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Diocesan Policies and Guidelines

B. Divine Service and the administration of the Sacraments

The teaching and discipline of the Church of England is set out in Canons B1 – B44

1  Forms of Service

(a)  Paragraph 1(c) of Canon B1 (concerning forms of service authorised by Royal Warrant), does not apply in this Diocese except in Gibraltar.

(b)  Official Church of England publications on this topic are available from the Church House Bookshop, 31 Great Smith Street, London, SW1P 3BN; tel:  + 20 7898 1300;  fax:  + 20 7898 1305; web:

  • a full list of the forms of services currently authorized or commended for use in the Church of England (reproduced with permission from The Canons of the Church of England (London, 6/2000),
  • Canons B3–4 set out the procedure for deciding which forms are used in a particular chaplaincy, or on a particular occasion.
  • the leaflet A Brief Guide to Liturgical Copyright contains notes and guidance to help those preparing local texts, as well as copyright requirements for all official liturgical publications of the Church of England.  Advice on copyright in other texts and script music can be sought from the diocesan liturgical advisor.

(c)  Common Worship is the principal source of authorized or commended forms of service for use in the Church of England (including this Diocese) in addition to the Book of Common Prayer (1662).  It is published in printed, CD-ROM, and internet forms. 

(d)  The recently amended Canon B42 provides that 'in the Provinces of Canterbury and York outside England authorized forms of service may be said or sung in the vernacular.’  Translations into the languages used in the area served by the Diocese for use in public worship must be approved by the Standing Committee of the House of Bishops on the submission of a text by the Bishop.  The chaplain or priest-in-charge should use his discretion under ecclesiastical law to decide what is pastorally desirable in each case.  Advice should be sought from the Bishop’s Office.

(e)  Section 26 of the Diocesan Constitution provides that, in addition to the authorized and commended services of the Church of England, the Bishop may authorize rites of other Churches with which the Church of England is in communion, for which see A1 (c).

(f)  In addition to the rites of Churches in Communion, the Bishop is willing, where there are strong pastoral reasons, to authorize certain interim translations of authorized or commended forms of service pending publication of official translations authorized by the House of Bishops Standing Committee.  Such interim translations should receive the Bishop's approval.

(g)  Orders of service for episcopal and diocesan occasions authorized by the Bishop are referred to in this section.  Further information may be obtained from the Bishop's chaplain.

Information or advice on liturgical matters can be obtained from the diocesan liturgical advisor (the Bishop's chaplain).

2 The Reading of Scripture during Divine Worship

(a)  Two lectionaries are at present authorized by canon:

  • that of the Book of Common Prayer as supplemented by the Additional Alternative Lectionary;
  • that published in the main volume of Common Worship for principal, second and third services on Sundays, Principal Feasts and Holy Days, and Festivals

(b)  The 3-year lectionary provides readings for a principal service as well as second and third services on a Sunday.  This is of particular help in a chaplaincy that has a varying pattern of Sunday services, as it makes possible a more consistent reading of the Bible at the principal service.

(c)  When the Sunday service is based on 'A Service of the Word', the notes (Common Worship, p.27, n.5) provide that at any service during the two festival periods (from 3 of Advent — Epiphany 1, and from Palm Sunday — Trinity Sunday) the readings are taken from an authorized lectionary.  At other services (largely during the 'green' seasons of the Church's year) local schemes of readings may be used.  When a service of the Word is combined with Holy Communion on Sundays and Principal Holy Days the authorized readings of the day are normally used.

3  Morning and Evening Prayer

Canon B11 provides that 'readers, such other lay persons as may be authorized by the Bishop of the Diocese, or some other suitable lay person, may, at the invitation of the minister of the parish or, where the cure is vacant or the minister is incapacitated, at the invitation of the churchwardens say or sing Morning and Evening Prayer (save for the absolution).'  This provision applies also to a Common Worship A Service of the Word.  This means that the Bishop's specific permission is not required for an individual lay person to be invited to lead Morning or Evening Prayer, on Sundays or weekdays.  However, if this provision is likely to be frequently and regularly used it may be one of the circumstances in which the Bishop should be asked to commission a diocesan Lay Assistant

4  Persons authorized to distribute Holy Communion:  diocesan guidelines

Regulations made under Canon B12 provide for lay persons to assist in the distribution of the Holy Communion. These are the guidelines for this Diocese.

