Monday, 23 June 2014

CofE clergy and same-sex marriage

Updated Tuesday

There were reports this weekend of some developments in the cases of clergy entering same-sex marriages:

Mail on Sunday Jonathan Petre First clergyman who flouted the Church of England’s gay marriage ban is fired by his bishop

Guardian Andrew Brown Second priest defies Church of England to marry his same sex partner

BBC Gay wedding canon Jeremy Pemberton faces service ban

Independent Church of England tells same-sex married clergyman Canon Jeremy Pemberton to stop leading services

Telegraph First gay priest to marry banned from working as a priest in his diocese

Pink News UK: First gay clergy to marry ‘fired’ by Bishop


Changing Attitude Bishop acts against married gay priest


Religion News Service via the Washington Post Trevor Grundy Gay Anglican priest’s license is revoked after he marries

Nottingham Post Gay priest banned from working in Nottinghamshire after marrying his long-term partner

BBC Radio Lincolnshire has an extended discussion of the matter in this programme, starting at 2 hours, 10 minutes, and running for about 12 minutes. Recommended if you have the time.


Ekklesia Savi Hensman Punishing married gay clergy is Church of England own goal

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 23 June 2014 at 9:22am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

Time for the C of E to fire a Bishop, I'd say...

Posted by: Phil Groom on Monday, 23 June 2014 at 10:30am BST

Is there now any point in holding the long awaited facilitated conversations? If they are to be held at some date in the future what are they expected to achieve?

Posted by: Father David on Monday, 23 June 2014 at 10:30am BST

The other shoe has finally dropped. To put it mildly, this revocation of a priest's license is very ill advised. Again, the bishops send the message to LGBTI young people, "There is no place for you in the Church; no place for you among the married; no place for you in God's kingdom." Thank God, most young people no longer listen to the Church's leadership. Who could blame them?

How cynical can the bishops be? Will the gay bishops currently serving speak out in defense of our young people? Don't hold your breath. They long ago chose power and privilege over integrity. Evidently, one of the bishops has been tasked with compiling a "blacklist" of clergy who marry same sex spouses to ensure their full exclusion from the life of the Church.

Now is the time to move for the removal of the so-called Lords Spiritual from the House of Lords. These bishops oppose the laws of England and should have no further role in the making of laws. After that, the disestablishment of the Church should be the next step. There should be no place for an established church which punishes clergy for entirely lawful behavior. The Church of England has done this to itself, making itself into a cruel master. The bishops are no better than public racists.

Posted by: Karen MacQueen on Monday, 23 June 2014 at 11:11am BST

I am very disappointed that the Bishop of Southwell has taken this action which I think is wrong and sinful. I am so glad that the NHS is more Christ like than the Bishops

Posted by: Jean Mayland (Revd) on Monday, 23 June 2014 at 11:24am BST

Anyone have any further information about Andrew Brown's claim that the Bishop of Norwich is to maintain a list of clergy who will not be eligible for further appointment? I seem to have missed this thus far.

Posted by: Wilf on Monday, 23 June 2014 at 11:30am BST

This is why I urged gay-affirming churches to form a coalition for collective action, several months ago.

It seems invidious for individual, loving people to be picked off like this, when in fact half the church sees nothing wrong with same-sex marriage.

Those PCCs, priests and local church communities who in good conscience believe in affirming gay and lesbian married couples...

...should act in coalition, set a date for collective action, and from that date openly celebrate and dedicate and bless the gay and lesbian couples in their communities.

Meanwhile, the 'facilitated discussions' feel like someone opening negotiations with a gun placed to their opponents head. "We will dismiss you if you don't do what we say. Our conscience must dominate your conscience."

On the positive side, the bishops' absurd position cannot hold.

But if the reports are true then, as I feared months ago, individuals are paying the price for a whole church divide.

And of course, there is also a price to pay, in terms of the terrible message this sends to gay and lesbian people in this country, about people being discriminated against, just because - like everybody else - they have a sexual orientation.

In the poll carried out for Lancaster University last year, 80% of Anglicans under 30 saw nothing wrong with same sex marriage. Only among over 60's was there a majority against it.

The bishops are out of step and seemingly out of touch with their own membership.

Time for the open celebration and blessing of gay couples to go viral, I think. It is a conscience issue.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Monday, 23 June 2014 at 11:42am BST

Presumably NHS lawyers are, as we speak, hiding under tables in foetal positions, hoping that if they mumble about marmalade enough they could get a gig voicing Paddington Bear now that Colin Firth has said he won't do it. Anything, indeed, rather than touching this case with a ten foot pole.

In principle, if you lose your license to perform your job, that is grounds for dismissal. If a doctor, for example, if struck off by the GMC then they lose their job with the NHS, as it is no longer legal for them to practice as a doctor. However, the GMC don't have an exemption from legislation about protected characteristics, and are subject not only to discrimination legislation, but also have a fairly extensive governance process (doctors are legally represented, there's a right of appeal, it's all pretty transparent).

That's not the case here. A chaplain who has his license to officiate removed is not in quite the same position as a doctor who's struck off (it is not, for example, illegal to ply your trade as a priest without such a license, whereas a struck off doctor cannot act as a doctor in any capacity) but it's not wildly different: someone who receives communion in hospital from a minister who is forbidden from representing the CofE might get cross, up to the point of legal action, with an organisation that responded to a request for a CofE minister by providing an unlicensed one.

However, the license has been withdrawn on the basis of not one, but two protected characteristics (sexuality, marriage status). The process by which the license was withdrawn fails at the most basic levels of due process and if the NHS sacks a chaplain on the grounds of the actions of the CofE I doubt they can hide behind the church's exemption from equalities legislation.

