Comments: Married clergyman banned in Winchester

The real crux is: when will a local church defy the episcopal 'imperium' and have the courage to say, "Well we're asking him to preside at our services anyway?"

For example, if an open-minded parish and church like St John's Waterloo invited Jeremy to preside at their services, on grounds of conscience, what could the Church of England hierarchy do? Close down a whole Christian community?

It saddens me, that brave, honest, and decent individuals are being picked off, one by one, (as I predicted, incidentally, on this forum).

It needs a PCC, and its church community, to take a stand and insist - on conscience grounds - that on their watch, in their community, married gay clergymen and lay members are totally welcomed, affirmed, and mandated to preside at their services.

Then you would have a proper stand off: because basically, how can the episcopal top-down authority impose conscience on a community that in good and decent conscience 'calls' them out on the fantasy that there is one, single, view on gay sexuality in the Church of England?

I believe that - while individuals themselves, like Jeremy Pemberton and Canon Davies have been brave and decent - there is a failure of courage among liberal-minded PCCs and churches to truly stand side by side, and stand on the grounds of conscience.

The situation is farcical...

Church of England spokesperson after spokesperson: "This is what the Church of England believes..."

No it isn't.

The Church is divided down the middle. One group (led by the episcopacy) is trying to impose uniformity on another group, who in all good conscience disagree. Local churches do not all want to send out the terrible message to their local communities that the Church discriminates on grounds of sexuality.

But until PCCs and local priests actually act to stand side by side with the isolated individuals, saying "This is terrible" is so much hand-wringing.

PCC's and local churches should decide what their conscience position is, and act accordingly. In effect they should operate their own PTOs.

Because what can the bishops practically do, if enough local church communities align? Close down churches? They couldn't - politically, practically, or on principle. They would have to call in the police to remove 'heretics'. It would lead to crisis.

And frankly, crisis is what is needed - to single to the wider public, actually discrimination is NOT what the Church 'believes'. It is what the bishops are trying to enforce. But we have conscience of our own, and it is good and decent and understandable to the public as a whole.

Individuals should not just continue to be picked off, defenceless, alone.

Conscience sometimes demands courage. Think of Rosa Parks.

This abuse and injustice has gone on long enough. It is a disgrace.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Saturday, 12 December 2015 at 10:32am GMT

Incidentally, the concept of 'guided conversations' while long-serving priests are being effectively fired for their sexual orientation and decent lives is negotiating with a gun held to your head.

PCCs should become the Rosa Parkes of the Church of England at this point, and set the agenda for their own local communities, not have the agenda set for them.

As a transsexual woman of faith, I haven't a clue whether the episcopacy regards my relationship with my partner as gay, heterosexual, lesbian or what? And whether I could marry and still be a priest (not that I personally want to be a priest)?

Sexuality and gender are fluid, diverse, and not at all (in reality) defined by Bronze Age and 1st Century binary stereotypes.

But although I often feel welcomed by individual churches and people in the pews (for example by St Johns Waterloo who showed me immense love), I feel marginalised institutionally by an organisation that portrays my tender love and intimate care as something 'less good' than the ideal, and rendering my relationship incapable of divine and community blessing in marriage.

Churches that allow individuals to be marginalised by the institution - even wonderful churches with LGBT members and priests and loads of love - are frankly not as yet stepping up and making declarations of conscience, in defiance of a top-down enforcement of uniformity which is a shame and a disgrace on the Church as a whole.

So to re-iterate: local PCCs need to have their own internal guided conversations, reflecting on their whole local community and the message they want to send out, and what - in good conscience - is right and just. And instead of individuals being 'picked off' and individuals like myself feeling marginalised by the institution, there surely has come a time for standing up as a local community and local church, and saying: "This is who we are. This is what we believe. And we will celebrate LGBT relationships and marriages, and we will welcome priests to preside, regardless of a sham uniformity that the bishops try to enforce."

That uniformity doesn't exist. It is emperor's clothes.

We are seeing the priests of good conscience, who will stand by their partners, even if they are fired.

Where are the PCCs and churches who will stand by the persecuted priests, and the LGBT population, and demonstrate that their local churches and church communities insist on their right to conscience?

At present I often feel personally welcomed and loved on an individual basis in some churches, but I feel desperately devalued by the 'Church as Institution' and - like the wider public and its greater open-mindedness and generosity - I feel aghast at actions like the one against Jeremy Davies. It is an attack on *all* of us.

There is only one way forward, in respect of good conscience, and that is 'unity in diversity' in the Church of England.

PCCs saying, "We will exercise a different conscience, not an imposed conscience" should be demonstrating the diversity that 'de facto' needs to be asserted if the general public are to respect our Church and its gospel message of grace.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Saturday, 12 December 2015 at 11:30am GMT

Thanks to our father below that the Diocese of Winchester has acted with such commendable promptness in removing a long-serving, faithful, and committed priest’s permission to officiate because he entered into a civil marriage with his gay partner. Had it not done so the diocese would have been plunged into a sink of sinfulness, an abyss of iniquity, from which it might have taken decades, even centuries, to recover; the moral fabric of Winchester would never have been the same. When it is recalled that in civil partnership, they could with the Church’s blessing, have shared in a civil ceremony that expressed their loving, committed and faithful relationship to each other, it is inexplicable that they should instead have decided to share in a civil ceremony that expressed their loving, committed and faithful relationship to each other. Words fail me. Let us be thankful that the Diocese stuck to its Christian principles and did not allow modern, secular, liberal so-called values, such as love, justice and welcome, to deter them from what they knew to be entirely in line with the gospel that Jesus preached.
I do, though, wonder if calling it ‘The House of Bishops’ Pastoral Guidance’ isn’t a little too mealy-mouthed. Should it be renamed more robustly: ‘The Diktats of the Canterbury Inquisition’ perhaps?