(a)  The Bishop will include in the licence of each deaconess, lay worker and reader licensed to serve in any chaplaincy or archdeaconry of the Diocese his permission to distribute the Blessed Sacrament in that chaplaincy or archdeaconry, at the invitation of the chaplain (or in a vacancy the archdeacon or churchwardens).

Ordinands sponsored by the Bishop or on official placement in a chaplaincy may occasionally be invited by the chaplain with the consent of the churchwardens to assist in this way. If they are to assist regularly they, like all other lay people, including readers in training, require the Bishop's specific Permission.

(b)  It is important to recognize that the Bishop's Permission is given to the chaplain (or in a vacancy the archdeacon or churchwardens) and not to the individual person.  The Bishop gives the chaplain permission to allow the named person to assist as required.  Since this does not confer an office on the person named, or a right to be asked to assist, the permission is not transferable from one chaplaincy to another.

(c)  Permission is given —

  • to assist with the distribution of the Blessed Sacrament in either kind.  The regulations do not distinguish between the consecrated bread and the consecrated wine.
  • to distribute during the celebration of the Eucharist; and to the sick and housebound.

(d)  Under §3 of the Church of England's regulations, the Bishop has appointed the archdeacons to issue Bishop's Permissions on his behalf.  Application should made to the archdeacon using the form that is circulated annually by the Diocesan Office.  An archdeacon wishing for this permission for his own chaplaincy may apply to the suffragan bishop.

5  The ministry of Preaching

The teaching and discipline of the Church of England is set out in Canon B18

(a)  Preaching is an integral part of the Liturgy of the Word and so a sermon should normally be preached at every liturgical celebration.   This ministry is inseparable from the proclamation of the Word of God and should normally be linked closely to the lectionary.  It is part of the way in which God speaks to his people and draws them to himself.  Sermons are not to be taken as the opportunity for general reflections, but should always seek to encourage and build the faithful up in discipleship. Sermons should be carefully prepared in the context of prayer, study and pastoral care.

(b)  Because preaching is a pastoral office, sermons in the liturgy should normally be given by someone in holy orders or who is otherwise commissioned for this ministry (eg, a reader, or a minister in good standing or lay preacher of another recognized Church authorized under the Church of England's Ecumenical Canons:  see B25). 

(c)  Ordinands sponsored by the Bishop or on official placement in a chaplaincy, and persons accepted by the Bishop for training as readers may also preach, as part of their training, under the direction of the chaplain.

(d)  In exceptional circumstances the Bishop may give permission for another lay person to preach in a particular congregation.

  • A chaplain wishing for such permission should write to the Bishop, setting out the circumstances, indicating the qualifications of the person he wishes to invite, and giving an assurance from the churchwardens that this ministry would be welcomed.
  • Individuals in respect of whom permission is given will most likely be those exercising a ministry of support, encouragement or mission, either through a para-church agency or within a caring profession.
  • They may or may not be confirmed members of the Church of England or a Church in Communion.
  • The Bishop would normally act through the director of ministry to satisfy himself that the person named maintains a faith that does not conflict with the historic formularies of the Church of England.

(e)  When no priest, deacon, reader, or other person authorized under this section is able to lead worship, one of the churchwardens, or a diocesan lay assistant commissioned by the Bishop, may read a sermon written by the chaplain (or during a vacancy the archdeacon) or from a book approved by him.

6  Christian Initiation

The teaching and discipline of the Church of England is set out in Canons B21–B25.

The following sections (B6–11) concerning Christian initiation contain more detailed guidance than other sections because the size of this Diocese requires significant adaptations of the usual practice in other parts of the Church of England.  In these sections a distinction is drawn for practical purposes between infant and adult candidates.  In what follows any person who is capable of answering for him or herself the questions at baptism is to be regarded as an adult candidate.

(a)  'In an episcopally ordered church the Bishop is the chief minister of the whole process of Christian initiation and is integral to its practice.' (Commentary in Common Worship: initiation services, 1998, p.187).  This is expressed clearly in the require-ment for episcopal confirmation, but it also explains the canonical requirement (Canon B24.2) to give at least one week's notice to the Bishop of an adult baptism. The Bishop (and all assistant bishops) are willing under normal circumstances to preside at the celebration of baptism of infants during a pastoral visit.

