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Church retirement rules upheld in the Bahamas, The Church of England Newspaper, March 7, 2010 March 24, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Canon Law, Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of the West Indies.
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Senior Justice Jon Isaac

First published in The Church of England Newspaper

The Bahamian Supreme Court has rejected a petition to throw out the mandatory retirement canons of the Diocese of the Bahamas.

On March 3 Senior Justice Jon Isaac (pictured) discharged the injunction that had prevented Bishop Laish Boyd from removing 72-year old Archdeacon Etienne Bowleg from office as rector of Holy Trinity Church in Nassau, and dismissed the archdeacon’s appeal.

In his petition Archdeacon Bowleg argued the failure of the diocese to gazette, or give formal legal notice by publishing the canons in a journal of legal record, of the changes to its canons providing for mandatory retirement, rendered it void.

A similar case had been brought against the Diocese of Barbados by the Rev. Edward Gatherer, rector of St Andrew’s parish, who argued that when the Church of England was disestablished in 1969, the reorganized diocese failed to gazette its new retirement canons making them void.

The case of Gomez v Gatherer eventually came before the Ecclesiastical Committee of the Privy Council which held in 1992 the diocese had failed to follow its rules of procedure and was barred from enforcing canons not properly enacted. Fr. Gatherer, now 87 years of age, currently remains in office as priest in charge of St Andrews.

In last week’s case, Justice Isaac dismissed the archdeacon’s appeal without proceeding to the merits of his case after the diocese submitted a copy of the Deed of Institution naming Archdeacon Bowleg as rector of Holy Trinity which stated he “served at the pleasure of the bishop.”

As an ‘at will’ employee of the bishop, Archdeacon Bowleg had no standing to contest his dismissal, the court found, declining to address the constitutionality of the diocesan canons.

Bishop Boyd told the Nassau Guardian he was pleased with the ruling, while retired Archbishop Drexel Gomez said he too was pleased the issue had been “resolved for the sake of the church and for general order.”

Comments

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