CofE Statement on Enoch Powell

On 30 March 2015, the Church of England issued the following statement:

Statement on Enoch Powell

30 March 2015

In June 2014 one of the Church of England’s safeguarding advisers contacted the Police with information concerning individuals against whom allegations had been made to a priest in the 1980s. The allegations concerned Members of Parliament who were alleged to be members of a Satanic cult in connection with the trial of Derry Mainwaring Knight who was convicted for fraud in 1986.

References to these allegations had been in the public domain as part of the trial of and also in a book by Tim Tate “Children for the Devil: Ritual Abuse and Satanic Crime” (1991).

These allegations were passed to the police in 2014 following correspondence between Dominic Walker, the former Bishop of Monmouth (and before that of Reading), to whom the allegations had been made and the lead Bishop for Safeguarding, Bishop Paul Butler. Dominic Walker was clear that he had no evidence relating to the allegations. The allegations referred to membership of satanic cults rather than direct  criminal activity.

Consequently it is incorrect to suggest, as Simon Heffer does in the Daily Mail online 30 March 2015 that the Church of England is conducting a review into historic sex abuse in this matter.

Further it is untrue to say that the Church of England proactively placed these allegations into the public domain. Rather this occurred through a story published by the Mail on Sunday on 29 March 2015. Continue reading

Burial law reform in Scotland

 On 26 January 2015, the Scottish Government published a consultation inviting views on various proposals for a new Bill relating to burial and cremation:

“the legislation relating to burial and cremation in Scotland is in need of consolidation and modernisation … [t]he main primary legislation is old and increasingly inadequate for the needs of 21st Century Scotland”, [Para.1];

 “… relatively few amendments have been made to the Burial Grounds (Scotland) Act 1855 since its introduction, and it is no longer sufficient for modern purposes. The Act places duties on administrative units which no longer exist, such as Parochial Boards, and does not give current Burial Authorities the power they require,” [Para.2];

“… the Cremation Act 1902 and the Cremation (Scotland) Regulations 1935 have been amended many times, with the effect that the legal framework for cremation can be confusing and difficult to follow. A series of amendments have sought to address various issues and maintain the currency of the legislation, but recent events have demonstrated that gaps remains, “ [Para.3]

Continue reading

Religion and law round-up – 29th March

New laws, new bishops and a very late king. All in all, quite a busy week and an eventful, if grubby, end to the present Parliament

Constitutional Issues

On Thursday 26 March, we posted A couple of constitutional snippets indicating: Parliament had been prorogued and would meet again on Monday 18 May; and the provisions of the Succession to the Crown Act 2013 had come into force. In addition, the Lords Spiritual (Women) Act 2015  received Royal Assent on 26 March and under section 2(1) will come into force when the new Parliament meets on 18 May. The Church of England issued a press release stating that under the terms of the Act, the Venerable Rachel Treweek, Archdeacon of Hackney, announced today as the next Bishop of Gloucester, will become the first female diocesan bishop to join the Bishops’ Benches in the House of Lords. Archdeacon Rachel will take the place vacated by the Bishop of Leicester, Tim Stevens, who retires on July 11. She will be introduced into the House of Lords after the summer recess.

Another item with constitutional implications was the publication on 26 March of the Supreme Court judgement R (Evans & Anor) v Attorney General [2015] UKSC 21 in relation to letters from the Prince of Wales to members of the Government. In addition to ruling that such letters were not confidential under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000: Continue reading

Churches’ Roof Repair Fund – grants announced

Childrey, St Mary, IMG_2180 (3)On 26 March the National Heritage Memorial Fund announced the first round of historic UK places of worship to benefit from the Listed Places of Worship: Roof Repair Fund. A total of 502 places of worship will receive between £10,000 to £100,000 to meet the costs of urgent repairs to roofs and rainwater disposal systems. Church of England parishes account for 372 of the total number of awards, such as St Mary, Childrey, Oxon (pictured) which was awarded £29,000. Funds are also being provided for structural investigations, specialist reports and bat surveys. A full list of the successful churches is available here; unsuccessful applicants are expected to receive individual notification in April. Continue reading

A couple of constitutional snippets

Not quite “law and religion” – but not entirely irrelevant

Parliament … election … Parliament

The Government announced today that Parliament has now been prorogued and will automatically dissolve on 30 March under the provisions of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011. The new Parliament will meet on Monday 18 May for members to elect the Speaker and swear or affirm. The State Opening will follow on Wednesday 27 May. Continue reading

Local Government (Religious etc. Observances) Bill – Passed

On Wednesday 25 March, the Local Government (Religious etc. Observances) Bill completed its third reading in the House of Lords, and now awaits Royal Assent. Lord Cormack moved that the “Bill do now pass”, and in the following short debate clarified questions raised by Lord Avebury (LD) and Baroness Turner of Camden (Lab), Lords Hansard 25 Mar 2015 Vol 760(125) Col 1424.

Continue reading

Multi-Faith Worship: St John’s, Waterloo

In the run-up to International Women’ Day, the Inclusive Mosque Initiative organized an inclusive jummah salah on 6 March 2015, led by Dr Amina Wadud and hosted by St John’s Church, Waterloo, in the diocese of Southwark. Set against the background of the so-called Southwark Declaration[1] it is unsurprising that the event drew criticism from within the diocese and elsewhere, examples of which are included in the Thinking Anglicans post Muslim prayer in church building generates controversy and the guest post by Peter Ould on Psephizo Can Muslims worship Allah in an Anglican church? Not all comments were critical and  Kelvin Holdsworth was supportive in his post Welcoming Muslims into church.

The event and the associated criticism triggered three formal responses: one from Canon Giles Goddard apologizing “for the offence caused and any infringement of Church of England’s framework and guidelines”; a statement from a diocesan spokesperson asserting that “it is quite clear that Islamic prayer should not take place in a consecrated building”; and further confirmation by the Bishop of Southwark that “it is clear that an act of worship from a non-Christian faith tradition is not permitted within a consecrated Church of England building.”

The bishop’s statement acknowledges the importance of building good interfaith relations, and Canon Goddard indicated that he is seeking ways of building a better understanding between faiths. It is useful, therefore, to examine what constraints currently exist within ecclesiastical law in relation to multi-faith worship, Continue reading