(b)  No baptized person who has once been admitted to Holy Communion and remains in good standing should be anywhere deprived of it.  This principle includes children.

(c)  Although members of our congregations do not have the civil law right of parishioners in England with respect to baptism, chaplains are encouraged to be generous in their application of ecclesiastical law to those who seek baptism for their children.

7  Adult candidates

In what follows any person who is capable of answering for him or herself the questions at baptism is to be regarded as an adult candidate.

(a)   Adult candidates are prepared also for admission to Holy Communion, and receive Holy Communion at the Eucharist during which they are baptized and confirmed.  This baptismal Eucharist will normally be 'when the most number of people come together' (Canon B21) – the main Sunday celebration.

(b)  Chaplains should exercise their pastoral discretion in the matter of admitting to Communion those 'ready and desirous to be confirmed'.  See B10 for the guidelines on admission to Communion before confirmation.

(c)  All adult candidates should be confirmed by the Bishop as soon as possible after their baptism and / or admission to Communion.  The Bishop will also baptize, confirm and admit to Communion any unbaptised adults who have been prepared.

(d)  Except in emergencies adults are not baptized / admitted to Communion in the six months before a visit from the Bishop.

(e)  The Bishop is willing to confirm any person who, in the judgement of the chaplain, is able to answer for him or herself the questions at baptism.  In practice this means that any person of seven years or above may be presented.  A chaplain wishing to present a child under seven should consult the confirming Bishop well in advance.

(f)  The Bishops are not able to arrange their diaries to meet the needs of all chaplaincies for adult baptism and confirmation.  They are normally willing to baptize or confirm when visiting a chaplaincy for other reasons.

(g)  A chaplain may seek the Bishop's permission to invite an honorary assistant bishop of this Diocese to visit the chaplaincy for (baptism and) confirmation.  The chaplaincy covers the costs associated with such a visit.  A chaplain who wishes any other bishop to (baptize and) confirm in his church should write to the diocesan Bishop asking him to invite the other bishop to do so.

(h)  A certificate of baptism should be given for each person baptized.  It should specify that baptism was given 'in water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit'.

(i)  Each chaplaincy should keep a register of those admitted to Holy Communion, and should give a certificate (or an endorsement on the certificate of baptism) marking the occasion.  It will also be wise when such a person moves from the chaplaincy for the chaplain to write to the new parish or chaplaincy.

(j)  It is the responsibility of the chaplain to ensure that candidates for admission to Communion or for confirmation have been baptized.  The exact date and the place of baptism should be recorded.  If sufficient evidence of baptism cannot be obtained the chaplain should consult the Bishop in good time.

(k)  The chaplain should prepare a return form for all adult baptisms and of confirmations to be sent (perhaps via the confirming bishop) to the diocesan secretary.  Return forms are available from the Diocesan Office.

8   Infant candidates

In what follows any person who is not capable of answering for him or herself the questions at baptism is to be regarded as an infant.

(a)  So far as is possible the requirements of the Church of England for preparation of parents and godparents should be followed.  Chaplains may be able to seek the help of the clergy of other chaplaincies or parishes in preparing godparents.

(b)  In accordance with Canon B21, baptism should normally take place during a Sunday service of the chaplaincy or congregation.

(c)  Chaplains should ensure that the churchwardens or other suitable lay persons are taught how to celebrate the sacrament of baptism should it be urgently required in the absence of an ordained or other authorized minister.

(d)  A certificate of baptism should be given for each person baptized.  It should specify that baptism was given 'in water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit'.

9  Christian Initiation when a Bishop is present

(a)  The forms of services that will normally be used are given in Common Worship: Initiation Services, though the rites in the Book of Common Prayer remain authorized for use.

(b)  Baptism and confirmation always take place within the Eucharist.  They follow the Bishop's sermon.

(c)  On a Sunday or Holy Day the collect and readings (and the liturgical colour) are those of the day.  On other days the collect and readings are taken from pages the tables in Common Worship: Initiation Services (and the liturgical colour is white).

(d)  The Bishop anoints those who are about to be baptized with the Oil of Baptism (Oil of Catechumens) at the Signing with the Cross.  He anoints those being confirmed with the Oil of Chrism.  Oils may be obtained at any time from the Bishop's Office.