Posted by David Exham at Saturday, 12 December 2015 at 12:26pm GMT

Agreed about local resistance, Susannah, but I'd go further: since the bishops are using coercion against LGB people, their force should be met with lawful and peaceful coercion.

Every church that rejects a traditional position should withhold its parish share in full, call on its members to withhold all personal donations, and refuse to assist with any non-essential diocesan business (funerals, safeguarding etc excepted) until this discrimination stops.

Further, protests at every single public appearance by bishops, and bishops confronted in private conversation whenever they initiate it.

This treatment continues until the diocesan bishop states plainly that he or she is suspending the discipline of 'Issues ...' and of the absurdly misnamed Pastoral Guidance, and won't reimpose it.

A few months of being impoverished, shunned and denounced by half their dioceses, and the bishops will be as desperate to end this as the gay people they're happy to persecute, whether directly, or by the silent complicity of inaction.

Posted by James Byron at Saturday, 12 December 2015 at 2:01pm GMT

What a sad post to read so early in the morning - 25 years of faithful service by Jeremy Davies rewarded with denial of permission to officiate. It's easy for church authorities to pick off "disobedient" clergy one by one, though I can't think how they square their actions with their consciences. Susannah Clark is correct: there need to be further acts of "ecclesiastical disobedience" throughout the church to support the courageous few clergy and save the church from the authorities who seem to have missed the message of the Gospel.

Posted by June Butler at Saturday, 12 December 2015 at 3:40pm GMT

Under Canon C8 (2), would Canon Davies be able to officiate "for a period of not more than seven days within three months without reference to the bishop or other Ordinary" without a PTO? Is it possible that his University (Cambridge) would give him a licence to allow him to preach throughout England (see the same canon); or do the rules of the cathedral chapter allow the Chapter, if they want to, to make him some kind of a super-numerary member of Chapter, which would also allow him to officiate under that same canon?

Posted by Russell Dewhurst at Saturday, 12 December 2015 at 3:55pm GMT

"Canon Jeremy Davies has been informed that his application has been unsuccessful."

What a mealy-mouthed, cowardly turn of phrase. If the Diocese of Winchester wants to take this kind of action, it ought to be honest enough to say "The Diocese of Winchester has denied his application," rather than relying on the passive voice, with its implication that this decision was made by some nameless body floating around in the ether.

Posted by dr.primrose at Saturday, 12 December 2015 at 4:00pm GMT

This is very bad news for us at St Stephen's Bournemouth where we are in our fourth year without a priest.

The congregation has greatly benefitted from Canon Jeremy Davies's regular visits to celebrate and preach. It has been a joy to have his thoughtful sermons when we are passing through a difficult time.

By his willingness to come he has shown that we are not forgotten in this beleaguered corner of the Winchester Diocese.

Posted by Leigh Hatts at Saturday, 12 December 2015 at 4:00pm GMT

The article quoted says that the Diocese of Winchester objected. Surely, this is untrue. Only +Tim Dakin objected.

Posted by Penelope at Saturday, 12 December 2015 at 5:04pm GMT

The key thing is to hold all English diocesan bishops to account for the actions of any one.

They choose to hide their personal opinions behind "collegiality," well fine: they gave the Pastoral Guidance their unanimous consent, they all pay lip service to the homophobic 'Issues ...' and in consequence, they're all guilty. When a group gives a wrong their unanimous consent, collective guilt isn't merely just, it's mandatory.

Any English diocesan who doesn't dissent or resign is culpable. They're at the moral level of segregationists, and should be treated as such.

Posted by James Byron at Saturday, 12 December 2015 at 5:09pm GMT

Susanah is right. Those of you who oppose this in England must stand up and DO something. Announce your resistance and act on it. Waste no more time with these conversations while lives are being destroyed and the church in England becomes a useless and unjust gaggle of bigots in robes.

If you do nothing then nothing will change and YOU share responsibility for what happens. Wringing your hands and saying "What a shame" isn't enough. Let's see some parishes make announcements of their disobedience, see some priests and bishops speak out and promise to act with Justice.

Read Dr. King's letter from the Birmingham (Alabama) jail. Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest. Then actually do something now.

Otherwise American Episcopalians are right in assuming that you all agree with and support bigotry and homophobia. Prove us wrong in this assumption. DO SOMETHING.

Posted by Dennis at Saturday, 12 December 2015 at 5:16pm GMT

Remember Jeremy Davies from way back in the late 1980's when he was a leading light in organising an amazing day-long drama of a Way of the Cross in Salisbury, assisted by many citizens, schoolchildren and students from Salisbury & Wells Theological College, of which I was one. I'm not sure a church which treats its clergy in this way is worth saving!

Posted by Stephen Morgan at Saturday, 12 December 2015 at 5:31pm GMT

I note that the information in the Salisbury Journal was given by a spokesperson for the diocese and Bishop Tim’s name seems to have been carefully kept out of the report. The spokesperson said “Canon Jeremy Davies has been informed that his application has been unsuccessful.” This is a very strange way of putting it – his application has been refused is more accurate.

