GAY clergy have this week been describing the ramifications of
the pastoral guidance on same-sex marriage, issued by the House of
Bishops last month. Bishops have begun meeting gay clergy, at least
five of whom are reported to be planning to marry.
The Vicar of St Mary with All Souls', Kilburn, and St James's,
West Hampstead, the Revd Andrew Cain, said on Tuesday that speaking
publicly about his plans to marry his partner of 14 years (
News, 21 February) had resulted in an "uncomfortable" meeting
with his bishop, the Rt Revd Peter Wheatley, on Wednesday last
"It was very uncomfortable for both of us," he said. "He was
with HR, and I was with a union rep. That would not be normal for a
meeting between a bishop and a priest. I could not honestly say it
was particularly pastoral. It was awkward."
During the meeting, Bishop Wheatley had "expressed discomfort
that I was being so public in my opposition to the bishops, and I
made it clear this is something I feel very strongly about. He
suggested that perhaps I would consider having a civil partnership,
and I said my partner and I had deliberately not done that because
we believe in marriage, and now it is possible for us to marry, we
When asked about the consequences of the marriage, and the
potential for disciplinary action to be taken, the Bishop had said
that the Church was in "uncharted territory". It had been made
"very clear" to Mr Cain "that they would prefer it if the marriage
was as private as possible".
Mr Cain said that he and his partner, Stephen, were planning "a
very small celebration with a few of our closest friends" this
year. He knew of at least five other gay clergy planning to marry,
and said that his wedding would not be the first "by any
He was not seeking a fight with the House of Bishops: "We are
loyal Anglican, we are faithful priests, and we believe in
marriage," he said. "This [publicity] makes me deeply
uncomfortable, and I'm not enjoying it at all. But this is also
about justice and I feel very passionate about that. We don't want
to fight, we just want to get married."
On Monday, the Chaplain at Portsmouth University, the Revd Andy
Marshall, confirmed that he plans to marry his partner of six
years, despite the House of Bishops' statement.
"Because I don't believe this guidance to be good or godly, when
the law allows, my partner and I will convert our civil partnership
to a marriage, and we'll deal with the consequences at the
Since the publication of the guidance, he has had conversations
with people who have been told by their diocesan director of
ordinands to sign a document stating that they are single or
They had asked him "whether I feel they should end a
relationship of several years, in order to sign the document and
"What was intended as a discussion document was used to oppress
and bully people."
THE Revd Andy Marshall, Chaplain at the University of
Portsmouth, grew up in South Africa, where he came to faith aged
17, before entering full-time ministry as a pioneer youth worker
and missionary in disadvantaged rural communities, and then as a
youth pastor in his home diocese.
"I was struggling with my own sexual identity, but was
aware of the wretched Issues in Human Sexuality document, and so
remained celibate and desperately lonely, and even subjected myself
to three years of reparative therapy and support groups aimed at
making me straight.
"They were the three single most miserable years of my
life, where I began to believe that I either didn't have enough
faith to change who I was, or didn't matter
enough to God to be granted a change.
"I lost contact with my family - the group and
counsellor's advice was that I was gay by nurture, and that I
needed to distance myself from those that had caused me to have
this "broken identity" - and I remember sharing with a friend that
the only reason I did not commit suicide was because I believed the
hell I found myself in was somehow better than the hell I would go
to for being gay."
Ordained in South Africa, he came to the UK 11 years
ago. "When I began ministering in the UK, I decided that I would no
longer hide who I was, and that I would no longer place my future
happiness on hold while the Church figured out its response to the
He has been in a civil partnership with his partner of
six years for two years, and says that it "hurt deeply" that the
partnership could not be blessed.
"We should celebrate the LGBT community, bless their
gifts and use them for God's Kingdom, not tolerate them, or make
them feel unworthy," he said.