Law and religion round-up – 9th July

Cake now off the Brexit menu…

…though not in the House of Lords for Pride 2017…

…but gluten-free is off the menu at Mass

Yesterday the BBC reported that the Vatican had ruled that the bread used in celebrations of the Eucharist must not be gluten-free. In a letter published by Vatican Radio, Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, reminds diocesan bishops of the Circular Letter to the Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which states, inter alia, that:

“Hosts that are completely gluten-free are invalid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist. Low-gluten hosts (partially gluten-free) are valid matter, provided they contain a sufficient amount of gluten to obtain the confection of bread without the addition of foreign materials and without the use of procedures that would alter the nature of bread.”

Scots with no religion at record level

The latest Scottish Social Attitudes survey reveals that the proportion of Scots describing themselves as having no religion at all has reached its highest-ever level. Nearly six in ten (58%) now say that they have no religion, up 18 points on 1999 when the figure stood at four in ten (40%). Young people are least likely to be religious: three-quarters (74%) of 18-34s say they have no religion compared with 34% of those over 65. Around half as many people (18%) now say they belong to the Church of Scotland as in 1999 (35%). The proportion of Roman Catholics (10%), other Christian affiliations (11%) and non-Christian religious people (2%) has remained relatively stable over the same period.

Consistory court judgments

Following the publication of the round-up of the June consistory court judgments, work on July’s has commenced.

The judgment in Re All Saints West Burnley [2017] ECC Bla 6 contains a discussion by the Chancellor on the nature of the Church Buildings Council Guidance on Seating and its application within the consistory courts, aspects of which we covered in Pews vs Chairs: Application of CBC Guidance.

Neutral case citations for consistory court judgments began on 1 January 2016 and Ray Hemingray has helpfully listed all judgments under this scheme: 2016 Judgments – diocese and 2016 Judgments – alphabetical; and 2017 Judgments – diocese (to early July) and 2017 Judgments – alphabetical (to early July).

Defamatory statements are not protected by Article 10 

In Medzlis Islamske Zajednice Brcko and Others v Bosnia and Herzegovina [2017] ECHR (no. 17224/11), the Grand Chamber ECtHR held by 11:6 that the right to freedom of expression of a Muslim religious community and three NGOs representing ethnic Bosnian Muslims had not been infringed by a defamation judgment entered against them. The applicants had sent a letter sent to the authorities of the Brčko District’s multi-ethnic radio station objecting to the appointment of Ms M.S. as director of the station. Among other things, the letter claimed that she had stated in an interview, commenting on the destruction of mosques in Brčko, that Muslims were not a people and did not possess culture and that destroying mosques could not, therefore, be seen as the destruction of cultural monuments. It also alleged that, as an employee of the BD radio, she had torn to pieces the calendar showing the schedule of religious services during the month of Ramadan. The letter concluded: “We firmly believe that the above-described acts absolutely disqualify Ms M.S. as a candidate for the position of director of the multi-ethnic Radio and Television of Brčko District and that a Bosniac should be appointed to that position…” She sued successfully for defamation.

The applicants complained that the damages awarded against them for defamation had violated their right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by Article 10 ECHR. The majority concluded, however, that the domestic courts had struck a fair balance between the applicants’ interest in free speech and M.S.’s interest in the protection of her reputation.

Secretary General, Modern Church

On 3 July, Modern Church announced the appointment of the Very Revd Dr Jonathan Draper, former Dean of Exeter Cathedral, as General Secretary of Modern Church; this is a paid part-time post marking a first in Modern Church’s 119-year history. A farewell service, an Orchestral Eucharist (Mozart Mass in F, K192), in the Cathedral at 10 am on 2 July, marked his retirement from stipendiary ministry. Friends and colleagues from his previous ministries in London, York and Oxford were present to help mark the achievements of both Jonathan and his wife, Maggie, and to express their support over recent events.

Quick links

And finally…I

The BBC reported that the RSPCA were called to St Mary Magdalene Church in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, where a fox had made the “grave” error of becoming wedged between two headstones. It may have been distracted by the Government’s latest manifesto U-turn on hunting or have suspected that the incumbent had been granted a licence to permit grazing in the churchyard. Nevertheless, no faculty was required as it was unnecessary to move either of the headstones – and since it was not a legal person, the fox was not subject to S1 Occupiers Liability Act 1984 so it is unlikely to press for damages.

And finally…II

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has become the Department for “Digital, Culture, Media and Sport” – but, says the Government, will continue to be referred to as “DCMS” in all communications. Words like “Titanic” and “deckchairs” come to mind…

7 thoughts on “Law and religion round-up – 9th July

  1. Gluten free: note the helpful and non-dogmatic 2007 report ‘Eucharistic Food and Drink’ by the Inter-Anglican Liturgical Commission which deals with wider issues of wheat bread and grape wine – where they are not readily available or deemed culturally inappropriate (but we must also be counter-cultural) – as well as intolerance to bread (coeliacs) or wine (alcoholics). It states “Roman Catholic arguments about the licitness of gluten free bread (or leavened bread for that matter) hold no authority in Anglicanism, especially when placed beside the BCP rubric.”

    The Roman ‘solution’ is low-gluten, rather than gluten-free, wafers. Another ‘solution’ would be to restore the chalice to the laity, enabling valid communion in one (the other) kind, though this does not help coeliac, or indeed alcoholic, presiders.

    Koiliakus is, by the way, particularly common in Finland, where deacons have a near-monopoly in manufacturing appropriate wafers.

  2. The government may say that the newly-renamed Department for “Digital, Culture, Media and Sport”, will continue to be referred to as “DCMS” in all communications, but what is or will be the cost of reprinting all departmental letterheads, compliments slips, business cards and other literature with the new name, and of changing the signage on the department’s building(s)? Indeed, has the government produced an economic impact assessment in respect of this change and, even if the cost of the change is relatively small, how is it justified when other government spending remains subject to the austerity agenda?

    • Interesting point. As a user of government services, my problem on name changes is where this impacts on electronic communications issues such as email and internet addresses. When DTI changed to BERR (which some reports suggest was at a cost of £16,000), it was said that the departmental designation “D” was dropped as “dberr” in the area of IT was an accepted term meaning “data base error”, and its inclusion in web addresses &c would have been impractical.

  3. Pingback: Dean of Exeter appointed | Law & Religion UK

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