Cost of Conscience No. 9 Canon Law:
The John Keble Conferences
Grace and Order in 1998 the Church

26th January/2nd/9th February
 

Canon Law and Women's Ordination

by Rev. David Sherwood LL.M.

I must begin with a disclaimer. In the title reference is made to "Grace and Order in the Church," In considering the Legislation relating to the Ordination of Women to the Priesthood I see little sign of grace, either in its theological sense or what one might term the aesthetic sense. The approach I make is neither academic nor scriptural.

My approach is entirely practical. The legislation is there. We need to know what it is and work with it or around it as the case may be the better to serve the interests of the People of God.

Introduction

In the days when I was a practising Solicitor, I did a lot of matrimonial work. As part of that practice, it was important that I had a reasonable working knowledge of welfare law. I recall attending a one day course of lectures, one of which was entitled "Welfare Law some Paths through the Jungle." As a result I became an expert on welfare law for several weeks until all the regulations were changed yet again!

Canon Law (which I shall for the purposes of this Lecture equate with Ecclesiastical Law) is rather like that. It is a jungle, in that it is in some respects impenetrable. Fortunately, for the most part, unlike welfare law, it does not have a set of constantly changing complicated regulations.

Most of you will be aware that there is no such thing as British Law. Speaking in England as I am, for us it is the Law of England and Wales. There is not a direct parallel in Canon Law, as Wales has its own separate system, since its disestablishment in 1921. The Church in Wales is separate from the Church of England. However it still retains English Canon Law for the most part in relation to Marriages and Burials, probably because much of that law derives from the civil Law. Having made mention of the Church in Wales, I make no further mention of that Church, the rest of this lecture being devoted to the Church of England, and its Canon Law.

However, there is a further anomaly. In the same way that the Canon Law of the Church of England does not apply to the Church in Wales, there are other parts of the Church of England which are covered by the Canon Law of the Church of England, although they have their own separate legal systems. The biggest anomaly is that the Diocese of Gibraltar in Europe is subject to the Canon Law of the Church of England. To that must be added the Isle of Man in the Diocese of Sodor and Man, and the Channel Islands in the Diocese of Winchester.

A summary of the Problems

Having seen where the Canon Law applies, it is appropriate to look at its inherent problems, which may be summarised as follows

1) There is no real separation of powers

2) The sources are disparate.

3) It is difficult to know who to ask, or where to look, if you have a problem

4) Practitioners are few and most potential litigants are impecunious. Thus some injustices persist, because those seeking a remedy cannot afford to resort to litigation, and such injustices almost acquire the status of a custom. Most litigants are reluctant because Christians should not need to go to court to resolve disputes between them. Thus there are relatively few decisions to clarify the law and too many grey areas.

5) The legislation relating to Women's Ordination has all the problems relating to the rest of Canon Law, but such problems are exacerbated due to the novelty both of the situation and the legislation that applies to it.

So let me first expand on some of my general points and subsequently move to being more specific.

1) Separation of Powers

It is a basic principle of Constitutional Law that the Legislative, Executive (otherwise known as Administrative) and Judicial powers should not be in the same hands. The purpose is to limit the use of power by the Government so that one particular institution does not enjoy complete power. It is a power controlling exercise and that control depends on its fragmentation.

In the English situation most legislation derives from Parliament, and Judges, Magistrates etc. have the Judicial powers. The executive has a kind of residual character, comprising those powers not already comprised in the Legislature and the Judicature. The executive thus includes the Civil Service, the Armed Forces, Police, Local Authorities and Independent Statutory bodies.

For the Church, in the case of new legislation, the Legislators are the General Synod, Parliament usually enacting what Synod passes. Some subordinate legislation, such as Diocesan regulations, is directly in the hands of the Bishops. The executive, on what might be termed the Criminal side, is the Bishop or his officers. The House of Bishops are part of General Synod, of course. In administering the law, the Archdeacon may fairly be considered as a Bishop's Officer. Consistory Courts are Bishops' Courts. It is only in those cases that reach the Civil Courts that one sees any degree of independence.

