Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Jeremy Timm "PTO to be withdrawn"

Jeremy Timm, National Coordinator at Changing Attitude, is to have his ‘Permission to Officiate’ withdrawn by the Archbishop of York. Jeremy writes that:

Following a meeting with the Archbishop on July 17th, I have been living with an ultimatum which I was then presented with. I have been in a civil partnership with Mike, since 2009, and we have been discussing commuting this to marriage for some time. I was told that although my ministry was much valued, if we change our status to being married then my PTO would be withdrawn with immediate effect. I was faced with choosing between marriage or ministry. …

I pointed out that if he were to withdraw my PTO then I would feel I had little choice but to continue my journey of faith outside the Church of England as all those things I explore with the churches such as welcome, encouragement, the recognition of gifts and ministries, growth and potential suddenly have no real meaning for me.

Jeremy’s full statement is published by Changing Attitude here.

Posted by Simon Kershaw on Tuesday, 11 August 2015 at 8:02am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

¨I have always replied that my journey has been rooted and steeped in the Anglican tradition which is my tradition and I wanted to remain there, despite the injustice and hypocrisy I see for LGBTI folk. Now, I stand on the threshold of leaving, and joining the ranks of all those who feel they no longer have a place in the church.¨JT

Hospitality and religious growth at all levels of Church life are only for some, not for all of God's children it seems. The Archbishop of York, ought remember how life-saving/spiritually expanding ENGLISH HOSPITALITY can be at the Church of England. Instead, ++John seems to have slammed the door in another ¨Gay¨ Anglican face.

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Tuesday, 11 August 2015 at 10:14am BST

Those who make the rules have to stand by them. In this case, it would seem that the rules are simply iniquitous.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 11 August 2015 at 10:26am BST

Maybe Jeremy's PCC and church community should withdraw the Archbishop's 'Permission to Officiate' at their local church.

Until local churches and PCCs insist on the right to exercise conscience, individuals will be picked off one by one, just because they want to be married before God and their community to the person they love.

I fully realise that the Archbishop is acting in this way because he believes this is right for the Church, but it is not right for Jeremy's local church, and frankly - whatever the dogmatic theory behind the Archbishop's actions - this is bullying.

I'll repeat my question, asked several times on this site: if the consciences of those who cannot accept female oversight are protected by the Church, why aren't the consciences of decent church communities and priests - who in good conscience believe they should celebrate gay and lesbian relationships and marriage, not exclude them from this institution of fidelity and care - also protected?

Why is discrimination against women resisted, and opponents accommodated, but discrimination against gay and lesbian couples institutionalised, and opponents kicked out if they don't conform?

I'm sorry, but whatever the doctrinal veneer, the word 'homophobia' comes to mind.

Shouldn't local church communities and PCCs decide - in their local circumstances - whether they want to accept, embrace, affrm and celebrate the loveliness of gay and lesbian love and sexuality?

The Church is out of step and fundamentalist on this issue. Do priests get kicked out if they deny the bible's literal account of human's ancestry, or Noah's Ark, or the Tower of Babel? Why then, should a priest be kicked out if he or she denies the literalistic (but socially contextualised) condemnation of gay and lesbian sex? And the right of people... to love?

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Tuesday, 11 August 2015 at 10:42am BST

I presume the Archbishop will plead that he is upholding the letter of the existing law, good or bad. This may be so, though I thought that being the Church of Christ is about more than just that.

What is the next step to be? Requiring lesbian and gay ordinands to take vows of celibacy as a condition of ordination? That ought to be a joke, but it isn't. On the present showing our leaders will try any tactic in order to allow homophobes to rest cosily in their prejudices. What matter if the cost of that is faithful Anglicans deciding with grief that they must leave their Church, or remain having lost the respect and affection they once had for it?

The late Dean Colin Slee remarked that during his ordained ministry the Church of England had become a much nastier place, and he was not alone in his conviction. (Why it should have happened is a question worth asking.)