(e)  Candidates for baptism or confirmation should be seated together and prominently and should receive Holy Communion immediately after the Bishop and his assistants, before the (choir and) congregation.

(f)  The chaplain is asked to give the names of those who are to be (baptised and) confirmed on the visit form which he will receive from the Bishop's office.  He should indicate that he has adequate evidence of the baptism of any candidate for confirmation.

(g)  The value of the cash collection at a (baptism and/or) confirmation celebrated by the diocesan or other Bishop should be returned to the diocesan Finance Officer for the Diocesan Ordination Fund.  This should be noted in any printed order of service. 

10  Communion before Confirmation

Following the General Synod's welcome for a report from the House of Bishops on Admission to Holy Communion in relation to Baptism and Confirmation (GS 1212) in November 1996, the House agreed Guidelines in 1997 according to which every diocesan Bishop in the Church of England has discretion, after consultation, to make a general policy whether or not to allow new applications for admission to Holy Communion before confirmation in his Diocese. 

(a)  Any chaplaincy (parish or congregation) in the Diocese in Europe wishing to introduce or continue the admission of baptized but unconfirmed children to the sacrament of Holy Communion must obtain the formal written approval of the diocesan Bishop.

(b)  The Bishop's written approval will only be given in response to a formal written letter of request from the chaplain, including copy (signed by the chaplain and wardens) of a the minute recording that the following resolution had been agreed by the church council:

'That the Church Council of [name of chaplaincy] at a meeting held on [date] supports an application to the Bishop for permission to admit baptized children to Holy Communion before confirmation within the chaplaincy according to the Guidelines agreed by the House of Bishops and the regulations of the Diocese in Europe.'

(c)  The chaplain's letter must —

  • describe the course of preparation proposed for candidates and indicate the minimum age envisaged for admission to Holy Communion
  • describe the course of ongoing formation the chaplaincy (parish or congre-gation) will put in place to nurture those so admitted
  • indicate the age at which it is envisaged that candidates will normally be presented for confirmation.

(d)  The following principles govern both the diocesan policy in general and any permission given under these regulations to a particular chaplaincy.

  • The general rule about who may be admitted to Holy Communion is set out in Canon B15A:
    'No baptized member of the Church of England or of a church in communion therewith who has been admitted to Holy Communion and remains in good standing with the Church should subsequently be deprived of it, even if he or she moves to a parish or chaplaincy where this practice is not the norm.'
  • Even when a parish/chaplaincy is granted permission to admit children to communion before confirmation in accordance with these regulations, no child or parent should be subjected to any pressure to conform to this pattern.  The Bishop remains willing to confirm children from the age of seven years and upwards together with older candidates in any chaplaincy (parish or congregation) in the Diocese where candidate, parents and priest are in agreement.  In cases of disagreement the Bishop is to be consulted and his directions followed.
  • With the exceptions noted above, the clergy should endeavour to ensure that all candidates in a particular chaplaincy are treated in the same way as far as possible.
  • Except where permission has been granted under these regulations, the normal pattern of the Church of England is to be followed.

11  Reception into the Communion of the Church of England

This section will shortly be replaced; however, please note that there is a form for completion for congregations / chaplaincies Admission of Baptised Children to Holy Communion before Confirmation

12  Ministry to the Sick, Housebound and Dying

(a)  In addition to the provision made in the Book of Common Prayer, authorized services are to be found in Common Worship:  pastoral rites, which contains forms of service of wholeness and healing for public and private circumstances.

(b)  Special care must be taken by chaplains in the case of those who ask for any form of deliverance from evil powers, or for the exorcism of people or places.

  • Pastoral care should always begin with the ordinary sacraments and ministries of the Church:  that is, with the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ's victory over evil; with prayer and blessing; confession and absolution; the celebration of the Eucharist, the laying-on of hands; and anointing.
  • Should anything be necessary beyond these ordinary ministrations, the chaplain should write to the Bishop giving the details of the case, including a medical and/or psychiatric report on the person or persons concerned, and of his own pastoral and sacramental care of them. The Bishop will take advice and send his directions in writing.
  • No form of exorcism may be used without the Bishop's written approval. This regulation is made for the protection of the suffering person(s), of the clergy, and of the whole Church.

13  Reservation of the Sacrament of Holy Communion

(a)  The Bishop's permission must be obtained for the permanent reservation in any chaplaincy in the Diocese of the consecrated elements of the Eucharist.

