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Ordinariate returns £1m grant to charity after ruling

By on Thursday, 28 June 2012

The donation was intended to keep the ordinariate afloat in its early days  (Photo: Mazur)

The donation was intended to keep the ordinariate afloat in its early days (Photo: Mazur)

The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham has returned a £1 million grant to an Anglo-Catholic charity after the Charity Commission ruled that it was invalid.

The Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, founded in 1862, gave the money a year ago to ensure that the ordinariate’s priests would not be left penniless. It represented almost half of the charity’s assets.

The Charity Commission, however, said the grant was invalid because most of the trustees who agreed to it had a “personal financial interest” in it. Five out of six of its trustees had already been ordained as priests in the ordinariate.

The commission also ruled that there was “substantial doubt” over whether use of the money would be consistent with the charity’s objects – “the advancement of the Catholic faith in the Anglican tradition”.

The ruling contradicts the advice lawyers gave to the charity before it approved the grant.

The Charity Commission concluded: “We have been informed that the grant has been returned in full (with interest) by the ordinariate of its own volition.”

The Confraternity has about 120 Anglican clergy members in England and 1,500 worldwide. It was founded by the Rev T T Carter, a prominent Anglo-Catholic.

  • paulpriest

    Oh good grief – incredible how the innocent are punished yet the moneygrabbers get away scott-free!

    Simple procedure – you more than double the amount of trustees who will not gain any financial reward from such a donation.

    If such an organisation like Ahem! – Ahem! [you know who you are!] can do it in order that trustees can be paid.. too can the Ordinariate.

    This is the moment for Archbishop Nichols to intervene with a chequebook…even if it’s with a very long term interest-free loan.

    Or the donation of a central HQ & Church [Colney Mayhaps?] with the guarantee of funded running costs for say – a decade?

    Charity your Grace – remember what the Holy Father requested as he left these fair isles….look after my sheep [especially the Ordinariate!]

  • JohnR

    Unbelievable. One wonders if the Charity Commission made this decision for purely technical reasons, or whether certain executive voices within its organisation used their positions to further a cause allied in no small part the promotion of their own secular politics.

    Did I say ‘allegedly’? Well I have now, just in case…..

  • Patrick_Hadley

    The decision of the Charity Commission is disappointing.

    The news that an Anglican charity was donating £1 million to a group of Catholic priests was very pleasant. Having read the three page statement from the superior of the CBS I wonder whether the charity would be able to make an acceptable donation as long as the trustees who vote for it are not members of the Ordinariate, and if the Ordinariate charity can clarify its purposes.

  • Voice of Reason

    Perhaps John the Charity Commission which is an independent organisation set up by parliament made a decision on the base of the facts.

  • Lanfranc

    It’s been most distressing for those of us involved to see how the parting of the ways between valued former colleagues and trusted friends – a parting which virtually everyone wanted to be amicable, and with lines of communication kept very much open – has been utterly poisoned by the matter of the CBS donation. Now that the Charity Commission has ruled (correctly in my opinion), I hope that all parties will try to undo some of the damage caused. As Patrick Hadley suggests, a donation voted through by non-Ordinariate trustees and of an appropriate amount (i.e. not half the charity’s total assets!) would be the best way of restoring a measure of trust, assuming that the money could be designated for purposes which would be acceptable to the Charity Commission.

  • Parasum

    If the donation was not morally consistent with the  purpose for which the donor gave it, so be it. Why should Anglo-Catholics pay for what former Anglo-Catholics turned Catholics do ? The donation seemed improper at the time, since it is hard to see why people who are no longer Anglo-Catholics should benefit by money intended for Anglo-Catholic uses. Would it be right for a bequest to the St.Barnabas Society to go to the  Church of England Children’s Society ? Surely that would not be in accord with the intentions of the testator.

    The grant was no doubt well-meant, and accepted in that spirit, but it was not the right thing to do in the circumstances.

  • David

    I agree with you, Patrick, and also wonder how priests of the Catholic Church can be trustees of an Anglican charity with a sacramental object when the Church doesnt acknowledge the validity of that sacrament?

  • Nicolas Bellord

    In respect of the objects of the charity I would have thought that the gift was valid.  Normally the Charity Commission refuses to rule on religious issues and I would have thought that interpreting the objects in this case was just that.  It is well-known that the Charity Commission has a very secular bias which militates against religious charities.

  • JohnR

    ‘Independent organisation’? 

    I have little faith, and even less expectation, that a politically contrived quango could ever arrive at a conclusion other than ‘compromised’. This latest decision does little to assuage me of those prejudices…..

  • Fr. John Farrell

    This is in line with American court decisions — one can leave the Anglican Communion but taking the assets with you is theft. The Roman ecclesial community should be prepared to take care of the turncoats it has been enticing across the Tiber.

  • Rosemary

    Sounds like the Charity Commission is serving sour grapes.  

  • Joyfran

    The Charity Commission made the right decision.  All but one of the Trustees had left the Anglican Church and therefore had a vested interest in the £1m donation.  Maybe now the interest (not assets) can be used in the struggle to maintain the Anglo-Catholic presence in the Church of England.