In all aspects of the exercise of powers, the Bishops at least have a hand. One can see the origin of this in the writings of St. Ignatius of Antioch early in the second century. For example in his letter to the Trallians he talks of "your obedience to your Bishop as though he were Jesus Christ." One suspects there may be a number of Bishops who literally believe this!

2) Sources

In an article for the Ecclesiastical Law Journal, Judge Quentin Edwards suggested six basic sources:

a) Papal and Domestic Canon Law

b) Ecclesiastical Common Law

c) The relevant pans of the Civil Law

d) Parliamentary Statutes

e) Measures of the Church Assembly and the General Synod

f) T he Canons.

To these, Briden and Hanson, in the current edition of Moore's Introduction to English Canon Law, add two further sources:

g) Subordinate legislation e.g. Orders in Council pursuant to an Act of Parliament or a Measure, Statutory Rules and Orders, Local Authority bye-laws etc. The inclusion of this can be implied from the first list, but it is argued by Briden and Hanson that another source is

h) Theology, primarily the Bible, but also Patristic writings, the opinions of other authors, Pronouncements of Lambeth Conferences, liturgical formularies, the views of the Convocations and the General Synod.

All of these sources are given varying degrees of weight. In effect one can say that the same weight, broadly speaking, will be given to laws as in any English civil court of law and to that law may be added measures and canons.

In terms of newly created law, some statutes will affect the Church, but by and large the newly created law will be in the measures of the General Synod and the Canons. General Synod has power to pass Measures in procedures akin to Parliament but such measures need to passed by the Queen in Parliament to come into force. Thereafter the General Synod promulges Canons which are binding on the clergy. The Canon cannot override or repeal a Measure and the power to make canons always derives from a Measure.

3) Where to seek an answer

Archdeacons are meant to be legal officers, but their training is erratic these days, and formerly non-existent. It may be the Archdeacon and/or Bishop against whom you are seeking redress. There are various legal textbooks and an excellent publication., regularly updated, called Legal Opinions concerning the Church of England. You may also be fortunate enough in having someone qualified in Canon Law locally!

4a) Practitioners are few

The average Solicitor knows nothing about Canon Law. In his office he will probably have the relevant volumes on Ecclesiastical Law, from Halsbury's Laws and Statutes respectively, but those volumes are out-of-date before they are printed. By making enquiries one could discover the name of the Diocesan Registrar. The only problem is that the registrar may turn out to be acting for your probable opponent, the Church, in the person of the Chancellor, Bishop or Archdeacon. The anomalous situation is that the Registrar is duty bound to give free advice to any cleric who contacts him seeking it. He does not advise what to do; merely on what the law is as he sees it. Only the biggest firms of Solicitors, other than those with the Diocesan Registrar as a partner, are really equipped to advise on Canon Law. There will always be exceptions such as a Solicitor who is a committed Churchman and has taught himself the basics. The first graduates of the only Canon Law course in the country graduated in 1994. That is the first such course since the Reformation. It is a small group, Fr. Jonathan Redvers Harris and I being among the first twelve (does this have a significance?) who graduated. Thus there are probably now about 50 of us holding a Master's Degree in Canon Law.

To illustrate the paucity of knowledge of the average practitioner, let me tell you the story of a legal executive who worked for the firm in which I was once a partner. He knew I was studying Canon Law, so contacted me to pick my brains. He was buying a shop which had once been a Methodist Chapel. His wife was a committed Anglican and he occasionally attended church himself, being the Secretary of the local Parish, not Parish Church, Council. He was quite surprised to discover the Canon Law did not apply to Methodist Church, for the simple reason that the Methodist Church is not part of the Church of England (yet!) I do not criticise. It is just that Canon Law is such a rarefied field.