(b)  Where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved it must be kept in the place approved by the Bishop. This will normally be a secure place (usually known as an aumbry or tabernacle) in the church building.  Where this is not possible a suitable, secure place in the chaplain's house should be provided.

(c)  Where it is desired to begin or to resume the practice of permanent reservation in the church the chaplain and the churchwardens apply for the Bishop's approval through the diocesan secretary and the Diocesan Advisory Committee indicating the manner in which it is proposed that the Blessed Sacrament be reserved, and setting out the reasons for their request.

14  The Consecrated Oils

(a)  During Holy Week each year (usually, for practical reasons, on the Tuesday rather than on Maundy Thursday itself) the Bishop celebrates a Eucharist at which he consecrates oils for use throughout the Diocese.  They are:

  • the oil of the Sick used to anoint those who are ill, awaiting surgery, frail by reason of age, or dying;
  • the oil of Catechumens (or oil of Baptism) used to anoint those who are being prepared for baptism, especially at the Signing with the Cross in the baptism service;
  • the oil of Chrism used to anoint those being confirmed, and also at the ordination of priests, and the consecration of churches and some other objects.

(b)  The Bishop hopes that the clergy and representatives of the laity of the archdeaconry in which the blessing is celebrated will come to take part in the so-called Chrism Eucharist.

(c)  A chaplain may obtain supply of the oils at any time from the Bishop's Office, by application to the suffragan bishop at the Diocesan Office, at the Chrism Eucharist itself, or by asking the Bishop or suffragan bishop to bring them when he makes a pastoral visit.

(d)   When not in use the consecrated oils must be kept in a safe and seemly place.

(e)  The consecrated oils should be renewed regularly and ideally each year.  Unused oil is normally to be burned.

15  Marriage

This is an area in which the regulations for the Diocese in Europe differ most from those that apply in the English dioceses of the Church of England. This section is organized in the following way:


I Current liturgical provision in the Church of England

II Services in church after Marriage (civil or religious)

III Solemnization of a Marriage in church

IV Bishop in Europe's Licence

V Supplementary guidelines


1  Marriages according to the rites and ceremonies of the Church of England have legal standing within England;  they form part of a legal process, beginning with the publication of banns and ending with the duty of registration.  This is generally not the case in the countries covered by the Diocese in Europe.  In the majority of them couples fulfil civil procedures to obtain the legal standing of their marriage.  Only in a minority of countries in the Diocese does the solemnization of matrimony celebrated locally according to the rites, and by the licensed and registered ministers, of the Church of England recognized as having civil validity, Denmark, Gibraltar, Malta, Spain, Sweden, among them.

2  The clergy of this Diocese are thus able to offer to couples preparing for marriage a spiritual and pastoral ministry freer from civil legal obligations than their counterparts in the English dioceses.  However, local law concerning marriage must be strictly observed;  and therefore it is very important that all persons who are canonically eligible to officiate have a sound working knowledge of the legal requirements in his or her country of residence so as to be able to observe the law relating thereto, especially where Church of England rites and licensed clergy are recognized in law. 

3  As a consequence of the varied legal conditions in this Diocese, the guidelines in this section are organized with the majority of cases in mind:  that is, a church service following either civil or religious marriage.  They reflect the non-English and multi-national context of the Diocese, but cannot be taken to imply any doctrinal move away from the teaching of the Church of England as may be found in the canons (B30–36)

4  It follows from the prevalence of civil marriage in the Diocese, that the vast majority of couples will arrive at marriage services already married.  The Church of England accepts the validity of civil marriage.  Thus the service offered by a licensed priest of this Diocese (or, exceptionally, a deacon) will most often be the Order for Prayer and Dedication after a Civil Marriage (within a Eucharist or not), now included in Common Worship:  pastoral services. 

From time to time, other couples – who may have married or intend to marry elsewhere (within or outside Europe), by civil or religious ceremony, and who do not live in the vicinity of a chaplaincy – may approach a chaplain or priest-in-charge for a form of service.  They would, likewise, arrive at the church service already married, and the same order is likely to be used.

5  The clergy will be very aware of the pastoral opportunities presented by ministry to couples at or near the time of their marriage;  and should always be mindful of the image of the Church that a couple receives.  The requirement set out in these notes (of demonstrable regular worship in, or contact with, a particular chaplaincy or other Anglican parish elsewhere than the proposed place of a service) provides scope for collaboration with respect to preparation, follow-up and pastoral care either locally or with the clergy and people of the couple's home parish.

