Comments: Coekin appeal is heard

Ah yes, but what we all want to know is - what was the verdict???!!!

Posted by Peter O at Friday, 5 May 2006 at 5:10pm BST

Folks seem bent on one hand on leaning so hard on autonomy as to imagine communion doesn't matter at all, and on the other on leaning so hard on our communion of relationships as to pretend they have institutional substance. Yes, we want (even those of us who are American and progressive) interdependence; but that desire doesn't create structures that aren't there. Allegations are made about creating "facts on the ground." This is the same action, with a different focus.

Claim what he wishes, there are canons of the Church of England specifically to which Coekin is subject, and they are enforceable in a way that resorting to another province of the Communion cannot. In one sense this doesn't affect the three ordinands. They are, presumably, validly ordained in and for the Church of England of South Africa. That doesn't mean that Coekin's decisions don't have institutional consequences in the Church of England.

Posted by Marshall Scott at Friday, 5 May 2006 at 10:35pm BST

I can understand Bp Tom Butler's lawyer trying to keep the case narrowly focussed on Rev Richard Coekin's alleged infringement of church Canons. If, for instance, it came to light that the Bishop had not applied Canons to other clergy (if, say, he were aware of "partnered gay clergy" in his diocese who were not complying with church teaching and HoB rules) he would look rather biased... and might be exposed to the recent House of Lords ruling that saw a scottish woman priest's employment tribunal reinstated because the church had not applied its rules equally...

Posted by Dave at Saturday, 6 May 2006 at 1:58am BST

Marshall, you're quite right about the ordinands. One of the most astonishing things in the aftermath of the ordinations was how few people seemed to understand this simple fact that three young men, two of which used to be CofE ordinands but this is neither here nor there, were ordained into the Church of England of South Africa.

Whether these ordinations are valid or not is, in the first instance, for the Church of England of South Africa to decide. Whether "we" (in the CofE or in ECUSA) consider these ordinations valid depends on whether we acknowledge ordinations performed within the Church of England of South Africa.

I noticed that the two articles in the church papers referred to "irregular ordinations" rather than "invalid ordinations".

Having been ordained into the Church of England in South Africa, these three ministers are not subject to the canon law of the Church of England any more than Roman Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, or Lutheran ministers.

Richard Coekin, on the other hand, is subject to CofE canon law, as you rightly point out, but I doubt that he can be shown to have acted illegally. Whether he has acted in a headstrong and discourteous manner, whether he was wise to encourage these ordinations and other questions are important too, of course, but if (church) law courts are about (church) law, he would seem to have a good case.

Posted by Thomas Renz at Saturday, 6 May 2006 at 10:13am BST

I understand that the Church of England recognizes the validity of ordinations in CESA and that there is at least one clergy in Southwark diocese who was ordained in CESA. I don't think Coekin has broken any canon law, but that's for a court to decide. On the other hand, I'm told by people over there that there are quite a few clergy in that diocese livng in same-sex relations who have never been disciplined for that.

Posted by Peter Bergman at Saturday, 6 May 2006 at 3:55pm BST

I think it would be useful to know when the C of E decided to recognise the orders of CESA and how it went about it. Was it discussed in Synod? I think not. Was it discussed by the House of Bishops? Was the attitude of the Church of the Province of South Africa discerned or taken into account? I think it happened during Abp Coggan's time at Canterbury and was mostly seen as a legal matter -- whether the Overseas Clergy Act could be applied to CESA. I dont know what,or perhaps who, prompted it. Until then I think only the diocese of Sydney recognised CESA orders.Do other Anglican provinces? the Porvoo communion.... I rather feel greater clarity over this would be helpful.Some CESA ordained presbyters are now ministering in the C of E - I think perhaps 7 - but now we have a Church of England in South Africa in England....a little perplexing I think.

Posted by Perry Butler at Sunday, 7 May 2006 at 5:19pm BST
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