A relationships-dominated round-up, from cohabiting via prenups to divorce
Baroness Hale calls for no-fault divorce
In an interview in The Times (£), the President of the Supreme Court has called for the reform of divorce law in England and Wales and said that it is time to look again at proposals made when she was at the Law Commission in the 1990s, suggesting that divorcing couples do not want to allege fault and that “it ups the ante. It is a difficult time for everybody”:Continue reading →
“Egg-bound” thinking by Church and State this week…
… but un oeuf is un oeuf, and so no more egg-related puns. However, we certainly didn’t expect the CofE Easter story statementto be about the “Trinity of Chocolate” (Cadbury, Rowntree and Fry). It was left to Dr Michael Sadgrove, Dean Emeritus of Durham, to inject a degree of sanity into the Church’s position in his comments to the Church Times.
Gratefully accepting a gift-horse of a metaphor, the BHA described it as a storm in an eggcup; it was a gift to the cartoonists and bloggers, while Quakers might shed a silent tear for three businesses founded by Friends. Meanwhile, the willingness of Theresa May to wade into this media-generated nonsense emphasized her lack of action on weightier matters. David Tollerton, of Exeter University, suggests that the whole affair is redolent of “dog-whistle politics”: an undercooked mess that feeds English nationalism, while Esther McConnell, a direct descendant of John Cadbury, pointed out in a tweet that, as a Quaker, he didn’t celebrate Easter anyway.
A week in which IICSA seemed in crisis yet again, another burkini ban was slapped down and the size of the House of Lords came under fire …
Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse
The woes of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse seem to continue undiminished. On 28 September it was announced, and confirmed on 29 September, that the senior member of the Inquiry’s legal team, Ben Emmerson QC of Matrix Chambers, had been suspended from duty; and on the following day he resigned from the role of Counsel to the Inquiry. At the same time, it came to light that Elizabeth Prochaska, Emmerson’s immediate deputy, had already resigned. The BBC reported her as saying:
“I can confirm that after 15 months working on the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, I resigned from my position as Junior Counsel with effect from 15 September 2016. I very much valued the experience of working with the Inquiry and I wish all my former colleagues the best as they continue their work.”
Further information on admission of children to Holy Communion in the Church in Wales
Earlier this month, we reported that the Bishops of the Church in Wales had issued a Pastoral Letter concerning Admission to Holy Communion: as from the First Sunday in Advent this year, 27 November, the Bishops are giving permission to communicate “to all who are baptised in water and in the name of the Holy Trinity” [within their dioceses and jurisdictions]. The Pastoral Letter, initially posted on the St Davids diocesan site, has now been published on the CinW’s provincial website in addition to other explanatory material: Continue reading →
The EU Neverendum grinds on – apart from which, it’s been quite an interesting week…
The Queen’s Speech
We noted the Queen’s Speech, insofar as it touched on issues of law and religion, and some aspects of it have already come in for adverse media comment from precisely that perspective. According to Christian Today, the proposal for a Counter-Extremism and Safeguarding Bill provoked Simon McCrossan, head of public policy at the Evangelical Alliance, to respond:
“It’s extreme to try and tell religious groups what they can and can’t teach under the guise of fundamental British values. It’s extreme to threaten to send Ofsted inspectors into churches if they don’t teach British values. This government’s trying to fight extremism with extremism and the main casualty will be our fundamental freedoms.” Continue reading →
This post examines aspects of ecclesiastical law raised by the christening of Princess Charlotte of Cambridge
Baptisms were in the news last week, first with the Church of England’s publication of Christenings – a positive choice on 3 July, and then the christening of Princess Charlotte of Cambridge (as Charlotte Elizabeth Diana) at St Mary Magdalene, Sandringham on 5 July 2015. It is unusual for christening parties to bring their own water, but Princess Charlotte’s family provided both water and a font. The Daily Telegraph commented “After this heavenly christening, the Church of England should brace itself for a baptism bonanza,” and given the enthusiasm with which a number of the public seek to emulate the trends set by “the royals”, it is likely that incumbents might be requested to replicate them, and this post examines the extent to which recent events were regulated by ecclesiastical law. Continue reading →
In his post Baptism and Godly Living, Philip Jones explores a priest’s obligations in relation to conducting infant baptism and the circumstances under which this might be delayed. Whilst most of those commentating on the recent report in the Daily Mail and Daily Mirror managed to locate and quote Canon B22, Philip extends his considerations to the requirements for godparents within Canon B23, who are required to be “be persons who will faithfully fulfil their responsibilities … by the example of their own godly living”, and must normally be baptised and confirmed, though the minister may dispense with the requirement of confirmation. He notes that the situation is different from that considered by the Court of Arches in Bland v Archdeacon of Cheltenham  1 All ER 1012, which under the 1603 Canons effective at that time, a deliberate refusal to baptise (as distinct from a failure to baptise due to forgetfulness or laziness) should be charged as an offence of disobedience to ecclesiastical law rather than as neglect of duty.
He concludes by saying that “despite the [current] broad wording “as he thinks fit”, it is unlikely that Canon B22(2) empowers the bishop to support an outright refusal to baptise a baby merely because of disapproval of the parents’ lifestyle,” which would be to impose a condition of baptism that is not found in ecclesiastical law. “The dictum in Bland … suggests that the bishop’s power is limited to agreeing that the incumbent may delay the baptism. It is true, however, that any delay may be indefinite, in which case there may be little practical distinction between delay and refusal”. However, such an approach would be viewed as being little better than the comments attributed to the Chester diocese spokesman. Continue reading →