Jeremy has a permission to officiate in the Diocese of Salisbury, given to him by the Rt Revd Nicholas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury, presumably. Jeremy was licensed in his post as Canon Theologian at the cathedral by David Stancliffe, the previous bishop, and contracted a civil partnership during his tenure.

The news about Jeremy Davies demonstrates clearly the chaos in the House of Bishops stance towards their own Pastoral Guidance concerning clergy and same sex marriages. The Bishop of Winchester and the acting bishop of Southwell and Nottingham (in the case of Jeremy Pemberton) have applied it punitively. The bishops of Lincoln (Jeremy Pemberton again) and Edmonton (in the case of Andrew Foreshew-Cain) have all acted leniently, or not at all in the case of Salisbury.

There has been a slow change in Church of England attitudes towards her gay and lesbian clergy from the 1960s when I first became aware in the Diocese of Southwark that the Church ordained many gay, partnered, sexually active men. It’s now become a post code lottery, as to whether you are likely to be accepted or rejected for ordination, treated with respect by your bishop following ordination if you are lesbian or gay, if you are in a relationship or if you are in a civil partnership or married.

Posted by Colin Coward at Saturday, 12 December 2015 at 6:02pm GMT

I'm sorry, but Father Davies, just like Jeremy Pemberton, would have been well aware of the Church's position on this, agree with it or not, so the claims made on this thread are bordering on ludicrous. As the judgement on Fr Pemberton suggested, we cannot pick and choose as if from an a la carte menu what our response to particular aspects of church policy/teaching will be.

Posted by Benedict at Saturday, 12 December 2015 at 6:32pm GMT

"As the judgement on Fr Pemberton" Benedict

Jeremy never uses the title 'Father'.

Posted by Laurence Cunnington at Saturday, 12 December 2015 at 6:52pm GMT

Benedict: "the church's position on this..."

No, that is the position of the largely self-appointed and self-replicating leadership of the Church of England who has tried to quash any opposition. It can and will change, and then all of the public official apologies for this homophobia will regret this sort of thing.

I assume that when that stage is reached you will be happy to remind yourself that you know the position of the church on this sort of bigotry. One wouldn't want to "pick and choose" what to accept once marriage equality is finally recognized and allowed in the CofE.

Posted by Dennis at Saturday, 12 December 2015 at 7:03pm GMT

Did Tim Dakin have any involvement in the removal of Jeremy's Permission to Officiate? Given that Tim is on the committee of the Evangelical group in synod that stated that "appropriate sacramental discipline should apply to those who choose to enter into any sexual relationship other than within marriage between a man and a woman", his Church Army role, his position until recently as General Secretary of CMS, and his former position as vice-chair of Fulcrum, I imagine he would hold the position of the half of the Church that regards gay sex as a sin - a position implicitly mandated by all bishops in their collegiate requirement that gay and lesbian priests must remain celibate.

This begs the question: how is the (more than) half of the Church that accepts gay sex represented, and their consciences protected? And why should a bishop who has never been an incumbent impose his conscience on the consciences of working parishes, priests and communities that don't share his discrimination that lesbian and gay sexuality are sinful, compared to the orthodox and heterosexual orientation of bishops,(assuming their orientation is consistent with the conditions they impose on others)?

In trying to impose uniformity where no uniformity exists, I suppose Tim would be being consistent, at least, with the support he voiced in Synod for The Covenant.

Frankly, if Tim has been involved with denying the PTO to Jeremy, I can't help feeling that Jeremy would have faced a jury that had already decided the verdict, by force of partisan dogma.

Would it be unfair for me to assume this? I stand to be corrected.

Why should one half of the Church impose its conscientious view on the other half of the Church? Why should someone who has served the Church for decades suddenly become surplus to requirements? How is that not discrimination? When will the precious fidelity and commitment of gay and lesbian people be valued as much as other people's tender love? When, please, will we have the maturity and generosity and kindness to accept 'unity in diversity'?

People's conscience - and the decency of their relationships and who they essentially are as human beings - is being trodden underfoot by top-down enforcement of one partisan view... and whatever the niceties (and I don't doubt the Bishop is a nice person, people have said he is), the process is frankly harsh and brutal.

It comes across as dogma, less clearly as grace and love.

There is injustice and sexual prejudice embedded in the Church of England, and it is subverting the Church's credibility in the nation.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Saturday, 12 December 2015 at 7:05pm GMT

Isn't it time that someone organised a protest around the January primates' gathering?

The Church of England of England needs to be put on notice that England doesn't stand for this.

Likewise the primates need to understand that the local English context requires change.

Posted by Jeremy at Saturday, 12 December 2015 at 7:08pm GMT


If the Church protects opponents of female ordination on conscience grounds, why can't it protect conscience on the grounds of human sexuality too?

I am in favour of the protection of conscience in both categories.

It could be argued that creating islands of protection for opponents of female ordination is itself a bit 'a la carte'.

The point is, the majority of church members today have no problem with gay and lesbian sex. The church is divided down the middle. There is no uniform view.

Being legalistic doesn't really address the spirit of the situation, which is driven not by belligerence but by the consciences and views of millions of people, whose consciences deserve just as much protection as the opponents of women priests.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Saturday, 12 December 2015 at 7:24pm GMT

Leigh Hatts then you know what you have to do? Just carry on inviting Canon Davies to minister to you. Let the Bishop send the police to refuse him entry if he wishes.

