Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Bishop refuses to license married health service chaplain

Updated Thursday morning

Update
Guardian Chaplain accuses Church of England of homophobia

The first British clergyman to enter a gay marriage has accused the Church of England of homophobia and said that he is considering legal action after it blocked his attempt to take up a new post in a move he says is intended to stop others following in his footsteps…

The following information is taken from a posting by Laurence Cunnington on the Facebook page of Changing Attitude and is also available there.

…You will all, no doubt, be aware from recent press and internet coverage that Jeremy Pemberton has had his ‘Permission to Officiate’ (PTO) in Southwell & Nottingham Diocese removed by the acting Bishop, following consultation with the Archbishop of York. Distressing as this was, there has now been a further significant and much more serious development.

Background

Jeremy currently works as a Chaplain in an NHS Trust in Lincolnshire and retains his general licence from the Bishop of Lincoln. Jeremy received a written rebuke from this Bishop for contracting his marriage with me but this had no impact on his employment.

However, he has recently been successful in his application for a promotion within the NHS to become the Head of Chaplaincy & Bereavement Services in a large hospital closer to home. This hospital is located within the geographical area covered by the Church’s Southwell & Nottingham Diocese. For those of you who are unaware, NHS chaplains are funded in full by the NHS and not by the Church of England.

Present position

The NHS has requested the acting Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham to issue Jeremy with a licence in order that he may take up his new job. This is standard procedure. The Bishop has refused to issue any form of licence to Jeremy as, by his marriage to me, and for no other reason, he does not, according to the Bishop ‘model the Church’s teaching’ in his life. Leaving aside the insulting nature of this phrase, the effect of this refusal is that Jeremy will be denied the opportunity to take up his new position and develop his ministry further. There was no disciplinary process, no hearing and there is no right of appeal against this decision.

I realise that, as Jeremy’s husband, I am far from impartial but those of you who know him well will recognise my description of him as a fine man of integrity and exceptional abilities and whose ministry in this Diocese would be a tremendous asset to those he serves. I am appalled, to put it mildly, that he is to be denied this opportunity solely because of his marital status. It is worth pointing out that Paul Butler (now Bishop of Durham) and the current Bishop of Lincoln issued Jeremy with his PTO and licence respectively in the past in the full knowledge that he is gay and living in a relationship with me. All that has changed is that we have got married. Nearly 100 of you were there on that day and will recall the commitment we made to each other with our vows. For this to result in the ruining of Jeremy’s employment prospects is outrageous and is, in my opinion, homophobic bullying.

What I am asking

Some of you may think what Jeremy has done is wrong and that he is paying the penalty for that. You are entitled to your opinion and I ask you to do nothing. Those of you who agree with me, I would ask that you consider doing one or more of the following in order to show support and perhaps result in the acting Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham changing his mind and issuing Jeremy with some form of a licence. When writing, it may carry more weight if you mention that you are a Christian/member of the Church of England if you are.

You could write, expressing your views to:

The Right Revd Richard Inwood
Acting Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham
Jubilee House
Westgate
Southwell
NG25 0JH
Email bishop@southwell.anglican.org

I am not clear whether this latest decision was as a result of consultation with the Archbishop of York but, in any event, I would ask that you copy your correspondence to him at:

The Most Revd & Right Hon Dr John Sentamu
Archbishop of York
Bishopthorpe Palace
Bishopthorpe
York
YO23 2GE
Email office@archbishopofyork.org

The Acting Dean of Southwell Minster, Nigel Coates, is extremely supportive, for which Jeremy and I are most grateful. You may also wish to contact him to express your support at:
The Revd Canon Nigel Coates
Acting Dean of Southwell Minster
Minster Centre
Church Street
Southwell
NG25 0HD
Email dean@southwellminster.org.uk

The Archbishop of York and the acting Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham will be attending the grand re-opening of the Archbishop’s Palace and Great Hall complex at Southwell Minster on 7th October. You might wish to consider attending this event and taking the opportunity to bring your opinion of their treatment of Jeremy to their attention…

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Categorised as: Church of England | equality legislation
Comments

The facebook post concludes with the following sentence: "These are all my own words with no input from Jeremy, lawyers or anyone else."

Posted by: Laurence Cunnington on Wednesday, 9 July 2014 at 12:11pm BST

I want to protest on 7th October at the Archbishop’s Palace and Great Hall complex at Southwell Minster unless someone say its not a good idea? This is annoying and humiliating for those of us who are lgbti Christians. This is no longer a matter of a bishop and his clergy, its now another open battle we must fight to win. I am a Christian, I am Anglican, A Deanery Synod member of the Church of England and I Believe in Equal Marriage for all people.

Posted by: Davis Mac-Iyalla on Wednesday, 9 July 2014 at 12:30pm BST

What upsets me most is that the church has not had the integrity to test the legality of its own pastoral statement by dealing with Jeremy under CDM or EJM. This is nothing buy extreme bullying.

Those who agree with me that this is not how anyone should be treated should also consider writing to their MP, to the Equalities Minister, the Shadow Equalities Minister and the Parliamentary Ecclesiastical Committee.

The church has been given an opt out from the Equalities Act but it cannot have been the intention of Parliament to allow it to force the NHS to discriminate against someone it is clearly willing to employ on the grounds of sexuality and marital status.

It's time to follow the Scottish example where full time chaplains do not require a license from their church.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 9 July 2014 at 12:55pm BST

The church has been given an opt out from the Equalities Act but it cannot have been the intention of Parliament to allow it to force the NHS to discriminate against someone it is clearly willing to employ on the grounds of sexuality and marital status.
If you agree, consider writing to your MP, to the Equalities Minister, the Shadow Equalities Minister and the Parliamentary Ecclastical Committee.
The details can be found here:
http://www.parliament.uk/biographies/commons/sajid-javid/3945

http://www.parliament.uk/search/results/?q=Gloria+De+Piero+

http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/other-committees/ecclesiastical-committee/contact-us/

And your MP can be reached via https://www.writetothem.com/

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 9 July 2014 at 1:09pm BST

I would want to look at the requirement to be licensed by the Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham (or whatever it is called nowadays), as that requirement may be discriminatory.
They may have a requirement for the Anglican Chaplain to be in good standing with their own denomination, or with a specific branch of it (C of E diocesan bishop.
They could express that requirement differently for example, they could accept a licence from a different diocesan bishop (say one from a different diocese or province) as evidence.
I know this is not what was asked, but I think the NHS Trust may be in breach of the Equality Act for indirect discrimination, and a reasonable way of being in compliance is to accept an alternative licence, or to waive that requirement.
Of course the lawyers and bishops are the ones that make decisions, but I would suggest this as a course of action if asked about it.

Posted by: Adrian Judd on Wednesday, 9 July 2014 at 1:20pm BST

The church may have an opt-out from the Equalities Act, but does it have an opt out from the processes and procedures of ensuring natural justice. For me the most shameful part of Laurence's post was "There was no disciplinary process, no hearing and there is no right of appeal against this decision.".

Can it be right, can it be legal even, for the church to make such a major decision about denying someone's employment without a formal hearing, and without a right of appeal. Are there ground's for challenge here?

Simon

Posted by: Simon Dawson on Wednesday, 9 July 2014 at 1:35pm BST

Unfortunately, there will be some (many) who would regard any pressure from HMG as further 'evidence' of the persecution of Christians in this country.

Posted by: John Roch on Wednesday, 9 July 2014 at 1:47pm BST

If he's been offered the job, and is then unable to take it up because the NHS insists that he requires a permit from a bishop that the bishop will not grant, that is on the face of it an employment tribunal case. The NHS will have great concern about being seen to be sacking someone for reasons of sexuality and/or marital status, even if there's an intermediate step in that those factors are "outsourced" to a bishop.

There's also the problem that the CofE would be claiming that NHS authorities are bound by boundaries between CofE dioceses: there are parts of the country where Jeremy could get a job where this issue would not arise, but others where the "local" bishop has power of veto. An employment tribunal would be the place to resolve whether or not a NHS trust in location X is bound to only employ ministers who have a PTO for location X, or whether simply being ordained within the CofE nationally is sufficient. If an NHS trust is willing to regard ordination alone as qualification enough, and ignore PTO, what could the CofE do about it short of starting formal proceedings to discipline the minister?

Posted by: Interested Observer on Wednesday, 9 July 2014 at 1:52pm BST

This kind of scenario can't last and the case made by the House of Bishops and exemplified here is unsustainable. Richard Inwood will end up being the fall guy.

Still waiting to hear what has happened with the London case of Andrew Cain - any news?

Posted by: Concerned Anglican on Wednesday, 9 July 2014 at 2:01pm BST

This is a good, but sad, example of what happens when a church loses sight of its primary ministry and mission, and allows secondary (or tertiary or even more remote "concerns") to deflect the implementation of ministry.

There are few ministerial commands with the weight of dominical force; but among them is the commandment to minister to the sick. There is no dominical command either to marry or to refrain from marriage, though Jesus clearly held that there are requirements placed on those who do marry.

So in this case, the Church of England is not only confecting a discipline, but perverting the course of ministry by applying it.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Wednesday, 9 July 2014 at 2:31pm BST

I'm torn. I'm just not sure it'll help. And if you do demonstrate etc... the charge of not 'modelling the church's teaching in your life' as you put it may be assigned not to the marriage as such but to marrying before it was allowed by canon, or disobedience or even demonstrating against your own bish. It's a nasty situation, for sure, but do talk to your lawyers.

