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Deposition of offenders from Holy Orders

by
23 January 2015

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From the Revd Neil Patterson

Sir, - I hope very much that the Archbishop of Canterbury has been incorrectly reported as saying that it is not in the Church's power to depose clerical offenders from Holy Orders ( News, 16 January), and that it would require an Act of Parliament to change this.

Under the 1963 Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure, s.50, bishops did have the power to depose clergy from Holy Orders after sentence of deprivation. When the 2003 Clergy Discipline Measure was passed, this power was not included, as I understand it, in deference to ecumenical opinion that Holy Orders are indelible.

But this was a Measure of the General Synod, and what the Synod has done it can undo. That is, of course, a wider debate, with important issues on both sides, but it is poor pastoral care indeed to hide behind Parliament, if that is what has happened in this case.

NEIL PATTERSON
The Rectory
Weston-under-Penyard HR9 7QA

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