4b) Potential Litigants are impecunious

Legal Aid is available for the Cleric who is charged with a disciplinary offence. I am thinking more of those cases where the Bishop suspends the living, thereby depriving the patron of a say in the appointment, and the prospective incumbent not having the security of the parson's freehold. Few parishes can afford the costs of litigation to lift the suspension.

I heard of the case of a certain Bishop who automatically suspended every living that fell vacant. Eventually he came up against a patron in the form of a University College, which threatened to take him to court to put him to proof of his reasons for suspension. Overnight that suspension and about 50 others were lifted!

5) The legislation relating to Women's Ordination and its Novelty

Most of the points under this heading will come out later. A usual method of resolving ambiguities is to guess an answer, and ask the legal adviser to General Synod to confirm it.

I now turn my attention to the legislation relating to Women's Ordination.

Legislation relating to the Ordination of Women to the Priesthood

Since the 22nd February 1994, Women have been able to be ordained to the Priesthood under the provisions of the Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure 1993. Section 1(1) allows that canons may be made for the ordination of women to the Priesthood. Such Canons were duly promulged, the relevant Canon being C4B. Thus far, a woman may not be consecrated Bishop, that being re-iterated by Section 1(2) of the Measure, and at Canon C25. It must, of course, be recalled that the Ordination of Women as Deacons was only permitted as recently as 1986 by the Deacons (Ordination of Women) Measure 1986 which did not permit the Ordination of women as priests!

The difficult question to answer is how long the present situation will remain. That must remain a matter of speculation. How similar is the English situation to that in the United States or New Zealand, for example? The extent of the opposition, and how the practicalities of living with two so-called integrities will be the criteria to be applied in seeking the answer to that question.

Sources

The legislation relating to Women Priests draws on a number of sources, all of which need to be harmonised. The relevant areas are as follows:-

1) The legislation itself

a) Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure 1993

b) Ordination of Women (Financial Provisions) Measure 1993

c) Resulting amendments to other legislation, in particular the Patronage (Benefices) Measure 1986.

2) Canons consequent thereto, i.e. principally Canon C4B.

3) Court Cases

4) The Code of Practice

5) The Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993

6) The London Plan, applicable only in the Diocese of London.

7) Guidance on the Legislation given by the Registrar of the Provinces of Canterbury and York to Diocesan Bishops and Registrars.

All of these are inter-related.

Court Cases

The basic measure, its legality and interpretation have been challenged in various cases in the Civil court, culminating in Williamson v. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York and the Church Commissioners in 1994. This case, I feel, has probably brought the litigation to a conclusion. The judgement in that case makes it clear that the General Synod has the power to change the doctrine of the Church of England. Whether there are any restraints upon such power remains to be seen, but at first sight this judgement seems to have opened up the possibility of any change that Synod might care to pass. The only safeguard is that the legislation would also need to be passed by the Queen in Parliament, having been found "expedient" by the Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament. These days it is unlikely that Parliament would ever go against the wishes of Synod normally.

The status of the Measures referred to above is unassailable. Any amendments can only emanate from General Synod.

Resolutions A to C

In practice we are concerned mainly with what have come to be known as Resolutions A, B and C. Resolutions A and B are indeed known as such, and are to be found in Schedule 1 to the Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure 1993. Resolution A states "That this Parochial Church Council would not accept a Woman as the Minister who presides at or celebrates the Holy Communion or pronounces the Absolution in the Parish". Resolution B states "That this Parochial Church Council would not accept a woman as the incumbent or priest in charge of the benefice or as a team vicar for the benefice". Resolution C emanates from the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 Sections 7 to 10. As Resolution C is not statutory, a precise form of wording does not have to be used, but the following is recommended, namely "This Parochial Church Council resolves to petition the Diocesan Bishop requesting that 5 appropriate Episcopal Duties in the Parish should be carried out in accordance with the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993".