I'd favour waiting for the outcome of the so-called facilitated conversations, provided there not kicked into the long-grass, and only giving them hell afterwards.

Posted by: Lorenzo Fernandez-Vicente on Wednesday, 9 July 2014 at 2:53pm BST

It is the NHS that ought to be tackled. If Jeremy Pemberton is the right person to be Head of Chaplaincy & Bereavement Services then they should appoint. If they need a religious licence then it should come from a Church that would grant it, and there are many that will - Open Episcopal Church, Old Catholic and Apostolic Church, and ministry in the Unitarians. The Church of England has the right as an institution to refuse to grant a licence - of course it is homophobic, but then he is in a homophobic Church granted the legal right to be so. Carry on protesting, of course, and get it changed, and of course it is a muddle of some would and some don't, but instead press the NHS on its equality basis to make sure there is access to licensing from a Church more in keeping with the policy of the NHS. The NHS should carry through its decision.

Posted by: Pluralist on Wednesday, 9 July 2014 at 2:56pm BST

Let's add a little bit of analytical rigour to this debate before the emotion of it all overwhelms us.

i) Pemberton has applied for a ***new*** job in a different NHS trust.
ii) One of the conditions that the NHS applies as *necessary* for the job is that the post holder has a licence from the relevant diocese (in this case Southwell).
iii) Southwell refuses to issue a licence because, as the House of Bishops outlined on 14th February 2014, they are not willing to endorse in this way the ministry of someone who fashions his life in opposition to the Church's doctrine of marriage (Canon B31).
iv) The Church is allowed to refuse a licence on the ground of a particular marital status. It derives this permission from the Equalities Act.
v) The NHS Trust is under ***no statutory obligation*** to demand of its chaplains that they hold a licence / some manner of formal recognition from their denomination in order to work as a chaplain. It would be perfectly legal for the NHS to employ a chaplain with no recognition from his/her denomination. In this regard the Church of England is not in any way restricting the ability of the NHS to employ the person they want (and this is a key point in understanding the legalities here).
vi) Furthermore, the Church of England is under ***no statutory obligation*** to automatically issue a licence to any validly ordained Anglican priest who is employed as an NHS chaplain.
vii) As far as I can see there are four ways to resolve this situation (as follows).
viii) A - the NHS Trust involved can simply choose to employ Pemberton regardless of his lack of a licence. He can do his job perfectly well without impediment without it, it's just he won't be able to do anything legally on behalf of the Church.
ix) B - Pemberton can challenge the Government in the courts on the basis that the Equalities Act is unfair in this regard.
x) C - Pemberton can challenge Southwell Diocese in the courts on the basis they have misinterpreted the Equalities Act.
xi) D - Pemberton can challenge Richard Inwood via the CDM or the EJM

Posted by: Peter Ould on Wednesday, 9 July 2014 at 3:50pm BST

With regard to Peter Ould's list.

(v) That's right, but it's not clear that the NHS can _refuse_ to employ someone solely on the basis that they don't have a license, either. Your point (ii) remains to be tested at an ET or EAT, because it quite clearly is at least arguable as indirect discrimination. For example, an employer could insist that everyone it employs to coach children in sport holds a registration to play in a named local pub football league, but would lose a discrimination case, as that would clearly be indirect sexual discrimination. Requiring someone to hold a permit from an issuer who arbitrarily refuses it on the grounds of sexuality or marital status is no different.

(viii) "he won't be able to do anything legally on behalf of the Church" is again a matter for some debate. Someone who is an ordained minister in the Church of England carries out the rites of the Church of England in England, but without a PTO. Precisely what legislation is he breaching?

He'd be breaching Canon law, presumably (B12 refers to C1, which is about ordination, but presumably a canon lawyer would know the basis for PTO). If so, that would be a subject for a discipline hearing within the church. I am guessing that the last thing on earth that the church wants to do is start down the route of formal discipline proceedings.

But even if by some ill-chance there's an obscure piece of statute law that he'd be breaching, who's going to bring a prosecution? The CPS would run a million miles from such a case. So what does "won't be able to anything legally" mean in this context? What law is being breached, and what would be the means for enforcing it?

As I said when this whole issue first arose, it's going to end up at an EAT, and the outcome of that is going to be humiliating for the CofE whether it wins or loses. They are foolish to have gone beyond good old English fudge and accommodation and moved to CLC-style legal confrontation. How many cases have the CLC won, again?

Posted by: Interested Observer on Wednesday, 9 July 2014 at 5:02pm BST

I suggest a Twitter campaign @JohnSentamu

Posted by: Ann on Wednesday, 9 July 2014 at 5:20pm BST

A clergy discipline measure complaint can be made by "anyone who witnesses the behaviour in question". In this case the behaviour is a refusal to do something. Everyone is presumably a witness to that, or perhaps could at least argue that they were. If the bishop's action is unbecoming of a clerk in holy orders then that could give anyone grounds for a complaint. Can a lawyer please comment?

Posted by: TP on Wednesday, 9 July 2014 at 5:28pm BST

Hi IO,

v) The point I'm making is very clear. The NHS has chosen to ask its chaplains to have a licence / denominational recognition. It is the NHS who have created this problem, not the CofE. Pemberton is perfectly able to be employed as a Chaplain and the CofE is not stopping that. What he is blocked from doing is being employed as a CofE endorsed chaplain.

viii) He won't be allowed to pass himself off as ministering under the authority of the Church of England. This is the key point.

Posted by: Peter Ould on Wednesday, 9 July 2014 at 5:46pm BST

The making of martyrs - witnesses through suffering - is a sure road to defeat.

Posted by: Nathaniel Brown on Wednesday, 9 July 2014 at 5:55pm BST

So why can't the NHS simply amend its rules to say that as long as Jeremy P. is licensed in a CoE diocese, it doesn't matter which one? It would seem to make sense for a NATIONAL health service to be able to deploy its staff across the country as necessary. Since Jeremy is good to go with Lincoln, why shouldn't that be enough for the NHS?

In any case, it is true this will look bad for the CoE regardless of outcome. That sucking sound is more people, particularly young people, leaving the church in disgust.

Posted by: IT on Wednesday, 9 July 2014 at 6:12pm BST

Leaving all the legalities aside, this is a shameful act perpetrated against a man who is obviously good at his job (or he would not be offered a promotion) because he has married his partner (in accordance with the law of the land.) In the thread above they are discussing 'one week to go' until the vote on women bishops. The CofE seems to exist in a world of its own, totally divorced from reality. Who else cares whom they allow to be bishops when the bishops they have already behave as they do! How are you on threats, bullying and blacklists?

Posted by: Stephen Morgan on Wednesday, 9 July 2014 at 7:37pm BST

Once again, thoughts are for Jeremy and Laurence.


Helpful remarks from Peter and Interested Observer (I dislike subterfuge) and it leaves me wondering what sort of input the reference group had in making this decision? Is this their work?

But it adds another layer to the sentencing guidelines this case has already revealed.

Clergy "guilty" of getting married are very unlikely to be sacked, but they will not get another job. Or, at least, that would seem to be the plan. Perhaps Pete Broadbent or David Walker can enlighten us as to the future employment prospects of similarly married clergy? Would they give a licence to a cleric in similar circumstances?

it is indeed a clever dodge. I suspect quite difficult to challenge, though it's possible the Health Authority might end up being a little "creative" and there must be dozens of bishops who might offer credentials and wasn't it Rowan Williams who started this pick and mix attitude to who was and was not a lawful bishop?
If you were a member of Reform you wouldn't hesitate to get a helpful bishop - even from another Church.

I wonder if the bishop knew he was going to be asked to license Jeremy when he rescinded his PTO?


There was a cry from David Pocklington that there should be some consistency in the way the CofE handled these cases and the bishop charged with chairing the novel reference group then announced their existence was to discourage erratic reactions to clergy who so wed.
I wonder just what sort of consistency we might expect?
I do not think the average CofE worshipper would understand leaving someone in a job and refusing them another post, they would not see that as consistent - even if it were universally applied.

I suppose the CofE response can be consistently bad .......
Reading what Tobias writes,
I want to ask "who benefits" ?

If the CofE proceeds with with this strategy the answer is, confidently and loudly:

NOBODY!


Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Wednesday, 9 July 2014 at 7:53pm BST

The Bishop's defence against homophobia/ discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation would surely be that the CofE can, and has, refused to ordain/license people who have disobeyed the rules regarding re-marriage of divorced persons of either gender. There would be no grounds for complaint if this chap had re-married a person of the opposite gender without approval after being divorced

Posted by: MG on Wednesday, 9 July 2014 at 8:13pm BST

More immediate & effective might be something at General Synod this weekend - especially if the media can be tipped off. What could be more effective than an impromptu demonstration outside York Minster after the Eucharist on Sunday morning, with an attempt to engage Sentamu? It would be worth asking why he thinks campaigning for a living wage can be an issue of fundamental human justice; but equal marriage is not - especially when his intervention has prevented someone from progressing in their chosen career?

