Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Charity Commission asked to investigate grant to Ordinariate

Updated Tuesday evening

Ruth Gledhill has broken a news story in The Times which is behind a paywall. But the story opens this way:

The Charity Commission has been asked to investigate a £1 million grant made to the Ordinariate, a new Roman Catholic organisation for defecting Anglicans, by a 150-year-old Anglican charity.

Trustees of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, founded in 1862 as part of the High Church revival in the Church of England, voted the grant through a few weeks ago, thus divesting their charity of more than half its total assets of £1.85 million.

The grant has prompted an outcry among Anglo-Catholics who have remained in the Church of England.

Shortly before the grant was made, the confraternity changed its membership rules, allowing Roman Catholics to become members for the first time…

No doubt other media reports on this will appear fairly soon. But meanwhile here is the original letter from the Superior-General of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, to the membership. Copied in html below the fold.


See The CBS Affair by Peter Bolton which contains more background information.

Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament


1. In December 2010, the Superior-General received an approach from the Rt. Revd. Keith Newton, then Bishop of Richborough, asking whether it was within the remit of the Confraternity to make a financial grant to the proposed Ordinariate. The Superior-General sought legal advice on the matter, which indicated that the Trustees had a power to make such a grant and that the charitable Objects of the Confraternity were likely to encompass the purposes for which the Ordinariate was to be established; the Trustees were advised to revisit the issue once a civil law entity had been established that could receive any grant, should an application be received.

2. On 15th January 2011, the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham was erected. Shortly thereafter, the Trustees received a formal application for financial assistance to the Ordinariate from the Ordinary, Mgr. Keith Newton, to provide for theological teaching, learning and development and for the support of priests in the Ordinariate.

3. At their meeting on the 10th February 2011, the Trustees considered that application carefully and at length. It was unanimously agreed by all the Trustees to make a grant of one million pounds (£1,000,000). However, in view of the possibility of such a grant being challenged, it was also decided to seek additional legal advice from leading counsel.

4. At their meeting on 19th May 2011, the Trustees noted that the Ordinariate had been established as a civil law entity in the form of Charitable Company number 1141536. The Trustees also noted that the Opinion of Mr. Hubert Picarda QC confirmed the propriety, under charity law, of the proposed grant to the newly-registered charity.

The Trustees agreed that they had the power to consider the request and to make a grant for the purpose requested; that the Objects of the Ordinariate was compatible with the charitable Objects of the Confraternity and specifically the advancement of the Catholic faith in the Anglican tradition; that making a grant would be in the best interests of the CBS, in furthering its charitable objects: that a substantial grant might be a helpful signal to others contemplating offering financial support to the Ordinariate, thus increasing the likelihood of the charitable objects of the CBS being secured.

5. Accordingly, the Trustees resolved at the meeting on the 19th May to give effect to their decision to make a grant of £1,000,000 to the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, registered charity 1141536, on terms to be agreed between the parties.

Father Christopher Pearson, Superior-General
for the Trustees

Registered Charity No: 1082897

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Categorised as: Church of England

The objects of the CBS as on their website include:-
'The Confraternity is established for the advancement of the catholic faith in the Anglican Tradition...'. It's going to be interesting to see whether the Charity Commission sees the Ordinariate as 'in the Anglican Tradition'.

I see that the Superior, Secretary and Treasurer are in the Ordinariate. It's hardly an organisation within the Church of England anymore. I wonder what its founders and supporters think nof that?

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Tuesday, 5 July 2011 at 4:24pm BST

Checking both the CBS website and the list of convert priests published earlier this year by the Ordinariate, it would appear that at least 4 of the 6 trustees are already priests in the Ordinariate! Other Anglo-Catholic societies ought to watch out!

Posted by: peter kettle on Tuesday, 5 July 2011 at 6:00pm BST

Very rich indeed, especially as our Roman Catholic friends don't recognize Anglican orders as valid and consider our sacraments utterly null and void. No more money for CBS me thinks.

Posted by: Paul David Dean on Tuesday, 5 July 2011 at 6:14pm BST

I've just managed to look at the CBS constitution and it has as an object to maintain the catholic priesthood which it defines as male in a male apostolic succession. Surely it is more likely (and more honest) to secure that object in the ordinariate than in the CofE. Surely that is what the trustees had to consider - how to best secure the object. The money is for the objects not the members?? I think that is how english charity law works???

Posted by: Rose on Tuesday, 5 July 2011 at 6:15pm BST

"150-year-old Anglican charity" - is it? Or is it an independent organisation. Does the constitution tie it to the CofE? I am interested because early members (eg Fr Tooth) went to prison for defying the CofE. CBS promotes benediction. 39 Articles?? If all CBS advocates can be realised in the ordinariate; and if it is less likely not more likely to be fulfilled in the CofE, then doesn't charity law say something about using money in the best way to further the aims.

