Lord Carey resigns as honorary assistant bishop

The Bishop of Oxford has released the following press statement:

“I have met with Lord Carey following the Archbishop’s letter to him. In light of Dame Moira Gibb’s review into the Peter Ball case, Lord Carey has resigned from his role as honorary Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Oxford. Lord Carey has accepted the criticisms made of him in the Gibb review and has apologised to the victims of Peter Ball. Continue reading

Huberta the Hippopotamus, the Bishop who wouldn’t resign – and the Diocese of Mzimvubu

In a further guest post, David Scrooby, an attorney of the Republic of South Africa, follows up his previous post on the dispute between Bishop Mlibo Ngewu and the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.

In 1930 a hippopotamus named Huberta became famous as she walked 1600 miles from Lake St Lucia in northern KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) to near Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape, crossing over the great rivers of the Diocese of Mzimvubu (DOM).

Reflecting this epic journey, Mlibo Ngewu has moved from the KZN High Court to the Eastern Cape High Court, and in Ngewu v Archbishop Makgoba & Others (EL197/2016, ECD497/2016 [2017] Eastern Cape Local Division, East London Circuit (25 May 2017), (unreported) his position as Bishop of the Diocese of Mzimvubu was the cause of further litigation in a secular court. He was again unsuccessful and Acting Judge Nicola Molony dismissed the application for an interdict against the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, with costs. Continue reading

Objection to episcopal election in the Anglican Church of Canada

The Anglican Church of Canada has issued the following press release:

House of Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of BC & Yukon registers objection to election of the Rev. Jacob Worley

For immediate release

The House of Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of BC & Yukon in the Anglican Church of Canada has registered its objection to the episcopal election of the Rev. Jacob Worley in the Diocese of Caledonia. Their objection is registered under Canon 4 (b) vi  “That he or she teaches or holds or within five years previously taught or held anything contrary to the Doctrine or Discipline of the Anglican Church of Canada.

Continue reading

The Bishop of the River of Hippopotamuses and the Archbishop of Cape Town

In a guest post, David Scrooby, an attorney of the Republic of South Africa, discusses a highly unusual recent case – the first of its kind in over 150 years… 

Introduction

The case of Bishop Mlibo Ngewu v The Anglican Church of Southern Africa and Ten Others [2016] ZAKZPHC 88 is about the first canonical trial of a Bishop in Southern Africa since that of Bishop Colenso in 1864. The judgment of Her Ladyship Sharmaine Balton J, handed down in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg on 6 October 2016, may not have the impact of that of the Privy Council in 1865 (to which Colenso appealed) or the canonical depth of that of the South African Labour Court in Cape Town in Church of the Province of Southern Africa, Diocese of Cape Town v Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration and Others [2001] ZALC 141. However, the judgment is important in a number of respects. Continue reading

Dismissing a minister of religion: Celestial Church of Christ

In a recent hearing in the Chancery Division,  the employment status of a minister of religion arose once again…

…in this case, coloured by a factional dispute within the congregation. The Court also addressed the interesting question of whether or not a charity could maintain an action in tort for passing-off, even though it was not engaged in trading.

Background

The facts in Celestial Church of Christ, Edward Street Parish (A Charity) v Lawson [2017] EWHC 97 (Ch) were as follows. The Celestial Church of Christ was founded by the Revd Samuel Oshoffa in the Republic of Benin in 1947 and incorporated in Nigeria in 1958; its present written constitution dates from 1980 [2]. Continue reading

Sacking clergy the South African way: Fortuin v Church of Christ

Introduction

In Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v EEOC 565 US ____ (2012) the US Supreme Court ruled that there is a “ministerial exception” grounded in the First Amendment that precludes the application of employment protection legislation to claims about the employment relationship between a religious institution and its clergy:

“Requiring a church to accept or retain an unwanted minister, or punishing a church for failing to do so, intrudes upon more than a mere employment decision. Such action interferes with the internal governance of the church, depriving the church of control over the selection of those who will personify its beliefs. By imposing an unwanted minister, the state infringes the Free Exercise Clause” [p 3 of the slip opinion].

As we suggested in a recent post, Employment status of clergy: goodbye to the ‘Servant of God’?, the situation in the UK has been more nuanced. Now, along comes a South African case that takes a very different view of clergy employment rights from that espoused by SCOTUS. Continue reading

Law and religion round-up – 15th May

Not much domestic news this week apart from the continuing saga of the British Bill of Rights, but quite a lot going on elsewhere… 

A British Bill of Rights? Peers say “think again”

On Monday, the EU Justice Sub-Committee of the House of Lords, chaired by Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, published a report on the Government’s proposals to repeal the Human Rights Act and replace it with a new Bill of Rights – and said that there was a forceful case for a Government rethink. It pointed out that:

“The proposals the Secretary of State outlined did not appear to depart significantly from the Human Rights Act—we note in particular that all the rights contained within the ECHR are likely to be affirmed in any British Bill of Rights. His evidence left us unsure why a British Bill of Rights was really necessary.

If a Bill of Rights is not intended to change significantly the protection of human rights in the UK, we recommend the Government give careful thought before proceeding with this policy. As the former Lord Chief Justice Rt Hon Lord Woolf CH told us, the repeal of the Human Rights Act and its replacement by a Bill of Rights would be a constitutional change of the greatest significance” [Summary of Conclusions and Recommendations 2 & 3: our emphasis]. Continue reading