The operation of Resolutions A and B

Although it has been stated many times, it is worth considering the correct procedures concerning Resolutions A and B namely :-

1) It is not mandatory for the Resolutions to be put to the PCC unless there is a vacancy. I shall deal with the situation relating to interregna later.

2) The form of wording must be exactly in accordance with the wording of Schedule 1, as I have already stated.

3) Four weeks notice must be given of the meeting at which the Resolutions will be considered.

4) At least half of those members entitled to attend must be at the meeting.

5) If passed, notice must be given to the following:

a) The Diocesan Bishop

b) The Rural Dean

c) The Lay Chairman of the Deanery Synod.

d) The Diocesan Registrar

e) The Diocesan Officer in relation to the living

f) The Patron of the Living.

There are two exceptions to the usual rules:-

1) Where there is already a woman priest in office in the parish

2) Where there is a vacancy in the Parish.

Resolution A may not be passed "if the incumbent or priest in charge of the benefice concerned or any team vicar or assistant curate for that benefice is a woman... priest".

The Code of Practice and Guidance on the Legislation given by the Registrar of the Provinces of Canterbury and York to Diocesan Bishops and Registrars.

The Code of Practice is of importance. It must be borne in mind that it is merely a Code, and is not binding. It may be looked upon as a kind of suggestion of good practice and no more. But such a code, to the extent that it is binding could be revoked or varied by the House of Bishops at any time. The guidance on the legislation is probably of an even lesser legal status. It is guidance from a legal officer, albeit the Provincial Registrar. The code as supplemented by the Guide uses bold language, as to which more later. It is debatable whether a breach of the code could give rise to any action. In my view the breach would have to be serious and then a right of action for judicial review might lie. 1 apologise for the cautionary note, but the law remains to be tested in the courts.

The code of Practice at paragraph 3 stresses that its provisions and the act should he "fully honoured". This is supporting a previous statement at paragraph 2 "the House of Bishops and the General Synod have recognised that there have been, and will continue to be, deeply held differences and convictions about the ordination of women to the Priesthood and that some Bishops, Clergy and Lay people find it unacceptable. Christian charity of the exercise of true Pastoral care require that careful provision he made to respect as far as possible their position while doing as little as possible to prejudice the full exercise of priestly ministry by women".

The code of practice makes clear that "Where a benefice comprises more than one Parish, the passing of Resolution B by any one PCC prevents the appointment of a woman as incumbent of the benefice". The Guidance states "Resolution B can be considered by a Parish of the benefice even if one of the team vicars is a woman priest". The Code of practice further states "Resolution A applies only to an individual Parish, and not to other Parishes in the same benefice. Its existence will however limit the scope of the ministry of any woman serving within the benefice".

Under Section 3 (7) of the Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure 1993, when a vacancy arises, the PCC must decide whether to pass Resolutions A and B. However this has been construed by the Guidance as "Resolutions A and B do not need to be voted upon if that is the wish of the PCC". It merely must be on the Agenda of the Meeting called under Section 11 of the Patronage (Benefices) Measure 1986.

Resolution C

Some of the more important points concerning Resolution C need now to be considered. This type of Resolution was created by the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993. The status of an act of Synod was judicially considered in the case of Bland v. The Archdeacon of Cheltenham in 1972, in which Mr. Justice Hawes stated "these recommendations did not have the force of statute law, but they had the great moral force as the considered judgement of the highest and ancient Synod of the Province." Thus the Act does not enjoy the same high status of a Measure. An analogy may fairly be drawn with the Act of Convocation of 1st October 1957. That may be found on pages 182-3 at the end of the Canons of the Church of England. That in broad terms recommends that divorcees whose former spouse is still living should not be married in Church. Forty years on it is treated merely as a guide to good practice, and most Bishops do not expect their clergy to adhere to it. However, to be practicable, one would not expect the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod to last forty years!

