A very belated posting. For previous posting on this topic see here.
The Diocese of Southwark website has Bishop’s letter re Rev Richard Coekin as a PDF file. The letter is dated 15 June. The full text is below the fold.
To all licensed clergy, churchwardens, members of the Bishopâ€™s Council, members of the Diocesan Synod, members of the Ministry and Training Committee.
As many of you know last November, following an unauthorised ordination, I removed the Revd Richard Coekinâ€™s licence as an honorary assistant curate at Emmanuel Church Wimbledon, which is a proprietary chapel. In practice he has for some years been exercising ministry at Dundonald Church â€“ a congregation meeting at Dundonald School in South Wimbledon. This originated as a plant from Emmanuel. He appealed against the revocation to the Archbishop of Canterbury and, after a court hearing by the Bishop of Winchester, the Archbishop upheld the appeal. With the various press reports concerning the appeal, I thought that it might be helpful for you to have my response.
I note that the Archbishop, in his determination, states that “Mr Coekin’s conduct [in arranging a Church of England in South Africa ordination in a Church of England parish church without reference to the Archbishop or Diocesan Bishop] merited censure.” The Church of England in South Africa is not in communion with the Anglican Communion.
I note further that the Archbishop, whilst cancelling the revocation of the licence for essentially technical reasons, states that he (the Archbishop) “does not accept that the requested undertakings [for such a cancellation as recommended by the Bishop of Winchester’s report] are unreasonable or unjustifiable.” [These undertakings are:
(i) except under the authority of the Bishop of Southwark to refrain from any involvement in:
a) ordination services within the area of the Diocese of Southwark, or
b) the ordination of persons (of whatever Christian church) to serve within the area of that diocese.
(ii) strictly to abide by all general or specific directions given by the Bishop of Southwark, concerning church planting or mission initiatives.]
In this, the Archbishop makes it clear that the content of these recommended undertakings â€œreflects the legal obligations which Canon law imposes upon any licensed minister.â€
The Archbishop’s report further emphasises that if Mr Coekin is to exercise licensed ministry in the Church of England he must “conform to the discipline of the Church” and “must submit to the Bishop of Southwark’s episcopal authority.”
The Archbishop points to the commitment of the whole Church of England to its mission as the national Church. The Archbishop points to the forthcoming Dioceses, Pastoral and Mission Measure, (which places an important emphasis on Bishops’ mission orders that govern mission initiatives).
Within these understandings, I will be looking to Mr Coekin to work in partnership with the Diocese and with all of its other clergy.
The reason Mr Coekin gave for proceeding with the unauthorised ordinations was my refusal to distance myself from the House of Bishopâ€™s Statement on Civil Partnerships, although during the hearing it became clear that plans for the ordination had been made in March 2005, several months before the Bishopsâ€™ Statement had been produced. (For the same reason it is reported that two ordinands in the Diocese of London have decided not to proceed to being ordained by the Bishop of London).
You may be interested to know that in the Diocese of Southwark we have meticulously followed the process set down by the House of Bishopsâ€™ Pastoral Statement concerning clergy who have indicated that they wish to engage in a civil partnership. There have been a small number of such cases and all the clergy involved have met with their Area Bishop who has drawn to their attention the expectation that their relationship will be consistent with the teaching set out in Issues in Human Sexuality.
With best wishes,
Grace and Peace,