The Anglican Church of Australia has produced a very helpful discussion guide [pdf] to accompany Faithfulness in Service [pdf]. Faithfulness in Service (FiS) is the church’s governing document with respect to professional standards of behaviour, not least for clergy. It covers, amongst other things, sexual behaviour.
The discussion guide has some very helpful questions which allow a diocese to think through implementation of the standards in their common life. This one stood out (Discussion 4, page 8):
2. Do the standards in these sections of Faithfulness in Service accurately reflect the standards for clergy and church workers that are presently understood to be operating in your Diocese?
And that, my friends, is a fantastic official question! Are there dioceses which, while having adopted Faithfulness in Service, don’t actually fully implement and operate it? If the standards didn’t match at implementation, then what is being done to accelerate implementation? And although it is hard to change what is already in place … what should a diocese, and the bishop of a diocese, do when a new situation is presented (for example, the installation of a priest whose life does not conform to FiS)? Act consistently with Faithfulness in Service or ignore it? Which is best practice? Which upholds the doctrine, discipline and practice of the church? What should a bishop do? Ignore Faithfulness in Service or seek to fully implement it?
And what would an insurer think about the cost of premiums if they knew that a diocese was not committed to fully implementing adopted professional standards? I understand that full implementation of Faithfulness in Service would reduce premiums – that’s the experience of many dioceses. So what would happen if insurers lost confidence that Faithfulness in Service was being adhered to?