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Fast-tracked Reader

16 May 2014


Your answers

A Reader in our parish for two years is to be "fast-tracked" to ordination and be the curate this year, not having been to a Bishops' Advisory Panel. The churchwardens have not been consulted about character or suitability. Can this legally be done? Can any appeal be made, and to whom, as our Bishops are not listening? [Answers, 9 May]

Canon Palmer's response is reassuring, but unfortunately out of date. The requirement for ordinands to present evidence of a Si Quis read without impediment being alleged was abolished in the Church of England in 1977, in favour of such references as the bishop deems necessary. The Bishops' Advisory Panel is precisely that. Ultimately, it is the bishop's discretion (and burdensome responsibility) to decide whom he shall or shall not ordain.

Have the churchwardens in question asked to see the (diocesan) Bishop privately in order to share their concerns and hear his response? It seems unlikely that any bishop would be unwilling to do so, but, if he is, their only recourse is a formal complaint against the Bishop under the Clergy Discipline Measure.

(The Revd) Neil Patterson
Weston-under-Penyard, Herefordshire

There is no requirement for a candidate to attend a Bishops' Advisory Panel, and the bishop is under no obligation to ask for advice or to accept the advice offered; but if the bishop decides to bypass that procedure, there is no Ministry Division funding for any training.

But a bishop is not at liberty simply to ordain on his own authority. At the ordination service, the bishop is required to ask "Have those whose duty it is to know these ordinands and examine them found them to be of godly life and sound learning?" and again "Do they believe them to be duly called to serve God in this ministry?'" These questions are usually addressed either to an archdeacon or to the Diocesan Director of Ordinands, and presuppose some proper inquiry.

Later, the bishop asks the congregation "Is it now your will that they should be ordained?" It makes sense for those who are aware of any impediment to communicate with the bishop well in advance, and for the bishop to make careful inquiry. It would be foolhardy not to.

(Canon) Michael Sansom
Bovey Tracey, Newton Abbot

Your questions

When the deanery synod meets in May, should the newly elected be invited or the representatives for the past triennium?
S. J. L.


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