Posted by Chris A at Saturday, 12 December 2015 at 9:46pm GMT

Benedict, the "Pastoral Guidance" from the Bishops does not constitute the rules of the Church of England. It is a document practically scrawled on the back of an envelope without any due process. Justin Welby has said that it is up to each Diocesan Bishop how they apply discipline in these instances, so it is not even clear that Bishops themselves know what the rules in response to these sorts of situations should be.

Posted by David Beadle at Saturday, 12 December 2015 at 11:36pm GMT

So hateful. Is this really the Good News? Is this loving our neighbor?

So sad to see this extreme and spiteful homophobic behaviour from CoE, yet again. The bishops who are displaying this hateful behaviour are considered a "focus of unity?" Really?

As long as "unity" is a rallying cry, CoE members are accomplices if you do nothing about it. Yes, accomplices. Your leadership takes silence as leverage to declare "unity" around the homophobic positions and bishops.

Posted by Cynthia at Sunday, 13 December 2015 at 6:56am GMT

Jesus wept.

Posted by JCF at Sunday, 13 December 2015 at 9:36am GMT

"The point is, the majority of church members today have no problem with gay and lesbian sex."

Susannah, if I have a problem w/ this phrase, it's because I no more accept "gay and lesbian sex", than I accept "heterosexual sex".

I accept, nay CELEBRATE, ***loving spousal relationships*** between a couple. However intimacy (including physical intimacy) is expressed between two spouses, is simply none of my (or anyone else's, Bishop!) business.

Posted by JCF at Sunday, 13 December 2015 at 9:57am GMT

I am deeply respectful of and in solidarity with the pain and frustration so may are feeling in response to the CofE's insistence on the maintenance of dated, dusty, out-of-step rules and opinions. I deplore the intrusiveness into loving, committed relationships. But, my dear brothers and sisters, it is not just the gay community who are discriminated against. I am a 52 year old heterosexual ordinand in his third year of training. When I went to BAP I presented as a single (divorced over 10 years ago) man, whose former partner is still alive (now a good and supportive friend). At the time I had no intention of remarrying. However, over the last year I have developed a new, loving, strong and stable friendship with a wonderful woman. We have come to recognise that we share a deep love. We want to marry. The public declaration of our love for one another is important to us as is the institution of marriage itself. BUT, due to a similar set of absurd, inhumane rulings, should I marry before my ordination in July, the Bishop will not ordain me. Should I marry after I am Deaconed I will not be Priested. But if I marry after I am Priested in 21 months time, there is nothing anyone can do about it. And to add to the absurdity I am told that should we choose to live together unmarried after I am Deaconed, despite the possibility of a few raised eyebrows in the parish, I can expect no censure.
I really struggle to understand the Church's continued insistence on weighing in so heavily on those, both gay and straight, who wish to serve her, supported by loving, committed relationships.

Posted by Simon Tarlton at Sunday, 13 December 2015 at 2:43pm GMT

All of this adds further to the woes of the Diocese of Winchester:
Extremely poor judgement in the handling of charges of abuse in Jersey, which led to the effective annexation of the Channel Islands by Canterbury. The Diocese of Winchester is almost financially bankrupt. Morale is low and now this.

What happened in London over the Fr. Andrew Cain case where he married his male partner would have been a better way to proceed - a good old C of E muddling through. Nobody objected to Fr. Cain's new marital position (not even conservative evangelicals) and so after a year no recriminations or suspension of licences occurred. I don't often cite London as a good way to do things but Winchester would have done far better to lay off Jeremy Davies and just leave him alone. What has happened will do nobody any good, not the hierarchy, the clergy, the wider Church or the Gospel of love that we supposedly preach.

How much longer can the House of Bishops (as they are all tarred with the brush of homophobia now) go on pretending that civil partnerships are somehow 'celibate and all right' but marriages are not?

Posted by Concerned Anglican at Sunday, 13 December 2015 at 3:14pm GMT

Benedict---the same sort of argument could have been used to say that Rosa Parks (or anyone else in 1960s USA who sat in the wrong part of the bus) should have expected what was coming to her.

The bishops were not unanimous in supporting the "pastoral statement" because we know that a good number of them abstained. And also that there are widely differing applications of the Pastoral Statement--as made explicit by Bishop Inwood's evidence to the Pemberton tribunal.

As already stated, those of us who witnessed Jeremy's ministry in Salisbury, including the Way of the Cross, will know how Bishop Dakin's action damages the Church.

Posted by Turbulent Priest at Sunday, 13 December 2015 at 6:56pm GMT

Are we in fact seeing a consistency here? Licences and PTOs are not being revoked, but new licences and PTOs are not being given?

That seems to be the case for both Jeremys -- JP in Lincoln and in Southwell; JD in Salisbury and Winchester.

Has anyone lost a PTO, rather than being refused a new one? (Licences are not so easy to remove, I think.) A counter-example will readily disprove this hypothesis.

I don't suggest that this is a good state of affairs, though if it's the case it clearly could be worse (if PTOs were being removed, not just refused). I'm just trying to see if there is in fact some consistent behaviour being applied by the bishops; a line that they might have agreed among themselves.

Posted by Simon Kershaw at Sunday, 13 December 2015 at 7:44pm GMT

Simon - yes.
Much of the stuff on TA ignores the fact that Licences and PTOs are different in kind.

A priest with an existing licence (or benefit of freehold) can *only* have that licence removed via CDM or EJM proceedings.

An existing PTO can be removed without appeal (though not without communication with the priest involved - but there is no *right* to hold PTO).

A new licence or PTO does not have to be given (and, for instance, can be withheld from a priest who refuses to undergo a DBS check)

No doubt that won't satisfy those who are contributing to this thread, but it is a statement of where we are.

