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Liverpool rector to quit a Church that validates ‘homophobic and misogynistic views’

25 March 2024

Crispin Pailing

The Rector of Liverpool, Canon Crispin Pailing, with the Princess Royal outside of Liverpool Parish Church, last May

The Rector of Liverpool, Canon Crispin Pailing, with the Princess Royal outside of Liverpool Parish Church, last May

THE Rector of Liverpool Parish Church, Canon Crispin Pailing, has resigned, telling his congregation that he could “no longer, in good conscience” represent a Church which “perpetuates bias and discrimination against sections of society”.

He is to take up a new post in the charity sector.

Canon Pailing, who has been an outspoken supporter of LGBT+ inclusion, announced his decision to the congregation on Sunday morning. In a statement released afterwards, he described his ten years in post as “wonderful. . . Liverpool Parish Church has one of the most significant civic roles in the country, and during the last few years the congregation has changed and grown in every way.”

He went on, however: “I cannot, in good conscience, continue to have a representative role in an organisation which perpetuates bias and discrimination against sections of society on the grounds of sexuality, race, and gender.

“In the last few years, I have seen the institutional validation of homophobic and misogynistic views in the Church, and I cannot endorse this.”

His statement also said that the “obvious and lamentable failure of safeguarding across the Church is itself an abuse, and a further assault on the image of God. In contrast to the institutional actions which show such disregard for so many human beings, it seems to me that the majority of individuals and communities across the Church of England speak with the voice of inclusion.

“I am proud that Liverpool Parish Church continues to make a public declaration of the dignity of all people, in the knowledge that we are all made in God’s image.”

Canon Pailing became the youngest rector of the church since 1945 when he was appointed in 2014. He was appointed MBE in the King’s New Year Honours List for services to the community of Liverpool (News, 5 January).

When the House of Bishops proposed to offer services of prayer and blessings for same-sex couples, in January 2023 (News, 18 January 2023), he told the Liverpool Echo that his own church wanted to bring “clarity and simplicity” to an issue which he described as “messy and complicated”.

He said at the time: “From our point of view, it is very clear that marriage between same-sex couples should be treated on the basis and with the same equality [as] between opposite-sex couples. We see no difference. The Church of England has maintained a difference, which we reject, but we can’t marry couples, as that is a legal process.”

He continued: “While the Church was issuing complicated statements about what that exactly means, we say that, if you come to us for a blessing after your marriage, we will bless that marriage whether you’re gay or you’re straight.”

He concluded: “For a declining Church, separating ourselves from the culture that is around and the beliefs held by the majority of churchgoers seems foolish.”

In his statement on Sunday, Canon Pailing commends the former Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Revd Paul Bayes, and the present Bishop, the Rt Revd John Perumbalath, for both having taken a significant public stance against discrimination. He concludes: “The diocese of Liverpool has been a good place to be for the last decade and I commend it to others.”

Canon Pailing and his wife, the Revd Rowena Pailing, will continue to live in Liverpool with their two sons. His statement pays tribute to the people of Liverpool Parish Church “and those both locally and nationally who have spoken with courageous and prophetic voices”.

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