6  These guidelines are given, then, to assist the diocesan clergy in making pastoral judgements. The archdeacon will be the first point of information and advice, especially relating to local law and its procedures.

7  As the fundamental concern of the clergy should be the preparation of couples and ongoing pastoral care for them, arrangements for a marriage must be made between the officiating minister and the couple concerned, and never through a commercial third party.

I   Current liturgical provision in the Church of England

(a)  The following forms of service and other material in Common Worship:  pastoral services (here marked *) are authorized pursuant to Canon B2 of the canons of the Church of England for use until further resolution of the General Synod:

1  *The Marriage Service

2  *The Marriage Service within a celebration of Holy Communion

3  *Supplementary texts:  Marriage

(b)  The following forms of service are commended by the House of Bishops of the General Synod pursuant to Canon B2 of the canons of the Church of England, and are published with the agreement of the House:

4  *An Order for Prayer and Dedication after a Civil Marriage

5  *Thanksgiving for Marriage (for use on various occasions in the course of married life)

II    Services in church after Marriage (civil or religious)

(a)  Where a marriage has taken place — in whatever country and by whatever form — and it is desired to have a following service in one of our chaplaincies, the general regulations set out in §III below apply.  Only when they are fulfilled may a chaplain celebrate any service that implies the Church's recognition of the marriage.  However, such a service is not legally a marriage and requires neither legal preliminaries nor registration.

When one or more parties has a former spouse still living (see §IV (b) below) the Bishop's permission should be sought through the archdeacon using the ‘Services after Civil Marriage’ form.  (The form is available from the archdeacon, the Diocesan Office, or the website.)

Any ordained or accredited lay minister who is asked to perform such a service outside the usual area or places of worship of the chaplaincy should consult the archdeacon before agreeing to do so.

(b)  When a service is to be celebrated following a marriage (civil or religious) the following regulations apply.

No service should be celebrated until the minister is satisfied that the civil marriage has been contracted and is recognized both by the local civil authority and by the law of the country or countries of which the parties are citizens.

The service in church ought to follow the marriage ceremonies as closely as possible.  Where a marriage (civil or religious) is conducted far distant from the chaplaincy, the period elapsing between it and the service in the chaplaincy ought to be as short as possible.

Such a form of service may be within a celebration of the Eucharist;  and may on appropriate occasions — though not on any Principal Feast or Holy Day — be included in the Sunday Eucharist of the chaplaincy.  See note 6 on p.183 of Common Worship: pastoral services.

In cases where one or both of the parties has a former spouse still living, the pastoral guidelines set out in §IV (b) below should be followed.

In cases where one party is a member of another Church, the pastoral guidelines set out in §V (a) below should be followed.

A note of the service should be entered in the chaplaincy ordinary service register.

No certificate of marriage should be issued.

III    Solemnization of a Marriage in church

In these guidelines 'solemnization of marriage in church' means solemnization of marriage in the chaplaincy's usual place of worship or in another consecrated church, where marriage is celebrated in full following one of the authorized forms of service. 

(a)  General Principles

1   The solemnization of matrimony is the Church's blessing on the marriage of Christians;  and may not be celebrated where neither party is baptised.

2   The solemnization of matrimony may be celebrated only once for each marriage.

3   Generally in this Diocese, the chaplaincies are not territorial parishes, no right exists in civil law to marriage in church, and local law requires civil marriage.

(b)  It follows that —

the solemnization of matrimony, like all services, is conducted under the authority (explicit or implicit) of the diocesan Bishop.  See §IV below.

marriage will be solemnized in our chaplaincies only when there is no canonical impediment, and normally when both parties are baptized;

no right to the solemnization of marriage can be claimed by a merely residential qualification;

local law concerning marriage must be strictly observed;

except in special circumstances, such as the serious illness or incapacity of one of the parties, for which the Bishop's Licence is required, the solemnization of matrimony may be celebrated only in the chaplaincy's usual place of worship, or in another consecrated church.