Posted by: David Malloch on Tuesday, 5 July 2011 at 6:20pm BST

It is clearly theft from the Church of England. Can the Charity Commission retrieve the money?

Posted by: Andrew on Tuesday, 5 July 2011 at 6:30pm BST

Surely the Ordinariate is about the advancement of the Anglican Tradition in the Roman Catholic church, whereas the objects clause is about the advancement of catholicism within Anglicanism.

The two things appear to be diametrically opposed.

Posted by: badman on Tuesday, 5 July 2011 at 6:31pm BST

So much to thieve and so little time left (until the careless stewardship of ++Rowan Williams ends).

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Tuesday, 5 July 2011 at 6:40pm BST

The Vatican has made it very clear that the Ordinariate is Catholic, with an allowance for some modified and cleansed liturgical fragments from Anglicanism. Just like the Methodist Service book which also has Anglican fragments..

this is a loot and they have also taken over the Church Union. Note how it is not even advertising in the Church of England newspaper anymore. It is still chaired by Fr ( formerly Anglican bishop ) Barnes and most of the staff are now ordained in the ordinariate.. like the editor of the Church Observer, Fr Heans.

Msgr Newton feels this is a good thing and that there is nothing to prevent this.

I am going to make a similar complaint to the Charity commissioners. After 150 years of Anglican service the Church Union has been usurped.

Posted by: Robert ian Willaims on Tuesday, 5 July 2011 at 7:39pm BST

Rose's post: The money is for the objects not the members??

But the money is being used to support, inter alia, 4 of the members, (the trustees I identified in my earlier post)which I think is dodgy!

Posted by: peter kettle on Tuesday, 5 July 2011 at 8:14pm BST

More on Church Union...

Church Union being milked by Ordinariate

Look whats's been going on behind the scenes. read the original basis of the charity and the revised 2008 aims.....

Charitable objects

They were altered by Barnes and co in 2008.. I wonder if this can be challenged.


Obviously elsewhere is the Roman Catholic Church.

Nice one, Edwin!

Posted by: Robert ian Williams on Tuesday, 5 July 2011 at 9:44pm BST

Legal or not it's all rather slippery.

Posted by: DAvis d'Ambly on Tuesday, 5 July 2011 at 10:23pm BST

What badman said.

If the Confraternity had been organized "for the All-Male Priesthood", that would be one thing. As is, the stipulation of same can only be seen as a (self-serving) *amendment* of the original charter.

All praise to the Blessed Sacrament in *Anglican* tabernacles! (Romans, go {ahem} fund yourselves!)

Posted by: JCF on Tuesday, 5 July 2011 at 10:43pm BST


"to maintain the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church" Anglicanorum Coetibus

"Catholic faith in the Anglican Tradition" CBS Constitution

CBS Constitution was written 1st, so maybe the Holy Father decided on the wording of Anglicanorum Coetibus to get his hands on CBS funds. OR maybe it just so happens that both use very similar wording and CBS trustees needed legal advice as to whether this new context had implications for the charity?

Posted by: Rose on Tuesday, 5 July 2011 at 11:01pm BST

This will end badly.

Clearly The trustees now working as priests in this new Roman Catholic group are themselves going to benefit from this large gift. I do not think that quite proper.

Peter Bolton has it right, the Roman Catholic bishops will stop this - it is a serious cause for scandal.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Wednesday, 6 July 2011 at 12:24am BST

Let's make sure that proper complaints are made to the Charity Commission. Let's also hope that Rowan will raise his voice: if he is at all respected by the RC Church, he ought to be able to persuade them that they themselves ought to require Msgr Newton to return the funds pronto. Badman seems to have got it exactly right: 'Surely the Ordinariate is about the advancement of the Anglican Tradition in the Roman Catholic church, whereas the objects clause is about the advancement of catholicism within Anglicanism'....

Posted by: Joe on Wednesday, 6 July 2011 at 2:10am BST

"Ruth Gledhill has broken a news story in The Times which is behind a paywall"

It's a shame Ruth's journalistic skills are hidden behind Murdoch's anti-democratic paywall - a great loss to the blogosphere.

With the phone-hacking scandal engulfing News International, it is to be hoped that she can be rescued from the evil empire Wapping by a headhunter of a more ethical going concern.

Posted by: A J Barford on Wednesday, 6 July 2011 at 7:01am BST

Now that the Ordinariate is so handsomely endowed, surely the time has come for the Forward in Faith fathers to go the whole hog?

This would allow the church at the centre of the most populous town in the Diocese of Peterborough, for instance, a golden opportunity to return to the fold.

