Law and religion round-up – 14th May

And in the week when the Government announced that it was dropping the “sunset clause” from the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill …

… Is it goodbye to the Bill of Rights Bill?

On Monday, The Times reported that the Bill of Rights Bill is to be dropped and that the Ministry of Justice had told its reporters that the new Justice Secretary, Alex Chalk, had been “looking carefully” (and, presumably, critically) at the Bill:

“A government source said: ‘Dom’s departure sounded the death knell for the bill of rights. It won’t be coming back, or at least not in any form that resembles the current bill.’ Another government source described the bill as a ‘complete mess’ and said there was a ‘mountain’ of other legislation to get through parliament.”

Of altars

Further to our post They bury (and burn) altars, don’t they? which commented on the relative infrequency of consistory court judgments in this area, we subsequently received Re St Leonard Hythe [2023] ECC Can 2. The petitioner had applied for a restoration order in respect of a portable altar which had been used on the chancel steps at the head of the nave, on the basis that no lawful authority had been granted for such use.

Shortly after the application, the newly arrived priest-in-charge approached the archdeacon, seeking a Temporary Minor Reordering Licence to allow the altar to be used occasionally for a trial period, after which the PCC could decide whether it wished to apply for a faculty to make the arrangement permanent. The archdeacon granted a licence. The petitioner claimed that the granting of the licence was an “abuse” of legal process to defeat his application. The Commissary General disagreed and dismissed the petitioner’s application. If the church council applied for a faculty to make the arrangement permanent, the petitioner would then have an opportunity to object.

Trevor Devamanikkam review: update

On Thursday, we noted the publication by the Church of England of the review into its handling of the allegations against the late Revd Trevor Devamanikkam. Its findings were subsequently challenged by Lord Sentamu, who replied to criticisms of his handling of the issue by pointing out that “The safeguarding matter was in the Diocese of Sheffield and therefore not for the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser for York Diocese” and that, as Archbishop, his role had been quasi-judicial in nature and that he had had to ensure that he was “not simultaneously actively involved in handling a matter which may subsequently become a basis for complaint to the Archbishop”.

Yesterday, the Church of England posted a press notice in which it announced that the Bishop of Newcastle had required Lord Sentamu to step back from active ministry as an Honorary Assistant Bishop in the diocese until both the findings and his response could be “explored further”.

Inquiry by Independent Reviewer into the appointment of the  Bishop of Blackburn

The Rt Revd Philip North has recently been appointed as the new diocesan Bishop of Blackburn. Women and the Church (WATCH) has submitted a referral of concern to the Independent Reviewer for the House of Bishops on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests, Canon Maggie Swinson, who is charged with investigating concerns and disputes over the operation of the Bishops’ Declaration on the pastoral care of those who, on theological grounds, are unable to receive the ministry of women as bishops and priests. WATCH states that the Independent Reviewer has recognised its concerns and has initiated an inquiry.

David Pollock

The death has been announced of David Pollock, former Chair of Humanists UK and a long-standing reader (and friend) of this blog, commentator and occasional contributor. He was a regular attender at conferences on law and religion and although he was very firm in his views, he was invariably courteous to those who disagreed with him. Humanists UK has posted an obituary here. Our thoughts are with his family and friends: may he rest in peace.

Quick links

And finally…

The Diocese of London local calendar for 15 May 2023 includes Andrew Heriot Mackonochie, Priest, 1887, a.k.a. “the martyr of St Alban’s” and one of the few clergy to be immortalized by William Topaz McGonagall, The Tragic Death of the Rev. A. H. Mackonochie.

Ecclesiastical lawyers will perhaps be more familiar with Martin v Mackonochie, Law Reports, Privy Council Appeal, Cases, 1867-9, pp. 386 to 392, and Mackonochie v Lord Penzance (1881) 6 App Cas 424. [Acknowledgements to Dr Jo Kershaw @mthr_jo.]

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