Thinking Anglicans

More Answers to Questions

Three more answers, this group relating to discrimination on grounds of gender.

Q5 The Revd Canon Penny Driver (Ripon & Leeds) to ask the Secretary General:

In the House of Bishops’ paper HB(05)M1 (“Summary of Decisions”), item no.14 refers to the House giving its approval in principle to a way of amending the law to address a legal difficulty which would otherwise arise when a new EU directive comes into force in October. Please could we know what this amendment is, how it will be done and why?

Answer by the Secretary General [William Fittall]

In the next few weeks the Department for Trade and Industry will be publishing draft regulations to bring UK law into line with the amended Equal Treatment Directive adopted by the EC in 2002. One amendment to Westminster legislation would involve a consequential amendment to the Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure 1993 in relation to the law on discrimination. As a result the DTI has, under the normal constitutional convention, consulted the Church. The House of Bishops and Archbishops’ Council have both given their approval to the Government’s proposed approach, which will enable the Church to maintain its present arrangements in a way consistent with European law.

I shall circulate a more detailed explanation to Synod members once the Government’s consultation document has been published.

Q56 Mrs Christina Rees (St Albans) to ask the Chairman of the Legal Advisory Commission:

Has the Legal Advisory Commission considered the application of the Overseas and Other Clergy (Ministry and Ordination) Measure 1967 to those ordained by male bishops who were themselves ordained to the priesthood by female bishops and if not, would it do so now?

Answer by Professor David McClean as Chairman of the Legal Advisory Commission

As I reported to the Synod in answer to Questions last July, the Commission has considered the effect in England of acts of women bishops of other provinces of the Anglican Communion. Its Opinion is available on the Church of England website. [and more accessible here]

Provided that the various acts of ordination and consecration in Mrs Rees’s question all took place in Provinces of the Anglican Communion outside the British Isles, the case she describes is a variant of those in paragraph 29 of the Opinion. It comes within the principle set out in the Opinion, that the validity of ordinations is a matter of the canon law of the Province in which they take place. Assuming the ordinations are valid on that basis, those ordained in the circumstances Mrs Rees describes could apply for permission under the 1967 Measure. Whether permission is granted is a matter for the Archbishop’s discretion.

Q57 Mr David Warner (St Albans) to ask the Chairman of the Legal Advisory Commission:

Has the Legal Advisory Commission considered whether, when and if women are consecrated bishops in Ireland, Scotland and Wales, they and those ordained by them will be free to exercise their ministries in the Church of England without requiring permission from the relevant archbishop under the Overseas and Other Clergy (Ministry and Ordination) Measure 1967?

Answer by Professor David McClean as Chairman of the Legal Advisory Commission

Yes, it has, in the Opinion I have mentioned in my reply to Mrs Rees. Bishops of other Anglican Provinces in the British Isles are not “overseas bishops” for the purposes of the 1967 Measure, and it therefore does not apply to them or those ordained by them.

The Opinion explains that it would be misconduct for a woman bishop from any of these provinces to exercise episcopal functions in England without the diocesan bishop’s authority. The general principles expounded in the Opinion suggest that the diocesan bishop could not lawfully give such authority.

A person ordained by a[n] Anglican bishop in Scotland or Ireland could be invited to officiate in England under the Episcopal Church (Scotland) Act 1964 or the Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure 1995. The legal position is less clear-cut in the case of Wales, but in principle the answer would be the same.

Report of related July 2004 question is here.

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