Ecclesiastical court judgments – April and May 2017

Over the last two months, only nine new consistory court judgments have been reported. Although most of these relating to aspects of reordering, in Re Fairmile Cemetery Lower Assendon, the illegal practice of “coffin sliding” by the burial authority was brought to the attention of the Oxford consistory court. For completeness, we have also added outline details of an ECtHR case relating to churchyards, the judgment of which will be handed down early in June. In addition to links to our other posts relating to ecclesiastical law, this round-up includes summaries of cases in the following areas: Continue reading

The Emperor of Japan, Prince Philip and the ‘a’ word

Two recent announcements – the Japanese government’s agreement to the Emperor’s wish to abdicate and Prince Philip’s retirement from public life, both on grounds of advancing age – highlight the fact that there is no continuing provision for abdication in UK law. Bob Morris, who will be no stranger to readers of this blog, has kindly allowed us to cross-post the following, which first appeared on the UCL Constitution Unit Blog. Bob indicated to us that it would be interesting to see whether any of our readers were moved to regard religious reasons as nowadays an impediment to abdication/retirement.

The Japanese government has agreed to the request of the current Emperor of Japan, Akihito, to abdicate on grounds of age and growing infirmity – he is now 84 years old. Prince Philip, 96 this year, announced on 4 May that he would be withdrawing from public life later this year on grounds not dissimilar to those of the Emperor. What are the implications, if any, for the United Kingdom monarchy? Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 28th May

A very, very sad week – and not one for flippant straplines…

The atrocity in Manchester

The appalling news from Manchester is beyond words. How society might react to it, however, is a legitimate matter for concern: there have already been calls in the social media for mass internments (of whom, precisely?) – and worse. Possibly one of the most measured reactions on Twitter was from Adam Wagner:

“1/ A few thoughts on the horrendous terror attack on my brilliant home town of .

2/ Terrorism isn’t just senseless violence. It has a purpose, which is to terrorise us. We, the public who watch in terror, are victims too.

3/ It’s totally natural to respond to terror with fear, anger, sometimes even a need for revenge; an ‘eye for an eye’. That’s what they want.

4/ The very best human societies are open, tolerant, multicultural. Terrorism makes us close up, retreat into our safe, small groups.

5/ In times of fear and retreat we must trust the rule-based system we build in better times. It’s insurance against our worst natures.”

Church of Scotland on same-sex marriage

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has agreed in principle to the report of its Theological Commission, An Approach to the Theology of Same-Sex Marriage. Continue reading

Church of Scotland votes on same-sex marriage: updated and corrected

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has agreed in principle to the report of its Theological Forum, An Approach to the Theology of Same-Sex Marriage. According to the Kirk’s press release, in presenting the report the Forum’s convener, the Very Revd Professor Iain Torrance, said that he and his colleagues could see “no sufficient theological reason for the Church not to authorise specific ministers to officiate at same-sex weddings”, adding that this would be possible “if doing so does not prejudice the position of those who decline to do so for reasons of conscience”.

The Deliverance of the General Assembly is as follows: Continue reading

Parish Music Guidance: Ministers and organists

Part I (of 2) of our analysis of new CofE legal opinion on organists and parish music

On 4 April 2017, new and updated legal advice on a number of issues was added to the Church of England’s Document Library. In view of its relevance at the time vis-à-vis the forthcoming wedding of Pippa Middleton, we first reviewed that relating to Celebrity Marriages shortly followed by a post on Royal Marriages, prompted by media speculation relating to Prince Harry. The document Parish Music: organists and choirmasters and church musicians, (*the Opinion”) concerns organists and “all musicians in similar positions” [though clearly not “all musicians”]. This is discussed below with regard to issues concerning the music and the clergy. A further post  considers the related employment law issues. Continue reading