Conciliation and the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003

Philip Jones has published a thoughtful piece on conciliation and the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 that’s well worth a read (the text of the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 can be found here).

I agree that the conciliation procedure is highly problematic, and I think Jones is correct when he writes:

It is not easy to see how the conciliation option fits into the scheme of clergy discipline.  Indeed it is arguable that conciliation has no real place in the Clergy Discipline Measure.  It may be an appropriate means of resolving private disagreements.  However, if applied to the public order and professional discipline of the Church then it blurs the important distinction between right and wrong.  An accused clergyman has either misconducted himself or he has not.  If he has misconducted himself then he should be penalised, or at least warned.  But if he has not misconducted himself then he should not be troubled further.  Disagreement and discipline are two different subjects.  Disagreements are private, civil matters.  Discipline is a public, quasi-criminal matter.

Given these issues, the General Synod might want to review the practice of conciliation. As Jones points out, it’s better suited to resolving issues that don’t amount to misconduct, so it probably belongs at the preliminary scrutiny stage rather than stage 2.


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