Law and religion round-up – 22nd October

A week in which the main theme seemed to be discrimination on grounds of gender or sexual orientation

Church of England to debate blessings for same-sex couples?

Last week, as we noted, the Hereford Diocesan Synod passed a resolution requesting the House of Bishops to initiate the formulation of a discretionary liturgy for use following the registration of a civil partnership or a same-sex marriage. The BBC subsequently reported this under the headline Church of England to discuss same-sex blessing, stating that “The general synod will now debate a form of service described as ‘neither contrary to nor a departure from’ the doctrine of the church”. Continue reading

CofE Statement on initial IICSA hearing

IICSA: further preliminary hearings this week

Following today’s preliminary hearing held by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, IICSA, the following statement has been issued by the Church Of England. This is the first of two hearing this week which were announced in the IICSA Statement on 2 October, also reproduced below. Continue reading

Australian Royal Commission recommends lifting seal of confessional

The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has published its final recommendations on Criminal Justice. One is of particular interest: the section entitled Failure to report offence recommends “the introduction of a new criminal offence of failure to report targeted at child sexual abuse in an institutional context (recommendation 33)”. In particular, it proposes that clergy should no longer be permitted to refuse to disclose offending on the grounds that they came by the information in the course of a confession:

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Charity Commission inquiry report: New Moston Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses

Background

The Charity Commission is currently conducting a statutory inquiry into the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Britain (WTBTSB), which began in May 2014. Its scope includes the creation, development, substance and implementation of the safeguarding policy used by Jehovah’s Witnesses congregational charities in England and Wales and the safeguarding advice provided to those congregational charities. We have noted the progress of this inquiry on previous occasions, most recently here.

The Commission has also conducted a separate inquiry into Manchester New Moston Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses (registered charity number 1065201); and it has now published a statement on the results that inquiry. Continue reading