Posted by: Barry on Tuesday, 11 August 2015 at 10:46am BST

this isn't even about rules. The pastoral statement applies to clergy, not to lay people. Licensed lay ministers are a grey area, but how they are being treated is entirely at the discretion of their bishop.

And even for clergy, there is the "rule" that they must not get married, but no-one has ever stipulated the consequences that follow if someone does get married.
Jeremy Pemberton was told by Bishop Inwood that one of the options had been "to do nothing".

There was no reason why the Archbishop *had* to act as he did.
Let's not let him off that easily.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 11 August 2015 at 10:59am BST

Is this just because he is getting married, or is it because he is also the National Coordinator at Changing Attitude? (His predecessor was awarded the MBE, but was refused a licence / PTO as a priest, I believe.)

The leader of one pressure group, Reform, is made a bishop. The leader of another cannot even be a lay reader.

It seems that "all have an honoured place" in the Church of England, but some are more honoured than others!

Posted by: Iain Baxter on Tuesday, 11 August 2015 at 11:00am BST

There is no specific mention of authorised, licensed or whatever lay ministers in the House of Bishops' Pastoral Guidance on same sex marriage. Only clergy are mentioned. The removal of Jeremy's PTO on marrage must, therefore, have been applied under whatever rules apply to PTO.

Posted by: M Hancock on Tuesday, 11 August 2015 at 11:27am BST

Blackmail from an *Archbishop*?! Shame, SHAME! Kyrie eleison, Lord Jesus REFORM Your Church!!!

God bless and protect your servant Jeremy, and all who minister---and LOVE---w/ *integrity*.

Posted by: JCF on Tuesday, 11 August 2015 at 11:40am BST

Turning to the impact on the secular world...

It sends out a terrible message about the Church's discrimination against gay and lesbian people and their different treatment. The bible-quoting all means nothing to ordinary, reasonable people in our secular society. Whether it intends to or not, the Church endorses those who are homophobic. It signals, yes, we should treat them differently. It signals a kind of disapproval that haters take as endorsement. And those who are not homophobic, it is clearly alienating - especially the younger generation.

The Church has historically assumed a kind of entitlement and superiority on moral issues. It has expected secular society to respect and be led and look up to its authority on moral issues.

Unfortunately - in an age when more and more people have abandoned churchgoing - there is a haemorrhage of respect for the Church because of this perceived homophobia, and the secular world has taken the lead and led the vanguard against discrimination.

Even within the Church, most church members have now followed the secular lead, and affirm the gay and lesbian relationships of their relatives and friends.

Some of our church leaders still seem to assume an entitlement, but this moral intransigence cannot hold. Worse still it makes the Church seem less relevant and surrenders influence to others. This intransigence is harmful not only to decent, loving people like Jeremy, but to the credibility of the Church as a whole.

Secular thinkers and truth-seekers can only shake their heads in a sort of bemused disgust. People stop listening to the Church. They switch off. The gospel is subverted.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Tuesday, 11 August 2015 at 11:45am BST

Jeremy I am so sorry. I know that for years your parish and those grouped with it have long desired that you should be licensed either as an NSM Priest or a Reader. You already had good theological training .They approached the Bishop of Hull to this effect and they were turned down. They demeaned that he came to meet with them but he still said no.You remained faithful helping as much as you could and training in spirituality and spiritual direction. You helped many including me.
Just before he left the previous Bishop of Hull gave you this PTO and now it is being withdrawn simply because you and Mike wish to marry. You are not allowed even to do that in church but I will remember the moving service in a tent after your Civil Partnership and the delight and support of the congregation at the Eucharist the next day. Now you are being treated despicably because you wish to be married to Mike your long term partner. This action is sinful. No wonder the C of E is dying.It deserves to do so.God, however, is faithful and will ever be with you. I trust you will find a new spiritual home but our loss will be enormous

Posted by: Jean Mayland (Revd) on Tuesday, 11 August 2015 at 12:00pm BST

This is disgraceful and it makes me so angry at the archbishops of Canterbury and York who are so interested in embracing Nigeria and other homophobic bishops/people, And ignoring how lgbt Nigerians feel about their treatment!

both archbishops are doing the same thing
in England by sacrificing their lgbt members at all cost just to please the global south bishops who have clearly walked away from the Anglican Communion.