As was said in, I think it's almost certain that an NHS trust would not attempt such a sacking, and if they attempted to engineer a departure it would either be a very expensive compromise agreement or would end up in a constructive dismissal action that would, again, be very expensive.

NHS trusts have no particular interest in being the point man for the CofE's policy of discrimination, so one obvious thing for them to do would be to get out of the chaplain business. More trouble than it's worth.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Monday, 23 June 2014 at 11:49am BST

I don't know why anyone is surprised. Deliver a decree - weather the initial outcry - do nothing for a couple of months - then 'quietly' sack him - oh, sorry, withdraw his permission to officiate (same thing.) Of course, the HofB are in a bit of a bind because Jeremy Pemberton doesn't actually work for them, being employed by the NHS, who probably don't give a flying bishop whom he's married to.

'the Bishop of Norwich is to maintain a list of clergy who will not be eligible for further appointment.'
In other reports he has a 'blacklist' or is 'holding a watching brief.' I do hope not. The Bishop of Norwich is/was my bishop and presided over my resignation some years ago, and could not have acted in a more humane, dare I say it, pastoral way. He's the last person I would imagine as a sort of Witchfinder General for gay clergy. Can someone please clarify his position?

Posted by: Stephen Morgan on Monday, 23 June 2014 at 12:40pm BST

"I am very disappointed that the Bishop of Southwell has taken this action which I think is wrong and sinful. I am so glad that the NHS is more Christ like than the Bishops
Posted by: Jean Mayland (Revd) on Monday, 23 June 2014 at 11:24am BST"

I am not commenting on the story nor your comment but would like to add the following fact: Richard Inwood is not the Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham. He is the retired suffragan Bishop of Bedford who is acting-Bishop in Southwell & Nottingham where he undertakes this role, I am given to understand, one day a week on an unpaid basis. The See is currently vacant.

Posted by: Laurence Cunnington on Monday, 23 June 2014 at 12:45pm BST

How about those clergy who are angry at Jeremy being treated in this way taking some form of collective action or protest? It would send a message to the wider world that not all in the church are motivated by homophobia and it might send a message to the bishops that what is done in the dark will be brought into the light.

Posted by: Paul on Monday, 23 June 2014 at 12:55pm BST

Removal of PTO will have no impact as regards the NHS here. The removal of PTO is for Southwell and Nottingham diocese, whereas Canon Pemberton is employed within hospitals in Lincoln diocese, where PTO has not been withdrawn.

Posted by: Alastair Newman on Monday, 23 June 2014 at 12:58pm BST

Thanks for your correction Laurence.My point still stands though.

Posted by: Jean Mayland on Monday, 23 June 2014 at 1:53pm BST

Let's try and get this straight, once and for all.
I am employed by United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust full-time as Deputy Senior Chaplain and Deputy Bereavement and Voluntary Services Manager. I have a General Preacher's Licence from the Bishop of Lincoln.

I live in Southwell, where I sing professionally in the choir of the Minster as one of the lay clerks (can bass if you want to know). I preach regularly if occasionally at the Minster. And I held a Permission to Officiate from Bishop Paul Butler. It was hardly ever used, as at weekends I am singing in the Minster.

As a result of my marriage the Bishop of Lincoln issued me with a written rebuke, to go on my file, which was copied to the Archbishop of Canterbury. There was an exchange of letters between us. No meeting subsequent to the marriage took place, though I had seen him in early March. No attempt was made to remove my licence, which I still hold.

I met the acting Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham in late May. We discussed the situation. In a letter which I received three days later he told me that, after consultation with the Archbishop of York, he was revoking my Permission to Officiate with immediate effect, and asked me to return it to the office, which I did.

That is where matters stand. All this is already in the public domain. I am not going to comment on it at the moment. I hope it helps clarify what has actually happened

Posted by: Jeremy Pemberton on Monday, 23 June 2014 at 2:06pm BST

This decision is surely not one an 'acting' bishop would feel was appropriately his to take in a temporary role. Bishop Inwood is presumably under orders. It may also places the incoming bishop in an awkward position if they would have acted differently.

Posted by: David Runcorn on Monday, 23 June 2014 at 2:09pm BST

Canon Pemberton was fully aware of what the consequences would be of his actions, like it or no. The same is true of all commenting on this thread.The Church of England does not (yet) have a revised understanding of what marriage is. We are not at that point, so it's no good bleating about what is an inevitable outcome of flouting doctrine in such a way!

Posted by: Benedict on Monday, 23 June 2014 at 2:23pm BST

Jeremy: If you are ever in Oxford, I hope you will 'dep' in the Cathedral Singers, who cover the services out of term. Best wishes, iain (Dec bass and emergency tenor).

Posted by: iain mclean on Monday, 23 June 2014 at 2:46pm BST

Glad to see Susannah and Paul suggest collective action. Strength in numbers is the only thing that'll shift the unelected, unaccountable, and utterly discredited House of Patricians.

It's not just the bishops. Synod has appeased bigotry for decades. The one and only time it addressed the human rights of gay people, in the late eighties, it waved through homophobia by a crushing majority. The curse of the church are liberals who are privately supportive but publicly bigoted. At least you know where you stand with an honest fundamentalist. It doesn't matter how nice a bishop is in person, if he won't go to bat for you where it matters, he's a coward and a hypocrite. They get away with their duplicity because better people are too polite to call them out.

Change to the church's homophobic legalism will only come from the ground-up, via rule-breaking, as equal ordination came to the Episcopal Church in the seventies. No one else should be treated as Jeremy Pemberton has been.

Posted by: James Byron on Monday, 23 June 2014 at 3:38pm BST

I will never attend a C of E service again- unless a funeral.

As burying the dead is one the Corporal Works of Mercy.

I anticipate that, if I live long enough, I could be present at the said Church's own last rites, and burial..