Posted by: James A on Wednesday, 9 July 2014 at 9:55pm BST

the Hospital trust must appoint a licensed Church of England chaplain in good standing and Jeremy Pemberton is no longer such. He should either join another denomination or campaign for a Synod change to the teaching. The bishop is being very reasonable and Anglicans have the right to a chaplain who is licensed and in good standing.

However in the not too distant past he would have been dismissed for being divorced.

No one here considers the sensitivities of the patients.

Posted by: Robert ian Williams on Wednesday, 9 July 2014 at 11:11pm BST

As Nicholas Holtam supports equal marriage, when can we expect him to break the suffocating gag of episcopal collegiality, and denounce this homophobia?

Likewise, when can we expect one of the eight "participant observers," who believe the Bible's commands on headship ought to be set aside to their own benefit, to do likewise?

Clock's ticking, guys and gals ...

Posted by: James Byron on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 12:35am BST

Perhaps there is a case here for a different type of 'Flying Bishop', one who might be disposed to issue a licence to Jeremy on account of his acceptance of Same-Sex married clergy? This, after all, is - as Tobias Haller reminds us, a matter of enabling the Gospel initiative of Ministry to the Sick.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 12:45am BST

Kyrie eleison, the Church of England has a death-wish... :-(

Posted by: JCF on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 2:01am BST

Robert Williams is wrong. I have a licence in Lincoln diocese. I am in good standing. There is no disciplinary procedure against me to remove that. There is, therefore, no consistency in the approach taken by bishops.

The bishop was told I was applying for the job now in question at my meeting with him on 29 May. While discussing what he might do, the difficulty of licensing after removing a PTO was mentioned. The Trust were told at interview that this might be an issue; they offered me the job knowing that.

The bishop has claimed that I can't be licensed "for consistency". On the contrary, seeing as I hold a licence currently for work as a chaplain, consistency demands I be given another so that I can move my work base 35 miles.

Posted by: Jeremy Pemberton on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 5:34am BST

"The Bishop's defence against homophobia/ discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation would surely be that the CofE can, and has, refused to ordain/license people who have disobeyed the rules regarding re-marriage of divorced persons of either gender."

That's fine: the CofE has an exemption which permits it to do this.

However, in this case any employment tribunal would be between Jeremy Pemberton and an NHS Trust that refused to employ him. It's not remotely clear that the church's exemption permits other bodies to demand that you have an authorisation, when the church engages a right to discriminate that the church has, but the employer doesn't. Maybe an ET/EAT would hold that it does. Maybe not. That's for the tribunal.

What I think would count seriously against the church in the instant case is that lack of due process. If someone's ordination were suspended by an appealable hearing at which they were entitled to be legally represented, I suspect that an ET would accept that the process was equivalent to a legitimate disciplinary hearing by their employer. The ET could well accept that you can be effectively dismissed from a post as NHS chaplain either by a properly constituted disciplinary process within the NHS or a similar process within the church: the argument would be that there are some offences which your NHS HR manager cannot discern, but which nonetheless make continued employment as a chaplain difficult. Tribunals like process.

However, that's not what is happening here. The Bishop, in this case, is claiming the power to dismiss an employee arbitrarily: no hearing, no appeal, no representation. The NHS's argument would be much, much weaker.

The issue of "what about Catholics?" is interesting, but (a) there aren't many posts in the NHS for Catholic ministers where the employer is the NHS rather than the church and (b) as yet the issue hasn't arisen. I suspect the claim that you need to be ordained in order to be a priest would hold at an ET, but if someone cares to disagree, the courts are always open to them.

In the case of Islam, there isn't a central body that authorises Imams, so the issue wont arise in the same way.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 7:09am BST

Yes, thank you Jeremy.
I see the bishop makes the claim he is being consistent in the Guardian.
He made the decision to remove the PTO in the knowledge that in a very short time he could be asked to give his licence. I believe that is a significant development and it is evidence of just how pernicious the CofE strategy is.

I agree with Jeremy, this attempt at discipline has backfired exposing just how illthoughtout this whole matter is. As I wrote earlier in this thread, no reasonable person would see this as consistent.
The English college of bishops cannot replace consistency with persisistent error and systematic persecution, this is a different world - such abuse will not be tolerated.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 7:55am BST

A few comments,

"Clergy "guilty" of getting married are very unlikely to be sacked, but they will not get another job."

Yes, this is the "rotting corpses" strategy I outlined a few months ago. You essentially leave those clergy in a SSM where they are to "fester" away. It's clever and cunning (and legally quite robust).

"the Health Authority might end up being a little "creative" and there must be dozens of bishops who might offer credentials"

That would involve a diocesan Bishop breaking collegiality and it would have far wider implications than this small issue.

"the Hospital trust must appoint a licensed Church of England chaplain in good standing"

This is not strictly true. The "bind" that the NHS Trust must employ someone with a licence is a self-imposed bind. They don't have to do it, they are perfectly entitled to employ who they want without regard to any denomination.

"There is, therefore, no consistency in the approach taken by bishops."

On the contrary, there is no inconsistency (so far).

A PTO has been removed (as is the Bishop's prerogative).

Where a licence exists and no complaint under the CDM has been successfully concluded to the complainant's satisfaction, the licence stays in place (so this covers at the moment both Pemberton and Cain). No-one is under any obligation to lay a complaint under the CDM.

Where a new licence is requested, the HoB guidelines from 14th February are being upheld.

All perfectly consistent so far. Inconsistency would be the removal of PTO in one place and its retention in another. So far that has not occurred.

"If someone's ordination were suspended by an appealable [sic] hearing"

No-one's ordination has been "suspended". Pemberton is still a priest even if he has no licence or PTO, he would just be a priest unable to claim he operates under the authority of the Church of England.

Posted by: Peter Ould on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 8:36am BST

It seems to me to be quite pointless to expect the CoE to come up with a credible policy on this any times soon.
And the NHS is possibly in a difficult situation. There are good reasons for requesting that a chaplain should be in good standing with his church.
It just so happens that the church policy on marriage equality is not in good standing with the rest of society and contravenes the Equalities Act from which the NHS has no opt out.

It really is time to involve MPs, Ministers and Parliament in this and I urge everyone who is concerned about Jeremy and Laurence and about the whole principle of attempting to push hostile church policy on a national secular institution to write to their MP, to the Equalities Minister, the Shadow Equalities Minister and the Parliamentary Ecclesiastical Committee.

I list the weblinks again:
http://www.parliament.uk/biographies/commons/sajid-javid/3945

http://www.parliament.uk/search/results/?q=Gloria+De+Piero+

http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/other-committees/ecclesiastical-committee/contact-us/

And your MP can be reached via https://www.writetothem.com/

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 9:05am BST

Jeremy, I hope the Trust appoints you anyway. Ithe church has nobody but itself to blame if it is removed from the public square.

Posted by: sjh on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 9:05am BST

Peter:

"They don't have to do it, they are perfectly entitled to employ who they want without regard to any denomination."

That's right, but is that a theory the CofE wants to put to the test? As of now, the NHS is in a very tricky position. If they continue to employ CofE ministers on the basis of them being actual CofE ministers (roughly, "were there to be a CofE church next door to the hospital, would they be authorised to conduct services?" but a more precise definition would be useful) then they have two problems.

Firstly, they would be implicitly accepting that they are employing, on their books, members of staff can be effectively dismissed via a process which neither the NHS itself, nor an employment tribunal, would regard as robust. You don't like the word appealable, although my spelling checker does, but it's the key word here: disciplinary processes which have no right of appeal, not even in the first instance, tend not to survive scrutiny. That goes double when they engage protected characteristics. You think that this process is clever and robust: I think that an employment lawyer would rather fancy their chances of winning a tribunal, and that the NHS would be highly unlikely to want to defend a discrimination case on the basis that yes, in fact, we think we are allowed to discriminate. The NHS has many failings, but one thing it does do quite well is run an equal ops policy, and it's not going to want to argue against that.

Now, you might argue that's the NHS's problem, not the CofE's, however, that brings me to my second point.

The people on the receiving end of the ET will be an NHS Trust. Not the NHS corporately, but an individual trust. The witnesses called will be trust staff, the lawyers will be employed by the trust and, crucially, any judgement will be against the trust.

The trust will be getting dragged, financially, into the CofE's internal disputes. The NHS has no dog in this fight. Were you an NHS trust director, hearing about this at whatever waterholes NHS trust directors meet at, might you not take a strategic decision that it isn't worth the candle, that practicing Anglicans are a minority of the population, that other equally large faiths (pretend you're an NHS trust director in Birmingham or Bradford or London) don't have ministers paid for by the NHS, budgets are tight, and decide to not fill posts as they fall empty? So long as ministers just cost their salaries, that's one thing, but when they start occupying management time and provisions in the accounts, that's a whole other thing. No need to make people redundant, as that's expensive and noisy: just quietly leave vacant posts empty. What would be the downside for the trust in doing this?

Posted by: Interested Observer on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 9:32am BST

Peter writes that it is all perfectly consistent so far.
Yes, there is a clever, cunning consistency that only a few with a mind for the minutiae of church affairs will perceive.

In the court of public opinion, in the mind of most sensible folk they will say
"This stinks!"

And that hurts all of us.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 9:35am BST

Peter Ould should read more carefully. I do have a licence. I still have a licence. I am going to go on having a licence all the time I work in this Trust. No one is trying to "sack" me or remove this. I am in good standing in the Church of England, despite the actions of the acting Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham.