Is the Church of England now officially endorsing Civil Partnership?

Love is a Human Rights, the Church of the land must respect the law of the land.
Long live the Marriage of Jeremy Timm.

Posted by: Davis Mac-Iyalla on Tuesday, 11 August 2015 at 12:25pm BST

I agree with Susannah, PCCs should fight this. With a House of Bishops united around homophobia, and a Synod that refuses to confront this cancer, local resistance is about the only route of opposition left.

We all look at past injustices and ask ourselves "What would I have done?" Well, we needn't speculate, we're living one, in our actions, we have our answer. One day, the Church of England will look back, wring its hands, and lament cruelty of Christian homophobia. Don't be the lamented.

Posted by: James Byron on Tuesday, 11 August 2015 at 1:31pm BST

Last night I dined with a samesex couple who have been together for 25 years and felt the deep love that has sustained them in health and sickness. Bizarre that love has now become the number 1 heresy in the eyes of RC and Anglican bishops.

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Tuesday, 11 August 2015 at 1:50pm BST

Yet again an archbishop shows himself more concerned with how his decisions are received by the Yoruba than by the people of Yorkshire.

To whom do the archbishops owe their loyalty?

Are they implementing the theology of the Global South in England?

Posted by: Jeremy (not Timm, not Pemberton) on Tuesday, 11 August 2015 at 2:41pm BST

Whilst I sympathise with Jeremy's plight, the current teaching of the Church is absolutely clear on this one. Both clergy and authorised ministers of the Church are under discipline to adhere to it, so there are no grounds for complaint when one knowingly acts against what the Church's position and teaching is. How would the Church, which has an exemption in the recent marriage legislation, justify failing to practise what it preaches, which is exactly what it would amount to were Jeremy's marital status to be recognised, either locally or nationally. Clearly there are individuals in the Church who are unable to accept this, and seek to challenge it, but the Archbishop really didn't have any choice in the matter.

Posted by: Benedict on Tuesday, 11 August 2015 at 3:16pm BST

If you were a seeker, would you step foot in a church that rejects LGBT people? Me neither.

We know where this is going to end.

Posted by: IT on Tuesday, 11 August 2015 at 4:22pm BST

Absolutely disgraceful! The man should hang his head in shame. Words fail me. Should I resign as a priest in protest? Who would notice?
Perhaps I need to stay and fight from within rather than throw stones from outside....but one does feel so very impotent.

Posted by: robertellis on Tuesday, 11 August 2015 at 5:27pm BST

Unbelievable. We (TEC) have dioceses where the bishop INSISTS that gay clergy marry their partners and make the same covenant as everyone else.

I have found CoE church members to be wonderfully accepting. The leadership, however, is actually quite cruel, and that cannot possibly represent the Loving Christ in the world.

Susannah advocates activism on the part of parishes. Episcopalians in Albany, New York are robustly protesting their bishops anti marriage vote (and his stinginess on his requirement to find a path for those in his diocese seeking marriage). Plenty are crossing over to Vermont or are withholding their pledges in protest.

I thought that free exercise of conscience was one of the reasons for breaking with Rome, no? Was it really only about Henry's marriages, or was there also a spirit of Reformation? Now might be a good time to embrace the Reformation side.

Posted by: Cynthia on Tuesday, 11 August 2015 at 5:50pm BST

"We all look at past injustices and ask ourselves 'What would I have done?' Well, we needn't speculate, we're living one, in our actions, we have our answer. One day, the Church of England will look back, wring its hands, and lament cruelty of Christian homophobia. Don't be the lamented."