Posted by: Revd Laurie Roberts on Monday, 23 June 2014 at 3:59pm BST

Seems to me that Bishop Richard Inwood is the Fall Guy in this whole episode and is merely acting on orders from above. In the circumstances it is a very temperate and measured response from Jeremy Pemberton. I was once interviewed for a parish in the St. Albans diocese by Bishop Inwood, he seemed to me to be quite an affable and friendly chap. I guess, as so often is the case in these short listings, the decision had already been decided as to who would be appointed and the panel was just going through the motions. I wasn't offered the post but I feel no ill will towards the bishop and in a way feel rather sorry that he has been placed in such a difficult current position by his ecclesiastical superiors.

Posted by: Father David on Monday, 23 June 2014 at 4:05pm BST

It is invidious indeed, Susannah, those PCCs, priests and local church communities who in good conscience believe in affirming gay and lesbian married couples... never seem to make much noise. We're a tiny minority in the world at large, we can't change things on our own, and in the church very few straight folks seem willing to stand with us. Makes me feel like such an embarrassment.

Posted by: Lorenzo on Monday, 23 June 2014 at 4:45pm BST

I marvel at the commitment and courage of Jeremy and Laurence, as I pray that CoE leadership finds its moral compass. We in TEC would be happy to loan them one. (Speaking as a rank-and-file layperson).

Posted by: Cynthia on Monday, 23 June 2014 at 4:47pm BST

Thank you for clarifying what some of us suspected, Jeremy. There is an inconsistency between the two English provinces. The Diocese of Lincoln is in the province of Canterbury. Southwell & Nottingham is in York. It looks like a quasi-papal opportunity for outside intervention was grasped during an episcopal interregnum by Bishopthorpe and its current occupant. I wonder why I have always doubted the sincerity of all the anti-homophobic grandstanding from that particular direction?

Posted by: Simon R on Monday, 23 June 2014 at 4:48pm BST

I find this whole process almost incredible in a supposedly synodically governed church.

The HoB issued a statement.
No-one, not even its own lawyers, is sure it can be enforced under its two possible measures for dealing with erring clergy. One of those measures would only allow it to write a stern letter to the priest in question.
So when a priest gets married, they decide not even to test whether their stance is legal and under which of the 2 possible options it might be dealt with (which would affect the severity of any subsequent punishment) but just quietly tell him that his PTO is revoked.
No right to appeal, no due process.
End of story.

Is this really how this church operates?
It is an absolute disgrace.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 23 June 2014 at 5:17pm BST

"Will the gay bishops currently serving speak out in defense of our young people?" You'll die of asphyxia before you can exhale, Karen, and not just the bishops. The sad truth is that most congregations are made up almost entirely of retired people who often harbour very different views from today's youth on the matter of same-sex relationships, let alone marriage, which in turn makes it increasingly difficult for young people to see the church in a positive light. Has anyone taught a 6-form class recently? even in a CofE school?

Posted by: Lorenzo Fernandez-Vicente on Monday, 23 June 2014 at 6:12pm BST

Father David says, "Seems to me that Bishop Richard Inwood is the Fall Guy in this whole episode and is merely acting on orders from above." I don't understand this: if he is a diocesan bishop, and not a Roman Catholic one, then surely there is nothing "above" (juridically speaking).

per Benedict's comment, it has always struck me as a curious sort of reasoning which holds that the foreseeability of a wrong action justifies it. (The "you know you would get made fun of going out in that" school of justice). In any case, it's far from obvious that getting married is "flouting" doctrine in a way that entering a civil partnership is not.

Posted by: Geoff on Monday, 23 June 2014 at 7:29pm BST

Erica, Jeremy may be in the process of appealing. It would not be in his best interest to tell us that.

Posted by: Susan Cooper on Monday, 23 June 2014 at 7:37pm BST


Her Majesty, "by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons," has specifically authorized Her registrars to solemnize these marriages.

"We acknowledge that the Queen’s excellent Majesty, acting according to the laws of the realm, is the highest power under God in this kingdom,and has supreme authority over all persons in all causes, as well ecclesiastical as civil."

How could participating in a ceremony that has been endorsed by the Queen in Parliament and is presided over by the Queen's servants possibly be contrary to the law or doctrine of the church?

Posted by: Chris S on Monday, 23 June 2014 at 8:11pm BST

Can anyone explain why, in the Northern Province, it 'would not be appropriate conduct for someone in holy orders to enter into a same sex marriage, given the need for clergy to model the Church's teaching in their lives', with the result that one's PTO is revoked, yet get away with a Rev-style slap over the wrists and retain one's PTO in the Southern Province?

As for the farcical blacklist! The bishops can expect any action taken by them in relation to their pastoral statement to be incredibly high-profile, so there's hardly any need for it. In any case, a gay married cleric applying for a job in another diocese would, presumably, be completely open about their marital status, and not try to cover it up.

Let's hope this episode will see the swift unravelling of the HoB's Valentine's Day statement.

Posted by: Andrew on Monday, 23 June 2014 at 8:27pm BST

I've written to the Bishop of Norwich asking whether he would like to clarify the role he has taken on, given the various rumours that are circulating.

Posted by: Colin Coward on Monday, 23 June 2014 at 8:37pm BST

Is anyone really surprised by this latest development? Bishops in the C of E have the right to discriminate against LGBT priests because there is no churchwide policy prohibiting such discrimination. We have similar problems in the Episcopal Church, where liberal bishops but also a few conservative bishops have the right to do what they want. On paper, the Episcopal Church has opened discernment to ordained ministry to all regardless of gender and sexual orientation. But the practice is anything but open when there is a conservative diocesan bishop.

Interested Observer makes a great point when he says that the discrimination here is both about sexual orientation and marital status.