Posted by Pete Broadbent at Sunday, 13 December 2015 at 8:59pm GMT

All of this hullaballoo after the Archbishop of Canterbury's frank talk with the Press about his positive reaction to the possibility of a Gay child's Same-Sex Civil Marriage!

Really, our Mother Church of England must begin to get its corporate act together - or lose the respect and confidence of the rest of us in the Anglican Communion. ('Mercy before Judgement').

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 13 December 2015 at 9:10pm GMT

Bishop Pete: It is interesting that you should use refusing a DBS check as another example of a reason for which a PTO can be refused. Everyone trained in child protection knows that the reason for being especially careful about people who refuse a check is that they may well have something to hide.

The analogy is especially hurtful, isn't it. I'll leave others to join the dots. And because in the case of a DBS check a bishop would presumably have no choice in the matter, it isn't even an accurate one.

Posted by Turbulent Priest at Sunday, 13 December 2015 at 10:13pm GMT

Simon K
Yes, we have seen an existing PtO revoked, in Southwell & Nottingham.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Sunday, 13 December 2015 at 10:17pm GMT

The DBS check thing is an example. I intend no parallel or inference. It happens to be one of the reasons why application for PTO has been refused of late. Umbrage and offence-taking doesn't help sensible discussion, if I may say so. Another reason to withhold PTO would be if they hadn't got the right to work in the UK. Example is not analogy.

Posted by Pete Broadbent at Sunday, 13 December 2015 at 11:17pm GMT

"DBS check"? queried the Ignorant Yank.

Posted by JCF at Monday, 14 December 2015 at 5:19am GMT

One wonders whether the situation will be any different in February, after the primates have gathered and (one may hope) agreed to disagree about such things.

Posted by Jeremy at Monday, 14 December 2015 at 5:38am GMT

" Umbrage and offence-taking doesn't help sensible discussion, if I may say so."

You can say so, but this is a moral issue and CoE is horrifically on the wrong side. It looks very much that "focus of unity" means "unity" around bigotry and homophobic discrimination that would be illegal and intolerable in the secular world. Further, it seems that this is very much about kowtowing to human rights abusers in Africa - particularly Uganda, Nigeria, and Kenya. When is that OK? Why would that be OK? Why wouldn't people be offended?

As a gay person I take offense and umbrage. On behalf of bullied and suicidal LGBTQ teens I take offense and umbrage. On behalf of homeless LGBTQ teens, thrown out of their "religious" homes and accounting for a large percentage of homeless youth, I take offense and umbrage. On behalf of the gay people of all ages who face discrimination, isolation, hate, and depression, I take offense and umbrage.

It would be so much better if CoE dealt with this as the moral problem that it is and grew a spine to finally proclaim the Good News to all people. Right now CoE is all about good news for bigots, they get to keep indulging their bigotry. Hallelujah!

The Incarnation brought the light to all. The longer CoE tries to obscure that light, the worse it will be. There is no clever abstract, legalistic, bureaucratic solution. There is only the Light of the World who came for ALL.

Posted by Cynthia at Monday, 14 December 2015 at 6:45am GMT

JCF see here

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Monday, 14 December 2015 at 8:03am GMT

Yes, we have seen an existing PtO revoked, in Southwell & Nottingham.
Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 13 December 2015 at 10:17pm GMT

... and also, though for a Reader - and yet another Jeremy, in York.

Posted by RPNewark at Monday, 14 December 2015 at 8:35am GMT

+PB: I didn't take umbrage at your DBS example. Merely pointing out something about the example which may have revealed a subconscious train of thought. I do take umbrage at the treatment of the two Jeremys but that's different.

As for the right to work example, that's again an issue outside a bishop's control.

Deselecting people you don't agree with is not a constructive approach.

Posted by Turbulent priest at Monday, 14 December 2015 at 8:42am GMT

Many thanks to Bishop of Willesden for reminding us of the difference between PTO and a licence/benefice in these circumstances.

A licensed priest whose licence is revoked has the opportunity to put his case in an ecclesiastical court or tribunal and hear the arguments against him. But, it is said, retired priests and others who rely on PTO can have their right to exercise their ministry taken from them without any due process.

It seems wrong to me that priests who have given themselves "wholly to their office", as the Ordinal has it, in a lifetime's service, should have a presumed mark against them which they cannot challenge in any official forum. Even if denied PTO, they are still affected by disabilities, e.g. they cannot regularly minister in public worship even in a non-Anglican church in a diocese where they do not have PTO, unlike a lay person; and are still subject to discipline for "conduct unbecoming". Am I wrong in thinking that a priest denied PTO has no redress? Can a Bishop act in this matter entirely on his or her whim?

If the policy of some bishops were to act against priests with PTO, but not licensed and beneficed priests, as has been suggested in this thread, it would paint a rather unpleasant picture. It would seem inconsistent and arbitrary. Furthermore, it would suggest that those bishops are happy to proceed against clergy unable to defend themselves in a legal forum, but are not willing to act in the same way where their actions are open to review or challenge, i.e. against licensed and beneficed clergy.

Posted by Russell Dewhurst at Monday, 14 December 2015 at 10:26am GMT

"Umbrage and offence-taking doesn't help sensible discussion, if I may say so."

But the same might have been said by segregationists in the States in the 1960s. Or by the Soviet politburo during the dissident movements in the 1970s.