James Byron nails it.

Take heed, all ye who can stand or vote in the Synod-election process!

Posted by: Jeremy on Tuesday, 11 August 2015 at 6:30pm BST

Benedict, the English Synod never approved this policy on equal marriage, the House of Bishops imposed it unilaterally, and sanction's imposed without due process. Even if you agree with them, the ends don't justify the means, which are an affront to the rudiments of fundamental justice.

I hope Jeremy Timm sues York Diocese and its disgrace of an archbishop. If a fighting fund goes live, I'll gladly contribute.

Posted by: James Byron on Tuesday, 11 August 2015 at 6:35pm BST

A Church has a right to police its boundaries - it's just that, when it does it at where they currently exist - it shows it for what it is. It also shows it because it could police many other boundaries - doctrinal, for example - but chooses not to do so. So add discrimination and duplicity. Then, of course, the conscience question comes to individuals. In a State of religious freedom, which is very precious, you do not have to continue under conditions of religious unfreedom. If gay clergy withdrew their labour, by going elsewhere, it would soon change policy.

Posted by: Pluralist on Tuesday, 11 August 2015 at 6:49pm BST

I made my comment ill informed that this man was a member of the clergy. What I wrote however still applies, extending to those who have similar ministry.

Posted by: Pluralist on Tuesday, 11 August 2015 at 6:52pm BST

Benedict, the "rules" forbidding same sex marriage are explicitly for clergy and ordinands. For lay people, point 18 of the pastoral statement applies: We recognise the many reasons why couples wish their relationships to have a formal status. These include the joys of exclusive commitment and also extend to the importance of legal recognition of the relationship. To that end, civil partnership continues to be available for same sex couples. Those same sex couples who choose to marry should be welcomed into the life of the worshipping community and not be subjected to questioning about their lifestyle. Neither they nor any children they care for should be denied access to the sacraments.

There is no mention of any exception for lay people in "leadership roles", whatever that means.

Would that the Archbishop had stuck to the rules he himself made.

He only gets away with it because Reader ministry is not protected and bishops can withdraw licenses at will.

But this has no basis in the "pastoral" statement, nor is it moral.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 11 August 2015 at 7:05pm BST

Benedict, I am not sure what you mean. If the current 'teaching of the church' is Issues in Human Sexuality, it explicitly recognises the right of lay people, as Jeremy Timm is, to form committed relationships. Subsequent statements of the House of Bishops, which have neither sought nor obtained the acceptance of the wider church through General Synod or by any other means, do not constitute the teaching of the church.

I am not sure that anyone beyond the Archbishops and Church House Legal Office had much chance to contribute to the celebrated exemption from the Same-Sex Marriage Act - if there had been consultation it might have been apparent how many do not wish their church to remain a haven of discrimination.

Posted by: Neil Patterson on Tuesday, 11 August 2015 at 7:07pm BST

Benedict is incorrect. The Archbishop of York is not obliged to do what he intends to do in respect of Jeremy Timm. When discussing my case with the then Acting Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham on 8th April 2014 (four days before I got married), he advised him that there were four possible courses of action: 1. to do nothing 2. to issue a rebuke 3. to remove my PTO and 4. to cause an action to be started under the CDM.

Posted by: Jeremy Pemberton on Tuesday, 11 August 2015 at 7:49pm BST

"On the present showing our leaders will try any tactic in order to allow homophobes to rest cosily in their prejudices."

I think it's pretty fair to say that those homophobes *include* our leaders. It's another depressing day to be an Anglican.

Posted by: Fr Andrew on Tuesday, 11 August 2015 at 8:21pm BST

Barry, your comment earlier today was, for me, poignant: "What is the next step to be? Requiring lesbian and gay ordinands to take vows of celibacy as a condition of ordination?"
Such a vow is exactly what my diocesan bishop requested of me when I asked to be considered for ordination in approx 1984, thirty or more years ago. I declined and was not sponsored.

