Sunday, 20 July 2014

Update on clergy entering same-sex marriages

This roundup has been somewhat delayed due to the distractions of General Synod, but here it is now. Our previous report was on 9 July, and is here.

Madeleine Davies wrote in the Church Times on 11 July: Chaplain is blocked from new post after same-sex marriage. She included this:

…Canon Pemberton said that he had mentioned his application for the new job during his meeting with Bishop Inwood on 29 May, and that he was “not surprised, but disappointed”, to learn that the Bishop had subsequently refused to issue a licence.

“The unequal position that I find myself in is that I have a licence now, and am working in a trust in Lincolnshire; so I am a suitable person to work in the NHS; but if I attempt to move 30 miles away, I become unemployable, apparently.”

He went on: “It needs to be considered that the NHS is bound by the Equality Act 2010, and it does seem odd that, if this offer is withdrawn, it is because the Church has obliged the NHS to act in an unequal way. Is that proper or legal?

“My action has exposed a faultline here with an NHS that acts strictly under the rules of equality according to the law, and a Church that does not.”

Chaplains are appointed by NHS trusts. The UK Board of Healthcare Chaplaincy, with whom Canon Pemberton is registered, states that: “It is usual for job descriptions and person specifications for chaplaincy posts that include a religious function to specify that a chaplain will have the endorsement of their faith community, often referred to as ‘being in good standing’.”

It continues: “The situation may arise that the standing of a chaplain in relation to her or his faith community or belief group changes during the term of employment. Whilst this may affect the official status of the chaplain as a ‘minister of religion’ or ‘office holder’ of a belief group, it may have no consequences in relation to their terms of employment so long as they continue to practise ethically and professionally.”

NHS Employers was contacted but was unable to comment at the time of going to press.

On Wednesday, the Revd Justin Gau, a barrister specialising in both employment and ecclesiastical law, and Chancellor of the diocese of Bristol, said that the removal of Canon Pemberton’s licence was, in his opinion, “unlawful, as there has been no breach of canon law”.

And Hugh Muir in the Guardian had this tidbit:

Battle lines are drawn in the Church of England after the first gay British clergyman to marry a same-sex partner was blocked from taking up a promotion within the NHS. Canon Jeremy Pemberton works as a chaplain for an NHS trust in Lincolnshire. The Right Rev Richard Inwood, acting Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham, said he is “unable” to issue a licence for Pemberton to work for the NHS in Nottinghamshire “in light of the pastoral guidance and for reasons of consistency”. A number of people have expressed outrage. Add to their number Prof Diarmaid MacCulloch, the Oxford historian of the church. “I trust that you realise what an appalling impression of pastoral insensitivity you and your fellow bishops are providing to the nation,” he tells the acting bishop. “None of you seem to understand the widespread contempt that your stance provokes, particularly among the young.” They can’t even claim to have history on side.

Changing Attitude has had several articles relating to this action:

At the press conference in York on the evening of 14 July, after the vote on women in the episcopate, the journalists Rachel Younger for Sky News and David Sanderson for The Times both asked the archbishops how soon there would also be bishops who were in same-sex marriages. Needless to say the answers predicted no timescale for this. There is an audio recording of this press conference available here. The Sky News questions come at the very beginning of the conference, and The Times questions come at the very end (about 24 minutes in). A transcript of part of the latter is included here, below the fold.

The Archbishop of York, replying to a question from The Times said:

… All I know is, that we need to find probably a language of conversation just like the Church in New Zealand, which talks about same-gender relationships, which is bigger than purely sex, that language is a more creative language. And if you have read Issues in Human Sexuality the Church of England is very clear that sexual orientation really, and that is what you are talking about has never been a bar to ministry or to anything else. Now a new thing has arrived, called same-sex marriage. That poses in terms of the doctrine of marriage, a problem for the Church of England but I still hope even when that happens, people will still be treated as made in God’s image and likeness and as children of God. And though you may feel that they don’t quite fulfil the exemplifying nature of Christ and His Church, nevertheless they mustn’t be diminished, they mustn’t be treated in a way that doesn’t give love and grace and care. And I actually think our two years conversation could give us a language of talking, so that people don’t automatically just cause all kinds of…. And the other worry that I have got, if for example you have got single people, we live in a society in which immediately, they assume if you happen to be a single unmarried bishop this must be xyz, and those kind of things worry me. And people casting aspersions and assuming people’s behaviour and life when actually if you dig deep deep, that is not actually what they are standing for. So I want to find a new way of speaking, a new way of understanding…

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Can anyone provide a summary of what John Sentamu is saying? It appears almost completely incomprehensible.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Sunday, 20 July 2014 at 7:08pm BST

Of even more interest because it is in a 'normal' parish situation is the case of Fr Andrew Cain who married his same sex partner in the about to be vacant Edmonton Episcopal Area of London Diocese.