The code of practice provides "Under Section 7 of the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod the Parochial Church Council of a Parish where Resolution A or B is in force may petition the Diocesan Bishop concerned to the effect that appropriate Episcopal duties & the Parish should be carried out in accordance with the Diocesan Regional or Provincial arrangements described in the Act."

The arrangements for the Diocese of London are contained in the London Plan, of which more later. Section 7 of the Act lays down that as a prerequisite to the petition, a Resolution (i.e. either A or B) must have been passed. The meeting at which the vote is taken must be attended by at least half of those entitled to attend, four weeks notice usually being required. At least two thirds of the members of the Council present and voting must be in favour of the Resolution. The minister must also be in favour of the Resolution in question, whether or not he was present and voted. Thus the minister has a final veto of a kind, although the Bishop does not have to take account of this, although in practice he does.

When a PCC has presented a petition, it may be withdrawn at any time. However, by a seemingly strange anomaly, a two thirds majority is needed in favour of rejecting Resolution C. For as the code of practice states " a petition may be withdrawn by the PCC at any time, subject to the same procedures as applied in passing the motion." In any event, Resolution C needs to be re-taken at least every five years.

The legislation makes no provision as to the form of wording of the motion required under Resolution C, but it has been suggested by the Legal Adviser to the General Synod that the wording of the initial motion should be "This Parochial Church Council resolves to petition the Diocesan Bishop requesting that appropriate Episcopal duties in the Parish should be carried out in accordance with the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993."

The requirements to pass this are :-

1) That Resolutions A or B have already been passed and remain in force.

2) Two thirds of those present and voting are in favour

When that is renewed, after five years, the suggested form of Resolution is "This Parochial Church Council having reviewed the working arrangements for Episcopal Oversight resolves to continue the arrangements for a further five years."

That motion requires merely a simple majority.

[If you feel you are back in that jungle of which I spoke in my opening remarks, I do have a double sided A4 sheet which I prepared for London Forward in Faith, relating to the passing of Resolutions A to C. Free copies of this are available.]

The operation of Alternative Episcopal Oversight

There are various different schemes operating in different Dioceses. It must be remembered that the request for an Alternative Bishop is simply that, a request. Even the request itself is vaguely worded in that there is reference to "appropriate Episcopal duties". If the request were ignored altogether I take the view that the Bishop would be in breach of the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod of 1993 and that he could be forced to abide by it by means of seeking judicial review in the High Court. However, that would be both an expensive and a cumbersome procedure.

The Provincial Episcopal Visitors, and here 1 would also include the Bishop of Fulham are, by their very nature, both strange and exotic. I mean that, of course, in the legal sense knowing two of them now reasonably well. The PEVs are, of course, Bishops but at present are not members of the House of Bishops. In some Dioceses they are welcome and indeed licensed as assistant Bishops but in other Dioceses they are effectively put under the ban.

The reasons for this must be speculation (hopefully intelligent) on my part in that I seek to look into the minds of the Bishops concerned. Broadly speaking I think we are dealing with two situations:-

1. If either the Diocesan Bishop or one of his Suffragans does not ordain women to the Priesthood then that Bishop feels that the presence of a Flying Bishop is unnecessary as provision is already being made for those who cannot accept the ordination of women to the Priesthood.

2. In the case of those Dioceses where all the Bishops ordain women to the Priesthood it seems to be the attitude that the Bishop feels that he should make his own arrangements for those who cannot accept the ordination of women to the Priesthood and he will not accept a system being imposed upon him.

It must be remembered that the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod was passed unanimously. If I try to be charitable, perhaps it is simply that the Bishops who voted for it but will not allow the flying Bishops to enter their Dioceses feel there is something basically flawed in the legislation now that they did not perceive at the time! Various arrangements exist including the crossing of Diocesan boundaries with Bishops being commissaries of other Bishops, etc. No clear pattern has emerged. Some Bishops help to make it work whereas others make things as difficult as possible. In the Diocese of London there is a formalised plan on which it is worthwhile commenting.

