THE Roman Catholic Ordinariate in the
UK has paid back a grant of £1 million, which it received from the
Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament (News,
8 July 2011), after the Charity Commission ruled that the
payment was unauthorised.
The Commission announced the
conclusion of its investigation into the grant on Thursday of last
week. 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 it was "in
breach of the charity's governing document".
Since the meeting was inquorate, the
Commission 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 unauthorised."
The Confraternity, a registered
charity, was founded in 1862 to support the Catholic revival within
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 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 re- strictions) which could be applied
by the Ordinariate consistently with the objects of the
The Commission "considered the
trustees of both charities were under a duty to take action to
ensure the repayment of the money". It said that it had been
"informed that the grant had been returned in full (with interest)
by the Ordinariate of its own volition".
A statement posted on Thursday of last
week on the Ordinariate's website confirmed that the grant had been
returned. It read: "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 rest."
A statement posted on the
Confraternity's website on Thursday of last week defended the grant
to the Ordinariate, saying that it "was consistent with the
founding spirit of the Confraternity and with charity law".
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 stated that the
decision to award the grant had not been motivated by any of the
trustees' personal financial interests. "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, or
oppose the return of the grant.
Patrimonial matrimony. The first
liturgical texts for use by Ordinariates for ex-Anglicans in
various countries have been promulgated by the Vatican, it was
announced on Tuesday. The order for funerals and the order for the
celebration of holy matrimony are "drawn from the classical
Anglican prayer book tradition"; they "incorporate elements of the
Anglican patrimony now in the full communion of the [Roman]
Catholic Church", a statement from the UK Ordinariate said.
direction. The former Vicar of St Stephen's, Lewisham,
Geoffrey Kirk, who was the secretary of Forward in Faith, was
received into the Ordinariate on Sunday at the Church of the Most
Precious Blood, London. He was an Anglican priest for 40 years, and
the Vicar of St Stephen's for 30 years.