Almost certainly the Bishop of London will appoint a non-ordainer of women to replace Peter Wheatley the outgoing bishop and this will be to protect the minority rights of those who still oppose women in orders.

So, if Andrew Cain is disciplined it will be a case of one minority being protected and another persecuted in the same Episcopal Area ... hmm.

Posted by: Concerned Anglican on Sunday, 20 July 2014 at 7:56pm BST

"+Sentamu Ebor"?

Posted by: Roger Mortimer on Sunday, 20 July 2014 at 8:13pm BST

Sentamu Ebor says:
"That poses in terms of the doctrine of marriage, a problem for the Church of England but I still hope even when that happens, people will still be treated as made in God’s image and likeness and as children of God."

WHEN that happens? I think the ABY is perfectly well aware that it has happened, and is going to go on happening. What is he talking about?

The clock simply isn't going to stop for two years (and let's not forget that the clock on the two years started ticking with the publication of Pilling last November - so eight months have passed with nothing substantive happening yet) while the Church of England agonises over conversations about "good disagreements". And let us not forget that in these much vaunted conversations the participants are going to be chosen by diocesan bishops.

It also neglects to recognise that while this apparently neutral and inclusive process is going on, discipline of various kinds is being dished out.

No wonder it all sounds fairly incomprehensible. It is.

Posted by: Jeremy Pemberton on Sunday, 20 July 2014 at 8:59pm BST

And another thing:

Is it just me that finds this kind of language insulting and patronising:
"And though you may feel that they don’t quite fulfil the exemplifying nature of Christ and His Church, nevertheless they mustn’t be diminished..."

They? Who are these they? A bit like the ABC talking about "sitting across the room from them".

"don't quite fulfil the exemplifying nature of Christ and his Church" - Who does? You? No. I thought not. None of us does. This condescension betrays your real attitude to gay people. Gay appears to be a special sort of bad, in your understanding.

Your own they/them language has already done the diminishing you condemn, Archbishop.

Posted by: Jeremy Pemberton on Sunday, 20 July 2014 at 9:21pm BST

Sentamu is his name. Ebor is Latin for York, his diocese.

Posted by: Richard on Sunday, 20 July 2014 at 9:33pm BST

It must be very difficult trying to make an impact when most clergy in ss relationships or marriage, still prefer to be clandestine.

As for Archbishop Sentamu, he fully endorsed Prince William and Kate Middleton living together.

Posted by: robert Ian williams on Sunday, 20 July 2014 at 9:45pm BST

The opinion has been expressed many times on this site that homophobia in the HoB may be challenged by the consecration of women bishops.

There is an interview with the Dean of Salisbury in the Sunday Times today, one of the media's many candidates for 'first woman bishop'. It reports on equal marriage : "Osborne wrote a research paper for the House of Bishops and says she is 'sorry that we moved to gay marriage in the way we did and as swiftly as we did'"

While consecrating women bishops is undeniably a good thing, thoughts of sudden episcopal enlightenment on equal marriage may be just a tad optimistic.

Posted by: Fr Andrew on Sunday, 20 July 2014 at 9:57pm BST

“I trust that you realise what an appalling impression of pastoral insensitivity you and your fellow bishops are providing to the nation,” he tells the acting bishop. “None of you seem to understand the widespread contempt that your stance provokes, particularly among the young.”

I hope these well- (faithfully-)stated words are understood to come from a church historian, not "the gay lobby" [and that "pastoral insensitivity" is understood as "completely contrary to the example of Jesus"].

Posted by: JCF on Sunday, 20 July 2014 at 11:36pm BST

++Sentamu: "they assume if you happen to be a single unmarried bishop this must be xyz, and those kind of things worry me. And people casting aspersions..."

What people "assume" is really only a problem IF such an assumption is EQUATED to an "aspersion". For example, if a single bishop were to respond---if asked "are you gay?"---"Why, thank you for the compliment! ...but actually, I'm not", then PROBLEM SOLVED.

Posted by: JCF on Monday, 21 July 2014 at 12:39am BST

RIW: Do you think clergy *prefer* that their ss status be clandestine, or are they simply not inclined to suffer the repercussions that would follow from being open? Don't you think they evaluate their particular situation carefully and do whatever is the least painful?

