Updated Thursday morning
“The Bishop of Hereford denies any unlawful discrimination and has acted in accordance with Church teaching in applying a standard of sexual practice that applied equally to heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual and transsexual people and not on the orientation of any particular group. We expect the same sexual standards of behaviour from support ministers, or lay ministers, as we do of clergy. We will not comment further whilst the Employment Tribunal proceedings are continuing.”
Anni Holden, Director of Communications
The Diocesan Office, The Palace, Hereford HR4 9BL
Tel: 01432 373342 mobile 07889 186316
Wednesday morning press reports:
Press Association Bishop accused of discrimination
Bishop Priddis said at a staff meeting on July 19 last year, following the interview process for the youth worker position, he learnt that Mr Reaney had indicated on his application form that he was gay.
He said he subsequently decided to call Mr Reaney in for a discussion during which it emerged that he had not long come out of a five-year homosexual relationship.
The Bishop said he concluded that Mr Reaney was not emotionally in a position to be making promises about his behaviour for the future. “Such sexuality in itself was not an issue but Mr Reaney’s lifestyle had the potential to impact on the spiritual, moral and ethical leadership within the diocese.,” said Bishop Priddis.
He said he made it quite clear to Mr Reaney that a person in a committed sexual relationship outside of marriage, whether they were heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual or transgender, would also be turned down for the job, which he said was a key appointment within the diocese.
The Bishop said this view on sex outside of marriage was reinforced by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the General Synod, the national assembly of the Church of England, and the Lambeth Conference, which is a meeting of the archbishops and bishops of the Anglican Communion every ten years.
The tribunal heard the job was not offered to anyone else after Bishop Priddis vetoed the appointment.
After highlighting the limited finances of his diocese, Bishop Priddis said: “Even had Mr Reaney been appointed last summer, there would have been the possibility of him being made redundant and that could have happened sooner rather than later.”
Under cross-examination from Mr Reaney’s barrister, Sandhya Drew, Bishop Priddis denied he had breached the equal opportunity policy of his own diocese.
He said: “The Church’s teachings draws distinction between sexual orientation and practice and lifestyle.
“We didn’t discriminate against Mr Reaney on the grounds of sexuality. Had we done so we wouldn’t have called him for an interview.”
… Mr Reaney said he had recently ended a five-year homosexual relationship and gave an undertaking that he would not have another.
But, said the bishop, giving evidence: “I had my misgivings. If he had remained celibate it would have satisfied this issue. The question was, did I have good reason for believing that was his position, and my conclusion was: no.”
Church Times Bill Bowder (written before the hearing yesterday) Tribunal case after bishop blocks job for youth worker
…Mr Reaney was an experienced youth worker when he applied for the post. The Norwich diocese had employed him as a youth officer for four years. He left to go to the diocese of Chester in 2001 with good references, a diocesan spokeswoman said.
A Chester diocesan spokesman said that Mr Reaney had spent a year as a youth officer in the diocese and that his work had been “successful”. Asked whether Mr Reaney’s sexuality had been discussed in any public fora, the spokesman said: “That was not an issue with us.” It was an issue arising in another diocese, he said.
Peter Ball, the Church of England’s national youth officer, who wrote a reference for Mr Reaney for the Hereford post, said on Monday that he had written it “on the basis of his capability to do the job. He is a good person to do the job.” Mr Ball would make no further comment, as he was directly involved in the tribunal proceedings, which he was due to attend on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Sue Johns, a General Synod representative for the Norwich diocese, said that she was also attending as a witness for Mr Reaney. “I had experience of his ministry in Norwich diocese, which was quite amazing,” she said.
“He was immensely gifted with young people and he brought many young people to faith. He engaged them, enlivened them, and energised them. He set up a diocesan youth synod in the 1990s. He left because he came from the north of England, and he saw a job in Chester diocese, which was closer to home.”
The Times David Sanderson Gay man’s lifestyle made him unfit for post, insists bishop