There is, therefore, a glaring inconsistency. The acting bishop may think he is being internally consistent with his previous decision. How tidy for him. His decision is inconsistent with my past, present and future standing as a licensed clerk in holy orders. I have not been charged nor tried for any alleged disciplinary or doctinal offence, and his arbitrary actions are not consistent with my good standing as a licensed chaplain.

Posted by: Jeremy Pemberton on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 9:43am BST

Incorrect that in the past he would have been sacked for getting divorced. It would be marriage after divorce...ironic, isn't it.

Posted by: TP on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 10:37am BST

To add to Erika's post, the letters she recommends could usefully ask Parliamentarians whether they support ex officio representation in Parliament for a body which imposes otherwise-illegal discrimination on the NHS. If she, or TA editors, were willing to collate/publicize answers it might be interesting.

Posted by: iain mclean on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 11:06am BST

Iain,
I will happily post any reply I get to my letters.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 12:11pm BST

IO,

"Firstly, they would be implicitly accepting that they are employing, on their books, members of staff can be effectively dismissed"

No-one's being dismissed. Someone is not getting a licence because they have disobeyed the Bishops on a key issue. It's a huge difference.

There has been no disciplinary process within the NHS. The withdrawal of the licence is entirely a CofE matter and it is the NHS Trust that is preventing Pemberton taking up the appointment by demanding of him something that it is under no statutory obligation to demand (a licence) and without which he could still adequately function as head of chaplaincy services.

So to be clear, Pemberton can have a grievance with the NHS for demanding of him something is potentially unreasonable (specific religious recognition) or he can have a grievance with Bishop Richard for not giving him a licence. What he cannot have is a grievance with Bishop Richard for preventing him being employed by the NHS Trust in question because very clearly Bishop Richard is not responsible for the NHS' position that its chaplains must have formal denominational recognition.

"The trust will be getting dragged, financially, into the CofE's internal disputes."

No, this is entirely their own problem. Employing Jeremy is one matter. Giving him a licence / PTO is another. The NHS is under no statutory obligation to require a licence, so all the fault here lies with them.

Jeremy,

"I do have a licence. I still have a licence. I am going to go on having a licence all the time I work in this Trust."

I have never once denied this. The issue is taking up new employment with a new Trust. This is all that I have addressed.

"His decision is inconsistent with my past, present and future standing as a licensed clerk in holy orders. I have not been charged nor tried for any alleged disciplinary or doctinal offence, and his arbitrary actions are not consistent with my good standing as a licensed chaplain."

Then lay a complaint against him and see where it gets you.

I have argued very clearly above there is no inconsistency. I think I'm on pretty safe grounds actually in insisting there has been no inconsistency (so far).

Jeremy, it's not as if you weren't warned that this would happen to you if you got married. No-one forced you to get married. Believe it or not, I am actually feeling very sad for you at the moment because of the way your future career in chaplaincy management seems on hold, but you cannot argue that you didn't do anything wrong. You very clearly deliberately chose to disregard the will of the House of Bishops in their 14th February statement and now you are experiencing the consequences.

By all means take legal action against the Trust or the Bishop (or the Government if you want to challenge the CofE's Equality Act exemption) but please do not complain you have been treated unfairly. You *knew* this was all a possibility.

Posted by: Peter Ould on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 1:15pm BST

Thaks Jeremy, but are you being honest with yourself. Which bishop would offer you a living in the Church of England...if you are in good standing.

If a Catholic priest acted in this way, he would be supended and excommunicated ipso facto. No local bishop would tolerate a Health Trust claiming that he was still a Catholic chaplain.

Posted by: robert ian williams on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 3:57pm BST

How odd that Peter Ould doesn't want to see the glaring inconsistency. Jeremy is allowed to hold a licence in one diocese but is not allowed to hold it in another. If that isn't inconsistent, I'm not sure what is.

Posted by: Sound on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 4:07pm BST

Peter, I'm sure you meant nothing by it, so could you find a better phrase than " 'rotting corpses' strategy"?

I don't find it clever of cunning at all. It's the most inept legalism. As other have said, the public won't make these distinctions. They'll just see the church denying a person a job because they happen to be gay.

As for Jeremy's marriage being "wrong," I'd say the same about the bishops' statement, passed without any consultation or synodical approval. We're obliged to disobey an unjust law.

Posted by: James Byron on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 4:45pm BST

"How odd that Peter Ould doesn't want to see the glaring inconsistency"

There is no inconsistency.

Let's do this again. A PTO can be given and removed by a Bishop at his whim. Pemberton has had his PTO removed in Southwell. This has no bearing on his licence in Lincoln (another Diocese) or getting a new licence in Southwell (a different legal arrangement to a PTO).

Secondly, a licence that is in place cannot just be withdrawn (well it can, but the Bishop would have to have a damn good reason). Normally it is withdrawn if there is a misdemeanour AND a complaint about that misdemeanour was upheld. Unless Jeremy wants to tell us otherwise, there is no upheld complaint about him in Lincoln, indeed there isn't even a CDM process against him in Lincoln. No complaint, no process, no removal of licence.

On the other hand, the giving of a **new** licence in a **new** diocese can be the judgement of the **new** Bishop who can take into account actions that the priest has undertaken. In this regard Inwood is perfectly in his rights to refuse to **issue** a licence (as opposed to withdrawing a licence already in place).

Think of it in this way. I have my driving licence suspended in the UK, but I still have one in Austria. Austria isn't being inconsistent, they are simply looking at things from an Austrian perspective. In the same way, Lincoln and Southwell are looking at things from their perspectives.

No inconsistency. You might very well argue it stinks and feels terribly unfair, but there is no inconsistency.

Posted by: Peter Ould on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 5:41pm BST

"It's the most inept legalism."
It's not even that, really, because it avoids dealing with the legality of the bishops guidelines.

There is inconsistency in how the guidelines were applied in 2 adjacent dioceses.
And in neither did the bishops opt for a fair and due process under CDM or EJM. Instead, they arbitrarily decided to impose a punishment just because they could.

If we consider that under EJM the most that could happen is a monition, whereas the reality is that Jeremy is being denied promotion, we cannot possibly say that the approach here is remotely just.

Yes, he would have expected some action from the church. But there was no reason to expect the harshest, most unfair, arbitrary and unjust action.

Anyone here who thinks that this is ok should examine their understanding of a legal due process in an organisation that claims to represent Christian values.

Just because you happen to agree with the outcome on this occasion does not mean the process is acceptable.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 5:54pm BST

Re 'rotting corpses'.

This is the strategy I suggested to some a few months ago when I was surrounded by baying Conservatives wanting to slap CDMs left, right and centre on the issue. Far better, I suggested, just to leave people in place unable to move onto any other job. Over time they will be forgotten and you avoid all the hassle of legal cases and the publicity thereto. The clergy unable to move become like 'rotting corpses', slowly fading away stuck in their current positions.

Yes, not the most pleasant of language, but I think it's an adequate description of what will happen in practice.

Posted by: Peter Ould on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 6:14pm BST

Is the bishop of Willesden going to share his wisdom with us poor mortals here on how this strategy is developing?

Is the bishop of Manchester going to give us his view on the development, or is the politics too hot?

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 6:15pm BST

" You *knew* this was all a possibility."

Dr. King knew he might end up in jail. Justice does not depend on whether the injustice enacted was predictable or not. This is victim blaming of the worst kind. Disregarding an unjust law (or in this case bizarre rule) is not wrong. The House of Bishops are making fools of themselves and are lashing out at their victims to try and avoid facing up to the mess that they have made.

Posted by: Jo on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 7:00pm BST

U. S. Grant (General of the Army and 18th President of the Unites States): "I know no method to secure the repeal of bad or obnoxious laws so effective as their stringent execution."

Posted by: Nathaniel Brown on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 7:03pm BST

'We're obliged to disobey an unjust law.'

I absolutely agree with this. But by this logic the 'legislators' (in this case the HoB [officially, allowing for the important fact that bishops within that 'house' disagree among themselves and are therefore already acting discordantly, and will ever more do so in future) are entitled to exact reparations. But they in turn are themselves subject to higher courts, in the first instance (we don't need to go higher) the 'court' of public opinion in the UK. Within that court they will lose big-time. Sentamu (for I presume it is he who is behind this) presumably thinks he is 'winning' now, but he will lose big-time. And the way to ensure he loses, as others above have suggested, is through Parliament.

Posted by: John on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 7:14pm BST

Peter Ould may 'feel sorry' for Canon Pemberton but, in effect, is saying "serves him right!" Jeremy may, or may not have known the consequences of getting married. The point which Ould's legal wranglings ignore is the sheer homophobia of the Church's spiteful actions, with which Ould obviously agrees.

Posted by: FrDavidH on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 7:41pm BST

Even if we concede the inconsistency issue (arguendo), this remains out and proud institutional homophobia.

Not that this gets individuals off the hook: either Sentamu or Inwood could refuse to apply the rules. That's all these are, house rules, invented on the fly by the bishops. As Sentamu is willing to set aside what the Bible says about male headship, we have every reason to expect him to apply equal consideration to lesbian and gay people.