Posted by: A J Barford on Wednesday, 6 July 2011 at 10:39am BST

If the Church of England Investment Fund for Pensions is exposed to News International's share price, this might be another reason for FiF to take advantage of the Ordinariate offer.

Posted by: A J Barford on Wednesday, 6 July 2011 at 2:35pm BST

Trouble is Martin, the Ordinariate is entirely independent of the English/Welsh hierarchy.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Wednesday, 6 July 2011 at 4:37pm BST

One wonders whether the rank and file of C.B.S. was consulted on this decision - to divest this honourable Society of more than half it's net worth?
Investigation might prove that the consenting Officers `of the Society are member of F.i.F. - and not necessarily representative of the membership in toto. Many Anglo-Catholics are not desirous of amalgamation with the Roman Catholic Church in it's plan for incorporation of the Church of England. What a blow for remaining loyal Anglo-Catholics!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 6 July 2011 at 7:24pm BST

"remaining loyal Anglo-Catholics!" - Ron Smith

That's a contradiction in terms, isn't it Ron? The truly loyal ones are those swearing allegiance to Rome, aren't they?

Posted by: A J Barford on Thursday, 7 July 2011 at 9:22am BST

A lot of the criticism levelled at the Contraternity is unjustified, as its grant-making has been entirely benevolent.

It seems to me that its objects conform entirely with the intention of the Ordinariate, ie.'the advancement of the catholic faith in the Anglican Tradition'.

A good starting point for looking into a charity in depth is the Charity Commission's website, www.charity-commission.gov.uk, where statutory accounts are filed each year - just punch in the charity number: 1082897

On reading through, the only place where you might cringe is section 14 of the notes to the accounts on page 16, where the investment portfolio is stated as being of the value £1.76 million followed by a statement of the purpose of holding the unrestricted funds:

"(a to honour Jesus Christ our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament of his Body and Blood.

(b)to pray for one another at the Eucharist,

(c to observe and promote careful preparation for Holy Communion including the Euiharist fast."


Nothing untoward here when compared with, say, similar accounts for the Church of England, albeit not so well dressed up perhaps.

Posted by: A J Barford on Thursday, 7 July 2011 at 3:49pm BST

You can dismiss Reverencd Williamson as a trouble maker but I think he has a case.

This is doubly troubling to a Catholic ,as the Ordinariate are running their own show, and Rome is a distant hand.

Catch a glimpse of what a third Province would have been like.

Posted by: robert ian Williams on Thursday, 7 July 2011 at 6:27pm BST

""remaining loyal Anglo-Catholics!" - Ron Smith That's a contradiction in terms, isn't it Ron? The truly loyal ones are those swearing allegiance to Rome, aren't they?" - Posted by A J Barford

Are you serious? [Or am I just sarcasm-impaired here? O_o]

The only thing "Anglo" about the Ordinariate, is the signature on some of the "monsignors" pension checks...

Posted by: JCF on Thursday, 7 July 2011 at 8:28pm BST

'Advancement of the catholic faith in the Anglican tradition' was not the original aims. The devious council and Superior general changed it some 12 months ago, so you are right in one sense, the aims of the ordinariate falls within the aims if CBS. Had these men of doubtful morals not changed the aims of the CBS, then this money wouldn't have changed hands so easily. Call themselves priests... Representing Christ to his church!!!??

Posted by: Dicky mint on Sunday, 10 July 2011 at 1:43pm BST

This is bad and will end badly. Many years ago I was rather rudely turned away from a CBS meeting, at which someone I knew was giving the address - because I was technically a Methodist in those days. Imagine, if you will, my outrage on reading about this latest saga in Friday's Church Times. I've no issues either with the Ordinariate or the R C Church under whose umbrella it falls. However I imagine the money in question has been given to CBS over the years by loyal Anglicans, believing fairly enough, that the money would be used for Anglican objects. I cannot see either, how members of the Ordinariate can continue as members of CBS with any kind of integrity. If they want to be Roman Catholics and leave the rest of us in peace, fine. However it's wrong for them to meddle this side of the Tiber. Rome is wrong to put up with it - and probably wouldn't - if it realised what was happening.

Posted by: Adrian F Sunman on Sunday, 10 July 2011 at 7:08pm BST

"Anglican objects"

Didn't you ever come across J H Newman?

Posted by: A J Barford on Sunday, 10 July 2011 at 9:13pm BST

Yes, I have a volume of his sermons somewhere.

Posted by: Adrian F Sunman on Monday, 11 July 2011 at 9:24pm BST

Is this not partly a problem because secret organizations makes things difficult? If we do not know a ship is heading for the shoals because it does not show up on the radar, how do we warn it off? Or have I misunderstood? I am a Yank who believes that open and aboveboard usually works best.

Posted by: Kay Wisniewski on Tuesday, 12 July 2011 at 4:52pm BST
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