Posted by: Richard on Monday, 21 July 2014 at 12:59am BST

I remember when George Carey mercifully announced his retirement (although the former Primate but one has been far from retiring ever since) the Today programme invited the then Bishop of Rochester to sing the praises of Uncle George's time as Cantuar. In the end it turned out to be a self promoting partly political broadcast as to why + Michael would be the very best candidate to be the 104th person to occupy St. Augustine's throne. Needless to say, he didn't get the job!

Posted by: Father David on Monday, 21 July 2014 at 5:51am BST

I couldn't agree more with Fr. Andrew's realism about the role of female bishops in liberalizing the church.

That doesn't mean equal ordination will have no effect. Two important benefits are: 1) given the Bible's unequivocal ban on women holding authority, a female bishop who fires off the clobber verses is in a precarious position, and she knows it; 2) the delaying/silencing tactic of "we can't derail the campaign for women bishops by debating other controversial issues" is gone.

As for Sentamu, as a former advocate victimized by the Ugandan dictatorship, of all people, he should not only treasure justice and due process, but fight to bring it to others. If you'd expect any bishop to denounce the church's treatment of gay people, it would be him. His heroic defiance of Idi Amin shows him to be a man of deep conscience, backed by courage most of us couldn't dream of. Why has he not deployed those gifts here?

Posted by: James Byron on Monday, 21 July 2014 at 8:41am BST

"1) given the Bible's unequivocal ban on women holding authority, a female bishop who fires off the clobber verses is in a precarious position, and she knows it"

Only if she's an evangelical who believes that there is an unequivocal ban on women holding authority.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 21 July 2014 at 2:25pm BST

I know what Ebor means, Richard. Bishops sign with their Christian names, not their surnames, so curious about the "Sentamu" innovation.

Posted by: Roger Mortimer on Monday, 21 July 2014 at 3:52pm BST

Sentamu is a Christian name, Roger.

Posted by: FrDavidH on Monday, 21 July 2014 at 5:34pm BST

Roger, Sentamu isn't a surname. Both John and Sentamu are forenames.

Posted by: Chris S on Monday, 21 July 2014 at 7:04pm BST

"His heroic defiance of Idi Amin shows him to be a man of deep conscience, backed by courage most of us couldn't dream of." James Byron

Exactly! And, on top of that, he was then on the receiving end of racism when he moved to England.

"Why has he not deployed those gifts here?"

I find it completely baffling.

Posted by: Laurence Cunnington on Tuesday, 22 July 2014 at 7:43am BST

The Archbishop of York is on record as saying that he doesn't accept that racism and homophobia are analogous. His reasoning is confused, but seems to be that, whereas you can't change the colour of your skin, you can control your sexual behaviour. However, his position is consistent with that of many people who recognise injustice when it affects themselves, but not when it doesn't.

Posted by: badman on Tuesday, 22 July 2014 at 8:54am BST

Just to register that I think Jeremy Pemberton has summed up the archbishopy hypocrisy perfectly:

"Who does? You? No. I thought not. None of us does. This condescension betrays your real attitude to gay people. Gay appears to be a special sort of bad, in your understanding. Your own they/them language has already done the diminishing you condemn, Archbishop."

Posted by: Andrew Wilshere on Tuesday, 22 July 2014 at 11:01am BST

I am wondering why TA has nothing on the Gaza genocide or is it only a gender/sexuality forum?

Posted by: Fr Paul on Tuesday, 22 July 2014 at 1:30pm BST

One of the reasons that people who are marrying are being disciplined is the lack of any honest debate or even recognition of the number of gay clerics, the closet is stuffed with deacons, priests and bishops. Of course, most people know who they are, editors of Church newspapers, journalists, those who control blogs like this, the list of the ignorant is possibly shorter.

For reasons I have yet to truly appreciate they all collude in this conspiracy of silence and as a result people like the man at York can utter the guff they do and get away with it.

It's almost as if nobody wants to prick this bubble of deceit because the consequences may not be what they want.
This even extends to making a reference to a Wikipedia page that identifies a serving bishop as a partnered gay man! You can't mention it.

Something's got to give. The liberal collusion with this is not sustaining a few closeted gay men in the episcopate, it is destroying our credibility as progressives and undermining the authentic quality of our church.
It's time to fess up, move on and live the truth we proclaim.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Tuesday, 22 July 2014 at 2:31pm BST

I am pointed to Kelvin Holdworth's blog.
He and Peter Tatchell have been talking about how to react to the duplicity I mention above.
Sooner or later a gay partnered bishop will try to discipline a married priest ...... I guess the sparks are flying!