As an open evangelical, I honestly do expect more from Sentamu than arbitrary punishment driven by legalism. If he is behind this, not only are his actions hurtful and wrong, they're a PR nightmare for evangelicalism's liberal wing. If he's not been involved to date, it's on him to step up, step in, and set things right, if only on grounds of due process, which, as Erika so rightly says, is shockingly absent.

Posted by: James Byron on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 10:04pm BST

"it's not as if you weren't warned that this would happen to you if you got married. No-one forced you to get married."

This is why the CofE is dying: a statement that has NOTHING to do w/ the Love of Christ Jesus. Anathema.

Posted by: JCF on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 10:29pm BST

Peter Ould your driving licence analogy fails I'm afraid: they are different countries with different governing bodies and legal systems. Lincoln and Southwell are two dioceses within the same system.

As to your rotting corpses analogy, that fails as well. Bishops have been knowingly giving clergy in active same sex relationships new jobs and licenses for decades. Why would that stop now, except in a few cases which will simply give more bad publicity to an already discredited church. The only rotting corpses will be the bishops who try to defend the indefensible. As Rowan Williams has at last said, it won't be sustainable.

Posted by: Sound on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 10:48pm BST

Peter, I think you're being a tad unrealistic if you think our corpses are going to rot gently away. I'm fully intending to get married - why should I not? At the moment my position is most irregular. And fully intending to remain at St John's Waterloo until I retire, unless the congregation can bear me no longer!. That's fifteen years away; during which time I have no intention of quietly giving up the struggle. And I'm certain many others will be in similar situations; and meanwhile, surprisingly high numbers of lesbian and gay ordinands are coming through. I think the Gamaliel principle applies...

Posted by: Giles Goddard on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 11:43pm BST

I strongly suggest that anyone who is outraged by the Bishops' homophobia, who is also a member of Synod, vote against the women-bishops measure this weekend.

If that carefully constructed, oh-so-balanced, and politely discriminvatory measure comes crashing down, so too will this Synod. It will be dissolved.

The Church of England cries out for a wave of reform. The way to bring that about is to show homophobia and misogyny for what they are--and to refuse to abide their continuing persistence in the Church.

The Church of England needs some refining fire. There is no time like the present.

Posted by: Jeremy on Friday, 11 July 2014 at 12:23am BST

"during which time I have no intention of quietly giving up the struggle."

And there are many of us who are not ordained and therefore not directly affected who won't give it up either.
The church cannot legislate us all away, all it can do is prolong the argument. Ultimately, it will lose. Because this debate isn't going to stop before then.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 11 July 2014 at 12:25am BST

"Peter Ould may 'feel sorry' for Canon Pemberton but, in effect, is saying "serves him right!"

Quite. We already know that Peter is an apologist for the homophobia which undergirds the CoE's policies, so I don't understand why everyone is getting so excited - and engaging him - when he supports the application of those policies.

Posted by: Geoff on Friday, 11 July 2014 at 1:16am BST

The question is, which of the two strategies will prevail? A rotting corpses strategy or one which embraces eternal life, based on the principles of equality, monogamy and consent, and which offers hope for the future? A church which proclaims a resurrection narrative at the heart of its mission would presumably settle on the latter.

Posted by: Andrew on Friday, 11 July 2014 at 8:13am BST

... and all this from a diocese whose strapline is 'Joining Together in the Transforming Mission of God through growing disciples, living worship and ***seeking justice.*** [my emphasis added]

Posted by: RPNewark on Friday, 11 July 2014 at 9:05am BST

I am trying to understand Peter Ould's argument that there is no inconsistency.
And it seems to hang on the argument that Jeremy has already been holding a license in one Diocese before his marriage and that he is now applying for a new one in another Diocese.

Can someone clarify the basis on which licenses are issued? I would assume that if a priest loses his good standing with his church a current license would be revoked?

It seems quite inconceivable that he should be convicted of a serious offence, so serious that his PTO has to be removed and he cannot be given a new license to work outside the CoE, yet that this should have no consequences for an existing position?

Is this how disciplining clergy works?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 11 July 2014 at 10:16am BST

In the court of public opinion, in the mind of most sensible folk they will say "This stinks!" And that hurts all of us.

Two problems here: the defining of what makes a person 'sensible' and the notion that public opinion somehow matters when it comes to the gospel of Christ.

Posted by: Andrew F. Pierce on Friday, 11 July 2014 at 10:21am BST

Hey, it just says they're SEEKING justice, not that they are any good at finding or recognising it.

Posted by: Jo on Friday, 11 July 2014 at 10:22am BST

".. and all this from a diocese whose strapline is 'Joining Together in the Transforming Mission of God through growing disciples, living worship and ***seeking justice.*** [my emphasis added]
Posted by: RPNewark on Friday, 11 July 2014 at 9:05am BST"

Don't get me started on the Diocese's strapline! I was the Treasurer of the Diocesan Retreat House until the end of last year when I could no longer tolerate these people trilling about 'justice' whilst perpetuating injustice themselves.

Posted by: Laurence Cunnington on Friday, 11 July 2014 at 10:47am BST

"The way to bring that about is to show homophobia and misogyny for what they are ..."

I don;t think anyone has, on these pages, thrown out much more than assertions and judgments that reflect a much darker side than that of the current position of the church. I particularly don't see the love of Christ in any argument that calls for hurting other innocents to further one's own agenda. For instance, if the Synod, in this case, is acting in a misogynistic manner if it votes 'against the women-bishops measure' then anyone voting against the measure is also being misogynistic. You can't have it both ways ...

Posted by: Andrew F. Pierce on Friday, 11 July 2014 at 10:48am BST

"and ***seeking justice.*** "

We seek him here, we seek him there, those Frenchies seek him everywhere. Is he in heaven? - Is he in hell? That damned, elusive Pimpernel?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 11 July 2014 at 10:59am BST

Erika,

The consistency exists because the *removal* of an existing licence (by CDM or other method) and the *granting* of a new licence are two different processes (especially if licences are in different dioceses). So you might feel that there is morally an inconsistency (and I might even agree with you there), but legally there is no inconsistency.

Posted by: Peter Ould on Friday, 11 July 2014 at 11:57am BST

Peter Ould would prefer Canon Pemberton to become a "rotting corpse" in his inabilty to move to a new job. Presumably Ould wouldn't mind this offensive description being applied to himself and his current status within the Church of England.

Posted by: FrDavidH on Friday, 11 July 2014 at 12:08pm BST

Peter,
so are you saying that there is no mechanism by which a bishop can remove a license once a priest has been convicted of a serious offence?

You see, if he has the option to remove it by whatever process but chooses not to, then we're back at having an example of inconsistency.

And that’s still disregarding the fact that the second bishop had the option to use CDM or EJM to "try" Jeremy and that removal of PTO and refusal of a new license were simply the easiest ways of punishing him without ever having to go through a formal due process and without having to test the enforcability of the bishops guidelines.

No inconsistency only exists if the first bishop had no other option but to let a priest convicted of an offense keep his license. And if the second bishop had no option but to remove PTO and to refuse a new license.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 11 July 2014 at 1:06pm BST

"For instance, if the Synod, in this case, is acting in a misogynistic manner if it votes 'against the women-bishops measure' then anyone voting against the measure is also being misogynistic. You can't have it both ways..."

But I'm not asking to. My position is that women should be bishops on exactly the same terms as men.

The current measure, of course, does not provide for this; rather, it would enable women to become only second-class bishops.

So this shameful hew-to-the-middle measure should be opposed as an immoral, equality-betraying innovation.

Indeed, it is the Church of England that wants to have it both ways -- to ordain women as bishops, but at the same time to restrict their authority in ways that do not apply to male bishops.

In other words, the present measure is a further betrayal of women.

Jeremy
(not Pemberton)

Posted by: Jeremy on Friday, 11 July 2014 at 1:16pm BST

It is absurd to deny Canon Pemberton a licence because he is alleged to not 'model the Church’s teaching’. can we now assume that those CofE Bishops in active same-sex relationships will also have their licences removed. My own denomination has recently failed to approve same-sex marriages. But the hypocrisy of the CofE on this issue is unbelievable. Could we perhaps ask those bishops who are in same-sex relationships to stand in solidarity with Canon Pemberton on this? It surely can't be morally worse to openly marry your same-sex partner, than it is to hide them in the closet? Could the gay bishops please speak out on this? You know who you are. No-one says that they are failing to 'model the Church’s teaching’. Do they?

Posted by: Rev Barbara Evans on Friday, 11 July 2014 at 2:16pm BST

Erika,

"Peter,
so are you saying that there is no mechanism by which a bishop can remove a license once a priest has been convicted of a serious offence?"

No, I'm saying that the process exists, it just hasn't been actioned (as far as we know). The process is to lay a complaint under the Clergy Discipline Measure.

"You see, if he has the option to remove it by whatever process but chooses not to, then we're back at having an example of inconsistency."

No we don't. There is no statutory obligation for anyone to lay a complaint just because an offence (is perceived to) have happened. This seems to be the stumbling block in your understanding.

Inconsistency would be where one Archdeacon in one diocese laid a complaint against a priest in one diocese and another in a different diocese didn't. Inconsistency might be where two Bishops came to different conclusions on the CDM process faced with the same evidence. But it is *not* inconsistent for two Bishops in two different circumstances to do two different things.

