Freehold

Once an incumbent has been appointed to a parish, he or she can be removed only on grounds of gross immorality or total pastoral breakdown.  This tenure is known as “freehold”, and is also enjoyed by the higher clergy.   It is not enjoyed by a priest-in-charge of a parish in which presentation has been suspended.   Freehold is said to give an incumbent independence, and to prevent his removal by, for example, a bishop for reasons other than those mentioned above.   The existence of freehold is frequently under attack, as an outdated anomaly; there are many, however, who regard it as still necessary or, at least, desirable.   As a result of prolonged discussion, the General Synod has passed the Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) Measure 2009, coming into effect on 31 January 2011, one of the consequences of which will be to remove the freehold for all new appointments after that date. See Common Tenure.

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