A secular employer would not be allowed to discriminate against an employee based on sexual orientation or marital status. But churches pride themselves on being above the law and ethics.

Gary Paul Gilbert

Posted by: Gary Paul Gilbert on Monday, 23 June 2014 at 9:25pm BST

Thank you Jeremy for explaining the situation so helpfully. My prayers are with you and your partner and wish you both every blessing from the God who made each one of us in his own image.

Posted by: Anne on Monday, 23 June 2014 at 9:34pm BST

Jeremy, does your licence in Lincoln have a renewal date on it?

Posted by: Peter Ould on Monday, 23 June 2014 at 9:35pm BST

Interesting times. Certain things are clear: (1) on this issue Sentamu has behaved like a slug; (2) the Bishop of Lincoln (plus maybe Welby) has behaved properly, that is, mild slap on the wrist followed by substantive (and eloquent) inaction; (3) Jeremy P comports himself with immense dignity - and with the assurance of full support from liberals - and not only liberals; for (4) Father David upholds the principle of decency, which itself transcends ideological boundaries; (5) Benedict (and others like him) aren't motivated by vindictiveness or homophobia but regard this (that is, the 'pastoral guidance' of the HOB) as a matter of 'doctrine' - but it isn't - to put it at its mildest, it's not creedal.

Posted by: John on Monday, 23 June 2014 at 10:21pm BST

I hold more than one permissions to officiate.
Is this common within other provinces?

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Monday, 23 June 2014 at 10:36pm BST

Erika: yes this is how the Church operates. That is, the authorities. For fear of whom we keep the doors shut, no doubt, but ...

Posted by: Turbulent Priest on Monday, 23 June 2014 at 11:53pm BST

As an outsider from the other side of the world, i wonder whether it is the Archbishop of York who is really responsible for this first burst of antipathy towards the idea of civil marriage status for a licensed clergy-person who happens to be gay?

Perhaps the assistant bishop of any diocese that doesn't have a diocesan might be expected to act according to the implied disciplinary measure. In this case, the active disciplinary procedure has to be the Archbishop of the Province. We can't blame the Archbishop of Canterbury, who seems to have counselled caution on this matter.

However, it would seem that the fat cannot be taken our of the frying pan in this instance. The question is, what will the House of Bishops have to do to recover public credibility - on an issue with which the Faithful probably would rather not have to deliver judgement?

Differently from 'Interested Observer'; I do not think the NHS authorities would blink an eyelid at the fact that one of its chaplains happens to be happily married according to the Law of the land.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 at 1:02am BST

How would Fr Pemberton be restored to good standing---via a divorce?!

[Lawrence, if you're reading: the Episcopal Church Welcomes You (and your husband!)]

Posted by: JCF on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 at 1:05am BST

"I marvel at the commitment and courage of Jeremy and Laurence, as I pray that CoE leadership finds its moral compass."

Amen, amen to that fair prayer, say I.

Posted by: Jeremy on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 at 1:46am BST

these headlines keep suggesting that "The Church of England" is against marriage equality - but that doesn't really seem to be the case: in parishes where they have out gay priests and elsewhere in the church, most people are supportive of equal rights and equal rites for their priests and for every gay person. So it sounds to me like only the leadership of the CE is opposed. And the leadership is a pretty small majority.

And if I'm going to be entirely candid, I don't for a minute believe that the majority of bishops sincerely oppose it either.

Where is is coming from?

Posted by: Daniel Berry, NYC on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 at 2:54am BST

Susan, if I understand correctly there is no possibility to appeal against the removal of PTO.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 at 6:26am BST

The discussion on this thread confuses licence (which is held under Common Tenure) and PTO (which is not). Jeremy's statement makes it perfectly clear that the PTO has been withdrawn (which can be done without notice or appeal), whereas the licence under Common Tenure remains in place. That is why the situation in the two dioceses is different. It's coincidental that they happen to be in two different provinces. It's the legal position that determines what action can be taken.

Posted by: Pete Broadbent on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 at 7:20am BST

"Bishops in the C of E have the right to discriminate against LGBT priests"

Christians might like to turn over in their minds the fact that pretty much the only organisations with exemptions from equality law (what a phrase to be proud of, "exemptions from equality law") are religious. The rest of society say that discrimination is wrong. The Church of England is in the vanguard of demands that discrimination is good, and they demand the legal right to continue doing it.

"So it sounds to me like only the leadership of the CE is opposed...where is it coming from?"


Posted by: Interested Observer on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 at 7:53am BST

Geoff, Bishop Inwood is merely Acting Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, having retired as a Suffragan Bishop from the diocese of St. Albans (Thinks, wasn't Bishop Inwood one of those bishops who wrote a letter opposing Jeffrey John's aborted consecration as Bishop of Reading? If so, it must have been a very uncomfortable relationship when J J became Dean of St. Albans!). The See of Southwell and Nottingham is currently vacant as the previous bishop - Paul Butler - has been translated to Durham. So, I don't think for a moment that Richard Inwood acted off his own bat without first seeking advice and direction from above i.e. Bishopthorpe!
It will now be interesting and informative to see what action, if any, is taken against Fr. Andrew Cain. Or is this situation similar to the NHS Postcode lottery? Don't at your peril enter into a SSM in the Northern Province but it may well be safe so to do in the Southern Province? Time alone will tell!

Posted by: Father David on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 at 7:54am BST

Martin Reynolds: I have held pto in two dioceses and still hold it in one while being licensed in the other.

Posted by: peter kettle on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 at 7:57am BST

I am beginning to think that the continual discussion of the situation of another priest by priests should itself be a disciplinary offence. Gossip and speculation in public is a corrosive thing. It is now very clear that the discipline to be imposed for same sex marriage is a rebuke. The removal of PtO is a cheap shot side show. Why the need for further public discussion. If some conservative clergy have a problem with it, then best to write in private to those concerned. And to keep it private.