"And that’s still disregarding the fact that the second bishop had the option to use CDM or EJM to "try" Jeremy and that removal of PTO and refusal of a new license were simply the easiest ways of punishing him without ever having to go through a formal due process and without having to test the enforcability of the bishops guidelines."

He (I presume you mean +Inwood in Southwell) didn't need to do that. Jeremy held PTO there. It was removed. The granting (or otherwise) of a licence was a separate legal issue to the removal of PTO. Can you not see this?

In a similar manner +Lowson in Lincoln is faced with a priest with a licence, not a PTO. No-one in the Lincoln hierarchy has laid a complaint against Pemberton (at least not that we know about) and no-one else has. If you believe someone should lay a complaint against Pemberton then write to the Archdeacon there!

Again, there is no legal inconsistency. You might argue there is a moral inconsistency, but the law very often cares diddly squat for morality!

Posted by: Peter Ould on Friday, 11 July 2014 at 2:45pm BST

"can we now assume that those CofE Bishops in active same-sex relationships will also have their licences removed."

What Bishops in **active** same-sex relationships? You might have to name people if you want your complaint taken seriously. Otherwise we can just ignore your comment as rumour mongering.

Simon / Peter, what's your legal position on libel?

Posted by: Peter Ould on Friday, 11 July 2014 at 2:47pm BST

The difficulty with approaching any of this from a "legal" perspective is that there is no concept of civil (or other) procedure in the application of the bishop's authority in this instance. There is no church of england legal system in this case, which could apply "the law" either consistently or inconsistently.

There is nothing (as I see it) in the canons or elsewhere clearly defining when a bishop may and may not refuse to grant a licence to a priest, when a bishop may and may not refuse to grant PTO to a priest, and when a bishop may and may not withdraw PTO from a priest. The lawyer in me says that if such an uncertainties were truly present in a genuine "legal" system, then there would be scope for testing the breadth of such provisions, in a tribunal for example. But there *is* no recourse to such a tribunal here, no appeal etc.

If any canon were used as justification for +Inwood's decision presumably it would be C12.2:

"2. No bishop shall grant any such licence to any minister who has come from another diocese, except such minister first show unto him Letters of Orders or other sufficient evidence that he is ordained, and bring him testimony, from the bishop of the diocese whence he has come, of his honesty, ability, and conformity to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Church of England."

What do those final criteria mean in practice? If the CofE is going to operate canon law in a quasi-judicial manner it needs what the judicial system has: case law interpreting statute. There seems to be no intention of operating in that fashion with canon law, and quite rightly so - what was that about law and grace after all?

This is really not a legal matter, ergo there can be no legal consistency (or inconsistency for that matter). If anything, this is a feudal matter.

Posted by: Alastair Newman on Friday, 11 July 2014 at 2:59pm BST

Our legal position is simple: if someone thinks they have been libelled by articles or comments on TA, then we (Simon K, Simon S and Peter, as editors) could be sued.

Our position on this particular topic is also simple. We do not post articles or comments that try to 'out' identifiable individuals.

Simon K

Posted by: Simon Kershaw on Friday, 11 July 2014 at 3:02pm BST

"but the law very often cares diddly squat for morality!" Peter Ould

You are quite correct. Though one might have hoped for more from the House of Bishops.

Posted by: Laurence Cunnington on Friday, 11 July 2014 at 3:04pm BST

Peter,
the point the church has made is that Jeremy contravened the bishops' guidelines and that it was therefore right to punish him.

But it seems that, legally, there are variety of options available to both bishops in the respective dioceses.
And that they have not chosen the same options.

So the inconsistency is not in the law but in the application of what is claimed to be the teaching of the church.

That's what we're complaining about.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 11 July 2014 at 3:13pm BST

As Jeremy not-Pemberton says, a reasonable strategy to stop all this would be for liberals to vote down upcoming measure on women bishops.

The government would have little option but to remove the Church's opt-out on discrimination in employment law: its argument would be that an unrepresentative synod is frustrating the clearly expressed will of the church. The legal basis would be S.III of the Submission of the Clergy Act 1533:

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/aep/Hen8/25/19/section/III

as reinforced by S.1(3)(b) of the Synodical Government Measure 1969:

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukcm/1969/2/section/1

"no Canons shall be made or put in execution by the said Convocations which are contrary or repugnant to the Royal prerogative or the customs, laws or statutes of this realm"

It could do that without any riders, so it would cover sex, sexuality and marital status in one fell swoop.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Friday, 11 July 2014 at 4:12pm BST

"It could do that without any riders, so it would cover sex, sexuality and marital status in one fell swoop."

It COULD, but that doesn't mean it would.
There is a real difference here.
The official position of the CoE is that women can be priests and bishops, the only question is now is what provisions there will be for those who cannot cope with that. Women have been priests for 20 years.
The vote would be scuppered by just a few lay members.

In the lgbt debate, on the other hand, the official position of the CoE is that gay people must be celibate and cannot be priests if married. There are opinion polls that suggest that a small majority of people support faithful and stable gay relationships. They do not all support marriage equality and they do not all support married priests.

If the rationale for Parliament intervening in church affairs would be that Synod no longer reflects the will of the church, then that same reason does not (yet) apply to lgbt people.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 11 July 2014 at 6:39pm BST

The problem with that, Interested Observer, is that there's no guarantee that Parliament will apply the Equality Act to the church. If they did, it's unlikely they'd apply it wholesale, leaving the opt-outs on sexual orientation in place. They may well leave all the exemptions alone and just vote to equalize ordination.

Given the silence of the "participant observers" on the church's homophobia, I've no great sympathy with the women lined up to become bishops. As they're willing to watch in silence while their lesbian and gay colleagues are discriminated against due to an accident of birth, their suffering the same would be poetic justice.

Even so, I believe that it'd be wrong to support inequality for tactical reasons, however tempting it may be. You don't heal one injustice with another.

Posted by: James Byron on Friday, 11 July 2014 at 6:40pm BST

"It COULD, but that doesn't mean it would."

OK, let's try another line.

A priest who has married a same-sex partner might argue that discrimination against married, same-sex employees is not covered by Schedule 9 of the Equality Act 2010 because Sched 9 (5) isn't met.

(5) The application of a requirement engages the compliance principle if the requirement is applied so as to comply with the doctrines of the religion.

"Comply with the doctrines" is a very strong threshold. An argument that priests who can legally be married by the state should be accepted by the church seems at least arguably compliant with "it is lawful for them, as for all other Christian men, to marry at their own discretion".

If the CofE wants to argue that it is unambiguously against its doctrine for priests to enter into same-sex marriages it is going to have to explain how that doesn't conflict with Article 32; if it doesn't have a "doctrine" to hand that says priests can't enter into same-sex marriages, then Sched 9(5) isn't engaged, so Sched 9(1) (which is the basis of churches not being bound by the Equalities Act) won't apply either.

That's something for a court to decide, not parliament. Is the prohibition on priests entering into same-sex marriages a "doctrine" of the CofE, and therefore permissible discrimination, or something less than "doctrine" (such as, for example, a statement by a committee of bishops), and therefore impermissible? Can the CofE form doctrine by anything less than a full vote of Synod, at least?

"If the rationale for Parliament intervening in church affairs would be that Synod no longer reflects the will of the church, then that same reason does not (yet) apply to lgbt people."

Yes, on reflection that's probably right. Although I still suspect that it came to parliament, they would be tempted to remove all discriminatory rights simply because it saves time later.

But my second line of argument would be that the animus of the CofE towards priests in same-sex marriage is not well-formed enough to constitute "doctrine". In which case, the Equalities Act would still apply, and discrimination would be illegal.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Friday, 11 July 2014 at 11:41pm BST

"You don't heal one injustice with another."

You are assuming that the women-bishops measure is just. It is not; it would relegate women bishops to second-class status.

In my opinion, anyone who votes "yes" on Monday will be supporting an unjust system.

A "no" result on Monday will subject the unjust system to immense scrutiny and opprobrium. Which is exactly what we need to reform an unjust system.

Posted by: Jeremy on Friday, 11 July 2014 at 11:59pm BST

IO,
yes, it would have been very helpful if one of the bishops had at least attempted a legal process and tried Jeremy under EJM. That would have tested the claim that gay marriage is against church doctrine.

I still think it would be unhelpful to vote against women bishops just in order to push through another agenda. It's risky and I don't think it's particularly just either.

My real problem would come if your plan succeeded and the church was forced to comply with the equalities act. It would be the quickest way of making martyrs. And forever after people would say that "you're only a bishop/gay married priest" because you were forced on us.

No, this is a piece of hard work the church has to do itself. It has to be responsible for changing its own mind and it has to own the whole process as well as its final result.
It might prefer to be forced but it should never be given such an easy ride.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 12 July 2014 at 11:51am BST

Peter Ould blithely talks about 'inconsistency' in these particular arguments concerning gay relationships in the Church.

To me, the more glaring inconsistency comes from those Gay clergy in the Church who hide behind a conventional marriage in order to claim that it is a more authentic Christian marriage than the new Same-Sex Marriage facility that has now been legalized by the government.