The London Plan

The London Plan is in the form of a declaration by the Bishops of London, Edmonton, Kensington, Stepney, Willesden and Fulham. If Resolutions A or B and C have been passed the Bishop of Fulham will exercise Episcopal functions. The current declaration is the second such declaration by the London Bishops. The first was entered into in January 1994 which was replaced in June 1997 by a declaration in essentially similar form following four changes in personnel.

The status of the London Plan is in effect controlled by its final paragraph namely "this declaration is intended to bind successors in title until such time as it is rescinded by the Bishop of London and a majority of the Bishops of Edmonton, Kensington, Stepney, Willesden and Fulham". Thus in order to be rescinded the Bishop of London would need to be in favour of rescission. A majority of the other Bishops would also need to be in favour of rescission. There has been a change in the balance of the other Bishops between the first and second declarations. The previous balance of four to one against the ordination of women to the Priesthood has been replaced by a three to two majority in favour of it.

There is a kind of addendum to the London Plan in that the Bishop of Fulham is also the Episcopal Visitor for the Dioceses of Southwark and Rochester.

The Interregnum

It was the present Bishop of Fulham whom I first heard say those terrifying words in addressing a group of Priests "the person you have most to fear is your successor." It is during the Interregnum that Parishes are most at risk of lasting change.

The primary legislation remains the Patronage (Benefices) Measure 1986. This has been amended by the Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure 1993. The object of the legislation is to ensure that there should be a consultation between all the interested parties to ensure that the right person is appointed to the living.

One of the interested parties is the Patron of the living. We sometimes use the technical word advowson to indicate the person or body who has the rights to appoint to the living. However, those rights can be held in abeyance if the living is suspended by the Bishop. Usually the only ground for suspension is Pastoral reorganisation such as the amalgamation of Benefices and the like. However, it has been widely used in circumstances where it would be difficult to prove that a viable Pastoral scheme exists. This prevents the private Patron having a say in the new appointment in the case of those livings where the Bishop or Diocesan Board of Patronage is not already the Patron. The Bishop is, of course, responsible to the relevant Pastoral Committee but it is time consuming to go through the Pastoral

9 Committee and which member of it will challenge his Bishop when he puts forward cogent reasons why the living should be suspended?

As well as preventing the private Patron from having a say it means that the ultimate appointee will merely be licensed as Priest-in-charge of the Parish without the benefits of the Parson's Freehold and the job security that that brings. In these difficult times the necessary insecurity of only being a Priest-in-charge may, in itself, deter good prospective applicants.

Under Section 7 of the Patronage (Benefices) Measure 1986 when a vacancy occurs, notice is given, inter alia, to the PCC Secretary and within the four weeks following receipt of that notice there must be a section 11 (of that measure) meeting. The relevant provision so far as the Resolutions are concerned is:-

1. The Parish must decide whether or not to put Resolutions A and B. They do not have to be put. Consideration of Resolution C is entirely optional.

2. Let us first consider a Parish where no Resolutions are in force. They do not have to consider them but must vote in favour of not considering them if that is their wish.

3. For a Parish that has already passed the Resolutions they do not have to be retaken. In that case they, too, might wish not to reconsider them.

4. If a Parish decides to retake Resolutions A and B by that retaking Resolution C automatically lapses. Remember that either Resolution A or B must be in force as a prerequisite to Resolution C being taken and so if A and B are retaken C automatically lapses. The Parish would then have to decide whether or not it wished to retake Resolution C in which case it would need a two thirds majority.

5. In my view Resolutions A, B and C can all be taken at the same meeting. Resolution C merely requires that Resolutions A or B have been passed prior to its being taken. No time gap is specified. It might be several years or a few minutes.