Posted by: Sound on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 at 7:58am BST

"[Lawrence, if you're reading: the Episcopal Church Welcomes You (and your husband!)]" JCF

Thank you for the offer, but I'm not a Christian :-)

"I marvel at the commitment and courage of Jeremy and Laurence" Cynthia

That's very kind of you to include my name alongside Jeremy's, Cynthia, but I have done nothing courageous.

Posted by: Laurence Cunnington on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 at 8:31am BST

I hardly think. as "Sound" suggests, that discussion of a subject which has appeared in most national newspapers is gossip which should be kept private. The recent marriages should be welcomed as assisting Archbishop Welby's never-to-end listening process. The priests and their husbands have sent a message to Justin saying "We're now married - just like you. Is what we're saying loud enough?"

Posted by: FrDavidH on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 at 8:58am BST

I don't think Laurence and I have been courageous. All we have done is exercise our right to marry - and that was a personal, conscientious, moral and, from my perspective, spiritual decision. It was not done with an eye to notoriety or influence

But I am grateful that some people recognise that two of us are involved in this.

Posted by: Jeremy Pemberton on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 at 9:01am BST

Laurence, I confused your name and your husband's (see why I refer to myself as An Ignorant Yank? :-X). I meant to say, "Jeremy, if you're reading..."

[And Laurence, you ***need not be a Christian***, to enjoy the warmth of welcome in the Episcopal Church. This is an often an accusation used against us in TEC, to which I am happy to confess. :-)]

Posted by: JCF on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 at 9:06am BST

Thank you Pete for pointing out the simple facts. I'm still surprised that journalists didn't quite get those facts, and even more surprised that some clergy didn't get them.
Can you shed any further light on the suggestion that Graham James is the keeper of some special list? It doesn't seem like it would be accurate.

Posted by: Andrew Godsall on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 at 9:28am BST

Pete Broadbent is correct in clarifying the situation with Licence and PTO. However, his off-the-cuff dismissal of the different approaches in two different provinces will not wash. It is not entirely true to say that the legal situation determined what happened. The Archbishop of York could have suggested to Richard Inwood that, while the See of Southwell and Nottingham is vacant, and while the Church is continuing to reflect on a new reality - not to mention its supposed commitment to facilitated conversations (which, presumably, involves listening to the experience of LGBT people?), the PTO should be allowed to stand until the appointment of a new diocesan bishop. The ultimate irony is that John Sentamu was holding forth on the Today programme on Radio, 4 just a few hours ago, banging the drum about justice and equality in relation to a working wage. Myopia is curable, I suppose.

Posted by: Simon R on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 at 10:10am BST

Would they discipline the Queen for approving gay marriage or do they just regard their supreme governor ( from whom they derive their temporal and spiritual power) as a rubber stamp.

They have soon forgotten , how they condoned the marriage of Bishop Santer in a registry office when he married a divorcee. Long before they altered the legislation, to bring it into line with their morality. Santer was not even sacked as being co-chairman of the local ARCIC.

Posted by: robert ian Williams on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 at 11:03am BST

Pete Broadbent is helpful to many here and abroad.
Otherwise, I agree with Sound and wish the happy couple joy, peace and much love.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 at 11:36am BST

The situation seems to be as follows:

1. The Archbishop of York, who for several reasons can afford to be the bad cop, has told a bishop what to do and the bishop has done it.

2. The harm to Jeremy Pemberton is grievous, on a spiritual level; but it does not affect him economically until he tries to change jobs.

3. The Global South—which wanted discipline, discipline from the Church of England, and stamped its collective foot—may have been appeased, at least for a time.

4. But Andrew Cain has upped the pressure in the Province of Canterbury.

Remaining questions include:

5. Will the Church Commissioners face difficult questions over this in the Commons? Will the Archbishop of York, in the Lords? Parliamentary pressure seems to have worked in the case of women bishops; can it work on equal marriage too?

6. The transition from Pemberton to Cain was seamless. How many more gay priests are waiting to play the equal-marriage card? (How many more have been married already, and are simply waiting to announce the party? Is there a queue?)

7. As to the next case, will the bullying of the Global South be resisted? (In other words, does the Archbishop of Canterbury have a spine? Or does discipline in the CofE run through Abuja and Kampala?)

8. Which matters more, in Justin Welby's mind: the length of the guest list for the next Lambeth Conference? Or the ability of the Church of England to reflect and to minister to its own culture and society?

Posted by: Jeremy on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 at 12:02pm BST

For what it is worth, I have written to our bishop (Durham) about this (following advice from Jeremy Pemberton on a past occasion). Colin Coward's piece supports the inference that Sentamu and Welby differ on this matter.

Posted by: John on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 at 1:05pm BST

The Radio Lincolnshire item makes the Church of England look really foolish. One rule for the Northern Province, another rule for the Southern Province. Not only that, a ban in the diocese of Southwell and Nottingham, a letter of rebuke in the neighbouring diocese of Lincoln. What will the general populace think of us?

Posted by: Father David on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 at 1:51pm BST

The HOB position can be no more than a holding measure as it is unsustainable.

We await with interest the response from the Diocese of London (which incidentally has a high proportion of gay priests in good and caring ministries) to the marriage of the Rev Andrew Cain.

He will certainly be followed by others and any attempt to discipline him will precipitate a serious response from the clergy - remember the letter to the Times from London clergy in February 2012 petitioning to be allowed to conduct blessings for civil partnerships.

The public face of the Church of England is becoming a laughing stock, thanks to timid bishops frightened of a rather small faction of conservative and largely evangelical pressure groups.

