THE Ordinariate has paid back a £1-million grant it received
from the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament (News, 8 July 2011)
after the Charity Commission ruled that the payment was
The Commission announced the conclusion of its investigation of
the grant yesterday. Its statement says that the decision to make a
grant to the Ordinariate, a Roman Catholic body for former
Anglicans, "was taken at an inquorate meeting, the majority of the
trustees having a (financial) personal interest in the decision"
and was "in breach of the charity's governing document".
Since the meeting was inquorate, it says, the decision to award
the money was "invalid. There was no valid exercise of the power to
make a gift to the Ordinariate and the payment was
The Confraternity, a registered charity, was founded in 1862 to
support the Catholic revival in the Church of England. The Charity
Commission website states that its charitable objects are "for the
advancement of the Catholic faith in the Anglican tradition".
The Charity Commission concluded that "the objects of the
Ordinariate are wider than those of the Confraternity. A gift given
to the Ordinariate without restriction could be used for purposes
which have no connection with the Anglican tradition at all."
It goes on to say that "there is substantial doubt whether the
Confraternity could make a grant to the Ordinariate (even with
restrictions) which could be applied by the Ordinariate
consistently with the objects of the Confraternity".
The Commission "considered the trustees of both charities were
under a duty to take action to ensure the repayment of the money".
The Commission said that it had been "informed that the grant had
been returned in full (with interest) by the Ordinariate of its own
A statement posted yesterday on the Ordinariate's website
confirmed that the grant had been "returned".
It said: "The grant was awarded by the Trustees of the
Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament following extensive legal
advice in 2011.
"Subsequently, the grant was challenged and, as the result of an
investigation by the Charity Commissioners, the Ordinariate has
returned the funds of its own volition . . .
"It is deeply regrettable that this generous benefaction is to
be returned, but our sincere hope is that the conclusion of the
legal process regarding this grant may now lay this issue to
A statement posted on the Confraternity's website yesterday
defended the grant to the Ordinariate, saying that it "was
consistent with the founding spirit of the Confraternity and with
The Confraternity's legal advisers "are of the view that the
Commission misrepresented the charitable purpose of the Ordinariate
charity" and "appeared to overlook the fact that it was
specifically created as a means of enabling former Anglicans to
enter communion with the Holy See while continuing to preserve and
share their rich Anglican traditions".
The Confraternity also insisted that the decision to award the
grant had not been motivated by any of the trustees' personal
financial interest. "As some of the trustees already intended to
apply to join the Ordinariate, or were thinking of doing so, they
sought and obtained an unequivocal undertaking from the Ordinariate
that no part of the grant would be used in a way that conferred a
benefit on any of the trustees."
The Confraternity said, however, that it was not going to
challenge the Charity Commission's decision, nor oppose the return
of the grant.