  • Jeff Sawaya

    That’s really impressive a one million dollar grant. Way cool! The blessings are amazing that come from giving.

  • David

    As a former Charity Commission staff member I must disabuse you – it is not a Quango & is, in fact, one of the oldes tGovernment offices.  Ignorant abuse is never a useful contribution to a debate.

  • Nicolas Bellord

    You are right that it is a long-standing Government office. So technically it is not a Quango.  However there is a view held by many lawyers that it became politicised under NuLabour.  An eminent QC and expert on Charity Law told me that the current Commissioners are almost exclusively NuLabour.  I had hoped to see a change under the Conservatives but presumably the LibDems have prevented a clean up.

  • Micha Elyi


    That’s a self-contradiction, like “subset-universal”.

  • Little Black Sambo

    I can’t see how “politicization” (which certainly did happen under the last Govt and Dame Suzy) explains, let alone invalidates, this decision. Why should a body representing Catholics in the C of E give all that money to people who don’t recognize (or are not allowed to say they recognize) Anglican sacraments?
    And even if the trustees had been strictly on the right side of the lawl, what they did was stupid beyond all imagination. Lanfranc is right: this is an enormous setback to harmonious relations.

  • Little Black Sambo

     Ho ho! It doesn’t take long for the triumphalists to come out.

  • David

    I think you are right about NuLabour – I left the Commission many years ago & even then was dismayed by the views & quality of some of the Board members.  It seems to me that the Commissioners are now politicised in a way that would have been unthinkable 20 yers ago & maybe have no feel for the history of individual charities. 
    Some years ago, I was horrified to be told staff had been instructed to have many thousands of files destroyed to keep storage costs down: they should have been offered to the respective Trustees as most of the files would be an invaluable historical resource.  And as the files were not checked before they were destroyed, I shudder to think what was lost.

  • Cradle Catholic

     The money did not belong to the Church of England, it belonged to a separate charity.   Will our bishops have the decency to donate sufficient funding for the upkeep of families of the married priests in the Ordinariate.  When Catholicism in England was under threat our martyrs paid the price with their lives.  All our bishops need pay with is money.   Some dioceses have more than adequate funds for their needs.

  • Joyfran

    The money actually belonged to CBS not the Trustees.  The interest was to be used to promote the catholic (universal – not Roman) church within the Church of England.  When I attended Fr Kirk’s retirement last Saturday there were people (including priests) who did not receive Communion.  Therefore, they must consider all they received before to be invalid.  Why, therefore, should they reap the benefits of something which they consider tainted.

  • Nicolas Bellord

     It is interesting to learn about the destruction of files by the Charity Commission.  It is not just history that was lost but proper administration.  I recently argued a case with the Charity Commission criticising the Trustees of a Charity for trying to do something illegal in exactly the same way as they had tried some ten years previously and had to be corrected.  The Charity Commission had destroyed the evidence of what the trustees had done ten years previously thus severely hampering my case.
    As regards the present matter according the Charity Commission’s website the objects for the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament are:


    It seems to me that the key point must be how you interpret the words “In the Anglican Tradition”.  Does it mean within the Anglican Church or does it just mean in an Anglican Tradition.  I would have thought that the Ordinariate is just that – perpetuating an Anglican tradition within the Catholic Church.

  • Powellscribe

    Quite correct ruling – if priests choose to quit the CoE they can’t expect to benefit from an Anglican charity. The Ordinariate must stand on its own two feet. 

  • Simon Bees CBS

    Praise be to Jesus! The Lord is a God of Justice. It was no way to advance ecumenical relations between the C of E and the RC Church.
    Now shamed, the CBS Trustees should resign and give the Confraternity back to The Anglican Church


    Simon Bees CBS 

  • stan zorin

    Then why was the theft of the property of the Catholic Church of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland made to be legal ? Return to us the cathedrals, the lands, the buildings, restore the monasteries. How come the turncoats to the protestant mixture of the rabbinical occult Gnosis with the twisted mutilated dogmas of the faith took this property with them ?

  • giles rowe

    Yet the Charity Commission permits the likes of Terence Higgins Trust, which promotes vile and dangerous behaviour under the guise of ‘sexual health’, and Stonewall, an openly political organisation, to masquerade as charities. 

  • Rick Savage

    As a member of the Confraternity, I have to say that the Charity Commission came to the correct decision.  The Confraternity was founded to promote the blessed sacrament within the Church of England; the Roman Catholic Church does not accept the validity of holy orders within the CoE and it holds there is no real presence in the CoE sacrament. hence Roman Catholics may not accept communion from a CoE priest.  So those CoE priests in charge of the Confraternity who decided to join the Ordinariate and had to be reconfirmed and re-ordained in the RC church, should have left with dignity. Instead they decided to change the rules of the Confraternity (removing the requirement for members to be in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury) and then voted the largest grant (more than half its assets) ever made by the Confraternity – without consulting the wider membership.

    Despite the £1m grant having been returned to the Confraternity it is still out of pocket in respect of: such a large long term investment having been encashed, believed to be as much as £300,000;  the lost interest due, estimated at £120,000; the huge legal bills run up (probably 6 figures again) to engage in the operation and appeal the Charity Commission’s initial ruling.