I see an analogy between where the bishops are and the current panic stricken political responses to UKIP in the recent elections, except of course that the clear majority of C of E members have little or no trouble with the idea of same-sex marriage.

Posted by: Concerned Anglican on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 at 3:32pm BST

"... the Bishop of Lincoln (plus maybe Welby) has behaved properly, that is, mild slap on the wrist followed by substantive (and eloquent) inaction ..."

John, would you also describe a "mild slap on the wrist" for a couple contracting an interracial marriage as having "behaved properly"?

Posted by: James Byron on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 at 6:45pm BST

So if it's the legal difference between a PTO and licence that determines what action can be taken, what about the principle? I see little qualitative difference, in terms of modelling the Church's teaching, between a parish ministry and a chaplaincy. Parishioners on one side of the provincial divide are deprived of the ministry of a priest on ideological grounds, whereas the sick and bereaved in a neighbouring diocese continue to benefit. Where does this outcome sit with, say, the Gospel according to Luke? It is these sorts of questions the Church is going to have to grapple with if we have a gospel to proclaim in 21st Century Britain.

Posted by: Andrew on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 at 8:37pm BST

Just to correct another misapprehension. The Archbishops have no locus in disciplinary and pastoral matters in a diocese other than their own. The CofE simply isn't a papal construct. It is the Diocesan Bishop (or Area Bishop in a devolved diocese) who has to make decisions about (for example) the issue or withdrawal of a PTO. So inferences about the attitude or policy of either Archbishop are simply irrelevant to the decisions that have been made in Southwell & Nottingham and Lincoln by their respective Acting Diocesan and Diocesan Bishops.

Indeed, the existence of an informal monitoring and reference group (which is the subject of discussion on a separate thread) may indicate that the House of Bishops feels that there needs to be a resource to enable Bishops making individual decisions to give information and advice to Bishops who are making decisions on their own on what actions to take!

Posted by: Pete Broadbent on Tuesday, 24 June 2014 at 11:18pm BST

"The Archbishops have no locus in disciplinary and pastoral matters in a diocese other than their own"
Indeed so, My Lords Cantuar and Ebor are in no way papal and it has oft been said that an Archbishop's power lies merely in the art of "persuasion", a quality so beloved by Jane Austen.
I wonder how persuasive + Sentamu Ebor was in this particular instance in persuading the Acting Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham to withdraw PTO? I think we should be told! Presumably this decision was taken before the Bishop of Norwich's Hit Squad was cobbled together in order to offer advice in such circumstances?

Posted by: Father David on Wednesday, 25 June 2014 at 5:53am BST

Fr David
Let's try and keep the facts straight. The group headed by the Bishop of Norwich was set up in February. This was months before Jeremy Pemberton got married, never mind before Bishop Inwood took any action.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 25 June 2014 at 7:18am BST

Dear Simon, as always I am indebted to you for your correction, although the first I had heard of the existence of the Bishop of Norwich's "Black List" was only a few days ago - courtesy of T.A., bringing the creation of such a body to a wider audience - for which, many thanks.
So, as far as "the facts" are concerned. Did Bishop Inwood act off his own initiative or did he first of all consult the the good prelate of Norvic and his ginger group? Further did ++ Ebor exercise any persuasive influence in the decision to remove the PTO? I find it hardly credible that an Acting Bishop of a diocese in the Northern Province would choose to put his head on the block without wider consultation and greater influence being brought to bear.
I totally agree with you "Let's keep the facts straight" - but the "facts" must be made known in order to prevent any further misapprehension, as I'm sure you will agree.

Posted by: Father David on Wednesday, 25 June 2014 at 8:09am BST

I'm on holiday and only following this occasionally and am not able to read all the comments in depth. Did I understand Peter Broadbent correctly that each of the bishops took the action they were able to take? And that it would not have been possible for the bishop who was advised by the Archbishop to remove PTO to send a stern letter instead or to start disciplinary measures which might have tested the validity of the HoB prohibition of marriage for gay priests ?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 25 June 2014 at 9:06am BST

The group headed by the Bishop of Norwich was set up in February.
Part of the problem is that this was not communicated. I, like Susan Cooper, thought that the Bishop of Sheffield handled questions about the Pilling Report in an admirable way at the February General Synod. It was then astonishing to see the House of Bishops statement a few days later. It felt like there was a complete disconnect. And now to discover that this monitoring group has been set up suggests that we still don't have good communication as a high priority.

Posted by: Andrew Godsall on Wednesday, 25 June 2014 at 10:13am BST


No, I wouldn't. But said slap for disregard of the 'pastoral' observes the proprieties - and then does nothing. That's the crucial thing. In pursuit of overriding goals, one fights different fights in different contexts. Presumably, you have no objection to my letter to our bishop:

Dear Paul,

I sincerely hope there is going to be none of this wickedness in your diocese:

Such a malevolent response from bishops and archbishops will meet strenuous resistance from most of the faithful here,


Posted by: John on Wednesday, 25 June 2014 at 10:34am BST

Concerned Anglican said: "The public face of the Church of England is becoming a laughing stock, thanks to timid bishops frightened of a rather small faction of conservative and largely evangelical pressure groups".

From the other side of the world, we have a slightly different perspective. We see the 'timidity' coming from C. of E. hierarchical unease at the prospect of the challenge from GAFCON and the Global South Primates, who are pressing for a new, conservative, world Anglicanism that aligns itself with the proscriptive homophobia of Nigeria and Uganda.

This sort of brinkmanship from 'Mother Church', on matters of gender and sexuality, seems contrary to the U.S. movement towards acceptance of the LGBT community. Why, even the conservative Southern Baptist Convention is now opening its doors to the possibility of Gays being fellow children of God, rather than agents of the devil.