The discrimination of gay and lesbian Christians - and LGBT people generally - by the Church of England is extraordinarily offensive, and diminishes people's lives.

Discussion takes place here on Thinking Anglicans. Contributors can be both offended *and* reasonable... persuasive, passionate, logical, heart-felt.

I believe there is plenty of grace in these columns. And patience, and long-suffering.

Should justice be gagged, and the top-down dictats of the bishops just be 'nicely' accepted?

Should Martin Luther King have shut up, and just let the 'nice' people in charge decide when and if there would be justice?

Bishops don't own our consciences - and if there was more grace, they might defend to the death the right of churches and priests to exercise their own sincere conscience *within* the Church.

Unity in diversity is not such a hard concept to get one's head around...

...unless one is terrified that other provinces will throw all their toys out of the pram.

(Incidentally, Pete, I appreciate your posts here, but I'd like to know why you think people here are being belligerent about the treatment of LGBT people in the Church of England... was MLK being belligerent... 'taking umbrage'... when he stood up for justice in the US?)

Posted by Susannah Clark at Monday, 14 December 2015 at 10:51am GMT

"Much of the stuff on TA ignores the fact that Licences and PTOs are different in kind."

Pete: that may be the case but the frustration is that bishops seem to ignore the fact that PtO has been given in Salisbury but denied in Winchester. Can I invite you to comment on that? It does rather suggest the House of Bishops can't quite agree on this issue doesn't it?

Posted by Andrew Godsall at Monday, 14 December 2015 at 11:47am GMT

I didn't say "belligerent". I think TA is a useful forum, but the single issue focus does tend to mean that nearly all comments are read through an LGBTI lens.

There is a major question (already being discussed on social networks and being aired in the Courts here in the UK) about whether "being offended" constitutes a matter about which people should complain or seek to get redress of grievance. I think we need to be a bit more robust in our debates. I also think that there is a tendency constantly to impugn the motives of those with whom we disagree, which simply isn't constructive. Of course, people are free to impugn away, but it doesn't help the debate very much.

In relation to unity in diversity, that only works if you accept the premise that a core unity is possible in (for example) the Anglican Communion as it currently exists. Unity in diversity is only possible if we can agree a core around which to be unified (which I don't see at present).

Right - off to the House of Bishops! Do pray for us, even if you don't agree with us.

Posted by Pete Broadbent at Monday, 14 December 2015 at 12:17pm GMT

I think Russell Dewhurst has hit the nail on the head. It is precisely knowing the difference between PTOs and Licenses, as well as new Licences and those already granted that makes the treatment of clergy so deplorable.

Bishops are preventing priests from exercising ministry only where they believe they cannot be challenged, while they are too afraid of losing their case in ecclesiastical courts - so uncertain are they of their legal basis for wrecking the lives, careers and Godly ministries of priests in same-sex marriages.

Posted by David Beadle at Monday, 14 December 2015 at 1:45pm GMT

Jeremy is one of the most gifted preachers I have ever encountered - I still remember his sermon at the Glastonbury Pilgrimage 35 years ago about Chaucer's pilgrims and today's pilgrims in air-conditioned coaches - journey of life, companions etc.

Also about 10 years ago at the Edington Festival about a church mouse and how buildings speak of holiness.

I last saw him when he preached at our cathedral in Bristol on the feast of the Assumption. Chatting afterwards he mused on the fact that he only had to travel about 3 miles from the house where he now lives and he is in Parkstone and thus back in the Diocese of Salisbury again, where he is still 'in good standing' - does priesthood, which I believe to be indelible, come and go according to geographical location?

The church which has asked him to preside has been through a very difficult time and all they want is a bit of pastoring, which the diocese, allegedly, hasn't given.

Posted by Derek Jay at Monday, 14 December 2015 at 2:11pm GMT

Pete, thanks for your reply, and no, I don't seek to impugn you personally, any more than I seek to impugn my cousin, also a bishop, who I respect highly as a decent human being.

You say: "In relation to unity in diversity, that only works if you accept the premise that a core unity is possible in (for example) the Anglican Communion as it currently exists. Unity in diversity is only possible if we can agree a core around which to be unified (which I don't see at present)."

Pete, our core unity is only, ever, in Jesus Christ - not in our uniformity of opinion. That is where 'The Covenant' got it so wrong (in its masked attempt to impose a uniform view on human sexuality). That's where the 'Bishop's Pastoral Letter' got it so wrong in threatening sanctions (now enacted) against people with different consciences to the alleged uniform position of the Church of England (a uniform position that doesn't exist).

Unity is a divine grace, imparted to us through our union in Jesus Christ. Things don't get more 'core' than that.

If an African Church community wants to preach that gay sex is sinful, so be it. I am still in union with them - and pray for their faith and lives - in Jesus Christ.

If an English (or Scottish, or Canadian, or US) church wants to totally affirm and celebrate gay and lesbian sexuality, and trans identity, so be it. I am still in union with them - and pray for their faith and lives - in Jesus Christ.

We are *one* in Christ, whether we like our bed-mates in the church or not.

It is the desire to control, to dominate, to impose uniformity... that promotes faction, separation, schism.

It is the wish to impose one person's conscience about sexuality on another person's conscience about sexuality - as 'The Covenant' sought to do - that makes difference the emphasis, rather than unity in Christ.

There is no reason at all why we cannot be Christians together in our churches, and live lives of faith according to our consciences and the communities we serve... and pray blessings on those we disagree with, but still co-exist together... without demanding and imposing a uniformity which in any case in England is a fantasy - our church is split down the middle on the issue of human sexuality.

