The Legal Framework of the Church of England: A Critical Study in a Comparative Context

The Legal Framework of the Church of England: A Critical Study in a Comparative Context

The Legal Framework of the Church of England: A Critical Study in a Comparative Context

The Legal Framework of the Church of England: A Critical Study in a Comparative Context

Synopsis

This book describes in detail the ways in which the life of the Church of England is affected by law. It deals with a great many topics including canonical jurisprudence, ecclesiastical government, the ministry of clergy and laity, faith, doctrine and liturgy, the churches' rites and the management of property and finance. Each of these subjects is studied and analyzed critically and where appropriate comparisons are made with the Roman Catholic Church. Five general themes emerge: first is the degree to which the church can be said to be regulated; the second concerns the increasingly important use of administrative rules created executively at national and diocesian level to supplement the churches formal law; the third examines the relationship between the formal law and the pastoral values of clarity, certainty and flexibility; the fourth theme is the applicability of secular law; the final theme is the comparison with the canon law of the Roman Catholic Church. Thus the book provides for the first time a comprehensive, descriptive and critical analysis of the legal framework of the Church of England and the regulatory instruments which operate within this framework.

Excerpt

It may be thought presumptuous for an organist in the Church in Wales to write a book comparing the law of the Church of England with that of the Roman Catholic Church. However, that a project of this sort should be undertaken is not surprising. No attempt has previously been made to compare the laws applicable to these churches. Moreover, given the current ecumenical climate the project may be considered legitimate, particularly at a time when the study of church law is experiencing a genuine renaissance. Both the Church of England, not least through the Ecclesiastical Law Society, and the Roman Catholic Church, through the Canon Law Society of Great Britain and Ireland, are contributing immensely to this revival. For the Church of England, the revision of canon law in the 1960s and the introduction of synodical government in 1970, and for the Roman Catholic Church, the promulgation of the new Code of Canon Law in 1983, have stimulated a vast literature on the respective legal systems of these churches, but largely along separate albeit parallel paths. This book seeks to elucidate the relationship between these two substantial legal systems, and their relative positions with respect to the secular state and its law.

I came to the subject after studying late medieval common law, upon which the influence of canonists and canon law has for a long time been a matter of debate. My studies, which carefully avoided this debate, were limited to the development of medieval law and jurisprudence until around 1500. I wondered where all that canon law had gone. One Sunday afternoon in 1988 (after playing the organ) I read an issue of the Ecclesiastical Law Journal, produced by theEcclesiastical Law Society and then in its infancy. With encouragement and support from that Society, in particular from my colleague the Revd. Thomas Watkin and from the Revd. John Masding, convenor of the Society's Working Party on Education in Ecclesiastical and Canon Law, and his predecessor the Ven. Hughie Jones, in 1991 the LL M in Canon Law was introduced at Cardiff. This collaborative venture, between the Cardiff Law School and St. Michael's Theological College, Llandaff, through its Warden, the Revd. Canon John Rowlands, has been a great success. It was from seminar discussions with the first intake of students on this course that the idea of a book emerged. The course thrives and this book is a direct result of it. To the many students who have already undertaken the course I owe much, not least for their tolerance with the inevitable process of experimentation.

I have relied heavily on the kindness and expertise of many who read draft chapters. For their invaluable comments and suggestions I owe a special debt . . .

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