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Tuesday, 22 July 2014 at 7:06pm BST

Martin Reynolds - An excellent post! I dream of the say when ALL LGBT clergy, organists, ushers, crucifers, etc. go on a one-Sunday strike, with honesty as their flag.

Happily, my home church in Seattle has LGBT clergy, one of whom was recently legally married at our church, with a very large congregation attending. it is simply not an issue here any longer, and I yearn for the day when C of E clergy will be able to be as open. But it will take courage and some action.

Posted by: Nathaniel Brown on Tuesday, 22 July 2014 at 7:52pm BST

Hear, hear, Martin. ENOUGH w/ the hypocrisy! How can same-sex MARRIAGE be *worse* than same-sex living-in-closeted-"sin"?

Posted by: JCF on Tuesday, 22 July 2014 at 8:29pm BST

Badman, if that's Sentamu's reasoning, it's a false distinction, since while all people can control the expression of their sexuality, they can't control the sexuality itself. Expecting lesbian and gay people to suppress their sexuality for life is unjust in the extreme unless there's compelling evidence that its expression does harm.

As a passionate supporter of equal ordination, we know that Sentamu's no legalist. He doesn't ask women to suppress their vocation. Why then does he ask gay people to suppress their sexuality? Given his personal treatment of gay people, he's obviously not prejudiced. What is it?

Sentamu is exactly the kind of person we want as a bishop: smart, courageous, experience of life far beyond an ivory tower. It makes his actions here all the more baffling, and disappointing.

Posted by: James Byron on Tuesday, 22 July 2014 at 9:23pm BST

Fr Paul should choose his words more carefully and on a different thread!

Posted by: Stephen Morgan on Wednesday, 23 July 2014 at 12:13am BST

"Sooner or later a gay partnered bishop will try to discipline a married priest" Martin Reynolds

*bites tongue*

Posted by: Laurence Cunnington on Wednesday, 23 July 2014 at 8:31am BST

Martin
"Something's got to give. The liberal collusion with this is not sustaining a few closeted gay men in the episcopate, it is destroying our credibility as progressives and undermining the authentic quality of our church.
It's time to fess up, move on and live the truth we proclaim."

Well said. We always say it well, don't we.
So what do we do now?
What does each of us individually do today that we didn't do yesterday?
Because "we" don't ever do anything collectively, if "we" did, there would be no oppression anywhere. But the day where every lgbt person in the country and in the church stands up in front of the media and says "enough" is never going to come.
So what do we do now? What do you do now? What do I do now?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 23 July 2014 at 9:10am BST

Fr. Paul. Not only is T.A. Silent on Gaza but also silent on Northern Iraq where are brothers and sisters in Christ are being slaughtered and their cathedrals and churches destroyed.

Posted by: Father David on Wednesday, 23 July 2014 at 9:26am BST

"How can same-sex MARRIAGE be *worse* than same-sex living-in-closeted-"sin"?" JCF

Or, for that matter, same-sex-living-together-in-a-relationship-not-in-the-closet-at-all-out-and-proud-and-the-Bishops-knew-all-about-it-when-they-issued-the-licences- "sin"

Posted by: Laurence Cunnington on Wednesday, 23 July 2014 at 10:24am BST

Fr Paul and Fr David are perfectly entitled to question the range of topics that are covered by TA.

My answer to them at this time is that it is hard enough as it is to keep up with thse stories that specifically concern the Church of England, or the Anglican Communion, and those of us who run this site do so on a voluntary part-time basis.

It's not as if Iraq, Syria, Gaza, and Ukraine were not being reported on in great depth elsewhere.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 23 July 2014 at 10:39am BST

"Sooner or later a gay partnered bishop will try to discipline a married priest." Is that not a bit too close to the bone of another thread on this blog? It may also explain the timing of its appearance, too.

As for Sentamu and his principled stands for justice, and the hope that equal consecration will change the culture in the House of Bishops... It's called 'going native to get places.' The fact that the author of the long-buried Osborne Report could write as she apparently has is just another sign that this particular aspirant will do whatever is necessary to conform and achieve membership of The Club. I would be mightily surprised if she is alone.

Posted by: James A on Wednesday, 23 July 2014 at 11:28am BST

I think we need to put pressure on people like the editor of Church Times and The Tablet.
I would also suggest it is time for another meeting of Inclusive Church inviting Kelvin and Peter to go further in their dialogue.

I would leave Wales for that.