Because one clergy-person decides to forego the fulfilment of their natural homosexuality - in order to conform to what they see as a superior attitude towards the marriage bond than that desired by an openly-Gay clergy-person - this does not give them license to deplore the fact that most intrinsically Gay people - clergy included - who cannot conscientiously go through with the mockery (for them and their unfortunate spouse) of a heterosexual marriage; would want God's blessing on their monogamous same-sex marital relationship.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 12 July 2014 at 12:27pm BST

Erika,

"yes, it would have been very helpful if one of the bishops had at least attempted a legal process and tried Jeremy under EJM. That would have tested the claim that gay marriage is against church doctrine."

It works the other way as well. Lay a complaint against +Inwood that the reasons he withheld the licence were incorrect. You can test it that way as well.

There is no legal reason for +Inwood to have needed to have laid a charge. It's very clear that Pemberton has disobeyed the Bishops on this issue. It is the prerogative of Pemberton, not the Bishops, to demonstrate that the actions of +Inwood are canonically incorrect.

Posted by: Peter Ould on Saturday, 12 July 2014 at 1:47pm BST

"[I]t would be unhelpful to vote against women bishops just in order to push through another agenda."

If we let conservatives divide us, they conquer.

The agenda is the same--equality. And equality benefits all.

As for martyrs, some will claim to have been made martyrs, regardless of how change is achieved. Indeed, the Guardian article raises the risk that that argument--that Synod will have bowed to the Archbishop's pressure--will now be made even if the measure passes.

But if this measure fails, the likeliest result is reform from below--especially a new and much more liberal Synod.

A new, more liberal Synod will pass a single-clause measure and will challenge the Bishops on marriage equality.

So the Church of England can reform itself.

Posted by: Jeremy on Saturday, 12 July 2014 at 3:31pm BST

Jeremy, there is every indication that over two thirds of people on synod are planning to vote for this measure. The only dividing is being done by liberals here who don't like the proposals.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 12 July 2014 at 6:35pm BST

The church may have an opt-out from the Equalities Act, but does it have an opt out from compassion, decency and kindness?

As a nurse, I know first-hand the pain, the fear, the cry for help. And chaplaincy work offers precious support, day by day, to people in deepest need.

If Jeremy is compassionate and caring, he already has the best qualifications for this work.

What licence he has or doesn't have will not alter how 99% of patients view him, or how he meets their needs.

It is clear that he is, indeed, decent, compassionate and caring. That's truly all most people want (if there's a 1% who care about the dogma when they're gasping for breath, then give them another priest).

I'm a transsexual nurse. Do you think my patients even care? Jeremy is a Christian. That mandates his care for the sick. He is perfectly qualified for the work he does, and church politics is like chaff in the wind to the person who is hurting, struggling or dying. It's irrelevant.

The refusal to endorse a good man doing compassionate work is a disgrace.

Peter said he could have chosen not to get married. That would have been the wrong choice, the unkind choice, the damaging choice, and an appeasement of bullies.

Jeremy is being systematically bullied, because he dares to marry for love.

And the people who lose out in most practical terms are the patients who cry out for help from a person like him.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Saturday, 12 July 2014 at 7:48pm BST

Peter,
this is still not getting us anywhere.
We have a situation where the bishops have said that their priests must not marry.
There are several ways of dealing with those who disobey.
They depend on who may lay a complaint, on the bishop who deals with the complaint, maybe on whether the sun shines or it rains when the bishop deals with the complaint.

The end result is that one and the same man can be treated differently by 2 different bishops for the same offense, with various degrees of consequences, from the negligible to the serious.

All of this is legal, possibly, because the legality has not been tested and the church has just avoided twice to test it properly. So it will take someone else to force it to test it.

And you call that consistent?
I call it an unholy and unpredictable mess that leaves any priest working as an NHS chaplain and wondering whether to get married completely unable to anticipate what the consequences for him or her might be.


Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 12 July 2014 at 9:02pm BST

Thank you Suzannah, for your kind words.

Peter, the point is not whether or not I disobeyed the Bishop's Guidance (GUIDANCE note), but whether or not that act of "disobedience" was significant. Clergy are not bound to obey any old thing that bishops decide to cook up and push out at six weeks notice (and then start excusing and apologising for) - we are meant to obey authority "duly exercised" and in all things "legal and honest". What I did was legal, what we don't yet know was whether the actions taken against me were. We will, no doubt, find out.

That they were done without due process is undoubted.

Posted by: Jeremy Pemberton on Saturday, 12 July 2014 at 10:51pm BST

"Jeremy, there is every indication that over two thirds of people on synod are planning to vote for this measure."

Then why did the Archbishop see a need for a veiled threat in the Guardian?

"The only dividing is being done by liberals here who don't like the proposals."

The topic of this thread, however, would suggest otherwise. The Church hierarchy has found itself another "other."

More generally, to pretend that the outcome of a debate is a foregone conclusion, and to suggest that those who disagree with that outcome are being divisive, are ways that the co-opted often make common cause with those who co-opt them.

If this is how women bishops will act, once consecrated, then LGBT people have no hope for equal marriage in this decade.

The Church of England has a real chance here for lasting and fundamental change--much more far-reaching and life-giving than the present measure would permit. Let's not let this chance slip through our fingers.

Jeremy (not Pemberton)

Posted by: Jeremy on Saturday, 12 July 2014 at 11:02pm BST

Fr Ron is often a careful observer and thoughtful corespondent, but in his remarks on the choices gay people make in their lives, he is somewhat wide of the mark. Peter Ould is a nuanced thinker and sensitive Christian, he has followed a well worn path, most of my gay friends got married and had children, some were even homophobic in their speech and actions. Indeed the priest at the heart of this controversy followed this path himself.

Some of those friends are deeply content with the family they have made, others have found the choice disturbing and have spent decades being ill. I know many who have emerged through divorce or widowhood to embrace their sexuality with a confidence they could not have imagined thirty odd years ago.

We do well to listen to those who have followed the Teaching of the Church and embraced celibacy or Holy Matrimony, their lived experience has much to teach us, I have always found Peter to be a careful and gracious listener to those who have not taken his path.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Saturday, 12 July 2014 at 11:16pm BST

Jeremy,
this thread is not about women bishops at all. The women bishops thread started on the thread below which includes a comment by Forward in Faith "These talks have been amazingly fruitful in that they have generated a new package which provides a way forward for everyone in the Church of England and the package is being fast-tracked through the Synod with the added bonus in the creation of a much more positive atmosphere of trust, generosity and mutual respect."

The comments then immediately slate the whole thing.
Yes, we would probably prefer women bishops without provisions. Just as the others would probably prefer no women bishops.
But this is the compromise they all have agreed together, in months of painstaking conversations.
This is what we're hoping to get through tomorrow.
And yes, there will be people on both sides who will be unhappy about it.

But most seem to recognise that this is the reality and they actually want this to pass now.

So urging people to scupper this carefully negotiated package just on the off chance that Parliament will then step in and give us precisely the solution we would really like by precisely the means we would really like, oh, and while we're at it, also sort out our lgbt muddle for us... is being divisive. And possibly more than a little naive.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Sunday, 13 July 2014 at 6:41am BST

I find it quite extraordinary that at least some bishops are looking forward to legal proceedings on the same sex marriage issue (to get us back on topic) rather than sort this out honestly and openly themselves. Seems to me that it is increasingly true that the consecration of bishops involves removing their backbone.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Sunday, 13 July 2014 at 8:28am BST

Jeremy,

"Peter, the point is not whether or not I disobeyed the Bishop's Guidance (GUIDANCE note), but whether or not that act of "disobedience" was significant."

I completely agree. And nothing is stopping you testing that assertion within the ecclesiastical or secular judicial framework. So go ahead and do it! I for one would love to see the law (and canons) clarified in this manner either way. And frankly, I suspect the House of Bishops knows that this will all end up in the courts eventually, so why not get the process rolling?

Posted by: Peter Ould on Sunday, 13 July 2014 at 9:00am BST

Martin says everything that needs saying about Fr Ron Smith's comment. Frankly, if the best that you have is to insult and abuse those you disagree with, and you're even too cowardly and spineless to actually name the person you're insulting, then you know you've actually lost the argument.

Posted by: Peter Ould on Sunday, 13 July 2014 at 9:02am BST

What is naive is not to recognise that the two issues are very closely connected, and that the CofE's exemption from equality legislation hangs by a thread.

You will have noted Andrew Brown's about the Archbishop's "threat" to force women-bishops legislation through. The below is a from a comment on that article.

"[B]ear in mind why he is doing it.

"Archbishop Justin . . . is threatening to force through measures creating women bishops not because he believes it's right . . . but because he fears parliament will strip the Church of its exemption from equality legislation. He wants to end discrimination against women in order to preserve the church's right to discriminate against homosexuals."

The archbishops are trying to draw the line at including women, and excluding gay people. Why? Because that's where the Global South draws the line.

So let's be very clear about what is really going on here. For his own international political reasons, Welby is offering the CofE only half a loaf.

Synod should reject the offer, and demand enough food for all.

Posted by: Jeremy on Sunday, 13 July 2014 at 12:37pm BST

I couldn't agree more with the persuasive and cogent comments from Fr Ron Smith.

