THE Church of England has published a partial transcript of
evidence given by the former Acting Bishop of Southwell &
Nottingham, the Rt Revd Richard Inwood, at an Employment Tribunal
this week, after criticism of his reported comments on social
Canon Jeremy Pemberton, who is Deputy Senior Chaplain and Deputy
Bereavement and Voluntary Services Manager in the United
Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, claims that Bishop Inwood
unlawfully discriminated against him by refusing the licence he
needed to take up a new job as Head of Chaplaincy and Bereavement
Services in the Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, in
June last year.
Bishop Inwood said that he had been unable to issue the licence
"in light of the pastoral guidance, and for reasons of consistency"
11 July 2014). He was referring to Canon Pemberton's marriage
to Laurence Cunnington in April that year (News,
17 April 2014).
Bishop Inwood was defending his decision not to grant a licence
to Canon Pemberton. Asked by Sean Jones QC, counsel for Canon
Pemberton, whether entering a same-sex marriage was a sinful act,
Bishop Inwood replied: "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."
Asked whether he personally felt it was sinful, the Bishop said:
"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
He continued: "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."
The tribunal heard that the C of E communications unit sent an
email to bishops setting out the line that would be taken by
Lambeth Palace if asked about the case. The email made reference to
the House of Bishops pastoral guidelines and the facilitated
conversations and said that "in each individual case, and this
clearly won't be the last, it is a pastoral matter for that
Judge Peter Britton asked Bishop Inwood if he agreed that the
email "is not indicative of any strong disapproval". The Bishop
replied that the email showed that "the Archbishop of Canterbury
had other things on his priority list at this point."
The tribunal hearing began on Monday at Nottingham Justice
Centre, and was expected to last until today. A ruling is not
expected until next month.
Thomas Linden QC, representing the Church, suggested that Canon
Pemberton had gone against the Church's teachings, the BBC
reported. Canon Pemberton replied: "No, because I have had a civil
marriage. I believe that was the moral thing to do."
The Daily Telegraph reported that Canon
Pemberton had described being "embarrassed and humiliated" by the
removal of his licence.
Illustrating the inconsistency of disciplinary action, he cited
the case of the Vicar of St Mary with All Souls', Kilburn, and St
James's, West Hampstead, the Revd Andrew Foreshew-Cain, who married
his male partner shortly after Canon Pemberton's wedding (News, 27 June
2014). Fr Foreshew-Cain was reprimanded, but retained his
On Tuesday, the tribunal heard from the Bishop of Buckingham, Dr
Alan Wilson, PA reported. Asked by Mr Linden whether he thought
that clergy "should accept the teachings of the Church", Dr Wilson
Asked about the Church's teaching on "holy matrimony", he said:
"It's not that I don't think it's true, or the canons of England
should not be followed; all I say is it's a lousy definition, if it
cannot tell you who is and who is not married."
The reference in the canon to marriage being between one man and
one woman was "entirely coincidental because of the time it was
framed. . . They weren't making a doctrinal point, but a statement
about the position of marriage as it existed in that time, in
A spokesman for the Church of England said: "The Church 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 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 à 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."