Also ask Paul Handley, Catherine Pepinster and others to come along and account for their stewardship of the facts. Why have they allowed this duplicity to continue unchallenged?
It's as damaging as the abuse scandal and young people are committing suicide by the score because of the continued pressure of faith groups who are themselves populated with gay people who collude with homophobia.

We don't need to be close to the bone we need to cut right through to the marrow!

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Wednesday, 23 July 2014 at 12:09pm BST

A bit late I know but i have been away.The Archbishop's name is John Tucker Mugabi Sentamu
For years he was known as Revd John Sentamu and then as Rt Revd John Sentamu

When he became Archbishop he wanted an African name and not just to be another Archbishop John.For obvious reasons he did not wish to be known as Mugabi so he asked the diocese to call him Archbishop Sentamu - ie his last name and so we did

Posted by: Jean Mayland on Wednesday, 23 July 2014 at 12:22pm BST

"I would be mightily surprised if she [June Osborne] is alone." James A

Vivienne “but I’m under the discipline of the Church and I keep the rules" Faull springs to mind.

http://www.whensallymetsally.co.uk/news/uk/dean-york-vivienne-faull-church-england-attitude-gay-marriage-harmful/

Posted by: Laurence Cunnington on Wednesday, 23 July 2014 at 12:29pm BST

James A, careerists who keep quiet to get on don't stand up to dictators. Sentamu could well have been murdered for speaking out in Uganda. If he's willing to give his life for what he believes is right, don't you think he'd be willing to give up a purple robe?

The only reasonable conclusion is that Sentamu sincerely believes that all gay relationships are wrong. Given his generally undogmatic, humane attitudes, that truly is baffling.

Posted by: James Byron on Wednesday, 23 July 2014 at 12:31pm BST

Then let's make sure we let these careerists
WE DO NOT WANT THEM

I shall be writing to that purpose today.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Wednesday, 23 July 2014 at 4:38pm BST

I really do not understand the criticism above being directed only at clergy who are women and say "I keep the rules". There are THOUSANDS of clergy who are men and who say the same thing, while being strongly supportive of changing the rules. There's no reason for discriminating when making such a criticism.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 23 July 2014 at 6:46pm BST

Simon,

The criticism was in response to James A's supposition that the actions/opinions of the group of women likely to be considered for one of the first women Bishop's posts might be similar to those of the men who are already bishops. Vivienne Faull is one of those women and I believe that the "I keep the rules" quote suggests that she might, in fact, be as loath to challenge the status quo as the male bishops.

I may be quite wrong about Vivenne Faull, however, given that James A's comment was wondering whether one of the women likely to become a bishop might be similar to the existing male bishops, it was a woman clergy person I mentioned.

I am only too aware that the current House of Bishops appears to be full of rule-bound yes-men. Like James A, I fear that the women who become bishops may well be just as bad. One could even argue that it is a gender stereotype to think that they won't be.

Posted by: Laurence Cunnington on Wednesday, 23 July 2014 at 7:15pm BST

re Laurence's argument - about prospective women bishops being equally willing to 'toe the line' on gay relationships. I think this is not a gender characteristic at all. The connecting tissue of the status quo might be purely episcopal - anyone who hopes to BECOME a bishop, whether M. or F. If the present Bench is anti-Gay; the prospects of any future bishop might be doubtful if Gay-friendly. What needs to change is the macho culture of the H. o. B. in the C. of E.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 27 July 2014 at 12:50pm BST

What needs to change above all is the backroom way in which bishops are appointed.

The current system is even worse than the pre-1976 system, as it removes the outside perspective of the Prime Minister, and hands vast amounts of power to company men. If you wanted to design a system to give jobs to the boys, you could scarcely do better.

Elected bishops would allow gay-friendly candidates to stand on a platform of overturning the church's institutional homophobia. The church hierarchy loathes the idea, producing sniffy reports condemning elections as nasty, vulgar things that (gasp) lead to open disagreement, which is exactly why we should have them.

Posted by: James Byron on Sunday, 27 July 2014 at 3:35pm BST

Can somebody enlighten me? Is this Bishop Richard Inwood the same man who signed the open letter opposing Jeffrey John's appointment to Reading? - I would have hoped that time and the experience of working in the Diocese of St Albans would have brought him new understandings and a willingness to step back from precipitated acts against gay clergy. In neither of these cases did he find himself in a position where he had no ability to exercise his own judgement. Indeed in the more recent he could simply have stepped down from his acting position and returned to his retirement. He chose not to. We cannot allow him to hide behind the Archbishop of York. This is Bishop Inwood's act and be has to own it.

Posted by: Commentator on Monday, 4 August 2014 at 9:33am BST
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