In the United States of America, the Southern Baptists are second only to Roman Catholics numerically. And if they are making strides against homophobia, why not the Church of England?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 26 June 2014 at 12:26am BST

There are a number of points raised in this that deserve some critique ...

1. The point has been made that one should expect to be disciplined if they break the rules. This is a critical right the church would claim even if the shoe were on the other foot. If, for example, the church had affirmed same sex marriage for the last 100 years but some cleric, having read an early manuscript that had escaped the flames (think Josiah) refused to perform a same sex marriage. Would it be right for the church (HoB) to discipline that priest. You could hardly argue against it.

2. On the issue of discrimination: The whole point of the church, in fact the command of God, is to discriminate between those things that lead to life and those that lead to death. The specific command is to choose 'Life'. As parents we teach our children to discriminate between safe and unsafe things and places and as employers we rightly discriminate between employees who add value to a business and those who decrease the viability of the business so we have to insist some discrimination is necessary. The difference is in what discrimination is 'right and proper' given the situation. That by the way is what the debate is about. if that debate was carried by those supporting SSM then they undoubtedly will discriminate against those remaining in the church who refuse to support the new doctrine.

3. Someone also expressed a view that somehow the church is not defending young people by taking a stance against SSM or marriage equality. How is this? Is it the young who determine right and wrong or is the young who need to learn to differentiate between right and wrong? Failing in this is absolutely failing the young. Although the Holy Spirit will convict people we know there is so much confusion ...

4. finally, because I have to limit my time here, does anyone not object to a priest marrying a non-Christian (something here about example and being unequally yoked)? I would seem to me to be proper for the Bishops to take exception to this as an issue in its own right.

Posted by: Andrew F. Pierce on Thursday, 26 June 2014 at 10:36am BST

It is all very well Pete Broadbent reaffirming the Church of England's polity in relation to the pastoral/disciplinary jurisdiction of diocesan and area bishops, and the non-jurisdiction of archbishops (about which he is absolutely correct); but I doubt that even he believes that this is what always happens in reality. There's been enough going in the past twelve months to suggest that both primates are comporting themselves in a quasi-papal manner. I am afraid I am struggling to believe that John Sentamu's 'advice' to Richard Inwood was in any way neutral and non-directive.

Of course, having contributed to this thread, and as a member of the Bishop of Norwich's 'Advisory Panel', Pete Broadbent is ideally placed to make another clarification. He could easily lay to rest, once and for all, the fears being expressed by so many of us about what this is all about. Can he tell us (a)the full terms of reference for this group; (b) what information they will be gathering; (c) how they will be gathering it; (d) where that data will be stored; (e) who will have access to it; (f) why the setting up of this group was not communicated to the wider Church; and (g)to whom the group will be accountable?

Posted by: Simon R on Thursday, 26 June 2014 at 11:18am BST

What Simon said. If it's not a blacklist, giving answer to these questions should not be too difficult.

Posted by: Lorenzo Fernandez-Vicente on Thursday, 26 June 2014 at 12:25pm BST

Pete Broadbent, you are being totally disingenuous in your correction of "another misapprehension", that "the Archbishops have no locus in disciplinary and pastoral matters in a diocese other than their own .... So inferences about the attitude or policy of either Archbishop are simply irrelevant to the decisions that have been made."

That may be true legally, but Archbishops are able to influence decisions by the way they react (or don't react) to an event and by the opinion they might give in a conversation and an expression of their own preferred outcome. Plus some Archbishops have the capacity to be manipulative when necessary, as I have witnessed often at General Synod.

Inferences about the policy or attitude of either Archbishop are absolutely relevant in the circumstances as they have been described to me and in the context of the authority that goes with being an Archbishop and with the way in which bishops and archbishops in the Church of England behave on occasions.

Why are you defending something which you know full well from the inside might have happened? Or are you saying with direct knowledge that no influence was exerted?

Posted by: Colin Coward on Thursday, 26 June 2014 at 12:28pm BST

the vicar on the Archers is married to a Hindu!

Posted by: robert ian Williams on Thursday, 26 June 2014 at 12:33pm BST

Simon R's list of questions is a good one.

His question (b) -- what information they will be gathering -- is key.

There's a difference between, on the one hand, developing information on hypothetical sets of circumstances, and on the other hand, developing information on particular people.

In other words, what is being "monitored"? The issue generally? Or particular individuals?

Posted by: Jeremy on Thursday, 26 June 2014 at 1:02pm BST

I think you're substantially wrong on a number of matters, Andrew:

(1) The point that one should expect to be 'punished' (odd word) has been made in two ways: (i) as justifying the withdrawal of licence; (ii) as justifying a 'slap on the wrist' followed by substantive inaction: big difference.

(2) 'The boot on the other foot argument'. Many - I think most - of the liberals here (certainly I would) would affirm the right of a priest who did not accept same-sex marriage not to perform it on grounds of conscience - as already applies to marriage of divorced persons.

(3) 'If that debate was carried by those supporting SSM then they undoubtedly will discriminate against those remaining in the church who refuse to support the new doctrine.' Wrong - see above.

(4) Your 4. is very obscurely expressed, but as a matter of fact lots of people who don't believe in God are married in church, and the C of E is so desperate that it doesn't probe much - rightly so, in my opinion.

Posted by: John on Thursday, 26 June 2014 at 1:55pm BST

@ Colin Coward - I'm only commenting on the legal position, not on any particular case. Personally, I would never allow an Archbishop to attempt to tell me what to do in relation to someone for whom I had pastoral responsibility. Read the Clergy Discipline Measure, which is clear about where the Archbishop has a locus.

Posted by: Pete Broadbent on Thursday, 26 June 2014 at 3:51pm BST

"I'm only commenting on the legal position, not on any particular case." Pete Broadbent

There is only one case at present - I thought that was what was being discussed on this thread.

