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“It needs to be considered that the NHS is bound by the Equality Act 2010, and it does seem odd that, if this offer is withdrawn, it is because the Church has obliged the NHS to act in an unequal way.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…