Welsh Assembly Committee calls for full disestablishment of the Church in Wales: The Church of England Newspaper, June 30, 2013 p 7 July 2, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church in Wales, Church of England Newspaper, Marriage.
Tags: David Melding, disestablishment
The Welsh Assembly’s Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee has recommended the state cut all ties with the Church in Wales.
In a paper released last week entitled Report on the Inquiry into Law-making and the Church in Wales the committee recommended “that the Church in Wales should be fully disestablished”, either by an Act of Parliament or “by a Welsh Government Bill in the event of a reserved powers model being introduced in Wales and relevant subjects, including, marriage policy, being devolved as part of that process”.
The Welsh Church Act 1914 disestablished the Church in Wales in part, ending the jurisdiction of ecclesiastical courts and severing ecclesiastical law from civil law in Wales.
However, Parliament left intact the duty of a Welsh incumbent to marry residents of the parish and, if the church had a graveyard, preserved the right of every member of the parish to burial.
The coalition government’s proposed legislation creating gay marriage exempted the Church in Wales from its duty to marry same-sex parishioners but prompted the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee to review church-state ties.
David Melding, chairman of the committee, told the BBC he was “astonished that an Act of Parliament from the Edwardian era had come back to haunt us.”
“I certainly had assumed that the Church in Wales was disestablished – that’s an axiom of modern Welsh history. But apparently not. In two important areas – there may be more that we don’t know about – disestablishment is far from complete in Wales…”.
The committee report stated the government’s “equal marriage proposal was drawn up without consultation with the Church in Wales but we are satisfied that the UK Government has taken steps to rectify that since.”
“However, the Committee also believes that the amendment proposed by the UK Government is a short term fix and that a wider issue exists which needs a more permanent solution, including considering the option of the Church in Wales becoming a fully disestablished body.”
A statement from the Church in Wales press office said it was “effectively in legislative limbo because its disestablished position is incomplete.”
It noted the “committee’s conclusions are not unexpected.”
“Certainly our position as a disestablished church which retains certain legal responsibilities to the community is unusual. However, in spite of that, we believe that we have a ministry to all in the people in Wales, regardless of whether they are members of the Church. The Church in Wales has not considered the issue of whether it should seek to change its status in relation to the marriage law.”
“However, it would welcome any assistance the Welsh Government is able to provide in easing the burden on our parishes of maintaining our burial grounds, which are open to all in the community, and to disused burial grounds which cannot be handed over to local authorities as in England”.