Can a patron of one parish in a benefice veto the appointment of a female priest if its stated position is that it does not support such ministry? Does it make any difference if the patron of one of the other parishes is the Crown or the bishop?
The Equality Act 2010 provides for specific exemption from its provisions enabling Churches and other religious organisations to impose relevant requirements when making appointments. Thus, under the House of Bishops’ Declaration, PCCs may pass a resolution “on grounds of theological conviction” for sacramental and pastoral ministry in the parish to be exercised by a male priest ordained by a male bishop at whose consecration a male bishop presided.
The stated position of a patron on the issue of women’s ordination is not dealt with in the House’s Declaration and therefore does not come within the exemption for Churches in the Act. It would, therefore, be illegal for a patron to purport to refuse to appoint a woman priest to a parish simply on the ground of gender. If, however, the PCC has passed a resolution under the Declaration, the patron will be bound by that decision.
In a multi-parish benefice, the patron(s) (including the Crown and the diocesan bishop) must ensure that arrangements are made that deal with the needs of the resolution parish while allowing the other parishes in the benefice to flourish in accordance with their own convictions.
(Dr) Brian Hanson
If Michael Faraday was “The greatest scientist of early-Victorian England” (Professor Michael Wheeler, Faith, 25 August), who was the greatest scientist of later Victorian Britain: Lord Kelvin, Charles Darwin, or someone else?
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