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Diocesan Policies and Guidelines

The Anglican Diocese in Europe

The purpose of this section is to provide a general ecclesiological introduction to the Handbook.  The Diocese in Europe is subject to the ecclesiastical law of the Church of England including the Diocese in Europe Measure 1980 (see Chapter 1) and the Diocese in Europe Constitution 1995 (see Chapter 2).  This section should be read alongside Canons A1 – A8, which set out the teaching and discipline of the Church of England. 

1 The relationship of the Diocese to the Church of England and to other Churches

(a)  The Diocese in Europe is part of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church.  It is constituted as a diocese of the Church of England within the Anglican Communion.  It is deemed to be within the Province of Canterbury, and is subject to the metropolitical jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Canterbury.  It incorporates both the former Diocese of Gibraltar and the former Jurisdiction of northern and central Europe, and consists of the chaplaincies and congregations in that area designated or recognized by the Bishop.

(b)  Although canonically part of the Church of England, the Diocese serves Anglicans either resident in or visiting mainland Europe from every part of the world, and also English-speaking Christians of other denominations. We understand our responsibility as being to minister and engage in mission in partnership with other Churches, especially the historic Churches of the countries in which we serve.

(c)  The Diocese overlaps in some places with jurisdictions of other parts of the Anglican Communion and with Churches in communion with the Church of England namely: 

  • the Convocation of American Churches in Europe, the Lusitanian Church, the Spanish Episcopal Reformed Church;
  • the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht, and
  • those national Lutheran Churches of the Nordic and Baltic region that have subscribed to the Porvoo Declaration.

It is the policy of the Diocese to work to resolve any problems created by overlapping jurisdictions, to maximise the opportunities for collaboration, and to increase the degree of common life between our member congregations and congregations of these Churches.

(d)  The Diocese shares in the Church of England's ecumenical relations with Churches with whom it is not in communion.  Of particular relevance to the Diocese are —

  • the Meißen Agreement with the Evangelical Church in Germany
  • the Reuilly Agreement with the French Lutheran and Reformed Churches
  • the agreement Twinnings and Exchanges with the Roman Catholic Church in France

and the work of some of the international ecumenical dialogues, especially with the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches.  Further opportunities are created by the presence throughout mainland Europe of diaspora congregations of other English-speaking Churches based in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.

(The Fetter Lane Agreement with the Moravian Church in Great Britain and Ireland has no direct applicability in this Diocese.)

(e)  The rich diversity of Anglican tradition has created for this Diocese a particular obligation and opportunity to contribute towards the full visible unity of the one Church of Jesus Christ.  For this reason it has been the policy of the Diocese from its origins in 1840s to avoid proselytism and seek collaboration rather than competition. 

At the same time, the Church acknowledges no linguistic, ethnic or national barriers to membership, and the Diocese is ready to welcome into its congregations people of whatever background who come freely and of their own choice.  Some such people may eventually ask to be received into the Communion of the Church of England;  such a step requires due preparation and sensitivity to local ecumenical circumstances.

See also B10 - Reception into the Communion of the Church of England

See also B25 - Ecumenical provisions in worship

2  The Doctrine and Government of the Church of England

The Diocese, its chaplaincies and congregations, its ordained and lay ministers, and all its officers are bound by the provisions of Canons A1–A6.

3  The relationship of the Diocese to the Civil Authorities

(a)  Section 25 of the Diocese in Europe Constitution 1995 sets out the duty of chaplaincies and archdeaconries to conform to the domestic law of the country or countries in which they are situated and to become legal entities in those countries.

(b)  Particular responsibilities towards the civil authorities are set out in B16–24 of this chapter.

4  The constituent parts of the Diocese

The Diocese is made up of —

  • chaplaincies designated under §3b of the Diocesan Constitution, and
  • other congregations and communities recognized by the Bishop.

Formally designated chaplaincies are equivalent to parishes in the rest of the Church of England, indeed in certain countries (eg, Spain and Belgium) they are officially termed 'parishes'.  So far as possible the ecclesiastical law concerning parishes applies to them.

Other work in the Diocese, including the work of missionary societies, is in the care of ordained or lay ministers licensed by the Bishop.

5  The Cathedral Chapter of the Diocese and its Dean

(a)  The statutes of the cathedral chapter of the Diocese were promulgated by the Bishop.  See Supplement 1.