Posted by: Stephen De Silva on Tuesday, 11 August 2015 at 9:55pm BST

++Sentamu probably took the view that he had no choice in the matter. I am not convinced, and certainly as a fellow Reader I am somewhat shocked. There will be more cases like this and each will build the argument for an early explicit debate in the Tenth General Synod. Two days have already been set aside in York in July 2016 to dicuss the post Pilling Shared Conversations. The only question on members minds will be what happens next? The pressure for change is building. The Bishop of Liverpool tweeted recently that he was on his way to York for his MDR meeting with ++Sentamu. It would have been great to be a fly on the wall, as on this issue these bishops are somewhat on a different page!!

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Tuesday, 11 August 2015 at 10:12pm BST

A clear difference now seems to be emerging between the Northern and Southern English Provinces. Under the authority of John Sentamu a disciplinarian approach has hardened. In the Southern Province (thus far) the proverbial 'blind eye' has sensibly been turned towards those clergy who have also dared to convert their civil partnerships into marriage.

The Church of England is now in danger of looking very silly, hurting a lot of people and risking open clerical insurrection in some dioceses, especially London.

As I understand it, when civil partnerships were first introduced the House of Bishops fought hard against them.
The bishops, having given up on that battle, when same sex marriage was then proposed put behind the scenes pressure on the government to allow civil partnerships to continue as it had otherwise been proposed to remove/convert them altogether. This was effectively an episcopal device to maintain the fiction that clergy in civil partnerships were somehow celibate (some clergy have been forced to lie about their true relationships in order to preserve this) whilst marriage was to be forbidden to clergy as it would imply a sexual relationship.

This is about as disingenuous a position as is possible and it will not hold. Just a few more same-sex clergy having the courage to endorse their relationships in marriage will ensure that the whole matter really blows up before the incredulous eyes of a perplexed laity and public.

Posted by: Concerned Anglican on Tuesday, 11 August 2015 at 10:28pm BST

Will there be any gay people left in leadership positions in the Province of York once this process is over? It goes further than the HoB statement by extending its remit to the laity and ignores Pilling's recommendations to welcome gay people in all orders of ministry.

But to what end? The leadership keep banging on about growth, but growth amongst whom? Which section of society is so committed to discrimination against gay people that it wants to join? It's more likely to have the opposite effect, destroying any residual goodwill and leaving the cofe as a homophobic rump unable to connect with wider society due to its fanatacism about gay marriage.

Posted by: Andrew on Tuesday, 11 August 2015 at 10:51pm BST

"It's another depressing day to be an Anglican."

In your hemisphere. We're doing just fine, including in plenty of our "Global South" dioceses and provinces.

Stand up to this injustice. Finally, just do it.

I know that TEC has democratic processes, so all members are automatically more empowered than CoE laity. Nonetheless, the church is the Body of Christ and all are a part of it. Stop letting your leadership attack members of the Body. Show up. Pull the plug. Enough is enough. Jesus turned the tables of the money changers and apparently did some crazy stuff driving people out with a whip. There is a time and place for passion.

Posted by: Cynthia on Wednesday, 12 August 2015 at 1:11am BST

I guess there is a cultural incentive for the archbishop of York to commit to the process he has decided upon in this case. He is, after all, an African, and the Anglicans of his former country do not countenance Same-Sex relationships. This seems to have preempted any attempt to 'live with' difference in this area of current contention.

It might have been more loving on the part of the ABY to have considered his once-offered option of 'doing nothing'. But he has disdained to exercise that option. The Church suffers a resounding credibility loss on this issue.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 12 August 2015 at 4:56am BST

I have just looked at the notorious Valentines Day statement. I can find no reference to readers or other non ordained ministers. So what is the Archbishop's authority for his action. Or is it another display of his intolerance towards LGBT people?

