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The Process of Appointment of Bishops in the Church of England: A Historical and Legal Critique

  • Stephen Coleman (a1)
Extract

‘The manner of appointment [of bishops] reflects the delicate balance between the established nature of the Church of England and its autonomous self-governance.’ As with most matters of Church of England ecclesiology and polity, the process of the appointment of bishops in the Church of England is firmly rooted within the reforms of the sixteenth century, but has origins which stretch back to the mediaeval Church. This comment article focuses on the appointment of diocesan bishops in the Church of England.

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1 Hill, M, Ecclesiastical Law (third edition, Oxford 2007), p 145.

2 The appointment of suffragan bishops follows a different process.

3 Canon C 1(1).

4 Doe, N, The Legal Framework of the Church of England (Oxford, 1996), p 161.

5 Canon C 1(2).

6 See MacCulloch, D, Later Reformation in England (second edition, London, 2000), p 61.

7 Ibid , p 78.

8 Doe, Legal Framework, p 161.

9 Episcopal Ministry: the report of the Archbishop's Group on the Episcopate, GS 944 (London, 1990), p 222.

10 Ibid .

11 Appointment of Bishops Act 1533, s 3.

12 Episcopal Ministry, p 222.

13 Doe, N, Canon Law in the Anglican Communion (Oxford, 1998), p 109.

14 See further The Principles of Canon Law Common to the Churches of the Anglican Communion (2008) (hereafter ‘PCLCCAC’), available at <www.anglicancommunion.org/media/124862/AC-Principles-of-Canon-Law.pdf>, accessed 7 February 2017.

15 Doe, Canon Law in the Anglican Communion, p 109 and n 32.

16 PCLCCAC, Principle 36(1).

17 PCLCCAC, Principle 36(3).

18 Doe, Canon Law in the Anglican Communion, p 110, n 42.

19 PCLCCAC, Principle 35(4).

20 Ibid , Principle 35(6).

21 Doe, Legal Framework, p 163.

22 See further Vacancy in See Committees Regulations 1993, as amended 2003, 2007 and 2008.

23 See The Governance of Britain, Green Paper, Cmnd 7170 (2007) paras 57–66.

24 Appointment of Bishops Act 1533, s 3; Hill, Ecclesiastical Law, p 146.

25 The Cathedrals Measure 1999, s 3.

26 Introduction by the Vicar General to ‘Confirmation of the election of the Right Reverend Peter Hancock as Bishop of Bath and Wells’ (unpublished, 4 March 2014), p 9.

27 Canon C 17(2).

28 Canon C 2(2).

29 Appointment of Bishops Act 1533, s 5. See also Episcopal Ministry, pp 229–230.

30 Palmer, B, High and Mitred (London, 1992), p 4.

31 Ibid , p 5.

32 MacCulloch, D, Tudor Church Militant (London, 1999), p 32.

33 Palmer, High and Mitred, p 6.

34 Ibid .

35 Ibid , p 2.

36 For occasions in history when this was not respected by the monarch, see ibid, pp 6–7.

37 Senior Church Appointments: the report of the working party established by the Standing Committee of the General Synod of the Church of England, GS 1019 (London, 1992), appendix V, p 107.

38 Written parliamentary answer of the Prime Minister, James Callaghan MP, 8 June 1976. Senior Church Appointments, pp 107–108.

39 Hill, Ecclesiastical Law, p 145.

40 Ibid .

41 Written parliamentary answer of the Prime Minister, Mr James Callaghan, 8 June 1976. Senior Church Appointments, p 108.

42 Hill, Ecclesiastical Law, p 145, n 271.

43 Governance of Britain, para 62.

44 Ibid , para 63.

45 House of Commons Library, Standard Note SN/PC/04403, ‘Prime Ministerial involvement in ecclesiastical appointments’, 2008, p 9.

47 [2003] EWHC 1960, (2003) 7 Ecc LJ 369.

48 Blake v Associated Newspapers per Gray J. See Hill, Ecclesiastical Law, p 27, n 171.

49 Ibid , pp 26–27.

50 V Bogdanor, , The Monarchy and the Constitution (Oxford, 1995), p 65.

51 See Marshall, G, Constitutional Conventions: the rules and forms of political accountability (Oxford, 1984), p 4.

52 Doe, Legal Framework, p 166, n 35.

53 Elliot, M, Administrative Law (third edition, Oxford, 2005), pp 116117 .

54 [1920] AC 508. See Elliot, Administrative Law, p 117.

55 Doe, Legal Framework, p 381.

56 Hill, Ecclesiastical Law, p 148.

57 Marshall, Constitutional Conventions, p 216.

58 Turpin, C and Tomkins, A, British Government and the Constitution (seventh edition, Cambridge, 2011), p 189.

59 Ibid , pp 193–195.

60 Ibid , p 192.

61 Allan, T, Law, Liberty and Justice: the legal foundations of British constitutionalism (Oxford, 1993), pp 253–254.

62 Doe, Canon Law in the Anglican Communion, p 109. See also PCLCCAC, Principle 36(1).

63 ‘Briefing for Members of Vacancy in See Committees’, pp 7–8, available at <www.churchofengland.org/media/35871/dbnom3.pdf>, accessed 7 February 2017.

64 Working with the Spirit: choosing diocesan bishops: a review of the operation of the Crown Appointments Commission and related matters, GS 1405 (London, 2001), p 62.

65 I am very grateful to Dr RM Morris of the Constitution Unit of University College London for this observation.

66 Only at the confirmation of election can an objection be made, and then only as to the election being defective as to form or on the grounds that the nominee was not the royal appointee. See Doe, Legal Framework of the Church of England, pp 166–167.

67 Senior Church Appointments, p 24.

68 I am again grateful to Dr Morris for this clarification.

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Ecclesiastical Law Journal
  • ISSN: 0956-618X
  • EISSN: 1751-8539
  • URL: /core/journals/ecclesiastical-law-journal
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