(b)  The function of the cathedral chapter is to support the Bishop by prayer and counsel.

(c)  The dean of Gibraltar presides over the chapter in the absence of the Bishop. He is a member of the Bishop's Staff Meeting, an ex officio member of the Diocesan Synod and the Bishop's Council, and a director of the Diocesan Board of Finance.

6  Anglicans in Continental Europe

The serving bishops of the four Anglican jurisdictions in Continental Europe form a college – the College of Anglican Bishops in Continental Europe (COABICE).  Since 1994 the college has met at least annually for prayer, reflection and common decision-making on matters which concern all Anglicans in Europe.  Since 1997 the Old Catholic International Bishops' Conference and the bishops of the Lutheran signatory Churches of the Porvoo Agreement have been invited to send bishops as observers to the meetings.

In response to the call of each Lambeth Conference since 1968, and the Anglican Consultative Council in 1979, a Consultation has begun with a view to removing the anomaly of parallel Anglican jurisdictions in mainland Europe. Ecumenical partner Churches are included in this consultation.

Lambeth Conference 1998, Resolution IV.6:

'This Conference … recommends that consideration be given to ways of deepening our communion with the Old Catholic Churches beyond the Bonn Agreement, including means of taking counsel and making decisions together; the anomaly of overlapping jurisdictions; the implications of wider ecumenical relationships, particularly with the Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Lutheran Churches; and the importance of work together on issues of mission and common witness.'

Lambeth Conference 1998, Resolution V.6:

'This Conference, noting with appreciation the progress made so far by the parallel Anglican jurisdictions in Continental Europe working both with each other and with churches in communion in the area, resolves to encourage:  (a) continued exploration towards appropriate provincial structures for Anglican Continental Europe in partnership with other Churches in the service of the common mission of the Church; and (b) the Church of England and the Episcopal Church of the Untied States of America to consider the provision of appropriate funding for such a province.'

7  Churches in Communion

In A1(c) mention is made of other Anglican, Old Catholic, and Nordic-Baltic Lutheran jurisdictions in Continental Europe. The following notes are intended as guidance in our co-operation with members and ministers of these Churches.

(a)  Baptized membership of these Churches satisfies the membership requirement of the CRR of the Church of England for enrollment on the electoral roll of a chaplaincy in this Diocese, and for other synodical qualifications, without the need to be received into the communion of the Church of England. See CRR 1 (2)a; Diocesan Constitution 28 (b).

(b)  Confirmation in these Churches satisfies the canonical requirement of episcopal confirmation for most purposes in the ecclesiastical law of the Church of England.

(c)  'Actual communicant' members of these Churches who are on the electoral roll of a chaplaincy are eligible to be elected as churchwardens or as representatives of the laity on a church council, an archdeaconry or deanery synod, the Diocesan Synod or the General Synod.  (See CRR 54 (1) for a definition of 'actual communicant'.)

(d)  Lay members of these Churches may be included when a chaplain applies for the Bishop's Permission for assistance in the distribution of the Holy Communion. 

(f)  Lay ministers (readers, etc.) of these Churches may be invited – by the chaplain after consultation with the churchwardens – to take an occasional part in leading the worship of a chaplaincy.  If the chaplain wishes such a person to be permanently authorized by the Bishop he should consult the Warden of Readers.

(g)  Episcopally ordained deacons and priests of these Churches are, subject to the current canonical regulations of the Church of England, eligible to receive the Archbishop of Canterbury's Permission to Officiate and then – but only then – to be given a Licence or Permission to Officiate by the Bishop. The Archbishop of Canterbury's Permission must be obtained for such a deacon or priest before any exercise of diaconal or priestly ministry within the Province of Canterbury.  A deacon or priest of one of these Churches who has not yet received such permission may be invited by a chaplain, after consultation with the churchwardens, to assist him occasionally in the conduct of divine worship, but should not be the presiding minister.

(h)  Bishops of these Churches are often invited by the diocesan Bishop to act on his behalf, for example in confirmation.  The other members of COABICE hold the Bishop's Commission as honorary assistant bishops of this Diocese.  A chaplain who wishes a bishop who does not hold the diocesan Bishop's Commission to take part in public worship in his church should write to the diocesan Bishop asking him to invite the other bishop to do so.