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Wednesday, 12 August 2015 at 1:39pm BST

Sadly I think Canon E6 Para 3 covers these circumstances.

3. The bishop of a diocese may by notice in writing revoke summarily, and without further process, any licence granted to a reader who is not subject to Common Tenure within his diocese for any cause which appears to him to be good and reasonable, after having given the reader sufficient opportunity of showing reason to the contrary; and the notice shall notify the reader that he may, within 28 days from the date on which he receives the notice, appeal to the archbishop of the province in which that diocese is situated.

On such an appeal the archbishop may either hear the appeal himself or appoint a person holding the office of diocesan bishop or suffragan bishop in his province (otherwise than in the diocese concerned) to hear the appeal in his place; and, after hearing the appeal or, if he has appointed a bishop to hear the appeal in his place, after receiving a report in writing from that bishop, the archbishop may confirm, vary or cancel the revocation of the licence as he considers just and proper, and there shall be no appeal from the decision of the archbishop.

As the Church is not democratic and as Readers as well as clergy do take an Oath of Canonical Obedience, the elections to the next Synod are more important than ever.

Posted by: Tim N on Wednesday, 12 August 2015 at 2:39pm BST

Concerned Anglican, relying on a blind eye being turned is a large part of the problem: it offers zero security, and makes gay people constantly vulnerable to a bishop's whim and goodwill. It's corrosive, of relationships, and of everyone involved.

The church need to aim for far, far more than don't ask, don't tell. Cynthia's right. This must be fought.

Posted by: James Byron on Wednesday, 12 August 2015 at 3:10pm BST

Perhaps the Archbishop, like journalists and newspapers in August, is having "a silly season".....sadly it is too important a matter to be flippant about it
Is this the first case of a Reader having his licence removed or are their other cases that people know about? Do we have any figures yet for how many clergy in the UK have married a same sex partner?

Posted by: robertellis on Thursday, 13 August 2015 at 7:13am BST

"Do we have any figures yet for how many clergy in the UK have married a same sex partner?" Robert Ellis

A good point. And I look forward to seeing the statistics (which should be available later this year, I believe) of how many new Civil Partnerships were formed since the introduction of equal marriage. My suspicion is that the number will have collapsed to almost nothing, other than, perhaps, a handful entered into by Church of England clergy fearful of the consequences of a civil marriage.

Posted by: Laurence Cunnington on Thursday, 13 August 2015 at 8:38am BST

Those who make the rules have to stand by them.

Yes he stood by a divorced and remarried suffragan bishop now translated to Hereford and fell over himself to condone the pre marital living together of the royal couple.

The New Testament couldn't be clearer.. a bishop should have only one wife...that is be only once married, as was the case in the Apostolic Church.

Posted by: robert ian williams on Thursday, 13 August 2015 at 10:19am BST

Tim N on 12 August wrote:

"Sadly I think Canon E6 Para 3 covers these circumstances."

Actually, it doesn't. As with the case of Jeremy Pemberton, we need to be very careful in our use of "technical" terms. In the CofE there is a significant (and legal) difference between a "Licence" and a formal "Permission To Officiate" (usually abbreviated to PTO).

Canon E6 applies to *licensed* Readers. It does *not* apply to Readers who, like Jeremy T, exercise their ministry by virtue of a PTO.

As with clergy who hold licence, a revocation of the *licence* of a Reader by the diocesan bishop may be appealed to the archbishop of the province, or if the diocesan bishop be the archbishop of the province, to the archbishop of the other province.

There is no appeal process when a PTO (for a cleric or a Reader) is refused or revoked. The decision of the diocesan bishop is final. The bishop of another diocese might issue a PTO permitting ministry in her/his diocese as might the successor of the bishop of the original diocese, but PTOs are completely and absolutely within the whim of each diocesan bishop.

