Thinking Anglicans

Readers, PTO and canon law

David Pocklington writing at Law & Religion UK has published an article about the Jeremy Timm case.

The title is Readers, pastoral guidance and canon law.

He summarises the ecclesiastical law position thus:

…Section C of the Church’s Canons – Ministers, their ordination, functions and charge, concerns the three orders of ministry in the Pastoral Guidance, whereas Section E – The lay officers of the church, deals with churchwardens and their assistants, lay works, parish clerks and readers. Readers and other lay officers of the church are not addressed in the Pastoral Guidance and are not subject to the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003, as amended. Nevertheless, Mark Hill’s Ecclesiastical Law suggests,[3.67], that: “®eaders fall into a different category from other lay officers, since they are not elected or employed but admitted and licensed by the bishop to perform ministry in the church”. Their ministry role is summarized as:

“Readers are lay people, called by God, trained and licensed by the Church to preach, teach, lead worship and assist in pastoral, evangelistic and liturgical work,”

and, prior to admission as a reader, must make a Declaration of Assent and canonical obedience to the bishop, [Canon E5 §4]. No one admitted to the office of a reader may exercise that office without the permission of the bishop, either through a Licence or Permission to Officiate, [Canon E6 §1]. The revocation of a licence is subject to the procedure in Canon E6 §3, but there is no legal requirement to provide notice to terminate a PTO or an appeal process…

29
Leave a Reply

avatar
3000
29 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
21 Comment authors
Tobias HallerPaul PowersCynthiaSimon SarmientoJeremy Pemberton Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest
Notify of
Leon Clarke
Guest
Leon Clarke

If I’m following it, Robert Paterson’s argument is somewhat baffling: Apparently since readers are proclaimers of the word, this is a doctrinal matter. Surely, if that is an issue then whether or not someone is in a same-sex marriage is completely irrelevant; someone who thinks that same-sex marriages should be allowed is just as likely to ‘disagree with CofE doctrine’. And where does this rule apply; a couple of years back, lots of people whose duties included proclaiming the word were rather loudly disagreeing with the church’s doctrine on women bishops.

Alastair Newman
Guest

OK, so looking at Canon E6(3), Jeremy Timm can appeal +John’s decision to revoke to +Justin. Now, that could be interesting…

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

For everyone’s benefit, here’s the wording E6. 3. The bishop of a diocese may by notice in writing revoke summarily, and without further process, any licence granted to a reader within his diocese for any cause which appears to him to be good and reasonable, after having given the reader sufficient opportunity of showing reason to the contrary; and the notice shall notify the reader that he may, within 28 days from the date on which he receives the notice, appeal to the archbishop of the province in which that diocese is situated. On such an appeal the archbishop may… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
Admin

Canon E6.3 is presumably irrelevant, though, in this case, since Jeremy Timm does not hold a licence, but has the bishop’s Permission to Officiate (PTO). I don’t think there is any appeal against withdrawal of Permission. And since this is not an employment issue it presumably cannot be taken to an employment tribunal either.

Neil Patterson
Guest
Neil Patterson

My understanding of the law, for the purposes of clarification, is that if Jeremy Timms had held a LICENCE he could indeed appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury, but since (for I know not what reason) he held only PTO, that can be summarily revoked for any reason that seems good to one’s (arch)bishop. The moral to Readers is, get a licence. In view of Bishop Paterson’s (no relation!) comments, the great irony is that if Jeremy were ordained and holding a licence or indeed a parish, he could only be removed by a proper disciplinary proceeding under the CDM,… Read more »

Frank Cranmer
Guest

Writes Simon Kershaw, “since this is not an employment issue it presumably cannot be taken to an employment tribunal either”.

That’s my understanding as well. Non-stipendiary readers are volunteers and volunteers don’t have employment rights: see X v Mid-Sussex Citizens Advice Bureau & Anor [2012] UKSC 59.

