federation of France, the United Protestant Church of France.

The claimants argued that the text of the law represented a serious attack on the freedoms of worship and of association, contrary to the 1905 Law of Separation of Church and State. They claimed that the new law would establish a system of prior authorisation for the recognition of certain religions, by obliging associations to declare their religious nature in order to benefit from the advantages intended for religious associations.

The Conseil concluded, however, that the issues raised did not disregard the principle of secularism because they did not remove legal guarantees of the free exercise of worship. The Conseil also stated that the law pursued the constitutional objective of safeguarding public order by reinforcing the transparency of the activity and financing of associations ensuring the public exercise of religion.

Quick links

And finally…I

On Saturday, the Bishop of Manchester, Dr David Walker, tweeted, “We’ve been told repeatedly that bishops are being asked to make ‘choices’ not to vote. But even the platform keeps referring to them as ‘votes’. What chance the media won’t do the same?” Indeed. 

And finally…II

And Dr Francis Young has commented, “It’s endearing that we now expect harmony from a gathering of bishops, and are shocked if it fails to materialise – when for most of Christian history you’d be lucky if everyone came back alive or unmaimed from a large gathering of church leaders”. 

4 thoughts on “Law and religion round-up – 31st July

  1. À propos the gender issue, there seem to be two questions, The first is that of respecting the choices made by others. The second is the fact of one’s chromosome structure, which may, in some rare cases, be aberrant. The first may be a public matter, the second is, in my submission, a purely private matter.

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