It sucks - yes; but it's the law .... and we all know what an ass the law can be.

Posted by: RPNewark on Thursday, 13 August 2015 at 11:55am BST

RPNewark, episcopal discretion may well be challengeable under employment law, especially if it's exercised capriciously.

Posted by: James Byron on Thursday, 13 August 2015 at 2:36pm BST

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has suggested that volunteers are 'service users' for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010, though it has yet to be tested in court. Jeremy could claim for unlawful discrimination since the HoB statement expressly did not prohibit the laity from same-sex marriage. And although church weddings are forbidden, access to all other services (in both senses of the word) are legally protected, whether the service user is a member of the congregation or a lay preacher.

Posted by: Andrew on Thursday, 13 August 2015 at 7:40pm BST

another thing that could conceivably tested is whether the punishment fits the crime.
Let's not forget that after issuing the "pastoral" statement the bishops never stipulated what the consequences of marriage would be.
From Jeremy Pemberton we know that Bishop Inwood told him he had 4 possible options, one of which was to do nothing, another was to issue a rebuke. Withdrawing PTO and then refusing a license was the harshest punishment possible, and it's by no means clear that it would be considered proportionate.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 13 August 2015 at 8:09pm BST

We, in the Provinces of the world-wide Anglican Communion,. are waiting for some sort of resolution of this particular situation - where a Lay Reader has been deprived of a P.T.O. which was available while he lived in an acknowledged Same-Sex Partnership under the law a Civil Partnership, but which is summarily withdrawn when the Reader commutes his Same-Sex relationship to that of Equal Marriage, under the Law.

His relationship to his partner has, in fact, remained unchanged. It is only the title of that relationship. Where is the logic in the ABY's un-pastoral treatment of a loyal Layman of the Church?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 14 August 2015 at 1:35am BST

Concerned Anglican - disingenuous, unfair, perplexing. Yes.
However it cannot be assumed as a 'fiction' that clergy in civil partnerships are somehow celibate. As people of integrity, clergy MUST be assumed to adhere to the discipline of the CofE in this matter and be treated as such. It may be a ridiculous situation, I grant, but there are examples of clergy who publicly acknowledge their celibacy (Jeffery John, Richard Coles). The point is that all those in civil partnerships should be treated fairly, and the powers that be held to account why none are bishops.
Another point worth making, is that adhering to the current position does at least offer protection to clergy in CPs. If they are subject to complaints, or to homophobic treatment from their Bishop, then they do have, in theory, grounds for complaint against any unfair treatment! Keeping to the (silly) law offers the protection of the law.
Re Susannah and Cynthia - I suspect the time for 'action' re clergy wishing to convert CPs into marriage will come if they get fed up of any further delay in the so-called conversations (I'd give it a year at most) or if the result of the conversations is not tenable.

Posted by: Neil on Friday, 14 August 2015 at 8:44am BST

"Keeping to the (silly) law offers the protection of the law."

As shown by the waves of hatred that broke against Jeffrey John until he was forced to resign as Bishop of Reading, no, it doesn't, because there's no protection in injustice.

Lesbian, gay and bisexual clergy should not be expected to obey homophobic laws, anymore than African-Americans should've been expected to submit to segregation.

Posted by: James Byron on Friday, 14 August 2015 at 12:49pm BST

Yes - Jeffrey John WAS and is still bring treated badly. This is what needs challenging given he abides by the discipline of the CofE. I'm not saying people SHOULD abide by this discipline - merely that if they do not then they are vulnerable to whimsical treatment. Whereas if they are in a CP they must expect and demand full and equal treatment.

Posted by: Neil on Friday, 14 August 2015 at 3:14pm BST

All of this is, of course, a result of the exaltation of marriage to a place it not ought to have gone. Article XXXII has a much more sane and sober approach, and it applies to clergy and laity alike.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Sunday, 16 August 2015 at 7:39pm BST
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