John
Guest
John

There are legal questions that seem to have achieved some clarification but require further clarification. But there are also moral issues. Obviously, I think it would be best if everyone accepted the validity of same-sex marriage. But I cannot believe (unless it is proved otherwise) that ‘conservatives’ who ‘reject’ same-sex marriage cannot respond in a range of ways that would maintain their conservative position but would yet fall well short of the oafish, uncharitable, stupid and destructive action of Sentamu: they can (a) do nothing (tactically sensible); (b) administer some formal slap on the wirst/’talking to’ which issues in no… Read more »

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

John, conservatives can simply stop imposing their beliefs on everyone else. Tolerating acts they disagree with doesn’t require them to start supporting equal marriage.

There is no nice way to be homophobic. If any good comes from this, perhaps it’ll be the Anglican church in England at long last coming to realize that.

Alastair Newman
Guest
Alastair Newman

Does anyone have an idea why Jeremy Timms only had PTO and not a licence? Looking at this guidance here, it seems that the norm for Readers under 70 is to have a licence from the Bishop, not simply PTO (see 4.3):

https://www.churchofengland.org/media/1543345/bishops%20regulation%20for%20reader%20ministry.pdf

Or, looking at point 4.4, is Jeremy licensed in a different diocese and therefore operating under PTO in York?

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

The irony is that the further up the food chain you are the more secure you are. Those with vulnerable PTOs are fair game and can be removed without the rigmarole of going through disciplinary action; priests with tenure can’t be sacked without a CDM hearing so get away with a formal rebuke, while nobody can lay a finger on bishops who publically denounce church doctrine. The rationale given for the policy is the need to model Christ in ministry, yet the more senior you are the less likely you are to face repercussions if you fall foul of the… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

My understanding is that Reader licenses in the Diocese of York are issued only at an annual service for the purpose, and that PtO is used to cover the initial period of service. And that Jeremy was unable to attend that service last year, so had the PtO continued.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Highlighting the difference between ‘legal’ and ‘moral’ imperatives in this case; it would appear that Jeremy has no legal right to retain his PTO (which, apparently, is not a ‘licence’ as such). However, is there not a moral issue here, requiring the ABY to consider other cases where eyes have been closed to the ongoing breach of respect for the established canonical ethos of the Church of England, as stated here: ” a couple of years back, lots of people whose duties included proclaiming the word were rather loudly disagreeing with the church’s doctrine on women bishops.” Posted by: Leon… Read more »

Gary Paul Gilbert
Guest
Gary Paul Gilbert

Bishops cannot revoke one’s baptism. The nonordained can hold prayer services in their homes without having to seek permission from bishops. There is nothing to stop Jeremy Timm from reading at such services. There is life alongside and outside the C of E.

Gary Paul Gilbert

Neil Patterson
Guest
Neil Patterson

Simon adds an important detail – this will vary across dioceses – Reader licences are usually issued for a fixed period (1-5 years) to encourage regular reviews of their ministry, working agreement, etc. In the case of any licenced Reader entering a SSM, their bishop can probably with impunity refuse to renew their Licence when the time comes. Whereas clergy licences are generally indefinite in length.

Simon Dawson
Guest
Simon Dawson

Father Ron highlights what has always seemed to be an important issue here – the unequal treatment of dissenting views across two contentious areas of doctrine. When it comes to women bishops, it is held authoritatively that “the Church of England is fully and unequivocally committed to all orders of ministry being open equally to all, without reference to gender, and holds that those whom it has duly ordained and appointed to office are the true and lawful holders of the office which they occupy and thus deserve due respect and canonical obedience”. Yet it is also official policy that… Read more »

robert ian williams
Guest
robert ian williams

James Byron:John, conservatives can simply stop imposing their beliefs on everyone else.

But liberals aren’t without fault too..look at the adoption agencies as one example.

Charles Read
Guest
Charles Read

As a by-product, this sorry affair has highlighted Reader ministry. For the benefit of overseas readers, it may be worth noting that: 1. Readers are theologically trained on a ministry training course, usually alongside ordinands for part or most of the time. 2. They are licenced by the bishop like clergy and as such are the chief category of ministers other than clergy to have licences (as opposed to authorization -a licence is in fact a bigger deal than authorization) 3. Readers preach, lead worship (on their own or alongside clergy), undertake mission and pastoral work. 4. there is a… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Charles,
thank you for that.
I’m a little confused about LLM, as that does not only refer to Readers but also to licensed Pastoral Assistants and licensed Evangelists in Dioceses that have those lay ministries.
Do they no longer differentiate?

