Thinking Anglicans

more on the Worcestershire employment tribunal case

Gavin Drake has a detailed report in today’s Church Times Judgment by employment tribunal upholds clergy office-holder status. Earlier reports linked from here.

…The Bishop of Worcester, Dr John Inge, also welcomed the ruling. “Clergy them­selves have repeatedly said that they do not see themselves as employees, and do not wish to be seen as such. This case has shown that Church of England vicars are not subject to any employment contract, but are free to exer­cise their ministry as they see best within the framework provided by the law of the land,” he said.

“We hope that Mr Sharpe and Unite will respect this judgment so that we can all draw a line under this.”

Mr Sharpe was represented throughout his dispute by the clergy section of the trade union Unite. The union’s national officer for its community, youth workers, and not-for-profit sector said: “We are very disappointed with the judgment. We will be discussing the implications with Mark Sharpe, and no further statement will be issued until we’ve had those discussions.”

In 2009, Unite called for the resignation of the Bishops of Worcester and Dudley for “presiding over a culture of neglect and bully­ing” in the diocese, and demanded interven­tion by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

This week, Bishop Inge said: “When I saw Unite’s claims, I asked the chair of the House of Clergy to conduct an investigation with the clergy of the diocese. He convened a small group, who sent an anonymous questionnaire to the clergy.

“They found there was absolutely no truth in this allegation. Not one person mentioned a culture of bullying in the diocese in the way alleged by Unite.”

There is a further report by Gavin Drake in the paper Clergy can join new association but this is subscriber-only until next Friday.

THE country’s largest union, Unite, announced the launch of the Church of England Clergy Association (CECA) on Monday. Despite four years of talks with the House of Clergy, however, it has received only a cautious welcome…

You can read more about the Church of England Clergy Association here, or even here. This new organisation is not to be confused with the long-established English Clergy Association.

Another report on the Sharpe case can be found here.

14
Leave a Reply

avatar
3000
14 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
8 Comment authors
Martin ReynoldsLaurence RobertsFather Ron SmithSimon SarmientoGeoff Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest
Notify of
Father Ron Smith
Guest

“…This case has shown that Church of England vicars are not subject to any employment contract, but are free to exer­cise their ministry as they see best within the framework provided by the law of the land,” he said.”

Would this then not include the vicars’ right to Bless Same-Sex Unions – if they thought there was a primary pastoral ministry involved? After all, I understand that Same-sex relationships are legal in British law!

Fr John
Guest
Fr John

Good point Fr Ron

David Walker
Guest
David Walker

The answer to Ron’s question is “yes and no”. The nub of this case is indeed that there are no constraints on what a freehold incumbent can do beyond those provided by the law of the land. But the law of the land makes it illegal (and the union invalid) for a C of E cleric to officiate at a Civil Partnership ceremony. However there is very little that a bishop (who was so minded) can do by way of sanction to a priest who undertakes to provide “pastoral ministry” to a couple; not least since liturgical matters are exempt… Read more »

RPNewark
Guest
RPNewark

Re. Father Ron’s post of 2012.02.24 : 0906, However, so to do would put them in breach of the Declaration of Assent made by them at their ordination and on each occasion when they take up a new appointment and which reads (in part), “I, AB, do so affirm … and in public prayer and administration of the sacraments, I will use only the forms of service which are authorized or allowed by Canon.” I would not be surprised if it were to be shown that some CofE clergy already bless, in private, same-sex relationships; but to do so publicly… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Although this all really has nothing at all to do with the Sharpe case, I fear some of our readers outside the UK may be confused by the last two comments. DW refers to the formal, legal registration of a Civil Partnership which can only be undertaken by a person designated by a government authority for the purpose, and known as a Registrar. This is an entirely secular i.e. government procedure, and absolutely no religious element is permitted in the course of it. Very recently, the law has been changed to remove the previous total ban on the use of… Read more »

Geoff
Guest

‘However, so to do would put them in breach of the Declaration of Assent … which reads (in part) … “I will use only the forms of service which are authorized or allowed by Canon.” ‘ [RPNewark] Only if they used a form of service other than allowed by canon, but there is no reason why blessing a same-gender union entails by definition such a transgression. As I’ve noted time and again, the fact that no new liturgy is necessary to do so is precisely what belies the conservative objection that such unions constitute a “change.” If the words work… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

“But the law of the land makes it illegal (and the union invalid) for a C of E cleric to officiate at a Civil Partnership ceremony.” I do hope that David Walker has just mistaken his phrasing here. This statement (as it stands) is completely untrue. I am among several clerics in the CofE and CinW seeking to be designated by my local authority as a civil partnership registrar. I have posted the Registrar General’s guidance for this on an earlier thread. While the law quite specifically prohibits clergy from registering civil weddings that prohibition does not extend to clergy… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

“So the question of whether or not a CofE cleric can also be a Registrar for CPs is somewhat academic at the present time.”

No, I don’t think this is the case Simon.

If you cannot use your Parish Church – you may be happy to have your Vicar preside elsewhere! It presently looks as if the regulations say that clergy designated as a civil partnership registrar will be able to officiate everywhere and one must assume that even includes at a Registry Office – Heaven Forbid!!

It is a lot more than “academic” my friend.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Martin I stand corrected. I was thinking of course only in terms of CofE clergy officiating in CofE churches. That situation is what I termed “academic”.

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

Yes, quite so Simon.

But, at the risk of being repetitive, I press my case. The power to prohibit the use of their buildings without any power to prohibit clergy from acting as civil partnership will prove to be an wholly unhelpful reservation.

Regrettably the Church will once again be cast in a poor light. It will appear for what it is: mean and spiteful.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Thank you, Martin (Reynolds), for clearing the air here. My initial question related to clergy with freehold. However, very few clergy in future, I understand, will have freehold status in the Church of England. Does that make their tenure that of ’employment’by the diocese, one wonders? Will this alter, in any way, the right of a Church of England clergy-person to offer a ‘Blessing’ on already contracted Same Sex Civil Partnerships – in a properly-designated place other than their parish Church? If this can be established, then the matter of ‘obedience to the wishes of the Ordinary’ may be a… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

Clarity is something we are still searching for. The Registrar General’s office is still not responding to detailed enquiries – in fact, apart from referring to the published guidance, they don’t want to say anything at the moment – and all agree the present guidance is confusing and rather unhelpful. In all other matters I think David Walker tells it as it is. There is little if anything that a bishop can do and even less that a bishop will do. There are no services to “bless” same sex civil unions (of any sort) in the CofE. http://churchofengland.org/prayer-worship/worship/texts/pastoral/marriage/civilmarriage.aspx The Church… Read more »

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

And yet, St David blessed same sex couples, and blessed them and the poises as the great Hanesion Hen, Dafydd Mawr Enwog attests.

Soon people will be following Dewi Sant’s beautiful practice

all over Wales &

across the globe !

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

Dydd Gŵyl Dewi hapus i bawb!