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UK >

Gay priest weds; another is disciplined

Madeleine Davies

by Madeleine Davies

Posted: 27 Jun 2014 @ 12:20


Click to enlarge

Civil ceremony: Stephen Foreshew (left) and the Revd Andrew Cain on their wedding day


Civil ceremony: Stephen Foreshew (left) and the Revd Andrew Cain on their wedding day

AS ONE priest celebrated entering a same-sex marriage this weekend, another faced penalties for doing so.

The Vicar of St Mary with All Souls', Kilburn, and St James's, West Hampstead, the Revd Andrew Cain, married his partner of 14 years, Stephen Foreshew, on Saturday at Maidenhead register office, in the presence of two witnesses.

Fr Cain said on Tuesday that it had been emotional. "I've done lots of weddings; so I was not expecting the service to be moving, and it was. I was quite tearful at one point, as was Stephen. It was quite lovely."

He had chosen to have a "very quiet" wedding, he said, to avoid a "media storm", but had no doubt that getting married was right, despite House of Bishops guidance that forbids clerics' entering same-sex marriages ( News, 14 February).

"We now have the freedom to enjoy the same rights as every other couple. We deliberately were not in a civil partnership, because I believe in marriage. I am sure it was the right thing to have done. There are two people in this relationship. My employer may be uncomfortable with equality for gay and lesbian people, but Stephen does not work for the Church, and he is in a relationship with me, and it is also about him."

The House of Bishops has refused to publish a liturgy for the blessing of same-sex relationships. Fr Cain said that he had asked the registrar whether it was possible to use the C of E marriage vows, but had been told that it was not. He then wrote vows based on those used in the US Episcopal Church.

Fr Cain has not yet heard from his Bishop. Canon Jeremy Pemberton, however, has heard from two, one from each province. As the first C of E priest to marry his same-sex partner (News, 17 April), he has received an informal rebuke from the Bishop of Lincoln, the Rt Revd Christopher Lowson, in the province of Canterbury. But he has kept his general preacher's licence, and his post as Deputy Senior Chaplain and Deputy Bereavement and Voluntary Services Manager at United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust. No action has been taken against him under the Clergy Discipline Measure, which states: "In the case of many minor complaints an apology or an informal rebuke may be all that is required and the full complaints process would not need to come into play."

On Tuesday, a spokesman for the diocese of Lincoln confirmed that the Bishop had written to Canon Pemberton after his marriage, "as this action was inconsistent with the House of Bishops' statement".

More severe action has been taken against Canon Pemberton in the diocese where he lives, Southwell & Nottingham, in the province of York. In May, his permission to officiate (PTO) was withdrawn by the Acting Bishop, the Rt Revd Richard Inwood, after consultation with the Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu.

On Tuesday, Bishop Inwood said: "In its pastoral guidance on same-sex marriage, the House of Bishops said that getting married to someone of the same sex was clearly at variance with the teaching of the Church of England. It said it would not be appropriate conduct for someone in holy orders to enter into a same-sex marriage, given the need for clergy to model the Church's teaching in their lives.

"In view of this, I have spoken to Jeremy Pemberton, and subsequently written to him to tell him his permission to officiate in the diocese of Southwell & Nottingham has been revoked."

Canon Pemberton's PTO has been revoked without the bringing of a case against him under the Clergy Discipline Measure. This could be challenged under judicial review.

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