That doesn't mean we have to literally split the Church. It means we need to seek grace to accept difference, to co-exist, and that's the real challenge: not to conform to a (false) unity around uniformity... but to seek grace, again and again, in the reality of all our differences.

It is enforcers of uniformity who tend to say 'my way or the highway' and demand separation from communion unless people submit to that uniformity. Some African provinces come to mind, but it operates closer to home too: witness the actions of the college of Bishops here in demanding a position on sexuality at odds with half its membership's views.

If you drive uniformity against people's consciences, and precious lives and service, you split groups asunder. It is a human 'unity' but it is not our true unity in Jesus Christ.

We need grace and love and generosity, not a uniformity. Unity in diversity is the obvious solution... live and let live, in Christ.

Yes, I pray for the meeting of the bishops. I pray for more openness and transparency. For more diversity of publicly expressed opinions. For clear answers to clear questions. Above all, for grace. Grace to dwell and serve and abide in Jesus Christ, grace to acknowledge uniqueness and difference, and see it as potential gift.

It's about growing up, really. Accepting difference exists. And yet *still* seeking unity in the amazing, the inclusive Christ and the eternal unity of the Trinity.

That, and that only, is the vital core.


Posted by Susannah Clark at Monday, 14 December 2015 at 5:56pm GMT

I think the thing that gets me more than anything is that there will never be any real accountability in these decisions which have been taken by the hierarchy. The trouble is that we all get tarred with the same brush....and people can shout until they are blue in the face...but this is all homophobia wrapped up in bad theology. Yesterday I was doing locum duty again in a local church here in Staffordshire. In the vestry there must have been about 40 children and teenagers choir cassocks and surplices. Each one perfectly labelled with Christian names and beautifully laundered. As usual there was not one person to wear them....they were a relic from a past age....over Sunday lunch my families only reaction was "are you surprised?" God help the House of Bishops..they certainly will need it, they are living in a bubble...but how do we burst it? Answers on a postcard please.....

Posted by Robert Ellis at Monday, 14 December 2015 at 7:28pm GMT

"There is a major question (already being discussed on social networks and being aired in the Courts here in the UK) about whether "being offended" constitutes a matter about which people should complain or seek to get redress of grievance."

Just be sure to understand that people who hold homophobic beliefs are merely offended when we LGBTQ people are treated fully as Children of God. On the other hand, LGBTQ people on the receiving end of discrimination and hate language are suffering actual pain. That is why this is a moral problem.

To be crystal clear: language that suggests that we are "disordered" and our relationships unworthy is hate language.

Susannah rightfully brings up Martin Luther King because inclusion is a moral issue. Exclusion of LGBTQ people looks exactly like racism to society at large.

Posted by Cynthia at Monday, 14 December 2015 at 9:27pm GMT

"I think TA is a useful forum, but the single issue focus does tend to mean that nearly all comments are read through an LGBTI lens."

But of course, there is almost no voice for open, honest, and holy LGBTQ people in the House of Bishops, and it seems missing from the General Synod. The CoE leadership is seemingly "unified" around brutal discrimination or inaction in the face of it. So the voice is desperately needed.

If you look at the CIF section of the Guardian, I think you'll find that the general population has very strong views on intolerance in CoE.

Posted by Cynthia at Monday, 14 December 2015 at 10:59pm GMT

"I think TA is a useful forum, but the single issue focus does tend to mean that nearly all comments are read through an LGBTI lens."

Perhaps because this is the issue on which thinking Anglicanism and unthinking bigotry are presently in greatest conflict.

A few years ago there would have been much more about women bishops. Fortunately that battle has been largely won. This one will be too.

Posted by Jeremy at Tuesday, 15 December 2015 at 12:10am GMT

Presumably if Canon Jeremy Davies were to apply for PTO next door in his old diocese of Salisbury where he served faithfully in the cathedral as Precentor for over a quarter of a century and where there is a more liberally minded bishop then PTO would be granted? This seemed to be the case with the other Canon Jeremy whose ministry is acceptable in the Diocese of Lincoln but not in the Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham. I've heard of what is described as a "Post Code Lottery" when it comes to the NHS but now, it would seem that we have something similar within the Established Church when it comes to who is given PTO - it all depends upon which diocese you apply to and which bishop is in charge! Most curious.

Posted by Father David at Tuesday, 15 December 2015 at 5:39am GMT

Amazing, isn't it, how it's those with nothing to lose and everything to gain don't want you to take umbrage or offense at injustice and cruelty, all with a big smile? Those in a position of comfortable shelter forget, oh so quickly, how to shelter others, even coming to believe their own shelter is *earned* and a right and good thing at all times in all places.

A sad failure on Christianity's part.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Tuesday, 15 December 2015 at 8:15am GMT

Father David, I believe Jeremy Davies already holds a PTO in respect of Salisbury diocese and that he now lives in retirement very close to the Sarum-Winton diocesan boundary and close to a parish in vacancy which would welcome his ministry but which has the ill-fortune to be located on the "wrong" side of that boundary.

Posted by RPNewark at Tuesday, 15 December 2015 at 12:23pm GMT

Pete Broadbent, I think you misunderstand what people on TA are saying. We understand the difference between a license and a PTO, the difference between revoking and not issuing.

But if any priest had committed a serious crime or misdemeanour, there is no doubt that the respective bishop would have started CDM proceedings to revoke a license.
And an issue that is so important that conservatives threaten a church split if same sex relationships are ever considered to be acceptable is surely important enough for CDM. After all, it was important enough for the church to believe that Jeremy Pemberton should not be given a secular job in the NHS!

