Updated 9 pm
The Nottingham tribunal took a new, and nasty turn, today, when Bishop Richard Inwood reportedly expressed his opinion that same-sex marriages were “sinful” and “unwholesome”.
This immediately provoked a very strong reaction in social media, and both Changing Attitude and LGCM have published responses to it:
Tracey Byrne, Chief Executive of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM) commented:
“As the Tribunal deciding the fate of Canon Jeremy Pemberton continues, we, as Christians and members of the LGBTI community, would like to express our undivided support to Jeremy. This support goes alongside our absolute disgust at the comments made today by Bishop Richard Inwood. No life-long, faithful, stable relationship – be it gay or straight – should be described in these terms. It’s not fair, not right and not Christian. Today’s comments from the Bishop, in which he described same-sex marriage as sinful and unwholesome, are harmful for the Church of England and its relationship with the LGBTI community. We believe an urgent response to these comments is needed from the Archbishops.”
Curiously, this happened just before the Church of England website published this Statement on Nottingham Employment Tribunal.
Statement on Nottingham Employment Tribunal
17 June 2015
“The Church of England supports gay men and women who serve as clergy in its parishes, dioceses and institutions. Jeremy Pemberton is one of many who currently serve and receive that support. The Church has no truck with homophobia and supports clergy who are in civil partnerships.
The Church of England’s doctrine on marriage is clear. The Church quite reasonably expects its clergy to honour their commitment to model and live up to the teachings of the Church. Clergy do not have the option of treating the teachings of the church as an a la carte menu and only modelling those with which they personally agree.
The Church is currently involved in a process of shared conversations about a range of issues on sexuality in regions across the country. It is regrettable that this case risks undermining that process by invoking legislation which does not even apply to this situation.”
The Communications Unit at Church House Westminster has now issued this partial unofficial record of today’s hearing. Worth reading all the way through. And now copied in full below the fold.
There are two media reports:
Press Association via the Guardian Archbishop of Canterbury ‘passed the buck over gay priest’s wedding’
And now also
Telegraph Archbishop of Canterbury urged clerics to stick to ‘line’ over rebel priest’s gay wedding
Following comments on social media concerning the evidence of Bishop Richard Inwood at the Nottingham employment tribunal, the following is a record of the relevant cross examination between Sean Jones, counsel for Jeremy Pemberton and Richard Inwood which took place on Wednesday 7 June.
Sean Jones: Does the Church recognise Canon Pemberton as being married
Bishop Inwood: Yes because it’s the law of the land.
Sean Jones: Just so I’m clear about the scope of the doctrine of the Church, does the Church consider that entering into a same sex marriage is a sinful act?
Bishop Inwood: I think at this point, because the Church has not changed its canons or legislation, it is certainly irregular and some may say it is sinful yes.
Sean Jones: And they would say Canon Pemberton should be asking God’s forgiveness for his marriage?
Bishop Inwood: I can’t say what they’d say, I don’t know
Sean Jones: If someone is living in sin, then they need God’s forgiveness. Doesn’t that seem clear?
Bishop Inwood: Yes
Sean Jones: How would the Church expect him to repent?
Bishop Inwood: I’m unclear what you’re asking about. Are you asking about individual views? Some people might think that it’s sinful and think he needs to repent.
Sean Jones: Do you think it’s sinful?
Bishop Inwood: That’s a very difficult question to answer. I’m not a judge of what is sinful in the sense that I would claim to understand the mind of God. We are currently engaged in discussion to see what the mind of God might be. It may be that there would be a change on the Church’s position in which case same sex marriage would not be a problem.
Sean Jones: So whether you think it’s sinful depends on the process.
Bishop Inwood: I am open to changing my mind if we got to that point.
Sean Jones: What’s your present mind?
Bishop Inwood: My mind is that marriage is between a man and a woman. I don’t think it is part of the beliefs of the Church to enter into a same sex marriage.
Sean Jones: So is entering into same sex marriage sinful?
Bishop Inwood: The word sinful is such a difficult one to deal with really. Part of me wants to say yes because I think it’s against the Church, but part of me says no because Canon Pemberton entered into it with the view to it being wholesome.
Sean Jones: So you think the intention was wholesome?
Bishop Inwood: Yes, but I think the timing was wrong
Sean Jones: Do you think they got it wrong and entered into an unwholesome marriage?
Bishop Inwood: Yes because I think Canon Pemberton ought to have had regard to the teaching of the Church and held off on his marriage at this particular point and had regard to the Church’s teachings.
Sean Jones: One last question on this. So we’re clear, in your view would getting divorced now solve the problem or make it worse?
Bishop Inwood: That would make it worse.
Sean Jones: So it’s better that he remains married than divorced.
Bishop Inwood: Yes.
Sean Jones: Thank you.