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As part of its function to provide assistance to outside bodies, the Centre for Law and Religion has consulted and collaborates on a wide range of matters.

The Centre for Law and Religion has links with several national and international bodies.

At the invitation of George Carey, then Archbishop of Canterbury, Norman Doe delivered a paper to the Primates’ Meeting of the Anglican Communion at Kanuga, North Carolina, USA, in March 2000. This proposed the existence of an Anglican ius commune induced from the similarities between the legal systems of the forty-four member churches of the Communion.

The Primates decided to test the hypothesis, and a specially convened Anglican Communion Legal Advisers’ Consultation met at Canterbury in March 2002 – the first such meeting in the history of Anglicanism.The Consultation agreed that there are principles of canon law common to the churches of the Communion.

Following a report to the Primates in 2002, and after consulting the Anglican Consultative Council, the Anglican Communion Legal Advisers Network was established. The Centre produced a draft of one hundred macro-principles and six hundred micro-principles which was the subject of discussion by the Network, resulting in the launch at the Lambeth Conference 2008 of The Principles of Canon Law Common to the Churches of the Anglican Communion (Anglican Communion Office, 2008).

October 2003 saw Norman Doe’s appointment to the Lambeth Commission by the Archbishop of Canterbury, along with three graduates of the LLM in Canon Law. The Commission was chaired by Archbishop Robin Eames.

The commission was set up at request of the Primates’ Meeting to examine implications consecrating an LGBT+ person as a bishop in the USA. The Centre Director wrote a position paper for the commission, and, related to the suggestion for a concordat made by the director to the Primates’ Meeting in 2001, a draft Anglican Covenant was included in the Windsor Report of the Lambeth Commission in 2004.

After work to develop a final text within the Communion, in 2009, the Anglican Communion Covenant was received by the Anglican Consultative Council for discussion. It was later adopted by 10 member churches.

A Panel of Experts, convened by Mark Hill QC, met in Rome in 2013 to discuss the possible existence of the category of ‘principles of Christian law’, as proposed by Norman Doe in his book Christian Law: Contemporary Principles (Cambridge University Press, 2013).

The Panel consisted of lawyers, theologians, leaders, and scholars from eight historic churches worldwide: Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, Reformed, Presbyterian, and Baptist. It met each year in Rome and in 2016 agreed a Statement of Principles of Christian Law.

In 2017, in Geneva, the location of the headquarters of the World Council of Churches, the Panel met with and established an informal partnership with the Director of the WCC Faith and Order Commission, discussing how to feed the statement into the work of that Commission. This is the first time in the history of Christianity that churches have engaged in recognising the potential of church law as a unifying force.

Whilst ecumenical dialogue has thus far historically been predominantly theological, use of church law as an instrument of ecumenical understanding is an innovative development for global ecumenism. The Panel has since been joined by members of the Old Catholic and the Pentecostal traditions. The Statement has been discussed at ecumenical gatherings across the world, including in Cardiff, Uppsala, Amsterdam, Oslo, London, Melbourne, Sydney, and Rome.  In 2019, in Rome, the Statement was welcomed publicly by His All-Holiness Bartholomew, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, who recognised its value and spoke of it ‘as designed to fill the historical juridical deficit in the ecumenical enterprise’.

At the Apostolic Palace in Rome, three days later, Pope Francis pronounced, for the first time in papal history, that ‘canon law is essential for ecumenical dialogue’.

The Panel is currently preparing for a workshop on the Statement at the World Council of Churches Assembly, which meets every eight years, at Karlsruhe, Germany in 2022.  The Statement has also been the object of a recent study in the book, N. Doe, ed., Church Laws and Ecumenism: A New Path for Christian Unity (Routledge, 2020).

The Centre values its continuing links with Uppsala University in Sweden, and with the Religion and Society Research Centre (CRS) and the Impact of Religion research programme, "Challenges for Society, Law and Democracy".

Mark Emerton represented the Director of the Centre in Uppsala in September 2017 at the Research Directors' Colloquium, organised by Impact. He returned to Uppsala in April 2018 as a guest researcher at the CRS and delivered papers and chaired sessions at the Impact Interdisciplinary Conference.

This major international conference included over 220 delegates from around the world, exploring current research relating to the place of religion within society. The law and religion sessions at the conference covered such matters as religious discrimination, religious freedom, and human rights.

In 2009, on the basis of a Centre initiative, the Venerable English College in Rome established an Ecumenical Fellowship in Comparative Canon Law. It ran for a decade. The fellow’s duties included promoting of the work of the Colloquium of Anglican and Roman Catholic Canon Lawyers.

The fellowship has been held by Rev Gareth Powell and, latterly, by Professor Mark Hill QC, who has also used the fellowship to promote the work of the Christian Law Panel of Experts.