The Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham has issued the following Press Release.
“Employment tribunal finds in favour of Bishop
The Employment Tribunal that heard the case brought by Jeremy Pemberton against Bishop Richard Inwood has released its findings, dismissing all the claims brought against the Bishop.
A spokesperson for the Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham said: “We are thankful to the tribunal for its work on this complex case and for its findings in favour of the former Acting Diocesan Bishop, the Rt Revd Richard Inwood, on all the claims made against him.
“We recognise that it has been a long and difficult process for all concerned, and we continue to hold them in our thoughts and prayers.
“Churches across the diocese continue to offer a generous welcome to people from all backgrounds. We remain engaged in the on-going shared conversations across the wider Church of England that are exploring questions relating to human sexuality.”
The Church Times has a short report of the ruling, and Thinking Anglicans has a summary of the initial media comment. The BBC quotes Canon Pemberton as saying “We are obviously very disappointed. Our lawyers have considered the judgment and are in the process of preparing the Grounds of Appeal for submission to the Employment Appeal Tribunal. We would like to thank all of those who have supported us through this litigation process thus far.”
Not entirely unexpectedly, the judgment resulted in a question to the Second Church Estates Commissioner from Ben Bradshaw, (Exeter, Lab), on 5 November on the Church Commissioner’s costs on the action, and an equally predictable response from Mrs Caroline Spelman (Meriden) (Con), [Commons Hansard: 5 November Vol 601(65) Col 1109]. Questions to the 2CEC are generally from the same small group of MPs, sometimes with the objective of raising the public profile of an issue rather than seeking a definitive answer, as with other PQs and PMQs. The issue of costs to the Church Commissioners of the action and of the possible appeal has been explored less formally elsewhere in the blogosphere.
L&RUK will consider the 58-page ruling in a later post.
Ironically, the Church of England chose 4 November as the day on which to release its revised Your Church Wedding web pages; the section headed Information for same sex couples re-states its legal position. The former dean of Durham Cathedral, Michael Sadgrove, noted:
“In many ways [the new web pages are] exemplary: warm, inviting, and helpful. But if you are a gay Christian man or woman in a committed relationship, how does this read to you? The law prevents ministers of the Church of England from carrying out same-sex marriages. And although there are no authorised services for blessing a same-sex civil marriage, your local church can still support you with prayer. At any time you are welcome to come and pray with us, or ask us to pray for you. Yes, the law is the law. But the website doesn’t explain that the Church of England wanted it that way. How I wish we could say something different!”
If the couple had been husband and wife and one of them had been refused a PTO on the ground of having married after being divorced, a similar dilemma might have arisen. In those circumstances the letter of the (church) law would have been observed but what about the spirit? Could a church really prefer its clergy to live in sexual relationships of which it disapproves than to show love and commitment by means of a civil marriage?
URLs to Church Times and CofE sites updated. On L&RUK we do not disable the ability to copy sections of our posts, though those doing so should take note of our copyright provisions. Other sites may be more restrictive. dp