IV   Bishop in Europe’s Licence

(a)  Circumstances in which the Bishop's Licence may be assumed

(b)  Circumstances for which the Bishop's Licence should be obtained

(a)  Circumstances in which the Bishop’s Licence may be assumed

The Bishop's Licence for the solemnization of matrimony may be assumed where:

both parties are baptized

both parties are of an age to marry both by civil and by canon law

neither party has a former spouse still living

one at least of the parties is on the electoral roll, or is a regular worshipper at the services of the chaplaincy

the chaplain is satisfied that both parties have been adequately prepared

the parties are not related within the prohibited degrees of affinity

(b)  Circumstances for which the Bishop’s Licence should be obtained

In the following circumstances the Bishop's Licence for the solemnization of matrimony should be explicitly requested using the ‘Solemnization of Matrimony’ form and formally issued.  (The form is available from the archdeacon, the Diocesan Office, or the website.)

The completed form should be sent at the earliest opportunity to the archdeacon, and not less than 3 months before the proposed date of marriage.  The archdeacon will review the legal circumstances and advise the Bishop.

Until the licence is received no undertaking should be given by the officiating minister to solemnize the marriage.

One party is not baptized

However, no person may be baptized merely to enable a marriage to be solemnized in church.  Any adult who seeks baptism is subject to the guidelines set out in §B7.

The requirement of regular worship is not fulfilled

Application should be made if a chaplain judges it pastorally desirable to solemnize a marriage when, although the other regulations set out in §III above have been fulfilled, neither party worships regularly in the chaplaincy.

One or both of the parties has a former spouse still living

The teaching and discipline of the Church of England includes the affirmation that 'remarriage after divorce during the lifetime of a former partner always involves a departure from the true principle of Christian marriage as declared by our Lord.'  (Act of Convocation of Canterbury 1 October 1957 – see Supplement 7.1)  Thus no chaplain can be obliged to solemnize such a marriage, or to allow the church in which he ministers to be used for it.

However, where a chaplain is considering the possibility of solemnizing such a marriage he should first assure himself ―

  • that all obligations under the previous marriage(s) have been and are being discharged;
  • that neither party was responsible for, or involved in, the breakdown of the other's earlier marriage;
  • that no scandal will be caused to the congregation or the community by the solemnization of the marriage; and
  • that both partners have studied and accept the Church of England's teaching on marriage.

A chaplain who is satisfied on all these counts ought then to apply for the Bishop's Licence using the ‘Solemnization of Matrimony’ form.

V  Supplementary guidelines

(a) When one of the parties is a member of another Church

The party who is a member of the other Church should be encouraged:

  • to seek the pastoral help of his/her priest or minister
  • to involve the relevant priest or minister in the ceremony and its preparation
  • to secure (if required by his Church) the necessary dispensations of the Bishop or other competent church authority

(b) Registration and Certification of Marriage

Registers of Marriages and Books of Certificates that are issued by the Registrar General for England and Wales, however they may be obtained, must not be used in this Diocese.  See F10Books and Registers.

(c) Marriages in the consecrated buildings of other Churches

  • Chaplains who are consulted about the marriages of Anglicans in the consecrated buildings of other Churches should do all they can to make the ceremony ecumenical.
  • Guidance for chaplains in France on preparing for marriages between Anglicans and other Christians is contained in a paper that may be obtained from the archdeacon.

(d)  Involvement of the ministers of other Churches

A minister of another Christian Church may be invited to assist at services of prayer after civil marriage and at the solemnization of matrimony.  Where the latter is the case, the permissions and procedures set out in Canon B43 are to be followed.  See also Common Worship: pastoral services, Note 13, p.134

(e)  Wedding Fees – see L8, Fees.

B23  Funerals

National, regional or municipal law concerning death, funerals and burial or interment of ashes must be strictly observed in all countries.  The provisions that follow must be interpreted in the light of such laws.

Rites to be used

(a)  The following forms of service and other material in Common Worship:  pastoral services are authorized pursuant to Canon B2 of the canons of the Church of England for use until further resolution of the General Synod:

1 The Funeral Service

The following forms of service are commended by the House of Bishops of the General Synod pursuant to Canon B2 of the canons of the Church of England, and are published with the agreement of the House:

2 Funeral of a Child together with resources for such a service

3 Funeral Service of a child dying near the Time of Birth

4 Ministry at the Time of Death, before and after a Funeral, and other resources

Minister of the rite

(a)  In some cases it will not be possible for a priest, deacon or authorized minister of the Diocese to conduct the funeral.  In such cases (subject to national law and the goodwill of the relatives) a minister of another Church, or any Christian, may read an appropriate part of the funeral service.  Chaplains may wish to prepare churchwardens or others for this possibility, or, if were this to reoccur often, to ask the Bishop to commission a diocesan lay assistant for this duty.