Posted by: FrDavidH on Sunday, 13 July 2014 at 2:40pm BST

I agree with Jeremy here. Let us please have the whole loaf, and not a half. I would still like to ask why those bishops who are currently in active same-sex partnerships remain silent on this matter. I do agree that the TA website should not name them. But I bet you if one did, the hosts would actually be exonerated, not prosecuted. True, these bishops are largely confined to the south(irksome though that is for me as a native northerner). But what did Edmund Burke say? All it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.

Memo to bishops: speak.

Posted by: Rev Barbara Evans on Sunday, 13 July 2014 at 4:24pm BST

Peter, I don't see how Ron's comment was either insulting or abusive. It may have raised the temperature, but you spend quite a bit of time doing that yourself.

Posted by: Andrew Wilshere on Sunday, 13 July 2014 at 5:17pm BST

I tell you what folks (especially Andrew and DavidH), if you think Section 28 was offensive for its use of the language of

"a pretended family relationship"

but at the same time you think there is nothing wrong with Ron insulting

"those Gay clergy in the Church who ***hide behind a conventional marriage***"

then you are rank hypocrites of the first order.

I might disagree with people entering same-sex marriages, but I don't go around claiming they don't actually love each other really and that their relationship isn't genuine but rather a fraud.

Seriously folks, if the best you have is personal insults and derogatory comments about people's families, you have lost this debate already.

Posted by: Peter Ould on Sunday, 13 July 2014 at 6:50pm BST

Like many on here I have, over the years, met a number of men who, while basically homosexual, have decided to get married to a member of the opposite sex. Their motives were various, ranging from their understanding of the church's teaching on sex and marriage, through social pressures to a perception of needing a wife to get on in business. Most of these marriages have failed because the men involved, and indeed their wives, realised that living a lie is not good for either body or soul or indeed any offspring. Most have separated with varying degrees of hurt and guilt. Some remain single, others have a new same sex partner. A few remain married with varying degrees of happiness.

I did not recognised Fr John's comments as applying to one particular person, indeed in the light of a conversation I had only this morning they have a wider application. On his now closed blog Peter Ould was quite clear about his lifestyle choices. He is often quite willing to have a go at those whose choices with which he disagrees. Perhaps he should be rather less sensitive about comments which appear to refer to him.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Sunday, 13 July 2014 at 7:34pm BST

Thank you Fr Reynolds for reminding us that Gay and Straight are not categories like the laws of the Medes and the Persians but are subject to all manner of influence. Your charity and sensitivity to Peter Ould model Christian conduct in a now fraught area. Thank you.

Posted by: cseitz on Sunday, 13 July 2014 at 10:09pm BST

Due process is not a concept I associate with churches. Each local bishop has his fiefdom. Demanding that gay priests not marry their partners is wrong when straight priests can marry.

A hospital chaplain should be allowed more leeway because the point of the job is to comfort patients and their families and friends. I knew an Episcopal chaplain who recited the Shema Yisrael for a dying Jewish woman because no rabbi was available. She asked that he recite it for her. That was what she needed. Doctrinal policing would have been unseemly.


Gary Paul Gilbert

Posted by: Gary Paul Gilbert on Monday, 14 July 2014 at 4:26am BST

'...you have lost this debate already'.

If Peter characterises the discussion here and elsewhere as having winners and looser then we shal get exactly nowhere and the Pilling 'facilitated conversation' will get exactly nowhere. Already we have seen Rod Thomas of 'Reform' saying that he cannot sit down with those who do not agree with his own interpretation of scripture, and the point was well made on the Sunday programme yesterday by a contributor pointing out that while she respected the rightness of making provision for the Conservatives, the latter continued to want to impose their own views on the whole church. We are supposed to be aiming for 'good disagreement'. I happen to firmly support both women bishops and same sex marriage in Church. I have no problems with those who disagree though I often do with their arguments. But no one is being forced to act against their will in these matters. Peter Ould isn't being forced to accept or conduct same sex marriages. Why should he and others force the view these things shouldn't be allowed to happen in the Church on the rest if us?

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Monday, 14 July 2014 at 9:40am BST

"We are supposed to be aiming for 'good disagreement'."

Let me suggest humbly that if you genuinely want good disagreement the way to start is NOT to impugn the motives for people's marriages and for their having families. And frankly, condoning such impugning speaks volumes as to where your heart really is on the whole idea of respecting those you oppose.

Posted by: Peter Ould on Monday, 14 July 2014 at 1:24pm BST

What a mess! The withholding of Jeremy's license is clearly an act of aggression. It is designed to punish Jeremy and "send a signal" to others that they will pay a price for living with integrity in their personal lives.

Tobias nailed it. The very clear call of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is to minister to the sick and dying. Everything else pales by comparison. To take such an aggressive stance to INSIST on bigotry winning the day… it's awful. One cannot find the Good News in this hateful nonsense.

You can rationalize and legalize out the wazoo. At the end of the day it is not the Gospel of Jesus being served, but the gospel of the power of the status quo clinging pathetically to its bigotry.

I'll keep Jeremy and Laurence in my prayers.

Posted by: Cynthia on Monday, 14 July 2014 at 5:26pm BST

Obviously, it is possible for people who have same-sex affections to refrain from acting on them (much) and even to enter a marriage with a person of another gender. The question is Why submit to all that grief when it is now possible to meet your soul mate and live a positive, beneficial life together? The effect of conceding to the church's offered pattern is to validate it, when, in fact, the tradition is wrong in biology (humans are not simply male or female) and damaging in practice. Suffering and obedience aren't necessarily character building.

There is no need to question the motives or sincerity of those impelled to pattern their lives on the church's tradition -- they are doing what they've been taught is right and some can make it work, with effort and sacrifice of personal fulfillment. But the face they present to the world is that of traditional marriage, and, without the bonding of sexual attraction, it is no such thing. A personal achievement perhaps, but a social lie. (It's like everyone used to be right-handed, when children were punished in grade school for using the "wrong" hand. A left-handed friend of mine in 2d grade was told by the nuns that he was showing off, trying to be different. He wound up using his right hand, and stuttering.)

The church has managed to present a front of heterosexuality by treating variations as individual matters, if not as sins, to be dealt with in counseling or confessional. Now that it's apparent that some people are made to love others of the same gender, the church's limited, arbitrary views of sexuality are seen as irrelevant. If the church was wrong on such a basic matter, on what else might it be an unreliable guide? It stands naked in public, trying to cover itself. The young and gay are moving on.

Posted by: Murdoch on Monday, 14 July 2014 at 11:57pm BST

Murdoch,

Thanks for your recent comment (14 July 11.57) which I am very much in sympathy with. But I would like to add two points.

You said "it is possible for people who have same-sex affections to refrain from acting on them (much) and even to enter a marriage with a person of another gender. The question is Why submit to all that grief when it is now possible to meet your soul mate and live a positive, beneficial life together?"

Yes it is now possible, but one must be sympathetic towards those many people, in the church and outside, who entered such a heterosexual marriage decades ago, having been taught this was the correct Christian thing to do, and who are now having to live with the consequences within a very different church and society.

But being sympathetic should not stop us from arguing our views - as you have done.

Also "If the church was wrong on such a basic matter, on what else might it be an unreliable guide?"

It's about time we were prepared to question the whole area of imposed sexual abstinence and celibacy itself. It might work for some. But it should not be imposed on whole categories of people.

Ref. the Pope's recent comment about 2% of clergy being paedophiles. If that is the case, is that a result of imposed celibacy? And if so should those clergy be seen as sinful criminals, or as damaged victims of a mistaken doctrine?


Posted by: Simon Dawson on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 9:39am BST

Simon, thanks for the response. I was reacting to pleas in this thread not to judge people who entered marriages against their natures. I was also thinking of the present situation in parts of the US and UK; most people aren't free to seek the love they desire. In cultures where gay is taboo, there are men who have sex with men. It isn't spoken of.

I was one of those who entered into heterosexual marriage because it was the right thing to do. Gays were classed as immature, families were the standard. Pastors, therapists, and confessors assured me that gay was a habit that could be broken, a taste that one could change. I met a likely young woman, and we thought that faith and friendship would see us through. We managed to have three children (all now grown and successful) but we never bonded. After 18 years, she finally tired of being my social life preserver and asked for a separation. I then met my present husband and our 31 years together have been as easy and natural as heterosexual marriage was difficult.

A college friend married despite his gay feelings. He and his wife suffered for a decade and more, but finally came to a constructive partnership that will see them through to the end. Each couple decides how much pain is worth while and what accommodations they are willing to make. As for couples validating the institution, my then wife and I looked around our academic friends at a university and decided, There are a hundred different relationships, all called marriage. It's the assumption that man-woman marriages are the same that's the lie; people who appear to conform when in fact they don't just allow the model serve as an idol.

Celibacy in the Roman communion certainly is no help in dealing with desire, but the problem probably is more the immaturity of the clergy, denied normal social development. They live in an all-male hothouse, with obedience demanded of younger to older. Not a good model for sacristy life.

I suspect the main damage of sexual abuse is assuming that the younger persons are corrupted, damaged for life. Kids are inexperienced, not innocent. An unfortunate sexual experience should be no more tainting than a sports injury, say. If people could talk about sex without shame or guilt, sunshine would prevent or sort out many so-called cases of abuse. Paedophiles need secrecy to operate. Rape and coercion should be prosecuted, of course, but the crimes are physical, not metaphysical.

Posted by: Murdoch on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 at 3:22am BST
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