6. It is also established, although unclear in the Legislation, that Resolution C can be taken or retaken during an Interregnum. Resolution C being in place is very important as the Provincial Episcopal Visitor then becomes entitled as of right to being involved in the consultation process leading to the appointment of the new incumbent. In other circumstances his involvement is optional.

During an Interregnum a great responsibility lies with the Parish representatives. They may need to withstand pressure brought upon them by a Bishop or private Patron who may have very different views as to the suitability of a prospective incumbent than the Parish has.

Anomalies and irregularities

One of the biggest anomalies is the control the Bishop may exercise through the Pastoral Committee. Thus pressure may need to be brought to bear to ensure the lifting of the suspension of a living even in cases where the Parish may have passed all the Resolutions including C.

As you have listened to me expounding various Regulations you may well have known of Parishes where those Regulations were, to put it mildly, not followed. I will be charitable and 10 attribute those irregularities to ignorance through working with new and in some cases imprecise legislation. There may be a very small minority of cases where something could still be done but you cannot undo what has already been done unless you can prove fraud, a very difficult thing to do. If the wrong man, or even woman, has been appointed then it is almost certainly too late to do anything about it. All one can do is warn and make sure that people are made aware of their rights and ensure that they are allowed to exercise them.

Financial Matters

The compensation provisions are contained in the Ordination of Women (financial provisions) Measure 1993. Under section 1 (2)(d) of that Measure compensation is payable until the 21st February 2004, i.e. ten years from the promulgation of the Canon permitting the Ordination of Women as Priests.

However, this could be amended if a simple majority of Synod passed an amending Measure which then obtained the consent of Parliament.

Those entitled to compensation are every Clerk in Holy Orders, Deaconess or Lay Worker in "whole time stipendiary ecclesiastical service" on the 21st February 1994 or during the six months preceding that date, having by then having completed at least five years full time service.

The entitlement is to:-

a. Housing assistance in any Church housing scheme.

b. A lump sum resettlement grant of at least three tenths of the national minimum stipend for the year in which application for the grant is made.

c. Monthly income for at least three years or, if the applicant is at least 50 at the time of the application, until he is an age within 5 years of the retiring age. The rate of income is in year 1 the national minimum stipend falling to three quarters in year 2 and two thirds in year 3 and, if applicable, thereafter two thirds of the minimum stipend.

There are various other discretionary payments. Broadly speaking payments are proportionately reduced if the applicant obtains paid employment.

Miscellaneous

Under paragraphs 14 and 15 of the Code of Practice in effect an Ordination Candidate cannot object to being Ordained with women Deacons but can object to be Ordained with women Priests. An incumbent cannot ban his Diocesan from the Parish but can ban others although the Archdeacon and/or the Rural Dean could hold Visitations. However, under paragraph 1 of the guidance of the Legislation the power of Visitation could not extend to insisting on attending services against the wishes of the incumbent, "No Priest or Deacon ordained by a woman Bishop may be given permission to officiate" states paragraph 3 of that guidance.

Conclusion

What of the future? Wide ranging speculation is not within my brief but it is appropriate to make a positive note of which people may need reminding on occasions namely the final paragraph of the Code of Practice paragraph 32, which states "the arrangements in the Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure and the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod provide a framework within which those members of the Church of England of differing views on the Ordination of Women to the Priesthood can seek to remain in the highest possible degree of communion with one another. Mutual respect and trust will be essential if the arrangements are to work successfully. The aim must be for all to continue to participate in every aspect of the Church's life to the fullest extent which individual conscience will allow showing at all times that charity, courtesy and respect for others which are among the hallmarks of the true Christian."

More people need to be made aware of the Legislation and to use the Canon Law as it provides a workable framework to enable orthodox members of the Church of England to stay within that Church. It also can provide the stable base from which wider ecumenical relations can be established. One of the reasons why the present system is working is the high quality of the so called Flying Bishops. They provide us with the model of how a Bishop can truly be the focus of unity within the Church.

Return to Home Page of This Issue

Return to Trushare Opening Page