What we are saying is that there is a serious question whether the often cited Canon law applies to a situation that was not envisaged when that law was written.
What we are saying is that bishops’ guidelines are just that – guidelines, and that they don’t automatically have the kind of legal force needed to revoke a license.
What we are questioning are the boundaries of canonical obedience.

Now, the church could very easily take those concerns on board and test them through CDM or EJM. In a forum where the defendant would be given a voice. Where Canon lawyers on both sides would present their case and where a formal ruling would be made based on law.

Instead, we have had what seems to be deliberate avoidance of any situation whereby bishops might have to justify their actions. Instead, punishment was issued where it could be done with impunity just because the bishop could.

Peter Ould has suggested on this forum that bishops did not apply CDM because they could not be sure they would win.


Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 15 December 2015 at 12:33pm GMT

RPNewark Thanks for that clarification which only goes to shew how ridiculous the present arrangement actually is - Canon Davies is a priest in good standing and his ministry is perfectly acceptable and welcome one side of the Salisbury/Winchester Border but not on t'other. There must be an end to this completely unacceptable system where each Diocesan Bishop is a little pope in his own fiefdom and a universal ruling for the Church of England in its entirety must surely take its place.

Posted by Father David at Tuesday, 15 December 2015 at 2:09pm GMT

"I think we need to be a bit more robust in our debates. I also think that there is a tendency constantly to impugn the motives of those with whom we disagree, which simply isn't constructive. Of course, people are free to impugn away, but it doesn't help the debate very much."

Pete, I accept that many evangelicals oppose gay relationships not out of homophobia, but out of a conscientious and sincere belief in the authority of scripture. Since you fought for secular gay rights in the '80s, I'd certainly include you in that camp. I acknowledge and respect the courage it took for you to go to bat for gay people when most stayed silent.

I'm all for robust debate, too. Problem is, despite many attempts, I've yet to see people who hold a traditional position offer a way forward for the church beyond, "Impose our beliefs in a pastoral way." This isn't viable. LGBT Christians won't stop fighting for equality, and most will refuse to accept lifelong celibacy or second-class status.

So please, give us something to work with. I've suggested a compromise in which the traditional definition of marriage is retained in canon law, but LGBT clergy and laity are free to dissent, contract civil marriages, and live in loving sexual relationships without fear of censure or discrimination. How about it?

Or if not, what else? How can we move forward?

Posted by James Byron at Tuesday, 15 December 2015 at 2:44pm GMT

Do we still have a doctrine commission? I forget. The bishops have a role in defending the faith as they understand it, and post David Jenkins there has been an increased tendency to speak with one voice I think (though I would be happy for examples of difference). My intuition tells me that the college of bishops has a common mind and that this is not going to change in a hurry,even if they choose to exercise their own judgement about whether or how they exercise discipline on those whose behaviour may be inferred to be in breach of the house of bishops guidelines.
That's where I think we are. I wouldn't want the authority of diocesan bishops to be undermined, though nor would I wish a CDM/ EJM on anyone. I would prefer the bishops to have more discretion in their juridical functions under the CDM, and a precedent could force their hand (Peter Ould said something like this I think earlier).
Is there a way to move the locus of theological decision making?

Posted by Adrian Judd at Tuesday, 15 December 2015 at 4:40pm GMT

'I think TA is a useful forum, but the single issue focus does tend to mean that nearly all comments are read through an LGBTI lens.' (Pete Broadbent).

Well, this could give Pete Broadbent pause for thought as to how life is and has long been for lesbian and gay people- 'only connect'.

The bishops' lens seems to be very one-sided....

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Tuesday, 15 December 2015 at 7:10pm GMT

Pete---you ask us to "pray for us, even if you don't agree with us". Of course. But if you were more honest about the degree with which you don't agree with each other, you would command greater respect. The House of Bishops is not the Cabinet or the Shadow Cabinet.

Posted by Turbulent priest at Tuesday, 15 December 2015 at 11:21pm GMT

"There is a major question ....about whether "being offended" constitutes a matter about which people should complain or seek to get redress of grievance."

Oh brother. Was it EVER the rationalization of Those With Power-Over, "*I* am not discriminating, *YOU* are just 'being offended' {Lighten up, Sunshine!}".

May I remind the good bishop that the origin of this thread is not just any random overly-sensitive person "being offended", but

***Married clergyman banned in Winchester***?

Discrimination IS offensive---an offense against the Image of God. Don't dismiss it, abolish it!

Posted by JCF at Thursday, 17 December 2015 at 6:09am GMT

"There is a major question ....about whether "being offended" constitutes a matter about which people should complain or seek to get redress of grievance."

Or about which anyone -- even a bishop -- should prevent anyone else from getting married.

The shoe really is on the other foot. And if the bishops fail to realize this, they will deserve all the public opprobrium that they will receive.

The issue is not being offended. The issue is whether priests may marry.

One would have thought that the Church of England settled this question a very long time ago.

Posted by Jeremy at Monday, 21 December 2015 at 8:51am GMT

According to a letter in the Church Times of 8th Jan., the bishop has also refused PTO to two heterosexualy married priests who want to help out at St. Stephen's.

I am wondering if Bp. Dakin is on a crusade against non-evangelicals as well.

Posted by Derek Jay at Sunday, 10 January 2016 at 12:12pm GMT
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