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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: February 2020

11 - The Rites of Passage

from Part III - Doctrine, Liturgy, Rites and Other Faith Communities


The so-called rites of passage - baptism, confirmation, Holy Communion, marriage, and burial - are rarely addressed in the Constitution of the Church in Wales. Norms are found in liturgical rubrics and other regulatory forms in the service books, in soft-law, and in pre-1920 ecclesiastical law which continues to apply to the Church in Wales unless and until altered by it. Baptism, confirmation and Holy Communion are not governed by State law. But the civil law on marriage and burial continues to apply to the church as vestiges of the old establishment. Over the century, there have been several key changes in ritual norms. In some respects, the church is progressive when compared with other Anglican churches. Changes to burial norms in the 1970s removed the traditional prohibitions on those who die unbaptised, excommunicate or who commit suicide. The Church in Wales is only the fourth Anglican church to admit to Holy Communion all those who have been baptised. Moreover, there are proposed changes afoot in relation to solemnising same-sex marriages. However, the way in which these changes have been implemented has, in some respects, led to a degree of uncertainty - and it remains to be seen what impact some of the changes (such as in the case of confirmation) will have on the rites in the future.

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