Southwark’s Butler to defectors: You can’t take it with you

Though he says recent moves by the Vatican put “the cat among the pigeons,” Bishop Tom Butler of the Southwark Synod (CoE) insists those converting to Catholicism won’t take their buildings with them, Religious Intelligence relayed on Friday.

Bishop Butler:

…questions were being asked of my office [so] I thought it wise to seek a little legal advice on the implications there might be for the Diocese and its Parishes if any Priest, or group of lay people wished to become Roman Catholics, which of course they are perfectly entitled to do, after all there has always been movement between the denominations and in recent times the Diocese of Southwark has benefitted enormously from the ministry of several vicars who were formerly Roman Catholic priests.

But no priest or group of laity has the right to take church property with them when they change denominations, for a Diocese holds such property in trust for the mission and ministry of the Church of England to all the people of its parishes and this duty of care would continue.

That’s a familiar refrain heard on our side of the pond. We wonder what effect the bishop’s impending retirement (scheduled for March) might have on his ability to hold such a line.

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