(b)  In some cases it will be appropriate to arrange, at a suitable time after the funeral, a service in which members of the congregation and others may take part.  Such a service may be a liturgy of the word or a celebration of the Eucharist.

(c)  A note of any funeral, whether conducted by the chaplain or by someone else, is made in the records of the chaplaincy. It may helpfully contain a reference to any certificate of death which has been issued.

B24  Cremation

(a)   The ashes of a deceased and cremated person should not be scattered. They should be buried in consecrated ground or in another suitable place allowed by law.

(b)  A Bishop's Faculty is required for the interment of ashes inside a consecrated church. 

B25  Ecumenical provisions

(a)  This provision applies to members of Churches that are ―

covered by Canon B43 –.

designated by the Archbishop under §27 of the Diocesan Constitution.

(b)  A minister or lay person who is a member in good standing of a Church in either category and is a baptized person, and providing he/she is authorized to perform a similar duty in his or her own Church, subject to the provisions of the Canon, may be invited to perform all or any of the following duties if that person is authorized to perform similar duties in his or her own Church:

(i)  to say or sing Morning or Evening Prayer or the Litany;

(ii)  to read the Scriptures at any service;

(iii)  to preach at any service;

(iv) to lead the intercessions at the Holy Communion and to lead prayers at other services;

(v)  to assist at Baptism or the Solemnization of Matrimony or to conduct a Funeral Service; 

(vi)  to assist in the distribution of the Blessed Sacrament to the people at the Holy Communion.

(c)  The table below sets out those from whom prior approval is required before an invitation can be made – and then only by the chaplain or priest-in-charge (or in a vacancy the archdeacon).


  • to officiate at Morning or Evening Prayer, the Litany, or to conduct a Service of the Word
  • to preach at any service
  • to assist at Baptism or the Solemnisation of Matrimony or a Funeral Service
  • to conduct a Funeral Service
  • to assist in the distribution of the Blessed Sacrament to the people at Holy Communion

Of whom approval is required

  • the Church Council (prior to requesting the Bishop's approval if more than occasional)
  • the Church Council (prior to requesting the Bishop's approval if more than occasional)
  • the Bishop's approval, after the persons (normally relatives) most concerned have requested the chaplain to make an invitation
  • the Church Council prior to requesting the Bishop's approval
  • the Church Council (prior to requesting the Bishop's approval if more than occasional)

Invitations to perform duties in relation to a service of ordination or confirmation should be given by the ordaining / confirming bishop or with the Bishop’s prior approval, and in relation to a service of institution with the prior approval of the Bishop or his Commissary.

The document Twinnings and Exchanges offers guidelines for ecumenical relations between Anglicans and Roman Catholics in France. 

(d)  The Bishop is willing to receive requests for baptized members of other Churches to perform such duties, provided that the conditions set out above are fulfilled, and that the chaplain, in making application, informs the Bishop:

  • of the Church of which the person is a member, and
  • of the person's willingness to perform the duty or duties for which permission is requested.

(e)  Such an application should be made to the suffragan bishop on the form that is circulated annually from the Diocesan Office.

(f)  It is important to recognize that those for whom an application is made under these provisions are required under the child protection procedure (see section N) to complete a Declaration, which is subject to checking in the same way as anyone who is to hold Bishop's Licence or other permission.

B26  Sacrament of Reconciliation

(a)  ‘Provided always, that if any man confess his secret and hidden sins to the Minister, for the unburdening of his conscience, and to receive spiritual consolation and ease of mind from him;  we do not any way bind the said Minister by this our Constitution, but do straitly charge and admonish him, that he do not at any time reveal and make known to any person whatsoever any crime or offence so committed to his trust and secrecy, (except they be such crimes as by the laws of this realm his own life may be called into question for concealing the same), under pain of irregularity.’  Proviso to Canon 113 of the Code of 1603;  See also Canon B29

(b)  Liturgical material is in preparation as part of Common Worship:  further details may be obtained from the diocesan liturgical advisor.

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