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Clerical Subscriptions Act not breached

10 April 2015


From the Secretary General of the General Synod and Archbishops' Council

Sir, - Daniel Hill asks for an explanation of the compatibility between Section 9 of the Clerical Subscription Act 1865 and the new guidance agreed by the House of Bishops concerning a commitment to act consistently with the Five Guiding Principles in its Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests (Letters, 2 April).

The simple answer is that the new guidance does not involve a subscription, declaration, or oath within the terms of the Act. Such oaths etc. are mandatory and have to be taken in a prescribed form. The new question asked of a candidate takes its place, perfectly lawfully, among a range of questions that have to be explored when a candidate's suitability for Holy Orders is being assessed in the light of the criteria approved by the House of Bishops.

It involves establishing whether a candidate, whatever his or her theological conviction, is willing to work with and respect the diversity within the Church which the Synod and House of Bishops voted overwhelmingly to accept when approving the Five Prin-ciples.

If a candidate is not prepared to assent to the Five Principles, it becomes a matter for the relevant diocesan bishop to determine whether or not he or she should proceed to ordination.

William Fittall

Church House,Great Smith Street,Westminster SW1P 3AZ

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