"Personally, I would never allow an Archbishop to attempt to tell me what to do in relation to someone for whom I had pastoral responsibility."

Good for you. I'm very pleased to hear it

"Read the Clergy Discipline Measure, which is clear about where the Archbishop has a locus."

The CDM was not invoked in this case, so reading it is neither here not there.

Posted by: Laurence Cunnington on Thursday, 26 June 2014 at 11:05pm BST

Pete -

the legal position is not at all clear. For example, it is not clear if the Bishops' Guidance has the force of law. Again, it is not clear that any cases could be dealt with under the CDM as the CDM does not deal with doctrinal matters, and the bishops were adamant in their opposition to the change of law that this was a doctrinal matter. If a case is opened under that measure, which hasn't happened yet, that question may be put to the test.

Alternatively, if a case were dealt with under the EJM, that could only result in a monition at worst (or best, depending what view you take).

So far the legality of otherwise of what bishops may or may not do has not been legally tested or established in any way. We are some way away from being able to say what the legal position is in relation to clergy who marry a same-sex partner.

Posted by: Jeremy Pemberton on Thursday, 26 June 2014 at 11:08pm BST

Sorry, have been out all day, so couldn't reference the files.

In answer to Simon R:
(a) No official terms of reference. The House of Bishops document that we agreed recommended that there should be should be a small reference group to monitor events and offer advice.
(b) We're not gathering information. We're offering advice when asked to do so.
(c) We're not gathering information. If a bishop asks for advice, we give it.
(d) We're not storing data - though there are emails back and forth.
(e) They're emails. I delete mine on a regular basis. I'm sure you do too. In my case, weekly.
(f) The group is in place to advise the HoB, not the wider Church
(g) We're giving advice. Which bishops can take or leave. So it's not really a question of accountability. As I keep saying, each diocesan bishop is the chief pastor in their diocese, and they have to decide, having taken whatever advice they wish to take, on the course of action to be followed.

Posted by: Pete Broadbent on Thursday, 26 June 2014 at 11:20pm BST

The announcement that civil partnerships will be converted to marriage by a simple declaration at the Registry Office, with no vows, ceremony, public notice or declaration, makes the job of policing the clergy impossible.

The strategy adopted by the bishops was disastrous it is now inoperable ......

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Thursday, 26 June 2014 at 11:47pm BST

Martin, surely in these technologically advanced days it is quite easily possible to "police the clergy". I'm sure that every Registry Office is fitted with CCTV, surly a monitoring link could be attached and sent to the Bishop of Norwich's East Anglian home? Surely George Orwell thought of this years ago in his splendid novel 1984 where he tells us that Big Brother is watching.
I think we are now beginning to see the folly of having as our chief pastors "bureaucrats in purple shirts" or "company men" who simply cannot resist the desire to "manage" and "direct".

Posted by: Father David on Friday, 27 June 2014 at 5:41am BST

So wait. Civil Partnerships can be entered into without making any public or private vows? And that same Civil Partnership can then be transformed into a marriage without making any public or private vows? And this is meant to *strengthen* marriage?

But if you're entering an other-sex marriage you *have* to say the vows publicly. Can we not see the inconsistency?

Posted by: Peter Ould on Friday, 27 June 2014 at 7:42am BST

Quite apart from the question at hand, Peter is absolutely correct!
This is the worst of possible outcomes. It turns marriage into a paper exercise for gay people!
Just awful.

I must say, David, I had never thought of that realistic eventuality, I am sure the cables are already in place.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Friday, 27 June 2014 at 8:42am BST

Thanks to Pete Broadbent for clarifying the terms of reference for this group so incisively and willingly. If this is how it will work, and bishops are scrupulous in sticking to these terms of reference (a big 'IF' in my mind if I'm honest) there should be no need for anxiety. Would it be possible, when you attend the next meeting of the House of Bishops, to table how a failure to communicate openly and proactively on this has resulted in negative media coverage, suspicion, distrust - and quite a bit of your time being taken up? In these days of FoI and Data Protection, keeping this sort of thing under wraps is bound to have negative consequence when it is inevitably leaked. By the way, it would also be helpful, as a number of people have suggested, to know why a similar 'Informal Advisory Group' has not been established to monitor membership of political parties.

Posted by: Simon R on Friday, 27 June 2014 at 11:44am BST

Martin is right..even the Vatican and the Ordinariate missed the fact that an Anglican cleric was in a civil partnership and they ordained him.

Also an English Catholic priest was recently found to have married in a civil ceremony in Cyprus and was only discovered when he admitted to it, as a defence when falsely accused of abuse.

Posted by: robert Ian williams on Friday, 27 June 2014 at 11:45am BST

Astonishingly , I agree with Peter Ould. Pigs must be airborne.

Marriage and civil partnerships are not the same. That was one of the primary arguments used in California: that a marriage, licensed by the state, performed in front of witnesses, had a weight and a meaning that Domestic Partnerships (a form downloaded from the internet and notarized at a local copy store) never could. Even though for some couples, it did mean the same personally, legally, it didn't.

In the state of Washington, an automatic conversion of Civil Unions to marriages is taking place, and many couples who had CUs are feverishly working to dissolve them, because they never meant them to have the permanence and impact of marriage. (To be fair, many other couples welcome the conversion as a better reflection of the facts on the ground!)

Sad but true, much of the weight of marriage is only seen upon divorce, because a whole new set of rules and laws come into play. Dissolving a CU: filing a piece of paper. Dissolving a marriage: legal divorce, which is expensive.

Your mileage in the UK may vary, and surely it is true that many CP'd couples view their partnership as a marriage, but there's a reason for equal marriage and not a separate category.

Posted by: it on Monday, 30 June 2014 at 9:17pm BST
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