Tobias Haller
Guest
Tobias Haller

It seems to me the real issue in all of this is the extent to which people are permitted to disagree with or dissent from a given teaching of the church, and what effect this should have on their ability to function as a teacher — taking “teaching” and “teacher” in the broadest and most ill defined sense of the words. In a church that was risibly famous for its bishops (the principal “teachers”) denying core aspects of church teaching (e.g., Incarnation, Resurrection, etc.) to the extent that such bishops are a part of popular culture (v. Lewis’ _Great Divorce_,… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

When Jeremy Pemberton gave evidence at his recent tribunal, he recounted that Bishop Richard Inwood had told him that there were four options open to him, and listed them out. The bishop, in his own evidence, asserted that the Archbishop of York had given him no direct guidance on the options available to him.

When Jeremy Timm met the Archbishop of York, the archbishop said that there were four options open to him. And listed them out.

Curiously these were the identical four options.

Could this be coincidence?

Leon Clarke
Guest
Leon Clarke

Erika: It’s my understanding that any lay minister that is ‘licensed’ is effectively the same as a reader. But some pastoral assistants are ‘commissioned’, not ‘licensed’, in which case they aren’t LLMs.

There is a national standard for LLM training which involves far more academic theology than many pastoral assistants would want.

Church Army Evangelists have always technically been readers, despite to most practical intents and purposes being a different kind of ministry.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Robert Ian Williams, the laws on equal adoption came not from liberals, but from a British government famous for its authoritarianism. Much as I detest the conservative position, since I believe in free association, I disagree with forcing non-profits not to discriminate.

If the Church of England wants to go this route, it can’t go on being a state church, and must stop acting capriciously and arbitrarily. Internal opposition can and should remain vigorous.

Paul Edelin
Guest
Paul Edelin

Knicker-twists are a necessary search for relief, neither comical nor tragic. The church needs to squeeze its theological fabric and shed excess water, just like mangled clothes, shredded courgettes or tensioned rope fibres, exuding tears yet progressively improving.

The rigid mainstream English church presents an unwillingness to get a tight grip on ancient folklore and reconcile it with modern consideration and thereby to enjoy the gradual evolution of glorious beliefs that might actually appeal to everybody.

Charles Read
Guest
Charles Read

To Erika: technically they are to be known as LLM (Reader) – since LLM might refer to eg pastoral assistants (but only if episcopally licensed).

Jeremy Pemberton
Guest
Jeremy Pemberton

Simon –

One small correction to your comment. Richard Inwood was explicit in his evidence that he had discussed the four possible options open to him with The Archbishop of York in a telephone conversation on 8th April, the day before RI took up the post of Acting Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham and four days before I got married. What he did assert was that the ABY had not told him which of the options to use.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Ah, thank you for that correction Jeremy, I was writing from memory, without checking the various reports.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Thank you, Charles, for that very clear illustration of LLMs. How do they differ from vocational deacons? Or do you not have vocational deacons?

Meanwhile, what is clearest to me is that the ABY had discretion and he exercised it disgracefully.

Paul Powers
Guest
Paul Powers

“It seems to me the real issue in all of this is the extent to which people are permitted to disagree with or dissent from a given teaching of the church, and what effect this should have on their ability to function as a teacher — taking “teaching” and “teacher” in the broadest and most ill defined sense of the words.” –Tobias Haller

Is Mr. Timm facing the loss of his PTO because he supports same-sex marriage or because proposes to enter into one himself?

Tobias Haller
Guest

Paul Powers, by my reading of the accounts it seems to be that he is marrying, in accord with the Law of England, and that this creates a problem because it conflicts with the “teaching of the Church of England.” Obviously there is more here than merely expressing a difference of opinion, but it seems to me this is a sliding scale of exclusion. Apparently expressing the wrong opinion was enough to prevent the approval of Jeffrey John — there was rather vociferous complaint at the time that for a “teacher” to teach (not act!) contrary to the church made… Read more »